18 Jun

Grandfather Mountain, NC

Grandfather Mountain, NC


By L. Stewart Marsden

I live in a condo in the mountains of North Carolina. The focus of the condo is a great room that has a spectacular view of Grandfather Mountain. The great room is about 24 feet high on the exterior wall, into which two sets of casement windows have been built, one set low, and one set high.

That wall is also southern-facing, and catches quite a bit of sunlight — and heat — during the day. In the wintertime, the heat is a welcomed source of comfort. In the summertime, not so much.

My parents lived in the condo during the summertime. They loved the green mountains and the area. In the wintertime, they migrated south to St. Petersburg and a temperate winter clime.

I’ve never seen the upper set of casement windows in the great room open before. It makes sense to open them, as hot air rises, and openings would definitely make the condo much cooler in the summer (there is no air conditioning).

Two maneuvers are required to open the casement windows: unlatching a lock lever by pushing it up; and cranking the hand crank one way or other to swivel the windows open. No sweat on the lower set of windows.

But the upper windows?

I called Andersen Windows, figuring they made the casement windows, and surely in vacation homes stacked casements are not a rarity, so they must have some device to do the trick.


“We just make the windows,” said the pinch-nosed customer service person who sounded like I was keeping her from her iPhone activity. “You might check with Home Depot.”

I called, but it was 9:00 am, and the people in the Windows and Doors Department don’t come strolling in to work until 10 or so. And they aren’t always there. Said the phone receptionist. Also pinch-nosed. Also irked because I interrupted some online iPhone game.

I went to Lowe’s.

Hardware stores are a man’s Nirvana! It’s so easy to get distracted by all the things you want but don’t need. But I was resolute, and kept focused, and wandered about until I found myself in the Paint Department. There I discovered telescoped handles for painters who need to reach high wall levels, or maybe ceilings. I mean this thing was industrial strength, and had a girth in the first section that took two hands to hang on to. Massive! And it extended — oh, I don’t know — maybe a couple hundred feet! There were four or five sections and I opened that sucker up all the way! I coulda scratched the back of the people waiting to check out with their stuff had I wanted.

Price: Like more than $50 bucks. At Lowe’s! I figured if push came to shove, I could buy it, use it to open my windows (not knowing exactly how) and return it for a refund. Then go back in the fall, buy it, close my windows, and return it again for a refund. I’m of Scotch-Irish descent, by the way.

Oh, like you haven’t done that before!

But I didn’t. I’m not Catholic, but I still have a conscience that can bother the heck out of me.

When I moved into the condo, I found many things out about my parents, who are now deceased. One, they were pack rats. I found copies of my dad’s public school primary through high school report cards! A little brittle from the wear of the years, but legible. They were in one of the drawers in a desk in the master bedroom. Along with paper clips, and little doo-dads and stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

I also found that my dad must have felt one electrical outlet could feed twenty more extension plugs and wires. Nearly every outlet looked as though it was regurgitating wires and plugs! Like the dad in the classic movie, A Christmas Story.

And, he had just about every tool known to mankind. Several tool kits. Screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, saws, ratchet sets, screws and nails … You name it.

I knew if I wandered about and fixated on opening that upper level of casement windows, I would be able to do it. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Hence MacGyver. Or the crew of Apollo 13 and NASA. Or any other do-or-die situation artist.

Like me!

So I wandered. And I fixated. And in the basement floor level owner’s closet (really a pretty nice-sized room) I found it! An extension painting handle, and one of those paint roller frames! So excited to try it out, I bounded back up to the great room, screwed on the paint roller frame to the extension pole, and then extended the pole!

This should not have been such an exciting and self-satisfying event, but it was! And, voila! It worked! My jury-rigged contraption worked wonderfully well, and I was able to unlock and roll open each casement!

Almost tantamount to a toddler making his first doody in the potty! Look what I did!

Jury-rigging. I used to call it jerry-rigging, for some reason. Then I found out otherwise. The term is nautical in nature. Basically means doing with what you have. Like replacing rigging on a ship miles at sea when there’s no marina or Lowe’s nearby. Like MacGyver, or the Apollo 13 crew and NASA.

It could also refer to rigging a jury, I suppose. Fixing a verdict. Or it could be the determination of something — some design or program — by a jury of folk. You know — “well I think it should do this or that” kind of process. Always works out good, right?

Kinda like our politicians in Washington, where everything is rigged to some extent, jury or jerry or whatever.

You wondered when I was going to get around to that, right?

Good place to stop.



5 Responses to “Jury-Rigged”

  1. cricketmuse June 18, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Tall ladders not found in one of the drawers?

    • skipmars June 18, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

      You would think so, wouldn’t you?

  2. rosie49 June 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    You know it’s the creation and modification of tools that separates us from the lower primates. In our house we frequently use the “mind vise” to address these types of problems that just can’t be “googled.” Good on you!

    • skipmars June 20, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

      I think I saw Jane Goodall stalking me the other day, so I’m not so sure I’ve risen above the lower primate stage. Chimps use sticks to get termites, after all!

  3. Sandi August 13, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

    I laughed so hard when you were in Lowes and going to scratch the backs of people in check out.,
    Glad you got the windows open and didn’t have to buy anything or pay anyone. Did it all by yourself!!!! Way to go!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: