So this weekend I decided to act on my new vow to loosen up on the frugality and get a life. Or at least get a few things to make it look like I have a life.
For quite some time I’ve been craving some of that fake-wicker outdoor furniture—you know, the stuff that looks like wicker but really is some sort of extruded plastic woven on steel frames. These combine the design look I favor (OK, I know: it’s not a “look,” it’s just bourgeois) with some resistance to Arizona’s ferocious elements.
Right now I have two beloved white real wicker rocking chairs on the westside deck. These things came with me from the old house, where they resided for some years after I bought them at Cost Plus (World Market). Once every few seasons (used to be every season, but I got lazy), I drag them out and apply a new coat of spray-on white enamel paint.
Despite the paint, though, rainwater is singularly bad for them. Plus the wind really howls through the side yard during a good storm. The damn things kite and sail off the deck. So far they’ve landed in the yard rather than crashing through the Arcadia door, but in either event, it’s a mess. So I’ve taken to hauling them inside the house every time the sky so much as hints at rain.
Then there are the four wooden chairs I bought at Cost Plus a couple of years ago, to arrange around the back patio table. Not a terrible choice, but an inconvenient one. The chairs are attractive enough and they’re very comfortable (given a cushion). But they are unfinished wood. I’ve never gotten around to sealing them, and…well, when a hard rain falls the back patio can flood right up to the back door, two or three inches deep. Not relishing the thought of having those things soaking their legs in three inches of muddy water, I invariably haul them inside the house every time it rains, too.
This has become a real nuisance.
I wouldn’t mind cluttering the dining room with a couple of sailable rockers during monsoon season. But filling up the dining room, family room, and living room with six scruffy outdoor chairs every time a fluffy little cloud appears in the sky? Enough, already!
Then we have four clunky old metal and aluminum-strap outdoor chairs given to me by a friend as she was moving out of her perfectly affordable home into a bottomless pool of debt. They were, when new, very expensive. When she let go of them, they weren’t new; and price or no, the things were never to my taste. Particularly noxious is the circular tube base on which each chair assembly rests. This object collects trash. Lots and lots of trash. Every time a light wind blows, leaves, pollen, and twigs dune up inside the circles that are the chairs’ bases; don’t ask what happens when a stiff breeze comes up. The duning phenomenon means that every time I or Gerardo tries to blower off, sweep off, or wash down the deck, all four chairs have to be dragged around the KoolDeck. Drag them back, drag them forth, drag them around some more because every time you run a blower or squirt the hose anywhere near the things, more debris catches in those damn metal circles. Beyond enough!
So on Saturday it was off to Pier 1. No longer do I shop at Cost Plus/World Market: they’ve started demanding that you give them give them private information so you can get a “shopper’s card,” without which you pay a premium price. With the exception of Safeway, whose employees think I’m my dog and that my phone rings at Safeway’s local business offices, I do not shop at businesses where they pull that stunt on customers.
For all of these gigantic chain stores, the end of August signals the end of the outdoor season. Never mind that it’ll be another month before Arizonans can venture into the backyard; never mind that when we do, we’ll be out there for nine or ten months straight, every day. Despite the fact that people here are hotly in the market for outdoor goods, Pier 1 and its ilk have got everything that smacks of backyard living hugely on sale!
mwa ha hah!
And did they have fake wicker furniture on sale? Holy mackerel, did they ever have fake wicker, and was it ever on sale! Everything was marked down significantly from its original price, and then marked another 20% off the mark-down.
I found this nice fake wicker rocking chair in white, practically identical with the beloved real wicker rockers. Just as pretty as the numbers available through Amazon, pictured near the top of this post. Couldn’t believe how close this comes to the chairs I use almost every day when the weather’s good, out in the Leafy Bower. And the darn thing is just as comfortable.
Ordered up two of those.
And they had a rather attractive and amazingly comfortable stackable chair, perfect for sitting around the big glass-top table in back. I loved them: the’re ideal. Could not be better for the purpose! Fortunately the fake wicker weave also came in a kind of tan straw shade, much more convincing than the sort of brindle effect pictured here. So that’s what I ordered.
The cushions I got two years ago are still perfectly serviceable. They’ll probably last another year or two. So: all told the tab for SIX FAKE WICKER CHAIRS came to $500.
When you consider that Amazon’s $500+ tab for just two chairs and a tacky-looking table is relatively cheap for this stuff, five C-notes doesn’t seem so bad at-tall. Amazingly some places sell pieces like these for upwards of $200 apiece.
They’ll be in late next week. Yay!
The hideous plastic-strap chairs will go on the curb, there to warm the cockles of some metal scavenger’s heart.
Two of the Cost Plus wooden chairs will go outside the bedroom door, taking the place of a pair of hideous plastic-strap numbers. They’ll get rained on and will weather to the classic silver outdoor wooden chair look, but since water doesn’t pool up there, they’ll never actually be standing in a puddle.
The other two will be offered to M’hijito, who could in theory use them on his front porch. Or stash them in back to accommodate friends during his many parties. The little twins will soon be big enough to sit in chairs, and so these could come in handy. If he doesn’t want them, I’ll either fob them off on some other friend or put them in my own front patio. Or someplace.
Ditto the white real wicker chairs. They could in theory, be repainted and parked inside M’hijito’s house, giving him a couple more chairs in front of his giant computo-television monitor. Or they could go to the Salvation Army, I suppose. Hate to give them up. But…they need to go now.
Now it will be much, much easier to clean up outside. The chairs themselves can be washed down with a hose. A blower or broom will scoot the plant debris and dust out from under the old wooden chairs, which have no weird circular footprint to collect trash. And though I may need to bring the rockers in when the wind comes up, those nesting chairs can stay on the back porch through all but a high gale.
Five hundred bucks is a chunk I don’t like to part with. But I’ve got the money, thanks to teaching two sections in the summer, and thanks to my fourth course making this fall. It it’s not like the purchase was a whim: this is something I’ve been thinking about for over a year. I’ve wanted to upgrade to fake wicker out there, and I’ve also known I couldn’t afford to do it at regular retail prices.
The end of a season is the best time to look for sales like this. Especially when someone else’s end of season is your beginning of season.