wordsmith

The (Almost) Interminable Saga of Mom and the Phone Woes

Recap: Since arriving at Snaotheus’s house, my phone has not sent or received calls. This coincides with the decommissioning of the 3G network. In the last two days, I spent roughly four or five hours with tech support, trying to figure out why certain settings will give me Internet and MMS images, but no phone calls; while others will allow phone calls, but no Internet or MMS images. Consensus among the tech folk was, to date, that my particular phone model was (of course!) among a small (read: thousands rather than millions) number that do not have whatever it takes to use the 4G network. Even though there’s a tiny “4G!” icon waggling at the top.

A-a-a-and now, in the next episode in our Ongoing Saga of Mom and the Phone Woes, we find our heroine getting up close and personal yet again with tech support…

This morning, the tech tells me to turn the phone off, take it outside at noon my time, and stand there for ten or fifteen minutes while they do a massive dump of some kind, hoping to get all the other phones like mine to update and accept whatever bit of code is needed for them to work.

So I dutifully stand outside in the rain for 15 minutes at noon, looking rather foolish. Especially to a group of 28 high school kids who are walking up the block on the other side of the street. They stare at me. And stare. I holler, “I’m waiting for the mother ship!” They stop staring and dissipate, rather quickly. I come back in and … nope, no phone calls. Dial out, beep, call ended. Once again, I call tech support.

“OK… yep, did that… mm-hmm… yep, did that, too… yep, that’s what’s entered under that heading… now what?”
mumbles from other end of line
“No. I went outside and stood in the rain for 15 minutes, but the mother ship never showed and I still can’t make calls.”
mumblemumblegiggleyou’refunnycracklemumble
“OK, so what are my options?”
mumblecracklemumblemumblesplurf

“Options” turn out to be “you’re gonna hafta get a new phone, lady, because there’s something in there that we can’t fix.” (This isn’t a big surprise; the battery’s not holding a charge well and the phone’s seven years old.)

So I call the down-the-street Target store. They have two of the recommended inexpensive and on-sale models in stock. I tell the kid who didn’t answer the phone when I called but did after I got booted to customer service and CS called him, and whom I know to be a sullen twit because of a previous encounter during which he sniped that their tech (dedicated to my carrier) had quit last week, to stick one of their two units in his pocket ’cause I’ll arrive in 10 minutes.

Climbing (literally) into Paco the Pick-up, I brave the mid-afternoon traffic to which I am surprised to discover I’m somewhat less accustomed, park Paco, and stagger through the store to electronics, which for some reason is always at the back of every store that has an electronics section. I purchase said new phone, ignoring Sullen Kid’s snarky remarks, rush back out so Paco won’t get lonely (you never know what a lonely red pick-up might get up to), and careen back to Snaotheus’s house.

After half an hour or so, I work out how to get into the packaging.

I take out the phone and plug in the charger in a spot somewhat less likely to be a deathtrap for the new phone when grandchildren bounce past. Knowing this will take a while, I look over the Dreaded (and generally Dreadful) Quick Start Guide.

It makes the Double D grade.

They always sprinkle liberally into the copy words such as “simple,” “easy,” “merely,” ekcetra (sic), in lieu of actual clear instructions, when what they should say is, “This is going to take you at least half a day and maybe more, because a lot of things we’re not telling you about will go wrong, so get ready for Set-up Hell and probably two or three more lengthy phone calls to tech support.” (Fortunately, I’ve discovered how to bypass the customer service queue and get an actual human who’ll transfer me to tech support immediately because he doesn’t want to talk to me.)

Given that the grandkids are about to arrive home from school, I wisely decide to let the phone charge and worry about set-up tomorrow, when things will be quieter and I should have time to screw things up thoroughly, account for the Malignant Personal EM Field, hit wrong keys with fat shaky fingers, ekcetra (also sic).

And despite all my miserable, frustration-laden history with these things, I still seem to have (cue Albert from the Hogfather movie) hoPe, emphasis on the explosive portion of the P. I know I’m delusional; I know I’m making Don Quixote look like a cynical oaf; but we’ll hear more about that next time on the all! new! upcoming episode of….

gongs and bells sound unmelodiously

The Ongoing Saga of Mom and the Phone Woes. Don’t miss it!

two days later

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Rather than trusting to the double-D “quick-start guide,” I called tech support and made them walk me through the whole thing. Good thing, too, because the QSG would have fouled it up royally. Surprisingly, it worked the first time with only a small glitch or two. After another day and a half of customizing the thing so I can live with it (which Snaotheus doesn’t understand; but it had two-plus screens full of crap I’ll never use and whose icons would obscure what I did want to find), I now have a phone that Makes Calls, Sends Texts, and even lets me look at new photos of The Divine Miss M. And the battery lasts forever.

It still surprises me how incredibly stressful I find setting up New Tech to be. It shouldn’t, given that everything generally goes Horribly Wrong from the get-go (which is probably why the stress, really) and I’ve been in that space for about five months, but it does. Still, the phone woes are likely mostly over.

