Tag Archives: mishaps

Surprise Blooms and an Unidentified Blockage

red flowers

About a month ago, I was either getting the mail or taking out the trash when I noticed something red on one of the bushes in front of my house. I rarely use the front door, except to water the jasmine that’s out there, so I never look at the bushes. I smiled as I approached the bush — it had a few of these cool red flowers that I’ve never seen on it. I have lived here for almost two years without this bush blooming to my knowledge.

red flowers
Standing in front of the surprise blossoms was like having a conversation with a friend who still continues to surprise. There are many more things to know about parts of our lives — inanimate or not — than we consider.


And then there are inanimate things that we — or I — could live a happy life without “consider”ing. Desert plant buffs, prepare to cringe. Before the holidays when my amazing neighbors came to help hack down all my bushes, they suggested trimming this plant by tying up part of it and just trimming whatever was underneath it. Part of this was to deter pack rats and spiders and promote the general health of the backyards that all four intersect in the corner where the plant resides. Come spring, I was throwing a going-away party for a co-worker and thought this to be a good time to approach this task. I whined and cried and pissed and moaned as I crawled around under that thing for maybe two hours with a pair of gloves and a small pair of handheld gardening clippers. The spiky fronds kept pulling at my hair and scratching and stabbing pretty much my entire body. Add to that the spider webs I found, the old dead rotten oranges fallen from the neighbor’s orange tree, and intermittent and sudden “scurrying” by lizards, and I was not a happy girl. I had a huge pile of spines and other plant parts by the time my wrist was ready to throw in the towel. I am still only half finished. If you see a tweet in the feed about me opening a beer at 7:30 in the morning, you’ll know I am tackling the rest of those damn dead fronds. As I was working I kept thinking that the previous owner should’ve trimmed them AT LEAST once (!!), but to be fair, I have lived here for a while now and could’ve done it much sooner too.


Just to add a little more fun to the subject of the almost-succulent from hell, a stalk has grown out of the top of it and is, of course, leaning toward my neighbor’s yard as it begins to flower. Really need to keep an eye on that sucker as the monsoon approaches. Ah, the perks of DIY landscape maintenance.

As a horrific note, my sons thought it would be a good idea to fill my compost can with water . . . and leave it sitting there . . . in the heat . . . without telling me about it . . . so that after a few days it was positively putrid and full of f_______ flies. I had to drain a bunch of the water; hated that. I put a bunch of dirt in the can to dry it up and the boys heard about it from me.

Moving indoors, I repaired a towel rack last week. My Monkey Children like to swing on the towel racks, naturally.

towel rack

I bought a Tiny Screwdriver set as suggested by Video Joe Knows. It came with a standard and a phillips head screwdriver, mini, as the name suggests. Turns out all you have to do is screw the part that holds the bar into the little flat piece mounted on the wall. That took about 1 minute to do as my son cleaned out their bathroom drain:


That’s the first time it’s ever stopped up that much. And the water is murky because they continued to use the sink to brush their teeth and rinse out their mouths in it. So that is my eldest son’s hand in the photo as I am instructing him to untwist and pull out the stopper of the drain. He asked why he had to and I explained that it’s their drain and he needs to learn to do it, that he’s a boy and boys like gross things, and lastly that I would vomit if I had to do it. After some complaining and wrestling with the stopper, he got it out and we were faced with this:


Bleh. He wore a glove because he wanted to and used about 187 toothpicks to pull all that crap out. He thought it was hilarious how unsettled I was by that gunk. He was proud to have gotten it all out though. Little punk. He even WAVED some of it at me. Gross.


I had him clean out the sink after that and put all of our tools away where they go. I don’t understand what that is in the drain and I don’t want to know. Perhaps some preventive maintenance is in order. It’s funny the things I am still learning about running a home. I don’t know if these things are basic or obvious but I suppose the important thing is that I am learning them.

My basil seeds sprouted on Wednesday.

Time to make a drink. Good night.


