Lucy and Ethel vs. The Closet Door

One of the nice things about being a home owner is the autonomy you get to enjoy. You can decorate it as you wish, remodel it as you wish, leave it as messy or neat as you wish and have as many occupants or pets as you wish. The other party in the mix, your mortgage holder, doesn’t seem to mind what you do with your house, even though they usually technically own more of the house then you do, just so long you keep making payments.

The downside of being a homeowner is that 100% of all improvements, maintenance and repairs fall directly upon you, the home owner. Many homeowners have skill sets that allow them to do basic tasks to maintain their home with little problem. Most also own at least one power tool that doesn’t include a lawn mower, or have a neighbor, friend or relative who has the skills or the tools to do the job.

I don’t own a power tool, having given them up when I gave up my former spouse. I really didn’t know how to use them anyway, as I tend to make a bigger mess with one then without. Thankfully the house was not in need of any repairs when my ex and I split, so I didn’t really bother with replenishing any items the normal homeowner has on hand.

Then my garbage disposal quit. Its not that big a deal, as I didn’t use it that much anyway, but that side of the sink tends to back up now, which also tends to affect my dishwasher that is getting up there in years. I keep the innards of the disposal cleaned out and know where the plunger is. I’ve been totally intimidated at the thought of changing that thing out myself.

Not to long ago one of the bi-fold closet doors to my laundry closet fell off. I used to have a small chest freezer and one day it tripped a breaker and defrosted itself…all over the closet floor. Thankfully there was nothing that I couldn’t stand to throw out in the freezer as I didn’t keep that much in it anyway. It was soon running again fine. I sold it not too much later. What I didn’t realize at the time that enough water had run out of that freezer to soak the bottom of one of the closet doors quite nicely. Who knew that Masonite soaked up water like a sponge then reformed itself in a slightly different configuration at a much later date? I didn’t either. But what happened was that the little peg that held up the bottom of the door got sucked right up into the Masonite and split the faux wood. In other words, the door is no longer useful for its original purposes.

When I had a spare $40, I roped my youngest, Megan, into going to Home Depot with me. After all she has the vehicle large enough to carry a new door. I drive a Neon. We found the one we needed, in the proper size. Did I mention that I have no idea where my large tape measure currently is hiding? I have one somewhere, so I used the sewing type measure instead. Hey, I am at least adaptable. We put the door onto a cart, paid for it and got it loaded, only nearly tipping it out of the cart once.

Once home we unloaded the door and put the little pegs on either end that were to hold the door in place. That is when we discovered we had a problem. My old door is original with the house, so it is about 18 years old. The new door is, well new. Who knew that certain things like fastening hardware would change in 18 years? Stop smirking all you home improvement experts, I am a novice.

Now we had a real dilemma. The old door had little plastic pegs for the top side that didn’t take too much effort to remove. Not so the new door, These had plastic encased metal pegs, one with a knob on top. They went in easy enough, but when you pulled them out the plastic casing remained, making the peg holes now too small. It took one of us holding the door (me) and the other (Megan) using a flat screw driver and a hammer to get one of the casings out of the hole. It finally came out after much maneuvering and profanity. The second casing only yielded the little capped top. It came off quite nicely.

An adept home maintenance guru would have reached into his magical tool box of tricks and pulled out something that would have made that stupid casing come out of the hole with minimal effort. My magical tool box contains a hammer, a few screwdrivers and a wrench, or are they pliers, I always get those mixed up. It is utterly lacking in magic.

Being too stubborn to give up, we, the Lucy and Ethel of home repairs, pressed on. Megan got the biggest screwdriver we had and hammered it into the hole then pulled it out a few times, trying to either push the casing down far enough, or break it up so it would just fall out. I held on to the door as she worked, hoping her efforts would work. It took several minutes and more use of those words we don’t repeat to our grandmothers for results to occur to our satisfaction.

Now we could hang the door.

Any one who can hang a bi-fold closet door by themselves has my complete admiration. It took Megan and I over an hour. First, we had to adjust the little tray inserted into the track. Ok we had to adjust it several times. Then it was time to get the door’s little pegs into all the places they were intended to go.

It would have worked except the door was too short!

After several attempts, we were out of options. We couldn’t understand why the door wouldn’t fit. Megan who’s patience is only slightly shorter then mine, but apparently thinks slightly better under pressure went back to the minimal instructions we had to see if we had missed anything. Who knew that the lower peg had an adjustment screw attached so that one could custom fit a closet door to fit the opening? Ok, you home improvement gurus can just stop laughing, we did figure it out…eventually.

Finally the door was hung, and it worked just like it was supposed to. All that was left now was to paint it and install the knob. Who knew how hard it was to hammer a pilot hole into Masonite? I guess we are going to have to get a drill after all. The installation of the knob will just have to wait a bit longer.

We do feel the sense of accomplishment. Megan and I, the one who writes the mortgage check, completed a home repair project all by our little selves. We did it with no injury to ourselves and with only the use of a couple of hand tools and sheer determination. I feel empowered. I feel like tackling something else. I feel like replacing a garbage disposal!

Or maybe not.


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