For now.

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And that’s all, folks.

You’ll be glad of that, I’m sure. 99% of all of that, done for the Discworld Guild Wars on ravelry.com, was just to motivate myself to keep going amidst increasing anxiety and unrecognized depression symptoms.

Yep, the Brain Crash came, and despite 40 years of experience with major depressive disorder, I didn’t recognize it until I was farther down the spiral than I initially thought.

So things will proceed with great slowness now. The box of jewelry-making supplies has been sitting at my feet for more than a week waiting for me to have the spoons to take things out and figure out how to organize them. Many piles are still around (though on a good day, I’ve gotten a few taken care of) and will stay there ’til the brain is closer to healed. Well, not healed, since that will never happen, but until I have a little more balance back in the brain. Which requires reinstating all the extremely time-consuming self-care I have not done for more than a year.

The only good thing, I guess, is that I aten’t dead yet. Forty years with a disease that frequently causes suicide; I guess that has to be a win.

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Enough sleep works wonders

“So there! That’s what I can do when I gets enough mongatorilizin’ freakin’ sleep!” the Widow Dressing announced, speaking sternly out loud to her new house, hands on hips. Her stance was just shy of aggressive, her head sticking forward like a belligerent chicken.

Her day had started off a little rocky, taking three whole hours to get four packages ready to mail, but when she finished that, she hit high gear and got a whole bunch of rearranging and putting things away and laundry folding and even a couple more boxes emptied out. She felt justifiably proud of herself, and now she was going to sit down and knit, by golly, and maybe even eat a few chocolate peanuts.

“Hah,” she said. “I win for once. I hope Pocky comes by tonight to see it.”


Some of the stuff that had been on the steel shelving fit in the mostly useless cabinets over the fridge, freeing up steel shelf space.


Clear counters by the sink…


Clear counters by the stove… amazing!


Big appliances moved on the steel shelves to make space for all the big, heavy, and tall stuff spilling out of the pantry by the kitchen, like the whole grains and large quantities of beans and dried foods…


Leaving enough room for the smaller, more normal pantry-like things like cereal and canned goods…


And closed pantry doors! That look (temporarily, we know) neat and tidy! (I do not know why the pantry doors (it’s an IKEA Billy with M-something doors, that are intended to go with it, added on) don’t meet in the middle; they’re built that way. It’s weird.)


And we can get into the closet now, and emptied another box. Though we do not like the only available towel storage, which looks sloppy no matter what you do to it. And I forgot to take a photo of my dad’s little walnut cabinet, which sits in the bedroom and holds sheets and Essential Chemical Compounds.


And the pile of stuff to go to the post office, we hope tomorrow.

Whatever extra drugs I took last night, I hope I can duplicate. A week of this and I could probably get everything done and get it out of my hair!

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More building and shifting

The Widow Dressing was too tired to talk to anyone this afternoon. She’d been rudely awakened too early by technicians she didn’t know were coming, staggered around ‘til noon or later trying to wake up, then decided she was Going To Be Productive Somehow.

Not up to telling stories, she simply did what she could:


Put the extra pot holders on the frame, put the frame back together (its last hanging-by cylinder had disappeared, then reappeared, but its bolt was lost so she had to go get a nut and bolt for it).


Put the rest of the pot-lid holders in the frame and gave them all a home.


And built another table. For which she needed more muscle. But oh, well. It’s mostly together and stands up, and she figgers that’s what counts.

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State of the disunion

Apocalyptica tiptoed up to her poor old auntie’s door and put her ear to the thin spot by the knob, where so many generations of occupants had worn away the wood. She didn’t hear anything. Twisting her lips, she listened harder. Still nothing; no yelling, no sounds of things being thrown, no, erm, naughty language… but no singing or whistling, either.

Shrugging, she knocked on the door. At Auntie’s age, silence might indicate something Pocky didn’t want to find out, but she still had a dooty.

Auntie answered the door. “Pocky!” she cried with a big, toothless smile (well, she had one or two nubbins, but not a full complement of what you’d call “teeth” by any measure). “Come on in! How lovely to see you!”

“You, too, Auntie,” Pocky said dootifully as she stepped over the threshold. Immediately, Change whacked her in the eye. “Wowser! You’ve been really busy!”

“Worked like a dog, I did,” agreed Auntie Widder. “All day. Forgot to eat lunch again. Got all the kitchen boxes unpacked; not much put away, but at least most of the big stuff is on the counters and stove so’s I can see what might need to go where and what can be put elsewhere onnaccountabecause I doesn’t use it all that often. Got a couple loads of laundry done, too.”

Pocky headed toward a chair—a slightly dangerous activity, since it required stepping over not boxes now, but piles of smaller containers of things like dried foodstuffs (Auntie was potty about drying fruit and veg and throwing them in winter soups). She wondered about that when she suddenly realized Auntie was still talking to her.

