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Archive for the ‘Household Matters’ Category

I am dealing with non-stop adversity here, comrades! But bravely of course! Ever dauntless!

Betrayed by Garden Device
Just when I finally got the automatic watering system running like CLOCKWORK, there was a sudden horrid flood on the path under which a buried hose takes water to a planter box.

SIGH. Pulling up immensely heavy flagstones, dabbling in the mud–in the blinding heat, while having the blood drained out of me by voracious mosquitoes (probably infected with Zika)–so NOT the way I had planned to spend my weekend.
Well, the hose connector had just burst apart. It was an example of an exciting new technology in hose connectors–so much quicker and better than the old fashioned kind! Except, that is, for its COMPLETE failure to actually, you know, connect hoses. I replaced it with an old fashioned connector, and trashed it, together with all its family of expensive couplers and gewgaws. Put the mud and flagstones back down. Then spent a satisfying few minutes writing a venomous review on Amazon. HA! That should show them.

Betrayed by Electronic Device
Having decided that I MUST watch Game of Thrones–damn the expense!–I turned on Roku, found HBOGo and clicked on GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7! YAY! Go Jon Snow! Except his voice was mute. As were all the other voices. I could hear wind blowing and gulls screaming, and the occasional dim whisper–but, nothing more. The subtitles were valiantly doing their part, so I knew what people were saying but couldn’t hear it. Somewhat unsatisfying, don’t you know.

Was it the speakers? Was it the receiver? Was it the punishment of an angry God? No time to find out, getting so late. So, I went to bed, feeling ill used. The next evening I tested the speakers and the receivers–which all worked–and tested the other device–which worked. Eh? So, I did what I should have done first, asked Mr. Google. “WHY can’t I hear dialog on Game of Thrones?” Well well, what do you know. OTHER people had this problem. It was a setting on Roku–change it from, uh, [original setting that worked perfectly until now] to ‘Stereo’. BINGO! My $14.99 not wasted after all.

Betrayed by Browser
You’ll be thinking, HOW can this poor woman be doomed to more suffering! And yet, so it is. See, after my lovely trip to NY and Maine, I came home and put together a wondrous web page documenting all the charming times we’d had. HOURS I spent on it, making everything just so. Then with all the pride of a master artist, I set it winging up to the cloud, and made ready to unveil it to my adoring public–but first, prudently checking it out to make sure all was ship shape. WELL. Chrome refused to load my updated styles. Chrome liked my OLD styles and would NOT change, not if it were ever so. My every effort in vain. Other browsers–Edge, Safari–blithely displayed the updated look, but not Chrome.

Well, well it could be worse. It could be EVERY browser hating on me, instead of just Chrome.

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Every summer I struggle with the Water Features that so enhance my garden–the gentle sound of gurgling water bestows such peace, is so very pleasing.
Related image
[NOTE: image may differ from actual garden experience]
So very displeasing however is the process to set it a-gurgling. The pipes, the pumps, the hours squatting in the grass ensuring not only a day of subsequent backache but also affording the mosquitoes excellent access to all parts of my body.
This year I was mightily tempted to hire a stout fellow to assail the larger fountain and DIG IT OUT OF THE GROUND, removing it from my sight forever.
However, I resisted, cleaned out the horrid sludge it had accumulated over the winter, bought a new pump, and set it to work. Success!

Instantly visited by a pair of youthful cardinals, agog to test it out.

The little lion fountain was quite another case, however. The inner piping had become almost solid with mold/grunge/dead insects, and refused my every effort to ream it out. SURGERY was required.
This involves a sharp blade and WATER PROOF CEMENT, comrades. But do I quail? Well, yes, a bit.

