So I got up early enough. My daughter came in to tell me she had a nightmare where I had died. Rough. So I spent some time with her before getting up. I was slow in moving, for sure, but eventually I got some painting clothes on and went out to put the sander together. I had had to order some new parts and I was ready to reassemble and do some high powered smoothing. When I tried to make it all fit, however, one of the screws just slid into its hole. I hadn’t looked closely enough and it turns out I will need another new part. Actually I need three new parts.

So I looked up these parts on the Dewalt web site and, kaching, easy to find what I need with part numbers and prices. All three parts–and I was careful to make sure I only need those three–will cost about ten bucks. So, the dilemma arises again: Do I order the parts and wait a week or two to continue my project or do I get a new sander? A new sander costs 70 dollars before tax when ten dollars will repair the one I have like new. I decided to do both.

I will get a new sander today because I cannot afford to lose two weeks. Then I will repair the old sander and sell it on Craig’s List. I have been wanting to try out Craig’s List for some time and this gives me the perfect excuse. So really I will get  discount, if you will, on the new sander, and I will also get to continue with my work. Not ideal, but it will do the trick.

So I had to spend a bunch of time dealing with all this and I lost the morning. My wife had to split late in the morning for an appointment so that means I’m on Dad Duty. No painting until this afternoon when, most likely, it will rain. So much for getting things done today. I did take a little time to make some calls for an oven repair. We have a digital display that does not display. So much for high tech. The oven works, but it is hard to tell if I really did enter 375 degrees or if I will burn the bread after ten minutes. At least I got started on that.

Delays, delays–that is the theme with this whole painting business. It will take several hours without any delays, but good lord I seem to be stalled every week with one thing or another. I am an amateur, for sure, but I am learning a lot. Next time, and I can’t say I look forward to the next time, it will be easier. Things may be poking along, but I’ve got all that new knowledge. That counts for something, eh?

Toilet Seat Adventures

So we needed some new toilet seats.  One of them was outright broken.  The others were getting skanky.  Who knows how old those puppies are?  So I stopped putting off that task and headed out to get some new ones.  I went to Lowe’s in South Burlington.  The place has been open for a while but I had never been there.  I had some errands in that direction and combined tasks into one trip.  Actually two.

The thing is, I just needed some toilet seats.  Toilet seats have the potential to be embarrassing upon purchase.  Like toilet paper, everyone uses it and everyone knows what it is for, but we kind of pretend it is just another thing.  If I were a cashier ringing up the purchase of a toilet seat at Lowe’s, I would have to try hard not to picture the purchaser using the item.  See what I mean by potentially embarrassing?  For everyone involved.  Anyway, I just needed three toilet seats to replace all of the ones in our house.  I was quickly overwhelmed.

Do you have any idea how many types of toilet seats there are?  There are:

  • squishy ones
  • solid ones
  • round ones
  • oval ones
  • decorated ones
  • plain ones
  • wooden ones
  • plastic ones (heavy duty)
  • plastic ones (light duty)
  • chrome hinges
  • plastic hinges
  • nickel hinges
  • fancy new easy to clean hinges
  • slow closing lids
  • ones with no lid
  • regular old slamming if you are not careful lids
  • anti-bacterial mystery substance somehow molded right in ones
  • your standard wash it to keep the bacteria away ones
  • and my personal favorite–the one with the glittery butterfly on the soft foam lid one

Like I said, I just needed some toilet seats.  Of course, it took me way too long to decide.  I went with the nickel hinges. I mean why not? But ack! There was only one left! After all that time deciding, only one left! Quickly, I recovered. I went with one nickel plated hinge and two chrome plated hinges. The purchase was speedy because I only put one on the shelf to be scanned three times.  All the same price, right?  And I was out of there.

I installed one. I installed two. I pulled the third from the box and ack! A cracked seat! Back it went into the box and back I went to Lowe’s.  Now, on the way home the first time, I had a small amount of angst that the “associate,” or whatever employees at Lowe’s are called, scanned the nickel-hinged seat as a chrome-hinged seat. I knew it would mess with inventory, even the price was the same. Justice was served, however, as I had to deal with returning the one that was incorrectly scanned. I played dumb, of course, as if I had no idea what had happened. I hope the associate (since I am sure this is tracked somehow) doesn’t take heat for that. I did get a refund, then got another chrome-hinged toilet seat.

So we have three new toilet seats. It was a small and satisfying project, one of which I will be reminded daily (more than daily on days like today when my gut feels less than healthy, if you know what I’m saying). We also, however, have a leak in the tank of one of them, discovered upon seat replacement. When I went back for the return I looked to see if the bolts were available to fix it. I should have guessed that there are at least three types of bolts for different brands of toilets.  I don’t know what brand of toilet it is.  It’s a toilet.  So it leaks still, to be repaired soon. Stay tuned, friends, for the continuing adventures of my toilets.

