We have gotten really good at putting things that come in flat boxes together. A lot of the furniture and cabinets we bought for the house come in flat boxes. I suppose if we had not spent so much money on the wood in the house we could have gotten things that came on trucks rather than in flat boxes but right now the wood in the house is more our cup of tea.

So, flat boxes. We have a lot of things that came in flat boxes and the quality of the products and the quality of the directions range from trash to treasure. Today I tried to put together a small kitchen cart that had treasure instructions and was middling low end quality but it was impossible to put together, at least alone.

The first step was to attach the handle, four wood pegs and two Allen head screws. I was off on a roll. Step 2. Attach A3 (shelf) to A1 and A2 (legs) using screws B2. Nothing to it. Very straightforward. Put legs on shelf with screws. Not so fast. There are two shelf A3s and you cannot tighten the first A3 until the second A3 is in place. The shelf sitting closest to the floor is elevated by 2 inches so the legs and the shelf cannot be balanced to put them together. The screw are secured by a cam lock. Each time you turn the leg and the shelf so that you can get a tool in the screw the cam lock falls out since it is upside down and not attached to the screw that is trying desperately to make it to the cam lock before it falls out. Once I got both A1s and both A2s attached to the first A3 I started on the second A3 making sure not to tighten the screws until the second A3 was in place. You cannot tighten the screws in the second A3 either. You have to attach top, A4 and THEN you can tighten everything.

I managed to wrestle the first leg of the second A3 when the legs all spun. I was sitting with a lap full of cart with four legs up, none of them mine. Two were crossed. crossedlegs (450x800)I looked at them and immediately needed to go potty. I took a cell phone shot and sent it off to my spouse who was in town. He had been privy to the phone narrative of my legs falling off when he called to see what sort of hand cleaner I needed for the latest mess I had gotten into. I kept bemoaning the fact that my legs were falling off. He laughed and said he would be home soon since it sounded like we needed four hands to keep my legs from falling off.

Tonight the finish on my recycled tables bubbled and I had to go back and do a major sanding-repair job when I thought I was almost through. I thought I could bolt the legs back on to my tables and put them out tomorrow but not so. I could get the legs on but I could not get the table tops right.

Both of these tables came in flat boxes and both of them I tore apart and redesigned before I will put them together. I even got new legs for one of the tables since its original legs were painfully ugly.

The key to all of this furniture that comes in flat boxes is to follow the directions if there are any and when there are no instructions, lay everything out and study it carefully and hope to get it right always bearing in mind that a screw in particle board is a one shot deal.

Tonight I went down to the basement apartment to get a computer cable and thought about how confusing it was to be living in a tiny basement apartment and in a big house that topsy-turvy with unpacking and making things out of flat boxes. My spouse’s computer is still in the apartment, as is the bed we had been sleeping on. Two floors up is our new bedroom where we are now sleeping. Today my spouse was working on the computer and the dog was napping on the foot of the bed about a foot away in the tiny room. I came in and decided I felt horrible so I would take a nap. After I woke up from my nap we made lunch, trotted upstairs to the deck and had lunch. The dishes were deposited in the main kitchen but later returned to the basement apartment kitchen so they could be washed.

Tonight my spouse called the dog to go to bed while I finished the final coat on the kitchen/dining room floor. She stood in the middle of the living room clearly conflicted. Up or down? Which way! Finally she had to be called with a “this way” command.

I thought about all the furniture that comes in flat boxes that may or may not have intelligible directions and sometimes no directions at all. I feel like we are living our lives as if we were furniture out of a flat box. There are no clear instructions as to how to move from downstairs to upstairs in this topsy-turvy life of ours. We will just have to lay all the pieces out and hope we get them right. Thankfully life is more like the resilient wood in our house than like particle board. We get more than one shot at getting it right.