Barry Smith: Better Homes and Gardens it ain’t |

Barry Smith: Better Homes and Gardens it ain’t

(Barry’s on vacation this week, despite not having an actual job. Here’s a blip from the past.)

These brakes have stopped sounding so bad. You do have to push a little bit harder on the pedal to actually bring the car to a stop these days, but at least the sound has stopped. I don’t know a whole lot about brakes, but a friend has told me that I have probably worn the pads out completely, and that one day very soon I will push down on the pedal and the car won’t even slow down. I travel mountain passes three times a week on business. Real mountain passes, with mountain goats and mountain cliffs and mountain rocks. When those babies give, it will probably leave me screaming my way over the railing. They’ll find my body still stiff-legged against the brake pedal, my hands still clinging to the steering wheel and CD player, like a modern-day Casey Jones. Maybe I should just fix them.

Well, here we are … my house.

Careful walking up to the door. That limb overhead is hanging on by about a toothpick. Even to just look at it makes you question your previous understandings of physics, especially gravity. As you can see, it’s a huge, school-crushing limb, and when it gives it will give in a celebratory way, flattening whatever bassinet happens to be parked under it at the time. I can’t even begin to imagine the noise it will make. Maybe I should just fix it.

Come on in. We just redid the kitchen.

This stove seems to leak just a little bit. You notice it mostly when you go to light up a burner. You turn the crank and click, click click goes the little electric starter, but nothing happens for a lot longer than you are comfortable with, and just when you’re thinking about aborting your mission then BOOF! I’ve seen this thing kick out a fireball so big that you expect someone wearing a cape to appear on the other side of it. But they never do. And the fire is gone as suddenly as it appeared, leaving only a little ring of gas fire under the teakettle. No one has ever been caught up in the eye of this mini conflagration yet, but when they do, I imagine all that burnt hair will really stink up the house. I mention this only because I have some concerns about the safety of my incense burner. Still, it’s kind of a fun game of roulette. Brings in a level of adventure that you don’t usually associate with heating soup. Maybe I should just fix it.

No, don’t touch that.

That light switch makes the strangest popping sound when you turn it off. If the room is dark enough, you can see the jagged blue spark shoot out incredibly close to the hand that’s switching it. It’s the switch for the garbage disposal, so people usually have soaking-wet hands when they go to operate it. I’m honestly surprised that someone hasn’t gotten thrown across the room yet. I mean, you should see the size of this spark. It’s like a miniature Tesla coil. I just hope that if it’s me who finally takes the brunt of those 110 bad boys that someone who knows CPR is around to call for an ambulance. Or, maybe I should just fix it.

Here, let me show you the upstairs.

Careful, though. Some of the steps are, well, kinda loose. No, I can never remember which ones are and aren’t, I usually just wing it each time. See this one? That’s the only one that’s real obvious. Yeah, that rusty nail is how I remember to step over it, but the only problem is that I seem to recall that the one right after it is about to snap in half too. Anyway, watch your step. Maybe I should just fix it.

Check out the view from this window.

Careful of the window itself, though. It cracked into three big triangular pieces during a windstorm and I’ve got it held together with entirely the wrong material for the job … packing tape. This thing is really just a swinging guillotine at this point, and as soon as someone opens it too fast and one of these shards shakes loose and falls on someone below, well … I suppose it would be of some interest to French Revolution buffs, but personally I think it could be somewhat grisly. Maybe I should just fix it.

Thanks for stopping by. You should really come back when we’ve got the game room done.

Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Monday and Thursday. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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