Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

We’ve got a electric garage door opener. Always have had one. So, I would never know how much grunting I would have to do to open the garage door until the goddamn thing broke.

Well, the goddamn thing broke.

The first time it broke, it looked pretty simple to fix. The kind of garage door opener that we have uses a bicycle chain to pull the door up. A cog wheel just a little smaller than the one on the hub of the back wheel of your bike sticks out the top of the motor. The chain jumped off the cog, for no reason that I could see, but fixing it should’ve been just a matter of wrapping the chain around the cog.

Easier said than done, it turned out. First, because it’s been cold as Hell Frozen Over, in case you haven’t heard. Second, because the chain had to be wrapped tightly around the cog in order for the whole kit and caboodle to work. It was wrapped so tight that fixing it was not a matter of simply reaching up and hooking the chain around the cog. There wasn’t enough slack in the chain for that, and my fingers went numb before I could figure out how to loosen it.

Today was a little warmer than usual, so I bundled up and went out to the garage again to see if I could work it out. There’s a ten-foot-long piece of angle iron that runs from the motor to a bracket on the wall above the door; it’s a track for a metal shuttle about the size of a pack of cigarettes. The shuttle pulls on a steel arm that’s attached to the door. The track was high above my head, even when I was standing on a ladder, and too close to the ceiling for me to see anything going on above it, but I found a little pin that released it from the bracket above the door, and it swung down far enough for me to see what was going on.

The chain was bolted solidly to one end of the shuttle, but attached to the other end with a long screw. If I unscrewed it, the chain went slack enough for me to wrap it around the cog. Then, all I had to do was tighten up the screw again, lift the track back up to the bracket and put the pin back in. Voila! Fixed! Problem solved! I am a goddamn genius!

When I hit the button to pull the garage door up, though, there was a loud *SNAP!*, the chain went slack, and something went jingle-jingle-jingle across the cement floor of the garage. Well, of course it did. That fix was way too easy.

I didn’t have to pull the pin on the track this time to see what had gone wrong: I got a quick look at the top of the motor and saw that the chain had gone slack because the cog was gone. The goddamn cog was gone! It had snapped right off the end of the drive shaft! I didn’t even have to look far to find it on the floor of the garage. That’s what had gone jingle-jingle right after the chain went slack for the second time.

So I unbolted the whole mess from the ceiling, carried the motor to the basement work shop, and unscrewed the cover. The drive mechanism looked very simple, so simple that it appeared to be utterly disposable. I couldn’t imagine that anybody anywhere bothered with the expense of offering replacements parts for it. Imagine my surprise when a quick Google search came up with an on-line supplier for exactly the part I was looking for. What happened to me is either a common breakdown for a large enough number of people who own this particular make of garage door opener, or somebody out there likes me. I hope it’s Option B.

I ordered a new drive shaft and cog. It was only forty bucks, a whole lot less than buying a new opener. If it gets here this week, and the weather warms up by next weekend, then very soon I might be able to open the door without grunting.

an opening, NOT | 6:08 pm CDT
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Thursday, September 20th, 2012

image of a chair by the curbThe neighbor put this chair out by the side of the road, and it’s been there ever since.

Go anywhere in this town and there’s usually furniture by the side of the road, but it usually doesn’t last as long as this chair has. Someone comes along and decides it would look great in their basement or on their porch, loads it onto the back of his truck and drives off with it, typically within a week, very often in only a few days.

The neighbor’s chair, however, has been out there for more than a week, even after its value went way up from having been rained on. For some reason, a lot of furniture doesn’t get hauled away until after it gets rained on at least once. Maybe some people think that kills the bed bugs.

