The Ongoing Odyssey of Mr. Maintenance II

When last we visited, I had just spent the better part of an après-golf afternoon attempting to resolve issues regarding in-house alarm systems.  I knew waiting in the wings was a more daunting project – the supervisor wanted to change out the kitchen sink faucet.  This had the potential to be catastrophic.

As you may have guessed, my DNA shrieks “white collar-office worker-high rise condominium dweller.”  I see no need for my maintenance skills to extend any further than how to replace toner cartridges in computer printers.  [Editor’s note:  At this point I found myself scurrying to Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style regarding the proper use of “further/farther.” I opted for “further” here.]

Anyway, always wishing to curry favor with the supervisor, the following morning I volunteered to mow the lawn.  This was not a gesture to be taken lightly – I hate lawn mowing (and it’s a job she actually likes, for reasons unfathomable).  Our mower, as noted in the above photo, is a Snapper riding mower – the cheapest riding mower we could find some eight years ago.  It has generally served us well but has recently gotten cantankerous in its older years.  In the last two years, we have had to make a few trips to Ollie’s, pick-up a trailer, drive back home and load up the Snapper, and back to Ollie’s for repair – usually such as broken belts and other things incomprehensible.  The other problem the Snapper has is a design flaw that causes the steering wheel to break loose from its column.  There is a little pin on the under side of the steering wheel itself that tends to break off from the steering shaft under the high-torque maneuvering we use to avoid colliding with various lawn vegetation.  Well, I got about half way through the mow – with storm clouds threatening – when I lost steering . . . again.  Rather than hanging it up for the day until we could get to Ollie’s for a replacement steering pin, the supervisor thought we could jerry-rig something.  Into the house we went, emptied every nut & bolt jar we could find onto the washing machine, and began the quest to find a substitute “steering pin.”  Several trips in and out, sizing the hole with various bolts, getting a flashlight so we could see to align the holes and using an ice pick to maintain alignment, determining there was still a piece of the broken pin in the steering column, going back in for an awl to punch out the broken pin (“I am a good awler!”), eventually finding a bolt and nut to re-attach the steering wheel, and finishing the mow with one hand on the nut (“I heard that!”) so it wouldn’t come loose, and finding the steering as loose as in my ’68 VW sedan!  When I finished and went to parallel park the mower, I took out two begonias and a garden gnome.  But the task was done!  🙂

The kitchen sink. Fortunately for us (unfortunately for him), son-in-law Danny carries the handyman gene.  Yesterday morning, while I escaped to play golf, Danny and the supervisor undertook the task of replacing the faucet.  I knew it wouldn’t be as easy as they, or the packaging, indicated.  When I returned home, they both were on oxygen and looked as if they had been on a 50-mile force hike.  Lime scale corrosion had made removal of the old faucet a use of profanity delight!  Naturally, I was the appreciative beneficiary of their efforts – I paid for Danny’s dinner at Bug-A-Boo!  😉  (The before and after photos are above.)  He went back to Itasca this morning to escape the rigors of home maintenance for the relative ease of putting a concrete floor in their pole barn!

My only pix today are of some turtles by the North park entrance right where the Mississippi begins its journey out of the park.  The one was laying her eggs and the other was just there for moral support….. – A further report from Danny from the Itasca area. 

You know, of course, snapping turtles have pretty much existed in their current form for 215 million years.  (At that time you could only get three cable channels and Chinese take-out was just in its infancy.)  Homo Sapiens didn’t actually show up until about 212 million years later, unless you believe the planet to only be 6,000 years old (but that’s a topic better addressed in my political blog).  Last night, Danny & I enjoyed a boys night out at Bug-A-Boo – on the way home, we stopped mid-road (checking the review mirror first!) until a mud turtle had traversed from one side of the asphalt to the other.

On his return trip from Itasca, Danny stopped and picked up the annual edition (“whether there’s news or not!”) of the Dorset Daily Bugle.  I have never heard of Dorset, but it is somewhere in the vicinity of Itasca and has a population of 22!  The unincorporated town bills itself as “The Restaurant Capital of the World!”

Finally, after Danny left this morning, the supervisor coerced me into a maintenance and cleaning operation on the Moby Obie.  The pontoon has sat idly on its lift since it was installed in late April.  Surprisingly, the battery still had a charge and the 15-year old Yamaha 50 hp 4-stroke motor evenutally started – we let it idle while we cleaned.  The water is still incredibly high, so we had to work all slumped over under the canopy.  The supervisor eventually released me from this onerous detail so I could  . . . go golfing!  Family is expected for the holiday weekend – look for the Moby out on the chain (I think we can get it out from under the lift canopy?).

The Readers Write:

Tom, finally catching up with my emails. This story is HILARIOUS and well written. I suggest you shop it around to various publications. It is worthy of wider circulation.

Seriously, think about submitting the Maintenance story to a Mpls. magazine, which has contributors like the Washingtonian mag. Or, possibly Reader’s Digest. You know, the most READ publication. – Gretchen (well, she’s my sister)

Tom: No one can “top” your Mr. Maintenance story. Regards, Woody Allen (a/k/a “Crazy” Dave, well, he’s my agent)

Oh, the ol’ it’s-really-the-carbon-monoxide-alarm-trick! Agent 86 would have been proud of you. Ruthie’s peonies are enviably beautiful, and only out shown by her own beauty.
– Sue (well, she’s my protégé)

Peonies bud,
and then they bloom,
then you cut them for
the living room,
but as soon they are there,
you know you will find
large black ants
on the floor all the time.
— Burma Shave
– Mark (well, he’s a fellow ‘crat)

Great photos! Those are some beautiful peonies. Loved the proof of global warming too!
– Linda (well, she’s my cousin-in-law)

In response to an e-mail entitled “Schmock, Schmock” about the U.S. triple jump champion, Amanda Smock, who is from Melrose, Minnesota, 30 miles down I-94 from here:

I was stationed in Iceland from 1964 to 1966 and Steve Allen was the late night television host on NBC. He always was saying “Schmock, Schmock” and the Icelandics would roar with laughter. Schmock is Icelandic for prophylactic.
– Terry (well, we go back 60 years together)

Did I send this before? Greg Trumm with a telephoto lens across the gym. OMG, I look like Uncle Deek! – the editor
I thought it was Uncle Deek, but the hat gave you away! – Nanner (well, she’s Nanner!)
Nancy, you are so right. The thumbnail picture looked like Deek until I opened it up and yikes, could that really be my older brother??!!! – Gretchen
Yes, you definitely are an old Gooba and look like Uncle Dick. – Gretchen
Funny. – Nanner

Rog submitted the following:

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