Monthly Archives: May 2011

replacing mini-blinds and 13% alcohol by volume

ruined miniblinds

ruined miniblinds

about six months ago, i was informed by the office that during a walkthrough of the property, managment noticed my damanged miniblinds and that the office would replace them as they were an eyesore to the property. i was to be charged $29.99 per set of miniblinds and there are three sets to be replaced.
okay, office, i’ll give you that. they look crappy and unkempt. but $30 per set? i had to find out: is this a reasonable charge?? so i checked it at home depot. $13.49 per set. and on top of that, i checked out videos on replacing miniblinds. you open a tab and pull ’em out and slide the next set in. i could see $30 if it was an involved process that my feeble resident self couldnt manage. so i picked up three sets.
we came home and i put off the project. the boys and i were supposed to go to the pool yesterday but i was preoccupied by housesitting duties and family so we had to wait. when i come home lately, i look around and assess what i can afford to put in a box. or i try to decide where things will go when we move. and i consider the fact that i should try to make the move easy on everyone who’s been kind enough to volunteer to help me move. it was nice to go to the pool and just be. just relax and watch the boys splash eachother and laugh and play. and after the pool i ate a lovely steak courtesy of kara and enjoyed perhaps the strongest beer i have ever tasted: belzebuth, a blond ale from france.. its very smooth but it goes straight to your head and makes everything real fuzzy real quick.
flip up

flipping the tab up. kinda difficult on some tabs but that may be the idea

after everyone ate dinner, it was time for homework for my oldest. so i grabbed a chair to stand on to remove and size the first replacement blind. naturally, not as simple as i first thought it would be. i got the first set of blinds down but the metal casing for the new set was too large to fit into the brace of the old set. great. the brackets for the existing miniblinds were drilled into the wall and instructions for the new blinds have the brackets attatched to the top panel of the window frame. i would have moved mine, but the tops of these windows are shaped like arches, so no rearranging fixtures there.
i replaced the brackets that hold the blinds to the sides of the window hoping i could rig it to hold the blinds up securely. this was a sound plan except for the fact that the blinds aren’t wide enough to reach the edge of the window by about 3/4 of an inch. so the blinds fell across my bare feet at the edge of the chair when i tried adjusting them. miraculously, the third window does not have an arc at the top and its fixtures are installed into the top of the window so i was able to easily snap the bracket open and drop the new set into the supports and snap it back closed. in which case i only have 2 sets of miniblinds to return or exhange rather than three. all in a days’ work i guess. you live, you learn.


toilet. it’s only water, right?

 i was temporarily convinced that my toilet was possessed when out of nowhere, at least ten times a day, water would suddenly gush into the tank as if hell itself had just flushed. i know the basics of toilet mechanics. i mean bare-bones basics. last year i learned how to effectively plunge a toilet. i know about the float, i know about the chain, and thats about what i know. so when i took the top off the tank to get to the root of this water emergency, i felt somewhat confident that i could handle this on my own. as i watched, the water level ebbed and water was continually trickling into the bowl. suddenly there it was the familiar and maddening rush of water.  the rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank was not entirely covering the tube that goes to the bowl. therefore the damn toilet was refilling every four minutes. and driving me positively insane.
after resolving to replace the rubber stopper in the tank, i promptly cut the water to the toilet off so i could sleep at night without a flaring temper.
shopping for a new toilet flap the next day
as  told by kara:

“so, off to home depot we went. navigating through home depot to find a “toilet flap” is like trying to find the straight man in a gay bar; you know that they are there, just conveniently hiding out in the corner all together (all three of them). we cautiously approached the “flap” from the rear, so that it kind of snuck up on us as well. tell me why there are thirty different kinds of  UNIVERSAL toilet flaps. what the hell is so universal about them if there are thirty different kinds….”

the funny thing about any of the stoppers that were labelled “universal” was that they were each a different size and diameter, a different color from the last, and the prices were on a scale from $2.99 to $9.99. being the thoughtful individual i am, i did not remove my existing defective plug and bring it along for proper sizing. i decided to eyeball it. and as far as practicality goes, i decided on the $2.99 stopper so that if it was the wrong size, my losses would be less.
as a side note, i was amazed and delighted at the fact that they carry each individual part for repairing a toilet. i had the idea in my head that there would only be toilet tank kits or sets and if you only needed one part you’d have to buy the rest anyway.

