Category Archives: Humour

Fixing the Eyesore Door

When I first visited this house 18 years ago, I remember saying to my real estate agent that “this thing has got to go”. I was referring to the ugly interior door that separated the entry hall from the rest of the house. And yet, it’s still here and referred to as the “Eyesore Door”.

The thing is that over the years, life got in the way. Between the time and energy required to build a career, to enjoy a social life, and to tend to other priorities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, running, writing this blog and raising a cat, the years escaped on me.

Plus, there was a priority list of other home renovations that needed to get done, because of fixtures running their course or other corners of the house that got on my nerves worse than the door.

Despite being a relentless eyesore, it faded from my radar. But this was the year to finally do something about it.

While the door was probably cute when it made its first appearance, it was made of a soft, honey-coloured wood which was prone to scuffs and scratches. Located in the most high traffic area of the house, it picked up scars from anything and everything that brushed by. The door was also my clear evidence that pets lived here before Ivy and I moved in.

What I couldn’t figure out was how and why this particular door was here, when it didn’t match any other fixture or finish in the house.

Either way, a light sanding would never have sufficed to correct the imperfections covering pretty much every square inch of its surface.

The bigger problem was the way it dragged along the carpeting. On humid days, you needed the strength of the Incredible Hulk to open it, although it made for a great security system for my feline escape artist who has an attraction for bolting through open doors.

My partner recommended I get a hand plane to shave it down.

At the hardware store, after navigating each aisle like a Zamboni driver and still looking lost, a clerk found me, led me to the right section, and asked if I had used a plane before. I realized that my Grade 9 wood working class was 40 years ago, so I could not claim any recent experience.

He suggested instead a budget priced sander, some coarse sandpaper and to “just sand the bottom of the door to bring it down to size”. It sounded like a good idea.

On a sunny summer day, I secured Ivy the Wonder Cat in a bedroom with her litter box, some food, some water and her favourite toys. I then unhooked the eyesore door from its hinges and brought the door to the back deck.

In the sander’s user manual, the first instruction was to peel off the backing from the sandpaper to reveal the adhesive. I fiddled with the sheet of sandpaper for a good 10 minutes, trying to find the magic corner that would peel back. After three exasperated exhalations, I looked over at the package of sandpaper only to see “NON-ADHESIVE” in bold letters on the front.

Sandpaper 1, Observation skills 0!

I moved on to the next set of instructions that started with, “If your sandpaper does not have an adhesive backing”. After several minutes of playing sandpaper origami and still not securely clipping to the sander, I went into MacGyver mode and I developed my own method.

I don’t know who planned this house, but it seems that I have an excess of electrical outlets in rooms that don’t need them, and a shortage in rooms that do. To be able to use my sander on the back deck required a grounded extension cord running from the living room. And moments later, I realized I needed an extension to the extension cord as I still hadn’t reached the door.

Finally, I hit the on button! I was sanding! But Mother Nature’s incredible sense of humour kicked in, as did a westerly breeze that blew sawdust into every orifice above my neck.

Moments later, I emerged from the house looking like a bank robber with a dishtowel tied around my head because, for some reason, I could not find the little face masks I had purchased in anticipation of the sanding event.

I resumed my sanding and after half an hour, I decided to take the door in, to test it out and see how much longer I needed to go. As I was lugging the heavy door through the living room, something seemed off with the positioning of the doorknob and the hinges.

Oh oh!… I sanded the top of the door, not the bottom!

I turned around and lugged the heavy door back on the deck and sanded for another 20 minutes. When I affixed the door to the hinges, I noticed a significant improvement as it was swinging pretty freely… Maybe too freely.

That was when I noticed that the latch (that never really worked correctly) needed replacing since the door could open with the slightest nudge of a finger or potentially, a paw. That was my signal for a quick drive back to the hardware store to purchase some new hardware.

The installation of the new latch was pretty easy, especially since I had to do it twice when I realized I had installed it backward. It was in that process that I figured out that the original latch was simply missing two additional pilot holes to fit snugly within the door and to properly click shut.

I know home renos might not be for everyone, but properly fitting hardware was a mere TWO drilled holes away. TWO! I still shake my head in disbelief. But I didn’t regret the purchase of a shiny new latch and locking mechanism that already gave the door a huge facelift.

The next mission was patching and painting.