“—an’ I think I’m gonna hafta start not buying food ‘til I’ve got a lot of this stuff eaten up, ‘cause there’s just nowhere to put it. Nowhere!” Auntie fussed, picking up first a jar of dried sweet ‘taters and then another of dried mixed veg’tables. “I guess I’ll put a few slices o’ the taters in a bowl, cook ‘em soft, and have ‘em for dinner tonight. Prob’ly take ‘til the Year of the Jocular Squid to eat it all.” Auntie aimed a mischievous grin at Apocalyptica. “Might even be leavin’ some of it to you, girl!”

Apocalyptica, who’d taken more than one class in the domestic arts (mostly at the end of her mother’s mop handle when she got sommat wrong), felt tiny frown lines appear on her forehead and hurriedly smiled to erase them.

“Now, don’cha go givin’ me none of them high-falutin’ wossnames, fearies? No, the-o-ries, that’s it, that your ma has about what makes proper eatin’ and what don’t. Food’s food, an’ if it fills yer belly, that’s good enough.”

Pocky bit her tongue and looked around.

Auntie watched her through slitted eyes.

Pocky kept her eyes moving and thought fast. “Quite a feat!” she finally chirped. “It looks like you got a lot more done than just emptying out the kitchen boxes! I see some pictures leaning up against a chair, and it looks like a couple loads of laundry are drying, an’ I noticed coming past the garage that you’ve moved two of those big shelf sets out there, too. You’re starting to make good places to put stuff that doesn’t want to be put!”

Auntie un-slitted her eyes just a little bit. “Yep,” she agreed. “And I cut up all the cardboard and separated out the wossname, stylo- or sommat foam stuff, wot won’t put any money in either Dibbler’s or Harry King’s pocketses. Surprisin’ how long that takes, ‘specially left-handed.”

Pocky made agreeable noises and picked her way around things ‘til she got to the actual mini-kitchen. “Oh, look at this!” she exclaimed when she found the self-contained cat teapot-plus-cup that she had painted with Auntie when Pocky was younger, while Auntie had been painting a doughnut-shaped teapot for Auntie’s mum, Pocky’s gran, before the auld one passed on. And look—there was the doughnut teapot, too! “I didn’t know you still had these!”

The Widow Dressing turned a funny color, with a faint tinge of octarine around the edges, and dropped her gaze to the ground. If there’d been sand under her feet instead of wood, she’d’ve been scraping it in embarrassment with her toe. “Well, o’ course I kept ‘em, you silly girl,” she managed. “You give the cat pot to me for my si… erm, for a birthday. It’s special.”

“What say we have a cup of tea with it right now?” Pocky asked, and went about the ritual of making same, one cup in each pot.


Yep, that’s my little folding table with the chairs stored in it.


Kitchen to the left of me…


Kitchen to the right; here I am, stuck in the mid—oh, wait, wrong universe.


The madly, madly overflowing and utterly unorganized as well as too-small pantry.


Two of the three garage shelf units moved actually into the garage after I figured out how to get the two-person-carry table into the house. By myself. Without getting hurt.


A roughly two-plus-foot-tall stack of cut-up cardboard along with a bunch more Styrofoam I didn’t mess with ‘til I find out what they actually want me to do with it so they’ll take the darn stuff away without having to call them every week, plus about 12-15 newly broken-down moving boxes.


And the two teapots, the left one of which really did belong to me auld mum on one of the birthdays she had with “8” as the first digit, but I don’t remember which. There’s a matching cup but I left all those in their box in sox ‘til I figure out a way to hang ‘em somewhere so they don’t take up cabinet space.

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And more putting away…

The exhausted old widow nevertheless finished culling the files, shredding a 6” stack of junk, and finished reorganizing before her house guest arrived. She’d also run out very fast this a.m. to get some yarn for a tree basket and a plastic chair pad so she wouldn’t have to fight her office chair wheels anymore (dang, those are expensive, and I got the cheap one!). She also paid the bills and made a couple of Adulting Phone Calls. She was tired, but the worst of that job was over, and she felt entirely justified in not doing another thing tonight.

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More mess, more fix

The Widow Dressing was plopped back in her recliner when her niece Apocalyptica arrived with a sandwich, because she knew her dotty old aunt would have forgotten to eat (she did). Auntie didn’t appear to be much interested in talking, which was most uncharacteristic of her.

“What’s up, Auntie?” Pocky asked. “Did you overdo it again? Is your shoulder in pain?”

“Well, yes, and no more than usual,” Auntie Widder replied. “I emptied out 12 boxes, maybe 13, of office supplies today. They got put away in the most disorganized fashion possible, but at least the boxes are gone even though there’s lotsa piles all over the floor. I had to go through all the files, wot I didn’t have time for before I moved, and there’s a 2’ stack of stuff for shredding, and an absolute metric em-effing ton of other files to go through to see what can be thrown out. A three-inch stack of geological survey maps for a novel I’ll likely never write hit the recycle bin, for instance.”

