Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

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Home Repair

Last night, we went to sleep at around 1:30. Today, my father-in-law was to come over at 9am to help me patch the concrete of the steps in front of the house.

So we woke up at around 8:20, without rejoicing in doing so. I made waffles for us for breakfast; as I was making them, Les showed up.

Les showed me how to patch concrete and did the first few. His tutelage included strong admonitions to use lots of water to keep the tools from getting cement setting on them. "This trowel was my father's. See how little cement is on it? This trowel I've had for 25 years. See how little cement is on it? Keep them that way."

Then I set to work on that while he went off to the hardware store to get some concrete with which to fill in the big gaping hole in the steps.
We filled in that hole and a few others (admittedly, he did most of the work).

Before he left to go bicycling, I asked him to help me light the pilot light of the furnace for the hot-water heat system. I felt confident that I could do it, but I didn't quite know what to look for. Les showed me where to light the pilot, but we discovered that it wouldn't stay lit. We (he, really) presumed that the thermocouple had gone bad; he'll look to see if he has a spare and we'll plan to fix it tomorrow.

So I went back to patching cement. I've now patched several cracks, and they do look fairly neat and tidy once they've dried. I'm pleased.

But the cement was irritating the rashes on my hands, so I quit after a bit. Even washing my hands hurt. At Lori's behest, I soaked my hands for a while to try to get them cleaner, and then she put Betadine and Neosporin on them.

Then she prepared us a lunch of leftover Mexicali Chicken Stew (which was much better than I had remembered it being the first time) with a dessert of apple slices with caramel apple dip. Very tasty.

After lunch, I was still feeling like getting stuff done, but I didn't want to abuse my hands further. So I took up the task of replacing the thermostats with timing thermostats.

I'd participated in one thermostat replacement in my old apartment, but these were more tricky than that had been.

For the thermostat for the hot-water heat, I was having trouble removing the Bakelite plate it was attached to, because I didn't realize how large the painted-over plate was. And I was concerned because I didn't see any of the plastic locks I'm used to seeing for attaching to drywall. I ended up calling my father a few times on the matter. (The answer: that's a lath and plaster wall. Screw deeply enough to engage with the lath, but don't screw so tightly as to crumble the plaster.)

I finally got that thermostat up. It doesn't quite look aesthetic, because the new rectangular plate doesn't cover all the area of the old circular plate. But eventually we'll repaint that.

Then I went to tackle the thermostat for the forced-air heat. (My house is weird.) This was on drywall, but also didn't use the locks, and didn't have the holes in the right place. So I ended up drilling new holes for the lockscrews. Let me tell you, it felt like a feeling of immense chutzpah to decide, "I will make a new hole in my wall... here", and it was immensely gratifying when everything worked out according to plan and the new thermostat was mounted.

After that, I wanted to continue on this roll, and so I assembled an IKEA cabinet that we had bought. I got the cabinet assembled, and decided that it would be good as part of one of the bookcases in the living room. (Particularly since it is our hope that a cabinet with doors will be a place to put delicate knicknacks where they will be safe from our kittens.)

Lori had left for her bachelorette party by this point, so I did all the (non-trivial) mounting of he cabinet in the bookcases by myself. This mounting was something of a hassle, but I got it done. The shelves and cabinet look ever so slightly askew, but I think I'll be able to fix them at some point.

So now, I've been eating my dinner while sitting at the computer writing journal entries. My dinner is done, and I must decide what to do next. The choices that are large in mind:

- assemble more cabinets to be part of the Shelving That I Will Get Varnished Someday Comma Dammit.
- do more frivolous productivity with Cardboard Heroes and/or Dirt Cheep Dungeons.
- try to write on that article that I haven't been writing very much on.
- Drink a beer. This sounds really attractive to me right now, but it is incompatible with any of the more creative options.

I feel totally cool. I'm sure Lori will back me up on this.

I think I will sleep well tonight.
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