Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, December 09, 2002 I remember hearing somewhere once that a house can go for seven years without any maintenance before it starts to fall apart. Someone needs to tell my house that.
Every time I wrap up some project or another on the house, I mentally set a timer to seven years. This is even though I know that other stuff in the house needs attention, and by the time I get finished doling out all my attention, other stuff will need attention. I’m not talking about cleaning, obviously; our living room carpet would be in pretty dire shape if I didn’t run the Singer over it at least twice in that time. I’m talking about actual projects, like the basement ceiling (not quite finished, but pretty functional) and fixing the toilet.
Yes, the toilet finally got fixed. The bucket in the basement has been retired from its sewage-catching duties and is once again back in action making soup for destitute orphans. The little nippers are so grateful.
But the house has caught on to the existence of the timer. The house hates the timer. The house thwarts the timer at every possible turn.
This last time, the toilet wasn’t even fixed before something else broke. My dad and I were balancing a couple of hundred pounds of porcelain on the edge of the bathtub so he could insert the small rubber Bundt cake that’s supposed to make sure everything we flush goes directly into the sewer without stopping in a bucket in our basement (and by the way, you don’t realize how small your bladder can be until the only toilet in your house is temporarily out of commission). Without realizing it, we snapped off one of the little plastic guides that are supposed to keep our shower door sliding smoothly along its track. To be more accurate, it was the last of the little plastic guides that are supposed to keep the shower door sliding smoothly along its track. Now the only thing holding up these deadly sheets of glass just like the one that beheaded David Warner in The Omen are a couple of little plastic wheels that are already in the habit of popping off every once in a while. So now our basement is dry, but every shower is a game of Russian Roulette in which the front halves of our feet are at stake. So I need to find some of those little guides posthaste, or, failing that, buy a whole new shower door assembly complete with new hardware. Or, failing that, look forward to the inevitable day when the pleasure of a morning ablution is somewhat marred by the sudden presence of millions of tiny, transparent knives and spears burying one of us to the ankles.
But I’m not just talking about the stuff I break in the process of fixing other stuff. It goes without saying that that happens. I’m talking about stuff like the fact that less than twenty-four hours after the first flush that kept the water inside the pipes, I broke our mailbox.
I didn’t back a school bus into it or anything, which is good as the mailbox is attached to the front of our house (okay, will somebody explain why I just typed “haus?”) and vehicular damage to it would have been unlikely to remain isolated to the mailbox itself. No, I just took out the mail the other night and closed the box with a little more gusto than was strictly necessary in order to dislodge the fluffy snow that was resting on top of it. I not only dislodged the snow, but one of the hinges, leaving the mailbox dangling at an angle from the remaining hinge. The only way we were going to receive our mail the next day was if I jammed the plastic pole from our miniature U.S. flag into the hole left by the broken hinge. It’s probably a violation of both the postal code and the flag code, but I’ve already bought a new mailbox that I plan to install tonight. Get off my ass.
The point, I guess, is that whenever we work on the house, there’s always some sense that we’re accomplishing something, and that at some point in the future, it’s actually feasible that we will reach that impossible state we call finished. Then I see some TV show about fixer-uppers and there’s a couple who have been living with a table saw in their Victorian kitchen for ten years, or I remember that we’ve never painted the upstairs bedroom, or I break the damn mailbox, and I realize that “finished” is never going to happen. The best we can hope for is probably “momentum,” and by definition that’s not really something that you can rest and bask in the glow of.
I guess this latest round of home improvement started just under two years ago, when my dad helped me remodel the kitchen. That means I have five more years to get everything else in the house done before the kitchen requires my attention again. The clock is ticking. I just hope I can beat it. posted by M. Giant 3:19 PM 0 comments