The Mad Adventures of Caulking

I caulked the tub tonight. Me! All by myself! Can you see me doing a happy dance?

So “Big deal”, I can hear you all say. “Caulking a tub is no reason to get so excited.” Well… maybe not for you… but it is MONUMENTAL for me!

I was married to a guy who wouldn’t let me do this kind of stuff. Not that HE was going to do it either… but in his mind it was a ‘man’s job’ and I was told to hire someone to do it. Grrrr. (I used to wait until he was away on a business trip to wallpaper or paint the house… hee, hee.)

Now I’m a homeowner all by myself… and on a tight budget. I could have asked either of my son-in-laws to caulk it for me, or hired a handyman, or asked any one of the nice neighbors around here… but NO, I was going to do it myself! How hard could it be after all?

Thank heavens for the ingenious duo of Pinterest and DIY Big Box stores. I did a little research first… and decided to use the painter’s tape method. With a new-found sense of power… I headed to my local DIY Home Fix-it store where a delightful older gentleman guided me in my purchases. HOWEVER… he mistook my bravado as experience and sold me SILICONE instead of ACRYLIC… AND sold me a caulk gun without any direction or instruction on how to use the blasted thing. I understood the basic workings of it… but the tiny nuances were a mystery to me.

My tub was all clean and dry… with the gap between the tiles and tub taunting me. “What are you thinking? You can’t do this. This is a ‘pants’ job… you’re a ‘skirt’ person.” Funny… the tub sounds very much like my late husband.

After a day or two of reflection and soul-searching, I told that tub to shut its trap and listen up… I was the new handyman around here and I was going to caulk this thing no matter how ugly it got!!

Fully clothed and sitting in a tub is a very funny feeling. Using the blue painter’s tape originally designed to make straight lines on walls when painting… I tape off the upper and lower edges of where my caulking should be… all around the tub.

Next I grabbed my scissors and snipped the very tip off the caulk tube… at an angle just as I was instructed. Taking the caulking gun in my other hand I realized too late I should have twirled the end around, and around, and around, and around until the round plunger disk thing was pulled back far enough for the tube to slip into the gun. Oops. OK… I rectified that little issue.

The tube is in the gun… now the next question is… Which way does the angle on the tip point? Hmmm… not sure. I guess I will have to squirt some out on a plastic bag and see which way works best.

Gently squeezing the trigger, I patiently wait for the silicone to squirt out. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Huh… nothing is coming out. I squeeze a little harder. SQUEEZE… SQUEEZE… still nothing. I unscrew the ‘thingy’ and take the tube out of the gun. Hmmm.. I see the bottom has a little caulk oozing out of it… so SOMETHING is moving. I plop the tube back in and try again. Nothing.

At this point I’m thinking the tube must have had a hole in it some where and the silicone is all dried up. Nah… that can’t be. WAIT!! What’s this wire on the gun for?? A prong? To puncture the inside of the tube? Well I’ll be darned. THAT’s information I would have like to have known earlier. Besides… that’s so stupid. First… there’s a cap on the tube that was so tight I needed a pair of pliers to get it off. Next I had to snip off the hermetically sealed tip… and NOW I have to puncture the inside? What’s in this tube? Krazy glue???

Once again I take the tube out of the gun, pull the wire out from the gun, pierce the tube, and put everything back together… one more time.

I slowly squeeze the trigger, nothing. I squeeze a little harder, still nothing. UGH! Now, so totally frustrated and ready to call a handyman… I make one last effort. I RIP the tube out of the gun, jam it as hard as I can on the wire, slam it back in to place and SQUEEZE. A thin ribbon of caulk begins to flow… Woo! Hoo! Practicing on a plastic bag to ‘get the hang of it’ didn’t really help much.

Pretending I was piping icing on a cake… I slowly guide the gun around the perimeter of the tub, while gently, yet firmly, squeezing the trigger… and concentrating staying within the taped lines. A wobbly line of silicone is the result.

As instructed, I dipped my finger in a cup of water, and lightly smoothed the line. And that’s where my trouble began.

