It all started when I invited some people over to my house for a meal. I’d been on the road for several weeks, eating food I really shouldn’t eat unless I want to weigh 600+ pounds. I’d been sleeping in hotels and bumping into furniture in the dark every night trying to find the bathroom (Why can’t OHSA step in and mandate that all hotel rooms have the bathroom in the same place? Seriously, how hard is that?). Anyway, I needed to nest, rest and bake something. Now that probably sounds crazy, but baking is very restorative for me, it’s one of my favorite ways to nurture myself. I get to eat a homemade food, plumped up with high-quality fat (like European butter, for instance), and my house smells fabulous!
I baked a quiche and cookies and then about a half-hour before people were to show up, I took in the state of my house and about fainted. My den was covered in dog hair. When I say covered, I literally mean covered. It was ankle deep in dog hair. Spring had sprung while I was away and the yearly shedding had begun.
So, I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming. My part Jack Russell, part Basenji (Mr. Pip – a.k.a. world’s most adorable dog) had busied himself during my absence with chewing up a stick (Which I pray isn’t from a piece of furniture like it was the last time.) and he’d strewn toothpick size pieces of it all over the room. By the time I got to the kitchen, the vacuum was overheating and then it growled at me and just ceased to function. I hadn’t even made it to living room, so I did what our elementary school janitor did, I pushed all the fur and dust bunnies into the corners of the room with a dust mop and left them there.
I really didn’t think anyone would notice. My guests arrived and commented on how wonderful the house smelled. I thought no one had noticed until one of my girlfriends (who is also a widow) said, “Why are there dust bunnies in the corner? Did you break your vacuum cleaner?” Busted!
Now, as a Mom, I’m used to everything being my fault, so no worries there. Never mind that the #*@& vacuum cleaner fell apart 2 days after the warranty expired or that most manufacturers make products under a “planned obsolescence” program these days (This is a huge pet peeve of mine but I won’t get into that now). Of course it was my fault. I mean, I know that and in fact, I’d already accepted that. But I couldn’t accept buying a new vacuum cleaner. I’d had a lot of big expenses that month and I just couldn’t afford a new one, not just yet…it wasn’t in the budget.
So I asked my friend Andy to look at it. Now Andy is a very practical, handy kind of guy and he looked that thing over top to bottom. He used a screwdriver and everything. No duct tape was involved, but tools were. (I learned a long time ago that half of fixing anything the way a man does is to: 1. Cuss it out and 2. Put duct tape on it.) A few minor issues were solved but the cleaner was still overheating within seconds of being turned on. Additionally, it was now emitting a dark aroma that smelled a bit like dead possum, so I decided not to risk a house fire and I took it out to the trash.
Trash day came and I pulled my bins to the street. Then I went back for the vacuum. As I was walking to the curb, a light shone through the clear tube at the bottom that connected the beater brushes to the debris container. (It would be more accurate to say that it shone through the sticks and hair that were clogging the once clear tube.) and in an “a-ha!” moment I spun on my heels and took it back inside. I put the vacuum on the floor and looked at how it went together. Hmmm. I cussed it out. (This is mandatory, otherwise said tool or equipment KNOWS you are a girl and refuses to cooperate.) When I determined that I needed a Philip’s head (I realize I learned a lot watching Perrin fix things…), I got the little black bag that held the tiny screwdrivers he used on his cameras and lenses out and then I put a roll of duct tape next to the vacuum cleaner, just to scare it. I unscrewed that tube, pulled Mr. Pip’s toothpicks out of there, along with about 2 cups of his hair, screwed that sucker back onto the vacuum and it works like a champ. And I have to tell you, I’m feeling pretty dang proud of myself.
But the moral of this story is that we can all do things we think we can’t do with a little help from our stored memories and a roll of duct tape.