DIY And The Art Of Fire Protection – Part 1

I have had a week filled with fire protection devices. Before anyone panics, there’s been no smoke and certainly no fire. No flames, no ashes, no cinders. I am happy to report that the house and all its inhabitants are still intact.

These encounters are largely due to the Italian Stallion and his passion for DIY. Actually, having a hubby who not only has the passion, but the skills to match is extremely beneficial, although the downside is the potential to be woken up at 7am on a weekend morning to the sound of a working drill emanating from the garage below the bedroom. Passion like this cannot be confined to normal waking hours.


I really only came into the benefit of a DIY household in my marriage. My late father’s DIY skills extended to dialling the phone number of the nearest handyman and to negotiating payment and price. Dad did a fair job although he was the consummate delegator to my mother who then had to deal with the handyman to get the job done. My working mother was wise, she always knew that when Dad said “we need to get the pipe fixed” that translated to “you, my darling wife, need to be here to oversee the fixing of the pipe, wait around in the hope that the handy man shows up and inspect and approve the work with the skill of a seasoned building inspector and arrange payment”.

Anyway, back to the present…

Some years ago, my State introduced the requirement for every residence to install smoke alarms within a certain distance of each bedroom.  This meant we had to install a smoke alarm somewhere near the upstairs bedrooms. The base of the stairwell to our second story is near the kitchen and the Italian Stallion used his wonderful DIY skills to promptly install the alarm in the ceiling above the said stairwell base on the ground floor.  However, this smoke alarm is a bit of a SNAD – sensitive new age device and starts shreeking with monotonous regularity. The fact that it does this at the times I am preparing dinner is purely coincidental.

For whatever reason, the SNAD has decided it cannot cohabit with the oven. The oven has been cleaned to within an inch of its element, but still the SNAD has issues. Manually turning off the SNAD would be an easy task – a push of the button – if only I was an Amazonian. I am not short, in fact I can push five foot, nine/ten inches in heels. However, the ceiling is about six and a half feet off the ground above the stairwell. Even balancing on the third step, I am an inch or two short and I can’t even use a chair to stand on given the stairs. I have therefore resorted to using implements to silence the SNAD. This week it was the feather duster jab… it worked, but I came away with an extra plastic bit in my hand. I have also used a shoe, a rolling-pin, a broom and a loaf of bread. I’m quite partial to the shoe technique although this tends to leave unwanted scuff marks in the absence of Lionel Richie having danced on my ceiling.

Things are only marginally better when either my eldest or the Italian Stallion is at home. They of the required footage and inchage also suffer from selective deafness. When the SNAD finally penetrates either brain because it has reached some arbitrary unbearable level, out storms one or the other and silences the SNAD usually with a fist and a grunt for good measure. The result is silence and a rather sad smoke detector with cover, battery and wires left hanging.

We live in a world where we have armed ourselves with protection and reminders – fire alarms, car alarms, house alarms, merchandise theft protection devices, alarm clocks and phones  – and spend our life ignoring them. Most shop assistants don’t even pause when they hear the noise, they have experienced so many false alarms. Office workers spend their lives dodging fire drills and nobody tends to move when a fire alarm activates. Car alarms are more often used to find lost vehicles after a happy night out.

The next step for us is to send the oven and SNAD off to couples therapy. Either that or it’s take away every night. Now, there’s an idea…

Are there any noises that really annoy you? Do you have your alarms well trained? 

Sockcam: Calling All Venture Capitalists

Living in a house full of males makes laundry days very dull affairs. A serious yawnfest and study in homogeneity.

On laundry days, I peer into my laundry basket and all I see is a sea of black and gray. Mind you, I am eternally grateful for that sea because it actually means that by some extraordinary miracle, the laundry of my children has made its way into the room where laundering takes place. I am assuming for the minute that the laundry didn’t crawl there by itself, although anyone who has teenagers would know that is a real possibility, especially when the laundry has aged waiting for the bus to arrive.

Back to the sea. For some unknown mystery male reason, the males in my house only ever wear black or grey underclothes. Colourless socks and undies, all uniform, all designed to drive the laundry lady, aka me, spare. Washing I can cope with, but when it comes folding and matching those little suckers, I’m definitely thinking life is too short. If some person of the male species reading this could enlighten me as to why colours and gasp…a pattern or two are a no-go zone in the male underworld, then I would be forever grateful.