almost like a whole new world opened up.

i then raced home to try my hand at toilet repair. the packaging said i needed a screwdriver and a pair of adjustable pliers. i elected to run and grab them if i needed them. water was already off so i followed the directions and the diagram aptly labelled A, B, C. i removed the existing flap, and disconnected the chain, then eased it off of the overflow tube: picked up some new vocabulary too. i kind of tossed it into the sink just for good measure.  the new flap was kind of hard to wiggle down the tube but i got it all the way down and got it to stopper the hole its supposed to cover. that was the part i was most concerned about: will it fit??!!?? lastly i connected the chain to the lever that the handle controls. turned the water back on and the tank filled up like normal. great! now for the long-awaited test flush: flap closed right away because the chain was too long. no matter, i just shortened the chain. three more times. and still it closed right away unless i held it open long enough to allow for a normal complete flush. so i moved the chain back and forth between the three holes on the lever and adjusted the chain so that now it operates good as new. and where the screwdriver and the pliers come in in this story is beyond me.
unfortunately, the old flap became my dog’s new favorite chew toy. ew.

“nothing makes you feel like more of a hoarder than packing all of your stuff to move.” -john mussack

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Its a good thing I haven’t had more than one day off in a row because everything would be packed. As it is the boxes are stacked to the ceiling and they’re scattered all through the apartment. No room is safe. some boxes are still flattened as I don’t know what to pack in them to best maximize the space inside. So far I’ve packed every box as if I’m going to drop it down the stairs, as I’m bound to do with at least one of them. All the glassware I’ve packed in thick newspaper, then put in a heavily crumpled newspaper-lined box, then filled in all the gaps between box walls and precious treasures with more shockproof newspaper. All of my picture frames – especially the big ones – I wrapped in newspaper as well to avoid crushing and breaking and eventual damage to the actual framed works. I am telling you things happen to me. My mother gave all this newspaper to me because they were piling up in her kitchen. And I needed free foolproofing. Also, the bottom of each box is triple taped shut in the event of improper adhesion.
I got most of the boys’ toys packed up. I store most of them in plastic bins anyway. I have one for play-doh, one for legos that’s about to overflow, one for car stuff and one last one for action figures. Any parent out there though knows that no way do all those playthings stay organized like that. But as long as most things get put away, I’m happy.
Its a little weird to look around the apartment now. Everything I did to make it home – whether it was for the sake of convenience or the sake of aesthetics – has been jumbled around or stored away. Its amazing how much my peace of mind rested on the identity and the memories of this place. Being in between homes, so to speak, is like being in between lives. I’m still so nervous about the move and I keep reaching for things where they’re “supposed to be” and they aren’t there. A low grade of panic shocks me and I consider that maybe the system I have here in the apartment is just fine and there’s no need to try to improve it. Only recently has it occured to me that maybe things will be better in the house. It almost feels like the floor has been yanked out from under me.
Coupled with the faux anxiety of my “missing things” is the tragic say-it-ain’t-so I Thought I Was Different fact that I have so much stuff. Granted, I’ve been “on my own” ie liberated from my parents’ household long enough that I’m not allowed to say “on my own” any longer. But I felt like I was always good at going through my things and donating what I honestly don’t use anymore. That way, when it came time to move I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by belongings. Boy did I underestimate what a task this would be. Anything nonessential I’ve packed makes me feel like, well, a hoarder. There are boxes in the hallway, stacked up in the kitchen, piled high in my bedroom. Flattened against walls, silently awaiting bathroom paraphanalia, hiding out in my trunk. I have room for all the extras and I do use them at some point during the year (all the quilts are packed!). Somehow I can’t help feeling like I have too much while others have so little. And I have to wonder just how important belongings really are. Perhaps that will be a lesson to me in the next month or so. Especially since the timing with the move and the weather will be a hot hot summer month.

