Welcome to my world!

My life's been crazy since my Daddy moved in with me immediately after my mother's death in October 2010. My one and only kiddo headed to college at Carolina at the end of August. So...I lived on my own, for the first time in my life, for a total of a blissful six weeks. Then, I started the parenting gig with my dad. He's a combination of a grouchy old man, a surly teenager and a temperamental toddler. Needless to say, I get very close to the brink of insanity sometimes. I get through life by finding the humor in difficult circumstances. And for some reason, I wind up in the weirdest situations. I couldn't make this stuff up. So I wind up having lots and lots crazy adventures which make great stories to share with my friends. Writing about my life is so therapeutic. My ramblings range from funny to sad to angry (full of cuss words) to sweet. While my focus is dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a parent to my Daddy, I have lots of random, totally unrelated posts. Whatever's on my mind. I love to make people laugh, and I'm happy to think my readers will get my strange sense of humor. And maybe, people who are in my situation will be encouraged. That's all I can hope for...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some Assembly Required

Since I have three houses to look after now (The Good House, The Old House and The Parents' House), and two of the three have five or six massive, deciduous trees, I have a bazillion leaves to deal with.  Since I'm trying to rent the latter two houses, it would be nice if potential tenants could actually find the back doors.

Soooo, I decided to look for a lawn vacuum.  I found a great three-way (blower/vacuum/mulcher) on Amazon.  It was $510 at Lowes and $278 at Amazon.  Plus no shipping or sales tax!  Yesterday was nice and sunny, so I decided to tackle the leaves.  It took me an hour and a half to decipher the instructions to assemble my cool new tool.  That's after three or four hours the week before, just to attach the wheels and handles.  I swear, the Shop-Vac technical writers have an economy of words.  And piss-poor pictures.  They must've borrowed their bank's video surveillance camera.

Here's an exerpt:  Take one hose end with TAB.  Position hose end over retainer (installed on hose) with larger opening closest to retainer.  The side of the hose with tab must be aligned with the open side of retainer.  Align the holes on the sides of the hose end with the tabs on the hose retainer.

I might as well have read the French version:  Saisissez un embout de tuya flexible a languette.  Les bon temps roule.  That reminds me.  It's almost time for Mardi Gras.

Every two or three minutes during my assembly attempt, The Daddler would get up from his recliner, pace around, pick up random parts, snatch the instruction booklet from me, try to grab the hose assembly, and look at me like I was a total idiot.  Which I am.  At least in this context.  He'd shake his head, just like when I crunched my fender by backing into the house.

Finally, I finished.  Found the heavy duty trash bags I'd bought weeks earlier.  After 10 minutes of stretching and wrestling, I gave up on making the 39 gallon bags fit onto the 32 gallon  large capacity tank.  Then I happened to see this in the manual:  If using a bag with a smaller than 3 foot wide opening, it will need to be installed between the head assembly and tank adapter.

Ohhhh.  I was happy to see that, especially since this bad boy is supposed to reduce 123 normal bags of leaves into one bag of mulch.  Ok, I'm exaggerating.  It's only 18.  But, still.

Great.  Ready to roll.  I couldn't find my sunglasses to protect my hypersensitive corneas from shrapnel in case I'd missed an important step in the assembly and the blade flew out like a frisbee.  I decided to throw caution to the wind.  I found the massive, three mile long orange extension cord.  By the time I got back, The D was trying to plug the three inch cord from the mulcher into the receptical on the wall.  I gently pried it from his hands.  At which point he grabbed the tangled part of the orange cord and started playing tug-of-war with the wall.  And with me.  I was trying to keep him from bending the prongs.  Meanwhile, I worried about the half-inch of exposed prongs between the orange cord and the mulcher cord.  It wouldn't go all the way in.  By that point, a wild-fire would've been welcome.  Finally, I was ready to flip the switch.  Don't they say that at midnight in Texas when the injunction never shows up at Death Row?  Again, it wouldn't have been unwelcome.

