Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Grate Adventure

In keeping with the old adage, 'You get like the people you live with', I have found myself picking up on Carl's habit of reusing and repurposing found items we come across. 
One of our original tree grates
Last month I stumbled across a Craigslist ad:

Tree grates for sale, four sets.   One is broken.  See picture. 

Oh, I was excited!  They were the same pattern as the grates we have on the entrance to the driveway, but just a foot smaller and best of all, they were in Green Bay somewhere.  

I immediately sent an email to the seller.  'Hello, I'm interested in the tree grates you have for sale.   When would be a good time for me to view them?'

I checked my email the next day and the next.  A week went by, no reply. Going back over to Craigslist, I saw the ad had been taken down.  Drat.  They must have been sold already.  Oh, well.   Better luck next time. 
Side profile of our bigger grates.   I love circles in the garden and in designs.  I'm weird.

A few weeks went by and then this message showed up in my email:  "Hello, are you still interested in the grates?"

"Yes, I am still interested.  When would be a good time to take a look at them?" 

Three days went by, no reply.  Ok, well, apparently they'd been sold?  I didn't know what to think.  I had no idea of an address or contact name.  I waited a week and sent the same message again.  No reply.

After a few more days, I tried one last time, "Hello, I am still interested in the grates.  Are they available?"

Almost instantaneously, a return reply, "Yes."

I waited for a bit for an address or phone number, but again, nothing, so my next email was, "Where are you located so I can come and take a look at them?"

Within seconds, a hotlink to an address appeared in my email.

Ok, good, now we're getting somewhere.  

"Do you know when you would be coming to see the grates?  I'll have someone here to show them to you if you give me a time," was the next message.

It turns out the grates were located at a business that closed every day at 3PM.  I set up a time on Friday after Carl was done with work at noon.  

Imagine my surprise when I checked Craigslist on Tuesday and saw the same ad up again.  I was really confused and a bit nervous, I'd finally gotten in contact with the seller on Monday and our appointment to see the grates wasn't until Friday, so with our luck they'd be sold out from under us, but there was no helping it.  We'd have to take a chance. 
Still our original pair; ok, I know, not to everyone's taste, but I love them.

I Googled the address and discovered the location was a construction business.  We made plans for me to take the Pontiac and trailer into town and meet Carl after work to (hopefully) haul our purchases home.

Friday morning came and I checked Craigslist again.  The grates were still listed, so I grabbed the car keys and headed off to Carl's workplace.  We drove across town and arrived right on time.  A friendly receptionist led us through the shop and out to the yard and there they were on a pallet, four sets of tree grates.  Carl and one of the employees carefully handled each one checking for any more breaks.  The grates are heavy, over two hundred pounds a piece, so it took some time to inspect all of them.  Satisfied that only one of the four was broken, I asked if the price was negotiable and after the receptionist checked with her supervisor, a slightly lower price was agreed upon. 
This was the broken section.  Not too bad.

Carl went to get the trailer and start loading and I went back into the office with the receptionist to pay the bill.   All was going smoothly until I produced my personal check.  

(Yes, I know what you're thinking, we pay money for a bunch of rusty metal things?  Am I truly insane?  Yes.  But every year we buy one goofy thing for the yard in honor of our anniversary, birthday and Christmas all rolled into one.  Divide it by two people and three holidays, and heck, it's not so much money.  Hey, I'll justify it any way I can.)

So there I was, this close to owning the tree grates, when the receptionist said she could not take a personal check unless she calls my bank to verify the funds are present.  I told her that would be fine, but my bank didn't answer the phone.  She tried calling a different branch, but they would not verify funds over the phone at all, even if I gave permission to do so.  

Drat, again.  So close, yet so far.  

I was thinking I may as well saunter back out to the lot and tell Carl to unload them again when the supervisor came into the office.  The receptionist asked him if she should take my check.

He looked at my check and then looked at me.  "Is it good?"

I looked back at him and said, "It certainly is."

"I see your address; it's not far from here....well, if you're sure this check will clear the bank, alright, I guess we can accept it," he said, still eyeballing me sternly.  

I thanked them for the transaction and went out the door, helped Carl tie down the load and off we went.  (The check wasn't cashed for three days, I was really quite surprised they didn't do it sooner, and yes, the funds were available.)

We had to take the car and trailer back to Carl's workplace and pick up his car and I proudly drove our new garden accoutrements home.  The load was quite heavy, all four sets weighed over a thousand pounds, so I took the backroads and drove slowly.

Once we got them home, Carl's next question was, "Ok, now, what are you going to do with them?"

This is the broken grate, it doesn't look bad from a distance.
I had Carl prop one set up so I could take a look at the size of them. (In the background you can see a whole bunch of other projects waiting in the wings for a bright idea or three...yes, we have more ideas than time.)