“Sounds like you could sit down while doing most of that, except the shelving,” suggested Pocky.

“Shows how much you know, girl. Everything went on shelves. Up, down, up, down. But the exhausting part is the decision making: Will I ever use this? Do I need to keep this? Are the papers from my mother’s house sale, which happened 18 years before she died, necessary? It just wears your brain out to nothing. And now I think I’m gonna need a small chest with drawers for a lot of the desk supplies, because the new one only has three drawers plus a deeper file one.” Auntie Widder heaved a great sigh.

Pocky quietly went into the kitchen and made her auntie a big mug of the hibiscus-lavender tea she loved so much. She figured that was the best solution at this point. And she made sure Auntie’s knitting was within reach.


Current state of office (I should have taken a “before;” this is much better) showing filled bookcase (the disorganization makes me fret).


One side of the not-over-shelved closet, mostly with paper, novels, and notebooks in it.


The other side, still mostly empty (thank goodness). The white thing hanging over the closet rod is Borco matting, which I’m not even sure is made any longer, that came from my drafting table. It’s a kind of self-healing substance that takes amazing abuse from knives and similar cutters. I had to fold it and roll it up, so I’m giving it a chance to smooth itself out. (That would also be a great place to hang huge sheets of specialty paper.)


And most of the empty boxes (I threw a few in the garage before I started just piling them in the hall).

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Lots and lots and lots

“Ohhhh. Ooooh-h-h-h.” Widder Dressing sorta rolled out of bed on a’cause almost everything hurt, and she wasn’t sure she could stand up all at once. “Overdone” didn’t necessarily apply only to hard-boiled eggs; it turns out she could be overdone, too—or at least overdo it.

She felt as if six A-M mail wagons had run over her, the ones with the big, fast horses with the sharp hooves. She tried to go back to sleep, but no go. So she resigned herself to Work.

By the end of the day, she’d put up all the shelves in her big walnut bookcase (no easy task, with elderly fingers that couldn’t pinch the metal springy bits), put all the books in it she wanted to (including the really tall ones, which fit nicely on the tall bottom shelf); she’d put insulation into the stupid pet-door-in-the-wall thing and moved the file cabinet in front of it, hoping to keep out draughts and chills; set up her smaller oak bookcase; moved her Grandda’s pie safe into the office to serve as another set of bookshelves; cleaned out eight or 10 boxes with office supplies in them and put them on shelves; cleared out three more boxes of kitchen stuff, though she hadn’t yet put it away; hung a small, rescued Ugly Cabinet in her bathroom and, with a friend’s help, gotten at least one screw in the medicine cabinet into the drywall anchor (though she still wasn’t putting any weight on it); hung a wire-shelf thingie on the back of her bathroom door; and made sure there was enough room on the floor in the craft room for the exercise equipment that would be arriving tomorrow.

She thought that was all of it. It felt like a lot. It cleared out what felt like huge swaths of space in her wee house so she didn’t have to weave through mazes of boxes to get anywhere.

To avoid ruining her self-satisfaction, she carefully didn’t look at the eight or 10 remaining boxes marked “kitchen,” which was already packed pretty full. She’d called the city about their people AGAIN not getting all her recycling; at least they were nice about it, even if they always promised the bozos would come pick it up next day and they never did.

Oh, yeah! And she’d put the rest of the shelves in the pantry and it was about 2/3 full of food stuff now. All that was left was to make some calls to change her address, kick back, and relax. She felt quite pleased with herself and her results, and was starting to try to come up with Ways to store her craft supplies so they wouldn’t take up huge amounts of room but would be easily accessible when she wanted them. Maybe in bags put in a bin? She’d worry about it tomorrow.

She kind of hoped Apocalyptica didn’t come over this evening; the girl meant well, but she seemed to think that her auntie was too frail to do anything but breathe carefully, and was always giving her Advice. And we all know about Unsolicited Advice!

Little Ugly Cabinet rescued and hung:

Wire shelves on back of door:

Walnut bookcase doing its job:

Insulated and covered dog door:

Moved file cabinet and shredder (much harder than it sounds, involving much grunting, leveraging of awkward weight onto wheeled flat dolly, and wrangling to shove it into position on carpet that didn’t want to let it move), along with two more bookshelves:

Cleared empty space for exercise equipment set for delivery tomorrow:

Five boxes of office supplies, novel manuscripts, and good paper put into shelves in office closet:

And the medicine cabinet she and the friend had straightened out and were sure had been screwed into at least one of the right holes, but Widder intended to go ask the nice hardware guy for advice tomorrow anyway about putting a toggle bolt or sommat in there, just to be sure. She really didn’t want it falling on her head.

SO.

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Scrubbing away a body

The Widow Dressing didn’t answer her door when Apocalyptica knocked on it. That seemed worrisome, until Pocky heard a thin “come in” that sounded… really not like Auntie had the last few days. Pocky opened the door and stuck her nose inside.

“Auntie?” she called. “You all right?”

