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Archive for the ‘Household Matters’ Category

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.

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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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Another winter wonderland this morning! One begins to tire of the snow so luxuriously bestowed on us by mother nature–but, but, I hasten to add that of course this is nowhere near the ghastly proportions endured by Bostonians, and our couple of inches hardly qualify as snow at all by comparison. Still, it was nasty walking out there this morning, particularly as the ice was now delicately hidden by a fluffy carpet–but, YakTrax did the trick (thanks, Lois!)–like snow tires for your feet.
While others took advantage of the weather to “work from home”, I had to go in to complete preparations for an exceptionally deadly upcoming meeting–in North Carolina,sigh. The subject of this meeting is ‘The Interplay between Environmental exposures and Obesity- NO, NOT the kind of environmental exposure that involves me sitting in front of a plate of jelly donuts, flanked by an Irish Coffee laden with whipped cream (though how nice that would be, particularly if there were samples) –but rather our unknowing defilement by a host of pernicious chemicals in the environment that MAKE US FAT IN SPITE OF OURSELVES. See, It is not–HAS NEVER BEEN–our fault that we are obese. It is those malignant chemicals strewn in our way by brutal corporations who laugh at our distress! I may not be summarizing with complete accuracy, as even reading the agenda leaves one limp with despair. Why would anyone spend one moment, let alone 2 full days listening to this sort of thing, I wondered–but It finally occurred to me that what we were really doing was establishing obesity as part of the ENVIRONMENT, and hence, under the jurisdiction of the powerful agencies that are funding this meeting.
Well, well, it pays my salary.
Image result for irish coffee and donuts

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I learn again–how OFTEN must I be taught this lesson–that you must NEVER tempt fate by loudly trumpeting some personal triumph. When I so fecklessly commented –not under my breath, touching wood the while, but publicly, ON THE INTERNET–that I had succeeded in cleaning my coffee grinding machine and that it was now cured of its malady, I invited the attention of the Bad Luck Demon.
pizza-demon.png
This morning, I virtuously cleaned the grinding machine and then popped the grinding frammet device part back into the place where it sits. It went in promptly and then–STUCK FAST. Would not budge. Normally it sits in there firmly but lightly–a mother bird on her eggs–but this time, it became one with the machine, would NOT budge. After unsuccessfully attacking it with screw drivers and other blunt implements, I took it to the hardware store where a powerful young man vied with it, in vain.
Alas!
It is now in the bag with the other items that are promised to the Poor. Who will be so grateful.
I must point out that I endured all this excitement and stress without my morning coffee.
But what do you know, it appears that one can purchase ready-ground coffee from various commercial establishments! WHAT a world, to have such things in it!
After the trying scene at the hardware store, I purchased some of this new-fangled ready-ground coffee and brewed it up in the coffee machine (of whose excellent functioning I shall make NO MENTION AT ALL, no need to even think about it). After several cups I found that my headache had dissipated and I was able to face the Sunday tasks with all my normal aplomb.

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