Between rain showers on

Between rain showers on Saturday, I changed the oil on my motorcycle. In fact, I changed the oil filter, too, which is a rung up the ladder, and helped me begin to fulfill Airheads Beemer Club Canon number 6: “Airheads maintain their own motorcycles.”

An oil filter change is right up at the front of the
Chilton manual (“Chapter 1: easy stuff for jerks”.) However, it still involves taking bits off the engine and seeing the greasy, shiny insides. For which I got to use my new Craftsman socket set, which as it turns out is markedly superior to my old Krzygistani five-dollar tools.

I also got a chance to hang out at the local motorcycle shop, where I picked up the new oil filter and heard lots of stories about Kate’s dad. “Say, did you know I have a picture of Snuffy hanging in my living room?” the owner, Dan Maychak, says to the tall, rawboned Supercross acolyte leaning on the counter. “Yeah, that’s a trophy of his right up there!” I tell a story about practicing the Austin-Healy with Bob Smith in the passenger’s seat, Bob not grimacing every time I grind the transmission because that’s the kind of guy he is, and they nod and whistle sympathetically.

Then it’s back to the bike and my chance to make my first newbie mistake — I replace the old O-ring on the oil filter panel cover, instead of using the new one, and as a result I leave a rainbow-colored Pac-Man trail of oil droplets on the wet roads all the way across town. Which is embarassing, because the oil gets on the rear tire so I slow to a crawl to keep from sliding out, and now the Pac-Man dots lead glaringly down the center of the road straight to our driveway. Well, the good news is that the rain washes away the evidence of my thumb-fingered work, but the bad news is that it keeps me from making a second attempt at the filter cover, so the bike’s in the driveway now with a styrofoam cup under it.

I had better luck with the kitchen; in a rare freak of fate, the new vinyl floor installers made an installation appointment on the same day as the new refrigerator delivery (maybe it was my witty banter with Mohan.) So I worked from home on Friday and watched as a parade of men in Immaculata sweatshirts banged on the floor and sent the cat to a government-in-exile under the bed. Friday evening, and we had most of a shiny new kitchen, except for the ragged strips where the baseboards used to be. So I get a Google master’s degree in baseboard installation (“Quarter-round molding — the bold alternative to shoe molding!”), and Kate and I are off to Home Depot, where we buy a miter box and some freaky, extruded-polystyrene structural foam baseboard material ’cause that’s the only stuff in the right width. Cutting this stuff in the miter box is weird, like sawing at some sort of nanotech cheese, so I go back to rent a powered compound miter saw, which also has problems, but they’re easier to deal with and also more interesting (cut too slowly, and the baseboard starts to melt and run!) I fix my smaller mistakes with spackle, my larger mistakes with some structural caulk, and after two coats of paint it actually looks okay.

Meanwhile, Kate was hurrying to finish knitting a 6-12-month-sized baby sweater for a good friend in Seattle before the intended recipient outgrew his 6-12 month sweater window. I’ve been told that knitting is a binary hobby: knit=1, perl=0, and that all the cabling and popcorn stitches are the result of fairly simple (if long) recombinations of even simpler patterns. Whatever: it still looks like magic to me.

Then Kate’s parents and her maternal grandmother came over to have tea and ooh-and-aah over the new housework. Kate baked lemon squares, and Bob reassured me by telling me some of the dumb mistakes he’s still making after fifty years of working on motorcycles. So, all in all, a craft-y weekend for both of us, and as soon as I get the oil filter cover back on my bike, all will be right with the world.

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