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Teri Orr: Yes, I can!

Teri Orr.
Park Record file photo

Spending so much time inside my home — more than I ever have in the 40 years I have lived here — I decided — in quarantine — every room really could function better. And so, I set about to right decades of wrongs and gross benign neglect. Since I live alone and the handy person I often use was also quarantined across town — I would simply order a few things online and Do It Myself.

Really, the first part had been the gimlet-eyed analysis of how certain rooms function and what was needed to make my life simpler.

Light bulbs have turned out to be real game changers.

Entire corners of rooms light up bright-as-day if you simply replace the dead bulb. But first you have to remove the non-working ones. Which sounds easy and is easy for people taller than 5-foot-2. Yes, I have a stepladder and that helps. But here’s where it doesn’t help — when you have no earthly idea of where the light bulb actually exists — say under the microwave but over the stove, for example. That one is still dark.

I am confident when this period of do-it-myselfism is over I will feel more confident in my ability to fix and create things needed to exist on my own in my home.”

Or the burned-out bulb in the stairwell from the first floor of living space to the second floor.

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That custom-made, Tiffany-style, heavy-leaded stained glass shade, from another lifetime of mine — the ’70s — hangs on a heavy brass chain. When the light goes out I have just called Mr. Fix It and he did. The light had been out all winter, but one night recently — it just seemed like it HAD to be replaced. Right then. So I figured out if I kinda cantilevered my body over the railing upstairs and swung the chandelier towards me I should be able to unscrew the light globe underneath and then replace the bulb and dust the damn thing off. I wouldn’t need to put a ladder on the stairs if I managed the swing just right. I realize in hindsight this was probably not a well-thought-out plan for someone over 65 living alone during a worldwide pandemic. Taking up a hospital bed for a broken anything would have been stupid and selfish. But I wasn’t thinking that way. As perhaps some of you have found yourselves in this time of — Yes, I Can-ness — I just figured it was a project long overdue. And I missed the light. There are no witnesses or photos, but I can tell you, at the point I had the new light bulb in my mouth and I was unscrewing the globe from the heavy-leaded shade and I was completely perpendicular to the living room floor — which now looked rather far away, I realized I was completely utterly … committed. And perhaps a little stir crazy.

I will save you further details except I did have a hot cloth and I cleaned the shade while I was sideways. I did not drop the glass globe that held the light bulb and I replaced everything. It now shines light on the stairs at night as needed and I have vowed that I will call someone to help … next time.

Accessing the rooms upstairs and realizing they could function better with moving some furniture and adding a few bookshelves seemed easy enough. I went online and found some stylish bookshelves and ordered them. I did not think when the fine print said assembly required that meant ALL assembly required. I now have spread on the floor of two separate rooms — many, many wooden boards of different sizes and bags of screws and nails and wooden pegs and metal pieces that I am pretty certain somebody just tossed in my shipment and have nothing at all to do with these bookshelves.

In anticipation of the arrival of said cases — I knew it was time to take the dumb old metal shelving unit out of the study and move it to the garage where it could store some more of the stuff I was inviting out of the house. It turns out the metal was very, very, very heavy. So I thought if I laid the shelves on a towel and dragged them down the stairs I should be good. And that plan might have worked. But the towel somehow got bunched up and the metal got exposed about midway down the stairs and I had to keep moving or the unit was going to fall on me. So I pulled the exposed unit down as the towel disengaged. I now have some lovely character marks on my dark wooden stairs.

My sweet little Dyson vacuum cleaner and I have become reacquainted during quarantine. It turns out it works so much better when you clean out the cylinder that collects all the dirt. I was doing that when I took a call from a friend who is also someone I am working with in a professional capacity. I replaced the clogged cylinder and then walked away from the machine. And we were talking about a project for maybe 10 minutes when the vacuum became possessed and self-started — making very loud sucking noises. As luck would have it, my friend had once owned a Dyson that performed the same maneuver. Hilarity ensued.

I am confident when this period of do-it-myselfism is over I will feel more confident in my ability to fix and create things needed to exist on my own in my home. And I will be even more grateful for the folks I rely on to help me.

The hair shears I ordered online arrived yesterday. Any mistakes made there will be confused by my fashionable mask-wearing so I think I’m gonna give it a go … curly, grayish old hair shouldn’t be that hard to shape and shorten. And it should be good sport — either way — to find out, this Sunday deep inside the Park…

Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the founder and director emeritus of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.


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