This post is brought to you by the number 1 and the letters IN YOUR FACE!
You probably know Gabe and I are evil, it’s not like that’s a secret. So once upon a time, we had these wonderful neighbors whom we loved, but bad things happened and they had to move away. We worried about our potential new neighbors because earlier that year, the nice people on the other side of us bought a house and left and these punk kids who make me want to slice their tires moved in. We needed a way to keep that from happening on this side, too.
Our house is a little weird with a north face made of cedar siding and the rest of the house covered in normal siding. We stained the cedar a pleasant barn red. Everyone loved it. Then we painted the rest of the siding alarming yellow, like sunflower petals that have been enhanced instead of toned-down. This isn’t really a strange color scheme…in the Mediterranean or Mexico or other such festive places. We added royal blue trim, as well, and suddenly, we lived in a Crayola meltdown. The plan was that no one would want to live next door to such a color explosion and we would have the time to save our money and buy the damn house ourselves.
Only that didn’t happen and as the years wore on and the housing market continued to languish, we worried that maybe we’d acted a little rashly, that maybe the only kind of neighbors we would get, now that our house looked like something from the circus, would be drug dealers who dropped acid and would then stare at our house for hours. That would be creepy.
We couldn’t afford to repaint the house after we’d just painted it but we didn’t want to, either, because something unexpected had happened: We fell in love with our crazy house colors. It was all ridiculously bright but it matched everything around us – the aspens in the fall, the brilliant summer skies, the rose hips and crabapples, the rocks on the mountain after a rainstorm. Ours was the brightest house on the block, a block that had an abundance of stone-colored or white or olive green houses which is silly because we live in the mountains. We’re supposed to be zany. It’s a law, or something.
We did wind up with good neighbors totally by accident and I’m not sure what we’ll do if they ever move. Probably paint black stripes into the yellow to make it look like a big square bumblebee or something.
But that’s not the end of this story. This story ends in my triumph over Gabe which is one of my most favorite things in the world. Obviously. See, after we’d painted, our house numbers looked stupid on the freshly-colored cedar. They were plain dark metal numbers and it was hard to see them and they just didn’t match so we went looking for replacements. We found some tile numbers we agreed on but by the time we got around to buying them, they were long gone. That’s what started the Great War of House Numbers. Back and forth we went, one of us finding one thing and liking it and the other saying, “OH HELL NO!” It got ridiculous. But you have to have house numbers so fireman can rescue you. Otherwise, they don’t know where to go. Apparently not even in our tiny town.
At one point, Gabe fought me with paper and tape. We had these leftover Vote NO on Anti-Library Measures yard signs from a past election and Gabe took one of them, turned the plastic sign inside out, and taped a piece of paper with our house numbers over that then put it all back on the metal frame. He stuck that into the ground in the front yard. When I saw it, I said, “What happens when it rains or snows?” He answered my question by taping over the paper with packing tape and then framing all of that with blue duct tape. And that’s how we became the ghettoest house on the block. Well, not really because the blue of the duct tape totally matched the blue of our trim.
Weather was on my side and eventually blew the sign away but I didn’t have a comeback plan. The war was back on, the arguments over numbers picking up until the day I found Carly Quinn Designs on Etsy. It was like angels had invaded my computer and sent me a divine message of perfection because these house numbers were exactly what we needed.
I told Gabe I’d found our numbers and I’d buy them when I could and he’d just have to suck it up. He told me I was mistaken and that he was going to learn the art of making mosaics and he would create a number plate. He checked out a jillion books on how become a mosiacitian, he collected his art supplies, and I had visions of a horrible blob of dripping cement and broken plates hanging on the front of our house like an inbred gargoyle. I started saving my money even faster only that wasn’t happening because there was no money to save. That worked to my benefit as well as my detriment, though, because Gabe realized that if you’re not already set up to make mosaics, it’s got a fairly steep start-up cost (for poor people, at least). So there we were in a battle for the Ultimate Numbers but hindered by impoverishment, each fearing the other would get their creation up first. Finally, I came up with a compromise. Gabe had six months to create his monstrosity/piece of number art and if he didn’t have it done by the time I turned in the tax stuff in February, 2013, then I got to buy the tiles I wanted with the tax refund. We shook on it and a deal was struck.
One good thing about some bipolar people is that they are easily distracted and they forget what they were saving for and they spend their money on video games, instead. I am not one of those people and I have patience and perseverance and it just so happened that February, 2013, showed up and I turned in the tax stuff and was promised a refund and I had the beautiful opportunity to look at Gabe and yell, “IN YOUR FACE, SUCKA! I GET THE HOUSE TILES! I WIN!”
