Time’s a Clippin’

Written in response to today’s One Word Inspiration, Carousel“>Carousel.

Have you noticed how fast it goes? Or, are you too young to think about it? Time. The tick and the tock, rocking us all forward into the great unknown of tomorrow. I have been blessed to age to the point that sometimes the things I thought about a little while ago were actually considered days ago… it just feels like a little while ago.

When I was young Christmas was agonizingly slow in its arrival each year; in fact, each year felt like a lifetime. Now, each Christmas comes so fast that I can recall the previous Christmas as though it occurred a few days prior. Come on now, that’s just too fast!

As I write this, my best four-legged friend, Maggie, is sound asleep in her bed beside me here in my tiny home office after our walk. It has been said that K-9 time passes about seven times faster than ours. That got me thinking, when she waits for me to go on that walk around the neighborhood she has a right to be anxious, after all, waiting a day to me is like waiting a week to my Schnauzer buddy. Around and around we go.

She and my age have taught me not to wait. Appreciate every moment. Even though it seems like the Carousel is only going around and around, it is speeding faster and faster, from my perspective and from Maggie’s perspective. I have learned not to put things off and not to take them for granted. Today I am grateful for every moment, especially as I listen to Maggie’s rhythmic breathing in sleep. Around and around we go on the Carousel of time.

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Okay, I admit to ignorance in this area. (There are other areas, too, but let’s not list them) I have this automobile storage tent. The thing is die hard tough and has stood against many a wintry storm with super-sized winds. It has corkscrew anchors for the tie downs that are two feet long in the ground. But, time has taken its toll on the zipper I use the most. The zipper has lost its zip, sadly. It behaves as though it is zipping the two ends together but the ends do not interlock as they should. Hence, they flap and blow in the breeze. Other than replacing the zipper, is there a solution/fix for this problem?

I don’t keep items in the tent that concern me with weather extremes or theft for that matter. I am concerned the tent opening sides will eventually whip out and fray. So, I entered the world of grommets. Doing what I normally don’t do, I purchased the cheapest pair of grommet pliers and grommets I could find. My logic was that it was better to lose a little money if grommets were not the solution to tie the ends of my tent flap together.


I placed the grommet onto the pliers and the pliers over the tent fabric hoping to set the first grommet. Well, the grommet fell to the ground numerous times despite my clumsy efforts to hold the grommet onto the pliers. When I finally got a grommet positioned where I wanted it, I squeezed and heard/felt the grommet make a meager attempt to punch through the tent fabric. Ouch. Once barely through, and having now made my very first attempt and hearing the crowd cheer, I realized the crazy grommet was not going to remain in place.


Yes, even without instructions (none were provided), I eventually turned the pliers around and squeezed from the opposite direction. Embarrassing! I’m glad just you and I are the only people to know of my faux pas. Yep, the grommet was now snugly held in place since the opposite end was crimped. And, I tied the tent flap opening together feeling a measure of success.


In case you are wondering, there is another zippered opening on the opposite side from my failed zipper which opens just fine. I would have much preferred a zipper repair. But, it’s a heavy duty zipper and it would not interlock despite several attempts. I think we get credit for learning the little things as well as the big things. Hmm, maybe just tenths of points. 🙂




Bathroom Upgrade

Well, it took ten days of part-time work but it’s done! I upgraded everything in the bathroom except the tub. The shower is work for later.

I pulled the stool, vanity and sink were next. After that, off came the medicine cabinet. I took a breath and the real work began, scraping two layers of wallpaper from the walls. I didn’t think the wall prep would ever end, it went on and on. Eventually, the walls were stripped and dried with imperfections filled then walls sanded.

People sometimes think painting is difficult. Painting is the fun last step compared to wall prep. I have always enjoyed painting. It makes everything seem so clean and bright.

Next, I attached the faucet to the new sink. The sink is a man-made cultured material so only silicone could be used on it, no regular plumber’s putty. I set the vanity and sink in place and leveled them with shims. Next, I attached the drain and hot/cold supply lines to their respective supply valves. More fun was just around the corner.

When I tested for leaks I found myself ‘chasing’ leaks. Seems I never tighten quite enough for fear of over tightening. So, I started tightening connections until the leaking stopped… all but two places. Prior to setting the vanity, I told myself I should replace the hot water supply valve. Both valves had been in place since the beginning of time and the hot water side would not shut off quite completely, almost but not quite. Almost doesn’t count in plumbing.

