Tag Archives: things take longer than they do

Honey Do – Right Now!

Jack’s weekly guest post

Husbands of a practical turn who live in old rambling houses will be very familiar with the ongoing list of tasks to be accomplished just to keep everything ship-shape, far less the more extensive jobs needed for renovations.

Some four years ago we applied for a license to serve food in the bookstore and this turned up the need for an additional sink in the kitchen area. Assembling all the needed plumbing requirements, I practiced a few essential curses, then set to with a will. Several bashed knuckles and contortions later, it was finished – – almost – –

A drawer unit had been where the new sink was installed, so now the space where the drawer had opened out had no room for the actual drawer. The obvious answer was to take the front off the drawer and fit it as a dummy over the space. Much easier said than done! Eventually a temporary fix was accomplished that worked so long as no one tried to open it. From then on we got used to the sound of the drawer front falling on the floor fairly regularly and I got used to adjusting the not very effective method of holding it in place.

My long-suffering wife regularly asked me to do something permanent about it and just as regularly I promised I would.

Last night was our weekly Needlework Night (AKA ‘Stitch N’ Bitch’)and as I passed briefly through the all female company I heard the familiar sound of the drawer front hitting the floor. Wendy appeared with an expression of determination on her face, saying “WILL you fix that thing properly?”

“Of course dear,” I said, and continued with what I was doing.

Shortly I heard a sound – rrriiipppp, it went – rrriiipppp again, and again. The needleworkers fell silent, eyes fixed on their work. I looked toward the sink area —

–where Wendy was just finishing putting the drawer front very inelegantly but quite firmly in its place. With brown packaging tape.

Maybe you'll fix the darned thing now?

Maybe you’ll fix the darned thing now?

My mother had a favorite story she told me often in her later years:  apparently she, my dad (a house-painter with his own decorating business) and we very young children would visit his widowed mother on Sunday afternoons. On occasion she got up from the table, dipped her finger in the jam-jar, walked over to a piece of loose wallpaper she had been complaining about for ages and stuck it down with jam. Not a word did she say!

It must run in the family (although the drawer front is now firmly and permanently fixed by me, I hasten to add). Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. . . 

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

101 Creative Curses for Bookshop Handymen

Regular followers of this blog may remember that I discovered a hidden staircase in our basement. Three rooms of unused space, accessible from inside the house? It was inevitable: Wendy “requested” that the stair be re-opened, and (my) work commenced. I said at the time that I should have kept my mouth firmly shut, but – hey, ho – I never was any good at that!basement stair

Other part-time DIYers will nod knowingly when I say that any project is a voyage of discovery, because things rarely go as expected. My first step down the path of the absurd was to decide that the basement’s four hopper windows needed replacing. Original to this 1903 house, they were rotten and falling apart.

“It won’t take long, and it will keep the basement watertight,” I told Wendy as I unloaded window frames from our pick-up, “Unnecessary” (That’s the truck’s name. Don’t ask.)

Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men…. The closest size of ready-made window almost fit the first opening; none of the openings were quite the same dimension. Adjustments were required, usually involving a hammer, lumber, and curse words strung inventively together.

The next “not to plan” moment: water pipes in the underfloor staircase space had to be removed and the washing machine relocated to the garage and plumbed in again. Luckily our good friends Leroy and Witold were on hand when sealing off the old pipes proved difficult and frustrating. I hate water leaks!

But I was yet to meet the bigger leak (and further plan diversion): four days of continuous rain led to the discovery that rainwater simply ran off into the yard, and that our bone-dry basement wasn’t always so clear as I’d thought. There will be digging to do, if this bloody rain ever stops. I have been concerned by the parade of spider species exiting the basement in pairs; rumor has it that Noah picked them up.

IMG_3513Finally, windowsills, torrential rains, pipes and all, I got to the grand re-opening of the staircase (which we promptly christened Tutankhamen’s tomb). No steps were the same size; the old washing machine pipes proved near impossible to cut out; all the electrical cables running through the space had to be maneuvered to the side where they can be boxed in.

With all that done, at last I could re-build the steps using the old ones as supports. This will not be public bookshop space, as we originally envisioned. Wendy is making noises about moving our bedroom down there.

Renovations reveal all kinds of hints at the history of the house, and conducting friends around the work (where we found yet another hidden staircase; no, Wendy, no) has proved fascinating—although speaking of conducting, we found yet another problem: old electric cables down there are live, despite going nowhere, which will mean yet more scary stuff further along.

Did I mention spiders?

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book repair, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, humor, Uncategorized