Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, and you can sell me the extended service contract. Saturday afternoon I went to Best Buy – again – to get a coffee maker. I ended up getting the same one. I know what you’re thinking: I’m an idiot. And I see your point. But at the risk of sounding like a poorly-written testimonial, I love the convenience of carafe-free living, and I was reminded of the problem I had with every other pot: they dribble. The service contract was ten dollars for two years. I never buy those things, but I bought one this time.

Took it home. I got rid of the old one – but not before noticing it had not only leaked another cup, but it had unplugged itself. The last few weeks it had entered the final stages of appliance dementia, and was losing its ability to hold its electricity. It would go out in the middle of a cycle, which mean it would lose the custom settings for the length of time it stayed on, as well as the programmed times for starting up in the morn so we had fresh, hot, rich coffee waiting for us. Waiting for us on the counter and floor, granted, but in the old days if you wanted coffee on the floor you had to put it there yourself. Now our machines do it for us.

 I threw out the old one, unpacked the new. Cleaned out the lead no doubt sprayed over every surface by the Chinese Lethal Goods Promotion Council (“Misunderstanding the American Idiom ‘Get The Lead Out’ for over 30 years!”) and ran a few cycles. Good. We were set.

After supper I went to make a pot. Filled it up, added grounds, turned it on.


It was plugged in, but there was no power to the unit, as they say. The lights weren’t on. The clock wasn’t lit. I tried other items in the outlet. It wasn’t the outlet. It was the coffeemaker.

It had taken 4 hours and 27 minutes to fail.

Back to Best Buy tomorrow. Prediction: they will be out of the coffeemaker.

Woke up on Sunday determined to get something done around the house. A light went out in the stairwell. In all the years we’ve lived here, I’ve never had to replace it, and I was glad of the fact: it’s way, way, way up there – and covered with a plate of glass. I hauled in a ladder, braced it on the landing,  and managed to get the bulb out without tumbling down the stairs and cracking my neck. It’s a basic wood ladder, with NOT A STEP written on the top step. Obviously, it’s a step; it’s just not a good one. When I removed the bulb it said it was CONSTRUCTION GRADE 75 W. I’d never seen one of those; I assumed it was built to take rough use, and was probably installed by the contractors who did the work many years ago. I had no 75W bulbs. Off to the hardware store – and in true Weekend Handyman fashion, I was unshaven, wearing a ratty shirt. Felt like a man. Git r done. Sell me something manly. Sell me one-a them duct-tape condoms and a screwdriver. Not a hex screwdriver; what do I look like, a yuropeen? Hell, I’ll go Phillips if the sitchation calls for it, but that’s as far as I’ll go. I also remembered that my wife wanted me to pick up some rust remover, so it would be a good, productive trip, one with specific objectives. I hate going to the hardware store for one thing, because I come away with six. Go for two, you come back with two.

They sold me a bulb, and I picked up some compact fluorescents as well – after rebates, they were a dollar each. I’ll put them in the outdoor fixtures, since (G)Nat hates them. “I want the soft nice yellowy light,” she said. “The curly bulbs have hard light.”  I put the curly hard bulbs outside and replaced the light and put the ladder back in the shed. Where I remembered that I hadn’t put back the glass plate. Also forgot the rust remover. Ah well.

Brought the ladder back in. Climbed up. Replaced the glass plate. Took the ladder out. Then I recalled that one of the backyard floods had burned out. This one is located on the second floor, high above, and I’d always wondered how the hell I would change them. Well, I’d thought the same thing about the stairwell light, and now I was completely confident of my ability to swap out that one; let’s give this a try. I retrieved the long bulb-grabbing wand from the shed, put the ladder on the back porch, and got up on the penultimate  step. (If you count the top step as a step, which you shouldn’t, even though it is.) At maximum tip-toe I was able to extract the burned-out bulb. Success!

Except that I didn’t have an outdoor 75W flood.

Well, back to the hardware store. But I’d been there once. Well, Jasperwood is situated equidistant between two hardware stores, and they’re owned by the same family, so I just went to the other one. In fact I think they have two stores for just this situation, so you don’t feel stupid making a second trip. Bought two bulbs – one for later! That’s the sort of forward-thinking plan-ahead guy I am.

Forgot the rust remover.

Once I was home I thought: I’d better replace them both now. The other is surely reaching the end of its life.

But then I won’t have a spare.

But you won’t need one.

But I won’t have a spare.

That is the sort of thinking that has led to sixteen boxes of microwave popcorn in the basement storage closet. Stop hoarding.

Replaced the first with no difficulty. The second presented a different situation – since it’s angled off to light up the other part of the yard, getting the bulb in the socket required all sorts of tendon-straining contortions. I was on the penultimate step, facing the house, looking like Spiderman about to head up the side of the wall. The ladder legs were an inch from the edge of the porch, so I didn’t dare move much. But I did it. Proud? Yes. Yes, I was.

Wife and child returned from an afternoon outing; my wife was pleased to see things illuminated as they should be.

“Did you get some rust remover?” she asked.

Ah. Right.

I showered and shaved and put on different clothes, flipped a coin to chose which hardware store, and returned, hoping they wouldn’t remember me. Bought some CLR, which stands for Calcium Lime Rust, and was endorsed by Paul Harvey at some point, along with Amway and a cautious sense of isolationism.

When my wife was done with the CLR I put it in the closet of poisonable solutions, and there was room for it. Provided I threw something out. Like the other two bottles of CLR.

It’s going to be a light week, in many ways; no school on Thursday and Friday, because the teachers have their convention. Also, I think I’m coming down with something. I thought I had a cold en route a couple of weeks ago, but I shook it off in 24 hours; probably just the cumulative effect of long hours and insufficient sleep. This feels different; my eyes are crunky, and that often presages a cold. The throat has no tickle, however, so there’s that. In any case I may take a day at the end of the week, because I’ll be home with (G)Nat, and because I still have 34 days built up. There will be all the accustomed updates, though, and more; there will be a Diner, there will be Bleat Radio Theater, there will be matchbooks and comics and ads and a Stagland magazine. There will be a video on Wednesday. There will also be a steady, soft despairing exhalation as I realize I did not attack the Tottering Stacks of Obligation this weekend; I did not go through the boxes of things people have sent me, but selfishly spent my time on changing lightbulbs. I really should post a picture of what I’m trying to work through, what I’m trying to sort and scan and assemble into a great coherent archive. You’d be smacked in the gob.

My wife just announced that a bathroom drain is clogged, and asked if we had any drain cleaner. I went down to the closet of poisonables.

We do not.

It’s the hardware store tomorrow, then.

After Best Buy.