Coffee heat rising

Weekend as Hassle Magnet

Why do these little shenanigans always happen on the weekend? And why is my house falling apart?




After much banging and thrashing, I pour a glass of cranberry juice (tastes a lot like Campari), pick up the laptop, and Ruby and I stumble out to the front courtyard, where the human can take in the afternoon air and the dog can bark at passers-by.

This latter: not needed. The Lesbian women who moved into the transferred military family’s house are having a small party. One of them has such a loud voice that as she carries on and laughs, you can hear her clear over here. At first I thought they were fighting, and that one of the ladies was shouting at her partner. Not so: they’re just exuberantly enjoying a good time.

So the crumbling fixture of the day: All these houses are plumbed so that the water into the tubs and showers is regulated with a single faucet handle, one of those annoying Mixet-brand things. I hate those things, but there’s nothing you can do about it, if that’s the way the damn house was built. So OK, there’s that.

At one point, a year or so ago, a plumber replaced the annoying round faucet thing in the middle bathroom, where the tub is.

Yesterday I’m in the tub and…POP! The goddamn handle comes off.

Its set screw has worked loose.

How hard could this be, right?

Well:. Very. Nigh unto impossible. The decorative goddamn handle has a little chrome plate whose sole purpose, far as I can tell, is to look pretty. Well. It hides the set screw, which is nice. I guess. Said set screw is now rattling around inside the “compartment” created by this inspired arrangement. And I can. not. get. the. chrome plate. OFF. Can’t prize it loose with my fingernails. Can’t prize it loose with a screwdriver (of any size). Can’t prize it loose with an Exacto knife.

Perhaps my expectations are too high…

So I schlep it up to the Ace Hardware and ask if they can get it loose. And by the way, do they have a staple gun?

Yeah. The staple gun episode. 

Cut to the other project of the day, re-hanging the (genuine!) Navajo rug on the rebuilt wall in the family room, whence I had to remove it for the Great Plumbing Disaster of November 2020. The wall is now rebuilt, replastered, and repainted, and all that is needed to restore normalcy is to return that rug to its vaunted place.


Isn’t there always an except?

When I moved in here, I’d attached the spectacularly expensive hand-made rug to the wall by stapling strips of the low, flat side of Velcro. Not the coarse krinkly tangly side, but the side that the coarse krinkly strip hooks into. These are just clingy enough to hold the rug on the wall, but not rough and coarse enough to tear at it. Worked perfectly.

So this afternoon I go to re-attach the strips, which the drywall guys have kindly set aside. And…

I can. not. find. my. staple gun. Searched from pillar to post and could not find it anyplace. Only thing I can figure is I must have “lent” it to someone, never to see it again. Hence, the trip to Ace: buy a replacement goddammit.

Their guy gets the decorative gadget off the faucet handle. He sells me a staple gun and a box of staples (can’t find those here, either).

Getting in and out of this strip-mall’s parking lot is innaresting, because for reasons that defy comprehension, they’re building a large QT in there. They’ve taken out a venerable old restaurant that died during the plague and are now putting up gasoline islands and a junk-food joint. But it being Sunday, there are no workmen, which is good because I have to go back up there right away.

The staple gun comes encased in a carapace of plastic that I cannot break into. My scissors will not cut through it. None of my tools work on it. So…I schlep it back up there and say you get it open.

Which they do.

Meanwhile, I did manage to get the faucet handle back on so as, for the time being, it works. But…in the course of things, forgot to insert the plastic ring/washer thing in first, causing the silver cap thing to slip inside the top of the compartment and get stuck there. Looks fine if you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, so I decided that’s…what it’s supposed to look like.

Finally back in the house with the freed staple gun, I manage to put the rug up. And realize that when I first put it in place, the job took me all of about 10 or 15 minutes. This time, the chore has consumed half the afternoon! I take this (no doubt correctly) as a manifestation of advancing age. Nothing about this little project would have confused me or frustrated me 15 years ago. I remember putting that thing up after I moved in and thinking what a great, simple, easy idea it was.

Still haven’t found the old staple gun, which was infinitely superior to the new one — like all old stuff is infinitely superior, I suspect. Better made. Easier on the hands. Less chintzy in appearance.

The day started with a similar little fiasco. When I woke up at 3:30 as goddamn usual, I remembered ohhh shee-ut i’ve gotta be at the dentist’s at 7 a.m. Goodie gum drops. It’s early so I’m reading the client’s copy and cruising the news sites when I think…wait…this IS Monday, right? Who knows, when every day is the same…. Look at the computer’s date line and yup, it says “Monday.”


So along about 6:30 it’s out the door. You can see where this is going, right? After a suspiciously uneventful trip, I arrive at the mid-town high-rise where his office resides. Park in the pay multi-story parking lot…sliding in because the pay-ticket arm is up. Only one other car is parked on the ground floor. Odd. But dawn has barely cracked, and besides, the quarantine is still on. I still don’t think much about this.