“Yes, dearie,” came the faint reply. “Come on in.”

Pocky found her aunt ensconced on her tiny wee couch, looking pale and … a little transparent. “What’s wrong?” Pocky asked.

“I think I’ve scrubbed myself away, a little bit,” her aunt replied, after pausing for thought.

Leaving a lengthy lacuna in case her aunt had more to say didn’t get results, so Pocky asked her outright. “Would you ‘splain that, please?”

“Well, I aren’t sure I understand it meself,” replied Auntie Widder. “I put all the stuff on the kitchen counters away today—I’m sure I’ll have to reorganize everything once I can ackshully cook something, but I hasn’t found my favorite little saute pan yet, and… well, never mind. And I rubbed down the oiled bookcase and set up some books in it, ‘til my shoulder hurt too much. Then I realized I was really tired, and I wanted to take a shower in my own shower for a change, ‘cause I just oughtta be able to, and I was tired of using the guest bath.”

Auntie shifted on the couch and pulled her blankie up higher around her neck. Apocalyptica watched her warily, not sure whether she should be worried or apprehensive.

“But I knew it would take a good, hard scrub, since I’d found all that soap scum all over it the first time I tried to clean it, afore I just gave up ‘cause nothin’ would cut through that crud. I’ve had some of that super-strong vinegar, the stuff they keep down in the Night Kitchens for cleaning really really nasty messes. It’s been sittin’ with orange peels in it for weeks, so I made a funnel out of a sandwich bag and poured a spray bottle full, took off my clothes, crawled into the shower with five brushes, and started scrubbing.” Auntie shifted again, and Pocky realized she was trying to get comfortable, wincing a little as she moved.

“I used up every bit of that ferocious vinegar spray and four of the five brushes, and I scrubbed and scrubbed for nearly two hours. Even then, I could still scrape soap scum off with my fingernails, so I scrubbed some more. I swear, the shower’s three shades lighter than it were. You shoulda seen the gunk that went down the drain. It was … honest to Dibbler, Pocky, the filthiest thing I’ve seen since I was a young gel. I don’t know how long that woman lived here, but I’d swear before the Patrician that she never oncet cleaned that shower.”

Pocky didn’t know what to say to that, so she waited a bit.

“After two hours, all scrubbed with my left arm since t’other one’s down for the count, it was all wore out. I gave up, rinsed the shower an’ the gunk down with the hottest water I could get, and then took a shower. When I got out and dried off, I looked like this.” Auntie stopped, held her hand up to the light, and peered quizzically at it. “I think maybe the vinegar ate more of me than it did the crud. I’ve been feeling a little … thinned out … since then.”

Making sympathetic noises, Pocky thought, No wonder! You’re not supposed to be breathing that strong stuff’s fumes! And you’re not supposed to be scubbing like a stablehand for two hours! “My goodness,” she said instead, “you must be exhausted. And you look like maybe your left arm’s giving you trouble, too.”

“It’s pretty tired,” agreed Auntie. “It’s not used to doing all the heavy lifting by itself. But I’m gonna have to do it all again in a day or two to get it decently clean. It was just disgustin’. Gharstly. Horr’ble. Something you wouldn’t even ask a dirty forn’er to use. What was wrong with that woman? She left the stove and oven in just as bad a shape. That’s gonna be a fun job.”

By this time, Pocky had slipped into the kitchen, boiled some water, and brought her auntie some hot tea. “This is my special restorative blend,” she said. “You’ll feel better when you’ve finished it.”

Watching her auntie sip at the tea, she hoped that was true. Poor Auntie. Poor, poor Auntie. Just at a time of life when she should be able to rest and knit and read and do all the things she enjoyed, she was having to work harder than a navvy down the docks on the Ankh. It ain’t right, Pocky thought, wishing a pox on the lazy sod of a previous owner. I hope that one’s got some kinda miseries, and they gives her gyp for a good long time.

Kitchen actually has counters, even though basically stuff just got shoved in wherever it would fit:

And here’s the wretched, wretched, filthy, disgusting, horrible shower, which really is about three shades lighter than it was. I’m not sure I can do anything with the used brushes except throw them out–and they were brand new. But it’s 10 times better than it was (or I’d not have showered in it!). The mottled colors are just natural variations in the marble; the soap scum darkened all of it. All that scrubbing, and there are still areas where I can scrape it off with my nails! The last time I saw anything this gross, I was in college moving into a new apartment. Yuck.

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Vindication (sort of)

Apocalyptica was a little hesitant about checking on dotty old Auntie today, but it was a dooty and she had to do it. She was surprised when she knocked on the door to find Auntie Widder smiling and cheerful, and the impograph, a little box containing a tiny imp orchestra, playing music in the background.

“Well, hello, dearie!” chirped Auntie. “Come in! How’d you like a cuppa? I just finished making a nice fresh pot!”

Pocky cautiously stepped inside and peered about suspiciously. Had the loose magic done Something to the poor old lady? What was going on here? What had happened to make her go from Incandescent Rage to Good Cheer in such a short time?

