The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

WalMart Disappointed While Michael’s Shocked

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We’re bored! Too much snow, blowing winds and deep freeze temperatures for us to get ambitious and get the hell out of the house. Mind you, we have had to go out a few times for food and some necessities of life, but other than that it’s been pretty pathetic.

With so much time on my hands I’ve been trying to get creative and do some little projects inside. Nat found a couple more albums which I’ve converted to DVD and I’ve got our 45 records to convert, but in the meantime I decided to re-arrange a few pictures in the living room. With a stroke of genius on my part I re-arranged my lapel pin collection in shadow box frames and canvass. I arranged two groupings for the alcove and we both agree they look pretty good there.

In order to accommodate the pin collection, I took down two family group photos from above the sofa and replaced them with the two collage frames from the alcove. At first, Nat and I agreed they looked pretty good there, but something kept nagging away – for some reason my collage frame contained too many white spaces compared to Nat’s frame. So, we talked, discussed some different ideas, weighed our options and decided my frame needed to match Nat’s somehow. At first we would look for a close replica to Nat’s frame. You have no idea what a task that turned out to be!! We looked at Michael’s, WalMart, Canadian Tire and even Home Outfitters – in store and online. No such replica (or even close facsimile exists – the picture arrangements were either too big, too scattered or the frame was all wrong. It seems to be the trend for collage frames to consist of a bunch of actual frames all clustered together in varying shapes and sizes. So, after an exhausted search I (with Nat’s hesitating consent) decided to buy one of the clustered collage frame, thinking that at least all that extra white space would be eliminated, giving it a similar look to Nat’s frame with very few white spaces and numerous size pictures, including an oval.

WELL, let me tell you!! Those clustered frames are a real crock. Once home, I disassembled the back, placed all of my family photos against the glass plates, put the backing back on, clipped it all together, and placed it up against the wall to hang, whereupon some of the glass plates fell completely out of place!! Back to the office, disassembled the whole thing again, put the glass back into each little frame, put a stiffer support in each, assembled again, but lo and behold the glass still fell from some of the frames. With a third try at hand Nat and I finally realized the glass plates were much smaller than the inserts they were suppose to fit in, plus, there were no clips or anything of the sort to even keep each plate in place.

Some more thinking and planning. Nat found some styrofoam and thought we could cut enough pieces to support the plates between the individual frames and the large cardboard backing. After cutting the styrofoam into 12 individual sizes, with scads of flying bits of styrofoam flying all over, we managed to assemble the frame again. No luck!! The plates still fell out of place and by now I was getting pissed and wanted to chuck the whole thing down WalMart’s throat (where we bought the damn thing). Cheap goods!!!!

Again, Nat came up with another idea. By now it was decided we would have to support the plates between each frame. With more thinking and cutting I managed to make small little thick slats to place in the grooves of each frame in order to support the glass plate above and the glass plate below. AGAIN – I assembled everything back together – styrofoam slats, glass plates, pictures, foam backing, large cardboard support and clipped the whole thing together. Finally, I had success after two days of utter frustration and anger at shoddy workmanship.

The cluster of frames was finally hanging up, alongside of Nat’s collage. The sizes in width and height were perfect. But, after another day or two, something kept nagging at the two of us. What was it? Again, more discussion, more weighing our options. There was something about my collage frame that wasn’t quite right – too much black now, no white spaces at all – what was it?? By now we had come to an agreement – just re-work both frames to be the same – but how?? Nat suggested we go to a proper frame shop and have something made up. Knowing that would be expensive,  it was a least worth a try. Then, it suddenly hit me!! Why not just re-work both family collages into the museum frames I have. They would match all the other frames in the house, and we would just have to have new mattes cut.

WELL, this is now turning into another story. We disassembled Nat’s collage frame and he narrowed his photos down to the ones he absolutely had to include – his frame had 22 photos and mine only had 12. Logic told me that if the frames were to be cohesive, he would have to reduce some and I would have to increase mine. I then spent a whole afternoon enlarging a couple of his family pictures and trying to find more to add to my frame. After an exhausting time of thinking and figuring things out in this little muddled head of mine and using the black ink in our printer like it was a bottomless pit, all the photos were ready. We then began to work out a good design for his pictures, along with a newer design for mine. We stood at the desk sorting and resorting our designs. By the grace of God, looking at the size of his old collage matte and then at the size of mine it hit me like a ton of bricks – DUH!!!!! Why not just put his old collage matte into the museum frame we were getting ready to have to change. The actual frames were the same size and after holding his matte over the glass of the museum frame, it fit perfectly – another DUH!!!!!

Back we went to re-taping all of his 22 photos back onto his original matte – the big ones, the tiny ones and the in-between ones. Once done, the whole thing fitted into the museum frame as if they were made for each other and the entire thing looked fresh and updated. We both couldn’t believe it, and wondered what our problem was that we didn’t think of this before. I’m thinking it’s because I can tend to make things complicated and poor Nat gets lost in my brain wave and crazy idea. Now we only had to have one new collage matte made and we could do that at the Framing Department at Michael’s at Niagara Square.

This morning we headed down to Michael’s. We told the clerk our idea and showed her our collage design on paper, along with the photo sizes required. She began working away on the computer program, trying to get the sizes right within the 16 x 20 measurements. Nat and I stood there patiently as she worked her magic and once she was finished she gave us the shocking news – “You’re not going to want to do this, you know”, she explained. “Why, what’s the bottom line”, I asked. “$101.50”, she cringed, as Nat and I looked at each other and said together “You’ve got to be kidding”. “No”, she said, “it’s very expensive to have custom mattes made, especially for larger sized frames”. Nat and I hummed and hawed in disbelief. We both reminded each other how much trouble we’d been through up to this moment. We both knew there was nothing else out there that could solve our problem and any other Frame Shop would probably be just as expensive. Knowing what we knew we agreed to bite the bullet and go ahead. We were both at wits’ end by now and just wanted this project done with. Nat looked at me and said “this thing is never going to leave the wall” as I nodded my head in agreement. We both also agreed, however, that the final design was going to be great and was just what we were looking for. So now it’s a waiting game before we can pick up the matte and put the two frames back where they belong in the living room.

This whole scenario started off as one little idea of hanging up my collection of lapel pins. I was convinced that by switching the two items around (the pictures to the living room and the pin collection to the alcove) that this would be easy, peasy. Silly me!!!! The two frames looked great in the alcove only because they weren’t hanging side-by-side and on a corner wall. It wasn’t until they actually hung side-by-side that I became obsessed that “something just wasn’t right”. I’ve now told Nat, as I have so many times in the past, please smack me next time I have an idea!!!!

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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