So anyway, if you’re looking for a nice wing chair that’s been rained on twice already, I can point you in the right direction.

free chair | 5:53 am CDT
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Monday, June 25th, 2012

Our water heater started leaking last Friday and has been leaking steadily all weekend, but because it wasn’t spraying water all over the basement and we still had hot water, and because I’m CHEAP, I didn’t call a plumber until this morning. It was the same plumber that installed the water heater about four years ago. I figured I’d give them a chance to make me a happy customer again, and was very pleasantly surprised when they said they’d send somebody around today between one and two. I had a few things I wanted to do outside the house, but took care of them this morning and was back in time to eat lunch, then passed a couple hours in the basement trying to clean up the mess I made yesterday when I moved a couple of bookcases and built book shelves.

One o’clock came and went. No plumber. Two o’clock came, still no plumber. At two thirty, and still no plumber, I figured I’d been patient long enough and called them up. After waiting on hold for a minute or two, the service department came on the line to tell me that they wouldn’t be able to get to me today and would have to reschedule. Wrong answer. And no apology. So I said I would have to talk to my boss about getting another day off and would get back to them.

Then I called another plumber. Maybe this isn’t kosher, but I don’t care. When I have an appointment with someone, and they don’t show and don’t call me to tell me they won’t be able to see me, I figure the deal is off, and if I can strike a deal with someone else, then that’s what I’ll go with.

When the service department came on the line, I told the guy about my problem, told him what had happened to me today for the sake of full disclosure, and asked if he could help me. When he wanted to know what kind of water heater I had and I gave him the brand name, he said that was the top of the line and should still be under warranty. He could send someone out first thing Friday morning. Fingers crossed, the water heater will hold out until then.

leakey | 3:11 pm CDT
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Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Moving books again. I love books, but I’m getting just a little tired of moving them around all the time.

I built a set of book shelves in my basement lair, which means I had to move the 400 or so books that were stacked up on the cheap-ass book shelves I was using in the meantime. I heaped them up in piles around the edges of the lair, weeding out copies of books I had duplicates of, or hadn’t touched in years. or were about subject I didn’t even know I had once been interested in. I also threw away anything printed on cheap pulp. I had more of those than I ever would have thought.

The new book shelves are made from raw plywood wedged between two by fours and work surprisingly well, given that I made them up out of my own head. The top three shelves are actually the only ones made with books in mind. They’re just eight inches deep and spaced so that mass-market paperbacks would fit perfectly between. The bottom three shelves are much deeper than necessary for plain old books. They’re made for the growing horde of typewriters I’ve been gathering over the years. What’s the point of having all those books, or typewriters, if you don’t put them on display, right?

Putting up the shelves took longer than I thought it would, about two days longer. I cut grooves in the two by fours with a router so the plywood shelves would slide between them. I thought that would take about an hour. That took all afternoon on a Saturday several weeks ago. When I finally got up the steam to get the project going again, I spent a couple hours moving all the books and dragging the bookshelves out to the curb where, if my luck holds, someone will pick them up and stuff them into the back of their van. Then, I cut the two by fours to length, worked out a way to fix them to the floor and ceiling, and wedged the shelves between them. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well it worked, but I wasn’t finished until almost five o’clock this evening. Took me all friggen day.

shelf life | 9:15 pm CDT
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Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The dishes are washed and drip-drying on the countertop, the cat dishes are washed and filled, I ate the last solid food I’ll have until tomorrow, and that’s everything I had planned for today. There’s nothing else. Oh, shit, there is something – I planned to clean the bathroom. Dammit! I hate cleaning the bathroom, but it’s got to be done. There are dust bunnies the size of water buffalo in there, and I don’t even want to think about how big the pathogens that are growing in the tile grout have gotten. When I hold still long enough, I’m pretty sure I can see them move.

Okay, fine. I’m going to clean the bathroom now. Hope you’re not.

the plan | 9:48 am CDT
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Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Time for home maintenance! As soon as I got home yesterday, I had to unship the extension ladder from its hanger in the garage, tote it around to the back of the house and set it up against the eaves that were clogged up. It’s really too bad you weren’t there to watch me. With an extension ladder in my hands, I’m a one-man Three Stooges show, knocking something over every time I make the slightest turn. Best show I ever put on was the time I shoved it right through a screen window.

