Time to Paint

The blinds needed to be removed.

This was a requirement to paint around the frames. Somehow in the madness of life, I’ve decided that I need to paint the living and dining rooms. Together, they are, ‘The Great Room’.

Point of order: my wife hectored me into doing it. “These rooms are too dark. We need a lighter color.”

Me: “Huh-huh, you’re right.”

“When can you do it?”

“Wait, what?”

Life sometimes needs a rewind function.

Into the garage! To the tools! My tools are not greatly organized. Shelves hold several power tools and their requirements, along with a large toolbox. It’s augmented by a small thing with a work surface and four drawers. One drawer has lost its front. (I’m going to fix it sometime.) The top drawers are well organized with screws, anchors, glues, nails, sandpiper. The bottom two drawers are stuffed full of whatever I can get in there. I avoid opening them, except to retrieve tape and edger/trimmer string. My tape variety is impressive.

The screws holding the mounting brackets have a Philips-head X on it. They would not budge despite my grunting. “Get a screwdriver with more torque,” I muttered to myself. I already had the biggest. I would use the drill on it, but there’s not enough clearance. Bummer.

Sighing in frustration, I hit the ratchet wrenches. For some reason, I’ve acquired three complete sets. No, there’s more. At least two sets are metric. I bought them because I lived in Germany and Japan. Metric was used there, and I owned foreign cars – BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Toyopet. Plus, at least one set was priced at a dollar at a garage sale. Who can resist tools at a garage sale? They’re like books. You gotta look and see what might fill that imaginary hole in your library or toolbox.

The sockets are semi-disorganized. Most are in their proper places but the smallest sockets always go strolling. I go through them, looking for the 1/4 inch, along with the proper adapter to go from big to small. With all those socket kits, I have a multitude of options for changing spark plugs. Every manufacturer had a different size of socket required. Some had several. I also have a number of tools for setting the gaps on plugs and rotors, and wires for cleaning them.

Which reminded me of computers. Back in the office closet lives a set of shelves. On it resides office requirements like Wite-out, file folders, label maker, pens for the next century (if they don’t dry up), paper for the printer, ink for the same, assorted docks for laptops I no longer use, another printer I no longer use, cables for laptops and printers… You get it, right?

Disk drives also live on these shelves. Floppy 5.25 inch. Hard floppy 3.5 inch. Zip drives. CDs. All are ready to be formatted and written. I have not formatted anything in over a decade, maybe longer. I used to format things several times a week, back in, um, the last century. Strange that something that once was so common is now rare.

Not really. We were riding horses and trolleys more back in the last century, too. I only rode horses a few times for entertainment. Never mounted one to go to the store, or to visit the neighbors.

I don’t change my car’s oil any longer, either, although I have the wrenches for that, too, and the big wrench to remove an oil pan nut. I have baskets of computer and electronic gear. Ribbon wires, chipsets, an old power supply, old fan, along with a huge variety of RCA cords and adapters. There’s an extra monitor, too, and a VHS head cleaner for the VHS deck that I no longer use. I also own bearing grease, quart jugs of motor oil, and car cleaning supplies, like polishes and waxes.

Sometime, someone needs to go in there and clean all this stuff out. Not me, not today.

Time for me to paint.

This Sunday

Sunday morning started with the usual Sunday morning white man with cat issues, which is replying to the demand, “Feed me, feed me, feed me, and get these other cats away from me,” in surround sound because I have three of them. They didn’t care that we’d fallen back an hour, clock-wise, here in ‘Merica. Their clocks weren’t affected.

Eventually, the beasts were fed, watered, and released back to the backyard wilds, freeing me to be me. I slid to the computer. That’s when the morning took an oomph turn. My mighty HP laptop wasn’t connecting to the net. Everything else in the household was connected; why was I selected for this cruel honor.

Something about the machine was off. Memories of being a younger person and working on my cars were awakened. I started car life with a 1965 Mercury Comet sedan. Forest green and automatic, a lively 289 V-8 was under the hood, as we said in those days. It was a stoutmobile. She’d run.

She was like my first girlfriend. I learned to do things, and did the standard stuff, from gapping and replacing plug and points (and all the wires) to brakes, muffler, and shocks, and all the fluids and fuses in between.

I think, because of that car, I’ve always since tried to fix things myself. Tried is a key verb in that sentence. (Is it a verb? I don’t know. I used to know these things.)

Details of what I did and the results will be avoided. No need to restore my stress levels by recalling those excoriating details. I worked on the computer for hours, returning it to connectivity. Doing so demanded a need to run recovery, a Microsoft Windows 10 process that’s not as nice as it sounds. Lots of personal files were removed (yeah, they said that wouldn’t happen, and they were wrong), along with apps and programs that I’d installed.

I had back ups of files, and MS does have some file recovery stuff. Eventually, though, I had almost everything. For some reason, I lacked the bible for the latest novel in progress. Don’t know what happened to that doc.

Reading old files slowed the process. Oh, there was The Soul Stone written years ago, never submitted nowhere. I read and enjoyed its first pages, along with Spider City, Everything Not Known, Everything in Black and White, and some stranger works, and the first draft of the self-published words, like the Lessons with Savanna series and Returnee. All still there, waiting for me to turn my attention back to them and do something more with them.

Not on this Sunday, though.

Closure

First, a commercial interlude. I’ve been watching Hulu late at night, streaming Fargo. Interesting commercials come on, then. One of them is about Peyronie’s Disease. In the commercial, men are holding up carrots, bananas, and cucumbers. The fruit and vegetables look straight, but the men then turn them to reveal sharp curves. A voiceover says something like, “Does your erection have an unusual curve or bump that it didn’t use to have? Your erections shouldn’t hurt.”

