Dragonflies are extraordinary creatures. Why do they have four wings anyway? They're both creepy and beautiful at the same time. This week, I bring you my take on a dragonfly just because I like 'em.
However, last weekend found me under the kitchen sink.
I replaced the kitchen faucet (tap) and the RO (Reverse Osmosis) Water Filter over the weekend. They were at least 15 years old and looked like they'd never been serviced.
Water in Arizona, at least this part of Arizona, is harder than getting a straight answer from a politician. Hard water will clog your pipes and faucets and cause your water to have that distinctive yucky taste. I know our water softener isn't working. I had to turn on the bypass because it was leaking water. I guess, after a while in the harsh Phoenix summers, rubber seals and gaskets will wear out.
Off to Lowes and Home Depot. I know I've mentioned it, but just in case you haven't caught it, Lowes and Home Depot will give veterans a 10% discount. I like that.
Ordinarily, I just like to get things done. That would mean I go to the store, buy the equipment, install the equipment.
Andrea has introduced me to an all-new technique called research and comparison. She says, "It's called shopping, dear."
I'm not a great shopper. I'm an excellent buyer, though. Send me to the store for milk, I'll come back with milk. If you want 2% milk, you'd better tell me so. If you'd like 2% organic milk, make a point of mentioning it. If you rather have 2% organic milk delivered by free-range cows in the field rather than by machine, I can get that. But, if you ask for milk, you'll get milk - the kind I like.
Okay, sometimes, when I go to the store for milk, I'll go a little off-piste and bring back beer and, or a bottle of scotch as well. That's a risk you take when you send me to the store for anything.
It works, but it doesn't always produce the best results.
Andrea, in comparison, is the high priestess of retail exploration and evaluation. She'll compare everything.
So the expedition was under-way. Decisions had been made. Scott was sent into buying mode. Off to Home Depot. Home Depot carried the brand and type of softener and filter we wanted. I headed straight back to aisle 45, where the water softeners and water filters are. All the way to the back of the store.
We passed so many things we needed too. Didn't I need a pole trimmer to trim the ironwood tree out front? "Hey, there's that drill I always wanted!" "Didn't I say I wanted a new saw as well?" "Oh, wow, there's that pegboard to organize my tools!"
I guess it's all the equivalent of coming home with that six-pack of beer and a bottle of scotch.
I'm like a puppy chasing a squirrel.
With the drill, the pegboard, and the pole trimmer in the cart, I made a bee-line back to aisle 45. You do know bees don't really travel in a straight line, don't you? If they did, how would they discover new flowers?
We knew which water filter we wanted, so that was in the cart right away. Needing somebody to install the water softener, I wanted to check if Home Depot had any professional plumbers who could do the job.
So, I went to an employee in the kitchen area.
I stood beside her desk for several minutes. I startled her out of one of those inane "satin or silk, leather or lace, coffee or tea?" conversations she was having with her colleague. When she finally noticed I was there, she had that look in her eye: "Unexpected customer in the shopping area!!!"
I started to explain that I needed a plumber to install a water softener for me. She cut me off halfway through my explanation and pulled out a piece of paper. "What's your last name?"
I thought, hmm, I guess I'll play her bureaucratic game. Maybe it's necessary. Maybe it'll be fun. After playing the "fill out the paperwork form" game with her, she said somebody would call me. Don't expect them to call you today, maybe tomorrow. Couldn't you send an email? Couldn't you make a call? Could you be helpful? I guess not.
The upshot of it is, I got the water filtration system home. Again, Andrea to the rescue!
"Scott, shouldn't you take the parts out of the box and make sure they're all there?"
I explained that I wasn't going to start the project until the weekend, and there was no need to go through it now. I'll go through it on the weekend.
I got that Andrea look that said, "Don't be a fool, you're going to start the job, and you'll have to waste time going back to exchange the part. It'll happen when you've already taken the old faucet and filter out, and you're ready to install the new one. Don't you think it would be a good idea to check it now so if you go back now you could order a new one, and they could deliver it before the weekend?
Okay, I'll do it now.
Yes, you guessed it. All the fancy-schmancy fittings and fixings were missing. Arrrrrg... The next day I was off to Home Depot to return the filter and pick up another one.
In the meantime, I got a call from the water softening engineers. The young man on the other end of the phone said he was from Acme Water Filtration Company (not the name to protect the innocent). Wiley Coyote said he'd like to come out and test our water to recommend the best system for the job. I said, "Sorry, all I want is somebody to install a water softener I bought at Home Depot!".