But so far, the costs of the damage outweigh the costs of hiring a handyman to come do the work for me, so I keep on trying. This evening, I was trying to figure out why the rainwater was dribbling over the end of the eaves trough instead of going down the downspout. Doesn’t do much good to have a downspout that the water doesn’t go down. Turned out that the drain at the end of the trough was plugged full of those little twirlies that fall off maple trees. There were so many twirlies packed into a wad so tight that I had to take apart the elbow in the downspout to get them out.

I checked the other downspouts and found one more that was clogged by twirlies. The rest were good, and I was well-chuffed by the fact that I managed to walk the ladder all the way around the house without putting out a single window. Yay, me.

maintain | 6:12 am CDT
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Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Was going to put together the book shelves in the guest room and fix them to the walls, but My Darling B talked me into watching a movie instead. Too late after the movie to bang holes in walls. Too sleepy to use power tools. Off to bed.

Good movie, though. Doubt with Meryl Streep. I love watching Meryl Streep do her job.

late | 10:02 pm CDT
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Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Ouch. I have so many cuts on my fingers from working in the basement yesterday, and I use the work “working” in the sense of doing something I like to do, not in the sense of laboring all day for The Man. Fun Stuff. I finished building my desk yesterday (see yesterday’s megaparagraph) which, because it’s smaller than the door I was using as a desk before, frees up some room in my basement lair as well as some room in the work shop where the desk top was loitering while I was disgusted with it. In a frenzy of activity, I finished the desk, moved a lot of lumber around and started cleaning up the basement lair, and whenever there’s that much big, heavy stuff being shifted, hammered on and screwed together, There Will Be Blood. I cut my fingers in at least a half-dozen places, and they’re not going to heal until maybe April because I’ve got some kind of weird old guy disease that makes all my skin dry up and crack during the winter, and if I cut a finger, especially when I skin a knuckle, it just bleeds and bleeds and bleeds and bleeds and bleeds. There aren’t enough Band-Aids in the world to take care of this problem. Several of the cuts are on the tips of my fingers, so just typing this drivel is physically painful. I have to go take my morphine now.

split | 6:21 am CDT
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Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Saturday’s afternoon project was supposed to take about an hour. Naturally, it ended up lasting about two hours longer than that.

I had to move a junction box and run a length of wire across the room to a pair of electrical outlets I wanted to mount on opposite walls in the work shop. I use a lot of power tools when I’m being handy. Power tools are the number-one best reason to be handy, so I’ve pieced together a collection of the biggest, noisiest once I could find. The first question I ask when buying a power tool is, in fact, “How noisy is it? Does it shriek like an otherworldly monster? Will I feel as if my heart’s being torn out of my chest when I start it up?” It’s the only way to know if a power tool’s any good. If a table saw isn’t loud enough to at least cause permanent nerve damage to your hearing, it won’t do a good job of cutting wood either, I promise.

The power tools I have draw something like a trillion amps each. In everyday terms, that means that, when I pull the trigger on a circular saw, the lights dim in all the houses in Madison, or at least they do if I have it plugged in to an ordinary socket on the same electrical circuit with everything else in the house. If I have it plugged in to a heavy-duty electrical outlet, no problems. The work shop is in a corner of the basement where there’s just one ordinary outlet, though, so I had run an extension cord to it and dim the lights a lot.

Then there’s the problem of using one extension cord to juice all my power tools. When I’m working on a big project that calls for me to break out five or six power tools, I’m constantly scrambling to find the end of the cord to unplug the power tool I was just using, then plug in the power tool I’m going to use next. This quickly becomes a huge pain in the ass.

As luck would have it, there was a heavy-duty outlet in the corner of the basement opposite the work shop. Apparently the washer and dryer used to be down there, so they rigged a trillion-amp circuit for them and left it there when the next owner of the house decided to move the washer and dryer upstairs. I could put this massively powerful outlet to good use if I ran a heavy-gauge wire across the room to the work shop. So that’s what I did.

