Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Scrape! Crunch!
I heard the sounds, went outside and looked.
A turtle is eating the seaweed growth off ORION. I went below got my camera and took his picture.
He is familiar to me as a beloved pet.
His name is not Yertle. It is not Fred.
Not Horace or Jacob or Jack.
When I find it, I will know it.
But for now.
He is Turtle with a capital T.
A place keeper. Like my protagonist's name.
Not the real one.
Just temporary.
What is the real one, you ask?
I do not know but...
I will recognize it when I see it.

5:30 pm and 81 degrees.
I have been remiss. I have not shared the rules.
Not those pesky grammar ones, like lay and lie.
Not i before e. Not use said. Not eliminate thats.
Not use Times New Roman and 12 pt font.
The REAL rules.
The big ones that have to do with living life while you attempt to write.

I will cover household appliances first.

Rule number one.
Never try to write while having a major appliance repaired. You will be constantly interrupted.

Repairman: "Hey maam? Ya got a three quarter gud soot ploter gamer that'll take a nine eighths weasel snub?"
Me: "um...let me check..."

Rule number two.
These interruptions will be directly proportional to the number of words you WANT to write and inversely proportional to the number of active brain cells in said repairman's brain.

Two hours later after pulling out all tools.
Me: "I don't think I have one."
Repairman:" Ah never mind, I don't need it -- I used a ten inch garbweller drazzel hoot instead."

Rule number three.

Your repairman will be a frustrated novelist.

Me: "When will my refrigerator be fixed?"

Repairman: "Yanno, I should write a book about what I do."

Me: " I'm sure you should. When will you be done with repairing my refrigerator?"

Repairman: "Yanno I always wanted to write a book. I got a lot of ideas."

Me: (sobbing) "Please..."

Rule number Four.
A part will be required. It will be located in Greece, have to be carried by donkey to Italy, blessed by the pope at the Vatican and shipped to the Philippines by a leaking rowboat. It must be lost three times and reordered twice. When it comes it will be the wrong part.
It will cost more than installing a new appliance.


OK comments minions.
I need horror stories. Specifically APPLIANCE REPAIR horror stories.
How about a contest?
No prizes.
Just the genuine satisfaction you get by whining.
It doesn't get much better than this.


Holly Kennedy said...

Ummm... I think I've got you beat, ORION. I don't have REPAIR issues, I have LANDFILL issues when it comes to my appliances -- something we've talked about, remember? Microwave starts on fire (no joke), kitchen sink taps blow off and shoot across the room; dryer motor goes (twice in two homes); fridge shelves collapse one on top of the other and then motor quits; TWO furnaces die while 22 inches under water last summer (we were flooded)...

And the repairmen with hidden writing fetishes? I had one who BROUGHT me his YA manuscript to read (a beefy, tattooed, balding ex-biker who wrote a story about a boys growing magical green peppers in a coral garden -- no shit!!)

See? You're bobbing in the ocean and we're neck-deep in snow, and yet look how much we have in common!

ORION said...

I am not worthy...I am not worthy...
You are the master...

Rafter said...

You go girl!

Maprilynne said...

Um, I installed my own toilet when I renovated my bathroom. Does that count?:)


Gerb said...

Ah, but you have not truly suffered until you have dealt with a Japanese appliance dying.

In Japan, there is no central heating/cooling in most houses. We deal with wall-hung heating/air conditioning units in each room, which are amazingly inefficient and have a life-span of about three years. After such time, the unit begins to groan, rattle, and in our case, cascade water down the wall.

I called the landlord, requesting that Tony, the english-speaking repairman in the neighborhood, come by and have a look at the thing. Instead, imagine my joy at having my writing time interrupted by the polite if incomprehensible Japanese gentleman who came by to fix it.

JG: 単位は壊れている

Me: Sumimasen. Nihongo go wakara nai.

JG: 私は著者になりたいと思う

Me: Uh, huh. You go ahead and do what you need to do. I'll be over here working.

JG: 私の原稿を受け入れなさい

Me: *sob*

Repeat experience with washer, dryer, refrigerator and oven.