Unfortunately, he’d forgotten all about our deal and didn’t care anymore. To make matters worse, when I showed him the tiles online he said, “Oh. Those are actually really cool. They’ll look nice on our house.”
So the good news was that I won this war and I got to buy the coveted number tiles. The bad news was that it was sort of a hollow victory because I didn’t know my opponent had left the battlefield and I’d been laying siege to pretty much nothing. The worse news was that the refund was yoinked right out from under my greedy little hands and I had to file a claim to get it all back so I didn’t actually receive the money until sometime in April. When it finally arrived, I deposited the check and the very next day, I ordered the numbers I’d been salivating over for months.
Poor Carly Quinn. She had to deal with me and my enthusiasm. I read the part on her website that said she custom makes everything to order but I figured with house numbers, she’d probably just made a bunch of tiles in advance and had them stacked in little bins in her workshop because, really, who wouldn’t do that? Carly Quinn wouldn’t do that. She sent me a message confirming my order and mentioned that it would take her two weeks to make the tiles. I wrote back and told her I was sure she had some numbers lying around that she could send me because I really really REALLY wanted them now that I finally had the chance to own them. She told me I’m funny and said that she’d see what she could do because she understands the pain of waiting for something you want so badly.
Even knowing that it would take two weeks to fill the order and another week for them to get to me, I started checking the mailbox every single day, hoping that maybe she really did just have some spares she would send and they’d get to me right away.
On the 21st, I got an e-mail from Carly Quinn Designs. It was a shipping confirmation. She made the tiles in a week and they were on their way and I peed my pants in excitement! It was ridiculous.
Then I had to check the mailbox twice a day because I didn’t want to miss anything. Finally, Friday rolled around and I figured they had to be here because it can’t take more than a week for something in Arizona to make it up to me; it’s not like these were coming from Maine or anything! But there was nothing there. I was heartbroken; I probably wouldn’t get them until the following week and there would be no time to hang them for two weeks because of my crazy schedule. Oh, I was sad. The next morning, I had to go to the post office so I figured I’d check the mailbox one more time and there was a lonely little yellow slip waiting in my mailbox, letting me know that I had a parcel. OMG!
I ran to the front office and there were 10 billion people waiting in line. They were doing passport stuff. Of course they were because Saturday morning when my long-anticipated tiles are in is the perfect time to apply for passports for your entire family, you jackass traveling people. I thought about hopping the counter and just going back there myself, but I don’t really know how things are laid out in the postal nether regions and they’d throw me out before I found what I sought.
After hours and hours and HOURS (or ten minutes) of waiting for the people to finish up, I handed my card across the counter, the post mistress took it and vanished. She returned with a nice-sized box and I danced around and thanked her and told her I’d been waiting for so long and I ran out of there, pushing people aside, knocking down children and kicking dogs in my haste (not really). The box was from Carly Quinn Designs and I could not get it home fast enough. I unpacked it on my back porch.
Ok, so, despite the picture on Etsy, I just assumed I would get 5 loose tiles and a frame. I figured I’d slide the tiles into the frame and then mount it to the wall. I mean, that’s what I’ve seen everywhere else; the tiles we had originally considered were like that.
I was wrong.
Carly Quinn (I like her whole name so she has to be Carly Quinn all the time) makes the tiles and the frame and she grouts the tiles together and puts them in the frame and seals the frame and welds hangy-hole thingies to the back. And look at the hangy-hole thingies on mine – they’re beautiful! They’re not the ones from Etsy, which were just little rings with pointy hats. No. These are lovely. I passed out and died because – wow. It was amazing. It was 100% more awesome than I’d expected and I was already expecting a lot!
But there was one problem. This thing was around 5 pounds and I wasn’t sure how I was going to hang it because I didn’t have any screws big enough. Would I need an anchor? Should I glue it to the wall? And crap, if I used decking screws, cuz they’re tough, I’d have to use a bunch of washers and I ran the risk of hitting the electrical stuff behind the wall and zapping myself to death. So I did what one does in these situations: I freaked out and called Chris.
He came over, saw the number sign, was super impressed, which is saying a lot because he’s a perfectionist/machinist and most hand-crafted things piss him off because they’re so full of flaws, and he ran off to fetch some lug screws. He had the sign up in a matter of minutes and I could hear the angels in the heavens singing gloriously because these numbers are exactly perfect for our house.
So, to sum up: I win X 100. Yay me! Thank you so much, Carly Quinn. You make magnificent things. I can’t wait to start collecting your Day of the Dead tiles. Also, thank YOU, stupid husband, for being poor and forgetting we had a bet so I could win and buy our gorgeous house numbers!