I tried to get The D to back up a little when we pushed the red button.  He wouldn't budge.  Since I hadn't had enough forethought to order an anodized aluminum chainmail shirt for $189.95 from Chainmail Depot (an Amazon storefront), I assumed the potential pit bull attack position (curling up to protect major arteries and organ systems) and pressed.  Lo and behold, it started.  And nothing flew out.  And it sucked leaves.

You should've seen The Daddler.  Picture the face of a two year old on Christmas morning, with a remote control motorcycle.  After he's spent two hours trying to assist his inept mother with the assembly while his father entered all his business contacts into his Palm Pilot.  Ok, I know I'm dating myself, but since no one else will...  Sorry.  I couldn't resist.

Now, picture the face of that toddler when his brand-spankin-new remote control motorcycle drives right into the water garden his grandfather had installed for the friendly frogs and goldfish and mosquito larvae.  And lily pads.

That's how he looked when the mulcher wouldn't start back up after we checked to see how full it was.  He was crestfallen.  I figured it was the half-inch prong chasm, so I tried for the 23rd time to shove the plug in all the way.  About that time, he figured out that we'd blown a breaker.  He hightailed it to the shed and started flipping switches.  All I was thinking was that I'd have to reboot the effin' Comcast box.  And reset all the blinking clocks.  Darnit.

It still wouldn't work.  So I tried the receptical on the side of the house.  It worked.  Hallelujah!  Now we had three outlets (two in the living room which required major rearranging to accomodate the Christmas tree lights, only 1/3 of which worked).  I'd forgotten to call the electrician.  Because I hadn't figured out how to use Angie's List, even though I'd paid for a year's subscription.  Note to self...

So I started raking and tried to keep The D from bending over to unclog the hose when the logs he was trying to chip got stuck crossways.  He'd been taking muscle relaxers and pain pills and hogging the heating pad to treat his back pain the last two weeks.  He refused to budge, though.  Insisted he was fine.  I decided to withhold his Lortabs.  At that point, I was sure I'd need them.  He was in hog heaven.  He was sure I needed direct supervision.  I was a 12 year old girl, after all.

Finally, the motor started making the same squeaking sound as the vacuum cleaner when a piece of dental floss gets caught in the brusher-roller-thingie.  Sure 'nuf.  The large capacity thing was full.  I removed the head assembly from the tank adapter and rolled the thing to the curb.  After realizing that the bag was too full to squeeze through the opening without ripping, I realized that if I removed the tank adapter, it would slide right out.  Wow.  I was feeling pretty stupid.

I sent The Daddler into the house to fetch the garbage bags, with explicit instructions as to their location.  Five minutes later he came strolling out empty-handed.  I hoofed it to the laundry room, hoping to get back before he'd started a wild-fire or burned the motor up or shredded his hand or cut his cornea or caused a myocardial infarction.  Or electrocuted himself.

I kept trying to rein him in.  I was worried about his back.  I was amazed at his unflagging stamina after our near miss with the grim reaper two days before.  He refused to take a break.  I must admit, more than worrying about his well-being, I was trying to avoid more doctors' visits or an emergency room trip.  Four crises in one week was a record. 

Then I had an epiphany.  I ran to get a chair from the patio.  If I could get him to sit down and just guide the leaves into the hose as I raked them from the yard, we might avoid medical intervention.  He complied.  After another two bags and 75 minutes, though, I thought about his lung condition.  I was sure the dust and leaf mold couldn't be good for him.  Still, he refused to go inside.

Ok, there's so much more.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Suffice it to say that I was in Martyr Mode.  Especially after he bitched me out for bringing the huge thing inside.  I told him five times that the label said to store it inside and never at temperatures below freezing.  More head shaking and sighs of disgust.  I refrained from elder abuse and even heated up some soup and cornbread for him.  He didn't complain even though he'd had it for lunch (he can't tolerate leftovers).  I think he saw the wild look in my eyes.  And maybe remembered that I have Power of Attorney.  More likely, though, he was exhausted.  And I'd fallen asleep and he'd had to fend for his own dinner the day before.

Or, maybe, just maybe, he was happy.  And appreciated me.  I know he loves me.  But I forget sometimes.  I'm sure he does, too.  But now and then, we both remember.   

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