“Um… sure, Auntie,” she stammered. “Sounds great. How … um … are things … um … going?”

“Oh, just lovely, dear,” trilled Auntie Widow Dressing. “I got to talk to my grandson on one of those Magic Talking boxes, and then my son, and then I put up the second magnetic knife holder, and two shelves with hooks for hanging coats and purses and things.”

Pocky struggled to keep her eyeballs in their sockets. Her eyelids bulged with the strain. “Wow. That’s… great. And amazing. What… what did you”—she took a deep breath, not at all sure she wanted to finish this sentence—“do differently today?”

Auntie Widder grinned at her, but Pocky thought it looked an awful lot more like the bared teeth of a wolf. “I did it my way,” she said. “Everything’s got at least one stud behind it, and although I had to cut a chunk of anchor off that wouldn’t cooperate, the screw went in good and solid. All neat and tidy, all perfectly level.

“I told you it wasn’t my fault.” She sat down and settled into the couch, sipping her tea. “Have a little cream and sugar with that, dearie.”

Second knife strip (still don’t know why the camera won’t focus):

First coat-hanger shelf:

Second coat-hanger shelf, by front door, in case a visitor ever shows up:

I claim vindication. It took about half an hour, maybe 45 minutes, to do all three of them, even with having to use a Japanese saw to trim a chunk of recalcitrant drywall anchor off the end of a screw.

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Frowny faces

I wish I hadn’t lost the ability to scowl as effectively as Snaotheus has on his blog header photo. Sometimes I want mine to scowl like the Kraken on a really bad day (provided it had an actual face with expressions).

That is all.

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Encountering more CKC

Apocalyptica approached Auntie Widder’s house, carrying a picnic basket full of goodies she thought would both cheer and nourish the old woman, who had notably not been eating well while she fought tooth and nail with crappy Klatchian goods. She raised her hand to knock, and heard some of the loudest, nastiest, meanest, and most creative swearing she’d ever heard in her life. Her hand suspended over the door, she waffled as to whether Auntie needed someone else around right now.

Interspersed with words that Pocky had never used, and some she’d never heard, she was nevertheless able to make out the gist of it: “I’ve been hanging things using these tools, these materials, and these methods for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. I am NOT STUPID. I KNOW how this stuff works. This is just SHODDY, SHODDY, mumblescreammumble SHITE. NOBODY could get this crap to work, because they’re manufactured with BAD SPECS.”

Pocky backed up and stared around, her eyes half falling out of her head, hoping none of the neighbors could either hear or see what was going on. More vitriol spewed and erupted and exploded from her enraged auntie, whom frankly Pocky hadn’t thought had that much energy or strength in her.

Finally, she heard the noises of tools being dropped in their box, miscellaneous Stuff being shoved out of the way, a deep, deep, very very DEEP sigh, and an “Ow, godsdammit!” as Auntie Widder kicked something that was apparently more dense and unforgiving than her own flesh.

Pocky gently knocked on the door. Footsteps stomped her way and she cringed, hoping all that fury wouldn’t be unleashed on her. The door slammed open. “WHAT?” snapped Auntie Widder. “What do you want?!”

“I… um… I brought… you some… erm, some of your favorite things to eat?” Pocky’s voice quavered.

“Well, come on in, then, and let’s get to it. I’m hungry.”

As they ate, the story came out in bits and pieces. Auntie had managed, with the advice of the Helpful Hardware Guy, to get more plastic thingies and work on getting the TP holder installed. She ran into more trouble, though, when both new holes turned out to be into studs, so she could have dispensed with the plastic and just screwed them in nice and solid. But by then, the bigger holes were there, and something had to take up the space between screw and hole.

That thing wound up being matchsticks. Yep, plain old matchsticks. Once she got the mounting plate in place, Auntie discovered that while last night she’d been able to get to the set screw to tighten it, that was not the case today. She tried everything she could think of, and the blister on her left index finger proved it. She hunted down all the information she could find—ALL of which involved removing set screws without an allen wrench, which did her no good at all.

Finally, after trying tweezers, searching fruitlessly for her bloody damned jewelry pliers, and a couple of other things, she jammed the end of another matchstick into the set screw hole and turned. It moved. Slowly, but it moved. She kept at it, grunting because it was not easy, and eventually got it tight enough that it would stay in place. It was far from perfect, and she decided she was going to caulk around it and maybe squirt some glue in there, if she could, to give it some extra stability, but it was done.

And she was furious. Because in all the things she’d put together, all the things she’d tried to hang, all the holes she’d had to drill, not one single set of instructions of any kind had noted what size drill bit to use. She’d had to guess, because gods knew where her calipers were and she shouldn’t have to go that far to get it right anyway. They should say “use a 7/16” bit” or whatever—Auntie had a damn good eye for sizes, accurate down to less than 1/64” within a 6” range, and there was no effing way she could be that wrong every bloody time.

