Sunday, July 6, 2014

Those "Not-So-Fun" Projects

Have you ever attempted a project that started out being oh-so-simple and not-so-stressful but turned into the project that seemed to be orchestrated by the devil? 

I have had many of these epic-fail projects. One of my hobbies is sewing, and I can't tell you the number of attempts at making clothing that I simply threw in the trash because I had done something wrong in the process. A couple of these failures were because there was no fabric left to sew the seam since I had ripped the incorrect seam out so many times. Others were because of cutting through the fabric, sewing sleeves in the wrong way, or having a curvy zipper. In my examination of these failures, I found they happened because of  over-confidence, rushing, and not following directions. Although sometimes pattern instructions are not clear, most of the time my brain just doesn't process the instructions correctly. I usually just look at the pictures.

Installing curtain rods or blinds were other project failures for me. I have had to ask God for forgiveness on these occasions because of the nasty words that left my lips. I am fortunate that now I can either pay someone to do this, ask my children or husband to do it, or simply go with bare windows.

This week, the item that has frustrated both me and my husband was a ceiling fan. As usual, we went into this project with the “how-hard-can-it-be” attitude. Richard had installed several in the past, and I had experience assisting other people. Let me say right now that we were working at a disadvantage which is my excuse for failure.

Richard and I are in the process of buying a vacation RV spot in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. On the property is a small, two-room cabin. This cabin is a blank canvas in that it has nothing in it, not even a bathroom. In the larger of the two rooms, we decided to install a ceiling fan with a light. I’m not sure why we thought we needed a ceiling fan because so far this summer, the temperature is very cool. Yesterday when we woke up, it was 45 degrees. There’s also a constant breeze. Richard explained that in today’s houses, we automatically think there has to be a ceiling fan, so he went to Lowe’s in a nearby town (nearby towns in the mountains mean at least 30 minutes one way in the car ) and for around $50, bought a contractor’s grade (another term for cheap) ceiling-hugger ceiling fan.
The ceiling fan which was the focus of our installation failure.

We unpacked everything and read all of the instructions.

Our first disadvantage was not having the proper tools to use in the installation. In Richard’s RV tool bag are the basic tools – screwdrivers, various screws, sockets, pliers, Gorilla tape and super glue, but his well-stocked tool box is at home.  For our project, we needed machine screws and only had wood ones. We had an electric drill, but it wouldn’t work because of the angle of the screws and the fan. We had a two-foot step stool which meant that Richard was one foot short of the fan and I couldn’t even reach it.

Richard's pretty well-equipped tool bag.

The two-foot step ladder which wiggled when I stood on it.

After straining to try to use the short ladder, Richard decided to go back to Lowe’s and buy a taller ladder.
Richard standing on the new ladder assisted by Cloee on the short ladder. She is using a broom to keep the fan from rotating while Richard attaches the blades. (Note: Richard is wearing a fleece-lined jacket on July 5. Is a ceiling fan even necessary?)
After we thought we had everything right, we turned the fan on. It worked great for about ten seconds until the blades moved faster and began to lift. When that happened, they started hitting two of the exposed beams. Richard had an idea how to fix it, so the modification began. We added washers and nuts for spacers to make the fan hang lower and used shims to stabilize the fan so it wouldn’t wobble.

As you can imagine, nothing worked. By this time, we had so modified the fan, we couldn't return it. In addition, we broke the light bulb that goes in the light fixture on the fan. It just happens to be a special, one-of-a-kind bulb that will cost a fortune and is probably sold at Lowe’s.

After sleeping on the problem of our fan, Richard finally decided to take the fan down, throw it in the garbage, and buy a non-ceiling-hugger kind. So how much did this fan installation cost? 
  • Original fan -- $50
  • Ladder -- $80 
  • Replacement fan -- $50
  • Gas for trips back and forth to Lowe’s x 3 -- $30.

I wish I could end this by saying that through all of this epic-failure installation, Richard and I became closer and vowed to work calmly together on future projects, anticipating them with a positive outlook.

I can always hope that’s the way everything will turn out; however, like my window blind experiences, I believe we will have to ask God’s forgiveness for the language that He will probably hear.

Keep your fingers crossed.

What projects have gotten the better of you?