Welcome to the never ending fun in the Annals of Homeowner Woman. Sadly, the first year and a half of Homeowner Woman was not fully documented, due to the brainpower constraints of Yours Truly. Now, that has been at least partially corrected with the assistance of Homeowner’s Daughter aka Goddess of All Webthings, Marketing, Blogging, Googling and SEO-ing stuffs. I will think of a clever acronym or something eventually.
In any case, moving along. Homeowner Woman was initially Single Apartment-Living Woman, who relied on the maintenance dudes to solve problems bigger than changing the light bulbs. Eventually, she began to learn primitive skills, such as picture hanging, refrigerator defrosting, and -near the end – changing the washers in faucets to fix drips. I know. Amazing, right?
SAL-Woman decided to go big, go bold. Buy a house. A duplex, anyway, but a house, not managed by a landlord, or a company, or another person. And without the help of any Homeowner Husband, Boyfriend, Spouse, Significant Other, or even nearby friendly neighbor trustworthy enough to be allowed in the HOW’s home. No tools to speak of either, except a basic hammer, screwdrivers (one of each kind), pair of pliers and a few of those adorable and clever little compartmentalized boxes of things sold at Home Desperate and such – the hanging stuff collection, the hammering stuff collection, the screwing stuff collection. Those sound dirty. Truly, though, they keep HOW from becoming Cluttered Homeowner Woman, or CHOW. I think you, Dear Reader, can see a few reasons why CHOW would not be flattering.
So we packed up the truck and moved to …Gardner, KS. But still, it’s a decent-ish duplex, more than big enough for me, the dog and the
3…4 cats. Early successes included moving in without breaking anything or any one. Getting rid of the boxes, and saving the important boxes like the one for the HDTV. Very important. Getting rid of the 6000 bags of newspapers used to wrap stuff. Recycling this paper and those boxes, by the way. Go green.
HOW successfully set up her HDTV and DVD player, including surround sound, without intervention by any XY chromosome-enabled humans. Granted, it took perhaps three times longer than it would have if an XY did it, and HOW had cleverly labeled each wire and plug, with its corresponding slot or plug in, prior to taking the system down at the apartment. And said previously put together system had been set up by HOW’s mechanically inclined son in approximately 15 minutes of work. But HOW did it. She pushed forward into the unknown lands. She set up and configured her wireless internet connection, including a new router. What wonders were this! She knew her own password for the wireless, for lo she had created it herself.
Other early successes came, like setting up the collapsible compost bin. One would think unfolding 4 sides of a cube, into a cube shape, and setting in on the ground would be easy. One would be wrong, if one were thinking of HOW. A few small treelets were planted, to start giving shade to the vast open expanse of the back yard. Granted, such shade will only come after several years, but at least Yours Truly remembered to Call before She Dug. Advertising works. HOW also purchased, installed, and used a hose to water the treelets. Sadly, said hose was too short to reach the far end of the yard – and the compost bin, which required water. A second short hose was acquired and successfully joined with the first, solving the problem.
Later, as HOW became more adept at finding her way around the house without a map, she began experimenting with using tools. Tool Using Home Owner Woman (TUHOW). She was brave. Brave-ish. Pretended to her friends she was brave, and only reported on successes. Stop judging. HOW hung pictures, and invited her Dear Old Dad to help with the big ones that were high on the vaulted ceiling-side wall. Dad enjoyed participating, and did a great job. He also helped hang the smaller gallery pictures in a neat grid pattern in the Mistress Bedroom, and gallantly pretended to be impressed that HOW had purchased a level, a T-square, and a yardstick to assist with the grid. HOW did not tell Dad she Googled it, but whatever.
HOW became courageous, and purchased a handheld Shower Massage thingie for the Mistress Bath. It sat neatly in the deadly plastic clamshell on the bathroom counter for months, as HOW eyed it guardedly. Put off by the nasty sharp teeth of the clamshell packaging, HOW did nothing but look at the directions, and “plan” to install the thing. Finally, the Day of Installation came. HOW was off work for a period of time, and had already completed the other mundane tasks at the house. There were no more excuses. It was install or be ashamed forever. The time for being able to return the thing was nearing an end. HOW’s health insurance was possibly going to expire soon. It had to be done. Carefully, using tree pruning snips, the pliers, and many colorful Anglo-Saxon farming terms, HOW extricated the foul beast from its lair. Once exposed, it’s long metal hose ominously curled on the floor, detached from its head and other connectors, the Thing looked even more scary than it had in its cocoon of heavy plastic. However, no blood had been shed and the cardboard sheet of directions was preserved, so HOW was pleased.
The directions were spread on the floor and examined. They appeared to be written in HOW’s native language, and were accompanied by clever hieroglyphic drawings which seemed to give indication of how to reassemble the Thing and attach it to the Mistress Bath shower. First, the old shower head was removed, an easy enough process. Then, HOW grasped the assembled Thing firmly about the neck and again about it’s rear-end attachment bit. Together, we approached the shower, and began installation. Much to everyone’s surprise, HOW and the Thing’s especially, the Thing worked perfectly the first time. No sprays, nothing upside down. It just — worked. HOW triumphantly threw the dreaded plastic clamshell, along with the directions, into the recycle bin, and proceeded to take a HAND HELD MASSAGE-Y shower.