Having used SILICONE instead of ACRYLIC was probably not the smartest choice for a first caulking project. It’s smelly and messy… and difficult to clean up! My finger now had this rubbery, sticky stuff on it… so I wiped it on a wet sponge. The sponge stuck to my finger. I ripped it off.

Fearful of the label AND verbal instructions… I had to work quickly. So I wet another finger and continued the smoothing process… changing fingers as I went. By the time I was finished I had this gooey stuff all over my hands.

Wiping my hands on a rag didn’t work. So I tried washing them with soap… nope. The more I rubbed and wiped, the worse it got. I was beginning to feel like The Cat in the Hat wiping up the pink stuff! The silicone was getting every where and my hands were all sticky. Plus I was wearing a good pair of pants and I couldn’t even try wiping my hands on my clothes. *Note to self… change clothes before beginning a ‘pants’ project in the future.

Reading the tube I realize I was supposed to have some mineral spirits on hand. I didn’t. As a matter of fact I not only didn’t have it on hand… I didn’t have any in the house! So, what’s a girl to do??? Reach for the nail polish remover… AKA, Acetone (AKA Girl’s mineral spirits). It worked like a charm! No more sticky hands.

Removing the tape… I stepped back and admired the job. Very neat and professional if I do say so my self.

caulk

See? That wasn’t so hard. After listening to my husband for over 25 years telling me I couldn’t… I found out that I could. ‘Pants job’, ‘Skirt job’… makes no difference to me.

I’m ready to tackle standing on a ladder with a garden house and house cleaner to scrub the mildew off the roof of the house this weekend. Wish me luck! If you don’t hear from me in a few days, send flowers.

New Man! – DP#113

Measuring Tape

 

Woo! Hoo! There’s a new man in my life!! His name is John… I don’t know his last name. I don’t where he lives, or if he’s married. I DO know that he smiles when he sees me, cracks corny jokes to make me laugh, and has me hold the measuring tape.

John works at Home Depot. He has designated himself my own personal ‘cutter of wood’ for my projects. For instance, today I needed 5 lengths of 2x4s at 38 1/4″ each to raise the mattress on an antique bed. I own a hand saw… and a hand held circular saw, which I haven’t made friends with yet. Now I don’t have to worry, or procrastinate… I simply go to Home Depot, track down John and give him my shopping list. PERFECT!

Sadly, he can’t do everything. I have a project that will require a 1×4 to be ripped in half at a 45 degree angle to make a 3 foot cleat (Don’t I sound like I know what I’m doing?). Home Depot doesn’t provide that kind of service. I’ll worry about that when the time comes. But in the mean time I will roll up my sleeves, whip out my new tape measure, don my protective eyewear… and hand John ‘What’s His Name’ my list.

 

 

 

 

Key To My Heart – DP#105

Keys

 

The nut doesn’t fall from the tree.

When my mom passed away a little over a year ago I was responsible for distributing and disposing of her belongings. It was an overwhelming task. Not only were emotions running at an all time high… but she had so much stuff squirreled away in that house it made the show Hoarders look amateurish.

The large pieces were easy to deal with. Someone either wanted it, or not. It either went with their decorating style… or was so off the mark it wasn’t even considered. It was the ‘little’ things that tripped me up. Like the keys above.

They are not your garden variety Kwikset keys anyone can purchase at your local hardware store. These are the old-fashioned heavy metal keys, engraved with numbers, flowers and designs… in addition to skeleton keys.

I can envision my mom finding a key and adding it to one of the two rings… appreciating the feel, the weight, the engraving, and the sound they make clinking against each other. These keys represent YEARS of mom stumbling upon a treasure and putting it away for safe keeping… laying in wait for ME to discover them on my own.

Most crafters today are making necklaces out of these keys. They are awesome!! Instead, I have a special project in mind. Once their years of oil, grease, and grime are polished off… I intend to dangle them from chains, enhanced with crystals, forming a curtain to hang in the small stairwell window.

I haven’t quite figured out how to execute this incredible idea… but I am certain trips to Michaels Arts and Crafts and Home Depot are in my future.

I will post pictures when finished!!!

