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FIXIT

By Hank Roll

I'm getting organized. If you don't put your stuff in some kind of order you can drown in it. I've already lost two cats and a type-writer in my living room alone. I know they're in there somewhere but I just don't know where. Occasionally I hear a questioning, "Mew?" or see a furry head bob up to get its bearings and then disappear back into the accumulation again going to do whatever it is that cats do when no one can see them.

Today I started to clean out the hall closet. I got the skis out although they had become romantically attached to the Venetian blinds. They're still in pretty good shape and I might use them again if we have a good winter and I don't want the light to come in the upstairs windows. The vacuum cleaner would work perfectly fine if it just had a new bag. I can stick the bare wires in the bad wall plug and get it running with a minimum of sparking. I tried to get a bag but they're discontinued. It shouldn't be too hard to make one from a pillowcase once I get the motor on the sewing machine rewired.

The shelf in the closet is loose so I had to prop it up with the ironing board. The skis were too long to use for props unless I braced them sideways and then the shelf would gradually slide down and push the door open and deposit all the stuff out in the hall, usually in the middle of the night. I decided if I fixed the shelf I could catch up on the ironing. (I'm only 14 months behind. I can use the microwave on some stuff but once a wrinkle is set, you have to pound it out with a hammer.) The braces under the closet shelf were pulling out of the wall so all I needed to fix it were longer screws. Which are in the basement.

The cellar door is warped a bit so I have to use the broom handle to wedge it open enough to slip thru. The basement lights may have a bad connection somewhere because sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Jumping on the second step will usually get them on. But jumping too hard causes the step to cave and you end up in the coal cellar. I usually just use a flashlight or matches. I think the flashlight is in the bathroom somewhere and the good new batteries are probably in the hall closet. The matches are good for burning cobwebs, too. I hate having them stick to my face when I go down there so I usually wear an old gasmask I keep hanging at the top of the stairs. Its a little snug and the elastic bands aren't adjustable and the filter is clogged so I usually have to prop a pencil across my nose to breathe. This makes it harder to see the rafters so after a few years of lumps on my head I stapled pillows to the overhanging beams allowing me to get down there without losing consciousness.

The old printing press at the bottom of the steps is too big and heavy to move without help so I've nailed some pallets and two by fours together to make a temporary bridge over it. Beyond that is my collection of wagon wheels. I just have to put them in order one of these days. The fluorescent light sputters and smokes when I leave it on too long so I quickly grab a handful of long nails and screws, dump them in my pocket and scan for the hammer. Nowhere in sight. I grab the monkey wrench instead. Wipe the dust, rust and grease off with my shirt and charge back upstairs. Into the rafters.

Take a short rest on the stairs till my head stops pounding and on to the kitchen. Promised not to drink from orange juice container so dump coffee grounds out of cup from sink and pour OJ in it. Can't finish it all so pour rest back into container. See something moving in the back of fridge when I put the OJ back. Hope it's the jello. Trip over skis that some fool left propped up in hallway, stumble into open closet door and fall into closet. Grab for shelf to steady myself. Big mistake. Shelf comes out of wall. Stuff slides to floor. Brainstorm: not big mistake. Arrange big stuff on floor. Put shelf on top of it. Put small stuff on top of shelf. Problem solved. Shelf can't fall down and stuff is easier to reach now. Discover hammer with the stuff in closet. Wonder where the monkey wrench went. Must remember to check for it next time I'm in kitchen. Now, where's that TV Guide?

Hank Roll    

Originally published in THE PHOENIX, the monthly newsletter of Western Pennsylvania Mensa and in the Mensa Bulletin The Magazine of American Mensa.   Reprinted with permission.


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