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LIVING
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Excuse me, but which end is up?
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to tools.

Ignorance is not bliss as publisher Brenda Malone discovered when stranded along I10 in a blistering 110F with a flat tire.

On a blistering hot August afternoon Brenda found herself suddenly stranded on Interstate 10 halfway between Palm Springs and Blythe with a flat tire. She promptly called AAA and was informed by a polite and well-intentioned operator that "someone would be there in approximately 90 minutes." Brenda, standing in 110F heat as a string of big rig trucks flew past her, many of the drivers honking and waving, came to a quick decision--she was going to have to change the tire herself. Waiting was out of the question! Surely changing a tire was something she should be able to do and her 19 year old daughter agreed.

Other essential tools for your tool kit include being prepared. For long distance travel get roadside assistance through AAA. Invest in a self-charge auto jumper, and read the manuyal for your vehicle...another useful tool

 

Brenda's roadside epiphany that every woman needs to know how to change a tire is only one of the awakenings the editors of C4W have experienced of late. I returned home after being away for 3 weeks and discovered the AC unit in the bedroom wing of the house was not working. Or so I thought. With visions of having to buy a new system dancing in my head I called a service company recommended by both my son and daughter. To my utter amazement I was told a service man would be out within two hours and that the base call out fee was $79.77. Perry Heating and Cooling in Tucson. Kudos to their efficiency.

The serviceman did arrive within the allotted time frame and to my chagrin (and cost) very kindly pointed out that the only problem with the AC unit was the filthy condition of the filters. "Filters?" I asked, "what filters?". And he showed me how to remove and replace said offending filters. He also told me to take them outside and hose them down thoroughly and, given that I cohabit with both a cat and a dog, his advice was that I clean the filters every six weeks. He then asked when I had last cleaned the filters in the other system. How embarrassing.

I'm not dumb (I can change a tire); I have an eclectic, some might say enviable, collection of tools... augmented earlier this year at the urging of a "handy" male friend who kindly offered to do a few jobs for me. (Don't ever take a well meaning male into a hardware store, bat your eyelashes and say "you just buy what you think I need", without expecting to write a very large check.) Some of my newly acquired tools are still in their original wrappings and I've forgotten why they were added to the basket. I have two planes, one smooth and one like a cheese grater and a laser leveler/stud sensor all in one unit! Note that I have yet to use it preferring instead to tap the wall, eyeball the position and pound in the nail. I have two hammers, one very hard and one soft, the latter doubles as a croquet mallet. The pride of my collection is a 6.5HP shop vac., now that I do use. As an end note to this generous offer of help around the house, stereotypes kicked in and I found myself making seven, yes seven, additional trips to the hardware store for 'essentials'. He did do a great job though.

Back on topic here; I felt totally stupid at not even thinking about these wretched filters. My late husband was not a handyman type so I don't have as an excuse that someone else always took care of things for me. It simply was not the case. I was invariably the one to look into arranging or doing routine maintenance around the house. I hadn't been thinking about filters and neither, apparently, had I been thinking about cleaning the gutters and roof of leaves (yes, trees do shed in Arizona). That little lapse lead to pooling of water and some significant damage during monsoon season. Don't know anything about your heating/cooling system maintenance schedule?...call the local distributor and ask for assistance.

I'm not making a case here for women to don welding goggles, climb ladders, manage blow torches and perform heroic household feats of daring maintenance, but I am making the case for women to be informed and aware of necessary household maintenance tasks and, if not capable of performing some of those tasks for ourselves, at the very least bring in someone who can do the job for us. It's essential too that we have a basic tool kit assembled in a convenient location (right now my tools are scattered at all points of the garage and the beautiful tool box holds a tube of epoxy,some velcro and shorts...was I planning on doing something with/in that combination? can't remember).

