Tag Archives: learning

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

50 Reasons Why I Love Baking

1. Baking can be an “in the moment” experience. It is difficult to ruminate over an issue, when one is busy measuring and following directions, while keeping an eye on the clock and the oven.
2. To me, baking can be a relaxing experience.
3. Baking is an opportunity to develop new skills or to work on existing ones.
4. I love that baking can be broken down into many individual disciplines and learning opportunities.
5. I love that I have succeeded in folding egg whites without completely deflating batter.
6. I love that baking is something for which I am passionate enough to make the time to keep trying.
7. Baking is an opportunity to develop intuition for what will work and what won’t.
8. Baking is an opportunity to experiment with different ingredients.
9. Baking is an opportunity to take a favourite recipe and to try to “embellish” it with different flavours.
10. Baking is the closest I will ever get to becoming a scientist, meticulously combining different ingredients and relying on their chemical properties to achieve grand results.
11. I love baking because I know exactly what goes into a recipe.
12. I love baking because I don’t use ingredients that I cannot pronounce. Continue reading

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Filed under food, Lists

Bell Let’s Talk: How Therapy Helped Me

A few months ago, I published a blog post about my anxiety and the signs that it was time to reach out for help. I knew that by speaking with a therapist, someone outside of my immediate circle, I wouldn’t feel like I was dumping or oversharing. In addition, I thought that a professional might be better able to suggest solutions to problems that seemed to come back again and again.

Little did I know how much better I would feel one year later:

I always knew I was a sensitive guy, but I didn’t quite understand to what extent. I learned to strike a happy medium in allowing myself to be the sensitive guy that I am without feeling that I was out of sync with everyone else.

As much as my triggers for anxiety seemed random and unrelated, they really do stem from a few specific events in the distant past. With the help of my therapist, I am working through those and trying to curb the anxiety response.

A pattern of lack of assertiveness emerged. Now that I know, I have been gently nudging myself into being more assertive in specific circumstances.

I learned that saying no (politely, firmly and without getting emotional) was a valid response that should not be feared when I really want to say no.

I learned that setting boundaries and calmly enforcing boundaries that were not respected, are an essential part of living and survival.

Even in the last few weeks, I find myself proactively drawing lines in the sand because once the boundaries are articulated, out in the open and agreed upon, life is a lot easier when uncertainty is removed from the equation. Continue reading

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Filed under Health and Wellness, mental health

Would I Have Been a Good Writer, Had I Started Earlier?

I tend to think that the road of life I travelled was indeed meant to be uniquely mine, with all the potholes, hitch hikers, detours, storms and speed bumps I experienced along the way, as well as those stretches of smooth, dry pavement and clear weather conditions.

But it does not stop me from sometimes wondering if I had started writing earlier, with a greater sense of commitment to my craft, what kind of writer would I have become? Would I have been any good?

When I look back on childhood, I shake my head at my attitude toward teachers who forced us to write drafts of our compositions. I remember thinking that drafts were a huge waste of time because I wrote what I meant and I got it right the first time. Oh my, how times have changed!

When I read my journals from the early days (before I was journaling with a purpose), I see the seeds of creativity and the fire within, already yearning to tell stories. The stories in question may have been a little shallow, but a writer needs to start somewhere.

When I look back at some of the work I posted on my former web site “The Spin on Life at 33 1/3” (before blogs became popular), I do see the building blocks of who I am as a writer today. I surprise myself when I am able to crack a smile at stories I wrote almost two decades ago. And I also see how far I have come as a writer and how my style and execution have evolved and refined. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Writing