This is obviously a posting theme for 2011.
In January I got around to self-cleaning the oven. In March (for February and March) I threw out half the stuff in the shed; donated half my clothes to Goodwill; threw out the dud pens in the pen drawer; threw out all the extra medicine and toiletries in two cabinets, a chest, and a hamper; and re-painted the rusted refrigerator.
It's now April, and I have patched the holes in the plaster in the living room (still to do: plaster holes over the shower, which are at an angle that's much trickier to fill. But I now have all the supplies I need to do it correctly, so my victory is inevitable). I also notified my landlord about the structural oddity next to the bathtub, so that will be addressed. To do: check all the outlets in the house; pack all the stationery supplies; pack my winter clothes; tap into some local sources for boxes; put all the mini-blinds back up; and clean the candle smoke off the bathroom walls with TSP. But yesterday I accomplished something next to which all these other items pale.
About a year or two ago our toilet stopped flushing for some unknown reason. My husband tinkered with the flushing mechanism and it resumed flushing. However, we now had to hold down the handle through about 60% of the flushing time, or it wouldn't flush completely. I became accustomed to this little ritual, and I now forget about the problem until we have a party and half the guests can't figure it out. (I always mean to put a little explanation up and I always forget. But it's kind of ghetto to have an explanation next to your toilet anyway.) Now that I'm thinking about leaving our house, though, I realize that we can't hand it over to someone else without this problem fixed.
Now, I like to be a little bit handy - I can saw wood, and nail pieces of wood together, and I even pre-drill pilot holes sometimes, and I learned to use shop tools at one point, and I can patch plaster and my painting skills are OK (my spray-painting is still pretty remedial, though). But I just do not fix toilets. I was unwilling to call a plumber, though, so I had to be brave.
First I googled and learned all about what causes toilets to behave in this way (possibilities: chain too long; floater worn out). Then I peered into the tank to see whether I could find all the parts they were referring to (some, but not all). Then I went to the home improvement store to see whether an examination of the parts themselves would clear up the remaining mysteries. It did, and I brought one home. But I realized (before I ripped the package open, fortunately) that its fitting was slightly too small for our probably decades-old toilet.
So I brought it back and peered through all the flappers and found one with the same design as ours (a more variable fitting), for a whole dollar more: $5.67, I think. I brought it home. I turned off the water to the toilet (if you have to play with knobs or water lines, that constitutes Serious Toilet Repair, in my book). I removed the old flapper with no casualties. I got the new flapper to attach. I hooked up the chain from the new flapper. I then perceived - all by myself! - that the chain was too long and would interfere with a proper flush. I adjusted the chain several times to achieve the right amount of slack. I turned the water back on. And it flushed properly.
I'm not sure this brief narration conveys how serious an event this is. I have a couple of diplomas from college and law school. Apparently they thought that existing in one place for several consecutive years and showing up for class was some kind of big deal, and I should have some parchment and calligraphy in commemoration thereof. But this - this is an achievement. There should be some sort of serious recognition for an accomplishment like this. No more will I live at the mercy of dark powers, cowering in fear lest the devices on whose mysterious workings I depend should betray me.
I can fix my own toilet.
Continuing my tribute:
"You're whistling up the wrong neck of the woods."