It has happened to all of us.
Every now and then life just seems to get in the way of your writing.
This month – for instance. I have been busy with my Kindle Scout Campaign. I have been busy phoning and e-mailing various contractors regarding the construction of a brand new driveway. I have been working extra hours at work. I have been getting ready for several October public appearances. I went to a wake last night and there will be a funeral today.
Life gets in the way sometimes.
It does for all of us.
Let me tell you about some of these interruptions.
One of the problems I am dealing with is some much-needed work that has needed doing around the house. There is the new driveway, as I mentioned. This is a necessity. Our old driveway – on the back of the house backs into a very busy intersection, which makes it very hazardous to drive out of on certain times of the day. Besides the risk of collision it is also a less than ideal position for snow shoveling. Last winter our little gold Toyota was buried in the driveway by the combination of me being flat on my back with pneumonia during a VERY heavy snowfall, and the numerous visits of the snowplow completely burying our vehicle. By the time I could get at it our car was embedded in about a foot of accumulated ice and about two feet of snow. I was not able to free the car for use until the arrival of springtime. As a result we suffered some serious rust damage and are facing a trip to the mechanic for some body work.
Besides that problem, last winter also buried our roof beneath a mass of ice and snow that ALMOST broke the roof. The kitchen roof was leaking and the rafters in the upstairs were beginning to push down against the ceiling. I had to get up there and hack the ice off and shovel a couple of tons of snow.
Needless to say all of this took up a large chunk of my writing time. I try and not mind these sort of interruptions. Every kite needs a string, I tell myself. All of this foolishment and challenges that fate throws in front of me just give me all that more to write about.
So – this winter in addition to the new driveway I decided to put up heating cables. You know – the kind that melt the ice build-up to help prevent ice dams.
Let me tell you about those heating cables.
I’m not handy. Not one little bit. I make Red Green look like a mystically-talented handyman prodigy. So I have to put a LOT of study into any home renovation that I contemplate.
So I studied and I carefully measured and I decided that we needed two lengths of heating cable to get the job done properly – a 100 foot length and an 80 foot length. I picked those up at Kent and brought them home. Then last Saturday I fished the 100 foot cable out of the box.
“I am going to read the instruction sheet,” I told my wife. “I am going to go outside and sit on my favorite lawn chair and study the instruction sheet closely.”
“You have fun with that dear,” she told me.
Only there wasn’t an instruction sheet in the 100 foot box. Somebody had opened up the box and neglected to return the instruction sheet to the box.
“I am going to get the instruction sheet out of the 80 foot box,” I told my wife. “Some cold hearted shoplifting bugger has stolen my instruction sheet from my 100 foot heating cable box.”
“You have fun with that dear,” she repeated.
You see, my wife has learned to stay a safe distance away from me whenever I am attempting something that is the least bit mechanically challenging – such as turning a door knob or tying my shoe laces – (God bless Velcro).
So I pulled the 80 foot cable out of it’s respective box and found the manual and went back to my lawn chair with the cable and the clips that fasten the cable to the shingles and the instruction sheet – which was really more of a manual with about thirty two pages of English instructions followed by thirty two pages of French instructions.
I’ve got a thing about how-to manuals. The way I figure it there really ought to be some sort of intuitive logic involved in the presentation of a this-is-how-you-do-it manual but MOST manuals these days are put together as if somebody had handed the directions and the illustrations to a pack of chimpanzees with a glue stick and a half a bushel of raw bran and prune juice.
I mean it might be an idea if some of these large manufacturing corporations hired a writer or two to actually write their instruction sheets, rather than relying upon graphic artists and committee-think.
This instruction manual was NO exception. It was strewn with this-is-how-you-install-your-heating-cable-when-the-wind-is-blowing-from-the-west and this-is-how-you-install-your-heating-cable-when-the-wind-is-blowing-out-of-your-wazoo. There was no real logical pattern as far as I could see. Tables and photographs were thrown haphazardly into the twenty-some pages of the English version of my how-to-tack-these-freaking-cables-to-your-roof-manual. I had to keep flipping back and forth between six different illustrated scenarios.
I mean really – wouldn’t it be better if the world was run by writers? Every possible world crisis could be averted by a simple “Fuck this shit, I am going to go and diddle about on Google and call it research.”
