The Ongoing Odyssey of Mr. Maintenance

Now is the summer of our discontent – William Shakespeare (well, what he would have
said).

After three miserable weather days in a row, Thursday dawned miserable as well . . . but at least it wasn’t raining. Golfing would, at long last, be an option again. Arriving at the course at 8:30 am, I joined “Dr.” McCoy on Mt. Teebox where I discovered the wind chill to be about 20 – this was officially the second day of summer. I repaired back to the car for a third layer of clothing.

http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/124462239.html

I ultimately returned home after my worst round of golf in several years. Worst not because of the weather – we’ve played in much worse several times this year – but probably because of the weariness of not ever having at least 70 degree, sunny weather.

Once home, I was greeted by the supervisor who ordered, “Don’t go upstairs without taking the step ladder with you.” It seems the smoke alarm in the sunroom – conveniently located 12 feet above the floor – had been “chirping” all day annoyingly chasing the supervisor to the lower level. We both knew, of course, this was the sign of a failing back-up battery. All laddered up, I reached the offending device, removed the battery, the chirping continued in an indication our initial analysis was correct. It required a 9-volt battery – we were out of them. A short trip by the protagonist to Casey’s yielded a replacement. Back up the ladder, pop in the new batter, and voila . . . except the chirping continued. The fun was just beginning.

Now puzzled, we checked the two other smoke alarms in the house. We exchanged batteries amongst them – no change. Chirp, chirp, chirp continued. Next on the maintenance schedule, we knew, involved cleaning. Cleaning involved taking the 6-foot ladder back down stairs and exchanging it for the 8-footer – we needed to get up close and personal. Hair dryer and Q-tips in hand, I ascended to greater heights, performed minor surgery, and popped the new battery back in. Chirp, chirp, chirp!

Well, now I’m getting grumpy. We turn to the internet. On-line commentary indicates hard-wired smoke alarms have a life span of about 7-years! Who knew? Our house is 10-years old. Now the supervisor makes her move. Budget Building Supply is not far away – maybe they have smoke alarms? Nope, she had to go into town to Ace. But now we have a replacement alarm. Back up the ladder I go, waited for the supervisor to switch off every circuit breaker in the house to make sure I didn’t accidentally curl my hair (?), and installed the new alarm – a major achievement for Mr. Maintenance in and of itself! Circuit breakers back on and . . . chirp, chirp, chirp!! A panic phone call to the electrician who wired the house yields nothing – logically enough, he just hooks them up but doesn’t know how they work . . . or don’t work.

As we began to make plans to move out of the house (the incessant chirp was like water torture or finger nails on the blackboard), the supervisor attempted a “Hail Mary” by calling the smoke alarm manufacturer. The technician suggested all the things we had already tried – other than the “hold the button down for 30 seconds to drain out the static electricity” trick one uses with computers. But he did want to hear the chirp. Ruthie held the phone up to the alarm – it chirped (as regular as “Old Faithful”) – and the guy said it didn’t sound like a smoke alarm chirp; did we have any other devices in the vicinity that would make such as noise? Well, I have to admit I had thought of that previously but couldn’t think of anything. Ruthie hung up, prepared to do the static electricity routine, and went into the bedroom on the other side of the wall from the smoke alarm. Aha!! There she spotted the carbon monoxide alarm on the dresser hidden among framed photographs. We had totally forgotten about them – and that was it. They are free standing, battery powered only. The chirp was of such a pitch that when we were within one-foot of the smoke alarm, we could swear that’s exactly where it was coming from. Then the next chirp would sound like it was on the far side of the room? But thus, instead of my usual post-golf nap, is how we spent Thursday afternoon.

Addendum: There may be an addendum. Sitting in the on-deck circle is a new faucet for the kitchen sink, a replacement for the current “drippy” one. This exchange apparently will be attempted by in-house staff, without seat belts or a safety net!

Addendum, deux: Admittedly not a Mr. Maintenance, I will lay claim to being a turtle herder, nonpareil. Brother Cam and I have been known to perform the reptilian version of storm-chaser when turtles are on the move. We search out their attempted crossings of vehicular roadways, stopping to help them complete their endeavor – ever alert to their only defense mechanism which is to pee on you! On the way home from the winery yesterday, we made the turn around Atikwa’s Hole No. 1 on Arrowwood Drive and discovered crossing the road a mud turtle heading west and a snapping turtle heading east. We stopped – the mud turtle bolted the rest of the way off the road (they can be foot herded), but the snapper is a horse of a different color. When I tried to herd him off the road, he turned to attack! Cars are slowly moving past in both directions watching this dance – the girls giggling, the guys just shaking their heads. I finally found a stick big enough for him to bite down on – I then lifted and carried him to the ditch and to safety? I hope he and the mudder successfully reached their ultimate destinations. [Note: The photos are not of “my” turtle – I was a bit busy at the time. But this snapper was captured this week by our son-in-law Danny by the Mississippi River on Highway 2 between Bagley and Bemidji.]

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One Response to The Ongoing Odyssey of Mr. Maintenance

  1. Taryn says:

    The turtles (females) are usually on their way to lay eggs. They store water in their bodies to moisten the hard ground, making it easier to then dig their nests.

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