Archive for the ‘Extreme makeover’ Category

The Faucet Episode

October 29, 2011

I like doing home improvements (drip, drip, drip) I embrace the challenges and I gain satisfaction from a job well done.  I also understand my limitations.  So if it’s a repair I haven’t done before, there will be some type of… learning curve.  Before I start one of those projects I make sure my girls aren’t around because odds are good that at some point in the heat of the learning curve… the words that roll off my tongue …are four letters and commonly shouted by every football coach and fourth grade boy in the Western Hemisphere.  The girls would chastise me more than they already do…they think they are steering the ship. (drip, drip, drip).   I’ve noticed that the more challenging improvements in our home seem to come in groups rather than being spread out over time.  Lately they have all involved plumbing.  (drip, drip, drip) The tough ones are deceiving.  They appear to be simple half hour jobs and yet somehow they are magically transformed into an odyssey that requires an attitude adjustment, two hours of YouTube instructional videos, a part that is on back order, and schematics designed by engineers…for engineers. (drip, drip, drip)  I think I just realized that maybe I don’t understand my limitations.  However I’m not talking about installing a new furnace, or rewiring our house.  The latest task was…wait for it…fixing a dripping faucet in the girl’s bathroom.  Seriously, now that you know the repair, would you expect the fix to take…two UPS shipments, and seventeen days?  It’s important to highlight the fact that even though it appears I’m in denial about my capabilities…I didn’t discontinue the model of our faucet, I didn’t decide to only label the schematics in Chinese, Latin, and Mayan, or take the replacement parts off retailer’s shelves…I did however turn off the hot water in that bathroom until the parts arrived because the drip became a small stream after the third time I partially took the faucet apart (see learning curve for details).  So every day it wasn’t fixed…there was more of a sense of urgency to do so.

Several years ago we remodeled our home.  Our bathrooms were rebuilt from the studs…by studs.  I say that because they did a great job.  I draw the line at totally rebuilding a room because frankly that kind of construction project takes a lot of knowledge, resources, and time.  Time that I need to devote to working so that I can pay for the stinking upgrade!  I’d love to do a project like that, but I’d also love to keep my marriage, keep my job, keep my sanity, and the list goes on. 

So the new faucets were all higher end Brizo Faucets by Delta which look like this.  They’re nice…when they aren’t dripping.



They come with a lifetime warranty.  Our model was discontinued sometime between installation and malfunction.  So Delta replaced the bad parts for free.  That makes the repair inexpensive, but we had to wait for them to fill, ship, and deliver the order, which takes about ten days.  Thanks to technology upgrades in plumbing you don’t simply replace a washer to stop a leak.  The top of the handle slides off revealing a set screw, unscrew the set screw to take off the handle.  That leaves the inverted bell shaped thingy (in the schematic it’s called a 鐘形片) I had to unscrew the bell from the base.  That reveals a cartridge that is held in place by another part that screws…since I didn’t do this installation I didn’t know the bell had been cemented to the base with clear calk.  So my attempt at unscrewing had me a little… screwed.  The bell wouldn’t budge so I was stuck, and puzzled.  Could the schematic be wrong?  I was forced to regroup.  After two trips to Economy Plumbing for advice, a pair of vice grips, and some choice words, I was able to separate the base from…my life which revealed the cartridge.  Under the cartridge was a spring and a rubber ball like thing.  Thanks to my first UPS shipment I could replace the spring, ball, and cartridge.  Then I screwed everything back in place, slid on the handle, set screw, cap, and…presto change, no drip.  I get to undo it again in ten days when the new bell comes in.  At least now I know what I’m doing. 

Each time I worked on that drip I had to clean everything out from under the cabinet. That way I could get under the sink to bang my head and wrench my neck.  I didn’t realize the cabinet had accumulated so much stuff.  There were two hair dryers (two?) A curling iron, a flattening iron(?)…why the curling iron if you need a flattening iron?…two rags, tampons, pads, sponges (the cleaning variety), toilet cleaner, Clorox wipes, half of a fresh water clam shell, fifteen swear words, some of my thinning hair, and several hours of lost productivity.  The last three are relatively new additions.


Our Neiborhood Crime Czar

April 9, 2009

We moved into our neighborhood seventeen years ago.  It’s a quiet middle class neighborhood made up of ranch and two story homes built in the late fifties. I like most of our neighbors. Gladys Kravitz is alive and well and living two doors down.  She’s the head of crime watch.  She fancies her self a shrewd detective.  Each day she sits, nose pressed against the front window, looking for malcontents.  She calls regularly asking us questions about irregular comings and goings.  She’s very serous about her roll as the crime boss.  I can tell what she’s up to when she calls because she uses the suspicious tone.  “Did you notice an odd dog barking last night around two AM”? Honestly, she asks that!  I want to say, “That wasn’t a dog it was me”.  We were making love with the window open.”  Suspicious dog at two AM are you kidding?  What made it odd?  Did it sound like a chicken?  Could it have been a coyote and not a dog?

I know she means well but she’s not helping. Another time she called and asked, “There was a blue truck driving slowly down the street at 4:30 PM yesterday afternoon”.  “Do you know anything about that”?  I would think to myself, “Yes it was my new crack dealer.”  “He wasn’t sure where I live so he drove slowly to look at the house numbers.”  “He asked me to say hello to your husband”.  You know you’re in the suburbs when crack dealers deliver.

