Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adventures In Home Maintenance: The Saga Of The Smoke Detectors

Oh, the negativity. It’s stomping around in my brain like a desperate 4-year-old in the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. I’m trying to ignore it, or at least distract it for a while, until it can be properly subdued.

Perhaps I can blame lack of sleep. It’s always a happy thing when one can assign blame. Around three o’clock this morning, our smoke alarms upstairs decided to freak out just for the sheer joy of it. Three short, piercing shrieks startled us out of our coveted sleep and sent my heart racing. After waiting for a few minutes, I relaxed enough to drift off again. Until it happened again. Three more times at random intervals, the smoke detectors screamed into the pre-dawn darkness. At about 4 a.m., the darling husband gave up and rose for work. I stubbornly held my ground though, determined to get a few more winks in. I never did fall back asleep.

Shortly after six I too admitted defeat and rolled out of bed. My first order of business was to silence those alarms. There are three of them upstairs, each one at least nine feet off the floor. Luckily for me, darling hubby has a decent collection of aluminum ladders in the garage. The trash had been set out the night before, leaving me easy access to Big Momma, the 16’ extension ladder. She’s a scary one, she is. I managed to retrieve her without incident. Alas, that was the easy part.

I discovered just how low some our ceilings really are.  And our doorframes? Laughable. I was grateful for the “Improv for Actors” workshop we attended at the Renaissance Faire that repeatedly advised us to “always know where your ends are”. It’s frightening how often this advice comes in handy.  But I am pleased to report that in spite of Big Momma’s awkward length, I managed to make it through our narrow townhome to the top of the stairwell. By the grace of God, we will not have to replace any drywall, windows, furniture, light fixtures, or stair railings.

I tackled the highest one first, before my nerve ran out. With my granny glasses on my head and new batteries in my pocket, I crept up the ladder until I was face to face with the offending detector. It was at this point, high up on the ladder placed at the top of 13 stairs, that I realized I had no idea what I was doing. But I was at the point of no return. I lowered my granny glasses onto my nose, indicating to the world that I meant business.

I’ll assume at this point, that when darling hubby purchased these smoke detectors, he chose a model simple enough for his wife to figure out. God bless that man. Because I was able to locate the compartment and remove the original battery. The fool contraption chirped angrily until I got the new battery seated properly. Which was hit or miss, as there were no symbols indicating which direction the battery needed to face. At least there were none that I could see, and at that height there’s a limit on how much time I’ll spend researching the dynamics of battery replacement.

After a fair amount of trial and error, the first replacement was successful. I knew this, because as soon as I closed the compartment, the smoke detector emitted a sound that can only be described as Cyndi Lauper on a double espresso. Then silence. Blessed, blessed, silence. I descended the ladder as gracefully as a woman my age, height and weight could manage.

Feeling confident, I lowered the ladder and headed for the bedroom. In my haste, I forgot that I was trying to maneuver an 8 ½ foot ladder thru a 6 ½ foot doorway around a sharp turn. There was no damage, but a great deal of noise. (Interpret that as you will). It was an early morning lesson in the properties of physics that I’m not eager to repeat any time soon.

The bedroom detector was more cooperative.  I took that as a good sign.  While up on the ladder I realized just how dusty the top of the doors can get. Fabulous.

The last detector was a total bust. After all the work and sweat to get up there, the darned thing would not take the new battery and complained loudly until I put the old one back. There’s just no reasoning with some machines, I guess.

Once I came back down (and dusted all the door tops), I carried the ladder triumphantly back down the stairs, with the Rocky soundtrack playing in my brain. After returning Big Momma to the garage, I treated myself to a big greasy breakfast and sat down to peruse Facebook.

Good thing I was feeling invincible, because somebody posted the most depressing video in the world about the horrors of customer service, (my area of expertise and focus of my job search)and how it only gets worse. Sorry, negativity, one day you may defeat me, but today is not that day! After a few rousing games of “Stack The Cats”, I tackled some chores, and updated my LinkedIn profile, confident that I can now claim “Always knows where her ends are” on my resume.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, August 5, 2013

Smarter Than Shrinky Dinks

It's beautiful August morning, somewhat marred by the fact that I am due at the dentist very soon for my permanent crown.

The job search has been fruitless. My last position had a vague title that makes it hard to find a compatible match. Most opportunities with the same title only pay minimum wage and have no need of my 20 years of experience. And the ones that do match my experience have titles that don't match mine, which throws me right out of the running.

But instead of dwelling on this, I choose to indulge my creative side. I take comfort in the fact that if my endeavors do not work out as planned, there is nobody here to pull me into a room and bawl me out for my errors. My failures will not be logged, published, distributed, and thrown in my face when somebody needs an excuse to be mad at me.

Wait, I thought I was not "dwelling"...

My latest epic failure of biblical proportions was the bracelet I am trying to make out of my nephew's artwork. He drew a flock of Angry Birds for his Boppy, (my Dad) which I happily copied and framed for my own art collection. I resized the drawings and printed them on a sheet of shrink plastic. After I cut them out, rounded the corners and punched a few holes, I shrunk them according to the directions. They turned out beautifully, and I was able to quickly fashion them into a bracelet.

Unfortunately, the ink began flaking off before the day was over. My attempts at sealing the ink resulted in smearing, bleeding ink, or in some cases, brush marks or lumpy, peeling finishes. I opted to try a different plastic, one specifically for ink jet printers. I purchased Grafix Inkjet Shrink Film. Good news: The ink is stable. Bad news: the plastic is crap, for lack of a better word. It's gritty, cracked, and yellow. It looks like I drew on old toenails. It's cheap and rough unattractive, unlike myself.


I am determined, however, to make this work! I have printed out a new set on the original, "pretty" plastic. I'll give them another chance with another sealing product (or three) before I abandon the shrinky-dink method altogether. In the meantime, I'll see if those job boards have any updates today.

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.
Psalm 37:16