Gerb, who is completely jealous about the turtle thing. The only thing I get scraping at my house are crows.

Bernita said...

When our appliances die, they are past repair.
They just - die - no bionic treatment, no replacement, no by-passes possible.
And at inappropriate times, such as a furnace during the longest and deepest cold snap in 60 years.
No, a small air-tight stove inset in a former fireplace will not heat an entire three-story house.
And yes, one can type with thinsulate.

Kimber An said...

Being a former nanny and now a mommy, I have most Dr. Seuss books memorized. Your turtle friend brought this line to mind:

"Ten tired turtles on a tuttle-tuttle tree."

That's from the ABC book. How about Tuttle for a name?

Demon Hunter said...

Cool turtle, Pat! I don't repair anything! I have in the past but not anymore! :*)

LadyBronco said...

I have no appliance horror stories to tell Pat...sorry.

But I do think you should call the turtle Fred. :0)

Kimber An said...

No! Tuttle!

ORION said...

Yeah! Fight! Fight!
OK, So far Holly and Gerb are tied.
Tuttle and Fred are dutifully entered.
I must hear more whining...

Anissa said...

My microwave attacked me once. I put in a glass of water to boil (I think I needed it for instant oatmeal or something). Anyway, I turned my back on the microwave and had just moved toward the refrigerator when *BOOM!* The door flew open, the large glass tipped and boiling water flew out and hit the counter where I'd just been standing. Freaky!

Anissa said...

I have a fondness for Ralph
Or Pickle.

Kimber An said...


Anissa said...

Oh! I forgot...I had a slab leak once (pipe broke beneath the concrete in the kitchen). Called the plumbers our home owners' insurance recommended. The leak finder guy was out in the morning, put a pencil mark on the floor and left. Then along came Bill & Ted...on an excellent plumbing adventure.

They started jackhammering my floor. A lot. Loud, obnoxious jackhammering. When it finally stopped, I chanced a peek. Big hole. No leak in sight. So they commenced to drill an even larger hole. Finally one of them went to the truck to call the leak finder guy back. The other wasn't so patient. The jackhammering started again and suddenly I hear a shout, "DUDE! Scott's coming back. Stop drilling!"

And the reply, "I'm almost there, dude!" Yeah, almost to freaking China.

Long story short, they finally found the leak and were able to fix it--leaving one 4' hole and a smaller 1' one where the leak actually was. After filling the holes back up with cement, one commented. "It's gonna burst again."


"Oh yeah, the pipe isn't insulated and there are rocks poking it."

Sure enough. One month later, same thing. I demanded they repipe the hot water through the attic. Same guys plus one did that job. Stupid homeowners. As they left, repipe complete, I stopped them.

"What about all the holes in the walls?" I said.

"We're plumbers, not drywallers."


ORION said...

I just love that.
Bring it on!

Zany Mom said...

We're moving in 2 weeks. Yes, that's right. Two weeks. No appliance stories. Yet.

But my brother was the one who installed (and plumbed) the ice dispenser, the dishwasher, and the toilets. He is so NOT a handyman. Could get interesting when the four of us descend on his poor little house...

ORION said...

zany mom has permission to tell moving stories.

Jess Riley said...

This is so true! We're having our house remodeled right now, and if it isn't the constant interruptions & questions, it's the noise. Writing is impossible during the day.

I love the turtle photo!

adrienne said...

I don't really have anything huge . . . yet. Though I did live in the one house with 3 other people. The top bedroom had an ensuite, and one night I went to bed and found the sheets and blanket and pillow and everything of my bed soaked. The bathroom's bathtub upstairs had leaked. And no matter how many times I tried to explain to the landlord that this was not due to the shower curtain being in the wrong place, he refused to believe me.

Finally I had to fill the tub a bit and then drain it, drenching everything below, to prove that it was the drain and not our fault!!

But that's it really.

writtenwyrdd said...

Wow, my repairman stories are rather like water to wine the man (he's promptly there)...he finds the problem (it's simple or a quick fix)...and he bills me (under fifty bucks)...

