Tag Archives: home repair

Facing demons with a toolbox

This past weekend I faced another home-repair demon and emerged triumphant.

As I have written in the past, home repair is not my strong suit. When I tackle a job beyond the very simple, my odds of success usually run around 50-50. Sometimes, the damage I inadvertently do creates a larger repair bill than if I had never attempted the task to begin with. As a result, I look at almost any home-repair job as a major challenge and all victories sublime.

Mrs. Poolman is my strongest supporter. You would think that after all the years we have been married, she would have picked up on some of my weaknesses. (Well, she has picked up on many of them, just not this one.)

“Oh, Poolman, we don’t need to call a repairman. You can do it!”

Which brings me to one of Poolman’s Lessons on Life.

Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have to do it.

This weekend’s plumbing story began last week. We have two and a half baths, but with only two people living in our house full time, the master bath and the half-bath off the kitchen get 99% of the use. We keep the door closed to the seldom-used bathroom in the hallway, because one of our cats (Sid the Tail-less) has been known to use it for his functions. (“Hey, if you’re not going to use it, one of us might as well. Meow!”) Unfortunately, Sid has not familiarized himself with the proper use of the bathroom appliances. All of which means that when I stopped into that bathroom last week and found the toilet running, I had no idea how long it had been doing so.

“Oh, boy,” I thought, “what a great opportunity to try my hand at toilet repair.”
Actually, as it turned out, it was a fairly easy repair. I just went down to the handy Ace Hardware store and bought a new valve assembly. Surprisingly, it went together just like it said in the directions. That may not be a first for me, but it seems that it is rare enough that I am always surprised when it happens that way.

I ran into two minor problems, but I was able to think my way through them.

One issue was really stupid. I couldn’t get the hose connector unscrewed from the tank. “Lefty-loosey, right?” In this case, that is true – if you are lying on your back and looking at the connector from the floor, but not if you are kneeling and reaching under the tank to get at it. Duh!

A masterpiece!

Once I had the new valve assembly installed and made sure it was both working and not leaking, I had only one remaining concern. How much water did we waste all that time we didn’t know it was running? Coincidentally, the semi-monthly water bill arrived on Saturday. It was more than twice the normal bill.

Crap!

Pun intended.

A nice break in the “action”

I’ve been off the grid for a couple of days. Mrs. Poolman and I both took a week of vacation. We went up to Folly Beach, SC, near Charleston, and spent several days at the beach-front Holiday Inn.

We had a nice time. The only problem is we picked a week when the area is having a record-breaking heat wave. We didn’t spend much time on the beach. It just isn’t that much fun when the temperatures are in the mid 90s and the heat index is 110.

Folly Beach is a funky little beach town.

Folly Beach's "main street"

It’s not a high-end resort. It is mostly cottages, surf shops and funky little restaurants. We like that. The Holiday Inn is the only serious hotel to be found. However, I did find another little hostelry a couple of blocks away. I wonder if anyone made a reservation expecting to get this.

The Holiday Inn

And ended up with this.

The HoLLiday Inn

So we visited downtown Charleston and drove through our old neighborhood from when we lived here. That part of town has developed so much, I was afraid I would have trouble finding the right streets.

There is a long fishing pier right next to the hotel.

The Folly Beach Pier

We walked out one night and saw the coolest thing. There was a large school of stingrays right near the pier. We went back the next day on the off chance they were still around and they were. The picture isn’t very good, but it gives an idea of the school.

A school of stingrays

Pretty cool.

We came back on Thursday. I had a state legislator scheduled to visit our campus. That took care of the afternoon. Friday was devoted to work around the house. Mrs. P and I painted the back hallway of our house. What fun!

Today is our anniversary. We were going to paint the family room, but decided to put it off for another day. I am reading at mass this evening. Afterwards, we are off for an anniversary dinner downtown. We are going to a restaurant that used to be one of our favorites, but we haven’t been there in years. More to come.

Thanks to my wonderful dogs — not!

My hat goes off to all those people who work construction during the summer. I was out in the sun for several hours today, repairing the gate on our wooden privacy fence. The heat just about knocked me out. I am definitely glad I don’t have to do that every day.