Since I was not blessed with the steady hand of a professional painter, masking tape has always been a necessity for me. But with the 15 windows on that door, it was a tedious project in itself to mark off each window, front and back, with my trusty tape.

Then it was another big project to fill as many cracks and scratches as I could with filler. I really don’t mind this part too much as it is an opportunity to channel some mild OCD tendencies to constructive use.

After all that prep work, the painting was pretty much the easiest part. Four coats of white paint later, with more crack filler along the way, I was ready to say “mission accomplished!”

It is unfortunate that it took 18 years to finally get the door done, but in retrospect I now see how much TLC it needed, which is probably why it landed on the bottom of the list.

For all of the different renovation skills I was able to put into practice, it was definitely a good learning experience that also offered many good belly laughs along the way.

But after all that work and the door is now looking (almost) as good as new, I am finally ready to retire its name, “The Eyesore Door”, as it isn’t anymore.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under home, Humour

The Bright Side of Daylight Savings Time

When getting ready to leave the house, I have mini-milestones in my routine to stay on track and to ensure that I am out the door at the right time, to ensure I am at my destination on time.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend activity, a work day or just going out to run errands, the “fun” is the same. Have you ever had things go like this?…

One Saturday morning, I finished my workout at 9:10, according to the clock in the basement, which I know runs a little fast. I thought I was off to a good start and that I must be a little ahead of schedule.

According to the bathroom clock, I was out of the shower at 9:25, meaning I was still five minutes ahead of schedule.

On my way to the bedroom, the cat stops me for a morning belly-rub.

But by the time I finished picking my clothes and laying them on the bed, slathering on some face moisturizer and applying my anti-perspirant, according to the bedroom clock, it was suddenly 9:40, which meant I was five minutes behind.

I wondered to myself if I had briefly dozed off while offering the cat some attention. Time to speed it up! Continue reading

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The Roving Writer

As much as I try to make my home a comfortable, quiet place to devote myself to the craft of writing, there are times when things fall out of the span of my control.

Whether it is a symphony of leaf blowers, a neighbour’s dog barking for hours, another neighbour’s ailing muffler, a charming visitor to the neighbourhood who needs to turn the car alarm on and off seven times, or the apparent decision to suddenly reroute all air traffic directly above my house, auditory distractions are a fact of life.

Then add to the mix an extroverted attention-seeking cat, a ringing home phone, an empty coffee cup, a ringing doorbell, a load of laundry ready for drying, and the ding to indicate that my gluten-free banana bread is ready to come out of the oven.

When I reach into my desk drawer for a USB stick, I find a pair of old glasses that needs to be donated, I spot the case for the iPhone I carried in 2009 (that won’t fit anything today) and before I know it, I am in spring cleaning mode.

As I head back to my desk, I notice the wall I have been meaning to spackle in preparation for painting.

Moments later, I remember that the litter box needs “refreshing”.

When I finally return to my blog post, I write a few words and then take a moment to stare off into the distance between paragraphs. My mind drifts and I ask myself, “when was the last time I dusted that shelf?”

When I look in the other direction, I see Ivy the Wonder Cat’s favourite blanket and think to myself that it is probably due for a thorough washing.

At this rate, it’s a wonder that I succeed in publishing a weekly blog post. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Writing

My Past Adventures in Recording and Dictation Tools

A secondary part of the writing journey seems to be the constant hunt for the perfect writing tools.

While committing words to paper is a pretty simple concept, the multitude of ways one can capture, retrieve, store and rearrange story ideas is very impressive. When I find ways to make things run more smoothly, the opportunity to spend more time actually writing than “maintaining” becomes a joy in itself.

Audio recording devices have always interested me. I have often thought that a recording device of some sort could be helpful in trying to capture those random writing ideas that seemingly hit at the least opportune moments.

When I think of prolific writer Dame Barbara Cartland who dictated to a secretary and was able to produce some 723 books and 160 unpublished works over her lifetime, I dream of how much more efficient I could be if I could incorporate some sort of dictation tool in my process.

A couple of decades ago, when I was first aware of my leaning toward creative writing, I got a good deal on a microcassette recorder. I admit that I had grand visions of capturing ideas on the run like some sort of secret agent writer. It seemed like a good idea at the time but unfortunately the only thing that ran were the batteries, as it sat in a drawer, mostly unused.