watching paint dry

painting interior walls of a home is a huge task. especially when you’re like me and you want to get it all done in one sweep and haven’t prepared for it whatsoever, save for mentally.

so i budgeted $50.00 for this project. one wall in the hallway was a light blue as was the dining room and the wall that connected them was dark brown. all i wanted to do was prime the walls since i’m sure that since we’ve occupied this aparetment for 4 years, maintinence would paint the walls anyway. and no way do i want to be charged for their primer and labor. after a brief trip to home depot with my son, i had a 2 gallon container of primer, 2 nine inch roller refills, and a tray to lay the paint out in. all for $38.80. phew! under budget. i firmly believe in dropcloths and masking tape. and removing faceplates from walls before the fact. i am a very messy painter. as i type this i am still covered in it.
i started by taking down the pictures (dust loves to hide on top of frames) and filling in the holes with putty and a knife. i am no expert at patching a wall. after pressing the putty into said holes (some were big!) and scraping it off the surface of the walls, i had a pretty even surface. then i wiped the walls down with a wet washcloth to get rid of the ridiculously accumulated dust and debris so the paint would have a fair chance at sticking. i began to remove the faceplates and store all the screws in my jeans pocket. i pulled the plate off of the vacant cable outlet and discovered no less than 9 crayons that one of the boys holed away who knows how long ago. after that i removed the cover for the air filter over the air conditioning vent and exhumed 3 spoons, a set of valentine cards, 2 pens, an unsharpened pencil, and a wooden tree from a train set. all covered in dust and old fur: all disgusting. all went into the trash. all this was by the front door, where i came to find that i had to also remove the 5-hook keyrack and restore the light fixture that had been replaced for the sake of style to Apartment Complex Chic. had i ever personally changed a light fixture? no. ever read the instruction manual? luckily.
perhaps the most fun part of changing an electrical fixture is standing by the fuse box trying different fuses and screaming to your son “DID THE LIGHT TURN OFF YET???” and hearing. “NO!! I’LL TELL YOU IF IT TURNS OFF, MOM!!!” unfortunately the tv was also connected to that particular fuse so once i made my grand return i was greeted by a live audience. they watched as i removed the first light fixture from the wall and dropped all its little parts into the box it came in. again every screw went into my pockets. by daylight, we began to paint the walls with the primer, stopping in between coats on the wall in the dining room to prime around the missing fixture. we stepped lightly between all the dining room chairs lined up close to the wall as a makeshift scaffold. once that room was finished, i set to work on the light project. it is very difficult to hold a wall fixture in one hand while you try to twist tiny wires together, then cover them with electrical tape, then top it all off with that little plastic nub they put on wires, cram that all behind the metal plate that supports the weight of the light source, and then try and hold that up and find the screwholes and matching screws that are the right size for it and then secure it to the wall. there was no greater satisfaction than flipping that fuse back on, flipping the lightswitch and having that sucker turn on. but i did it!! i changed the whole thing by myself! a small moment in my personal history.
and then we continued to paint the hallway. as the kids ate dinner i painted the entryway and now all that’s left is the dark brown wall behind the entertainment armoire. it took more primer to cover the blue than it did the brown. i thought it would be the other way around. 4 coats for the blue and 3 for the brown. and i’m pretty sure there’s enough primer left in the 2 gallon container for the rest of this wall.
as far as collateral damage is concerned, my hair, arms, back(?) and jeans were all covered in paint, not to mention my hands. the floor is surprisingly unscathed as are the children and the dogs. there is still tomorrow to go though when i promised the kids they could help paint one of the walls. poor things just sat and watched today. they asked so many questions and were very encouraging and helpful and supportive. one little moment of their lives.
it was kind of odd painting over everything. i felt like i was trying to erase the fact that we were here. and that’s just what it is, a fact. but the memories don’t stay in the apartment. they stay with the occupants. taking everything down is like going back in time. reliving an old self that wanted to put that keyrack up or that was hellbent on Horrifying Mustard Yellow as a paint color, its only remaining evidence locked away beneath layer after layer after layer of any other color, peeking out from a tiny spot next to that popcorn ceiling.  but the more it looks like an empty evveryday apartment, the more i look forward to creating a home in a house.