Month: August 2014

This have I learned about House Projects

(NOTE: Please realize that these Emeralds of Wisdom do not in any way address the amount of time any given House Project will take. That complex topic, involving as it does butterflies, relativity, and quantum, will be discussed in another post.)

1. If you plan a project carefully, even to the extent of writing out work instructions, something will go horribly awry at Step 2. The materials you carefully gathered will be the wrong ones, the tools will not include the tool that is critical to the job, or the destructions on the label will have changed overnight from reading “this is perfect for this application” to “using this for this application will bring on the apocalypse shortly after giving you the heartbreak of psoriasis, or possibly moderate to severe pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, depending on the moon phase.”

—Corollary: Failing to plan will not thwart this process. It merely means different things will go wrong at roughly the same rate and at the same stage/s of the project. However, they will not necessarily be worse things, so you aren’t likely to lose anything by failing to plan.

2. The Guys at Hardware Sales, who have proven heretofore to know everything, everything, about any home repair you could ever possibly need to do in this universe, will fail you. It will be the guy at the Evil Big-box Store whom you run into entirely at random, because you are carrying the disassembled pieces of the light fixture you intend to install and are staring in a lost manner at a wall full of Things in the Electrical aisle, who will save your sorry behind with a simple, elegant solution (although it will require purchase of a miter saw, but since you seem to wind up needing to cut miters several times a year anyway and they never turn out straight with the tools you now have, this is not such a big deal. Particularly since said purchase is more cost-effective than driving down to Snaotheus’s to borrow his.)

3. Only a hopeless optimist purchases a power tool (or anything else requiring assembly) expecting the instructions to actually show (by virtue of clear, unambiguous drawings) or tell (likewise, with written and numbered steps) how to assemble the thing after it’s out of the box. To wit:

—The destructions for the new miter saw contain microscopic drawings, with lines pointing ambiguously to two? three? maybe even four? parts, none of which is labeled or even drawn out as anything more detailed than a minuscule ink blob except for one that’s called “B,” which is not shown in the parts list, wherein parts are identified as “1,” “2,” “3,” etc.

—The tools promised to be included for assembly . . . won’t be. Anywhere. In any form. Not even drawings that you could, in a fit of great desperation, cut out with scissors and use to conjure the real thing through sympathetic magic. (If you don’t have any blood handy to make that feasible, don’t worry—you will soon. Very soon.)

—If by a series of unprecedented miracles you manage to get most of the “1,” “2,” and “3”-type parts installed in likely places, using your own tools (the ones that most closely resemble those you think they might have meant when not writing or drawing the destructions), three parts will be left over. None of these parts will be included in the parts list, nor will any have a number or letter identifying it. You must assume that these are critical parts and the whole thing will blow up in your face if they aren’t put into place, disfiguring you horribly and possibly even reducing your corpus to kibble bits, but there ya go, if you can’t find a place for ’em, you can’t.

—If against all odds you have reached this step and intend to unlock the saw arm, there will be nothing anywhere explaining how to do this or showing where, or whether, a locking pin might be hidden. If you can find this elusive item, you are among the thrice blessed, and should rush out and spend your entire paycheck on lottery tickets at once.

—Since you intend to use this power saw to cut trim and you need a nice, clean cut, you cleverly thought ahead (see #1) and purchased a 110-tooth blade (compared to the standard 3-tooth ripping blade it comes with, guaranteed to make a beaver-chewed log look smooth as satin by comparison). At this point, you discover that (surprise! surprise! really, surprise!!) nowhere in the 40-page destruction booklet is it explained how to change the blade. Evidently, you have purchased an immortal blade that is stuck inside a POS amalgamation of mismatched, unnamed, unloved parts thrown randomly into the box as it ran screaming from the factory.

—Using your god-like reasoning powers, which have made your species your planet’s dominant life form, you deduce that you need to pull the plastic blade cover back and anchor it some way so you can see how the blade is mounted. Good luck with that; maybe you’ll discover how to do it. I wound up putting a rubber band around it and hooking it around something that stuck out the back, which was not, as narrative causality might require, either the missing locking pin or a handy bit intended to hold back the cover. Instead, at this point I—hark! lo! verily!—discovered the “included wrench,” which was black, pressed into a black locking slot mounted on the black back of the blade arm, and rolled into a black recessed area never designed to see light.

—And it didn’t matter anyway, because once I determined I needed to unscrew a little arm that covered the blade’s mounting bolt, I discovered that even though the Included Wrench fit over the mounting bolt, there was not enough mass in my entire body, nay, in the entire previous body that encompassed its now-missing extra person, possibly not enough mass in an entire black hole, to knock that sucker loose so it could be unscrewed and the new, many-toothed blade mounted. I just gave the hell up and moved on to the cutting things up part.