Get parked, walk across the plaza to the building’s door…Locked. No security guards in there, either.

Screw it: I turn around and head back to the Funny Farm. Once here, I turn on the computer again and see not Mon in the little date line but Sun.

Jeez. Just the way I love to start the day. Not one day, but two days a-running.

Free at last…to work some more

A vast haystack of deferred work around the house has piled up while I’ve been struggling to get out from under the mountain of paid work. (And though grades are now posted, I still have paying work to do for two clients, but today I’m playing hooky for a few hours.)

Last night I managed to shovel off and clean the biggest counter in the kitchen. The stove and counters and cabinetry around it remain to be done, but at least the main annoyance was dealt with by 10:00 p.m. Sharpened the knives, which had dulled so much they could only mash the food apart. Repaired the knife sharpener first. Realized the next kitchen purchase will have to be a new knife sharpener. The one I have is a Chef’s Choice Multi-Edge Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener, and since it’s lasted about 10 years, I guess I’ll probably get a new one—they’re cheap enough, assuming the new model survives as long. Did all of the ironing that had stacked up atop the rocking chair in the TV room: 12 pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, a linen jacket, and three shirts. Fell into bed at midnight.


At five this morning it was off to do battle with the cat’s claw vines, which have decided to cover the pool equipment beneath an exuberant mound of jungle vegetation. First, though I had to replace the plastic panels that shelter the equipment to some degree from the sun and from the depredations of another jungle vine, the big cape honeysuckle that hides the ugly pump and filter from view in the backyard. This contraption, which was secured to the wrought-iron fencing with plastic tie gadgets, had broken loose in the winter storms. It’s now wired firmly in place—that should hold it for at least another couple of years.

It’s a big job to put that thing up by oneself. It really takes two people.

Onward. By 8:00 a.m. the vine that ate Philadelphia was hacked away from around the equipment and pulled down off the palm tree. Its incursions across the CoolDeck and into the water were beaten back. Satan & Prosperpine’s strange little bell-bedangled poolside decoration was freed from the mass of plant matter that had enveloped it, as were a couple of decorative boulders that had almost disappeared beneath the greenery. Raked up bushels of fallen leaves and twigs from beneath the vinery. Trimmed the powdery-mildew-infested rose by the pool and cut back the blue plumbago that wishes to push the rose into the next world. Picked up the fallen lemons, dodging angry ant myrmidons in the process. Put out some stale ant bait for the ladies; made note to buy fresh stuff. Hauled a gigantic mountain of trash out; put my neck out lifting it into the shoulder-high garbage bin. Cooked a steak, its freezer bag dated 11/3/09,  for breakfast.

As soon as I get up off my duff here, I’ve got to get back out there and treat the roses with powdery mildew meds. This winter’s El Niño rains brought forth a burst of joyful rose exuberance, but the almost daily leaf-soaking also brought forth more powdery mildew than I’ve ever seen. Even the David Austin roses, which allegedly resist this annoying disease, are covered with it. From there it will be on to…

do the bookkeeping
clean the stove, counters, and cabinetry
pick up the house
clean the floors
clean the bathrooms
water the plants inside and out
get back to work on the client’s arcane tables
get back to reading page proofs for the other client
test and adjust the pool water.

A house is an ongoing project, that’s for sure. I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who remarked that home is a girl’s prison and a woman’s workhouse. LOL! I think of it as a black hole into which to pour money and labor.

That notwithstanding, I love my house. It’s so pretty, inside and out. Satan and Proserpine did a few nice things to it—the new kitchen cabinets, the out-of-code mantelpiece in matching pine, the tilework in the kitchen, dining room, living room, and hall, the travertine shower, the nifty deck off the dining room. Then I did a lot more stuff to it. The skylights in the kitchen, family room, and master bath really  make the place, IMHO. So does the tiling Mike the Bosnian Tile Genius put into the rest of the house, and the remake of the kitchen counters he accomplished. The relandscaping job added the glorious fruit trees (on which I’ve largely subsisted all spring), the spectacular emerald paloverde, the beautiful desert willow, the climbing roses around the deck, the attractive front courtyard…to say nothing of xeriscape that doesn’t need to have treated city water poured on it.

PF bloggers like to ruminate now and again about the cost-effectiveness of upgrades and renovations. Very little about fix-up is cost-effective. Unless you manage to buy a house for next to nothing, it’s unwise to imagine you’re fixing up a place so you can sell it for a profit. Obviously, you should keep up its maintenance and replace things that break or wear out. But really: renovation is for the pleasure of the present occupants, not for future buyers to pay for.

I don’t expect ever to recover the money I’ve put into this house when (or if) I sell it. When I bought the place, I bought it intending to live here until they carry me off to the nursing home or the mortuary. So the money I spent on the house went to make it a pleasant place to live.

It worked. Now, so do I. Work, I mean.

Time to get out and treat those roses! Bye…