We've got some suggestions as to what that basic kit should contain and you are more than welcome to tell us about your favorite tool. Bonnie Lewis, contributing writer, commented while we were discussing the need to be prepared, that having the basic tool kit isn't enough. We need too, to maintain a basic level of strength, flexibility and balance in order to allow us the ease of bending, climbing, snugging under sinks. How true. I began basic weight, balance and flexibility training three years ago and am proud to say I am capable of climbing the ladder and clearing the roof (I just forgot to do it). Upper body strength came to my rescue a couple of years ago when I locked myself out of a vacation rental house late at night. Despite pleas to the dog, happily ensconced inside, I couldn't get him to work the latch so had to balance a ladder on two buckets and haul myself up onto a deck in order to gain entry. Quite honestly, I could not have done that several years earlier. Actually, that wasn't the end of that story. I had locked the deck door too. I had to climb down from the deck via the same rig consisting of ladder and buckets. I sat in the car pondering what to do next when a brainstorm hit...call the owner! Brilliant. I did and he told me where I could locate the spare key. Moral of that story...always hide a spare key or train the dog to work door locks.

Back to Brenda and the flat tire. Did you know that there is a very inexpensive little gadget you can buy that will alert you to a low (and potentially dangerous) tire pressure situation?* Let's face it, 90%of the time we are not going to be stranded in the wilds with a flat but just in case....read the manual that comes with the car. The majority of later model vehicles have very simple systems for jacking up and replacing the tire. My problem now is that with creeping arthritis in my thumb joints I don't have the strength to loosen those wretched anti theft lug nuts. Be prepared. If long road trips are your thing, get roadside assistance insurance through AAA or your insurance company and I repeat, read the manual; for some strange reason, most vehicle manuals are easily understood...mmm, wonder if they were written by women. (A note on reading the manual: a male friend recently confided that try as he might, he couldn't get a new cell phone off vibrate and onto ring. His daughter, equally frustrated, tossed the phone back with "RTFM"! I'll leave you to fill out the acronym.) Brenda and her 19 year old daughter did just that and changed the tire before road side help arrived. Another must have gadget that could be a life saver in the car is SELFCHARGE AUTO JUMPER ~ $40.00.** If you find yourself with a dead battery, just plug the unit into the cigarette lighter and you should have sufficient charge to start the car within 10 minutes. So much easier, cleaner and safer than trolling a parking lot to find someone with jumper cables and besides, on the rare occasions when I have used jumper cables, i've been convinced that both cars involved will blow up...now I no longer carry a flak jacket in the trunk! The same week that I had the filter awakening and Brenda the flat tire, publisher Genny Esterline got a call from her 18 year old daughter , "Mom, the garage door opener isn't working and I'm trapped." "See the rope honey? pull it". Sound advice for us all Genny.

 

The true handyman , the kind who can fix anything, do anything, remain cheerful and not rip you off is a gem. Let's use Connections to compile a list of local resources. A mechanic who knows what he is doing; electricians, plumbers who come when they say they will. (The last electrician I had out here walked around for two hours shaking his head and muttering 'code" before telling me he couldn't fix the problem without rewiring the entire house) and come on ladies, be generous, share the 'gems" along with your own handy tips for being prepared.


  • screwdrivers both flat head and Philips head
  • Allen wrenches/also known as hex keys
  • pliers, little pointy nosed ones can do all sorts of jobs
  • adjustable wrench
  • hammer, preferably one with a claw head
  • scissors
  • battery or electric screw driver
  • battery or electric drill with both wood and masonry heads
  • duct tape
  • plastic coated thin wire
  • Bondo Body Filler (amazing "stuff"...can fill in cracks, chips etc. in cement,ceramic, wood)
  • spirit level
  • assortment of screws, nails, picture hooks
  • double sided velcro
  • disposable foam paint brushes
  • little electric sander
  • telescoping thingy with suction pads for changing high ceiling light bulbs
  • Super glue

Do you have a favorite tool? A cannot live without gadget? Tell us about it. Ever found yourself in a "I should know how to do this" situation? How have you been resourceful when faced with a household or vehicle calamity? Tell us about a household skill that you think every woman should master. We want to hear the stories. We invite our PLATINUM MEMBERS to email livingwell@connectionsforwomen.com.

*LED Tire Alert System form Vehicle Lights, Solano Beach, CA. #858-764-0609 $5.00 plus shipping.You inflate tire to recommended pressure, screw the LED thingy onto the valve stem. If your tire pressure drops more than four pounds of air pressure, the light will flash.

** www.vat19.com

 

 

 

 

 

 
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