My epic repair problems are reserved for the effing house itself: foundation collapsing the first spring I'm in it; carpenter ant damage; ungrounded electrical circuits... These were horrible and expensive and continuing (argh)...

And, by the way, I vote for George! :)

Therese Fowler said...

Aargh! I hate a contest where I have no chance of winning! My appliances have behaved badly, but not as badly as some of those above.

I *did* once have a backhoe buried in mud in my backyard, during our home remodel a couple years ago.

Our wonderful, but very stubborn (he says "determined") contractor thought he'd dig footers despite the previous Ark-worthy rains.

Imagine two six-foot tall guys (the contractor and my husband) mucked over in mud from feet to hairlines, and a backhoe tipped sideways in a rut.

Many beers were had...and a solution (read: winch, truck, lumber) eventually found.

LadyBronco said...


ORION said...

In this corner we have kimber an -- a former nanny futuristic authoress
in this corner lady Bronco fighter of blizzards...
OK ladies...
Start your engines!
Hold on...
Wrong sport.

Kanani said...

Good to see you're still at it!

Kimber An said...


Or,how's about...

...Freddy Tuttle?

LadyBronco said...

Freddy Tuttle works for me...


Anonymous said...

Touche Turtle. No doubt will win!


Aarin said...

Re : Your Re: Miss Snark Comment:

Thanks for the reply, I certainly agree that writers all look for the magic ticket in formatting when they should just focus on getting their point across in solid prose.

Sounds simple, but when nothing is working it's easy to nitpick the details in hope!

LadyBronco said...


No, no...must be Freddy Tuttle. :0)

Mia King said...

I LOVE that picture! LOVE IT. I think we are definitely due for tea in Kona or Waimea or onboard the SV Orion ... ;-)

And hey, I'm jealous you were even able to GET a repairman out here!

But I have extended the life of two small household appliances - my vacuum cleaner and my water heater (not the big one - more like a hot pot or kettle). I am so not handy, but I pulled it off by replacing old parts. Small steps, small steps!

ChumleyK said...

Pat I found your blog through the writing world, but I love your photography!

I have a Japanese repair story too...not quite as good as Gerb's but along the same lines.

My husband and I live in Japan. One of our cars died hopelessly a couple weeks ago.

Problem #1) Finding an repair and tow service that can speak English to us.

Problem #2) There are no street names on our island, and addresses are really only useful to mailmen.

We had to give the tow truck directions to our apartment. In English. The truck driver was Japanese. These directions are along the lines of "Turn right at the pink building...then right again when the road dead ends...then it's a concrete building." All the buildings here are concrete.

Problem #3) Our car was parked in the back of a two car parking space in the back of a parking garage under our building. To get to the car, the truck would have to go backwards up a narrow ramp, then make a right angle turn under the building, then back up some more.

Problem #4) Japanese tow trucks are flatbed trucks. We didn't think the truck could reach our car.

So we had the bright idea to try pushing the car out of the garage. We wanted to leave it in front of the first floor business until the truck came.

Since this is Japan and people are extremely polite, we went to ask the owner of the business for permission.

The owner speaks only Japanese.

We speak only English.

With the help of a Japanese-English dictionary and some drawings, we communicated two words. "Car." "Broken." The owner interpreted this as "We broke your car." Panic ensued. We called a translator.

The helpful owner asked to "jump car?" We said no...we tried that. He popped the car's hood and started connecting wires. The second car had a freaky battery that no one could figure out. Now there was a crowd. The owner decided towing was best. He told us to "leave car space, truck get." We agreed.

The next morning our car was gone.

Which posed the question...did the English speaking tow truck we called get it, or did the helpful owner of the business call a Japanese tow truck?

We found our car. It's fixed now. But there was no writing that day. Or photography.

ChumleyK said...

PS - I like the name Tuttle

Sorry that last bit was so long.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Rule number Four.
A part will be required. It will be located in Greece, have to be carried by donkey to Italy, blessed by the pope at the Vatican and shipped to the Philippines by a leaking rowboat. It must be lost three times and reordered twice. When it comes it will be the wrong part.
It will cost more than installing a new appliance.

Oh man! I could write a novel based entirely on Rule number 4.