Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Dangers of DIY

Wanna save a little money?  Do.It.Yourself!

Sometimes that works.  Sometimes it doesn't.  A case in point:

Answering the ever-annoying RINNNG!!!! of the telephone yesterday I was greeted by a sing-songy Edith-Bunker-like female giggle ~ giggling which alllmost masked the roar of the heavy male bellow in the background.  Piecing her little bits and snippets together with his occasional "TELL THEM.............." interspersed among the general "#$*%!*@%#@**^+#$^ " I managed to  discern what had happened.

It seems that this household had been having trouble getting their laundry dry, so, as anyone would reasonably expect, the handy husband of the house decided to D.I.Y.  Off he went to Lowe's to buy the latest  "AS-SEEN-ON-TV" gadget, the one that cleans out your drier vent, putting an end to laundry day woes.

As soon as he got home, he got right to work.  First step:  pull drier away from wall.  So far so good.   Carefully following the directions, he ran the wire brush through the wall and up the drier vent.  Noooo problem.  But right after that, things started to go south.  Still following the directions, he tried to pull the brush back out, but Uh-Oh.  It wasn't coming back out.  It just wasn't.

One can spend only so much time on something that doesn't work and clearly isn't going to.  So, as any handyman would do, he grabbed his fishing pole and stuck it into the black hole in hot pursuit of the wayward brush.  You can probably guess what came next.  The fishing pole lost sight of its task, allowing itself to become distracted by the brush, and the next thing you know, they are in solidarity.  Two comrades, united in purpose, out on strike.

And that's when Mr. DIY conceded defeat and called for help.  Or more accurately, hid his own face and had his wife call for help while he lurked in the background barking out instructions.

As things turned out, there was no budging that pair.  They are there to stay.

So Mr. DIY's next project:  Reroute the drier vent.  This is a simple process of another trip to Lowe's for a mile or two of drier vent ducting, and some circular saw blades; then cutting a hole in the wall, another one in the ceiling, and another in the attic; finally cramming the ducting up between the studs in the wall and out the roof, capping the hole and sealing around the vent to keep the water out when it rains.

A quick calculation revealed that the $85 he saved on the cleaner covered a good part of the supplies from Lowe's, and didn't touch the cost of the rerouter.  That bill hasn't come in yet.  But it will, because Mrs. DIY, a little (or a lot) poorer and a little wiser is, at this point, a little gun shy. Sure, she knows her hubby is handy, but she doesn't want him touching this one.

Takeaway:  The next time you get an urge to save some $, well....make sure you can afford to.

Friday, February 21, 2014



Me:  This is Mary, how can I help you?

Caller:  I need to schedule a chimney sweep.

Me:  I can do that for you.  Where are you located?

Caller:  In Harrisonville.  South of Belton.

Me ????:  Um, I have never heard of that.  Could you be more specific?  Which direction?  Towards Morgan's Point?

Caller ?????:  Ummm......No, south.

Me:  I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with Harrisonburg.

Caller:  NO!  Harrisonville.

Me:  Oh, sorry, I'm not familiar with Harrisonville.

Puzzled silence....

Sounds like we'd come to an impasse.  I really did not know what to say next.  So I prompted her:

Me:  We cover a wide area.  Waco, Temple, Gatesville, Killeen, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Lampasas, but I don't know Harrisonville.  Are you maybe over towards Little River, Academy, Holland?

Caller: Well, we are about 30 minutes from Kansas City.  Do you know where Kansas City is?

Me:  Uh.....Kansas?  Missouri?

Caller (light beginning to dawn):  It sounds like you are too far away.

Me:  Yeah, like in Texas.

Caller:  Well, I googled "chimney sweeps near Belton" and you were the first one that came up.  OOOOHH.... I guess I should have googled "chimney sweeps near Belton, Missouri."

Me:  Yeah, that would be good.

Caller:  So all these other ones that are listed, are they in Texas, too?  Temple, Round Rock, Georgetown?

Me:  Yes, ma'am, all around here.

Caller:  Well, never mind.

Five-Minute Friday...SMALL

"For who has despised the day of small things?"  Zechariah 4:10 Five Minute Friday

Smallness tends to get a bad rap.  We want bigger.  Bigger is better.  So says the common wisdom.  So we are conditioned to think.

But I'm not so sure about that.  When I think about the things that make my life happy....a visit with a neighbor, a phone call from a kid, a card in the mail, sheets smelling of fresh air and sunshine, a baby laughing, hot water and soap and towels for a shower any time I want, a rainstorm, fresh peas from the garden, a good book, a smile and a hug, a pot of orange tea, an opportunity to help, a free cup of *senior* coffee from McDonald's, the sound of the wind chimes in the breeze, a Bible study with my friends, a funny joke, a text from the 1LT...there aren't that many big things on the list.

The small things, it would seem, are the big things.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five-Minute Friday...GARDEN

Five Minute Friday
It's GARDEN time!  Garden conjures up alllll sorts of possibilities.  All of them good.  Even the tired aching back after you spend the day pulling weeds out there.  Because there's nothing like a good, honest tired.

