Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Invention Intervention - The Potting Shed

I'm not sure why, but Southerners love to 'repurpose' things. Whether it's automotive repair or construction of a potting shed, repurposing things is second nature. Now take a look at this great shed.  I will state for the record that the shed above is not mine.  Let me say that from the outset. Not mine.  Bubba, you got that? NOT mine!  


Now, what I really love about this shed is that it's made from so many various things.  The door is made from a...well, a door.  but the big side is also made from doors, and lots of frosted glass help diffuse the light.  Now, take a look at the rest of it.  It's a thing of art, isn't it? There are bricks, various kinds of wood,  and even the dirt around it is used to help hold it all together.  

I'm not sure what that one board is used for...that one there leaning to one side, but the rest seems to have a purpose.  Perhaps it's there to affect that pet door there next to the main door. Yes?  Ok, maybe not. There's lots of extra wood and bricks laying around there, maybe there are plans for expansion later. If not, I'm pretty sure I can find something to do with them.

Which reminds me, I need to clean out my shed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In Search of Southern Belles

One cannot think of the south without the requisite thoughts of the typical Southern Belle. A Southern Belle - is derived from the French word 'belle,' which means 'beautiful' - and is an archetype for a young woman of the Old South's upper class. The quintessential Suthun debutante - again from the French word 'débutante' which means 'begin'. (Non, vraiment, je ne parle français, mais on pourrait penser alors quand cette lecture.*) Women such as the those found in "Steel Magnolias" and "Gone with the Wind" come to mind, most notably Scarlet O'hara. And if they don't, then you're doing something wrong...or you don't know what archetype means. 

Sadly, finding one of these creatures, the typical Southern Belle, is as rare as finding an honest politician. Everyone says they've seen one, but no one can seem to remember where. Ok, I jest, and I'm sure in the upper echelon of Atlanta society, they still have debutante balls and Suthun Belles are presented to the world in style. Minus hoop skirts, I'm sure and as independent as Scarlett O'Hara herself.  But more than an archetype (yes, I find a good big word and I stick with it), today's Southern Belle is more than that. 

You see, today, as much as the definition of Southern Belle may come from the upper class, the term these days means any Southern Woman of Southern Heritage or Not.  My wife is A Southern Belle (with requisite capital letters, or course!) She does not have a southern accent, and does not wear hoop skirts.  She wears jeans and sweatshirts decorated in skulls.  She's got skulls on most everything.  She is the New Southern Belle - but not because of the skulls, but rather in spite of them. 

The new Southern Belle is more Gretchen Wilson than Redneck Woman, More Reba than June and yet more Trisha than Patsy (and if you can know and compare those names, you're well on being a good ol' boy yerself!)  

The New Southern Bell is redefining herself even as we speak.  Here in the South, it's decidedly so and I for one, know better than to tell any one of them that they can't do that (especially my wife!)   I'm sorta southern smart that way.

*No, really, I don't speak French, but you might think so when reading this.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Tale of the Missing Bulb

One of the things that a good Southern Homeowner likes to be able to do is keep the equipment and gadgets around his home working and operating efficiently.  Up Nawth they tend to flip to the Yellow Pages when something breaks, or the local handyman's professional listings but us down south like to do things ourselves. 

Now, I have to tell you a story.  We begin some time ago.  Flash back sequences don't annoy me, but instead of any clever visuals, let's just close our eyes and imagine it all. About a year and a half ago, the bulb went out on the microwave. (My lovely wife says that the bulb went out a lot longer ago than a year and a half, but I'm not going to admit it.) As you can tell from the photo above, our microwave is an old unit, non-digital and only three power settings: High, Medium and low, which really should be labeled:  'Normal', 'Not Enough' and "Is it Even On?"

When the  bulb went out, I dutifully got out the 'implements of the trade' (screw driver, light which attaches to my forehead, tool belt, pith helmet, gloves and protective goggles...I am nothing if not fully prepared to do battle with the errant microwave.)  I took off the vent you see at the top and - nothing.  I noticed an easily removable plastic panel in the top of the oven proper so I used a kitchen knife (AKA: The Southern Man's All Purpose Tool) and popped off the plastic rivets, to discover - nothing.  No bulb.  I got out a high powered light and checked carefully - no Bulb.  I even tried to remove the control panel at the right to find evidence of a bulb, but it wouldn't come off easily so I left it rather than break it trying to fix it. 

