St. Philip’s Phixers, a group of volunteers who do maintenance and repair tasks around the chuch, sponsor monthly home maintenance workshops. These “Phorums” continued over the summer, with a good mix of both parishioners and outside community attending.
On May 27, ACE Hardware on 22nd Street sent employee Danny Jenkins to give a presentation on Rainwater Harvesting with the Bushman polyethelene prefabricated rainwater harvesting cisterns. Although rainwater harvesting had previously been a topic, the advantage of the Bushman cisterns, said Joe Findysz, owner of the store, is that one can “just roll them into place and hook them up.” Danny arrived with a trailer in tow, on which a complete working system had been assembled, from roof gutters to cistern to pump and drip system. After his presentation indoors, the group went outside, where Danny had parked the trailer under the shade of the large mesquite tree. (He had also thought ahead to bring a shade tent.) Danny offered a discount on parts, and free delivery, to anyone from St. Philip’s. At least one parishioner has already taken him up on that.
On June 24, Steve Kiesel of Harwood’s New Life furniture stripping and refinishing business explained how to repair a broken or damaged piece of furniture, as well as the process of refinishing. He had quite an array of tools and products to show, and discussed the uses of each. Included in his display were three matching chairs, each in different stages of stripping and refinishing. Participants had been invited to bring portable pieces of furniture for advice. Steve agreed to walk around to each and give his advice to the entire group.
Things got interesting with the very first piece that he saw. A parishioner had brought a little drop-leaf table that had belonged to her mother. She sheepishly admitted that she had damaged the inlaid leaf by putting a potted plant on it, which leaked and left a water stain. Steve put the piece up on the table and kept admiring it. “This is a lovely piece,” he kept saying. A lively discussion ensued among the audience about whether the value of the table would be diminished by refinishing, and Steve trying to point out that “it’s worth nothing right now.” To the amusement of all, it actually started to resemble “Antiques Roadshow” until, finally, most people saw the point, that the value was a personal, sentimental one, and whether or not to refinish depended on the owner’s own feelings about it. In the end, however, this parishioner was so impressed with Steve that she left the table for him to do the work. Likewise, the next piece was a chair that had belonged to a parishioner’s mother. She hadn’t even been aware of some of the loose joints that Steve discovered, nor even a small corner of a leg that had gone missing. She, too, left her chair for Steve to take with him! Another piece that intrigued the audience was brought by a non-parishioner – some sort of portable bar, with metal that was quite stained and tarnished, and a decal on the wooden backsplash. Steve gave his advice on cleaning up the metal, but said, sadly, the decal would have to be sacrificed if the wood were to be stripped and refinished.
Participants had also been impressed by a table leaf that had once been painted an unfortunatel pea-green, and which Steve had partially stripped on one end to reveal a lovely walnut original, and refinished on another section to show how it could be salvaged. To conclude this fascinating “Phorum,” those who still wanted to learn about stripping went outside, where Steve again used the table leaf to demonstrate how to brush on the stripping agent, let it bubble, and then – contrary to most people’s perception that the stripping solution should be scraped off – he demonstrated how to hose the mess off. “The water won’t hurt it,” he said. “It’s no different from soaking a piece in a dipping tank!” Steve’s business cards are available to anyone who would like to visit his fascinating business on S. Plumer Ave. – they can be found on the volunteer desk in the church office reception area.
Suggestions for “Phorum” topics are always welcome. Genterally, any home maintenance topic that is likely to be of general interest to a sufficient number of people will be considered. As a result of such a request from a parishioner about what to do about pecky critter around the house, a different sort of program was arranged for July 22. The Environmental Education Program of the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks, & Recreation department regularly offers programs on several topics, including a popular “Living With Urban Wildlife” program. A full house showed up to take advantage of this presentation by volunteer Bill Kaufman. He had plenty of interesting handouts, brochures, and other information for people to take home, and in his 90-minute slide show he discussed everything from what wildlife need to survive to what to do to either discourage them in your yard or to encourage the ones you want. He stressed that, if you feed them and provide water, they will come. They also need shelter and space. To discourage unwanted wildlife, make sure these things are not available. Feeding wildlife (except for birds) is actually against the law, but pet food (and even pets) can provide unintended wildlife food. The audience had lots of questions, which Bill ably answered. Unfortunately, ominous thunder scared a few people away early, though the rain never actually materialized. Those who stayed were glad they did.
What happens to your old appliance when you buy a new one? Does the company offer to haul the old one away for free? Does it then end up in the landfill? Secret revealed: It is usually sold to another dealer, who repairs and refurbishes it for resale! On August 26, participants will have the opportunity to learn how to repair their own household appliances. Randy Condren, branch manager of Appliance Parts Depot, will bring one of his master technicians, and together they will discuss the things that homeowners can do themselves to diagnose and repair. Randy and his technician will also discuss proper maintenance of your applicances — to avoid the need for repairs in the first place! As with the furniture workshop, participants may bring small portable appliances for advice. They may also bring questions about larger applicances, which Randy has agreed to answer.