DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

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The Money Pit

What an absolutely gorgeous weekend. The sun shone, the temperature rose, and the daffodils bloomed in all their golden glory. I should've been on my bike. Instead, it was a weekend for doing homeowner type stuff.

Project #1: Paint Your Wagon Office

Got a dream, boy,
Got a brush,
Paint the office,
What's the rush?

What am I doin'?
I don't know.
When will I finish?
I ain't certain.
All I know
Is I am gonna paint.

Where's the spackle?
I don't know.
Where's the drop cloth?
I ain't certain.
All that I know
Is I am gonna paint.

Got a dream, boy,
Got a brush,
Paint the office,
There's no rush.

Where's the primer?
I don't know.
Where's the roller?
I ain't certain.
Will it look good?
I ain't equipped to say...

But who gives a damn?
Who gives a damn?
Who gives a damn?
I'm gonna paint.

So, I was supposed to be done with the two exterior walls of the office by now, but I hit a bit of a snag. There were a few cracks and a nail hole that wanted filling, so Friday night I tackled that part of the job. I could've used spackle, but spackling cracks requires taping and several coats and sanding, and is generally a pain, and these cracks were neither as deep as a well nor as wide as a church door. The walls in my house are blueboard with a skimcoat of plaster applied to them, and it was really just the skimcoat that was cracked. It had been suggested to me that paintable caulk was a simpler way of filling hairline cracks. Just spread it on, smooth it down, and let it set. Simple, right?

It certainly seemed to be. I picked up a small tube of paintable silicone caulk at the Depot, and set to work. The cracks were so narrow that I actually had to widen them a little by scratching at the skim coat with a church key. The caulk was easy enough to apply and work into the cracks. The instructions were to let it cure for two hours before painting, but I wasn't going to starting painting until the next morning anyway.

Yesterday morning the caulk seemed set, so I started doing all the cutting in around the room with the primer. (Cutting in is using a brush to paint all the places that the roller can't do, like corners, and where the wall meets the ceiling or baseboards, and so on.) I also primed the caulk, then let it all dry. Two hours later, the primer was dry, and I could still see exactly where the caulk was. It was bleeding through (or maybe absorbing) the paint. I was going to do two coats of primer anyway, so I did all the cutting in again, and reprimed the caulk along with it. Two hours later, still no joy. Time to escalate. I put a coat of Killz stain blocker over the caulk, and let it dry overnight. This morning, I could still see caulk, but not all of it. Two more coats of Killz finally did the trick. Paintable silicone caulk does not appear to be ready for prime(r) time. In researching the problem, I discovered that what I probably should've gotten was paintable acrylic latex (instead of silicone) caulk, which is made from the same base material as the paint.

After that things speeded up, and I was able to put two coats of primer on the main surfaces with the roller. The plan now is to let it all dry overnight, and put a coat of the actual paint on tomorrow night. Painting sucks.

Project #2: Lawnmower Man:

The lawn is starting to green up, and it's only a matter of time before it'll need to be mowed. (The lawn-obsessive guy who lives diagonally across the street was mowing yesterday, but he's a special case.) My mower needed a tune-up, and also the automatic choke needed to be serviced, because it wasn't working properly. The choke makes the engine rev very fast by flooding the carburetor with gas for a couple of minutes until the engine warms up enough to sustain a normal running speed. My problem was that lately it continued to rev the engine ridiculously fast for upwards of half an hour before finally releasing. This is very handy if your grass is really, really long, but not so much otherwise, and it's very hard on the engine.

So, Saturday morning I put the thing in the back of the truck and headed down to the local mower repair shop, which is only open Saturday mornings. The shop owner, who's one of those old-timey "I can fix anything" mechanics, and I went over what I wanted done, and everything was jake until I mentioned the choke. "I can't fix it," he said. It turns out that the engine on my snazzy (and expensive) Craftsman mower has a fatal flaw. The engine was designed with a sealed carburetor, which means that the only way to fix the choke is to replace the whole carburetor, at $110 just for the part. (They only made that particular engine for two years. Apparently there were scads of complaints.) The mower cost me $225 new five years ago. If I were to have him fix it, along with replacing the blade and doing a tune-up, it would cost awfully close to the same amount. He and I decided I would be far better off buying a new mower than throwing that much money at the old one.

It's for the best. The old mower didn't let you adjust the speed of the engine, and I discovered that one speed does not fit all, especially if the grass is high. I just wasn't expecting that expense just now. Oh well, I like getting new tools. Now I just have to figure out how to dispose of the old one.

Project #3: The Postal Worker Always Honks Twice

I finally replaced my mailbox, which had the misfortune of being located directly under my Bradford pear when the wind knocked a quarter of the tree down. The box was crushed, but being made of resilient, space-age plastic, escaped with a only few cracks on top. Which during the recent torrents meant that all my mail kept getting soaked. I'd bought a replacement in January, but for most of the time since the mailbox has been surrounded by an enormous pile of snow. Anyway, not much of a story here. I assembled the new box, and screwed it to the stand with a few galvanized screws. Easy, peasy.

I also made some very good beef stew in the slow cooker, which I don't use very often.

There was one other oddity this weekend. At least two birds bounced off my living room picture window. I'm almost afraid to look behind the rhododendron for fear of finding a bunch of dead, near-sighted birds back there.
Tags: cooking, filk, garden, home, nature

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