At this point, I was at a loss.  Being the modern communications savvy man that I am, I turned to the internet for assistance. I looked everywhere for a manual, but it's just too old. At a forum for handymen, and handymen of appliances, some guy told me that there are older microwave units that were poorly designed and that you had to remove the unit from the wall in order to replace the bulb.  I cannot repeat the words I used when I read that.  

So, for the last year and a half (maybe longer), my wife and I have had a  microwave that was lightless.  It cooked (ok, it heated things) but when you opened the door, or ran it, the interior remained dim.  Each and every time I used the microwave, I felt rather like a fool not being up to the task of replacing a bulb.  Periodically, I'd again take off the plastic panel in the oven, peer intently into the vent, hoping against hope for a glimpse of a bulb - somewhere

This last weekend, sitting with a cup of coffee I again became agitated at the microwave. (Ok, I was agitated at myself again.) Something inside me said that the idea of removing the unit from the wall was downright ludicrous.  (Yes, big vocabulary, let's come back to that another day, shall we?) 

I again took up a light, this time a hand held bright LED flash light and methodically began my perusal of the possible locations of a bulb, starting with the vent.  Nothing, nothing and noth- wait a minute!  Standing far to one side, I had turned the light so that it shown the opposite side of the vent from an extreme angle, and I noticed a curved hole.  More than a hole, it appeared to be some sort of a track with the far end of it disappearing into the depths of the vent, out of my sight.  Intrigued, I took off the vent and examined the area, finding not one but TWO tracks opposite one another.  

Removing another screw (I swear it wasn't there before!)  I pulled and the BASE of the vent came toward me.  However, the curve of the track made it move upwards at the same time and there, fastened to the underside of the vent base - THE BULB!  

I danced around, whooped and hollered and even ran into the bathroom to show my wife the bulb while she was in the shower.  She was impressed, but busy, as you can imagine.   

The new bulb is now in place, shining brightly each and every time we open the door and each and every time the microwave is used.  My wife even admitted that the light startled her the first couple of times as she was used to the dimly lit interior.  

I like to open the door now and then just to see the light come on, sort of a testament to the repair abilities of the Southern Handyman.  We won't mention the year and a half (or more) it took to accomplish.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Duck Tape and the Southern Repairman

It is almost universally accepted that one of the most powerful forces in the universe is the holding power of Duck tape. Southerners (and many NON Southerners) use it daily to repair things and hold things the world over. Duck Tape is even used to create such things as wallets, neckties and belts.  (No, really, I'm not joking here!)

Recently, I had a chance to converse with a youngster who wanted to use Duck Tape to make a suit to wear to his Prom. (Yes, I know, you want to know why some youngster would want to wear a suit made of Duck Tape. Could be any number of reasons not the least of which is the fact that the company which manufactures Duck Tape sponsors a contest every year to see who can make the best Prom Dress/Tux out of he aforementioned Sticky Water Proof Material.) BUT, back to the youngster. We connected as he was looking for a type of Duck Tape that was non-reflective.  Can't have your tuxedo reflecting more light than a mirror ball over the dance floor. Always willing to help, I directed him to the roll of stuff above, known as "Non Reflective Gaffer's Tape."  Gaffer's Tape is basically Duck Tape without the reflective water-proof coating.

As I was about to close the page, I noted that the lower corner of the page had some sort of Duck Tape/Gaffer's Tape Accessory  and I just had to click on it.  A moment later I was jumping up and down and shouting with child-like glee.  (Yes, child-like glee, and even more so, with wild abandon!)

As a wanna-be Good Ol' Boy and Southern Shade Tree Handyman, I keep Duck tape around in large quantities. I buy two rolls at a time.  There is Duck Tape used in every room of my house.  I know Duck Tape, its uses and when I saw this little accessory, I knew I had to have it. Let's look closer and you will be as excited as I (as me?  You'll be dancing in the hall, that's for sure!)

See it?  It's a holder, that goes on your work belt, and it holds a roll of Duck Tape! Did you get that?  It CARRIES YOUR ROLL OF DUCK TAPE (or in this case Gaffer's Tape) FOR YOU!! It allows you to carry a roll of Duck Tape around with you at all times (ok, maybe not ALL times, just when you're working) and use BOTH hands to pull out a strip and apply it!  It's a Duck Tape Lovers DREAM! 

I may buy two!  Wait, Father's Day is coming up so I should wait.  But after that, watch out!
[sound of screeching brakes] $25 plus shipping?  Maybe just a piece of rope...yeah, rope...rope is good...