4. If you measure six times and cut once, the piece you cut will fit perfectly. Until you go to actually install it, at which point it will have mysteriously expanded or contracted so that it either
a) falls through its intended resting place and rolls down the east cliff jungle, not to be seen until an archeologist uncovers it 10,000 years hence, or
b) cannot be crammed into place with crowbars and an elephant.

5. At this point, remember that the Anastasia & Drusilla Construction Company (motto: I’ll damn well make it fit) is your friend. Get a knife and shave the rectangular shape down at one end so it’s more trapezoidal. Go get the hammer. The big hammer. Stick the narrow end into place and then pound that mothah for all you’re worth. It’ll fit. Trust me. If it doesn’t, pound it ’til it does.

6. If you decide you need to finish off the day with just one measly success, say a simple chore you’ve done 500 times like laying down a line of caulk on a window, so you can feel slightly less incompetent, then go get the caulk gun, climb up the ladder, and go to it. You will discover that remaining in the tube is precisely 1.26″ of caulk. Not the 38″ you need for the area next to the ladder. At this point, you have two options: You can
a) remember #1 above, or
b) forge ahead, naively believing that at some point, sometime, things have to stop going wrong simply because quantum randomness demands it. If you opt for b), please understand that your reasoning will be pathetically wrong. The caulk will have a different consistency from the stuff you’re used to and you will shortly have festoons of caulk dripping and swagging alongside your window.

7. It is at this point that the wise person swears and throws things. Gives up. Goes inside. Has a beer.

8. If you are among the wise, you will now discover that you have no beer. What you do after this is entirely up to you, although a warning frequently delivered by mothers, involving things ending in tears, may shortly be applicable. Maybe better to grab a good book and go to bed.

One thing for sure: the damned house chores will still be there tomorrow. Lurking.

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Chore Day

Snaotheus and Crew came up today so he could do some of the House Maintenance things I can’t (or shouldn’t try, or have tried and gave up on as a Bad Idea for an Old Woman). He did get the north window cleaned off and caulked, but despite valiant efforts even he couldn’t find safe purchase for the ladder to do the one that hangs over the east cliff, so it remains uncaulked and breezy.

He got about a quarter of the way through cleaning the roof before the pressure washer died. Yep; it —ing died. The damn thing is barely two years old, IF that, and I haven’t used it more than three times, tops. What the (%#*^&! is wrong with things these days? The last one I had lasted longer, but a friend who borrowed it every spring got more use out of it than I did, and then when I did need it, it died. We are not amused.

I’m exhausted after chasing up and down the stairs all day with this or that, although it was a really fun day. Miss Delighta deigned to be kind today and play with me 😉 so we played Dinosaurs and Colors and More Dinosaurs and Ball and Sidewalk Chalk and More Colors. Her fine motor control has advanced exponentially since the last time I colored with her. She’s doing things really neatly now. And she likes everything green. Except for tongues. Tongues should be red, and she made me stick mine out to be sure “everybody has red tongues” really is true, although why she thought mine out of millions of people might be green is kind of beyond me. Still, you have to applaud scientific inquiry when it appears.

Little Mister is the most adorable baby around. He’s so cheerful and laid back. I know I say that every time I see him, but it’s true. A joy to have around, even though you must Watch Him At All Times, he demands that All Doors Must Be Closed, and his appetite is such that he needs a shirt that says Give Me All The Food NOW And No One Will Get Hurt. Really! At one year! He has his Uncle Bassmaster’s appetite.

At the burger diner this evening (which was an Adventure as the only high chair was a real high chair with tray and all, but with a seat that wouldn’t lock into upright, so Little Mister sat in his stroller where he had to look up at everyone), he was fussing madly because he wanted All The Food NOW. Suddenly two little girls (older women, to him) walked past him. Immediately he was all smiles and gave them a suave smile and a casual wave. You could hear him practicing, “Hey! How ya doin’?” in his head. That’s Uncle Bassmaster, too: Food, charming the women and beer. Little Mister hasn’t gotten to the beer yet, but he seems to have to other two down pat. 😉

We Snaotheus did get a fair number of things done following the Pressure-washer Death Debacle. He scraped and painted the part of the garage trim that was peeling off (it took me 20 minutes to find the confounded touch-up paint, which was neither in the can nor the place I remembered it to be in) and futzed with the wiring in an inside light that was going wonky. Of course, it worked perfectly for him every time. I’ll bet it turns out to be one of those testosterone-sensitive things, where it works as long as a male is around but otherwise, nothankyewverymuch.

