This week my life has been comprised of animals. They have ranged from the two legged, four legged, six legged and stuffed.
I did not consider that the aftermath from the Beanie Baby craze, that took unsuspecting parents by storm, some twenty years ago, would still be haunting me when my collector was an adult, and married with her own home. When we moved to Texas, the little bears and other animals were packed away in a box, and placed in the back of a cupboard awaiting an appropriate display cabinet. The years continued to pass, and the toys remained in the back of the cupboard, until one day, while shopping for something completely different, I came across the very item that would be a perfect home for the collectibles.
Putting together the glass tower was not as easy as it looked. After laying everything on the floor, checking that all the pieces were present and correct, I looked through the pictured instructions. On the first page was a drawing of a cartoon man, holding a mallet in one hand, and a chisel in the other, with a big 'X' printed over him. I assumed that the reason for the 'do not' recommendation was because this was a glass cabinet, with glass shelves, and a hammer and chisel would probably be most inappropriate tools. The next page showed two men holding the same tools, and a big tick was placed next to them. As I flicked through the instruction booklet, the same two cartoons proceeded to construct the tower, with their destructive tools always by their sides. Not once after the first page, did they pick up the hammer or the chisel. I came to the conclusion that the cartoonist was going to take the 2-d workmen to another instruction booklet and it would save time if they had the appropriate tools with them, save them having to be redrawn! The need for two hammers was a little confusing but I decided my brain power would be better spent on something more constructive. However, the need for two workmen was obvious and I waited for my DIY expert to come and help. Samantha took charge. She was wary at first, as we only had one hammer, and the instructions were quite implicit! I was the carpenters mate, as usual, and followed the instructions of my boss, holding the hammer at all times! The four legged animal was not particularly impressed with the two legged animals constructing the cabinet for the stuffed. He trotted around the room, craving attention. The 2-d workmen did not have a dog, but fortunately this did not affect our efforts! When all pieces were assembled, the cabinet was moved to the wall and sat awaiting to be filled.
Dana left for work early on Tuesday, and I went in search of the coveted bears. My cupboard under the stairs is fairly deep, but as it is under the stairs, the height graduates the further back it goes. It is a place to store, and forget. It is an Aladdin's cave! By the time I had made my coffee, and prepared dinner, I had about an hour to clear everything out of the cupboard, and then put everything back in. Considering that the space is used purely for storage, it always amazes me how much I put aside to be taken to the dumpster. Why did I not throw it away when I last reorganised the cupboard? I started taking the smaller items from the front and placed them on my kitchen table. As I got further into the cupboard, I found more and more forgotten treasure, together with more and more less desirable objects. Along with some rolls of wrapping paper, were some signs that an uninvited guest or two had been squatting. The evidence of the cockroach is always a little unnerving, as somewhere, the actual critter may be hiding. I started to remove items a little more gingerly, and the vacuum cleaner was plugged in ready to suck up any undesirables. My hands were covered with gloves, and my feet slipped into flip flops. I was not taking any chances. I wondered if the 2-d workmen in the instruction sheet were going to clear out their under stairs cupboard after constructing the glass cabinet, and perhaps the hammer was replacing the hoover!
The problem with jumping out of my skin, and dancing around to avoid treading on something that has just run under my foot, was that I was in the cupboard under the stairs. The same cupboard that while deep, loses inches in height, the further I ventured inside. The bruise on my head would have been more of a trophy had I managed to kill the pebble (with no visible legs) that had fallen out of a bag onto the floor. The cockroach was already dead, upside down with its six legs in the air, and quite obviously unable to run anywhere, let alone under my flip flop! Not convinced that the evidence belonged to just the one animal, I continued to tread carefully. Eventually, I came to the back of the cupboard, and found the box marked, 'Beanies', along with another box of toys, and one full of framed pictures.
Nostalgia is one of my downfalls. Once removed from the storage space, I sat down and looked at all the childhood favourites of my children. Teddies, dolls, amphibians, and other prehistoric and mythical cuddlies brought back thoughts of days gone by, and my eyes misted for a while. Although I cannot always remember where I put my keys, I could recall the receipt of each and every item in the box! Reluctantly, I returned all the beings, and taped the container to ensure that future uninvited six legged guests would have a very hard time infiltrating my memories, and hopefully give up the challenge. It was time to repack the rest of the items. It appears to be one of life's phenomenons that despite having less to store, the space available is never enough. The box that I had swapped, was a different shape to the one containing the beanies, and the box of pictures seemed to grow. Rather than Aladdin's cave, my cupboard had taken on the dimensions of the room from Alice in Wonderland! It appeared to have shrunk! I was aware that time was ticking away, and I was very probably going to be late for work! I completed the task as best I could, and managed to get everything packed away. While I added a mental note to my mental list, to use another early morning to try and make some more space, my mental pencil crossed out the item from my mental list, as it seemed to know it would be a waste of time, as I knew there would be a time when I would have to revisit the box of childhood toys, and that would be soon enough to try and make some additional space.
The box containing the beanie babies was set down on a kitchen chair. It was bigger than I remembered, and I wondered if the glass cabinet, the one that was assembled without the use of the hammer and chisel, would be big enough to house all the stuffed animals.
Feeling rather pleased with myself by the time I got into work, having accomplished a rather strenuous workout, (there were many heavy items that I had to lift and move, as well as all the bending and stretching that took place, not to mention the pebble dance!) I looked towards my evening challenge. It was Samantha's birthday on Wednesday, and I thought it would be inappropriate to suggest she make her own cake! Having had a twelve months to decide what to make this year, I had left the decision to the last minute. Trying desperately to think of an original idea, my mum suggested some chocolate delights that she made when I was a child, and which her grandchildren enjoy immensely. I had all the ingredients, and as they are not cooked, but chilled overnight, this seemed to be a very good idea. I set about preparing the birthday treat before dinner.
The week marched on and another early start on Thursday saw all animals of the stuffed variety were huddled together in the glass cabinet. I did contemplate putting them in some sort of order, either by date of birth, or breed, but decided that my brain power would be better spent on something more constructive! After all, once Samantha has enough space in her own home, she can take the bears, beasts, cabinet and all. I did take five minutes to check and see how much the collection was worth. Would Samantha be able to accrue enough profit to put down a deposit on a house? After all, when they they were purchased, she was very careful not to remove the tags, and kept in pristine condition. After review I established that she would probably be able to put down a deposit on a dolls house!
My weekend was also filled with animals. It was Dogtoberfest at the Domain, which in animal talk means 'dogs day out! However, having spent enough brain power on beasts of many limbs, I shall leave the details of the outrageous events for ........ another story!