Using faulty logic that when the water supply line was attached and run to the faucet the valve would be wide open so why sweat the replacement. Faulty, faulty, faulty. Yep, I discovered that the valve not only leaked water inside, it also leaked through the valve stem to the outside. Wow, after the panic subsided, I tried using two wrenches to tighten the stem nut. It took a lot of torque, but the leak finally did stop. By this point, it seemed to have a mind of its own. I must have just got tired of leaking.

Another leak was at the drain flange. I guess I thought a little dab would do ya and under applied silicon, thus another leak. Well, this required disassembly of the drain from the P trap up to the sink basin. Yippee. Okay, remove old silicon and apply what I thought was a liberal amount, reattach and enjoy more leaking. Fun times. By this point, I was wondering if plumbing even at this basic level was really my cup of tea. Yank the drain a second time, hey, I was getting good at this, at least, and this time apply so much silicon I knew it had to be enough. And it was.

The next leak du jour was in the drain PVC connections. I finally stumbled on an article online that suggested using Teflon tape on these connections… voila! Success. Did I mention the difficulty getting to the plumbing under the sink due to the cabinet configuration? No? Well, less than half the cabinet was open behind a door. The other half was filled with two large drawers. When I cut out part of the back of the cabinet I was within one-quarter inch of the drawer supports. I was within this little bit of having to reroute the water supply lines within the wall. Had that happened, I would like to think that I would have replaced the faulty hot water shut off valve. I contorted into positions I did not think myself capable of attaining to reach those leaks, uh, I mean connections.

Setting the stool was a snap compared to the vanity and sink. I learned a few things about myself. Prayer works. I have some degree of mental fortitude. And, replace any and all questionable water shut off valves. Oh, yeah, use way more silicone than I think I possibly should use. Also, I learned a lot! One of these days I will tackle replacing the tub with a walk-in shower. Not much can go wrong with that, right?

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(When I tackle the shower, I will add before and after pics.)

Vinyl Siding

As a handyman, I had my first exposure to installing vinyl siding last year. I must admit I was amazed at the difference in appearance of the houses and business we did before compared to after. Man, vinyl siding really cleaned up the appearance. The siding jobs went pretty well until the final job which was a large business. I learned a hard lesson about starting the job on the lowest point. My buddy actually began the job at the wrong location on the building because he was anxious to get started. Unfortunately, he picked a point he wanted to do first and it wasn’t the lowest point of the building. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to think through the problem. But, the issue reappeared on the opposite corner of the building. It caused waste of both time and material. I just felt blessed to come up with the solution.

I learned a lot about outside corners and inside corners, starter strips and window trim. I cut my teeth on jobs for a landlord at the local college. The work was long and hot during the heat of the summer. It seemed as though each structure had lots of bump outs and such with more than two peaks to the roofs because of his tendency to add to the buildings in order to increase occupancy.

Somehow, I turned into the guy to create the bids for each job. I learned a lot there, too. Pictures of the buildings became a must in addition to diagrams and measurements.

Paint job

I am fortunate to work with a fellow who has twenty-five years of painting experience. When we painted a deck recently, for example, he gave great pointers on proper cleaning of the deck surface for good paint adhesion as well as remembering all the cracks and crevices. I provided an electric power washer that had just begun its second season with me. It was a short season for that machine. The darn thing lasted long enough to clean just the beginning of the first deck board, then crapped out! If it had not been for my painter friend’s gas power washer, I would have been stuck at the start. Still, we had to stop on the job site, drive across and out of town to load his power washer, then all the way back to the job site. Afterward, I had to use my truck again to get the washer back to his house. Time is money and we lost some there. Whew! Still it saved the job. We soon developed a rhythm of working together as we knocked out this job. I worked from a ladder to paint the pergola as he painted railing. I then painted the deck surface. It was a good size job that would have taken much longer were it not for my friend’s tips and tricks. Sidebar: I recall the customer’s neighbor was mowing his yard as my buddy and I were painting the deck. I was amazed and a little bit dumbfounded when I looked up just in time to see this guy filling his running lawn mower with gas while holding a lit cigarette between his lips. Hmmm… as I recall, the most flammable part of gasoline is its fumes. Forget flammable, they’re explosive. I felt like I was watching a train wreck. I didn’t want to witness this guy setting himself ablaze, but I could not turn away and stop watching to see whether or not he would go up in a fireball. The wind was with him instead of against him. So, he merrily continued mowing.

The white flecks noted in this bottom pic are from a nearby tree after the paint had dried. The pictures really don’t do it justice. I was very happy with the improvement in the deck, so was the homeowner who subsequently called back for more estimates.