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Fixing up the shack

Su Lum

I have an aversion to fix-up projects in my miner’s shack, because when you start messing around with something that old, the fixing of one thing is likely to lead to the breaking of others. So I tend to put things off.There was a mysterious sporadic leak under my kitchen sink that I’d been putting off for years. The first sign would be a puddle on the floor, meaning the whole cabinet floor was awash and the box of dishwashing powder dissolving and gumming up all the other supplies down there and I’d mop it up, thinking, “damn, I’ve got to get this pipe fixed” and would put another bowl under the spot and the next day the bowl would be bone dry. The last time it flooded it was a real mess and, perhaps feeling giddy about some major dental work I’ve got going on and the prospect of actually being able to eat again, I called a plumber who came over right away, put his shoe covers on and installed a plastic pipe for $100.Next day, puddle on the floor and water is pouring out of my garbage disposal. The plumber came right away and called to say it wasn’t their fault, all my antique (I bought it in the ’80s, it is practically new!) disposal gaskets were falling apart – didn’t know if you could even get them gaskets anymore but he could put in a new disposal for $250. I should have stuck with the bowl.I called another plumber who said he thought they could do it for a little less, came right over with shoe covers and put in a new one, then billed me for $350. This is the way home repairs go for me. I’ve spent $450 on the leaky pipe and am lucky that the whack and banging in the area didn’t kill my dishwasher which is a true antique, having been in the shack when I bought it in 1972.The front right tire of my VW Beetle had a slow leak that preyed on my mind for half a year and it was only the overdue oil change that finally propelled me to Binny at the old Conner Chevron station. I know that Binny’s changing the oil and fixing the tire didn’t cause one of my headlights to go out, but I’ve got this curse going.Nevertheless, I plunged on to two more projects: new linoleum in the kitchen and bath (replacing one of my worst decisions – dark brown – I’d been living with for 20 years) and new drywall and paint in the kitchen where, over the years, the ceiling has been collapsing with leaks, which are now theoretically fixed with heat tape. I always hated each winter’s new leaks, but comforted myself with the thought, “I’m glad I didn’t get THAT fixed last summer!”Jill’s Carpet did the former and Jay Coursey the latter, with such a minimum of discombobulation that I’m fighting the temptation to do more while knowing to stop while the stopping is good.This all started with the new couch from Gracy’s this summer and has ended (I hope) with the purchase of two swivel chairs bought last week at a garage sale ($40 delivered). While I am quite astounded that I entered into any of these improvements (which I call “absence of ick”) my daughter Hillery is a little bit horrified by my piecemeal approach. “You need an overall PLAN, Su,” she said. Hillery and her husband Bruce’s idea of an improvement plan is to rip out ceilings, take the walls down to the joists, replace the plumbing and wiring and build it all up again from scratch, so I’m not going for that.Su Lum is a longtime local who just hopes the roof won’t leak this winter and that the dental implants hold. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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