Step One

The drain in my shower upstairs is clogged. When I shower, water backs up and gets up to my ankles and drains very very slowly. It’s hair in there, I know it is. And I hate pulling hair out of drains. Who doesn’t, right? So step one was to check out youtube.com for a video on how to clear the drain. This was the best one I found:


Informative and horrifying all in one. Entertainment, folks. This afternoon I gathered up some newspapers to catch the clog, a screwdriver for the plate in the tub, and my rubber gloves that thinly protect me from nasty things. I started to unscrew the screws and . . .


. . . paused to take a photo so you could see the process and what I found. I was looking for an attachment similar to the one in the above video that connects a long metal part from the plate down to a spring designed to hang near the drain and catch debris. The idea is that you can pull the plate off and with it the clog. Then you replace it and shower clog-free. I found that I have no such attachment and next week you will find a post from me on how to use a plumber’s auger, or rather, my experiences with a plumber’s auger. Also known as a “snake”. Sigh.

I Guess You Had to Be There When . . .

    • I dropped the coffee carafe in the sink and it shattered all over the place. This was after I poured water into the coffee maker and set up a filter complete with coffee grounds in it.
    • The next to last light bulb on the light fixture above the dining table burned out. I am fairly certain I’ll need to purchase a ladder in order to replace those bulbs.
    • I found out that there is a space between the top frame of the front door jamb and the wall above the front door by dropping the only house key into it accidentally. The only other house key is locked in a fancy pad-box from the CIA From Hell that you need a remote control to open, which, naturally, I do not possess.
    • I found a leak under the bathroom sink.

On the other hand, I did manage to repair the first kitchen drawer. Bought wood glue at a hardware store for a couple bucks. Sorry team, I didn’t take any photos until phase one of Drawer Repair was complete; bear with me and my grand plan. The front of the drawer fell off because the edges of the wood that were holding the front on to the sides of the drawer began to pull away from the front of it and it eventually snapped off from our grubby fingers pulling the drawer open all the time.
So the first order of business was to glue those wooden pieces back on so that I could attach the front of the drawer to the sides. I tried at first to kind of hold the spare pieces of the front of the drawer in place to see if there was any way I was going to get it back on. Bits of the composite wood kept falling off and it became clear to me that I would need to remove the staples from the pieces that I had if I wanted there to be room for the glue. So I carefully pried those babies out with a small screwdriver lest the cheap drawer disintegrate in my hands.
As soon as I opened the wood glue I felt very reassured. My dad was a carpenter for most of my childhood and I had no idea that the scent of wood glue would put me at ease the way it did. After all, this type of task is in my blood, isn’t it? Sandpaper, staples, nails, classic rock, wood glue, a screwdriver, and swearing. I positioned the little wooded pieces that were snapped off and glued them down. I clamped each side and then I used a hammer to tap the particle board-like pieces closer together.

The groove you see is where the bottom panel of the drawer fits into.

Hah I just noticed you can see my dog in the background. He looks proud of me.
I believe in my heart that the clamps were what made this project successful. Without them, the glue would’ve ruined the fit that I needed. I left it clamped for a couple hours; the glue bottle only calls for 30 minutes, but I had to pick my children up. When I came home, it only took a little wiggling to get the front of the drawer to fit onto the drawer itself, which I then glued into place. I added a couple nails in each side to reinforce the drawer but I know it won’t last forever.
What I do know is that the second drawer will not be as cooperative.
This, readers, is a drawer of desperation. The previous owner clearly repaired it a few times. He didn’t remove the staples from the edges; there’s one at the top left of the drawer in the photo above. It looks like it broke in the same way as the drawer I just described.
There are chunks missing from the backing here. The original manufacturer’s screws are in place and then there are a couple he added after the fact. The drawer is coated in glue, nails, and paint. It looks like he nailed the front of the drawer in place a couple times but missed the adjoining walls so there are craters where I’m going to be attempting repairs:

What’s life without a few challenges? Hopefully I can just get it to stay together for me until I am ready to replace the cabinets down the line a bit. I also want to tile the floor and add cabinets and/or a bar. Also stay tuned this week for Amateur Leaky Faucet Repair. Fun.