One of the highlights of this past week included fixing a piece of machinery that, while not essential to a homestead, would need to be replaced if it stopped functioning. That would not be cool because it was preventable: I remember the same thing happening before, but could not recall what I did to fix it even though I could remember vowing to adhere to simple preventative measures.

“Don’t panic.”

No problem. I was in a mellow mood and I was riding on the tailwind of an earlier accomplishment of having washed out, replaced filters, and reassembled my economical-yet-highly effective bagless vacuum cleaner. (It doesn’t cut, but it sure sucks.) And I didn’t even pull out the manual for reference or have pieces left over after getting it back together! Of course, if I did this as often as it should be done, this would not be noteworthy. Also keep in mind that there were components to dry overnight, that were given several nights while I delayed buying replacement filters, so I was really winging it there.

But back to the task here.

With the paper shredder, I wasn’t sure if there was a jam or an overload, or what. I tried to free any debris that was visible. The motor would run for reverse (for cleaning it or whatever), but the auto feeder wasn’t gobbling up what I tried to offer. I decided I couldn’t try to force it. No, it’s always taken offerings and left me feeling quite satisfied (and contemplating what New Year’s Eves would’ve been like if we had had this confetti producer back in the old days…). So I moved on. First allowing it some time to chill, perhaps reset… Then unplugging it and plugging it back in… Then trying to clear even more of some bits here and there. To no avail.

By this time, I’m about ready to give up. The life-saving effort wasn’t continuous (I do this weird multi-tasking thing between active and sedentery tasks, often forgetting something that’s in process), but time was passing and I was running out of new ideas to try every time the basket would catch my eye*.

Then it hit me! If there may be a jam, then maybe things got off track, and perhaps I could find a (safe) way to physically correct them, yet maintain the integrity of the device. Ok, honestly, the picture in my mind was that of what my dad does when he’s fixing the millions of things he has fixed. (And the fact he’s generally successful, and I can’t tell the difference between when he’s doing something because he knows it will work vs. when he is just fiddling and winging it. Me, well I haven’t developed the skill of looking like I know what I’m doing, even when I don’t. At least not aside from a few freak instances–and even in those, people who know me could definitely tell the difference.)

So, yeah, I hadn’t hit the thing. I felt no anger. It was probably my fault it wasn’t working. I decided I couldn’t abuse it. No, but what if it was an instance when I had to choose between shaking it up a bit, or leaving it to waste?

So I chose to shake it, and agitate the rotor and spikes, but I assure you that all shaking was done in the spirit of love. The demonstration of how this approach contrasts with that of my dad’s was performed with grand flourishes, precisely because it was successful. I’m not so sure it was as entertaining as I thought it was.

* In relaying this story verbally, I was able to glaze over a lot of the above, but I think it needed to be included in a textual account. To build suspense or whatever. Too much?