Any clown can tack a wire up. That was the easy part. To hook up a pair of outlets on either side of the room I had to split it at a junction box, then run a wire down either wall. If rooms were empty boxes, this would be as simple as it sounds, but they’re not. The junction box had to be awkwardly mounted between two overhead joists, and the wire had to be threaded over a vent, through a brace, over another vent, behind an electrical outlet and finally over a conduit. Electrical wire comes from the store in a tight coil, so I had to simultaneously work the twists and kinks out of it as I was trying to do all this threading. And because this was for a heavy-duty circuit, I was using very thick wire. This part required a lot of cussing.

Every project has to have a major glitch. On this project, I didn’t remember to put up the junction box right away. I ran the wire down the east wall from the ceiling. I don’t know why. Maybe I was listening to the music a little too much. Maybe I’m just a dumbass, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I had to stop, step back from the job to get a good look at what I’d done, facepalm myself, then argue with myself for five or ten minutes. Part of me wanted to half-ass the job by leaving the wire where it was because I didn’t want to pull out all the staples I’d used to fix the wire to the wall, cut it where the junction box should have been, and rework it from there. That part of me lost the argument.

The only other part of the job that took longer than it should have was piecing together the outlets. They weren’t a kind I’d used before so I had to put one together, then take it all apart to get the wires in, then put it back together, then take it all apart again to hook up the ground, then put it back together again. More cussing required. But at least I didn’t have to do that for the second outlet.

A job like this is a success when I can do three things: turn the power back on and the circuit breaker doesn’t pop; plug a power tool in and it works; and, of course, not get electrocuted during any of this. I am happy to report complete success. The table saw screamed to life on the first try. So did the miter saw. And the lights flickered a bit, but I didn’t cause the usual brownout across six counties. So yay.

wiring | 6:59 am CDT
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

You know how sometimes a project you’ve been thinking about for weeks will suddenly percolate to the top of your mind and you’ll suddenly be seized with a compelling need to complete it? Please tell me you know exactly what I’m talking about. I need to know I wasn’t possessed by demons.

I was thinking about two projects while I was walking trough the aisles at Menard’s this afternoon. One of the projects was an almost complete plan to put up a pair of book cases in the spare bedroom, and the other project was a half-baked idea to wire a couple of electrical outlets so I could hang a couple fluorescent lamps in the basement. The book cases have priority because we still have big cardboard boxes filled with books that really have to be uncrated and stacked on shelves before they decompose where they’re sitting, so naturally I spent the afternoon with my arm stuck up to the elbow in a freshly-cut hole in the basement trying to fish electrical wire between the floor joists.

I couldn’t understand why I was doing that, even while I was doing it. I kept asking myself, Why am I even doing this right now? I was even saying it out loud. It was a project that was so back-burner, it wasn’t even on the stove. It was in the freezer, still wrapped up in heavy butcher’s paper, solid as a rock. I thought maybe I’d get around to it later in the winter when all the other projects had been bumped down the list and I was looking for something to do. But no. Some weird need boiled to the surface and I found myself drilling holes in the ceiling, talking to myself.

Well, it’s done now. The subterranean vaults of Our Humble O’Bode are no longer dark and forbidding, and that project won’t be hijacking my afternoon ever again. I feel so used.

hijack | 10:53 pm CDT
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Sunday, June 19th, 2011

It’s father’s day, a day I can claim entirely as my own to do with however I please. Just waste it doing nothing, or even less than nothing, if I want to. “Less than nothing doesn’t even make sense,” you say. “How can you do less than nothing?” You know how people say, “That’s a half-hour of my life I’ll never get back?” I spent the last half-hour watching videos of Louis C K on YouTube. The only way I can possibly rationalize that I was being productive in any way is that I was taking in oxygen and cranking out carbon dioxide so the green, leafy organisms around me could have lunch. And if modern science is to be believed, not that many people do, there’s already plenty of carbon dioxide in the air, so I’m really reaching, but give me a break, I was just trying to show you how completely and utterly I can waste my time today.