The repair work was needed because of our escape-artist dogs, especially the little one, Sammie.

The culprits

Actually Sammie doesn’t have the size to do all the work herself. I think she enlists her big brother, Casey, but there is little doubt that Sammie is the brains behind the caper. Casey does not have the initiative to plan something like this on his own.

My previous work has foiled their efforts to escape to the outside world. They have been concentrating on the double gate in our back yard privacy fence. I stopped them from being able to dig under it. Instead they have been working like little beavers – literally – and have tried to chew their way through the gate. This is the result.

When you have dogs who think they are beavers

Before you start feeling too sorry for the mutts, please understand they are not closely confined. They have the run of a very large backyard, lots of shade and water, and access to the garage through a pet door. Aside from the fact they don’t have air conditioning, they don’t have it very tough. The alternative would be to keep them crated in the house for ten and a half hours a day, and I suspect they wouldn’t like that very much either. They are relegated to the yard only the three days a week that Mrs. Poolman works. Otherwise they are house-dogs, spoiled brat house-dogs at that.

So I spent about $60 at Home Depot on supplies and four hours in the hot sun today, replacing the chewed boards. The tough and time consuming part were the two boards on either side of the gate opening that hold the hardware.  It probably shouldn’t have taken that long, if I actually was good at doing this kind of thing. Plus, I had to take breaks to cool-off myself, and many of the tools that simply became too hot to handle when left in the sun.

I topped it off with my own touch, a pair of brackets and a 2×4 holding the gate shut from the outside.

I stacked concrete blocks on the inside to deny them access to the gate. They have been able to move the blocks in the past, but maybe two rows both vertically and horizontally will help thwart their escape attempts.

I spent the rest of the afternoon floating in the pool and relaxing on the patio. It was a rest well earned, thank you very much.

Happy 2010!

I have been off of work for the past week. It has been busy, if not particularly exciting.

I got a call from my friend, Craig, while I was out walking for exercise last Tuesday. He wanted to know if I wanted to go golfing the next day. Normally that isn’t such an unusual call, but neither Craig nor I have played golf in years. I used to play a lot, although I was never any good. A round in the 90s was a great achievement. I fell out of practice when I moved to Savannah in the early 90s. None of my friends played much; it is time consuming and expensive, so I stopped playing frequently. I have probably averaged a round a year for the past ten years.

We went out and hit some balls Tuesday afternoon. Gradually something that vaguely resembled a swing started to come back. However, it was obvious I couldn’t hit anything longer than a 5-iron, even off the tee.

We played on Wednesday, with Craig’s son, Brian. Brian actually has some game and played well. Craig and I didn’t even keep score. I hit a few good shots, but there were a couple of holes on both the front and back where I just “picked up” and said the heck with it. It was still a good time. It was even worth not being able to move the next day without back stiffness.

*    *    *    *

Mrs. Poolman and I spent much of the rest of the week working on the house. Our goal is to clean out our bedroom and paint it. Then, we want to finish out putting hardwood or laminate flooring in the bedrooms. (I put hardwood laminate in the remaining living areas of the house several years ago. That is a story all of its own.)

Since Friday, we dismantled our bed, moved our furniture out of the master bedroom and ripped up some seriously disgusting carpet. (Remember, we have both dogs and cats. The carpet was roughly 14 years old.)

This is still a work in progress. One major issue will be to try to match as closely as possible the hardwood-laminate that is in the rest of the house. We haven’t been able to track down the original brand and color.

Whatever we do, we will hire someone to do the actual installation. I did that once and it took darn near an entire summer of weekends. I have neither the tools nor the expertise (or patience, for that matter) to tackle four individual rooms with all the cutting that would be involved.

At this point the master BR is ready for painting hopefully that will get done tomorrow.

*    *    *    *

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve. We stayed at home and cooked a great meal. We picked up some rib eye steaks and a couple of frozen lobster tails at Sam’s Club earlier in the day. I cooked both on the grill while Mrs. P tossed a Caesar Salad. I had never tried grilling the lobster tails, but they turned out GREAT! It certainly is not something we would do for quick-meal work night, but for a special occasion it was phenomenal! We watched a movie on the DVR, but Mrs. Poolman was asleep on the couch before 11 pm. I stayed up past midnight and walked out to greet my neighbors who were shooting off firecrackers. However, I was in bed by 1 am.