Guys, you need to have pity on those of us who do your laundry!

As if the lack of colour does not increase the degree of laundering difficulty enough, when it comes to matching and folding clean socks I always have less than I started off with. It’s almost as if these individual socks have had enough of toeing (get it?…toeing) the shoe line and wait for the minute they can escape to I know not where. Presumably, there is a single sock bar somewhere just waiting for escaped socks or they go and sign up for e-sock harmony or go out to fight at sock club waiting to heel (get it?… heel) or something.

This mystery requires in-depth research and hence my proposed invention…..


That’s right, a mini waterproof camera that could be fitted on top of the toe of a sock to track its every adventure sending images back to basecamp. We could witness the spying of the escape route, the brush with natural predators up the pipe and the foraging for a mate and finally acceptance in the sock’s natural habitat so that it can ditch its footloose (surly you knew that was coming) status. The footage so exciting that  it would be turned into a three episode mini series with David Attenborough commentating.

This has got real legs, a sure winner.

All I need is come capital. Any takers? Any suckers sockers out there? Be a part of this ground-breaking research, amaze your friends at parties and help revolutionise laundry day around the globe.

In the meantime whilst I wait for my venture capitalists to appear, I’ll continue running my co-op for disenfranchised socks and hope that I can integrate these single socks back into their drawer societies in the not too distant future.


X is for XY Chromosome: Missing the Refill/Replace Gene (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -

I live in a house full of males, in a veritable tsunami of testosterone. Those who are familiar with my blog, know that I have sons. For His own reasons, the dear Lord did not see fit to bestow upon me the gift of daughters and sometimes I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if He had. A whole world of Barbie dolls, pink fairy wings and tulle has passed me by.

Boys are a whole lot of fun. Boys are the gateway to cheeky play, physical nonsense and unrelenting banter. We bond over computers, cars, baseball, soccer, laser tag and we wrestle. I am lucky I have always been something of a tom boy so enjoy all of these types of activities and of course, the bond between mother and son is a rather special one. Male to male bonding is also fascinating to watch. I have observed that the more a male is bonded with another male, the more likely he is to playfully tease said other male. Guys’ currency tends to be mild teasing banter and I can mix it with the best of them. I suppose it’s why I have always had a lot of plutonic male friends.

Life in my house can get rather interesting and at times I do feel like it’s three to one. Me thinks there is a slight conspiracy going on around here. Me versus them in a battle of the chromosomes. The battle is the battle of the refill or replenish and the gladiators are merciless. The battle goes something like this:

    1. One of the drinks of choice for the boys is cordial which is akin to Kool-Aid. Cordial is made up of flavoured sugary syrup diluted in water, about 1 part in 10. As a mother I would of course prefer that my sons drink water or other healthier alternatives, but let’s not turn this into a health debate, because then you’ll miss the point of this post.
    2. The cordial resides in a two litre bottle in the fridge and the boys happily help themselves.
    3. At about the quarter bottle full mark, the boys start pacing themselves with the cordial and carefully watch the reduction in quantity.
    4. They will each take only so much such that there is always some quantity above negligible left in the bottom of the bottle.
    5. The object of course is not to be the last to drink from the bottle to avoid having to refill it and to maximise the chance that I will instead do the job.

This battle is all about precision timing and precision measurement. It’s a game of stealth  and strategy. Who knew that the boys possessed the skills of a scientist without the use of scientific instruments? Skills for life, people…skills for life!

The skills learned in the cordial arena are also applied to kitchen paper towel refill and of course to paper refill in the bathroom. The golden rule seems to be NEVER use the last sheet for he who exposes the cardboard roll will be put to unthinkable effort.  Never mind that there are full rolls within easy reaching distance.

At one point I put up a sign in our kitchen proclaiming “changing the roll will not give you pimples”. It didn’t work.

I’m still changing rolls and making up cordial and have firmly come to the conclusion that the refill/replace gene just does not appear on the XY chromosome. Either that or I have a battle of Darwinian proportions on my hands!