It’s eye-opening.

I never thought about what my erection looked like. Naturally, this commercial made me wonder. Also, my erections never hurt. It’s scary, though. Nothing is safe.

The things I learn from commercials. Maybe I should watch less television. (Sure, that’s the answer.) I pulled out my computer (did you think I was going to put another noun there?) and googled PD to confirm it existed.

It does.

Okay, on to the main event.

I’m a Do-It-Yourselfer.

I’m not a very good one.

Whether it’s writing a computer program or a novel, fixing a car or a wall, painting a house or building a computer — which are things I’ve done — I usually achieve decent results, but it’s a messy process.

I have a few reasons that I think is behind all this.

  1. I’m self taught, but I’m not a very good teacher.
  2. I’m an impatient person.
  3. Whenever I asked for help as a child, Mom told me, “Figure it out.” Like most moms, she thought I was smarter and more capable than I really am. I started believing her.

I was painting our kitchen when I broke my arm in July. Painting the kitchen can be violent, can’t it? What transpired is that our kitchen window is five feet wide and four feet tall. The window looks over the front proch.

A blind was installed for privacy, light, and all that. The blind is one of those that can be pulled up by a cord on one end, or let down by a different cord on the other end. I think the official name is something screwy, like two-way blinds. I don’t know. Look it up.

The thing is, when I re-installed the blinds with my wife’s help after painting the kitchen, one end didn’t get correctly placed in the bracket. Whenever you pulled the cord to raise and lower the blind on that end, the blind bent down. That irritated me. Thus, “I will fix!” I decided.

Climbing onto the counter, I removed the blind and discovered that the brackets weren’t properly aligned. Easy fix, yah? Off I went for the appropriate screw driver to loosen and adjust the brackets. Except, I couldn’t turn the damn screws. They…WOULD…NOT…TURN. But I’d reinstalled the brackets. If I screwed them in, I should be strong enough to screw them out.

Damn it. With rising irritation, I turned to jump down off the counter to get a better tool. When I did, I caught my foot on the counter, setting into motion the awkward crash that broke the bones in my arm and twisted my hand up against my arm, sandwiching it between arm and body.

After that it was pain, hospital, splint, recovering, therapy…

Here we are, three months later. That damn blind was still down. It was driving me crazy.

My wife and I had talked about asking someone to put it up or hiring someone. Neither had happened. She was out yesterday, socially responsibly visiting friends (masks-distance-outside on a private deck). I walked into the kitchen and saw that big window and the brackets where the blind should be installed.

Time to fix it, I decided.

First, a pep talk.

One, I had to be careful. If I fell and hurt myself, I should just face up to it and end my life, because my wife would probably end it for me.

Two, I had to be careful, because I didn’t want to get hurt. I was nervous, which didn’t help, because…what if I fell? I’d never live it down. (I imagined going to the Emergency Room. “You again?” they would exclaim. “What did you do THIS time?” It’s weird that I imagined that. I’ve only been there once in the fifteen years that we’ve lived here.)

So, I told myself, BE CAREFUL. Take your time. Stay in the moment. FOCUS, fool.

I did. The brackets were adjusted and the blind reinstalled. It took about fifteen minutes.

I showed it to my wife when she returned home.

“How did you do that?” she asked.

“Just put on my splint, got the tools, climbed up there and did it.”

“Did you use a chair to get up and down?”

“Of course. I’m a professional.”

“Were you nervous?”

I smiled. “What do you think?”

It was very satisfying to fix the blind. I believe they call it closure.

At Your Disposal

Well, I finally did it. I pulled the plug. It was time.

My garbage disposal was a decent enough Badger 5. Not pricey, it was a half power workhouse. It had some issues. First, it’d been a leak from the sink flange. I fixed that, twice, vowing the second time, NEVER MORE! Meanwhile, god forbid a lemon seed or popcorn kernel were dropped into it. Either would immediately jammed it, calling out the need for the hex key to unjam it. Lemon and veggies would often rumble around for a few days before finally succumbing to the blades and disappearing.

Then, though, the seals began leaking. After assessing it and confirming it was the seals, I put a bucket under it. I’d monitor and empty the bucket as required.

There’s no-how for you.

Sorry, I mean ‘know-how’, of course.

Finally, though, a day came when the disposal didn’t want to work any more. It made humming sounds but the cogs weren’t jammed. It just didn’t want to play any longer. A new one was required.

That took me into search land, the perfect occupation who tends to overthink stuff. Size, price, horsepower, noise, reputation, issues…over and over I read, compared, and studied. It came down to Waste King and Insinkerator. Love those names, gotta say. They could easily be pro wrestlers or transformers. The Waste King won. I ordered it Wednesday, and it was waiting at the door when I came home from the hospital Friday.

Perfect! The next day, after I came back from writing and walking, I set aside time to tackle the garbage disposal. Getting the old one out was harsh duty. Like a loyal soldier, it didn’t want to leave its post. I’d mentioned that it’d experience some leaking issues. Those led to some rusting issues, which trickled into removal issues. That bear took a sweaty hour to remove it.

Installing the Waste King, though, was a peach. Fifteen minutes, and boom, done. I’m not a handyman, so you know it was a well-engineered product if I installed it in fifteen minutes. Running it for the first time, its volume disappointed me. It’s a one h/p brute, though, and anything put into is liquefied in seconds.

Did I make the right choice? Probably as good as any of them. We’ll see, right.

Meanwhile, anyone need a used garbage disposal? It has no miles on it at all.

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