*    *    *    *

There was an article in the local newspaper about a fatal traffic accident at roughly 2 am New Year’s morning just a couple of blocks from here.  Single car accident. 15-year old driver. (Legal driving age in Georgia is 16.) I feel so sorry for the kids’s family.  I am curious for follow-up information, however. What is heaven’s name is a 15 year old  high school freshman doing out driving at 2 am on New Year’s Eve night? Where were his parents and what did they think happened to the car? What a tragedy!

*    *    *    *

From the Orlando Sentinel

The pride of the Big East conference walked into the teeth of the SEC last night. I’m happy to say that my Gators “schooled” the Cincinnati Bearcats. Better luck next year. Good bye, Tim Tebow! It’s been a great run!

*    *    *    *

Painting tomorrow, followed by “back to work” on Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ve been off of work for two days and it’s been busy.

Wednesday was mostly filled with preps for having a house full of folks for Thanksgiving the next day.

It works!

One project on my list was to repair our front post lamp. As I have mentioned before, I am not the handiest of homeowners. (I could really have used “More Than an Electrician” for this.)  Anyway, I figured if I could take it apart, I could see what was broken, buy a part and put it back together the way I found it. Well, it wasn’t as easy as that, but I got it to work all the same. The connections to the ceramic “socket” were rusted out and came disconnected. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the “floor” of the lamp housing was full of the remnants of about a zillion dead gnats, mosquitoes and other bugs. There is no need for a blow by blow description of the project. Suffice it to say, that courtesy of the guy at Ace Hardware, I found a replacement part, although not the exact same thing, and with a little improvisation, I managed to put it back together. When I turned on the power, the bulb lit up and it didn’t smoke, spark or catch fire. I call that a success.

Late in the afternoon, we took our lab to the vet.

Casey the Lab

He is getting older, although since he was a rescue adoption, we don’t know exactly how old he is. He has been moving very stiffly, and in the past day has seriously favored his back right leg. The vet reported he probably has arthritis, but he also has a torn ligament in the knee of his back leg. We are faced with a tough decision. There is surgery available to repair the ligament, but it is very involved, would be very painful for the dog, not to mention quite expensive. Given his age, I think we are going to treat the arthritis with medication and see how he does with the leg. We had a similar experience with our previous lab, and were very unhappy about the outcome. We allowed her to be opened up to remove a tumor. It turned out she had extensive cancer. They just closed her back up and sent her home. She died a few weeks later, but it would have been much more comfortable for her, if she hadn’t also had to recover from a major surgical incision.

Thursday dawned bright and sunny. I got up and went to 9 am mass. We have so many blessings, I really felt the need to give thanks “in person.”

After mass, I cleaned up the back yard, since I knew our Thanksgiving gathering would overflow to the courtyard and patio.

The courtyard

The patio

Mrs. Poolman did most of the cooking for this event. It is unusual for me not to be more involved, but I was occupied with the back yard, vacuuming the house, and so on.

The official “kick off” was to be at 4 pm, but our son and girlfriend (Poolboy and GF), and daughter and husband (Writer Princess and SIL) came a little early. We were joined by our friends/neighbors the W’s, Fran who works with Mrs. P, and SIL’s brother and wife who were holiday orphaned this year. We had one “holiday widower” in the group. Mark’s wife is a nurse who works with Mrs. P. She had the holiday duty, so Mark came over with their adult daughter. All told, we had 15 people for dinner. We almost always have a joint holiday celebration with the W’s. They contributed a fried turkey and various side dishes to the menu, to go along with our roasted turkey, baked ham and about a ton of other stuff.

The "spread"

As expected, we had more food than you could say grace over, and everyone seemed to have a good time. At least, if they didn’t enjoy it, they faked it real well.

It was a good day and I suspect we’ll be eating leftovers for awhile. Love those turkey sandwiches!