“Shoddy, crappy, lousy, low-quality, POS JUNK is what this shite is,” she snarled at Pocky, who melted back into the couch seeking invisibility. Pocky thought of the Vimes boots theory, but decided that would start a whole ‘nother fit, so shut her trap.

But the TP holder was functioning (it is straighter than it looks here):

Pocky tried to sneak out the door when Auntie brushed her crumbs onto the floor—that was a BAD sign—but Auntie had other ideas.

“Come look at this,” she snapped, irate as a whooping crane with no place to land. Auntie had carefully measured, leveled, and drilled holes on which to hang her magnetic knife holder. She’d used a drill bit a good 1/16” smaller than the eyeballed diameter of the plastic wossnames, so they’d snug in better. The first one broke at the first gentle (yes, really) finger tap. The second and third went in nicely, snugged up, and appeared as if they’d work great… until she started to put the screws in. Then suddenly they choked up, refused to stay in place while the screws rotated like Ferris wheels, and one of them made a run for it into the wall.

“Auntie, maybe it would be better to wait—” Pocky started.

“You shut your mouth, girl,” Auntie Widder snapped. “I am GOING to get this damned thing INSTALLED today. I don’t care what it takes!”

What it wound up taking was (you guessed it) more matchsticks for the one screw, which Widow Dressing thought would hold solidly… and matchsticks and wood glue for the other one, which contained the plastic thing that had tried to make a run for it, but nothing to hold the screw in place. That meant no matter what she did, the magnetic strip would not be level, and that pissed her off, too!

Oh, my, that woman was furious. Pocky was seriously afraid that, given the nearness of Unseen University and the unpredictability of loose magic that had been creeping around the grounds for so long, something truly horrifying might occur if she couldn’t convince Auntie to just take a break. That turned out not to be so hard, because the second magnetic knife holder’s useless, wrong-sized, mis-matched, idiotic Klatchian screws had disappeared somewhere anyway. In the chaos of, well, everything, there was no telling where it might have gone to. Pocky kind of halfway hoped it wouldn’t show up. Maybe ever.

“Um… thank goodness you thought of the matchsticks?” she ventured, hoping to turn this into a positive, problem-solving sort of thing.

“MATCHSTICKS!” Widder howled. “Do you know how many centuries woodworkers have been fixing other people’s crap work with matchsticks? It ain’t a new thing, girl. It’s a last-ditch effort to make up for lousy supplies, lousy specs, lousy manufacturing, lousy instructions, lousy planning, lousy work, lousy restoration efforts, and a whole lotta other lousy shite.”

Seeing that her old auntie, definitely round the bend on the far end of “dotty” today, was unlikely to calm down for a good long time, Pocky took the Opportunity of the Tirade to make a quick, strategic retreat. Even as she trotted quickly back toward her house, her scarf over her head to hide her face, she heard her aunt’s voice fade slowly into the distance, still shrieking expletives and throwing down curses on the Klatchian idiots who sent utter, complete crap to Ankh-Morpork and elsewhere, thinking people would be stupid enough—as she had until today—to think their inability to install it was their fault, not the Klatchians’.

They did it on purpose. She knew they did, the evil little forners. They aimed to take over the world, all right. One piece of crap at a time.

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A little good, a little …

Apocalyptica gazed at her dotty old auntie, the Widow Dressing. On the one hand, she’d had a good day; on the other, it had sucked rotten eggs out loud in the … well, not dark, since it was sunshiny, but somewhere.

Auntie Widder had put together a medicine cabinet all by herself, and everything actually went together reasonably well. Then she’d spent about three hours cutting up cardboard that she was sure the city trash folks, who were often nice enough but equally often pretty shady, sold on the black market because of the loose magic cardboard picked up so easily at her house, bein’ all absorbent and all. She’d even managed to get all of it in what they called the “recycle bin,” which name convinced her all the more that she was right about who got the money, since that was the only thing that was constantly recycled in Ankh-Morpork.

The nice delivery person had dropped off a new lamp to replace the one she’d returned because the switch broke (cheap Klatchian work, she sniffed, but a lot less dear than local things and the Widder had to be careful about such things), and she’d put that together without trouble.

After that, Auntie Widder had worked up the nerve to hang the medicine cabinet, which involved finding things that would make a stable 15” stack on top of the terlet tank. She measured, she leveled, she drilled the holes and hammered in the drywall expander wossnames, she held the cabinet in place, she felt around ‘til she found the first hole, she screwed in the screw. She did the same thing on the other side.

And then discovered she’d missed the plastic jobbie entirely, so fixing that was going to be a much more involved job than she’d expected.

Somehow retaining a sense of optimism at this point, she decided to hang the terlet paper hanger, which was just one straight pole that she intended to mount on a tiny stretch of wall directly across from the terlet for easy reaching. And she discovered, again after putting the plastic thingies in, that the mounting plate would fit the pole only one way, and that way was upside down from what she wanted.

