Sharyn’s Adventures Down the Toilet

Just after I moved into this house, the flush on the toilet stopped working. Well, actually, it usually just DIDN’T stop working. Every time you pressed the button, the flush would continue until you removed the cistern cover and pushed & prodded things. So, mistakenly assuming that I was a capable, rational human being – I decided that this was something I could handle without any problems at all.

Firstly, there was the trip to the hardware store, where in horror, I found a multitude of different “flushy things” for the toilet. Now this dear friends, is where the embarassment started…

Toilet1Hardware store guy: “Can I help you?”
Me: “I need a flushy thing for my toilet”
Hardware store guy: “A flushy thing?”
Me: “Err…Yes?”
Hardware store guy: “What type of toilet is it for?”
Me (Triumphantly, sounding like I was answering the million dollar question): “A white one!”
Hardware store guy(suddenly realising it was a baaaaaad day): “A white one. Do you happen to know what brand?”
Me: “There’s brands?”
Hardware store guy: “OK, what does it look like?” Leading me over to the toilet display… “Does it look like any of these?”
Me: “Oh, yes, it’s like that one”
Hardware store guy: “Are you sure”
Me: “Ye-e-es”
Hardware store guy: “Really sure”
Me: “Yes, but a bit different – mine has pink bits” (oh my god, did I really just say that)
Hardware store guy: “Okay, I’m pretty sure this is what you need” He hands me a flushy thing
Me: “Okay, but what if it doesn’t fit”
Hardware store guy: “Take the old one out, if they’re not the same, BRING (his emphasis, not mine) the old one in and I’ll know exactly what you need”
Me: “Okay”

I return home in triumph, proudly clutching my new flushy thing. Time to tackle the big job. Firstly, showing an uncommon amount of good sense for me, I turn the tap off, so that water won’t be flooding into the area I’m working on. The toilet bits come apart surprisingly easily, the new flushy thing is exactly the same as the old flushy thing, except a whole lot cleaner. I assemble the flushy thing, insert it into the tank and put everything back together. Easy peasy! So I cleaned up the mess and put everything in the bin. Including a little rubber thingo that with hindsight, did look suspiciously new. But hey, it was working, so there’s no way it could have been an important little rubber thing.

A couple of hours later, walking past the bathroom, I noticed that there was a sound of running water and the carpet was unusually damp. Hmmm, gingerly, I open the door only to be swept down the hall by the gushing water. OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but it does sound good. In reality, there’s about 1cm of water all over the floor and it’s not stopping gushing out the bottom of the cistern. Wading through the mess (ugh – toilet water)! I turn of the water supply to the cistern and pull everything apart and reinstall the flushy thing again. This time, I actually waited for the cistern to fill before I left the room and sure enough, it starts as a little trickle, but pretty soon, water is pouring. Again, off goes the water and I toddle outside to hang upside down over the wheelie bin to try to find the instructions.
*Note: If all else fails, read the instructions.

Ahhhh – it dawns on me that the sealing ring mentioned, looks incredibly like the extraneous little rubber thing. See if they labeled them properly, I’d know! So reassembling the whole thing, using ALL the parts that came in the box, I once again try installing the flushy thing. Woo hoo! All is good in the world, my toilet now stops flushing, the water is only in the places where water should be, and I’ve learnt a few lessons…

* Lesson #1: If something needs replacing and it’s removable, take it to the shop with you.
* Lesson #2: If someone tells you good service no longer exists, get them to go to my hardware store. They have the patience of a saint and don’t make you feel like a total twit, even when you are.
* Lesson #3: A flushy thing is also known as a “flush valve”
* Lesson #4: Just because you don’t know what something is for, doesn’t mean it’s not important.
* Lesson #5: Don’t throw the instructions in the bin until you’re sure everything is OK, unless you’re tall enough to reach the bottom of the bin without having an embarassing accident.

…The end

Sharyn’s Adventures in Automotive Maintainance

The Festy of Doom in it's younger days

The Festy of Doom in it's younger days

Some time ago, my car needed oil. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I’d had it serviced, but it took the whole 4 liters of oil, so it must have been a while. A few months later, I decided that I should do the oil again. So in went the four liters and I mistakenly assumed that would be the end of that.

On my way to work the next day, I was stopped at traffic lights and I noticed that some inconsiderate jerk had a car with a bad exhaust system. There was heaps of smoke and a really horrible smell. I couldn’t believe that someone could let their car get that bad and gave myself a mental pat on the back for being so wonderful at maintaining my car.

At last the lights changed and I took off, prepared to get well ahead of the awful smell. Unfortunately, as soon as I took off, I couldn’t see a thing for the thick dark smoke. A quick glance in the mirror confirmed that the smoke was all behind me as well. Or, to be totally honest, there was nothing visible anywhere except for the clouds of smoke coming from MY CAR! As I shrivelled in embarassment, I spotted a service station across the road. Pulling in, I noticed that the smoking hadn’t stopped with the car, there were still clouds of toxic fumes spewing from underneath the bonnet.

Now this was all happening at about 6am, which is pretty much the start of peak hour here, so there was a whole heap of people around to witness my shame. Unfortunately, none of them were the helpful kind, so I decided to call the local Automobile Association thinking they’d help me just because they’re nice.

I had to wait about half an hour until someone arrived at work so they could look up the phone number for me. That done, I called, expecting to have to pay a small fee as I wasn’t a member. Well, let me tell you, when you’re over a barrel, you get to pay big time, they made me join at an outrageous price.

Now joining wasn’t a quick and easy process, it took about 20 mins – all done using my mobile phone! Then, once that was done, they transferred me to the Road Service department, where I was placed on hold for a good 10 mins before being told it would take about 30-60 mins for someone to help.

Eventually, the repair man came. He laughed. He made rude comments about my automotive maintainance skills. Then rather more helpfully, he called a tow truck. Yep, I’d done a good job of this…

There was oil everywhere under the bonnet. It was in the air filter thing, it was on the engine, it was dripping all over the ground. Which of course, made the repair guy go inform the service station guy. He comes over to my car with a huge bin labeled TOXIC SPILL KIT. Wow!! I’m thinking that I might just make the news at this point. Fortunately, all he wanted to do was sprinkle kitty litter to soak up the oil slick surrounding my poor little car.

The tow truck arrived shortly after. The driver jumped out, looked me up and down, and exclaimed: “You don’t look blonde!” Then he proceeded to take me & the car to a mechanic, all the while making jokes about my little misadventure. To cut a long story short I left the car with the mechanic & the towie, seeming to feel they were embarking on a career as comedians. Face flaming, I promised to come back that afternoon, and I caught the train to work.

You’d think at this point, things couldn’t get worse wouldn’t you? Well, walking from the station to work, I went to cross a very busy four lane road in the city, (well, actually it was where the local red light district ends and the city starts) and my elastic waisted skirt caught on a bit of wire. As I was pretty much running due to being nearly two hours late to work – the skirt almost stayed at the lights while I crossed. Fortunately, it tore instead and I made it to work with almost a tiny bit of dignity left.

When I went to pick the car up, the mechanic was really nice, explained what he’d done and that there would still be an oil smell for a little while, and then left my car outside the workshop while I went to pay. Getting back into the car after paying, I could hear that lovely, sweet mechanic telling others about “this dumb chick who put an extra 4 liters of oil in her car!.” Ooohh the shame, the shame…

Sharyn’s Adventures in Plumbing Land

bathroom3aAnyways, I decided that since I have all this time on my hands, now that I’m semi unemployed, I should do a bit of stuff around the house. As pretty much everything in the bathroom vanity was getting mouldy thanks to the water leak going on under there – I decided it would be a quick easy job to change the taps, spout and pipes so that everything would be honky dory and dry.

It all started well enough, it took about half a can of WD40 to loosen the nuts on the pipes enough to undo them. Keeping in mind the tiny space I was working in….well I was pretty much high by the time that was done. Anyway, the sudden outpouring of water once I did get the nuts undone was enough to make me consider turning off the water at the mains. Yep, yet again I thought this through thoroughly before I started.

Of course, the hot water system was much harder to turn off than you’d expect and about an hour later all the water was off, the bathroom was full of water (very little of which was in the usual places, most of which was on the floor) and I was hot, smelly, and pretty damn mad. So I had to have a little sit down while I waited for the water to evaporate….

After a couple of hours, I was brave, I was committed (or should have been) and I wasn’t going to let any stupid little taps get the better of me so back into the breach went I. Using every towel in the house, I soaked up most of the excess water, cleaned up the mess I’d made and decided that maybe I should call a plumber to do this.

So back on went the old taps, everything reassembled nicely and I went out and turned the water back on. Aargh! When I’d undone the old taps originally, a bit (well, a lot) of rusty stuff fell off, obviously nothing important, right? Well guess what the rusty stuff was – yep, sure enough it was whatever stops the water pouring out the pipes. Damn, bolt back outside dripping wet to turn the water off again. At that point, I decided I should ring a friend for a chat, rather than do something I’d regret later. Four hours later, slightly cheered, still VERY smelly and covered in a little oil slick from the WD40 I realised that I couldn’t have a shower without turning the water back on, and of course, couldn’t turn the water back on without flooding the house again. Grrrr! At that point, I gave up and went to bed without any supper.

