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Friday, 3 June 2011

The Crazy Limey Memorial Screen Door

PRESS RELEASE:  This is to announce that from now on all visitors to the red house must pass through the Crazy Limey Memorial Screen Door. Yes, it’s up, it’s swinging, and it’s been keeping insects at bay for a little over twelve hours.

Hold on a moment. I feel a bad pun coming on.

There is a fly in the ointment. I still have to install the ‘door closer’. As it stands – and you can see by the photograph that it stands rather handsomely – the shiny new door requires to be pushed open and pulled shut. Later today I shall attempt to rig up the little gizmo that automatically closes it. Only then will it be the thing it says it is on the accompanying literature: a Swinging Screen Door (or, for the benefit of any Hispanic readers, Puerta Oscilatoria Mosquetera – which to my ear carries a hint of romance, don’t you think?)

I simply ran out of steam yesterday. The job had drained me. First there was reading the instructions, which were trimmed down to so few words that I had to sit and ponder them, and juggle all the various bits of hardware, until lunchtime.  (Okay, I take lunch any time from eleven onwards, but trust me, it took some pondering.)

Then I had to find a hacksaw to adjust the length of the Hinge Adjustment Channels. I was so exhausted by figuring out what the hell they were that I had to pause for a cup of tea.

Having trimmed the aluminum Channels to the required length I was left with a couple of nasty jagged edges, but this is where a little of that frontier ingenuity came in: I filed them smooth using a small chunk of native rock – and felt very pleased with myself.

I now faced the most daunting challenge: working out how and where to fit the strike plate. The instructions weren’t exactly helpful and clear: “install on wood jamb or aluminum Z bar to firmly engage latch bolt.”  The latch bolt, yes, I could identify that; but how was I to tell where it would hit the door-jamb before I’d installed it?  (And thank goodness I didn’t have a Z bar to worry about.) This is where quite a chunk of the afternoon went, not so much in deciding where to put it, but agonising about what to do should I have it in the wrong place.

I made my decision, drilled guide holes for the screws with that sharp slender attachment on my Swiss Army knife for which I’ve never really found a use, and screwed it in place. 

I won’t bore you with the rest of it, blow by blow, but will say that attaching the door handle and associated parts was a long and tedious business of frustration and puzzlement which necessitated the use of some strong language. When I’m required to drill three holes through a brand new aluminum door, in very precise locations, I tend to knot up inside.

Once I’d got those items fitted I found that my striker plate did indeed need adjusting. Here I could have done with a nice sharp wood chisel, but made do instead with my trusty knife to take out 1/8 of an inch of timber and re-seat it.

So there we have the finished article.

After my endeavours – and after a celebratory beer – I went outside.  I could see something odd on the path, just a hundred yards from the house. Hm, I thought, as I approached a wriggling writhing knot of reptilian confusion, that snake’s got two tails.

First things first: it was not a rattler. It was not even a snake. It was a pair of them, and they were - how shall I put this? – at it, in broad daylight, in a public place.

I left them to it, and returned to admire my handiwork.

Question: where do all the bugs go when they realise they can’t just waltz in through the front door?  Answer: they hammer at the kitchen window.

It got up to 91 degrees yesterday and was still around 70 some time after dark. So I guess this is a taste of things to come.

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