And here I am blogging. There goes another half-hour of my life.

If I had any kind of conscience at all I’d be putting up the book cases I finally brought home from the outlet store last weekend. About six weeks ago I ordered a pair of book cases from one of those stores that orders unfinished furniture from the manufacturer at a discount, sort of. They were still kind of pricey but I was at the point where I realized I was never going to build them myself. I figured, if I bought them already together, then all I’d have to do is fix them to the wall – Done! It’s a good idea. It could have worked.

But the project suffered from inertia almost from the minute I placed my order. First of all, it turned out that the store was on the point of financial collapse. I didn’t find this out under weeks later, when they sent me a “Going Out Of Business” flier in the mail many weeks later. Not that it made any difference to whether or not I got the book cases, it was just sort of a harbinger of things to come. I strolled in, found the book cases I wanted, found a sales person and asked her if I could order a couple. She took me over to the island in the middle of the store where they kept all the paperwork and the catalogs and had a computer set up. Another sales person was sitting in front of the computer surfing the internet while she ate take-out food from one of several boxes she had laid out around the keyboard. Keeping it classy at the furniture store.

When I placed my order, I asked the sales person if they had a delivery service. She said they did not, but she knew a guy with a truck who would deliver it for sixty bucks. She didn’t even blink when she said that, and I didn’t, either. I figured, what the heck? How could some anonymous guy with a truck be worse than any of the dozens of people who have moved my personal effects from one house to the next over the years? We’ve moved house at least a half-dozen times in the twenty-one years we’ve been married, and several of the teams that I’ve welcomed into my home to move our family’s possessions appeared to have been hired that morning, probably not through any formal system of application and interview. I think it was more like, the guy driving the truck spotted a couple of homeless dudes on a park bench while he was waiting for a light to change, rolled down the window and offered them twenty bucks each for a couple hours’ work. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I even wish the guy who showed up alone and told me I’d have to help if we had to be moved out that day had been as enterprising. We did have to be out that day. We all packed and moved a lot of boxes that day.

Where was I? Oh, that’s right: The sales lady at the unfinished furniture store told me she knew a guy, so I told her to please give him a call to find out when he could deliver the book cases, then let me know so we could arrange a date for delivery. A week passed, no call. As a matter of fact, by the end of the first week I’d completely forgotten I’d ordered a pair of book cases and probably would never have remembered if it hadn’t occurred to B to ask me, in the middle of the next week, when we could expect to have those book cases delivered, and I said something very on-the-ball, like, “Uh, yeah … those book cases … I’d better call and ask about that.” Clueless.

And I wasn’t the only one. Nobody answered the phone when I called, so I left a message, something like, “Hi, I ordered a couple of book cases about a week ago and you said you’d call me back to let me know when you could have them delivered. Please give me a call.” When she called me back later that day, she had no memory of ever talking to me about having them delivered. “But I could give him a call right now if you like.” For whatever reason, though, I didn’t feel like waiting for delivery any longer. “No, never mind. I’ll come pick them up myself this weekend.” She apologized for the oversight, I made sure I knew what her hours were, and that was the last time I spoke to her for MORE THAN A WEEK.

I’m a procrastinator. It’s what I do.

When I finally called her back a week and a half later she was still so very sorry about failing to have the book cases delivered to me that she felt she had to apologize again, so I didn’t feel all that bad about my lazy-ass attitude, even though I should have. I rented a van, got T to ride with me to the store and we loaded the book cases up and drove off with them. They were huge book cases, eight feet high. Made of white pine, they weren’t all that heavy but they were so tall that I would never have been able to manhandle them all by myself without dropping them every couple steps and gouging great gashes in the sides by clunking them against corners and other people. When we finally got them in the house they filled up one end of the room, which was just as I wanted it, only I want them at the other end.

