five tasks at Downs Street
Saturday, April 30 2022
Gretchen and I hadn't gone to the cabin this weekend so I could do some work on the 1R apartment at Downs Street. So after our normal Saturday morning in the living room (heated by a raging fire in the woodstove fueled by cardboard from our recent purchase of electric bikes), I gathered my tools and drove the Forester to Midtown and began my chores. Erik the Painter was there finishing up the painting, and I immediately began the task of re-glazing a pane of glass that had fallen out of a sash. To do this, I had to climb a stepladder placed atop the basement bulkhead door. I set the glass in caulk and then used glazer's points to secure the glass while I built up a wedge of caulk all the way around it. It was a pretty straightforward task, though not one I'd undertaken since fixing Matthew Hart's damage to the Observatory Street in Charlottesville house back in 1998.
My second task was to make a custom screen from scratch using that kit I'd bought the other day at the Home Depot. The resulting screen looked almost perfect, and it was easy to overlook that its corners weren't mitered but were instead plastic L-shaped structures designed to fit inside the aluminum sides I'd cut to size. I'd never actually installed screen material into a screen frame before, and didn't know that one is supposed to remove the spline before rolling in the screen. But I eventually figured it out, and the results looked great. I don't know why anyone would replace a missing screen any other way.
My next task was to fix the various leaks under the kitchen sink, some of which had been addressed with duct tape and a little plastic container to catch drips. I took it all apart and soon realized I didn't have enough pieces to replace all the parts that needed replacing. At some point Erik used the sink, not remembering I'd disconnected everything. The plastic container caught most of that. But then I ignorantly tried to dump that into the sink, and of course it immediately came pouring out of the open pipe, this time with no container to catch anything.
I went to Herzog's and got some more 1.5 inch under-sink plumbing, particularly the one piece I needed, a sink "tail piece." I also got a pullstring switch to replace a broken one in the apartment's front room.
After fixing the kitchen sink, I turned my attention to the nastiest task: replacing the wax ring under the toilet. I'd brought a piece of cardboard specifically to place the removed wax upon and my least-favorite putty knife for chipping away at it. After getting the toilet unbolted from the floor, I found the wax ring a bit low in places, providing ample places for toilet water to escape and creep out onto the bathroom floor. It was nasty and brown, though I was mostly able to avoid touching it. I cut it into pieces and placed in on that piece of cardboard and then installed the replacement ring, which consisted of foam and no wax at all. One of the closet bolts didn't seem to want to catch on the closet flange, but I eventually got the toilet in place and bolted down. Then I had to mop up all the icky spilled toilet water, which was impossible to avoid touching and stepping in.
My last task was to replace a pull-string switch on the Harbor Breeze ceiling fan in the front room. It was good I had the step ladder for this chore, though I soon realized I needed wire nuts, and I had none, not even in among the tools in the trunk of the Forester. Fortunately, though, I found a couple in the abandoned oil boiler in the basement, which felt like a serious win.
As I worked, a guy in the next yard over was playing loud hip hop from his stereo, which made it sound like there was a party happening there even though he was there all by himself. I don't know if any other genre of music can quite create this particular deception.
Having complete all my tasks, I drank a celebratory road beer on the drive home. It was warm, but it was delicious all the same. Of course, I managed to spill some on my leg when I cracked it open and it boiled over. That was just as well, because those pants needed to be washed anyway due to the toilet work I'd been doing while wearing them.
Back at the house, Powerful returned after attending some event, having spent the night at the room he still has reserved for him rent-free up in Albany. He brought a bunch of stuff home with him, which Gretchen saw as the reverse of how things should be going. Powerful has been staying with us for nearly two years, and she thinks it's high time he moves out and starts his own life.
Late this afternoon, Gretchen and I drove out to West Hurley to attend a lawn party hosted by Drew, one of her bookstore colleagues whom she trained but whom she barely ever sees. The house was a nice big simple box of a structure with dark-red painted aluminum siding and gorgeous landscaping. When we arrived, there were only three people there: Drew, his wife, and a co-worker of his wife. We sat in the back at a picnic table that only had four seats, which had become a bit awkward since there were now five of us. Eventually others arrived and more chairs came out. Drew and everyone we saw at the party looked to be in their 30s or maybe early 40s, and most of them were actually colleagues of Drew's wife, working in some NY-based company that specializes in fundraising for nonprofits. In addition to the humans, there was one dog in attendance, a female named Ziggy. She was a kind of wire-haired terrier who been given a recreational cannabis treat before the party and was feeling good. She kept executing this move where she would spin around more rapidly than any animal that size should be capable of.
Early in our time at the party, Drew gave me a cup of homebrew session IPA, and it was pretty good, at least by the standards of homebrew. I don't know if I've had much or any homebrew since I was back in college.
Initially the weather was nice and warm, with plenty of sun, and there were even a few of those annoying May flies that get in your face for no apparent reason other than to bother you. There were also one or two semi-tame phoebes catching insects nearby. But then the sun lost its power behind the trees and the air became a little too cold unless one was wearing a light sweater.
Conversationally, everyone was pretty simpatico, though one woman mentioned a "very good butcher," which is something Gretchen never wants to hear. But she held her tongue so as not to be the annoying vegan at the party (though at the time she was wearing a sweatshirt that read "The future is vegan").
Gretchen had to attend a play down in New Paltz with her friend Lisa, and she said I was free to stay at the party after dropping her off at the Stewarts (which Lisa was waiting for her). But I didn't know anyone at the party and was by far the oldest person there, so it would've been weird. So I drove home and had an evening of drinking by myself instead.
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