PROCEDURE

  • Cut square(ish)hole in fountain back, retaining cut piece.
    • (NOTE: this exposes the little inner reservoir where the water gathers so that it wells out of the lion’s jaws and does not spurt in an unseemly manner.]
    • [NOTE 2: This delicate artistry is why one cannot simply ream a pipe cleaner down its throat.]
  • Give the now exposed piping what for, until it is clean like whistle.
  • Open can of cement. MY, it is well sealed. Use crowbar if necessary.
    • HA! You thought it was a ready-to-use paste! Not so. It is a powder.
      • A toxic powder, btw
    • Get out the vacuum cleaner and clean the spilled heaps of toxic cement powder off the table and rug.
    • [NOTE: cement powder is not that poisonous to cats or humans, at least not in small amounts]

Assembling Tools and Materials

  • Carefully mix cement powder and water .
  • Throw out the mixture and start again, this time with 3 parts of cement to 1 of water, rather than the reverse, you idiot. Reading the instructions, such a good idea.
  • Glue carefully retained cut out piece back onto fountain with the cement. Then cover all the gaps with cement.

FountainRepair

You are a genius! Hurrah! Now, put it back on the wall outside, fill it with water, set the pump going and enjoy the delightful burbling fountain. Success!

In other news, when I sat down to watch a movie last night, there was a fizzling sound and suddenly only the front speakers were working, the rest silent as the grave.
Oh, I am FORTUNE’S FOOL.

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Keeping up the elaborate garden technology that my darling left me is challenging but I keep trying, and at least it has not yet failed completely. Following is Scientific Procedure for Fixing Broken Device.

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On Friday my garage door sputtered and then frantically flicked its light at me, on/off/on/off. A message which however terse I understood–correctly, alas–to mean that it would no longer perform according to our long-held agreement. Which is to say, it would go up, but would only consent to close if I resolutely held the wall button down without ever losing contact or lessening the pressure. No more of this careless backing out of the garage and flicking a switch on the remote control to drop the door! No, it was a tedious process of backing out, turning off the car, walking into the garage, mashing the button until the door snicked shut, and then up the stairs, through the house, out the front door (don’t forget to lock it!), down to the driveway, once MORE into the car and only then resume my voyage to wherever I had been headed.
Nearly FAINTING from this ghastly ordeal, I quickly contacted a garage door expert, who agreed to come on Monday. But I leave for work at 7:30, I wailed. Not to worry–he would be there at SIX THIRTY. Sure, sure! Grand!
So this morning I arose at 5:30–my, it was dark!–and got through the morning routine, trying not to envision such headlines as “horrified neighbors find woman’s corpse (attended by faithful cats) after serial murderer posing as garage door mechanic paid a call.” Ha, such silly! Anyway, I nipped down to the garage to get the car out to enable access to the door machinery and–CLICK CLICK CLICK. The car, all solidarity with the door opener, wouldn’t start.
Sigh.

Consider thy servant, Job.

However, the garage door man turned out to be a kindly and very competent guy, who not only fixed the door opener, but also helped push the car out of the garage so that he could give me a jump start. I drove it to the garage, where it now awaits me, having acquired a new battery.
So all is not lost after all.

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Having decided I needed another set of bookshelves–it’s either that or throwing away books!–I looked on Amazon to see what was available. There was a sturdy looking item, good price, free shipping, good reviews–and then, I looked at some of the negative reviews.

Actively hostile assembly!

*The only chance you get to make sure the bookcase is straight is when you nail the cardboard backing. There is no advice, procedure, strategy, for ensuring straightness.

* Actually getting the adjustable shelves into the unit is challenging because of the plastic brackets that hold the vertical moldings and impede the motion of the shelves in various directions. It’s a matter of carefully thought-out strategy, loud obscenities, and brute force….

*I write more in hysterical fury than anger. Aspects of the bookcase *design* are less than optimal, particularly the vertical moldings which only impede the storage of books, but probably 75% of the unit’s problems could be ameliorated by getting someone to write actual working instructions.

Do you know, I think I will pass on this one. I will order another Ikea book case like the ones I already have–better to bear the ghastly Ikea procedure I know than fly to others that I know not of. Even though I have to pay for shipping.

[picture from this page which includes a rather droll account of putting together Ikea furniture.]

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The plumber came in this morning to take out the old dishwasher, and will be back later to install the new one, whose arrival I expect shortly. When I complimented him on being able to carry such a bulky item outside–he is a powerful young man–he replied that really, dishwashers aren’t heavy. Ah, I said, but stoves are, I bet! And he told me about a recent installation, of a fabulous top of the line Aga cooker–thousands and thousands of dollars, IMMENSE and heavy as lead. It took 6 of them to move it into place, and as the wealthy owners had insisted on putting down the wood floor first, they were all as terrified of scratching the floor as marring the splendid Aga. When something went wrong with the stove later on–which of course it did–the stove technician would not touch the gas valve, so the plumber was once again called in. It is the regulation, the technicians can’t turn off the gas. He found this rather vexing.
He went on to describe–with deep disapproval–regulations recently proposed by the water company which will add thousands of dollars to every plumbing installation. These had been opposed and eventually at least mitigated by the intervention of the Master Plumbers Board , who were able to prove that while the regs added no value they would cost a bundle. Which customers would of course blame on the plumbers.
I mentioned the added cost to pay for a regulation required lead inspection on the window installation I had done recently, and he indignantly described a mandatory SIX HOUR class in Lead Inspection that he had been obligated to take. It was simple stuff, and shouldn’t have taken more than an hour or two–he was still vexed by the waste of time. His dad-the owner of the company (Mettee Plumbing, which I recommend highly, an excellent local business which I have been using for over 30 years) had ‘volunteered’ him to be his company’s representative.
Oh how familiar I am with these mandatory classes taught by self-satisfied bureaucrats who were the ones who declared the classes mandatory in the first place.
Anyway, a good lad. Who taught me a lot about the world of plumbing.

plumber-nj.gif

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I find that my house is disintegrating about me.

1. A door lock failed. With the bolt extruded so that the door couldn’t close. I managed to force the bolt back and thus was able to close and lock the door, but once locked, it would not budge. So, the locksmith was summoned, and for a eye popping fee, replaced the lock. Locksmithing seems a great career choice for a young person.

2. The dishwasher failed. Naturally it was brim full with dirty dishes–I had just had a dinner party. My, it takes a lot of time to hand wash dozens of plates and dishes. This machine has been something of a trial ever since it arrived. TOTALLY sleek and trendy, it hides its controls on the door edge, which is…very nice. Only, not only do you have to open the door to see them, they are futuristic touch pads, which quickly degraded. Sometimes, whenever the door was pushed closed,  the machine would enthusiastically start! ZUT ALORS. So you’d have to open it again, and press CANCEL. Sometimes that would clap a lid on its capers, sometimes not. Other times you’d mash those damn buttons and NOTHING would happen. So, on Monday when no amount of pressing pushing tapping mashing would do anything, I called up Best Buy and bought another one. Which has regular old buttons on the front. Coming Friday.

3. The stove failed. AGAIN. At least this time, it wasn’t Christmas, as in 2013. The first time it failed was ONE MONTH AFTER WE BOUGHT IT, but did we realize we’d made a terrible mistake? No, we got it replaced by another just like it that worked. For a while.
The stove is a magnificent BEAST. But it is managed by computer controls–which grow faint when heated. The thing about stoves–as you no doubt have discovered yourself over the years–is that they grow very hot indeed. It is in fact a feature they are prized for.
So, why???…..oh well, never mind.
Anyway, once again the computer control panel–carefully situated directly above the door so that it is bathed in hot air whenever the oven is on (which is often–I like to bake) –has failed and needs to be replaced. A pricy item, which must be of course ordered, and then installed once it arrives. Only a week or so.

And meanwhile, one of the many people I spoke to suggested that I reboot the stove. How do you REBOOT the stove, you will ask. Why, you simply turn off the electric circuit that powers it! However, I have no idea which one that is, and after plunging the whole house into darkness but leaving the stove unaffected, I realized that

4. I had killed the Sonos system. Which meant that each of the five component parts had to be unplugged, and then plugged in, and then recognized by the software. A delicate and time-consuming operation.

After which, I washed some more dishes.

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