I want towering book cases on either side of the window. I’ll have to build up a pedestal for each of them because there’s some duct work that’ll have to run underneath, and they’re so tall that they’ll have to be fixed to the wall so that, when they’re loaded to the rafters, and I imagine each of them will easily hold two-hundred pounds of books, they won’t tip over one random day and squish somebody I love like a worm. I’m putting these book cases up in a spare bedroom where guests stay overnight. It’d be one hell of a way to start the day. Wake up with the sun shining in your face, open your eyes just in time to see a wall of books free-falling toward you. The end.

I figured out how to build a pedestal and even pieced one together earlier this week but haven’t installed it yet. It would be simple, I just have to get off my butt and do it. Same with installing rails across the back to strengthen each book case and make it possible to fix them to the wall. I woke up yesterday morning with a very clear idea how I can do that, but again, I have to actually lift a finger, and I’m currently using said finger to type. But I could stop, I guess.

father’s day | 2:26 pm CDT
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Monday, August 16th, 2010

image of door

This is what I get for trying to save money by doing it myself instead of paying a contractor a couple thousand dollars to do it for me. Not that I think a contractor wouldn’t have done exactly what I did. He totally would have, if he’d wound up stuck in the position I was in yesterday afternoon after I framed the new windows with brick molding, then built up the frame around the back door with lumber I had to rip from larger pine planks for a custom fit, then whacking it all into place with thirty gojillion nails half again as big as railroad spikes.

With all that at stake, I had to be really careful about putting it all together so it would all to fit in a very finite amount of space. I measured the opening twice, just like every shop teacher in America tells you to do. I measured the door’s width, re-checked my math and carefully marked the lumber. I rehearsed all the assembly steps in my head each time I was about to make a cut. Only after I was sure it would all fit together did I crank up the table saw, cut the lumber to size and nail it all in place with the aforementioned thirty gojillion monster nails. Then, after the door was hung, I swung it shut and … the damned thing wouldn’t close.

Shit.

I had to cut a creative divot out of the door jamb in order to make room for the latch. The alternative was to yank the door off, yank the lumber off, pull all the nails, re-attach all the furring strips I would have pulled out when I yanked off the lumber, take the lumber down to the work shop to rip a quarter-inch off the width … or cut a divot out of the door jamb. It was four-thirty in the afternoon, half a hour past the time I was hoping to knock off for the day. I got to work with a chisel and a hammer.

It’s not like you can tell from looking at it. Even if you knew what you were looking for, it’s neat and clean that it looks like maybe it was supposed to be that way. I certainly wouldn’t point and say anything if I saw it. And from the outside you can’t see anything’s wrong at all, so I’m okay with it like this for now. Still gotta caulk up the cracks so I can clap some paint on this side of the building. The house is looking closer to done every day.

Cockeyed | 8:34 am CDT
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Sunday, August 8th, 2010

I retreated to the cool, cool comfort of the basement lair this evening, once Tim went back to his apartment after dinner, because it was just too freaking muggy upstairs. Humidity had surpassed the ability of certified official weather personnel to measure it in the way they’re used to, so according to the local weather web source the humidity this evening was so heavy and damp that it had a dangerous undertow that would drag you way out beyond the dropoff and drown you.

I was pouring sweat just from the mild exertion of chewing my dinner. When I stopped doing that and I could sit absolutely still I was still pouring sweat, but I felt only almost as miserable as when I had to move my jaw up and down and continued sitting stock still right up until the time I had to get up out of my seat to say good-bye to Tim. That was agony.

Things weren’t quite so bad this afternoon while I was trying to do a little more work framing up the windows I installed by the back door yesterday. I was pouring sweat again, but once I’m already basting in my own juices I can just keep on chugging away and it doesn’t make much difference how much hotter I feel. At that point, hot is hot and doesn’t feel any hotter until right before I collapse in a puddle of my own juices and go sliding down the tunnel with the bright, shining light at the end.

