Installing This Stupid Dryer Vent Cover Counts as a Victory

dryer vent coverI spent the first thirty-five years of my life in rented dwellings. As a child, making holes in the wall was a major no-no. The adults were allowed to hang a few nails for photo display purposes, and for one calendar. Otherwise, I was informed countless times that the big bad rental management frowned upon holes. Wall holes were bad. The way I was told left me with the impression that if the maintenance men ever came inside to repair something and discovered holes in the wall, we’d all be in big trouble.

For the longest time I couldn’t nail my own photos or other display items to the wall, nor was I permitted even a tiny exception for thumbtacks or pushpins. The posters in my bedroom were affixed with Scotch tape that turned dusty and yellow over time, and frequently had to be augmented with even more tape as adhesion faded. After around fourth grade or so, when it was clear we weren’t moving anytime soon and the management really didn’t care that much, I was finally allowed to graduate to tacks and pins. The anti-hole conditioning never fully faded, though.

When my wife and I became first-time homeowners in 2007, I discovered that this lifelong admonition had become a mental block. She and my son had home improvement ideas a-plenty for the new place, now that we wouldn’t be beholden to the oppressive rental guidelines imposed by The MAN. Every time I heard a suggestion that required wall holes for anything except photo frames, I balked. Even though this is our house and our property, I still cringed inside at the very thought. After careful negotiations (i.e., when I tired of their justified badgering), I relented slightly and allowed my son to hang shelves in his room. He did a decent job with them, but every time I entered, I had to avert my gaze and avoid thinking about them.

In a later year, it was decided that the blinds left by the previous owners ought to be replaced with curtains. That, to my regret, would require a curtain rod. That, to my escalating dread, would require drilling holes in the wall for mounting the brackets to hold the rod. My research showed that extra-long nails were not an acceptable substitute. The courage it required for me to buy a drill, learn how to use it, drill the necessary holes (with manufacturer instructions in hand — I was leaving nothing to chance), and mount those curtains is quite the epic tale in my head. Even if it seems like nothing to you, the Viewers at Home, it was a considerable win against that blasted childhood mental block.

That pitiable block recently became an issue again. Today I think I conquered it at last. I think.

Continue reading

How Do-It-Yourself Tutorials Made the Internet My Honorary Step-Parent

Barlow Cemetery, Avon, Indiana

During a fully functional adulthood, not every moment can be fun ‘n’ games ‘n’ writing.

I was born and raised in a HUD-funded lower-class apartment complex without benefit of a father who could teach me the fundamentals of male living such as auto repair, home improvement, industrial arts, or sports appreciation. Whereas the average male begins learning these skills at an early age — either from Dad, Stepdad, or other guy friends — I counted myself lucky that I knew which screwdriver was which. I picked up a few lessons here and there over the years, but when my wife and I became first-time ignorant homeowners in 2007, self-education in these fields became a necessary survival tactic. If I had to pick up the phone and my credit card every time an inanimate object misbehaved or died unexpectedly, we’d be bankrupt and retreating to our old shack-sized apartment once more.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’m tiring of paying professional repairmen to complete every single task. Thankfully, certain areas of the Internet are populated by Good Samaritans willing and able to share their everyday knowledge with our disadvantaged lot. Over the past 5½ years I’ve made several virtual pilgrimages to any number of macho sensei in hopes that their imparted wisdom would imbue me with a new talent and save me several bucks.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: