Janet (j4) wrote,

Things fall apart

Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by broken things: things I want to fix, but don't quite know how, or don't have the tools. I don't want to throw them away (or even recycle them — repair is better than recycling) but I never quite seem to have the time/energy to fix them, or if I have the time/energy then I don't have the tools to hand, and by the time I get to the point of working out what I need, the shop that sells the tools is closed, or it's too dark to do things outside, and ... basically, "for want of a nail, FAIL".

One strategy would be to plan better: to decide "this Sunday I am going to fix the Broken Doobrie, which means I will need a thingummy and a whatsit, so I have to buy the thingummy from Sprockets 'R' Us before Sunday, and borrow the whatsit from Fred when I see him on Saturday." But that would require knowing in advance that I'm not going to feel too tired and miserable on the Sunday in question to do anything more energetic than stay in bed reading Chalet School books; and at the moment I feel like I can't take awakeness for granted, let alone feeling-up-to-doing-things-ness. (I generally feel guilty about not "feeling up to" doing things, as though it's just a question of willpower; but for once I have an actual excuse, which is that it's hard work making a whole actual human being, and sometimes I will just have to sit down and rest.) The other strategy would be to make sure I have all the thingummies and whatsits in the house to start with so that when I do have the time and the energy I've already got the tools. This is probably less efficient (there are lots of tools I will probably only need very rarely, so the sensible thing to do would be to borrow them rather than spend money on them and then have them taking up space) but on the other hand might result in things actually getting mended, which would create more space (because things could either be used by us rather than stored in a 'things that need fixing' pile, or given away to be used by someone else) and save money.

What I'd really love is some kind of regular 'fixing things' drop-in session where people could get together and bring their broken objects and fix them together, sharing tools and workspace, actively helping each other learn how to fix things, or just being companionable while they fix their own things. I don't know how I'd go about organising such a thing, though (and I don't really have the time or energy at the moment). I fail at Big Society. But, in the meantime, here are some examples of the sort of things on my mental list of things-that-need-fixing:

Two toasters. The first of these is my beloved Sunlight toaster which after over 40 years of faithful service finally stopped toasting -- the elements just don't heat up. It is such a simple thing, with so few parts, that I'm sure it must be fixable; but I don't really know where to start. The other is a toaster kindly donated to us by a friend to fill the gap left by my Sunlight; unfortunately it too needs fixing, as while it heats up, it doesn't pop up as it should (so has to be watched carefully for fear of setting the kitchen on fire burning the toast. It's a much newer model, but the 'pop-up' mechanism surely can't be that complicated... can it?

A suitcase. One of those pull-along ones; the wheels etc still work, but the stand which allows you to stand it up inbetween wheeling it has broken. I know I could screw this back on to the base of the suitcase quite easily (and nobody needs to see if it's a bit of a botch as it'll be inside/under a suitcase), but the holes in the stand where the screws would go are still taken up with the rivets which originally held it on, and I have no tools suitable for cutting the heads off rivets (someone suggested a bolt-cutter, but that definitely falls into the category of "tools that I will probably not need more than once or twice in my life", so I would probably need to borrow it from someone/somewhere). The suitcase is a handy size, I got it from a charity shop for £3 (the handle has clearly already been fixed by a previous owner) and replacing it would probably cost about 8 times that (and I don't use suitcases that often so I'm reluctant to spend much money on one), so I'm keen to eke out its life a bit longer if I can.

Badly hung doors. The wonky wardrobe door is my fault (self-assembly), & I do have the tools to fix it (a screwdriver), I just can't seem to get it to sit straight, so it scrapes slightly against the drawer underneath. The problem is it's a very heavy door (because of the full-length mirror on it) and hard to hold up while adjusting it, & I've had a couple of goes & got tired of trying, but it annoys me most days. The other wonky door is one of the internal doors, & is not my fault, & the problem is that the wood has split badly where the hinges are attached and it's all dropped down a bit (and now scrapes along the floor when you try to open/close it), & I can't really see how best to fix it: as far as I can see the options are a) replace the door (most expensive option, & would require someone with a car to deliver the door, but probably not too hard once you've got to that stage?); b) remove the hinges, wood-cement the gaps back together in some way that it's still strong enough to reattach the hinges, & hope that it all holds together; or c) remove the door & re-hang it the other way round, but that means moving the handle as well and painting the raw edge which all feels like a bit of a faff.

Draught-excluder. One of those brushy-things that go on the bottom of a door. We managed to get as far as cutting this down to size so it would fit the front door, but the front door has screws in (probably from a previous draught-excluder) which are in the way, and they're so tightly wedged in that I can't get them out. I suspect this is going to involve something tricky like drilling into the middle of the screw (I am a complete novice at drilling and it scares me a bit because there seems to be a lot of potential for cocking things up messily and dangerously), but I don't really know how that works either.

An Apple ][ which exploded. OK, here it's the parts/expertise that are lacking rather than the tools; my lovely old Apple ][ went 'pop' and filled the house with nasty-smelling smoke. I suspect that means the PSU is now dead, but I don't know how to check which bits are working and which aren't, and it is hard to find spare parts for 30-year-old computers.

Clothes with broken zips. I am fine with mending buttons & buttonholes, hems, seams and minor tears (by hand -- I don't have a sewing machine, and don't really want one because they cost money/space and I'm not really interested in sewing for fun), I even sort of know how to darn (badly), but zips are totally beyond me. I have tried them but I can't get them straight/flat. I have one pair of trousers and one skirt which need the zips replacing, and I have spent about 6 years dithering about whether to try to give them away to someone who might fix them, or pay someone to fix them for me (at which point I might still give them away, but there'd be less chance that they'd just get thrown out), or just give up and put them in fabric recycling, or what. (If anybody's interested in claiming them, the trousers are just a generic pair of comfy black combats in a size 12 or thereabouts, but the skirt is quite wacky -- full-length black velvet with a silver fake-leather corset-like band at the top; the zip is in the leather bit, which seems to tear at the slightest provocation. It's a lovely goth thing which I will probably never wear again but I don't want to throw it out & I can't really sell it or give it away while it's broken.)

Advice welcome but not demanded/expected!
Tags: fixing things, nablopomo, recycling
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