Apocalyptica put on the kettle and made her auntie a nice cuppa and made some soothing sounds. “We can fix this, Auntie,” she promised. “Not to worry! I’m sure we can come up with a solution.”

Widow Dressing glared at her niece. “I doubt that verra verra much,” she grumbled. “I’m just hopeless. Even if we can get the mounting plate in the right spot, that stinkin’ set screw that tightens the pole against the plate is gonna be almost impossible to tighten.”

“Never you mind,” Apocalyptica soothed, knowing that Auntie had four other Things that required hanging on walls or doors in similar fashion, and Auntie was not happy about that. Or her performance, given that she’d never had so much trouble with such things before. “We’ll figger it out, even if we hafta glue everything.”

Here’s the medicine cabinet.
Here’s the pile of cardboard pre-slicing (truly, I could hardly get around it, and there was half again as much in the garage that also got cut up).
And after cutting (I actually got all of it in the bin! All of it!)
And the new light, proving that it works.


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Going a little potty (in the UK sense)

Poor old Widow Dressing called her niece, Apocalyptica, and wheedled her into coming over to advise on A Problem. Miz Dressing had managed to put together two little bathroom storage things without difficulty, but she wanted some consultation for her next big project of the day, which involved a way to hang her pots and pans hanger (that’s not redundant, honest) so she could maneuver it and reach the pots when her shoulders were giving her gyp. Which they were. Pretty badly.

She’d gotten a 2×6 (waaaay too rough to sand and paint) and some fabric to cover it. Apocalyptica listened to the PLN and thought it would work without much trouble. She was actually kind of impressed with her dotty old aunt’s ingenuity, but she’d never admit that.

Of course, Miz Dressing’s staple gun wouldn’t work. Two of probably 100 tries actually shot a staple through the fabric and into the wood. She could find nothing mechanical wrong with it, so muttered “feckit” under her breath and gathered up leftover screws and nails from other projects.

“I heard that!” Apocalyptica chided.

“Respect yer elders!” Miz Dressing snapped back.

So with miscellaneous small leftovers, she tightly attached the fabric to the 2×6. Then she measured carefully and marked where the hangers needed to be screwed in on the bottom side. She completely ignored the hanger instructions because it looked as if they expected her to be drilling through bricks.

Once done, the fabric was nice and tight and the whole thing looked quite tidy and colorful. She put the pieces of the pot-and-pan hanger together; unfortunately, the end piece on the right appeared to have found a different trouser leg to travel during its journey to her new home, so she stuck a bigger leftover screw through the hole to hold the hanging hook temporarily and determined to get a bolt and nut that would close it off.

And she had a place to put her pots and pans! A couple of which she’d found!

It had been a red-letter day for Arriving Things, and she had a medicine cabinet and three big sets of garage shelves to put together tomorrow, but she was so excited to finally be getting things into which she could actually unpack and put her own stuff away that Apocalyptica had to grab her trailing skirt a few times and pull her back to ground. That UU magic did some weird stuff sometimes.

Wee bathroom storage–not much room, but every bit helps!
Pot hanger! A real one!!! With pots! (Except for the wee 7” saute pan, which appears still to be wandering about.)



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At least I can polish furniture

The last of the oiling. Widow Dressing was thankful, since parts of things had been unreachable with her only good shoulder. She was also pleased to find that the first things oiled had absorbed quite a lot of their coatings, and at least one of them might not need additional wiping down if she waited a bit longer. She was good at waiting longer to avoid work. Heh.

Today, after her a.m. freeze working in the back room, she’d oiled the drawers, taken down the books and shelf and oiled the inside and outside of the 7’ bookcase, and the outside and stand for a smaller walnut chest.

“Well, that’s a bugger to move,” she grumbled about the three-layered paper sandwich she’d put it on. It wasn’t heavy, but the paper sandwich wanted to tear, not move the chest around. Eventually she managed to shove it in a spot so she could still maneuver around the house. “Not gonna work on the inside of that ‘til it’s easier to get to. So there.”

“But I can unpack this box! And put it in the chest!” she crowed, finding a few of the musical things. So she did. She was a bit unhappy that she’d not been able to sand out all the paint-rub stains those skeezy Morpork movers had gotten on a couple of spots, but they were much better than before. “I can live with it,” she grudged, “as long as nobody else sees it.”

She’d checked on her friend who’d had wrist surgery, made a list of things to do tomorrow (attend a birthday party was one of them; she planned to do some shopping after that so’s she wouldn’t have to go out again), checked on her other friend’s mental condition, and was winding down for bedtime. Which, she scolded herself, was going to be considerably earlier than last night’s midnight. “You’re too old to stay up that late,” she admonished herself. “And it only makes the next day start later, so you gotta quit it.”

It’s very difficult to oil portions of these things with a damaged shoulder. But it’s done.
Oil-fed drawers, with stuff innem!
IMG_0439.JPG
The one that caused all the moving drama. It also has a small stand it rests on, which is also oiled and put somewhere safe to soak it up.

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