Do It Thyself

A week or so ago I did what I know better not to do. Something that has been proven to be a bad idea for several decades now. I decided to fix something that was awry with the house, on my own, with nothing but YouTube as my instructor.

The drain on the left side of the kitchen sink had developed some rust, as do many old things, and I deemed it unsightly enough to warrant replacement. So I did my “research,” bought the parts needed, and set to the project

I first unscrewed several things under the sink, and loosening one of them unleashed a small torrent of water from something called the “trap.” Apparently I should have known about this water, but I had missed that on the video. I pulled out the rusty drain and installed the shiny new one. YouTube had suggested using a particular goo around the device, which I applied liberally. I then reconnected all of the plastic pipes, bumped my head on the door frame, and exited the workspace cursing only lightly and under my breath.

Now I filled the sink … no leaking. Later I ran the dishwasher … no leaking. But my joy was short-lived because over the next few days it began to leak – somewhere – I just couldn’t find where the water was coming from. So I finally gave up and called a plumber. Within two minutes after arrival at our home he made the diagnosis, and asked me:

Plumber: What did you do with the conical washer that came from here (he pointed at a joint)?

Me: There was no conical washer.

Plumber: Of course there was. It hadn’t leaked for the seven years you have been living here, and didn’t start leaking until you messed about with the pipes. There had to have been a washer at that position, or it would have leaked every day you have lived in the house. You just missed it while you were clumsily tearing apart the fixture.

Me: I tell you that there was no such washer, and what you call “clumsily tearing apart” was in my case careful attention to detail.

Plumber: Sure, sure, have it your way. But that washer was as big as a golf ball and you never saw it.

Me: Look here, I am tiring of arguing with a plumber, something which I long ago vowed never to do, and would like you to take your wrenches and cements and opinions and leave my home immediately. My last word on the subject is that there never was a washer.

Plumber: Had to be there

Me: Never was

Plumber: You are a fool!

Me: Imbecile!

(The plumber picks up a hefty wrench for himself, and holds out another to me.)

Plumber: Defend yourself, Sir!

(I grab a can from the pantry behind me which turns out to be PAM. I point the nozzle at the miscreant.)

Me: Drop that hardware, you dimwit, or I will lubricate you within an inch of your life!

At this point I am not sure what would have happened had not Robin entered the room with a look on her face that caused a quick exit by the tradesman. I too slunk away, hoping to avoid a conversation for as long as possible. In this I was to be disappointed, but I won’t bore you with all of the details of what Robin said as she held me by the scruff of my neck. I can, however, say that much of her monologue touched on various sorts of incompetency to be found in certain people who lived at her address.

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From The New Yorker

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From The New Yorker

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Last night we watched a movie called “The Boy Called Christmas.” You never know with modern films created for the yuletide market. Most of them are losers. This one isn’t. It’s a smart fable, with elves, woodcutters, kidnappings, blizzards, and enough beautiful winter photography to make you pull your afghan up around your neck.

There is also excellent CGI stuff throughout the movie, especially a gorgeous reindeer who goes by the name of Blitzen. You get to watch Maggie Smith and Kristen Wiig do their thing, and the kid who plays the title role … where do they get these excellent child actors? He doesn’t miss a beat.

There is some serious stuff in the story, like the loss of a parent, that are dealt with without drowning in either grief or platitudes. There are also some mildly scary episodes that might be better skipped by kids under five. One of them involves a famished troll who comes to a bad end (really, do you recall any time that a troll in a story doesn’t come to a bad end?).

And did I mention the mouse? There is a right smart CGI rodent in this one.

So this movie was a winner for us. And frankly, any film that stars Maggie Smith is granted four stars before we even see it. She is one of those people that dominate the camera’s frame. When I grow up I would love to be able to speak the King’s English like Maggie does. Some of the photography was shot in Lapland and Finland, and as I mentioned before, is outstanding … the ability to use drones in camera work has provided us such beautiful perspectives.

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Friday was the day that Robin and I decided to call the first real day of winter. It snowed about an inch of those tiny icy flakes that as they pile up become instant hazards to walking. A blustery wind blew all day long and the temperature never got above 25 degrees. The sun didn’t make its brief appearance until suppertime. A cloudy day, dark and dank, with substantial wind chills.

So we are finally here in that period of the year that nearly everybody wishes was shorter. We are a spoiled bunch, we humans of the temperate zones. We want four seasons, but we don’t want them to be of equal length. If I were doing the planning, I would grant winter no more than a month before it would be expected to be on it way. In that way I could actually look at it fondly, treasuring each frosty day because I knew that too soon they would be replaced by sunny and warm ones.

For moi, there is really nothing wrong with winter that a little editing wouldn’t fix.

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I haven’t begun my Christmas shopping yet. It’s something that I am usually slow to finish, but this year is setting new records. There has been no shortage of reminders sent to me to get going and get it done. Catalogs fall out of our mailbox as soon as we turn the key, and this has been going on for weeks.

What do you call such procrastination when it reaches heights never achieved before? Hyper-procrastination? Acute procrastination syndrome? Shop-o-phobia? Whatever you want to call it, I’ve got it bad. When you can’t even pick up your laptop and one-click your way to doing what needs to be done, is there any hope at all? Is it an early sign of something coming that is even worse, like trench foot or trichotillomania? Should I be consulting somebody?

Wait a moment. I could turn this whole anxiety-ridden business around right now, because here I sit with the tool I need in my hands. Excuse me, if you will, but I’m going leave off writing and give it a try. Don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean I love you less.

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Postscript: the children in the header photo are (from left to right) Maja, Kari, & Sarah Flom. No fair calculating how old they would be now.

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