It was so hot that a Porsche in the parking lot at the hardware store burst into flames and every fire truck in Dane County came to put it out. Seriously, there were almost as many emergency vehicles in the parking lot as there were cars that belonged to customers. With that many blinking lights I expected to see quite a show, but by the time I came out and saw what was going on the car was barely smoldering as its owner poked dejectedly through the interior as a couple dozen firemen stood by, ready to douse him in foam if the fire should somehow spring back to life.

Actually, I was much more interested in knowing why a Porsche was in the parking lot of this particular hardware store. It’s the sort of place where you see lots of pickup trucks and beat-up Econoline vans, but the most expensive car you’re likely to catch sight of would be a late-model Camry or possibly a Lexus. Driving there in your Porsche is practically begging the gods to drop a meteor on it.

And naturally on this hot, hot evening we planned to grill our dinner on the barbecue, a task I’m normally all to happy to do but this evening was thinking up ways to get out of it, like faking a stroke or gnawing off my own leg. My Darling B asked me to grill bison steaks, though, and I love those so I just manned up, lit the fire and grilled away. They were delicious.

Hot Hot Hot | 9:12 pm CDT
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Monday, July 5th, 2010

I didn’t know it had its own ecosystem!

I dragged this old rolled-up carpet out to the curbside because there’s a better than even chance someone driving by will stop, shove it into the back of their vehicle and drive away with it. Beats going through all the work of shoving it the back of my own vehicle and lugging it away to wherever it is we have to go to dispose of old carpets.

You would not believe what we’ve gotten rid of using this method. A month or two ago we lugged a ratty old love seat out to the curb. We’d kept it in the basement for years, “just in case we might want to use it again,” but the only thing living in our house that was interested in using it was mice and earwigs. Out to the curb it went. It was gone in just a few hours.

I put a broken-down computer monitor out there a couple years ago, on top of a pile of other junk I wanted the garbage collection service to haul away. The monitor sat in the rain for two or three days until one morning, not on garbage pick-up day, it disappeared. Someone actually wanted it? I’d be really interested to know what use they got out of that.

And once I put a wardrobe out there with a big sign attached that read, “Free! Take Me Home!” It was a desperation move, because the wardrobe was the size of Kansas. I didn’t honestly believe anyone would go to the trouble of getting a truck big enough to haul it away even if they wanted it, but what the hell, someone did. It stood out there for a couple days until one morning, as I strolled to the front window with a cup of coffee, I caught sight of a tiny woman, and I mean tiny, trying to shove it into the back of her van all by her lonesome. I stood there for a couple minutes just gaping at her in disbelief, mostly amazed that she was managing to horse it around to the back of her van, and also because I couldn’t believe she thought it was going to fit. Then I put my coffee down and grabbed my shoes to go out and help her. By the time I opened the door, though, she had somehow already tucked the wardrobe into the back of her van and was jumping into the driver’s seat. Whoa!

The carpet’s in awful shape, dirty and ragged and well-used, but it could just be that someone is looking for a remnant to lay down in their garage, or garden shed, or chicken coop, and will drag it home with them. I hope so, because I don’t want to handle it again.

It’s been sitting in a corner of the basement long enough that I was pretty sure it would be full of dust and spiders, but man! I was off by a factor of thousands! I found that it had developed its own ecosystem as I separated the carpet from the foam pad. It’d be too heavy for me to drag up the stairs otherwise. Earwigs, spiders, centipedes and who knows what all else ran in all directions as I unrolled it, and when I finally peeled it all the way back to the center I found that several mice had been using it as a boarding house. Yuck.

By the time I was done dragging it up the stairs I was covered in dirt, dust, dead bugs and I don’t want to think what else. I finished by sweeping up, then went straight to the bathroom, peeled out of my dirty work clothes and stood under a gushing shower for twenty minutes, soaping and scrubbing, soaping and scrubbing. If I’d had a bottle of chlorine bleach I would’ve been tempted to pour it all over myself.