Refrigerator Delivery…

Woo! Hoo! I finally got a new refrigerator! It wasn’t easy, and it took 2 years, but it finally sits regally in my kitchen. Although it is larger than the one it replaced my kitchen looks and feels larger. I guess it’s the light bouncing off the stainless instead of being sucked in by the old black one.

Like shopping for a car, I look around until I know what I want… THEN I begin searching for the best deal. I have been dilly-dallying looking at refrigerators for the past few months, checking out all the different features. Did I want an icemaker and water dispenser… and if so, did I want it on the door too? Should the icemaker unit be on the inside of the door, on the top shelf in the refrigerator or in the freezer? These are all questions I never in a million years thought I would have to worry myself with.

Of course my daughter and I fell in love with the Cadillac of refrigerators. It had every bell and whistle… and a price tag to match. Once my eyes stopped spinning in my head I grabbed her arm and we left the store.

I just wanted a refrigerator that keeps my ice cream frozen and vegetables fresh. On advice from a friend I realized the more bells and whistles you have, the more things can go wrong. True… plus I’m a simple girl. So… uncomplicated is the buy word.

On my way home from work Monday I decided to stop in Home Depot and begin my search in earnest. It was time to research cubic inches, height, depth, annual cost to run, and so much more.

I did a ‘once around’ the appliance section, looking for the simplest refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom that I could find. I kind of wished I had someone with me to play ‘devil’s advocate’. I was reminded of the time I purchased my microwave. A friend came along and convinced me… rightfully so… to not be so cheap with myself and purchase the microwave a step up from the one I settled on. That day I learned I shouldn’t ‘settle’ if I could afford it… today I remembered that lesson and changed my way of thinking.

Turning the corner at the first aisle I looked for the refrigerator my daughter fell in love with a few weeks ago. Not only was it there… but ON SALE! AND…. On CLEARANCE!!!!! Once all the discounts were applied it was HALF PRICE!!! My name was written all over it… S-O-L-D! I had been in this store for a total of 10 minutes and here I am ready to buy an expensive refrigerator.

I wasn’t planning to purchase a refrigerator today, so monetarily I wasn’t prepared. My debit card only allows up to $950 a day, so when making large purchases I need to call ahead and let the bank in on my plans. Normally that’s not a problem… however today I couldn’t get them on the phone. I stood at the register for 20 minutes listening to repeated recordings over and over again. UGH!

“Ya know… it would be faster for me to drive to the bank and get the cash. I’ll be right back”, I said to the startled sales clerk. And with that I left. I drove the mile and a half to my bank, withdrew the cash, admonished the manager, and was back in my car within 15 minutes.

Whoa… wait a minute. I never asked the cubic feet, I have no idea if this thing will even fit in my house. In addition, delivery is not included, nor is set up and haul away because it is a clearance item. Oh well… my gut tells me this is the right one so I ignore my instant of panic and drive on.

“Okay, I’m back”. I tracked down another sales clerk and started all over again. This time when the register asked for payment I began to pull the money out of my purse. John… according to his nametag looked at me dumbfounded.

“We can’t accept cash”.

“What? You are kidding me, right”?

“Nope. I have to escort you to the Pro Service Desk up front. Store policy is to not accept cash here on the floor. Management is afraid we will stick it in our pocket instead of the cash drawer.”

So… to the Pro Service Desk we go. I pay… then we arrange the delivery…. For an additional fee. It can be delivered next day! Whoopie!

Again it is explained to me that it is ‘curbside’ delivery. Continuing, I’m told that I will be called a half an hour before they plan to arrive, it will be a box truck. I was then told there was a possibility I might be able to persuade the drivers to pull it in my kitchen if they have the time and it’s not too difficult… wink, wink.

The next morning I get up early. My plan is to clean up the kitchen a bit, slip a few bucks in my pocket for a tip and when they call to say they are a half an hour out I will move the cars to the street to make it easier for the guys to drop it off near my back door. Besides… I’m afraid if it is left on the curb someone will come by and steal it when I’m not looking. Seriously!

