Tuesday, April 27, 2021

it's always something

It was one of my favorite comedic catch-phrases.

When Gilda Radner would transform herself into Roseanne Roseannadanna, back in the days when Saturday Night Live was actually funny, you knew that after a list of personal woes, she would sum it up with her father's favorite adage -- "It's always something."

That could be the house with no name's motto. It seems that whenever one task is done and has not yet had time to cool to room temperature, another pops up to take its place.

Last week's task was screen doors. Today's was screen doors. I like variations on a theme.

As some of you know, my house is built around a central courtyard. All rooms lead into the patio. None lead into another. The walls facing the patio are glass. Some stationary, but most in the form of sliding glass doors. Because of our heat, the doors are permanently open. That allows the breeze to do a good job of cooling the rooms.

It all sounds very pleasant. But Barra de Navidad is the home of all sorts of insects -- including several varieties of mosquitoes. To keep my friends, family members, and myself from being involuntary donors to the mosquito blood bank, the rooms are protected with a series of sliding screen doors.

And that arrangement worked well until a certain golden retriever puppy named Barco Rubio came into my life several years ago. Screen doors were no barrier to him. He barreled right through them pulling the screen material out of the grommets. Eventually, the screens look like something on a single-wide in a Mississippi trailer park.

Upon Barco's untimely death, I had the screens repaired. I wanted to replace the screen and grommets with new material. But, most of the Mexican handymen I have hired have a very practical streak. If something can be repaired, they see no need to buy new. So, I gave into a plan that used the same materials siliconed in place.

That worked fine for five years. Until the silicone wore out. Dora cleans the screens twice a week. When she finished, all of the screens had popped free and were flapping in the breeze.

Three weeks ago, I saw Tracye Ross, a local contractor, at church. I told her my tale of screen woes, and she arranged for her aluminum guy to fit me into his schedule. In one day, he had cut new screen material for the doors and had anchored them in place with new grommets.

The house now looks as spiffy as it did seven years ago when it was new. Or, at least, I imagine it does. I wasn't here then.

I was prepared to repel the summer invasion of mosquitoes. Or, I thought I was.

When I woke up this morning, I was not alone in my bed. Several mosquitoes and assorted other flying insects were flying about in my bedroom. The culprit was my screen door. It had popped open in the night.

I tried to close it. It wouldn't.

It turns out the latch had given up the ghost of seven years of snapping open and close. The bottom had given way and gravity had its way with the spring and ball bearing that once kept my screen door closed. Reposing on the floor was not their assigned task.

A quick attempt at repairing the latch proved to be beyond my skills. I actually do most of the minor league repairs around the house. But I lacked the talent and tools for this one. So, I handed the job over to Tracye -- along with replacing a hose that provides water to my patio sink.

I long ago learned that local handymen have greater skills than do I. They are almost always available. And the price is always right.

Every homeowner knows the constant battle that time has on houses. Eventually, we lose and the house falls or is pulled down. Just like each of us. But, until then, we do what we can.

On these two new projects, the repair or replace debate will undoubtedly arise. I almost always opt for replace because it is the better investment. I have one big exception to that rule -- the toilet float arm that controls the water level in my pool. It will still be replaced every six moths because other considerations often trump efficacy.

And that just proves once again that there are no true rules in retirement.

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