Thursday, September 26, 2013

Home Improvement

My younger sister and her husband have been graciously providing a roof over my head off and on for the past couple of months. This is my gypsy life. I sleep where I am offered a room. My family has been generous and kind in allowing me a little space to call my own in between house sitting gigs and trips out of the country.

So when the sister and bro-in-law took off out of town last week, I decided it was time I tackled a project for them. A little gift of my appreciation. I brainstormed and thought about all the different things I could maybe do that would be helpful and a nice surprise when they returned home. And I settled on replacing the dog door.

Their big goofy dog, Daliah, who doesn't realize her own size, charged through this door when I was house sitting some other time in the past. It's been patched and nailed into place ever since. Now I have been reading Young House Love for years, and figured osmosis was a good teacher in learning how to DIY a home improvement project.

I was wrong.

First, I measured. Then I headed to the big store to purchase a replacement dog door.

I got it home. And armed myself with the new tools I had recently purchased for car repair purposes. I set to work removing the door. Feeling proud that I was going to get this done easy-peasy, I held the new door in place, only to realize the new door was narrower than the old broken one. This was not going to work.

Back to the store I went to return the door and purchase the next largest size.

The next day, I had to borrow a saw and dig out a drill. I would need a bigger hole in the door to accommodate the larger door. It should be noted that I had never in my life used a drill or a saw. And certainly not unsupervised. I got my tools home and set to work. It was slow going with the saw. Not at all as smooth as the directions indicate.

That's when I learned that different blades work on different material. This door was apparently metal with a foam core. A wood blade wasn't working well. I switched blades and it was as if choirs were singing. And then the blade snapped and the chorus screeched to a halt.

Back to the store I went to purchase more metal blades.  Standing in the store, I was confused. Out of my element. I was wise enough to bring a piece of the broken blade with me, but I could not find anything that looked remotely similar.

And then an employee who looked exactly like she could be my grandma came down the aisle to offer assistance and point me in the right direction. She took one look at the piece of saw blade I offered and promptly doled out all the wisdom she had in her and handed me the proper blade I'd need. I wanted so much to ask her to come home with me so she could finish the job. I'd bake her some cookies. Cookies, I know how to do. Dog doors and jigsaws are beyond my capabilities. But I refrained and went on home alone.

I set to work with my new blade, and was beginning to make good progress. I finally had one side of the door cut, but the door was too thick and I had a couple of flaps on the other side of the door to cut when I hear a voice come from the darkness on the other side of the fence.

"Hello," came the disembodied voice.

"Yes. Hello." I replied. Not even sure that I had actually heard anyone at all.

"My son's window is right there," said the female voice.

"Really?" I said. "I am almost done here."

"But his room is right there," she said.

I had heard tales of this neighbor. I wondered how she'd feel about my sawing things at 8:30 a.m. as opposed to 8:30 p.m. But I quit for the night. Thoroughly annoyed.

I barricaded the hole in the door in order to keep skunks out of the house and went to bed.

I rose the next morning and began sawing away. It took me all of 20 minutes to not only finish sawing but also install the door. Then I had to leave for the day to the gym and to work. Saturday night I picked up calk on my way home. I got home and set to work. First I noticed my earlier install wasn't level, so I fiddled with that. Then set to caulking.

I had to wait for the caulk to dry and set, but Sunday I found a small jar of pain and a brush and I touched up the paint job on the door. I gave it two coats and called it good.

A job that would've taken anyone else an hour or so, took me 4 days to complete. But it's done, and I think even Dahlie approves.

And so far she hasn't plowed her giant head through this door yet.


  1. I am really proud of you. I would never even have been brave enough to attempt something like this let alone complete it. It doesn't matter how long it took, the point is you did it!!!!! GREAT job!

    1. It may be the last time I ever attempt anything like it too.

  2. You know what kiddo? That's pretty much how I learned to do things. Now there is nothing I won't fix myself. Actually kind of fun once you figure it out. Glad it turned out successful.

    Love you ShelbyDee, Gary

    1. I sort of feel that way about fixing things on my car, that it's kind of fun. But my car so far hasn't required large equipment, like saws, to fix it. Thanks for your encouragement, Gary!

  3. My favorite part? That annoying neighbor.

    1. Figures! It totally reminded me of the show Home Improvement when Tim Allen would talk to the neighbor Wilson over the fence, but you never saw Wilson's face. It was exactly like that. Except for I didn't even get to see the top of her head.

  4. Kudos to you for accomplishing that on your own! That is one good looking dog door ;) I have a couple of pups who need one installed if you decide to get into the professional dog door installation business ;)

    1. Thanks! If I ever recover from having installed the one, I'll let you know. I know two things about it: it shouldn't have taken so much time or been so difficult to accomplish. I am sure someone else with more experience could whip this out for you much sooner than I could.