I am allll about fresh food.  What a shame that so many children are growing up today thingking food comes from HEB.  They do not even know that it comes out of the ground.

We live in a part of the country where gardening is pretty ongoing.  Even in the dead of our version of winter we have hardy, hearty greens growing out there.  Collard greens and chard and kale, which has been enjoying a new status as the darling of healthy smoothies and snacks in the form of kale chips.  They are just growing away out there, with no input at all from us. 

January is pea-planting time around here.  Sweet little peas, my very favorite!  They never make it to the table in our house.  We go out there and eat them right off the vine, and if you're not careful, someone will beat you to it.

My favorite thing about the garden is how it connects us with ourselves.  I am firmly convicted that God put Adam in the garden for a reason.  It wasn't a random selection.  God could have placed Adam in a city or any other place, but He chose the garden, the place where we connect with the creation and with the Creator.
The kiss of the sun for pardon.  The song of the birds for mirth. One is nearer God's heart in the garden. Than anywhere else on earth.  ~  Dorothy Frances Gurney

Monday, February 10, 2014

Have It Your Way

I only go there occasionally, but when I eat at Burger King, "My Way" is a Whopper Jr. with no tomatoes, extra onions, and extra pickles.  That's what I ordered when I went through the drive-through today.

Right before the disembodied "Pull up to the window," I caught a glimpse of the screen with my order on it, including "extra onions $.10."  I did an incredulous double-take, but by the time I looked back, my order had been replaced with a picture of a milkshake, so I pulled up to the window where a friendly hand was waiting to take my money.

"Did I see that there is a charge for extra onions?" I asked.

My money-taker disappeared into the window.  A few seconds later she was back with a giggly "Yes, there sure is."

"Then why," I inquired, "is there not a discount for 'no tomatoes'?"

Of course there was no answer for that.  No attempt to find out.  No offer to ask the manager.  Just a shrug and more giggles.

What to do?  I have the moral ground!  There is a principle at stake here!

But how bah-humbug is it to make a federal case out of 10 cents?  It is, after all, only 10 cents, and ten cents today is roughly equivalent to.... nothing.  To be honest, had I not happened to see that little notice on the screen, I would have happily forked over the money and been none the wiser.

So I paid my extra ten cents and took my little Whopper home where I savored every last bite of that extra onion.

Burger King is world-famous for "Have it your way," and so you can.  But you better be prepared to pay.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five-Minute Friday...SONG

There's nothing like a song to conjure up a happy memory.  Mothers dig out old songs to sing to babies, and lovers have "our song."  And how about a school song to resurrect the past.

Unlike the eye, which is always looking for something new and exciting and different, the ear likes to hear the same thing over and over and over.  It is always on the alert for a soothing oldie.  Song is comfort food for the spirit.                                          
Five Minute Friday
As a mom, one of my favorite memories of raising kids is Sunday-night singing.  We used to have singing friends and every Sunday night we would get together at someone's  house to sing.  We sang old songs and we learned new songs, which are now some of the old favorites we love.  I miss Sunday night singing.

Is there anyone who never got a song stuck in their head?  I can never figure out why, but sometimes a song takes up residence in my head and sticks around for DAYS.  I'm always a little afraid to think too much about that, lest I might summon a recent one back to haunt me.  Even as I write this I'm trying to avoid eye-contact, so to speak, in an effort to keep them at bay.  So, moving along...

Singing runs the gamut.  On the one hand, anybody can do it.  Anybody.  As long as you don't delve into its mysteries too deeply.  Once you start to analyze song, it's really quite complicated.  There's the pitch and the tone and the tempo, the key signature, the style.  All sorts of things, really.  But then that is another beauty of song:  Truly something for everyone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five-Minute Friday...COMFORT

Comfort kinda gets a bad rap.  In our modern society, we want to think comfort is for wimps and sissies.  Who needs comfort when we can have adventure?  Why tie yourself up (or down) with comfortable old friends and family when you could be out making new friends?  Comfort is almost viewed as something primitive, something we are too sophisticated to need or want.  But.... When you peel off the facade, it's what we want. 

Comfort is our default.  We start looking for it the instant we make our way to the world.  First it's from our mother.  So far so good.  But after awhile she hands us off to some else, or sets us down, and that's the beginning of enlarging our comfort zone.  Pretty soon it's full of other people and lots of places, but still our own little corner of the world, and we start to like it.

But nooooooo, that's not good enough.  Before long, we get badgered into stretching our comfort zone just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit more.  It's scary out there!  It's lonely out there!  But if we take one step at a time, we can expand our comfort zone gradually, and we can even like it.

Five Minute FridaySome of us go a long way.  We leave our family, we leave our friends, we leave town, we even leave the country.  And it's all exciting and adventurous.  But I've been around awhile, and I have observed that at some point in our lives, if we live long enough, almost all of us start looking for comfort again.  Sometimes we get a warning that our time is about up, and whaddya know, that's when we want to go back to our memories of when things were good, and we were . . . yes . . . comfortable.

Hmmm.... maybe comfort is more than it's cracked up to be...