Sunday, November 13, 2011

Long Weekend

I've been serving in an acting manager role at work since June, which has been a real mixed bag. On the one hand, it was quite a compliment, but it was not a position I was entirely comfortable with, despite my previous leadership experience. Still, the place didn't catch fire before the new manager showed up last Monday, and another team lead the week before, so I am chalking it up as a victory; a tiring, taxing and occasionally terrifying victory. Sometime in the next week or two I should be able to start working within my new Quality Coach role, which should play much more to my strengths.

Whatever hopes I had for this weekend being one of reflection and recuperation went right out the window, however. My sister, her beau, his son and the four of us went to Ainsworth Dyer Bridge in Rundle Park to help place the crosses for Remembrance Day; one for every Canadian killed in Afghanistan, ending with Byron Greff, who lost his life in a suicide bombing just a week or so back. It is a very casual, yet respectful ceremony, that brings out a fantastic cross-section of Edmonton: the young and old, men and women, military and civilian. This was our second year attending, and although I would like to attend the services at city hall or the University of Alberta Butterdome, I am sure it will not be our last.

After lunch, it was time to try installing the dishwasher we had bought earlier that week. The three-decade old Kitchenaid that came with the house finally packed it in, and after a month of hand washing, we finally came across an Inglis on sale at Canadian Tire. I'm terrified of projects involving wiring or plumbing, but my frugality has been sufficient to overcome my trepidation in the past, and the thought of paying $200 for what an experienced person could probably do in an hour bolstered my chutzpah enough that I was (mostly) willing to make an attempt.

The first setback came when I realized a significant part of the plumbing attachment was not actually included, and raced off to Rona to procure it. Only later did I discover that where the water supply in the installation diagram ran parallel to the floor, mine came straight up out of it, meaning the elbow I had just purchased had 90 degrees too many. I dashed back to Rona, arriving ten minutes prior to closing, but the helpful lady who'd assisted me beforehand had gone home, and the lad looking after the area was adrift even before they turned off the lights in the aisle at five minutes to six.

After returning home and explaining to my remarkably understanding family why they couldn't use the taps or flush the toilet until the following day, I finished what work I could and returned to Rona early the next morning. And then did that two more times in fairly rapid succession, wondering if I should let the girl at the return counter know I wasn't actually stalking her.

After sorting out a shutoff valve so the rest of the household could resume using water, I was very nearly completed when I broke off the shunt connecting the new drain hose to our ancient garburetor. This had happened once before, and I had been able to patch it up using PVC cement I had actually bought for model building (score one for the hobby nerd!), but alas, I had no more of that product, and the Tamiya extra-thin plastic cement just wasn't up to the task.

Visiting Rona and then attempting to find an open plumbing supply store proved to be fruitless and time consuming, and even Home Depot had none of the brush-on cement I was looking for. They did, however, have a PVC reducer I was able to carve to fit and clamp into place for a total cost of $1.89; it's nowhere near watertight if the garbage disposal should hold up the water drainage, but it should serve as a stand in until I am able to find a more proper replacement.

Audrey and the girls were out visiting as I prepared to finish hooking up the dishwasher and rolling it into place, envisioning how happy she would be to see it done when she returned, and how glad my daughters would be at not having to wash the supper dishes by hand any longer. Anxiety over the install had compromised my sleep the night before, and with a little luck, I could perhaps squeeze in a nap before Audrey and Fenya came back.

Unfortunately, this took quite a bit longer than anticipated, as the new dishwasher has quite a bit less space underneath than the old one, which meant that after all the hookups were made, I then had to unhook them three times in order to make sure there was clearance over my newly installed shutoff valve. It also took me an inordinate and embarrassing length of time to figure out how to use the wiring connectors.

By 5:00, with plumbing reopened and power restored, nothing flooded or caught fire so I ran a light load through the new dishwasher. While it worked it's way through the various cycles, the growing smugness I felt within faded away as I glanced around the kitchen and the assortment of tools strewn across the counter, floor and table. In the living room, the box and packing material awaited recycling, so I sighed and got down to the actual final stage.

Glory was sleeping over at a friend's, but when Fenya and Audrey returned at around seven, they agreed with my assertion that the money we'd saved on having someone else install the dishwasher was certainly sufficient to merit their taking us to the new Fatburger franchise near our house for dinner. A enormous and tasty burger, some onion rings and a $3 pint of Whistler lager, had a tremendously positive effect on my disposition. My knees and back were a mess, and I was completely knackered, but had accomplished enough that I felt confident I could coast for the remainder of the weekend without getting called on it.

Upon returning home though, more chores loomed; we had already scheduled the following day as when we would put up our Christmas lights, and as brisk as it promised to be, it would only get snowier and colder from here on in. We thus got caught up on our Glee viewing while we removed and replaced the bulbs from about forty feet of icicle lights.

After church the following day, we realized that the late arrival of our first snowfall meant that we could not count on the snow going away so we could rake up the leaves. While Audrey and Fenya ran errands, I got several piles of damp leaves gathered up, and cleared the front eavestroughs of pine cones. When everyone was home again, we all ventured outside so the girls could bag the leaves and get the canine droppings off the ground before they too were covered by snow until their inevitable and gruesome resurgence in the spring, while Audrey and I got the lights hung.

At long last, it appears that everything we needed to get done is out of the way. Sipping a Goldschlager mocha as I write this, I recognize what a privilege these chores actually represent, as the 'burdens' of home ownership and fatherhood.

Returning to work tomorrow will be a lot easier knowing there are others there now to help bear the yoke of leadership, and I am taking a couple of days off prior to helping out at a job fair next weekend. Even this pleasant sort of tired can make a work week feel longer than it actually is!

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