Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What i have learned this summer

So far this summer I have learned how to build a window screen and am now the proud owner of a small hacksaw as well as a shiny red splining tool (I’m not sure if this has another name or not). I am also happy to report that since the last time I looked into making a screen they have done away with mitered corners and now provide handy little plastic corner clippy things (these do have another name, I just don’t remember what it is), allowing me to just hack right through the frame in a (relatively) straight line. Yay!

I have also learned that not all leaky faucets can be fixed by replacing a washer…because not all taps even HAVE washers!! Turns out that our kitchen taps have a little plastic/metal/rubber doohickey called a Cartridge. While not exactly expensive (about $6.50 at our local Crappy Tire), it’s not the 25-cent rubber washer I was expecting either. During this very same learning experience, I also learned that not all sinks have water shut-off valves under the sink (like it shows in all the DIY articles I found). Also, not all houses have really obvious water shut off valves in the basement with a clearly labeled bright red handle, like in my last house. In fact, some houses have water shut off valves that are not only NOT labeled at all, but don’t even HAVE handles. They basically just look like a peculiar metal nubbin with thoroughly stripped threads sticking out of some random pipe coming off of the water heater. To that end, I am now the proud owner of a set of wrenches/pliers (on sale at our local Crappy Tire).

This summer I have also learned how to use an unbent wire coat hanger to hold up a dragging muffler on a car when the rusted up clamp finally snaps. Cuz, you know, I’m CLASSY like that.

Just yesterday I learned out to make homemade fruit fly traps, which is both a good thing, and a bad thing. Good, because now I don’t have to pay the $8 each that Lee Valley wants for them, but bad because…well, I need them. Not sure where they came from, but holy CRAP there are a lot of the fat little bastards buzzing around my kitchen. I mean, the kitchen is disaster enough already, and totally not conducive to cooking already…but now…just..EW! The good news is, the traps are easy to make, and basically didn’t cost me anything, so I can make as many as I want. Empty tin cans I pulled out of the recycling box (see? I knew there was a good reason for putting off taking the recycling!), some cling film that my friend gave me when I cleaned her kitchen (she had about 5 rolls of it…she kept forgetting she’d already bought some, so she gave me a roll cuz I was out), and some elastic bands I saved from various packaging and threw in the junk drawer. Oh, and a cheap plastic pencil to poke holes. Also, a frozen banana that I just happened to have. (I had put in the freezer about 8 months ago with the intention of making banana bread, and then totally forgot about it). You just put a slice of banana in the bottom of the tin can, cover it tightly with cling film, secure it with an elastic, and then poke 5 or 6 little holes in the film. Set then around the kitchen, and within 24 hours you’ll be amazed (read: horrified) by how many of them you catch. I’ve never been able to understand how they can find the tiniest little hole to get in..but can’t find their way back out through the same tiny holes!

Anyway, this morning I came down to see how my traps had worked. I’m not sure which horrified me more…the nasty buggers who’d avoided the traps still cruising around my kitchen, or the somewhat frantic buzzing of the dozens caught in the traps, now throwing themselves against the cling film trying to get out. It’s a horrible sound, and reminiscent of every horror movie I’ve ever seen. What’s even more horrifying still, is that the DIY article I found the traps on suggests REUSING THEM!!! Which means I would have to *gag* empty them out and *yark* clean them out!!! Oh HELL no! Those bitches are going directly into the garbage, outside, double-bagged, and if I had some sort of giant backyard incinerator that’s EXACTLY where they’d go!

Next on my list for this summer is how to sharpen a lawnmower blade. I bought a second-hand electric rechargeable lawnmower when Old Red finally died. I love it. I love how quiet it is. I love how there is no choking clouds of exhaust. I love that I don’t have to practically dislocate my shoulder to start it as there is no cord to pull. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things I don’t love about it. I don’t love that it has a fairly small cutting path. It’s great for my front yard as it’s small, and grows poorly anyway, but it takes just about forever to get through the large, overgrown jungle of a backyard. I don’t think it’s designed for large yards, or really overgrown grass. Which brings me to the second thing I don’t love about it. The battery runs down before I’m finished. I imagine part of this is because I am trying to mow down cornstalk sized dandelions and waist high grass with a tiny electric mower. I am hoping that once I finally get the lawn under control, to the point where it only needs a weekly trim, the mower will be able to finish it. Lastly, the last thing I don’t love about it is that the blade is totally dull. I was actually mowing my front lawn, having to go over my cutting path 2 or 3 times to actually cut it, and a random Asian lady walking up from the bus stop stopped to watch me and helpfully point out, “It doesn’t cut very good” before walking away. Fortunately, this last issue should be a fairly easy fix. At least, I’m hoping it is. Everything I read said that you just need a file and some elbow grease. What I didn’t know what the name of the file. When I tried to look it up, everyone just said that you need a bastard file. I assumed that just meant any random file you had laying around your house…you know, maybe one that used to belong to a set, but now the set is long gone and you only have this one bastard file left floating around. So I take myself down to the local Crappy Tire, find the aisle that sells files and…I’ll be damned! Whaddya know?? They really ARE called “Bastard Files”! huh. You learn something new every day. So, now I am also the proud owner of an 8” Bastard File! I find this totally awesome. Any time I get to use a legitimate word in every day conversation that is ALSO a swear word? Well, that just makes my day. So, I havent’ gotten around to actually dismantling my lawnmower and sharpening the blade yet, but the weather looks like it’s going to be good over the weekend, so hopefully I can get it done.

So far there have been no injuries from all my little fixit jobs. No stiches. No blisters. No bruises or scraped knuckles. In fact, I’m not even sure I broke a nail.

The only injury I’ve dealt myself this summer was from a totally unrelated incident where I learned that cranberry juice, club soda and peach vodka is yummy, playing yahtzee on the patio with good friends, listening to the radio and sitting in the sun is super fun, and under no circumstances, in any universe, can I perform a roundhouse kick over my HEAD and that I should never ever, at any time attempt it because a twisted knee is a REAL bastard. I also learned that I am a Slow Learner. On the bright side…I now know how to properly ice and wrap a damaged knee.

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