The Guilty Party

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hey Baby, I'm Your Handyman?

Today was a day off of work, which means there was lots to do. Now that's all right with me, I do not like being bored and I get bored pretty easily. And I have discovered that, contrary to my earlier self-image of a Quiet Thinker, I actually enjoy Moving About and Getting Things Done quite a bit. The only problem I have run up against when it comes to around the house chores is that I'm not exactly Mr. Fix-It.

On the agenda today I had three things to accomplish:

1) Replace the spout in the kids bathtub. Neither of them ever takes a bath, we are a shower kind of family, but the bottom of the spout is showing definite signs of rust and besides, it is just held on by one little screw.

2) Put down the winter grass seed. For those of you from places other than Arizona, this is an annual ritual many of us homeowners go through in order to have green lawns during the winter. The summer lawn goes dormant when night temperatures fall below about 70 degrees F. You can either conserve water and have a crispy brown lawn all winter or you can overseed it with rye grass seed.

3) Figure out a way to seal the front screen door so we can have the lovely autumn and winter and spring fresh air (yes, that is a nice thing about living in the Hottest Damned City in the nation) waft through the house without all manner of insects and reptiles wander in with the waft.

Well, here's my end-of-day report.

I tried to remove the one screw holding the bath spout in place. It resisted. Quite effectively. Wouldn't move one little tiny bit. I tried every slothead screwdriver I've got with no success. I bathed the screw in WD-40. Still no go. It is now 4:48 PM and I began wrestling with that one little bit of rusted in metal almost nine hours ago, revisiting it approximately every hour to see if it had decided to cooperate. Last visit was about five minutes ago. For a little piece of not so high quality metalwork it sure does have a stubborn streak.

In between early go-rounds with the spout screw I mowed the lawn. You need to get the existing hay chopped really close to the ground before broadcasting the rye seed and since my lawnmower is of the electric and cheap variety that requires multiple passes. Not a problem. A bit tiring but well within my skill set. But when I took out the WeedEater to edge the lawn I got about three feet along and ran out of line. No blue nylon string to whirl around and give me that clean, fine edge.

I had been planning to get my seeding and sealing materials at the local hardware store, the place where the people are ready and happy to assist the non-professionals of the world, but the last couple of times I have tried to get WeedEater line there they have not had the kind my machine requires. So instead of going to two places and using precious time and gas, I sucked it up and went to Home Depot.

I needed grass seed, something to put on top of the seed to help keep it moist whilst germinating, weatherstripping and flexible door-bottom moulding, and construction adhesive to hold the moulding to the door bottom.

In the gardening section I found grass seed and something called "Earthgro Steer Manure Blend", which said on the bag it was a combination of the old standby cow poop and compost. Sounded like a good and cheap way to cover the seeds and maybe cut down a bit on the aroma one enjoys when dealing with 100% manure.

The construction adhesive was on one of the paint aisles, which I ended up on because the aisle I was trying to explore was closed off.

The weatherstripping and moulding were a bit harder to locate. I wandered the accessible aisles for a while and finally decided to ask for help. Or at least make an attempt to do so. At Home Depot they take well deserved pride in being able to stock, climb and talk on the phone while moving at amazing speed away from bothersome customers.
True to form most of the associates were doing their best to uphold the company's reputation by doggedly performing all manner of duties that were designed quite effectively to block out all notice of customers. As a matter of fact, a good percentage of them seemed to be practicing to move up to road construction work by blocking off random aisles with scissor action barricades, huge push-ladders and loudly beeping forklifts.

But there was actually one employee holding court in the middle of the aisle that slashes through the center of the store who seemed to be going out of his way to assist customers and was having an obviously good time doing so. Of course this meant that all the assistance requiring customers were gravitating to him and it was nearly impossible to get within shouting distance of the fellow.

I shoved aside a couple dozen senior citizens, buttonholed the helpful fellow, asked where I could find weatherstripping and moulding, was cheerfully told "Hardware, second aisle. Have a great day!" and went in the indicated direction, leaving him to be reswarmed by DIY octogenarians.

The weatherstripping was just where he said it was and all it took to get to it was to shove a really big rolling ladder out of the way, so life was good. The moulding was close by, as a matter of fact it was right behind where I had just displaced the ladder to, so I sent it back home and grabbed my bounty.

When I got home I put screwdriver to the spout screw. It was as expected.

Next I broadcast the seed. Outside of the dogs being a bit more curious than was necessary and a couple pounds of seed landing in their coats, it went well. Then I tore open the Steer Manure Blend bags and began distributing their contents over the lawn. I made two discoveries about this product. The blend includes not just the advertised manure and compost but a goodly number of rocks. And blending manure with anything, even rocks, has no real effect on its stink. Especially when you have to spend quality time with it sorting out the inorganic blend material.

Next on the schedule was a date with weatherstripping. That went pretty well. Considering that the heavy steel screen door is hung unevenly in its frame making it impossible for one particular thickness of weatherstripping to properly seal around the entire door. There are spots now where the fit is perfect, spots where muscle is required to compress the weatherstripping enough for the door to close and spots where a reasonably svelte puma could saunter in without breaking stride.

We will talk about the bottom of door moulding at some later date. At the moment I am a bit too emotional on that subject to give you an accurate narrative.

But here's the kicker. I was so tickled to find the weatherstripping and moulding and so thrown by my encounter with a Home Depot employee willing to risk his continued employment by ignoring company directives regarding speaking with customers that I completely forgot to get the WeedEater line.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise


Timber Beast said...

A common theme for the American male.

I wrote a short story on one man's struggle to stop a leaky faucet and losing his home in the resulting flood.

Be very careful.

On the bright side, you may end up joining the circus as my character did.

Lexi said...

Today's tip: try tightening a stubborn screw before undoing it.

Very occasionally, this works.

A Bit About Me

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I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.