Of course it didn’t happen like that. Things never are that simple. I inadvertently gave Home Depot the wrong phone number, so I didn’t know they were coming until they got here. It wasn’t a box truck either… it was a HUGE tractor trailer which blocked my street and ticked off a few neighbors who couldn’t get around it… with a gigantic fork lift with tractor tires! The nice driver offered to drop it at the back door for me if I moved the cars. His lift was wider than my driveway, but that didn’t stop him from driving up the curb and on my next-door neighbor’s gravel walk way… until the beginning of the fence made him stop.

So far so good… My old refrigerator is scheduled to be picked up by NJ Clean Water in a few days. The new one in the backyard is waiting for my neighbor to get home and help my son move it inside. I have a hurt pinky finger… no, really… so I’m not a lot of help.

I popped a tendon or something in my left pinky and it’s killing me. Our dog knows it to and is constantly trying to lick it and make it better. Dogs amaze me!

This has all happened so fast that I haven’t even had a chance to ask my neighbor if he would be home and willing to help. I was just taking a chance. After waiting all day my son decides our neighbor isn’t coming home until late and pops up out of the chair and says, “OK, let’s get this refrigerator in the house”. The sun has set and it’s dark outside… and NOW he wants to move it in??

I begin to empty the old refrigerator as he goes outside to unwrap the new one. Due to Hurricane Sandy there is not a lot of food to move. It all had to replaced having had no power for so long. I place the frozen food in the sink and everything else on the counter. This shouldn’t take long I surmise. Ha!

I obviously am not educated in moving heavy objects. I measured the door opening and the refrigerator… oops… off by an inch, and that’s not including the handles. Uh-oh.  The first thing we learned was how to remove the back door. Next, grabbing a flashlight, the manual, and screwdriver my son goes to work removing the handles. This is all way outside my comfort zone. Uh… it requires a tool I don’t own… a 3/32 Allen Wrench. Damn! My tool selection is lacking. I have the basics… A hammer, wrench, pliers, and multi head screwdriver… that’s it. My neighborhood is a ghost town with no one home to borrow from.

Oh well… it can’t be done without this tool, so I jump in the car headed to Home Depot to purchase a set. “Wait… Sears is closer, they sell Craftsman Tools”, I think to myself. I pull into their lot, run in the store and frantically search for the tool department. Apparently not all Sear’s stores carry tools… ours being one of them. Who knew? HOWEVER… I notice the Lands End turtlenecks I love so much are on sale for $10 each!!! I stop and pick up a few. SCORE!

Back in the car I head out of the lot when again I think, “Wait, Target is right here. They have a tool department”. I swing the car into their lot. Knowing I have chicken thawing in my sink at home and my back door is off the hinges allowing cold air to stream in the house, I half run to the back corner of the store to the tool section, crossing my fingers they have what I need. The only Allen wrench set comes in a whole case with all kinds of other tools. Crap! I don’t need all the rest of the tools, just the wrenches. I glance up at the price… oh hey… the entire set is on sale for $9. SOLD! While I’m at it I noticed a fun little tool my future son-in-law would love for Christmas, so I grabbed that too. Another SCORE!

I race home! My son is waiting. It is cold, dark, and getting late. I took a chance and ran to my neighbor’s hoping he has come home and can help. Nope… still not home.

Success! The handles come off and we are ready to haul this puppy inside. It didn’t go smoothly, but between the two of us (mostly him) the refrigerator finally made it into the kitchen where it belonged. I quickly began putting the food in and noticed the compressor never kicked in. “Oh, please don’t tell me it doesn’t work!” My mind goes into overdrive trying to figure out what to do with the food. I guess I can put it back in the old one, which is now out in the back yard, and run an extension cord out the window. Damn!

When all else fails, read the manual. This refrigerator runs by computer electronics. According to the manual if you press two buttons at the same time, hold for 3 seconds, stand on your head and spit wooden nickels you should be able to program the temperature settings and get the thing humming. It took ten minutes to realize the door had to be open for all of this to work. THAT tidbit of information was NOT in the manual.

All’s well that ends well. Thank heaven’s my son was here or that behemoth of a steel box would still be sitting in my back yard. Now… what type of orange juice should I buy? Some pulp, no pulp, Home style, Grovestand, Calcium fortified or Vitamin D? There are just as many decisions to purchasing orange juice as there are purchasing the refrigerator it goes in.