To The Curb | 9:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel, Our Humble O'Bode | Tags:
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Sunday, June 13th, 2010

One of the unusual features of Our Humble O’Bode is a dining room that was once a hallway into the house from the back door. Some people call it a mud room. I like to think it was a breezeway because I like that word a lot, but I think a breezeway is open to the front and back of the house. This might have been, long ago, but I can’t tell for sure.

And it doesn’t really matter now, because it’s not a breezeway or a mud room any more. Some time ago the wall that separated the hall from the rest of the house was knocked down to make the dining room bigger, and a good thing, too. The dining room must’ve been itsy-bitsy before they did that. Now it’s big enough to hold a full-size dining room table with a little extra room left over for a china hutch, and off toward the front of the house they added a nook big enough to shoehorn a washer and drier in so we don’t have to tromp down the stairs to the basement to wash our clothes.

Whoever did the remodeling raised the floor up off the concrete slab so it ran all the way to the far wall, leaving a crawl space under the far end of the dining room. You can get in, should you ever get the crazy idea that you’d want to, by removing a panel under the steps by the back door, or by moving the cardboard box that’s covering the opening in the garage.

I don’t recall whether I thought of the cardboard box, or B did. I’d like to blame B for it, but that would be impolite. The box was just the right size to cover the hole, which apparently had a door at one time that had long since been pried off its hinges and lost. I knocked it over for about the thousandth time today as I was sweeping the floor of the garage and finally pitched it in the trash.

Can’t just leave the hole gaping open, though. Winters get pretty cold here and if The Merry Little Breezes were allowed to blow through the crawl space they could freeze the water pipes. Also, the dining room would get awful friggin cold. Luckily I never throw away anything and, in a corner of the work shop, I had a couple of doors I pulled off a cabinet that were just about the right size. I cut one of them down a bit and took it up to the garage.

But before I nailed it over the hole I stuck my head in there to have a good look around, because I’m a curious cat and I like surprises. As it turned out, the crawl space held a few. Nothing as intriguing as a personal diary, or a pile of skulls, sorry. Just a few car parts: a distributor cap, an air filter and a water pump. Also, a gallon jug full of what looked like either transmission fluid or freshly-drawn blood. I’m leaning toward tranny fluid. If it were freshly-drawn blood, the jug probably wouldn’t have been covered in cobwebs.

Now that the hole’s covered over, the chipmunks will have to find another way to get into the crawlspace, where they were bringing their chipmunk girlfriends and having their chipmunk kegger parties. After I nailed the door over the hole I took my tools downstairs, and when I came back up I caught one of the stripey little goobers trying to figure out how to open it. I sure hope he didn’t leave his drunken floozey girlfriend passed out in there.

patch | 5:57 am CDT
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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Somebody grabbed my lawn mower yesterday afternoon, threw it in his truck, and drove away with it! Watching from inside the living room, My Darling B and I cheered and waved as they loaded it up.

I bought a new lawn mower last weekend and did what everyone else does when they want to get rid of an old lawn mower, or an old sofa, or a book case or pile of wood: I put it on the curb and, in a day or two, somebody took it home with them. In fact, I cleaned house of all the things I just mentioned that way. It’s like magic.

We weren’t so sure the lawn mower was going to go, though. It sat out front all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and I was pretty sure it would be gone when we came home from work on Monday night, but there it was. And there it was again on Tuesday night. I was starting to feel a tiny bit insulted by then. Anybody could see that it was a perfectly usable lawn mower. What, mine’s not good enough?

Then last night, as I was waiting for B to finish brushing her teeth so we could go to our dance lesson, I heard a cheer rise up from the bathroom, followed by, “Take it! Take it away!” Running to the front window, I saw two guys loading the mower into their truck.

“Wave at them!” B said, coming into the front room, waving like a maniac. “Wave so they’ll know it’s okay! Hi, guys! Have fun with that!” They paused for a moment to look in wonder at the crazy lady jumping around waving her arms inside the house, then finished packing up the lawn mower before driving away.

free to a good home | 7:51 pm CDT
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