Critters in the Garage


Phoebe Chick

Phoebe Chick

A little too long ago our garage door busted.  One of the cables snapped so only one side gets pulled when it operates.  I say “a little too long ago” because we still haven’t fixed it.  We just leave it up or down for a while.  Often the car isn’t in the bay.  I also say “a little too long ago” since the door busted because it froze to the floor.  We haven’t had ice in a while.

But whatevs.  This is about critters.  The ones in the garage.  The reason they get in is because the door is open.  A squirrel managed to find a home in there.  I don’t know it is actually living in the garage, but it sure likes hanging out in there.  It has recently discovered how wonderful the garbage bags are.  “Get a load of these things,” I imagine it pondered. “They are filled with plastic packaging, some of which has slight amounts of food residue stuck to it;  I think I’ll gnaw large holes in the bag so I can lick the salsa jar lid.”  Our food waste goes into the compost so there isn’t much for a squirrel to snack upon.  But that doesn’t stop it.

Yesterday I started moving our wood from one wall to another.  This seems to bother the squirrel.  Hey, squirrel, chill.  This isn’t your wood.  Clean up the mess you made with the garbage and maybe I’ll let you hang around.  Until then, you can find a tree.  And by the way, stop licking the grill.  Just because I’m lazy doesn’t give you license to lick that either.  I think that once I move the wood, the squirrel will just move into that pile.  We need to get that door fixed.

Once spring began we also had a phoebe family move in.  It made a nest in the rafters.  This meant we had to leave the door open so it could get out.  And in.  Then it had some chicks.  The other day, the chicks fledged.  One of the chicks was hanging out on the garage floor.  It left the nest but hadn’t quite figured out how to fly yet.  It was there for a while.  After dark it was gone.  I hope it didn’t get snacked upon by some noctural predator.  Especially after leaving the door open that whole time.  It was cute, that baby bird.  I guess that made up for its parents crapping all over the cars and the lawnmower and firewood.  And the garbage bags.

The phoebes have left, now that the chicks are off to better things.  Now they hang out in the birch tree outside my son’s window, keeping him up late and waking him up early.  At least they are out of the garage.  Now I just need to convince the squirrel to take a hike.  Once I stop being lazy, and decide that paying for someone to fix the door is a priority, it will be easier to keep out the critters.  I guess I’ll have to live with the squirrel until then.  At least it isn’t in the house.  With my record of door fixing procrastination, let’s hope the front door stays intact.

Turkeys and Culverts

Driving home on this beautiful spring evening I saw a turkey prancing its way across our neighbor’s exquisitely mowed lawn.  It made me wonder if any turkeys were at our place.  They haven’t been around much these days.  I was afraid they would eat the freshly planted peas.  Didn’t happen and I’m glad of it.

After I passed the trotting bird I looked across the field on the other side of the road.  I could see all the way to the river to where the one lane bridge crosses it.  Along the road I saw some dark objects.  Having just seen a turkey, the first thing I imagined was that those dark objects must be turkeys.  Except they were perfectly lined up, tucked into the side of the road.  And they were perfectly round.  Not turkeys.

It turns out they were culverts, which I figured out just by letting my brain get over its immediate assumptions.  Haste makes waste there, Brain!  Trucks have been in and out the past few days hauling dirt and gravel and all kinds of other stuff, like long steel corrugated tubes.  Next to the bridge, where the road sometimes floods, the town crew raised the road and tucked culverts underneath to let the water flow.  Smart.

Next month I will plant corn.  Last year the turkeys pulled it all up.  Twice.  Once I plant again I bet they will come back around.  They figure these things out.  Call them turkeys if you will but they are crafty bastards.  Smart.  They will be back to get my corn again.  You can bet on that.  Unless they are too distracted by the culverts to remember.  Could happen.  But I won’t plan on it.

Phoebe in the Garage

A couple of months ago our garage door broke. Well, the door itself didn’t break. The door got frozen to the ground (snow melted, water ran under the door, water froze) and then we tried to open it. It was a simple yet dumb mistake. One of the cables on the door opener snapped. It can still marginally operate, albeit unsafely, with one cable, but lately we have just left it open.

Lately means the last month. This has made things easier in some ways. We don’t need to worry about the other cable snapping while we take our time actually getting the thing fixed, for example. But it has created a couple problems as well.

The first problem is the trash. We don’t generate all that much trash. We recycle or compost most things. Our trash consists mainly of plastic packaging. But some stinky stuff gets in there. It isn’t much but it is enough, apparently, to attract some critters. I found the small bag I placed in the garage a week and a half ago torn asunder yesterday. Some critter decided it was worth rumaging through the plastic packaging to lick the residue.