Two years ago she called asking if I knew that one of the neighbors was going to add a second story to their home.  I said, “No, they don’t talk to me about family matters”.  She said with her very suspicious voice, “Me ether, but I don’t like it.  It won’t blend in with the other homes”.  I almost said, “The Kremlin called, they want you back”.  Look I’m in favor of anyone who improves the property values here.  If they want to add a second floor…good for them provided they don’t use mud and twigs”.  If it ends up looking like a beaver hut or a back yard fort, I’ll sign a petition, but until then I’ll reserve judgment.  Well as luck would have it the guy was selling drugs and work was halted after he was arrested.  For two years the second floor sat unfinished.  It was a monument to the durability of Tyvec home wrap.  It was obnoxious.  It was an eye sore.  I felt the self-righteous stare of Mrs. Kravitz every time I rode my bike past her front window.  I wondered if and when the work would be completed.  I suspected an accidental house fire would take care of the problem.   The family would blame a faulty space heater and pocket the insurance money.  Then move to a new neighborhood.

We had a neighborhood crime watch meeting last night.  I didn’t go.  I noticed that most everyone who came to the meeting, drove.  Americans over weight?  How can that be?  Surely it’s not because we are…oh…I don’t know, sitting in front of a window all day or driving a block to attend a meeting?  It’s not like our neighborhood is the size of Manhattan.  It’s two and a half blocks wide and three blocks deep.  It wasn’t raining.  Here is an idea, rather than narcing on neighbors over doughnuts maybe we could ponder the merits crime prevention over salads and green tea.  Harsh?  Well maybe a little, but give me a break.  Every day the news mentions the healthcare crisis.  There wasn’t one several decades ago when people were active.  Maybe next time we can use Skype for the neighborhood meeting.  That way no one actually has to push away from the dinner table. 

We could each have an IV of pork gravy and two liters of syrupy Coke   Here’s a word to the villains who are casing our neighborhood.  “Stay away from the kitchen window and you’ll be fine.”

I love the neighborhood.  It has a lot going for it except these meetings….and the unfinished home.

Last summer a car of thieves pulled down the street in eyeshot Kravitz.  She was outside vigilantly working in the front yard.  One bullet in her breast pocket and a pencil drawn badge taped to her sleeve.  Her ears were pealed for suspicious noises and her eyes were poised to spot unscrupulous movement.  A car caught her eye.  They parked in front of their target house.  They kicked in the front door, took a big screen TV, computers, other electronics and then left.  Our esteemed crime czar saw the perps commit the crime from her front yard…one house away…THE WHOLE thing!  Once the criminals had driven safely away, she called real police.  They arrived and started asking for descriptions.  She couldn’t give the police a plate number, make of car, or description of the three intruders.  It was a blueish car.  That’s it!  I guess that’s why they call it Crime Watch.  I know that’s why I don’t attend the meetings.  Move over Barney, you’ve got competition.



Taxes & Stalling

April 4, 2009

I have set aside this weekend  to do corporate taxes.  I’m starting the day by blogging because it makes me feel better.  Taxes make me feel unappreciated.  I’m not opposed to paying my fair share.  I realize we need the money for infrastructure, defense, and pork.  I eat pork occasionally…who doesn’t like ribs and the occasional BBQ sandwich.  This year I’m a kinder gentler Greg.  I’ll keep my opinions on government spending to a minimum and I’ll try to see the positive…today. 

We’ve had a lot of positives to embrace.  Extreme Makeover was in town this week rebuilding a home, transforming a neighborhood, and creating a lot of good will.  They are in the Brightwood neighborhood of Indy.  There have been dark times in Brightwood for decades.  My daughter danced for a children’s dance company, Iibada, whose home was in the gym of a closed catholic school in that neighborhood.     It’s not a good sign when churches leave the neighborhood.  Missionaries are combing the globe to reveal God’s message, the message in Brightwood….leave.  The city school left too.  Apparently the superintendant of Indianapolis Public Schools received the memo that God had left the neighborhood so public education followed suit.  The homes across the street from the Catholic school were stripped of aluminum siding as high as the crack heads could reach without a ladder….their motto….head in the clouds, feet on the ground.  Most of the businesses have fled the area.  There are giant, empty red brick fortresses that stretch for blocks with no plumbing and half a roof.  Their walls have been tagged so many times you can no longer tell who’s “it”.   The businesses that remain are single operator…um…pharmaceutical establishments.  There is a liquor store, because I don’t think you can be classified as a distressed area without a little booze.  Nothing says good morning like a cold 40 and the classifieds.  Get the picture?

…by the way my wife just asked me how the taxes are coming…mums the word. 

So somehow Extreme Makeover found out about a single dad in this neighborhood.  They had four-thousand volunteers show up to help with the construction and landscaping.  They’ve been taping all week.  I wanted to go watch just to see Ty Pennington in action.  I think they take away his meds for the taping.  The minute the cameras shut down the producer is next to him with a big dose of Ritalin and a bottle of water.  My fear, they say, “driver…move…that…bus!” and the bus stays in place because the tires on the opposite side have been stolen during the commercial break. 

Not only was this home rebuilt, but 200 homes in the neighborhood have been impacted in a positive way.  The neighborhood will get free wireless access, all of the neighbors will receive free computers, and all of the alleys will be paved.  It’s cool to see all that can happen when people come together.  Maybe they can stop by to help me with taxes on their way out of town.


For more information on Iibada Dance Company log on to,  You should check them out…beautiful dancers, tell momma Sabra I said hi.  She’s a saint.