The kid was very polite and said. "Oh, we don't just do installations. How much were you looking to spend?"
"Listen, my friend. I want somebody to come to my house. I want them to politely ring the doorbell and tell me they're here to install the water softener I've already bought."
"I don't want you to recommend an internet-ready, wifi-enabled, smart-logic, HydroOrgasmic, gold plated, whistleblowing, hornswoggling, whole home water purification system that'll do backflips into my swimming pool for $2,700!"
"I want a bloody PLUMBER!"
Wiley said their service was probably not the best for the job I had at hand - Beep Beep. He thanked me, and I thanked him.
Then, with the grace of a major league baseball pitcher, I gently laid the phone down on the floor on the other side of the house. It followed a flight path that traversed my office, the living room, the dining room, and careened off the wall in the kitchen. Not wise as the phone would cost more than a new water softener to replace.
I searched the archives of my brain and remembered some very competent folks at Paradise Plumbing who replaced the water heater here a couple of years ago. I talked to a man named Ron on the other end of the line. Within three minutes, we agreed on a price and scheduled an appointment. Water softener sorted.
That left me with the faucet and the under-sink water filter to install, and that was accomplished by me last weekend. No major hiccups.
Of course, the job started, as all projects do, with a bit of staring, some rubbing of my chin (beard), and the ritual organizing the tools.
I removed the old faucets with minimal cussing and frustration. Then it was hooking up the new.
I needed a sous-chef for the installation. "Andrea!"
You always need another arm when you're installing something under the sink, don't you?
Well, the installation, though a bit laborious, was going rather smoothly. Hook this bit up here. Tighten that bit down there. When I crawled under the sink, Andrea was laughing her backside off.
I said, "What's so funny?"
She said, "I can't see how you actually fit under the sink. The proportions look all off. It looks like you're trying to stuff a whole loaf of bread in a single slice toaster all at the same time."
To be honest, it was a bit of a tight fit. She does have some brilliant observations.
I emerged with all the hook-ups hooked up. The water was flowing nicely with no leaks. The filtration system was installed, and the new faucets were in place. Then, a rookie mistake. I can't believe I did it. I followed the instructions to the letter.
Nevertheless, as I was testing the water to see if it was okay, I noticed, it was bound to happen, the hot was on the right, and the cold was to the left. How did I get the hot and cold switched around? It was that great sinking feeling you get when you thought you'd done an outstanding job only to find out something fundamental went very wrong.
Instead of just crawling back under the sink and fixing them, I asked Andrea what apparently was, one of the most blatantly stupid questions in the world.
"Andrea, Would you mind if I just left it like that?"
Well, you would have thought I just asked if she didn't mind if I stopped brushing my teeth for the next six months.
The look I got was sufficient. You know, the look that says, "You stupid man."
But, it's true, as a guy, I would have probably just lived with it until I burned my hands a couple of times. Eventually, it needed to be done.
Back under the sink to do what I should have just done anyway. It would have saved me vast amounts of humiliation and the ritual eating of crow.
We now have a new functioning water filtration system and brand modern brushed nickel faucets topping our kitchen sink.
By the way. Here are some rules that will help you with your next DIY Project. I'm sure you'll recognize some of them.
DIY Rule # 1:
To the uninitiated and inexperienced, even things that look relatively easy, are not as easy as they look.
DIY Rule # 2:
If you do DIY, make sure you have plenty of ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Band-Aids.
DIY Rule # 3:
Don't always take the word of a Home Depot Store clerk.
DIY Rule # 4:
Watch plenty of YouTube Videos.
DIY Rule # 5:
Don't assume, because you've watched the YouTube videos, that the job will be any easier.
DIY Rule # 6:
Even relatively easy things take about twice as long as you think they will. I started the job at 11 am and finished as it was just approaching 4 pm.
DIY Rule # 7:
Don't even remotely assume the lazy option will promote domestic tranquility.
DIY Rule # 8:
Don't ask stupid questions. Of course, the hot water needs to be on the left.
DIY Rule # 9:
Be sure to have a refreshing adult beverage on hand for the end of the job. You need motivation.
DIY Rule # 10:
I do get a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, seeing it working as it should, and knowing that I did. But sometimes it's better to call a professional. Preferably, someone you know and trust.
I continue the quest for my DIY merit badge.
Until next week, I wish you peace.