Odd Jobs  8/15/2013
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Having been married to a remarkably handy spouse for more than two decades, I never paid much attention to patio sliding doors that wouldn’t slide or floors that creaked. A word on a Saturday morning and after a week or two, the door slid and the floor quieted. Of course, during golf season I had to wait a lot longer than a couple of weeks, but that’s an entirely different story.

The point I’m trying to make is that as long as I had ‘A Man’ around the house, I didn’t have to learn to fix anything. My father taught me to pound a nail as straight and true as any boy, which is great for hanging pictures but doesn’t help much when the toilet won’t stop running. So when I moved into my 100-year-old house, I was forced to figure out why the toilet wouldn’t stop running by myself.

First step, clear the accumulation of stuff off the tank lid, lift lid, set on floor, look into tank. So far, so good. Then the realization hit.

I was going to have to put my hand into that tank.

Now I know as well as the next woman that tank is full of perfectly clean water, but there’s something about sticking your hand in a toilet, no matter where. So I steeled myself for the worst and plunged one hand in the water. Slightly cold, but otherwise not bad. All right, jiggle all the levers. Aha! The black rubber seal at the base of the mechanism wasn’t seating completely. Good, I’d figured out what. All I had to do was figure out why.

I may not be Inspector Gadget, but I count myself among the reasonably intelligent of my species. With a fair amount of accuracy I can understand the logic behind the way things work. Try as I might, though, I could not figure out why several bent pieces of wire, one in the shape of a fishhook, were fastened to the bottom of the tank with plumber’s putty. These wires had rusted through and become lodged under the seal.

Fish them out – problem solved.

My next project involved changing out an unsafe electrical outlet, one of the hazards of living in a house so old. Not being a complete idiot, I left this to someone who knew what she was doing. As it turned out, this was a smart move on my part. The wiring hadn’t been updated since the house went from kerosene to electricity.

That left only…the lawn.

To compound the problem of just living in a century-old house, I’d found a century-old house situated on a corner lot. A really big corner lot. One on which the grass grew faster than grass had any right to grow.

I remember mowing the lawn when I was a kid. My dad made me do it until my brother got old enough to take over the job. I haven’t pulled the cord on a lawn mower since then. Suddenly, though, I was faced with the daunting task of cutting this football field sized lawn. So I did what any red-blooded modern woman would do. I hired the kid down the street.

I’m finding that I can cope with the problems that come along without A Man around. I’ll just have to check on whether or not that kid down the street has a snow shovel.



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