Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Day off

   I spent the bulk of today doing some work out in the yard. I installed a solar powered light in the shed, so we can see if we need to get something out of it at night. I also installed some ropelight along the fence bordering our patio, to add ambiance when we are sitting outside during the evening with a glass of wine.
   Of course it all sounds so simple when I say it like that. In reality it was anything but.

   The first thing I did was dismantle our old patio unbrella, which entailed removing the set of lights attached to its spars. I then put up our new patio unbrella, and spent about twenty minutes trying to reattach the light set to it. I managed to stop myself just short of stomping on all the lights, and ripping the umbrella to shreds with my bare hands, and decided to leave that task to my wife, who actually has some, you know, patience.

   I tackled the solar shed light next, which went something like this:

Hold up solar panel to mark position of holes.
Put down solar panel.
Walk into house to get pencil.
Attempt to sharpen pencil by whittling at it with a utility knife.
Watch as a three inch piece of pencil lead slides out and falls on the floor.
Attempt to sharpen other end of same pencil.
Watch as the remaining three inches of lead fall out of pencil leaving me holding a six inch long, wooden straw.
Root around in tool box for another pencil.
Examine new pencil, and wisely decide it is sharp enough.
Walk back out to shed.
Hold up solar panel to mark position of holes.
Put down solar panel.
Walk into house to get level.
Walk back out to shed.
Hold up solar panel to mark position of holes.
Find that level will not fit between the solar panel and the eaves of the shed.
Eyeball it.
Mark position of holes.
Get out cordless drill.
Discover battery is dead.
Put battery on charger.
Find the spare battery is OK.
Take drill out to shed.
Go back inside to get drill bit.
Discover drill bit is too large.
Go back inside to get smaller drill bit.
Drill pilot holes.
Attempt to install screws.
Go back inside to get screw driver...

   Get the picture? I'm only halfway done by this point. Suffice it to say I was successful in turning a simple, fifteen minute job into a two hour, profanity ridden exercise in frustration and futility. But the shed light works now.

   Next chore was the rope light installation. Should have been a piece of cake. I was warmed up. Almost all of my tools were already outside. Hah! Never underestimate the perversity of our world.
   Opening the ropelight package, I discovered that Noma had thoughtfully included everything I needed to perform the installation. OK, almost everything. There were twenty little plastic clips for mounting the rope to the fence. There were twenty little screws for mounting the clips to the fence. As I attached the first clip, I discovered a fatal flaw in the directions. Each clip, it seems, required two screws to hold it up.

   Now, I don't claim to be a math wizard, but it's pretty plain that something here doesn't quite add up.

   There appeared, to me, to be three options. One, I could only use half of the clips, at double the spacing. Picturing saggy ropelighting, I dismissed option one immediately. Two, I could use only one screw per clip. However, that would allow the clips to rotate away from level, resulting in an uneven run of ropelight along the fence. Maybe good enough for me - heck, I would have just draped the stuff over the fence posts and been done with it - but not good enough to impress any guests we might be entertaining (I thought to myself in an attempt to channel my wife's opinion on the situation).
   Accepting with resignation the thrid option, I trudged out to my car, and drove down to Canadian Tire to buy more screws. Arriving back home a half an hour later, I discovered that the screws I had bought were too large, and would not fit through the holes in the clips. Hanging my head, I plodded back down the driveway to the car again.
   Back home, this time with the right sized screws, I was optimistic, and prepared to bang out some pretty damn awesome looking ropelight. Until I discovered that I did not have a screw driver in my tool box that would fit the new screws. It seems they required the use of a Robertson screw driver, size zero. Size zero? What the hell is size zero?
   When Mr. Robertson invented his screwdriver and screws in 1908, he made them in three sizes, #1, #2, and #3, denoted by their green, red and black handles respectively. Virtually every toolbox in Canada has a set of those three tools in it. In fact, most people I know have several "red-handled robertsons" kicking around. But who the hell uses a size zero? I didn't even know what colour that was, until I reluctantly dragged my ass back to Crappy Tire to buy one.

   It's yellow.

   So, it's now almost five-thirty, and I'm trying to juggle getting the ropelight installation finished, preparing dinner, and cajoling Matthew into doing his homework, instead of wasting time watching videos on YouTube. Just as I tighten the last screw, and snap the last length of ropelight into the last little plastic clip, the first raindrops start to fall. This is getting to be an annoying trend.


princesssaurora said...

OMG... I was laughing my ass off reading this.  As I read you headed out to buy the screws I thought, 'Hope he brings one with so he gets the right size.'  You didn't!  Yes, more laughter over here... sorry for you though!!  LOL  Oh my... you and my dear sweet wonderful Hubby do projects the same!  Bless your fuzzy little man beards... lol

ps... got a kitty come see pics...

be well,

simianfarmer said...

I've always gritted my teeth a little bit at hearing or reading "Crappy Tire".  Because, relative quality of merchandise aside, I have a hard time substituting the word "Canadian" with "crappy".  Just one of my (many) little quirks.


dpoem said...

I'd have not made it half that long.  The house, my tools, and pretty much half the neighborhood would have been reduced to ashes and embers as a result of my rage.  Either that, or I'd have duct taped the damn things up and put a "For Sale" sign on the front lawn.

I didn't know they had a size zero Robertson, either.  And hey!  They've got a size double zero too.  Who the hell do they think they're trying to impress?  I mean, you've got Zero and Zero-Zero.  What happens next?  Zero-Zero-Zero-Zero...?  

Still...  Let me know the next time you put yourself through a project like this.  It seems like it would be fun to grab a two-four and sit and watch the show.  


bpslider45 said...

Jeez Paul... Don't you own a tool box?
If not, I can tell you what yer pickin' at next year's Brier!!

I have a yellow Robertson driver. Had no idea it was numbered. Seems redundant seeing as they are all colour coded.
Don't slag on them too much though... those are a Canadian invention and far superior to our American neighbour's Phillips drivers.
Size 00?? Wadda ya pick up the screws with?? A TWEEZER and a microscope??

Your tale is why I have almost 2 of everything (except the yellow Robertson). One for the shed and one for the basement.
Hey, now I know what to do tomorrow before work. Time to load up the shed for the summer.

Tip: When you are marking holes to be drilled, use a nail (or other sharp pointy object). You are going to drill out the sucker after all and sometimes it even helps keep the drill bit in the right spot as you start to drill... BONUS!

No matter how frustrating the day, it is all worthwhile if you learned something from your mistakes.
You did learn something didn't you?
Never mind.

oddb0dkins said...

And all these years I thought it was just me. how can the smallest jobs take so long!?


bpslider45 said...

I missed Dan's last comment about heading over to watch "the show" next time.
I'm up for that too.

It'll be more entertaining by far than what's on TV these days!

sdoscher458 said...

Oh lord you sound just like my husband.  "Assemble" is not his favorite word..thank God the kids are grown now. Everytime he starts a project I head for the house as far away as I can get..lol. He manages to do it, make whatever work it's just the stages of getting there that drive me nuts...take care...Sandi

bhbner2him said...

The question is, is it a "day off" if one is working around the house?  Sometimes one has to return to "work" to rest.  ;o)  -  Barbara

promiseluv372 said...

I agree with Barbara there.  You seem to work pretty hard on your day off.

Thanks for the step by step! I can just picture you doing that. I wonder if that's a weird thing?