Handy man and handy mess

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 25, 2011, 8:33 PM | comments: 0

I made one of what seems like a billion Home Depot runs last night. There is something calm and wonderful about going there late at night. It's not busy, and there's this big giant building full of stuff that can inspire you to create things. I've come to realize that doing stuff around the house isn't simply another silly material excess, but rather something of a therapeutic and often creative exercise.

People in my line of work typically are known for make a ton of money when they're experienced, but I've always had a lot more respect for people who are exceptional at traditional trades like carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, etc., regardless of what they get paid. These are occupations that create the very places we live and work. The more I try to do some of these things, even in the most minor of capacities, the more I appreciate what they're capable of, because it doesn't come easy to me at all.

Today, I finally moved the toolbox and drill into the garage, for the first time in the three and a half weeks since we got into the house. Our borrowed ladder will be returned tomorrow. The house is 90% functional as a living space. I've had some triumphs, but also some near-tragedies.

On the positive side, our living room is super cozy and lovely. We haven't repainted the trim, but otherwise it's done. Diana's paint color choices really worked out. The Ikea cabinet and shelf for the TV is compact and simple. There are no brass light fixtures anywhere. I even put one of those cool built-in night lights in one of the outlets. It's all very satisfying.

I'm proud of getting the microwave mounted, as my crowning achievement. No one else would consider this a big deal, even though I had no original hardware. I guess it's just because it's a fairly permanent thing, and I'm not used to doing stuff like that.

Replacing light fixtures was a mixed bag. The four hallway lights around the house went pretty smoothly. The third and final lights probably took less than ten minutes to swap out. The kitchen lights, on the other hand, were a pain in the ass. The electrical boxes were set too far into the ceiling, so it took a combination of longer screws and some washers to get the things mounted. Total pain in the ass. Granted, the results were so worth it.

Getting the deck in better shape ended up not going very well. I borrowed my dad's power washer, which is excellent, and the actual washing was mostly good. I missed some spots, which wasn't obvious when it was all soaking wet. Meh, it was good enough. I still need to sand down some of the railings because the washer tends to tear up that kind of wood. The difficulty came when I tried to seal it. I had a few gallons of sealer left from the last time I tried sealing stuff, probably ten years ago. I figured, "Whatever, it's still good." Not so much. It had somehow crystalized, clogging up the pressure canister. If that weren't bad enough, I got quite a bit of it on the vinyl siding (I hate vinyl siding, by the way), and I'm not sure it will come off. Fail.

Doing home maintenance reminds me a lot of when I started to write software. I sucked at it so badly that I became easily frustrated. Amazing what 12 years can do. I have to keep in mind that I don't have 12 years doing home maintenance, so I'm not going to be good at it. That's a bummer, because I'd like to do something more ambitious, like run speaker wire up the walls for surround speakers. That's just not going to happen though.

It will start to get cold soon, so home maintenance is just about done for the year. I'll be thinking over the winter about what things I'd like to try next.


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