The second problem is the phobe. I like phoebes. They are one sure sign of spring and their songs always make me smile. I heard one this morning and its call seemed to echo more than usual. It sounded quite lovely, actually. It echoed, however, because the bird was in the garage. It flitted among the rafters but it didn’t seem to want to leave.

It was still there this afternoon. Or at least it was back this afternoon. It sort of freaked out my daughter at first but then she thought it was cool. A bird in the garage! What a treat. Again, it didn’t want to leave, despite the wide open door. My fear is that it will build a nest and then we will get the door fixed (not that we have been exactly hasty in making that happen) and it will have a tough time with the in and out of things and it will have chicks and they will all die of starvation because mom can’t bring it any bugs.

Poor chicks. OK, there aren’t any chicks yet. I saw no signs of a nest. But it could happen, right? I suppose even it that scenario really played out the phoebe mother could poke through the trash for what it might find to feed the youngsters. That might work.

We don’t have a third problem yet. At least not that I am aware of. But that could happen, too. We should get the door fixed and we should get a trash bin and we should stop buying things with so much plastic packaging. Save the phoebes!

At least we are saving electricity by not using the garage door opener. That’s something isn’t it. Plus, we get to see the phoebe up close, even it we are about to slay its offspring by fixing something we should have repaired months ago.


I had the day off today.  It’s President’s Day.  I get it off, paid.  Why work on a day like that?  But I did.  Not much, but I did.  I needed to send a bunch of appointment reminders on Friday but I didn’t have time to do it.  So then I should have done it Saturday.  Or Sunday.  And then it was Monday.  I had to get it done this morning.

I sent the reminders by email so of course I noticed, when I opened my email program, that I had a couple of messages that needed immediate responses.  One was from a student who has a looming deadline.  Another was from a parent I should have called on Thursday.  Crap.  So I answered those before sending the messages I needed to send.

I have a series of workshops tomorrow and, due to the aforementioned busy Friday, I did not plan for them completely.  I had to find out exactly when I need to be there and to confirm the agenda.  So that meant more work today.  Not much, but more.  I can’t get away.  That is part of the deal with my job, I guess.  I have a flexible schedule but I often can’t just leave it at the office.  My office is at home.

I did get out and about today.  I was in search of a pot lid.  It is from a Williams Sonoma pot that we got a dozen years ago.  My wife pulled the lid from over some boiling water and dipped it under the faucet flowing with cold water.  It was a glass lid, but it shattered when she did that.  She was distracted.  For a while we just went without a lid but for the past year I have been half-heartedly searching for a replacement.  When I called the company they told me I need to go to a store so someone could look at it.

At the store they told me that no replacements are available.  No lids from current pot designs will fit and they literally cannot get me a lid to an old pot.  They don’t make them, they don’t stock them, they can’t get me one.  No can do.  I was a little dumbstruck.  I asked if this was part of a conspiracy to simply get me to buy a whole new pot.  I got no verbal response to that question.

So I will hunt for one online and elsewhere.  I must be able to find one somewhere.  I know I can find a lid of some kind that fits.  I could get a universal lid that would work in a pinch, but I want another glass one that fits.  My wife promises not to put it under cold water again, unless the lid is already cold.  So my search is on again and I am more determined than ever.  I will show Williams Sonoma that a lid can be found, despite their buy-it-don’t-fix-it policies.

I will start that search right away.  As soon as I fill the bird feeders again.  And wash those dishes.  And close my email program.

Busted Garage Door

I guess I can’t say that the door itself is busted.  That actually seems just fine.  But one morning my wife tried to open it with the remote opener and Crack! Ptwang! a cable went flying and the thing wouldn’t open.

The cable was unattached at the upper end on one side, so the door doesn’t have enough pull, so to speak, for it to open on its own.  It needs some manual assistance.  Kind of a pain, but workable for the short term.

I took some time today to fix it, but no go.  There is a big fat spring that provides some major leverage.  That spring is busted.  A hook at one end is just plain old cracked, wrenched, split.  The piece that connects it to the other piece just isn’t there.  I couldn’t find it.

What likely happened is that ice was holding the door to the floor.  The previous owner had warned us of this.  “I put a little salt down,” she told me.  We never put a little salt down.  Until today, of course.  Now that the door is busted, that will help only so some extent.

This is one of those boy-that-was-stupid-situations.  Some rock salt is certainly cheaper than a house call to have someone fix the dang door.  Live and learn, eh?  I guess we keep some local business in the black by calling them up and asking for some service.

At least no one got hurt.  Isn’t that what a responsible parent is supposed to say?  So I said it.  I still feel stupid.