While in principle a microcassette recorder made a lot of sense, when I tried it, I felt like Cindy Brady in the “Brady Bunch” episode when she was on the show “Quiz the Kids”. When I hit the record button, I froze up. I don’t know why it is, but over the course of many attempts, I only captured a few words and the tidal wave of ideas I was hoping for produced only a mild drizzle. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Writing

Just Call Me “Bubbles”

For the last 20 years, as an avid cyclist and runner, getting my recommended 8 glasses of water each day was never a problem. Whether water, tea, coffee or milk, I almost always have a beverage on the go.

I know I must be getting enough fluids, because when I walk down the halls at the office, my tummy often makes swishy or “glug-glug” noises.

On the weekends, I might splurge and get into an occasional soft drink like cola, ginger ale or root beer. I really do like them, but I keep myself on a short leash, metaphorically speaking. Maybe it’s because my metabolism is getting older, but I just can’t put them away like I used to. For me, the tipping point between enjoyable and “I’ve had enough” comes quickly.

When I was preparing for my colonoscopy a few years ago, I don’t know exactly what part of my inner anatomy was complaining about the sweetness, but the ginger ale, popsicle and gelatin diet had me feeling pretty gross. No amount of clear chicken broth seemed able to sway the balance back to feeling normal, or as normal as one can be when trying to prepare for such a procedure.

Sparkling water was always something that I kept on the side as a treat. Even though it contains no sugar and makes a good building block for a variety of drinks, it can get expensive. Also, any leftovers tend to fizzle out after a day or two, which makes buying an economy size a huge question of commitment, unless I’m having a party. Plus, I can’t look at a plastic bottle without feeling a sense of deep environmental guilt.

When you combine all of these factors, for the last several months, I have been looking at SodaStream machines with increasing interest. But I also hesitated, not knowing how much use I would get out of it. Continue reading

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Filed under food, Humour

The Final Cut: From Clippers to Shaver

It was on the eve of my 54th birthday, facing the next instalment in my every-two-weeks haircut when I asked myself, “Why not? If I don’t like it, it will grow back.”

I explored electric razors with the plan to shave my scalp for the first time. But when I say “first time”, the reality is that the transition to this point has been more than a decade in the making.

When I accepted that my hair was slowly slipping away due to male pattern baldness, rather than finding creative ways of covering up my slowly increasing Friar Tuck look, I started the slow transition of shorter haircuts.

My last attempt at long hair that ended up looking like Peppermint Patty was trimmed to a neat professional look. For a while after that, I took a bit of a detour into a faux-hawk look, which I consider my last actual “hair style”.

But when more scalp was peeking through the back of my head, to me, it was time. In every subsequent scissor cut, I went a little shorter every time. After that, it was the clipper cut countdown, starting with a “number four” with much trepidation.

The nervousness quickly disappeared through my immense enjoyment of the freedom from hair products and blow dryers, and in the reclaiming of time in the morning. The fact that a visit to the barber was now an efficient and record-breaking 7 minutes in duration was a pleasure in itself. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour

When Did Everything Become an “Experience”?

Back in my school days, I was a huge fan of marketing classes and thought that one day I might want to work in advertising. Life took a different spin and I didn’t end up working in that field, but I still had the opportunity to put some marketing know-how to good use in the field that chose me.

Just the same, as much as I bow to the wisdom of the marketing masters, I really don’t understand when or why everything suddenly became an “experience”.

Picking up something at the store has become a retail experience. Getting a bite to eat has become a dining experience. Music is now a listening experience and movies are now a viewing experience.

Did everything have to become an experience?

I was amused when I recently visited an establishment and noticed a poster prompting readers to tell management about their experience. The odd thing is that it was posted in the men’s washroom.

What would I have written back? Do they really want a description of my bathroom experience? (Careful what you wish for! Creative types with a sneaky sense of humour might actually take you up on the offer.)

“My approach to the urinal was a pleasant one as the aroma of disinfectant pucks filled my sinuses with a gentle, welcoming blend of lavender and chlorine.

The automatic flushing mechanism was very effective in bathing the urinal in a fresh cascade of water, reminiscent of a serene waterfall, a perfectly choreographed three seconds after I stepped away. I couldn’t have cued it better if I had flushed it myself. Continue reading

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