It's not about the house.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 39: That's Enough Of That

Oy yoy yoy. If you live with somebody you love, don’t smoke, okay? Or, actually, go ahead and smoke all you want, just make sure you always have a spare carton in the freezer.

Because I don’t really care about the cancer or the smell or any of the rest of it – that’s all your body and your stink and I’d just as soon keep my laws off the whole shebang. But sheesh, a smoker without smokes is a pain in the toosh – and now that’s my toosh we’re talking about.

Johnny was out of cigarettes – had been for about an hour – when I asked him to tell me how to patch the closet. He said he was going out to get them and I asked him to set me up before he left – because around here “going for cigarettes” can sometimes be code for “going for a pint” (and “going for a pint” can sometimes be code for “going for several”), so I wanted my direction before he stepped out the door.

“There you go: knives, gypsum, pot, tape, joint compound’s in the bedroom, little bit of water with this, stir it, use it fast or it’ll set up, stick, screws, slap it on there, do you want me to mix it for you?”

What? Mix? Sure. Okay. Um. I have to change my clothes and get a ladder…

“No no not a ladder, this is just for the big holes, that stuff up there you’ll use the joint compound, spread it on, cut the tape, press it in, cut it off, spread it over, do you want me to mix it for you?”

“The joint compound? I mean the gypsum? Sure, thanks. Hang on, I’ll go change and get a—I mean, I’ll just go change.”

HEAVY SIGH… feet tapping…

“You know what, Johnny? Why don’t you go ahead? I’ve got this figured out.”

Zip-bang, he was gone.

Okay now, what did he say?

Let’s see. I do remember him doing this once in the living room when we moved the couch and accidentally put a corner of it through the wall. You get a stick of some sort (paint stirrer? paint stirrer ought to do) and you put it through the hole so it’s behind the wall. Then you get a couple screws (drywall screws? drywall screws ought to do) and screw it in so it’s attached to the back of the wall. That gives the gypsum something to hold on to, otherwise it’ll just keep falling through and you’ll fill up the wall before you manage to patch the hole.

Except for, how are you supposed to hold the stick in there while you screw it? If I move the stick over enough so I can hold it with my fingers, it’s too far over to one side to even block the hole. I could make the hole bigger, make more room for me to hold the stick – but then of course the hole would be bigger and I’d probably need another stick.

Oh, I know! I’m a genius!

I went and got a rubber band, wrapped it around the center of the stick and looped my fingers through – the stick mashed up against the back of the wall quite nicely. And the top screw went in so easy! I thought it would be harder to hold the stick steady while the screw went through it but it just went whistling on through. Now I just need the other screw and—

Plonk.

Hm. Apparently the screw only went whistling through the wall. The stick, still unattached, was now on the floor between the walls with all the spider poop.

So I get another stick, another rubber band. This time I’m more careful that the stick actually be touching the screw when I hit it with the power screwdriver. This time I remember about how rubber bands actually stretch and realize maybe they weren’t the best choice for this job (although I still haven’t come up with a better answer), but once it’s sort of attached I can sort of get my finger behind it and give it a sort of tug. Good enough.

Sort of.

I had put the top screw through the first, whistling hole – so I had something to go by – but the second screw is trickier. This one keeps bouncing off the stick behind it and going wonky on me. Finally – after much sweating and swearing – I get the screw to go through the stick and stay there. Really. It’s not the sturdiest construction job I ever saw, but this is just a patch job in the back of a spare-room closet: the screws only have to hold until the plaster sets.

Now, plaster… what’d he say… little bit of water… how are you supposed to scoop out the… ugh, not with your hand I guess… oops, that’s probably not something that ought to be left to get wet and harden on the bathroom tile floor… okay, now that that’s all vacuumed up I’ll try pouring … how much, though? Stir it with what? This knife? Well, the bigger one won’t fit so might as well…

Hey, that looks like stuff! Like real plaster-patching stuff! I think I mixed it up just right by chance on my first try!

So I got the bigger knife and I took my tub into the closet. I gave it one last stir and took a healthy glob up on the knife, put it to the newly stick-filled hole and—

Plonk.

Huh. Apparently all that wrangling with the sticks had made those holes in the drywall just that much bigger than the screws.

So, balls. Swearing and sweating and stomping because those were of course the last two screws in the drill case (well, not technically, but even I knew enough not to use 50 pound masonry screws), and I’ve already mixed up the plaster and it’s going to set before I can get another g-d stick in there. But standing here staring at it isn’t doing anything so I might as well dump it out and go down cellar for another couple sticks and screws.

But I forgot to dump it out, and the second stick didn’t take as long to put in there as the first one, and the plaster was still good when I was ready for it. Well, almost good. Good enough, anyway. Or at least I thought so. And Johnny wasn’t home.

So I filled up that old hole (the stick stayed in place this time) but I ran out of the almost-dried up plaster so I had to go mix more before I could finish with the other two, smaller, stickless holes.

Oh. Hey, I should’ve just filled them with this when it was wet and then made more for that first hole.

The second batch didn’t go so well. I thought I was a pro so I sloshed water in there and slished plaster dust, and it came out like plaster soup. So I sloshed dust and slished water and by the time I had the right consistency I had way too much plaster. I had about a cup’s worth, and I needed a tablespoon or two. So I spread it out where it was needed, then I tossed a little extra on the big hole for good measure (I don’t know if I was supposed to put wet stuff over half-dry plaster or not; if it doesn’t come out okay, no telling).

I set the pot of plaster down to dry and (eventually) be thrown away, and went into the other room for the bucket of joint compound to start the up-on-the-ladder, spread and tape and cut and whatever-he-said stuff.

But then I thought: You know what?

I've had enough of this.

(For today, I mean, Goody. I'll j.c. tomorrow...)

Day 38: Accomplished
Time: 25 minutes
Cost: Nothing
Why I Have A New-Found Respect For Pamela DesBarres: Plaster Casters

2 comments:

cuz donna said...

One time my Johnny slipped on a toy and fell halfway down the spiral stairs. He stopped falling when his knee went thru the plaster and lath (OMG, I am cracking up right now thinking about it.) He stuffed newspaper in the hole before plastering it. I've done it myself a few times, works great! Not as funny to read about though...

EGE said...

I'm late getting to this, but I just have to say...

"He stuffed newspaper in the hole before plastering it. I've done it myself a few times"

Gee, Donna, do you by any chance have a child or two?