Next morning, with the worst of the icky transferred to the sheets, I was full of enthusiasm for the task ahead. It had struck me during the night that I couldn’t call a plumber until I was a bit less smelly so I had to get this done… Out came the trusty hacksaw to cut the water pipes down a bit coz the taps were floating waaaaaay above the sink. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the hacksaw in the frame coz it didn’t fit in the space under the sink, so I took the blade out and used it alone. Because of the shape of the sink, I had to sort of bend the blade to get it around the pipes, so naturally I started with a blade about 30 cm long, which quickly shattered and I was using about 15cm of what was left, until it too gave in under the pressure…. anyway, I’m sure you can guess how this went, by the time I was cutting the second pipe I was down to about 5cm blades (of which I had quite a few). Still, at last it was done – time to put the new setup in.

Oh No! Of course, the new set was too big and needed to be cut down. I was still too smelly and gross to be going out in public to buy new hacksaw blades, so out came my minky blades to carefully saw off a big chunk of pipe. But, it did work!
Note: at this point, I was working on the law of averages that says eventually SOMETHING has to work.

It took ages to get the new set installed, coz I had to fiddle around behind the sink where I couldn’t really see a thing and it was all a bit slippery from the WD40, but at last, I could turn the water back on. It took me about 20 mins before I was brave enough to look under the sink, but the floor was relatively dry, so I was hopeful. At that point, stupid, stupid me decided to turn the taps on. Now up until that point, everything had been working relatively well, so I really did have every reason to be hopeful. The cold tap was great – lovely cold water gushing out (and boy did that remind me that now I could use the toilet) but this is where it all fell down… I still don’t know what I’d done wrong, but when I turned the hot tap on, the whole assembly just fell apart. So not only was my bathroom floor getting yet another wash – it was getting a really HOT wash…..

So back outside to turn the water off for the 5 millionth time this weekend, and pull the whole thing apart again. Well, there really wasn’t a lot of pulling to do, it had pretty much pulled itself apart. Slowly, careful, paying attention and using ALL the bits that came in the set, I reassembled the whole thing. Pretty much just in time to shower for work on Monday.

So being the sensible person I am (well, it only took 3 times before I figured this out) I had a shower, washed up and did some washing and DID NOT even THINK about turning the taps on, just in case… I decided to leave that until Thursday, when I didn’t have to work and could call a plumber without having to pay weekend rates.

Anyways, I now have new taps, a new spout (that you can actually get your hands under!) and a almost leak free bathroom. And it only took 3 days, 2 tantrums and one crying fit. So… got anything at your place that needs fixing?

Oh, and just this weekend, I fixed the car……

Handy hints

So here are some things I’ve learned through trial and error…. mostly they actually ARE useful

  • Put jeans and similar stuff in the clothes dryer & get them out as soon as the cycle finishes and you won’t have to iron them.
  • Spray cooking oil on your freezer after defrosting it and the ice will just leap off next time.
  • If you burn stuff in a saucepan, put some cooking oil in it, & heat it for a while. The burnt on gunk will just fall off!Yep, everything's colourful at Chez Shary</ul> <p>n
  • Bicarb soda will clean almost anything without too much scrubbing. It’s especially great for coffee cups and bathtubs/showers.
  • Vinegar is another good cleaning thing, especially for glass & similar stuff, it just pongs a bit if you don’t rinse it well.
  • Vinegar is also good for getting rid of the gunk in kettles and anything that gets water deposit problems. Just put it in & boil then empty & rinse VERY well.
  • Put foil on your oven trays & you can just change the foil each time you use ’em rather than washing the tray.
  • Your car really doesn’t need a lot of oil!

Cooking tips

These are a few of the tips I have found over several years of being culinary deficient.

  • Chocolate bars are not a good substitute for sugar when making coffee.
  • Neither is icing sugar.
  • NEVER pick up the toaster by the toasting slots until it has cooled down.
  • If you need to test whether the oil is hot, use a piece of meat, or vegetable, not your finger!!
  • Always check that the lumps in the gravy are not the meat.
  • Leave the door of the griller OPEN when toasting bread rolls.
  • If you’re doing the washing up, take the rubber gloves off before getting anything out of the oven. Thanks to Lisa
  • Do not roll out pastry onto newspaper.
  • Do not keep the Domestos bottle next to the washing up detergent bottle. Thanks to Noelene
  • If you use enough chilli, anything tastes good
  • Aloe vera gel, straight from the plant will stop almost ANY burn from scarring (Trust me – I know)
  • Do not boil 2 minute noodles in an electric kettle – They’re VERY hard to get out. (OK, so I didn’t actually do this!)
  • The following is not a good hamburger recipe: 1 bun, 1 hamburger pattie, 1 egg, 1 onion, 1 can mushrooms in butter sauce, 1 slice cheese, a couple of slices of Philly cheese, Dijon mustard, seed mustard, mayonaise, steak sauce.
  • Don’t wash your coffee cup – eventually you won’t need toΒ add coffee the dregs will be enough
  • Don’t squeeze the bottle while you’re opening it

My colourful kitchen