Easy does it is maxim for spring jobs

March 31, 2001|By Rob Kasper

WHEN SPRING hits, you get the urge to tackle all those household projects that have been piling up during the winter. This can be trouble. The problem is that these projects are usually so numerous and daunting that you end up doing nothing, flattened before you even get to plant a petunia.

Over the years I have picked up a few tricks that help me make it through the early enthusiasms of spring. One is to assign myself a couple of laughably easy tasks, undertakings that are not too strenuous but will, nonetheless, get me off the sofa.

This weekend, for instance, the top item on my to-do list is to turn the clocks ahead one hour tonight to get ready for daylight-saving time, which begins at 2 a.m. tomorrow.

Setting the clocks ahead requires a bit of foresight and a little effort. A crucial step is remembering to change the clocks in the car. I have learned that if I forget to fix the car clock there will be panic during the Monday morning commute.

Completing this task gives me a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, it gives me a feeling, however short-lived, that I am the master of my domain. Tick-tock.

Another ploy I use is to take on tasks that are fun. Even if I don't succeed, they are a hoot to try. This weekend, for instance, I am looking forward to whacking the metal trash can lid with a hammer. The trash can lid needs to be batted back into shape. During the winter the lid was repeatedly run over by drivers in my family who either did not see the lid or who treated it as a target.

Bent but not broken, the lid does not fit firmly on the can. When it rains, the can fills up with water, creating a soupy, bouillabaisse of trash. The only way I know of straightening out trash can lids is clobbering them with a hammer. I have done it before. It is very noisy and extremely therapeutic. In my book, lid hammering ranks right up there with punching a plastic shower curtain as a top way to relieve frustration. The outcome of tonight's Maryland-Duke basketball game could play a large role in how hard and how long I whack the trash can lid this weekend.

After polishing off the easy and enjoyable chores, I eventually get around to considering major weekend tasks. Those would be staining a deck, painting a gutter, or repairing the broken sash cord in the bedroom's wooden windows. When facing such jobs, it is important not to leap into action. Instead I recommend a period of deep reflection.

For example, before trying to fix the broken cord that once held the weights in our bedroom windows, I have undertaken an extensive study, reading home repair books that outline how the work is supposed to be done.

The books tell me I have to dismantle the window. I have to pry off the wooden stop molding; I have to remove the upper and lower window sashes. I have to find and open the access plates located somewhere in the window jamb. I have to feed new cord over the pulley into the jamb. I have to attach the weights to the cord. Then I have to put everything back together.

So far all I have been able to do is look at the illustrations in the book, stare at the bedroom window, then try to convince myself that I am up to this task.

One voice in my head says, "You can do it. You can do it." Another voice says, "Call a carpenter. Call a carpenter." Both voices say, "Wait until warm weather," which is what I am probably going to do. That is another key to surviving a weekend of spring projects. You push them back to the summer.

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