Every single problem on this planet could be blamed and handily dismissed by something along the lines of – “Well this is just a rough draft. Come the next strafing edit job I’ll clear that mess up in no time at all.”
So – eventually I worked up enough nerve to clamber up on top of that ladder and begin tacking my heating cable up. And – after a few attempted “drafts” I actually began to look as if I knew what I was doing. Only that cable kept looking smaller and smaller until I reached the end of the front side of the house – about ten feet shy of the mark.
Let me tell you the thing about heating cable. It’s not like extension cords. You can’t just run to the nearest hardware store and pick up another length of cord to plug into the first length. These suckers are NOT meant to connect together. You have to cover your house with one cable OR start a second cable from another end of the house and circle around to meet where the first cable left off.
What the hell happened.
I clambered down the ladder and took a few steps backwards to look at the situation. That’s something my grandfather taught me a long time ago. If you are faced with ANY sort of a problem the best way to handle it is to take a step back and smoke yourself a cigarette while you let your eyes work out what went wrong.
To this day I rely upon this simple redneck strategy. I don’t smoke, you understand. I never have. But I take a step back and I visualize my grandfather lighting a hand-rolled cigarette and puffing away slowly. And son of a gun, it usually works for me.
“I know what happened,” I said to myself. “Some bugger took the instructions out of the 100 foot box.”
Remember, the instruction manual HAD been missing from the 100 foot box.
“Some bugger took the instructions out and took the 100 foot cable out and switched boxes with an 80 foot cable in the store so that they could buy their 100 foot cable for the price of an 80 foot cable – leaving me with a freaking 80 foot cable in a 100 foot box!”
I tell you, when it comes to solving mysteries, Sherlock Holmes should be taking notes from me.
So I ran in the house.
“Did you fall off the roof?” my wife asked me. “Should I call for an ambulance?”
“I solved it,” I said. “I figured out WHY I have got an 80 foot heating cable up on my roof where a 100 foot cable out to be. Some dirty cold hearted shoplifting bugger stole my 100 foot cable and left me with an 80 foot cable and…”
The rant went on for about five minutes or an hour or so. I was simultaneously amazingly satisfied at my uncanny deductive skills and enraged at the audacity of some cold hearted shoplifting bugger having the nerve to shoplift MY 100 foot cable from the Kent store before I got there to buy it.
Columbo would have been so proud of me.
“What about that cable on the table?” My wife asked.
“That’s an 80 foot cable,” I told her half-smug at the thought of my wife actually thinking that she could out-think me when it came to handyman work. “That isn’t long enough.”
“Did you check?” she asked.
So – just to humor her I checked the cable.
The 100 foot cable.
When I had been busy fishing the instruction manual out of the 80 foot box I inadvertently hung onto the 80 foot cable and banged it up where the 100 foot cable ought to have been.
Mind you it isn’t going to be all that hard to fix this galactic-sized goof-up.
The clips that hold the cable on the roof are easy to bend open. So today – if the weather cooperates – I will clamber back up the ladder and unhook the 80 foot cable and replace it with the 100 foot cable which WILL reach the end of the roof edge and do it’s job properly.
Maybe next week I’ll attack the Christmas light situation.
I want to apologize to any cold hearted shoplifters out there who are reading this. No, you did not steal my 100 foot heating cable – although you probably DID steal my even-an-idiot-can-do-this-drunk-and-blindfolded instruction sheet – which didn’t help me all that much anyway.
Let me tell you – if you leap to a conclusion on top of the roof you are bound to leave head-shaped dents in your front lawn.
It’s day five of my Kindle Scout Campaign.
I have spent 80 hours off the Hot & Trending List which means that I need to get some more nominations. Odds are, if you are reading this you have probably already nominated my time-traveling toilet ghost story A BLURT IN TIME for Kindle Scout publication – BUT if you did get a giggle or two out of this blog entry and you haven’t nominated me why not click this link and read the two chapter excerpt and if THAT made you giggle me than help me reach my goal with a nomination.
OR – if you have already nominated me than share this blog entry anyway that you can and maybe some of your friends might giggle enough to nominate me.
I have no pride.