Handy Woman, my Aunt Fanny!

Today was an exercise in learning that I should have spent $25 for a do-it-for-you person.

One of my mother’s belongings was a porch-size American flag. I proudly brought it home to install in time Independence Day. Not having a place to fly it, last week I went to my local Helpful Hardware Place and bought a flag holder. Only three screws to install it. This would be a piece of cake. I’ve done other simple jobs around the house.

Today I chose to work in 105 degree temperature and install the holder. Not a problem. This would be a five minute job.

I gathered my tools and headed to the front porch. I tried marking the places where the screws need to go with a pen. The pen didn’t fit in the screw holes so I went back inside for a long, skinny screw to mark the site. That done, the drill wouldn’t start. Uh-oh, I left the battery pack in the box, a trip inside to retrieve that.

Did you know that you can’t drill upside down? Well, at least it didn’t work for me. So instead of drilling/screwing from the deck I needed to do it from the ground, using a two-step step stool to reach the railing. After another trip inside for the stool and sidestepping the phlox and nandina, I finally situated the stool so it wouldn’t tip with me on it.

Finally, I was ready to drill. Three holes appeared to replace the marks and I was ready to pound in the plastic screw anchors. Only they didn’t fit. The 11/64 inch holes were not big enough. I went back in the house to retrieve the 3/16” bit. Much better.

Now all I needed to do was pound the anchors into the holes. The people who design those objects must think we have upper body strength. They obviously don’t envision limp wrist-forearm-elbow-upper arm do-it-yourselfers attempting this task. I pounded and pounded and repeatedly dropped those little white anchors. Two of them never went in further than 1/4 inch. The third one actually went in about ½ inch. After all this effort I decided that the flag was light weight and just plain screws would hold it. Removing that third anchor proved to be a task and a half, but it finally popped from the hole.

Another trip inside for the 1/8” bit. Three new holes appeared next to the others with little stress. Now I could place the holder and insert the screws. But the drill/screwdriver was too big to fit around the various bumps on the holder.
So I made another trip inside for the battery screw driver. After the hammering incident I knew I wouldn’t have the strength to insert the screws manually. I installed the left top screw about ¾ of the way and moved to the right top screw and installed it about the same distance. Next I moved to the bottom center screw and installed it all the way.

Now it was time to go back and tighten the two top screws. But, the battery screwdriver has lost its oomph. Back inside again, this time to find a manual Phillips screwdriver. After tightening the screws I’d be all set for the Fourth of July. Small problem – the screw heads were stripped. Don’t ask me how. They just were.

After considering the option of driving to the Helpful Hardware Place to buy three new screws and drill yet more holes in the porch rail, I decided that since the flag was light the holder as installed could do the job. I came inside again. Unrolled the flag and tried it out. Good fit – success at last. However, rerolling the flag was another issue. After three tries I finally rolled it tight enough to fit back in the box.

After three trips to get all the tools back inside the house, this five minute job took only 50 minutes in 105 degree heat. I couldn’t wait to wrap my lips around a frozen fruit bar. So cool and refreshing!

I just have one fear. What if the flag falls? I can envision an apoplectic veteran pounding on my door and heaping imprecations upon my head for treating our flag disrespectfully. How will I ever explain that not only was I a Girl Scout who taught younger scouts flag protocol but I am also a daughter and niece of WWII veterans who were also carpenters? To heap more potential shame upon my shoulders, I’m the former wife of a Vietnam veteran and the mother and mother-in-law of five more veterans.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, June 26, 2010