Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mrs. Fix-It

There are women in my life who are creative and resourceful, mechanical even. My friend Janice, the one with the birds, hikes up the hill and fixes her well and water pump, lays flooring in her house, does whatever needs doing. Dad says Mom is so handy at home repair that she makes up for the brother he never had! My sister Peach grieved when Ernst Hardware closed its doors years ago because it was her favorite place to shop.

Not me. I'm satisfied with pumping my own gas and feel proud when I can get the printer ink changed. But now and then I do take on a challenge.

Yesterday it was the fan in our bathroom. I've been noticing that it had collected so much dust that the mirrors weren't clearing completely after a shower. So when I was scrubbing the bathrooms yesterday I decided to tackle the fan.

From perching on the rise of the shower -- where it comes up to meet the shower door -- I was able to reach up to the fan with a rag. As I worked I wiggled the cover and it slid out of place and dangled down three or four inches, hanging by a couple of U-shaped wires. I began cleaning in earnest. Some of the dust came out, but much of it got pushed into the corners of the fan's cover. So I flipped the cover around to get at it from the underside and the wire on one side came loose, making it easier to clean. I hauled the step ladder and the vacuum cleaner up the stairs and went back to work.

It's amazing the positions your body can assume when you are determined to complete a job. With one foot on the step ladder and one on the sink, trying to get the vacuum cleaner hose to reach the fan cover, I struggled to keep my balance. It was like doing a pirouette on a pogo stick. Finally I was satisfied with my cleaning job, but that was the easy part.

Getting the fan cover back on was the hard part.

To get the wire back into place so that I could push the cover into its proper position I had to get the little round circles at each end of the wire into its proper hole. By now my 5 feet 10 inches are stuffed into a space above the sink about 5 feet high, and I am having to lean away from the vanity bulbs to keep from burning a hole in my shirt. At some point it occurred to me turn off the fan. If this job was going to kill me it wouldn't be from electrocution. And who, I wondered, would bring meals to my family with all its unusual dietary issues if I ended up in the hospital from falling off the ladder or sink?

I wiggled and moved and forced those circles of wire with no luck. I could see how one had just a round hole to fit into and the other had a larger area to slide into and then pop into its hole, but it took a while to figure out that the slider went in after I got the other one in place. Since the cover hung only about three inches below the ceiling, I found it difficult to get my hands into the space to attach the wire. My feet moved around the sink for a better position; I'd switch one foot back to the ladder, steadying myself by holding onto the top of the shower door. Round and round I went. At last the first end of the wire popped into place!

Oh, no -- I got the left side of the wire into the hole on the right side! By now I'm sweating like a, well, something very unpleasant, and my face looks like I stayed way too long at the beach. Now the crazy wire won't come out of the hole!

Ten minutes later, my neck stiff from all the scrunching I've had to do, I push the cover back into place, climb off the sink, and fix myself a cup of tea. Now I remember why it took me so long to get to this task!

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