First let me say that I know there are “challenges” – of the type that interrupt the smooth passage of my days and give me writing material and reason to feel sorry for myself – and then there are Challenges.
I am aware of what’s going on along the Gulf Coast. I’m watching the events unfold with my heart in my mouth, terrified for all affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. I know that my little worries are not even worth mentioning, in comparison. However, the news I see is the same news we’re all watching. I’m sure my fears and concerns are no more enlightened or caring than those of the next guy. I can’t offer anything that isn’t already out there. So, as usual, I write about my own measly problems.
Yesterday, in my little house on the Fox Lake Road, the plan was to get my new vent hooked up to the clothes dryer, so that I could go back to putting laundry through the system. The new vent had arrived via UPS delivery to one of the airports here on Beaver Island…on my birthday, no less! I had read the instructions, puzzled over the placement, and accessorized with the purchase of a right angle fitting and two hose clamps. From the hardware’s “Super Savers” section, I grabbed a package of two stubby screwdrivers, just in case. I was ready…or so I thought.
There is narrow space between the dryer and the stairway wall. A nine-and-a-half inch space, to be exact, when the dryer is pushed up tight against the washing machine. That was the space I had to force my chubby self through, in order to unplug the dryer, so that I could push it forward.
Then, after sweeping out the dust and detritus that had collected there, I removed the flexible hose from the back of the dryer. In its place, I hooked up the new right-angle fitting. Using one of my brand new hose clamps, I attached one end of the flexible hose to that. The other end would fit into the bottom of my new interior vent.
The next step was to attach the vent to the wall. It wouldn’t fit on the wall behind the dryer, as an overhead cupboard gets in the way. It had to be mounted on the side wall, toward the front, so I could access the door to clean it out. I removed a framed drawing (made by my daughter, Kate, when she was six years old); for the sake of venting the dryer, it had to be relocated.
I held the vent in place and poked a purple marker through each of the holes on the back of the box, to mark the spots to put in the screw anchors. Then, because the power screw driver was not where it belonged, and I didn’t want to waste time searching for it, I made four 1/8 inch holes with my hand drill. Then I tapped the four anchors in place. The screws would go through the holes on the back of the vent, and right into the anchors, holding everything firmly in place. For just a moment there, I was feeling euphorically proud of myself.
I had three screws in place, using my new stubby Phillips-head screwdriver, when I stepped back to take a look at my handiwork. Crooked! How the hell had I managed to not see that the holes I hand drilled for the anchors were not in line with the edge of the wall – just inches away – or the floor, or the poster hanging above it? I hadn’t used a level, but I’m usually pretty good about eye-balling a straight line, especially with so many reference points. I could attribute my error only to the fact that I was crawling on hands and knees in a very narrow space.
What to do now? I clearly could not leave it hanging crookedly; that would drive me crazy! Plastic anchors are not generally reusable, assuming I could get them out, and removing them would leave four additional holes in the wall. I didn’t have extra anchors. Reluctantly, I removed every screw. I adjusted the location of the vent box to hide the unused anchors. I carefully leveled the vent. I secured it to the wall with the screws alone. Not advisable, with hollow sheet rock walls, but it would have to do.
Next, I crawled back behind the dryer to retrieve the flexible tube. I hooked the other end of it to the bottom of the new vent. I pulled the dryer back toward me to plug it in. Then, to get out. Now, to make my way out of that narrow passage, I had to go under the dryer hose and vent box! It was touch and go for a while there, but I made it.
I pushed the dryer back in place, inserted the filter into the new vent, and dried a load of clothes. Finished! All told, it took two hours yesterday, and a lot of cursing. I am newly, excruciatingly aware of how lumpy and inflexible my body is. I see the importance of having the correct tools, and of (for heavens sake!) double checking for accuracy. Still, I count the whole venture as a successful challenge. Ta-daah!!