There are just those days where turning your key in the ignition produces an unfamiliar light on the dashboard of life.

Disconnected wires lie in a tangle. A metaphor for my life at the moment but more importantly, this is the day the music died. What started out as a reboot to my ancient stereo system (are they still called that? Sound System? Audio System?) became a world of frustration. The online manual suggested the warning light, stating “PROTECTED” was a feature to avoid speaker burn-out due to wiring problems.

  1. Unless Alice and Skeedles have touched the speakers and yes they still have miles of wires, the system hasn’t moved in the last 10 years
  2. Or wires can just suddenly give up the ghost and fail?

I don’t have any idea why there is no sound. I downloaded the documentation, shockingly,  it was available, and looked up the PROTECTED feature.

Armed with a can of BLOW OFF duster and good strong glasses I disconnected every wire. Careful inspection suggested one rather short connection might need some trimming. I know I had a funny looking tool I once saw someone use to deftly strip the plastic off a wire. It was yellow and black if I recall correctly. Down the spiral stairs to the kitchen. My tool kit used to be well-organized. I’m somewhat anal about tools I have no idea how to use most of them properly. Over the years, and projects with well-intentioned helpers, the tools have dwindled in number and I’ve acquired a few that frankly never did their job well.

The wire-stripper tool had vanished but I had a pair of needle-nosed pliers that appeared to have the perfect cut-out for gentle squeezing and shearing off a little coating on said wires. “I helped her out of a jam I guess but I used a little too much force…” Bob Dylan Tangled Up in Blue. I stared down at the snipped off end of the wire. Oops!

At this point I realized I needed better eye-wear, stronger light, and different tool. Back down to the tool kit. I had my eye on a razor blade holder/scraper/knife thing. Coincidentally, it was black and yellow, for some reason this signifies a GOOD TOOL in my mind.  Once organized with an old CD case as my cutting board, two pair of glasses and a good source of light, I realized the blade was nicked and dull. Back to the kitchen. A simple + screw (screws and screw drivers are “plus” and “minus” right?) in the middle held the two pieces of the device clamped together. A thumb-slide moved the blade in and out. How difficult could this be? With any luck, someone in Taiwan carefully tucked new blades inside the handle while assembling it and I will be back in business shortly.

Did I mention I’m not very good with tools? The + screwdriver slipped, the + screw skidded across the table and dropped neatly into the heating vent in the floor. I jumped causing the parts of the handle to disengage and fly in all directions. I was cheered to see the little packet of new blades at least.

Having stripped the wires and reattached everything, I tentatively pushed the button. “What are you protecting me from?? Joy? Music?” I suppose at 12 years old I shouldn’t be surprised if it finally quit. I wandered dejectedly downstairs to put away my assorted tools. The driving rain slowed as I opened the door to the deck and peered out. A symphony of bird calls, the wind jostling the chimes and relatively warm rain met me face on. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.


Now to see about that strange light on the dashboard…I think it means low tire pressure. That should be simple, right? How many planets are retrograde this month?

11 thoughts on “Projects

  1. Oh no! I can’t live without my music! I’ve stripped plenty of wires with a utility knife over the years. I have 2 pair of real wire strippers, but can never find either of them. I have dozens of utility knives conveniently located throughout the house and garage. The right tool for the job is overrated anyhow.

  2. ‘Just one of those days’ … it’s hard, when all these little things happen, to remember that even though they might pile up into a large mound of yuckiness in our day, these are the problems that we can solve. Bring on the screw drivers that can fix life!

  3. Technology is my nemesis too. I love it when it works but when it doesn’t I’m hopeless and usually reduced to a ball of tears and snot. When I was single I had a tool kit. Mostly I didn’t know what to do with it but, like you, I used what I could the best way I could (usually wrong). Now Commando and CJ have taken over the tools and when I do need something I can’t find it. They keep stealing my jewellery making pliers too!

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