Such went life for HOW for many months, tackling chores previously thought to be unattainable. Wire shelving was purchased, and assembled, and loaded. A misfiring dryer vent tube was rerouted and repaired – after some significant wrestling to move the dryer, and then impressive acrobatics by HOW to get into the tiny space behind the dryer to complete the quest. Duct Tape deserves an award for assisting in this repair job. Advil and Ice also get honorable mention. More trees, shrubs and even a rose bush were installed in the back yard, and did surprisingly well given the harsh conditions they faced in the summer. More bits of furniture were acquired, assembled, arranged, used.
All of which brings you, Dear Reader, more or less to the Present Day. The handheld shower Thing had sprung a leak, at the attachment end. This resulted in spraying water on the ceiling of the shower enclosure, which HOW recognized would quickly lead to the ceiling texture coming down. That would lead to a giant mess in the bathroom, followed by an untimely need for a bathroom remodel, the likes of which HOW could in no way afford. Nearly simultaneously, HOW observed gaps around her doors, even when shut, which seemed to have appeared since the last winter. The weather having suddenly turned cold, this presented certain difficulties such as astronomical utility bills – even larger than the already large utility bills. HOW pondered less than a day. The way ahead was clear. HOW went to the local hardware store, staffed by many informed locals, containing only a few aisles of necessities. This was a far different experience than HOW had at Home Desperate, where there were multitudes of aisles of every variety of thing, gadget, bit, part, materials, and other things, and said to be staffed by the mythical Sales Associate.
HOW bravely entered the hardware store, scanning the aisle labels. She quickly and efficiently located the plumbing aisle, and fended off a helpful sales-dude. HOW knew what she needed, and informed SD she was headed to get plumbing pipe tape. Perhaps this was the incorrect terminology, as SD pointed her to the correct aisle anyway, and identified the tape. HOW agreed this was what she was in search of, and obtained the necessary tape. She thanked SD, and went on about her search. She located the weather stripping section, identified and obtained the necessary material after only a few moments of reading the labels to determine the proper course of action. After returning home, HOW unattached the shower Thing, rapidly utilized the tape to bind it’s inner wounds, then reattached the Thing to it’s mooring. A quick check, and success was hers! HOW had stopped the Thing’s spewing fluids all over the Mistress Bathroom.
Emboldened, HOW immediately moved on to the next task – filling the gaps between the doors and the outside. Bolstering her castle against the vagaries of the harsh environment known as Kansas. Fortifying her mansion to hopefully keep the lights on another few days each month. The weatherstripping was deceptively easy to install and use. Deceptive, because it did not take into account the actions of Cats. Cats, being small, furry, woodland and desert creatures, are naturally drawn to the Outdoors. To them, it is a mystical wonderland, glimpsed heretofore only through glass, or on brief, highly supervised outings in an enclosed area.
Cats, seeing HOW with the Door to the Outside open, and HOW engaged with the tantalizing Crinkly-Paper-Long-Thing CPLT), conferred. They decided to send one of their number to make a run for it, to see if she could attain Freedom in the Outside, while HOW was observed by the others, and occupied with her task. The youngest of the Cats, Miss India Inkbottom, only 8 months old, was selected for her speed, her smaller size, her legendary acrobatic ability, and her solid blackness – all the better to hide in dark places, the others thought. India eagerly accepted, and watched HOW for a time, gauging her best course.
As HOW bent to affix the last of the CPLT to the door frame, India took her opportunity. Vaulting nimbly from the stair case, across HOW’s back, through the Door, she was Outside. Quickly, she took off for the neighboring foliage, and disappeared, before HOW could so much as stand up and turn around. The other Cats watched from the stair case, hardly deigning to hide their sneers at how easily HOW’s defenses had been breached by the brave India. HOW was clever, though, and unlocked the door handle, before shutting the door in the faces of the Cats. Taking with her the remains of CPLT, including the inner spool, HOW obtained the Intriguing Long Stick from the back porch. ILS had been used to entertain Cats on the porch in the past, and might be useful in luring India back to the house.
HOW used her superior Cat tracker skills, and located India by the rustling in the dry foliage. The ILS with the CPLT attached to the end was deployed just outside India’s hiding place, and dragged ever-so-tantalizingly along the ground, twitching, twirling, teasing. The Cats had chosen their scout well, she had escaped in the blink of an eye. They had failed to account for her youth and curiousity, her inability to resist the new and interesting. This proved to be her downfall, as she emerged from hiding to chase the infernal device. HOW quickly nabbed the escapee, who complained bitterly to all who would listen. She was returned to the Inside, the the horror of her companions. HOW was merciful, however, and allowed India and the others to have some quality time inside with the ILS+CPLT device. Mollified, they quieted down, and did not attempt to escape while HOW completed the second door. Thus did HOW triumph on three fronts this day: Triumph over injury to the shower Thing, triumph over Cats, and victory over the invading elements of Outside.