He also replaced the spotlight bulb in the upstairs motion-detector light that has been messed up for a while (another place where he can use his monkey-boy arms to just reach up and do it, but it’s slanty and another bad place to brace a ladder for me). That one was weird: The lens front (I don’t know what else to call it; who knew lightbulbs came in two pieces?) on the old spotlight had fallen off. It didn’t break when it hit the concrete, so we’d tried epoxying it back on but the epoxy (the mix-it-together sausage-shaped kind that will Fix Your Boat in the Water, or Your Money Back) let go shortly after and it fell off again.

We got ice cream (scoop of vanilla with a cherry on top for Delighta—but no red sprinkles to be had. She was a big girl about it and ate it anyway) and took it over to “the other grandma’s” (that’s what Delighta calls Grandma), where we sat her outside to watch the kids run around, and they had a marvelous time moving rocks from one rock-lined bed to the other and back. I guess you have to be a kid to get it, but they about laughed their heads off. Little Mister fell over several times, but he didn’t land on his face once. He rolls amazingly well when he falls down. I wish I could do that.

Snaotheus also took down one of the outside lights I’m intending to replace and put up the backplate for the new fixture. I don’t think it’s going to fit unless I cut a chunk out of the wall. (Naturally, it couldn’t just simply fit; there’s a long-standing tradition in this house that Nothing Can Ever Go Smoothly and According to Plan, Not Even Taking out the Trash.) There’s an awfully big gap between the backplate and the side of the house, and it doesn’t get any smaller when I put the front plate with the lightbulb-covering part (why do I not know the names for these things?!?) over it. I don’t think I can There is no way in this division of the multiverse that I can screw it down tight enough to take up that space without its breaking. I’m just throwing up my hands for the moment.

I don’t think I should be this tired, but I am. Been on my feet all day, too, and even in my Foot Armor Boots they are complaining of mistreatment. Going to have a nice 90-minute IPA. nods

Dad, Delighta and Mom all worked on this version of alphabet practice on the road upstairs. Can you tell which portions were Miss D’s? 🙂


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Damned raccoons done ruint it for everybody

They knocked the screening out of the bottom of the birdfeeder. Now there’s nothing to hold the seed in. Doubtless it’s down there in the Coulee Jungle somewhere, unless they took it to start their weapons-building program, but I can’t see it. Bugger.

P.S. It turned out to be reachable if I hung on to one of the deck supports and slithered down the cliff and hoiked at it with a foot ’til I could grab it. It’s back in the feeder now and I’ve warned all the birds and squirrels to beat the crap out of any ‘coons they see sneaking around.

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Welcome home, Appetite!

Sometimes body parts go on sabbatical, head out to the beach or take off on a world tour. We like to call these “injuries” or “illnesses,” but we all know that’s an excuse for some part or other deciding it just needs a break. Even if its break is called a break.

I’ve been delighted lately after having welcomed my appetite back after a 28-year-plus absence. During that time, its job was (badly, and I mean really seriously extremely badly) done by some obscure chemical reaction involving antidepressants, my brain, and my gut. The faux appetite made me eat like six teenaged boys after running up mountains all weekend—but every freaking day.

I didn’t know until a couple of years ago that this was a common side effect of antidepressants; evidently, when I started taking the one I was on for so long, it wasn’t that well known, so nobody told me, and by the time it was known, everybody thought I knew. I’ll bet communication would be a really amazing tool if people used it.

No wonder I blew up to the size of a small pick-up truck.

It struck me a couple of days ago (now that I’ve been brain-chemical-supplement free for a couple of months) that even though I’ve switched my biggest meal from dinner to lunch, I can’t (not “don’t,” but “can’t”—an important distinction) eat as much as I was eating for a “smaller” lunch a couple of years ago. Come dinner time, a little cottage cheese and fruit, and maybe some fresh peas from the (miraculously) still-producing garden, and I’m generally pretty stuffed. Even after I’ve been climbing up and down ladders all day.

At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on; then I realized: my own, my very own, my very own and nobody else’s appetite had finally made it home. It hadn’t fallen off a mountain in Switzerland and splattered on the rocks or been run over and smashed by herds of elephants in India. It had returned to me.

No more ersatz overachiever “appetite.” No more compulsion to eat anything that couldn’t get away before I grabbed it. Even a much lower-volume siren song from chocolate. That last is jaw-droppingly amazing.

I haven’t had the heart to tell it I didn’t really know it was missing, that I thought it had just gone bonkers or bad karma from past lives had slammed into me; I’m so glad it’s back that I don’t want to upset the poor dear.

I do kind of wish it would tell me some of its travel tales, though. A 28-year world tour has got to be full of good stories, wouldn’t you think?

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