Monday, September 12, 2016

Rick's Law ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Rick’s Law: All projects look simple before you start the work. It’s when you hit your first “Hmmm” that you realize the job is more complicated than you thought. 

Jilda and I were sitting on the back deck recently watching butterflies flit, and hummingbirds do battle over the blazing star blossoms.  As we sat there sipping coffee, we heard the faint whisper of air escaping around our garden door. We knew losing “bought air” was expensive, so I decided to replace the old door.

As Jilda collected her things for work, I told her I would go to the hardware store to find a door.  “Do we need to call the carpenter,” she asked. “No, it’s a piece of cake,” I replied.

Once in the hardware store, my eyes glazed over like a kid on the toy aisle at Walmart, and I started drooling a little. The hand tools, sanders, saws, and compressors would come in handy, I thought. I wanted to sweep my arms and say to the clerk, “I’ll take one of each of these.”  I would have still been there, but a beeping forklift backing toward me broke the spell. I headed back to the garden doors.

It only took a moment or two to find the door, and I was about to tell the guy to ring it up when I noticed the door came in two sizes. He looked at me and asked, “What size is your opening?” “Hmmm.” My first instinct was to say, “I need a door to fit a 72-inch opening.” Only a complete amateur would drive 19-miles to buy a door without measuring the old one, but I hated admitting it. I decided to fess up and tell him I hadn’t measured.” He didn’t tisk, tisk, but I saw it in his eyes, so I made the long drive home in an empty truck.

The next morning after coffee, I measured my old door and headed back to the hardware store locating the right size door.  Then another realization hit me – I had a choice between a right-opening door, and a left opening door. “Hmmm.” I studied both doors as if I were trying to decipher hieroglyphics. My door opens to the right, so I selected the correct door, slapped down the cash, and headed home with confidence.

Looking through the rearview mirror at the door in the back, it appeared to be the correct one. A haunting thought hit me. If it looks right in the mirror, there’s no way it can be right because a mirror turns everything around. “Hmmm.”

When I got home and looked at the door, I realized my original perspective had been wrong. I should have pictured it from the outside instead of the inside. This door swung the wrong way. Thank goodness this was BEFORE I unloaded the door which weighed just slightly less than a Ford Focus.

The truck engine was still ticking with heat when I was back on the road again. 

It was fortunate that new guys were there to help me unload the wrong door and ensure I got the right one for the job. By the time I had the right door, I’d driven a total of 120 miles. That’s when I decided to call a carpenter. 

He came the next morning which was fortunate because there was no way I could have completed that job by myself. It took a skilled carpenter and me five hours to complete the work. By the time we finished, both of us had sweated so much it looked as if someone had sprayed us with a hosepipe.

I’ve never claimed to be a carpenter, but falling off this turnip truck was enlightening, and it’s when I first conceived Rick’s Law.

I was so engrossed in work on the door that I forgot to take pictures.
But as the storm clouds swirled just before yoga class, I did snap a few pictures.


  1. This had me laughing, only because it hit so close to home. I grade my jobs on how many trips to Home Depot it will take me. The average is three. Fortunately for me, I only live ten minutes away from the store.

  2. Sigh.
    I am glad you called a carpenter. It seems that doing so is a major admission of weakness in this household. Which has caused both problems and trouble.
    Love those storm clouds.

  3. Anonymous9:54 PM

    You sound a lot like Murphy!!

  4. I dont know why but This made me laugh. I somehow see a comic strip with this.

  5. Lisa is mean! LOL. Hanging a door correctly is atune to cutting step runners and Rafters for a hip roof. Thousands of carpenters in this world can hang a door, but few could write 'Rick's Law'. I wish I could do both!

    But I felt for you! Assuming this is a pre-hung exterior door, you had the weight about right. HA! Glad you got it in!

  6. I have an Orchard Supply Hardware a few blocks away and it seems I'm there all the time.

  7. LOL! Well, at least everything got accomplished :)

  8. A comedy of errors! Then all's well that ends well.

  9. This would be me Rick... I always forget to measure first... I am starting to learn this.. lol

    I am glad you called the carpenter and got the door up xox


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