Saturday, September 5, 2009

Not Counting Chickens in Chicago

As part of the whole “Stacey converts her apartment décor to something worthy of a grown-up” I didn’t just tackle the indoor spaces, but looked to my outdoor spaces as well. I have a tiny back porch, more of a porchlet really, with a view of the alley. From this porchlet you can see all manner of urban wildlife…raccoons, opossums, squirrels, many more rats than I am comfortable with, not to mention the occasional “guy who cannot make it home to urinate”. I have a decent sized front porch, with a view of lovely historic Logan Boulevard, with its wide lawns and lush trees and gorgeous Victorian architecture.

So when I moved in fifteen years ago, it seemed almost logical to put the small iron patio set we had been gifted…on the back porch. I'm not exactly sure why it was logical, but I know there must have been a reason. It isn't a big set. A couple small chairs, a tiny settee, a little coffeetable. The perfect place to sit outside and enjoy the ambiance of being on the first floor facing the alley. The set was, at the time, painted a white so dirty it was gray, was peeling and flaking to reveal rust, and had cushions in a garish daisy pattern of lime green, canary yellow and white. I mused to my then husband that maybe we should repaint them, possibly do new cushions in a Provencal pattern. He surprised me a week later by spray-painting them a bright bilious cobalt blue. I hated it, but it was a nice gesture, so I thanked him and left the cushions as is, not wanting to spend money on new cushions to match that horrible color, and figuring in a couple of years the paint would need re-doing again anyway and we could fix it then. We never did.

We never sat out there. It just wasn’t ever a good place to hang out casually. The only use it ever got was when visiting friends needed a place to smoke. The husband left the house eight years ago. The majority of my friends wisely quit smoking. The ugly blue furniture sat peeling and rusting away on the back porch undisturbed, and I never gave it much thought. Until this summer.

When it occurred to me that if I moved the furniture to the FRONT porch where the NICE VIEW is, I might actually want to sit outside.

I may be really smart, but sometimes I’m a flipping idiot.

The set moved quickly and relatively efficiently (since I was doing it alone) to the front porch where it made a perfect little sitting area. I went on Craigslist and found a kid willing to come scrape, sand and repaint for a pittance, and within the week they went from primary blue to a dark chocolate brown. I ordered replacement cushions in a camel cotton twill. It has been a delight all summer, and I cannot believe it took me so long to have this particular A-Ha moment.

Sadly, not every project has such success.

The moving of the set left a large hole on my porchlet in the back. Looking at the space I realized that actually, it wouldn’t be a terrible place to have dinner, since that happens at night when the alley is darkened, and with some candles or twinkle lights and good company as the focus, it wouldn’t be so bad. All I needed was a small square dining table and four dining chairs and I would be set.

The chairs found me quickly. Visiting a great funky store with design guru Penny, a perfect set of four (ridiculously cheap) folding iron dining chairs with a nice scroll design practically leapt into my car. Sadly, there was no matching table. I figured I would wait till the end of the summer when the patio furniture goes on sale everywhere and pick up a cheap one.

It is the end of the summer.

I looked everywhere. But the tables in my price range were either too ugly or flimsy, the ones I liked would need to be 90% off to afford them.

Until I checked on I sometimes have good luck with them when I am looking for something specific, and they did not disappoint. A square folding iron dining table with a slat top that would match the slat seats of the chairs. The perfect size. In my budget. Five of them left. I ordered it. That was just over a week ago.

Today, sort of wondering where it might be and when I might expect it, I went to check the delivery tracking number with UPS. The UPS website announced proudly that my table has been delivered!

To Incline Village, Nevada.

Which is sort of nowhere even remotely close to Chicago, Illinois.

I contact, who confirms that the package was indeed delivered to Incline Village, Nevada. I inform them that I do not, in fact, LIVE in Incline Village, Nevada. They inform me that they will try to track the package down, however the item is now out of stock, so if they cannot find it, they will process a refund.

Table, FAIL.

Tune in next week to follow the continuing saga of the ruined chairs….


  1. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. How the hell did UPS get a package intended for Chicago to Nevada? Seriously. Maybe it will show up--you never know. Stranger things have happened.

  2. I used to live in Miami, where I, too, had a great view of the Miami version of the guy who couldn't make it home to urinate. Indeed, the wall of my house was the Guys Who Can't Make it Home Urinal Away From Home. I miss Cuban food, but I don't miss those guys.

    RE: Tables. Check the Salvation Army store. World Market also had some patio furniture on sale. Good luck.

  3. Chicago - Nevada....yeah, that's similar enough to make a mistake.

    I lived, loved and acted in the theater in Chicago for 7 years. W lived off Loyala (across from the school, one block off lake, one block East [Sheridan]from 'L' - yes, Roger's Park!) and had one of those funky back porches that overlooked an alley. Funny thing how an alley has a life of it's own and I was always amazed at the weird looking wild life - possums! - that would visit the trash cans! God, I miss Chicagoland!