Sunday, December 21, 2008

T is for Triumph

(The husband has read this title and is thinking to himself "She's writing about a motorcycle? Yeah!" But, not so much.)

While the rest of the country has been experiencing record low temperatures (30s in SoCal?! Crazy!), we have been under the influence of a tropical depression, which as resulted in record highs for us. Thursday it was 80 degrees here, positively hot, and Baby J was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, as he is again today. I was out washing down some toys I got from Craigslist, and he was reclining in his baby rocker at 5 in the afternoon, so balmy was it. Friday was similar, so I decided to turn off the heat, open up some windows, and enjoy the unseasonal warmth.

There was just one small hitch in my plan: for reasons unknown, our house, while apparently full of right angles, is in fact not square in any way. The floor tips, the windows are just a touch off center, the door frames are slightly off, and the doors do not fit exactly square in them. Normally, this doesn't bother us (except for that one time when I had just had Baby J and fell on the floor after the chair rolled away from the desk because of the downslope--that time it really bothered me), but when I wanted to open the front door and use the screen, I ran into a problem we've been avoiding. Our screen door doesn't stay closed. This hasn't been a big deal until now, when Baby J has learned to stand and push the door open and crawl out onto the cement porch and plunge head first down the brick stairs, as he tried to do today.

So I set about trying to figure out how to keep the screen door closed. My first parent hack attempt involved heavy duty, self-adhesive velcro. Unsuccessful (Baby J was too powerful).

My second attempt involved unscrewing the latching mechanism and trying to reposition it, which I was able to do thanks to the husband's power tool. But repositioning didn't help either, and as I tried, I realized that someone had already tried this once, as evidenced by the fact that there were two latching pieces on the door frame instead of just one.

My third attempt was almost a disaster. I decided that if I couldn't move the mechanism on the door frame, perhaps I could move the corresponding piece on the door itself. I think I was emboldened by the power tool at this point, and blithely started unscrewing, only to realize in the nick of time that the piece in question was attached to the handle on the front of the door, which looked VERY complicated to move and reattach once I started to unscrew it, so I hurriedly reattached everything and stepped away to reassess.

In the end, I returned to the piece of the latch on the door frame and realized that it simply wasn't high enough to catch the latch on the door. All I needed to do was raise it a fraction of an inch, as someone had already tried, I noticed, using what I think are probably called shims of some sort. Funnily enough, I didn't have any of those hanging around, so I looked for a workable substitute. Guess what I found? Pennies! The perfect height, the perfect shape, they solved my problem as soon as I screwed them in on top of the other shims. Now I can not only close my screen door, I can lock it, too. Safety and improvisation reign supreme! I am the official Queen of Home Improvement!

(Don't worry, I won't let this go to my head....much.)

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