How Puzzling!

Back in January on my trip to Las Vegas, I visited the Coca-Cola store.  I could’ve bought almost everything there and wanted to, but I restrained myself and left with just a puzzle.  I say “just a puzzle” but it is a doozy.  It’s 2000 pieces and measure about 3 feet by 4 feet.  And it is mostly red.  So I knew it was going to be a challenge.  The goal was to add it to my kitchen decor.

Didn’t exactly have a big enough space to do it, so I cut up some cardboard pieces and tried on my guest bed.  I started out trying to put the edge together.  Took a good couple hours to systematically sort through 2000 pieces.  And let me tell you there are some funky shapes in this thing.

After 6 hours:

And a few more hours after that:

The bed ended up being too low and proved too painful on the back for long periods of time.  I was also frustrated by how slow it was going.  So it sat in that bedroom from January until August, untouched.  I finally decided to get it done and went to Home Depot and found the cheapest wooden panel I could find that would fit the whole thing.  Brought it to my kitchen table and there I worked on it.  But I was nervous…an edge piece was missing.  I decided to push forward and hope it either turned up in the box or in the room.  And I tore that room apart, believe you me.  For three solid days, I worked.  And I literally mean dawn to dusk.  (The edge piece ended up being in the box.)  These were the days my trees were getting cut down, so it gave me something to do since I wanted to be home while they worked.  I would sort through the box and pick out the pieces for 2-3 different sections of the puzzle at a time.  Put them together, sort again, and so on.

End of Day 1.  What I called the “most obvious” sections were done.

End of Day 2.  The red sections that were different enough for me to pick out were done.

End of Day 3.  The final red sections and their logos came together.  The remaining holes were the solid red pieces.
The red color didn’t end up being the biggest challenge.  Each sign was different enough, however subtle, to pick out.  What ended up being the headache was actually the words in the logos: the Coca-Cola.  Each piece had such a small portion of each letter, it was impossible to tell where it belonged at times.  I would stare at the pile and have to get up for a bit, frustrated.  Several times it came down to a matter of just seeing what fit, rather than trying to put it together by mentally seeing the image being pieced together.

Of course, Naomi was a big help during the whole process.  I had to keep the puzzle covered with the cardboard I originally was using underneath.  She also had a fondness for frolicking in the box of pieces.  At one point, she jumped in it and it scooted off the table, dumping the hundreds of pieces all over the floor.  I just knew I’d lose one, but I lucked out.

Got that puppy done and glued together.  Waited for a great framing deal–which was still hard to swallow–but it is done and I’m pretty proud of it.  Looks great on the wall and I was able to spread the rest of my trinkets out along the wall.

Finished!

So if you are one of those who occasionally or regularly comes to my house, be sure to step into the kitchen and see it in person!

Framed and hanging nicely on my wall.
How Puzzling!

What’s It Take to Get a Friggin’ Tree Cut Down?

Last spring, I had my fence repaired and the guys helping me out noticed that a couple of the tall pines in my backyard were growing into my shed.  We started looking around at them and noticed that another was rotting at the base, and yet another was growing into the fence.  (Click the pic above to see bigger panorama.)  Well great.  One of the guys knew a reputable tree cutting service, so I had them come out and give me a bid.  This was Quality Tree Service.  Quality told me for as much it would be to cut down the four, I should just do all eight, and quoted me $2,500.  Ouch.  He actually called back on his own accord and lowered the price to $2000.  I told him I’d have to save for a bit, but that it sounded like a good deal.  Considering that would be $250/tree when they are normally $400-600 each, it was a GREAT deal.  Just a lot to swallow at once.

I ended up with all those extra classes this fall so I knew I could get the job done.  Gave Quality a call and scheduled him to come on a Friday so that I could be home while they did it.  Enter the drama.  He called me that morning to say he was broke down on the highway and wouldn’t be able to make it.  So we postponed to the following Friday.  I had already told my neighbors, so I stopped by the older couple (don’t really care about the rednecks on the other side) to let them know.  She really didn’t like the fact I am cutting them down, but I told her why I had to.  The night before that, I called him to make sure we were good to go, but he told me his wife went into labor so he had to subcontract the job to another company.  He asked me to make a check for $500 to him and $1500 for the company coming out.

The new guys, from Arbor Care, arrive.  They looked like they would do a good job and had quite a bit more equipment to boot.  Not to mention the owner is the four time state tree climbing champion.  Whaaaat?!?  Now it was my understanding at that point that a guy from Quality would be helping them and that’s why he was getting $500.  No one showed until 2 pm and that was just to pick up the check.  Which I stupidly gave him.  I asked the Arbor Care guy why Quality gets $500 and he basically said he shouldn’t have.  So now I’ve got a company doing a $2,500 job for $1,500.  That doesn’t sound very fair to me.

They bring down 4 trees and start grinding the stumps.  He actually gets a few bids on jobs in my neighborhood while he works.  My neighbor lady came out at one point and was apparently pretty huffy about limbs falling in her yard.  They told her they’d clean it up, but she proceeded to inform them she didn’t want them over there and started pitching the limbs over the fence.  she seems so sweet and meek before this!

They work until about 4 pm.  The pile of limbs is enormous out front.  I call the city to schedule a pick up.  They said they’d come Tuesday.  I told them to be sure to bring the dump truck and crane.  You can see why.  The Arbor Care guy said he’d be back on Monday–in fact he said it several times–so even though it was Labor Day, I was thusly expecting him.  Monday rolls around and no one shows.  I try to call both Quality and Arbor Care.  No one is answering.  By 11 am, it is clear no one is coming.  Mildly frustrating.

Tuesday arrives and it begins to rain.  But I’m actually not too sad about it because the city is coming and since there is no more room to put limbs, they can clear it out and make room for more.  Except they never came.  I called them up and asked what was up.  Turns out the crane/dump truck service take 2 weeks to come out!  Good-bye nice lawn.  Glad I wasted $200 on fertilizing service this year just to have you killed.  I seriously have no idea where more limbs will go.

The rain continues today.  So we can’t get any work done because their tractor thingy would tear up my yard and my neighbor’s side yard.  In the meantime, I still can’t get ahold of Quality.  The phone is off…it goes straight to a “this number is not accepting calls” message.  So I had called my bank on Tuesday and had them issue a stop payment on the $500 check.  My intent was to make my message clear…I wanted him to call me.  I finally got through to at least leave a voicemail this morning.  Well lo and behold!  His phone was miraculously working again, because he had called back within 15 minutes.  I had just stepped out of my office so he left a voicemail.  In it, he threatened to take legal action against me which would result in me being evicted from my home.  He said he never intended to supply a worker and that the $500 was what the two companies had agreed to.

I immediately called him back but (surprise!) got a voicemail.  I told him that his threat was baseless and completely out of line.  My purpose in doing the stop payment proved to be very beneficial, because it had the effect I wanted–for him to call me back.  I told him I found his business practices highly questionable and unethical and would be informing the 3-4 people waiting to hear how this job went that his company could not be counted on.  The fact is Quality did not provide one minute of service to me!  I told him I would release the check and the two companies could argue it out; I just wanted the job done.

I feel bad for Arbor Care, but that’s all I can do…feel bad.  I tried.  It’s not my place to intervene anymore.  I filed a complaint the Better Business Bureau, but who knows what will come of that.  Arbor Care will hopefully be back Friday to finish up.  The yard is looking so much bigger already and I can’t wait to have a nice grassy backyard!

Wanna see more pics of the process, including a short video clip of the four time state tree climbing champ doing his thing, go here.

What’s It Take to Get a Friggin’ Tree Cut Down?