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Going Tarpless

In a fix

You guys, I know, I know ... but I found my desk this weekend. So more writing soon. No, really.  But for now, here's my most recent clip and me opening a can of worms writing material. Because why not. 

In A Fix

I recently celebrated, as it were, a year of single home-ownership.

If I'd known I was going to be doing this on my own, of course, I would never have laid eyes on, much less purchased, a house built in 1900 — a house with just one bathroom and, uh, lots of opportunities for improvement.

Home improvement is a thing, as most readers of a home and garden section of the newspaper know. There are, however, lots of different means and motives behind the improving of homes.

For some, it's cosmetic. For example, we've outgrown these tired floors and are ready to put down some bamboo. Or whatever. 

For others it's necessity. For example, improve this situation or your porch will rot in front of your very eyes. I mean, I've heard that can happen.

And now that I'm paying attention, I'm also noticing there's a fair amount of peer pressure serving to motivate home improvement. I've come to realize some people would be mortified if someone drove by their house and spotted an array of issues crying for attention, including, but by no means limited to, peeling paint, flower boxes dangling by a rusty nail and an utterly neglected garden. 

Fortunately, I'm not that kind of person. I'm more of an, "I'll keep the lawn mowed within an inch of the law and do my best with the rest" kind of person. 

From the outside, it looks a lot like things have been falling apart around my place for the last couple years but that belies the truth which is that I've been putting all my energy into keeping things together. 

Now that the chaos, shock and upheaval of a parental split have settled into a new kind of normal in our household, I'm ready to take on some of this so-called home improvement. I decided to start by using a sledgehammer to demolish a piece of furniture my ex had mounted to the wall.

It was an awesome experience. I overshot my target a few times, so had to add "fix drywall" to my ever-growing project punchlist, but I got the job done. 

I've taken more trips to my local hardware store the last few months than I have in my first 40 years on the planet. And I've been impressed with how helpful folks can be, if you take the trouble to seek them out. 

That brings me to my most recent adventure.

With three of us living in a house with one bathroom, and two of us being barging little boys, I decided it was time we had a bathroom door that actually locked. 

So I bought the hardware I needed, and a screwdriver to install it.

In my eagerness to get started, I immediately removed the old door handle, leaving just the deadlatch in place. (Yes, I Googled it.)

Then I carefully read the instructions. Finally, just for good measure, I looked it up on You Tube in the company of my 9-year-old son, Sam. 

Part way through the online tutorial, Sam had apparently seen enough. He decided to go for it, on his own. 

Then I head the dreaded, "Uh, Mom? A little help here?" 

I peered through the hole in the door, catching the nervous look on his face. I had to peer through the deadlatch, which was locking him on one side of the door and me on the other.

It turned out we each had one part of the new lock and one part of the old on our side of the door. He had the tools, the hinges and access to our only toilet on his side, and I had the run of the house on my side.

Neither of us knew quite what to do next. 

And, of course, my other son needed to use the bathroom. Right now!

"Google something, Mom!" He urged from inside. 

"Okay, but first I have to take a picture," I said. And I posted on my Facebook wall, indicating I needed a little help.

All kinds of awesome advice and tips soon began cascading before my eyes, because I have the best tribe in the world. But there was no window for him to crawl out of, and I couldn't quite picture what action I was being advised to take on my side.

A friend Facetimed me and asked me to show her what I was looking at. 

"Which side is the doorjamb on?" she asked. When I hesitated, she explained, "That's the part that ..." but was interrupted by someone at the front door.

Another friend saw my plea for help. He was in the neighborhood, so he stopped by. 

He did what I was trying to do, but faster and more effectively. In the blink of an eye, with minimal drama, Sam and the cat, also trapped on the other side of the door, had been set free. 

And while he was there, he helped me finish the project. 

The box the doorknob came in boasted it could be "easily" installed "in minutes" using only "one tool." 

I suppose, technically, that was true — provided a got a lot of help from technology and my Facebook tribe. 

As my friend left, he eyed the bathroom vanity, still sitting in the kitchen, in its original packaging. I recently bought it to replace the one that broke six years ago.

Catching the look on his face, and mindful of the jam I had just escaped, I promised him I would seek help in advance before tackling the vanity project. 

But I'm going to do the sledgehammer part myself. Because I can.

 

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Hardy writes her columns "Raising the Hardy Boys" and "Behind the Picket Fence" in the margins of her life raising two boys who somehow convinced her to get a cat. 

 

 

  

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