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Delayed Gratification

Sunday 15 November 2020

It’s a way of life now in the USA — delayed gratification!

I am trying to make it work to my advantage.

Last week, I marched into the Made In the USA Home Furnishings Store in Rancho Cordova, CA (a town that was dubbed Rancho Cambodia during the 1980s due to the incredible influx of refugee boat people into this area). I proceeded to see, IN REAL LIFE, the couch that I’d seen online. Appropriately called The Winston, it’s a classic beauty of historic elegance.

This sofa will replace the old nailhead-trim brown leather couch of the past 2 decades. That piece of furniture has seen a lot of sitting, a lot of sleep, a lot of hounds, a lot of Turner Classic Movies, a lot of writing and editing, a lot of Sharks games, and a lot of moves, within the domicile and from one house to another.

I then selected the upholstery fabric in a matter of mere minutes. The Furniture Consultant was astonished at the rapidity of my choices; but, as I told him, I know what I like, and what I don’t like. And when I see what I like, I choose it. When I see what I don’t like, I walk. Evidently, this gentleman has not experienced that type of customer, in the female sex, very often.

The fabric is called Urban Renewal, which I found ironically amusing, given that I now inhabit the sticks!

So far, so good! Each item and each choice of stain, cushion, and upholstery material were immediately available for purchase. Delivery time, however, would be . . . approximately 16 weeks. It’s a custom-made couch!

“Oh, well,” I laughed, “We’re all waiting for something. I’ll just add this one to my list.”

Mr. Furniture Consultant liked my way of thinking, my design choices, and my no-nonsense approach to merchandise. I began to wonder, nonetheless, whether my way of buying anything is currently working to my advantage!

After months and months and months of panicked plague shutdowns, Americans, at least certain individuals, are making things again! Getting those delightful things into your hot little hands is now a matter of infinite patience.

Stored in the garage, we have two rather large boxes of new stereo speakers from Crutchfield. They’d arrived at The House in a timely manner. All they need is the Disgronificator, the Receiver/Amplifier. It’s on order from Crutchfield. The wait time is so long and so uncertain that the Company Rep, on the phone, will not, in good conscience, give us an estimated delivery date.

Two months????

The first rainstorm of the wet, or rainy, season barreled through northern California this past Friday; I decided to make a return visit to that marvelous home furnishings store — to buy an actual, verified Stickley Item. Long have I dreamed of that day. During the 1990s and well into the 2000s, all I really wanted was the Stickley mantel clock. One historic Sacramento Furniture Company, now out-of-business, featured an actual Stickley Showroom. I could make an appointment to come and see the venerated future antique, and then find out just how much the item costs.

Thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to gaze upon such exquisite beauty — that I cannot afford to buy!

I never went there, and so the years have passed by, with the Stickley company going from dire straits to near bankruptcy, and then back from the brink of that formidable fiscal cliff. The Audis now own Stickley, and the likelihood of my ever owning that mantel clock has diminished, even though I now have three mantels upon which to perch the adored from-an-inordinate-distance timepiece.

Dear Husband has acquired Design Plans to hand-craft his own Mantel Clock, which is really the whole point of the Arts & Crafts ethos, isn’t it?

To this day, I still do not know what the price of the thing is. I suspect the works inside the wooden creation have become too degraded for the Genuine Article to be worth the exorbitant cost, whatever it is! Its price tag remains hidden, concealed like a deep dark State Secret. And, I know, if you have to ask how much something costs, then you cannot afford it. I agree on that one!

The dearth of marketing skills of Gustav Stickley has really stuck with this company that he founded (after a failed enterprise or two), sometime around the year 1900. A brilliant designer and crafter of furniture that advocated an entire way of living, Stickley was abominable in his sense of timing for marketing, product placement, or any form of selling savvy. His acumen resided completely in artistic and aesthetic endeavours that never quite got off the ground. He was just too grounded in his way of thinking, his entire mode of existence.

The Craftsman way of life is one to be chosen, not mass-produced. And so one Stickley project after another showed enormous promise that Americans did not promise to buy.

It’s always a struggle in these United States, finding that sweet spot of sales for quality goods that can support any company. Perhaps Gustav truly did not like capitalism, or the dirty business of hawking your wares. During an era when America was beginning to flex its economic muscle, his philosophy of life offered a retrograde approach to the progress in progress. That dynamo would make the USA the colossus that had to win wars to save liberty, democracy — and the individualistic mindset that free men and free women need in order to develop their fullest potential, no matter what the talent, ability, or skill.

Maybe Gustav was too much a collectivist at heart to make a successful go of his furniture, his accessories, his farm. Gustav bought the farm in 1942 without ever having witnessed the great financial success of glorious works of furniture art in wood, leather, metal and fabric. I do believe too much delayed gratification was expected of any American of that epoch!

Nowadays, one needs to almost sell the farm to afford a house-full of genuine Stickley. I much prefer an item or two, a lovely grace-note of Arts & Crafts, or Mission-style furniture, in a room. If I’m in an entire room of the ginormously heavy dark wood goods, I feel like I’m in a museum. Perhaps I am. Too much simplicity of grandeur can be stiflingly overpowering, and monotonous!

I do own a Mission-style rocker, a short and a tall Mission-style bookcase, as well as a Stickley-style desk. Dear Husband bought that writing surface for me at an antique store for Christmas of 1998, right after we moved into the Peach House. It’s not a Stickley, but I have written momentous passages whilst seated at it. And one of my most thrilling and proud purchases from money earned with a technical engineering writing contract is a Mission Style coffee table that I bought, on sale, from the Allwood Furniture store in Roseville, CA during 2000.

Always a Stickley-style, never a Stickley. Until today!

My long-awaited investment in craftsman artistry is — a copper-top end table. Like the Duracell battery!

This small table is a Limited Edition for the historic year of 2020. Within a mere matter of weeks, the clock will run out on this design masterpiece, this little treasure with the big price-tag. In the words of the marketing geniuses at the Stickley Company:

The 2020 Collector Edition Coppertop Side Table is a collectible piece that features the very best of Stickley with a unique twist. The solid quartersawn white oak base features iconic square cutouts, and the versatile 22” round copper top is handcrafted by artisans using a torch to bring out the natural color variations. Available in a range of hand-applied Stickley oak finishes, the 2020 Collector Edition Coppertop Side Table is ideal for Stickley lovers old and new . . . .

I therefore put in my order for this Stickley collectible at the Made In the USA Home Furnishings Store. The price compared reasonably with other custom-crafted end tables, so my planned impulse was not out-of-bounds of the pocketbook. And my sense of delayed gratification shall, one day, be amply rewarded:

The wait time for this baby is only . . . 20 weeks!


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