There are the rest of them, lying around, awaiting their fate.
Now it's been almost a month since we brought the grates home and my idea has been to add them to the garden entrance to my mother's remembrance garden; one pair in front of the gazebo and the other pair on the exit of the garden.  Carl is not in favor of the idea, but I finagled him into propping one set up where I'd want them to be so we could see if it would work or not.  Carl thinks they would look like cow yard gates for people to walk through, but I don't agree. 

One of the new grates temporarily placed for artistic effect.
 The other idea we had would be to add two of the smaller grates to the ends of the original big grates on the driveway, which may happen, too; they could be slanted in a bit on an angle, but we'll see. 

Trying to picture the two smaller grates on either side of the big one...maybe, maybe not.

Our future plan is to make a square channel iron frame for the grates to hang from.  I know the extra steel frame would really set them off nicely.  But again, we need some spare time which is in short supply.

I like the idea of having the grates placed in the gardens nearby the original driveway pair to have a bit of a repetitive theme, but we'll see.  Some day I hope to add stained glass to the centers, as we did with the scrap stainless sculpture we made a few years back.

I'd probably do a much smaller variation on the big round window we made three years ago:

Maybe just the center part?  (Boy, we'd better find some more spare time.)

 For now, I've got to get the garden put to bed for winter. Plus, we are working on finishing up the other big project of 2017 I'll be writing about soon, so the tree grates will have to wait for a bit. 
 But that's ok, it gives me more time to get Carl used to the idea of where they're going to be placed permanently.  (I think it will grow on him.)


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Great post dear Karen. I always love seeing your gardens and what you two are up to in them or creating for them. These tree grates will be wonderful additions to your gardens wherever they are placed.

Happy Autumn ~ FlowerLady

outlawgardener said...

Your grates are gorgeous & I'm so glad you found more. Funny, just before you mentioned stained glass, I was thinking the same thing. You could do a panel for the center and maybe just glue glass to the rays surrounding it. You're so creative and talented. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Alison said...

I love the idea of you adding stained glass to them in some way. I'm also on your side as far as placement. I love the shot of them from afar where you've set up the one pair temporarily in front of the gazebo. Kudos to you on being so dogged at acquiring them.

Karen said...

Rainey, thank you! Yes, we're a bit at odds on placement, but the 'grate' thing about them is they are movable, so if they don't work in one area, we can always migrate them elsewhere. :-)

Peter, I've had the same thought about stained glass ever since we bought the first pair home years ago. Something about stained glass and heavy metal goes together. We designed the big orange window for Castle Aaargh with the 'rays of light' in mind as it reminded me of the grates. We'll see if I ever get around to creating anything for it!

Alison, thank you! One vote for their current placement, I appreciate it! I will admit the chase to acquire them was nerve-wracking to say the least, but it all ended well. :-)

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Gosh, you are creative! Gorgeous, gorgeous pieces. The stained glass is amazing, and I can only imagine what you'll do with the grates. I can't wait to see your plans. I'm having trouble transitioning through summer-fall-winter prep this year. I'm in denial, and the weather is so amazing!

Pam's English Garden said...

Wow! Stunning! I didn't know what a tree grate was and had to do a little research. A wonderful find, Karen. So glad it worked out. And I love your placement. P. x

Betsy said...

Wow, tree grates. What a great idea for the garden. I love seeing your ideas and hearing your stories. Wonderful. Have a great Saturday-Betsy

chavliness said...

"...I love circles in the garden and in designs. I'm weird"... Oh no, I love circular design too, and refuse to be considered weird, at least not for that!
I always admired those rusty metal grates and loved how you used them in the garden. I wondered what the heck they were, till now. Tree grates! Of course.
The hole in the middle "frames" the view once sees through it. I saw this design used in a Chinese garden in Seattle and fell in love with the idea. All this is to say that this is a fantastic find even if you don't have the time to decorate it with glass mosaic right away. Although, that mosaic window you created 3 weeks ago is astonishingly beautiful.

chavliness said...

I mean, 3 years ago!!!

Peonies & Magnolias said...

What an awesome find!!!!! I'm so glad it worked out and you got them. Love your stain glass too. Thanks so much for sharing! Have a great week.

Indie said...

I love what you did to the original grate - how fun to have more to play with now! That does sound like quite the chore getting them, not to mention moving those heavy grates around. I love the idea of putting a stained glass piece in the middle. I can't wait to see what you do with them!

Sue Baker said...

Hello Karen, I was just catching up on some of your news I am so sad to learn your lovely mother has passed away. my heart goes out to you.
How lovely it is to see your garden after such a long time away from blogger. I love the gates.Your garden just gets more beautiful as time goes by.
Did you ever finish I believe you called it Castle Aaaghh! do you remember the rock I sent you to put a little bit of Hampshire in it.
Hope You and Carl are keeping well and the rest of the family to. Sue.


Garden Fancy said...

Karen, those grates are really cool -- I'm glad you found them and will be able to use them in your gardens. Looking forward to reading about your next big project too. Best Regards, -Beth