Last week Clare visited and discovered Jack can no longer jump up on couches and beds, so she went online and ordered him dog stairs. She told me that I should let Jack try them out and, if they didn’t work well, just send them back. 

The stairs arrived three days ago. They were supposed to be eighteen inches high and two feet deep, but came in a box that measured only 9”x16”. Opening the box, I realized the stairs did not come ready-to-use. They came as compressed polyurethane foam wrapped tightly in a small plastic bag. The directions said to remove the bag, give the foam forty-eight hours to expand, and then wrap the whole thing in a zippered corduroy cover. 

The simple task of cutting open the bag somehow put me in a handyman frame of mind, so if I had to wait two days to finish the stairs, I needed to find an actual home repair project to occupy part of my morning. I decided to fix the Venetian blinds on the window over my kitchen sink. For months, the blinds have been stuck in the “down” position, and I haven’t been able to slide them up. 

I googled “Venetian blinds stuck in the down position.” A short video said the repair would take less than a minute. Step One is to lower the blinds all of the way down, even past the window sill. Step Two is pull the blinds out at a 45º angle and give them a stout tug. This action releases the brake mechanism, and the blinds should slide all of the way up. 

I pulled the blinds down as far as they could go and tugged. Nothing happened. Now rather than having Venetian blinds extending to the bottom of the window, they reached all the way to the kitchen counter. I took a moment to bemoan my bad luck (and curse the creators of the video), then decided to take the blinds completely off the window and try to roll them up manually. Maybe I’d at least get them back to where I’d started. 

I got a step stool in order to reach the support brackets at the top of the window. The blinds detached easily, but as I stepped backwards from the stool, I missed a step. I didn’t fall, but momentarily lost control of my descent. The blinds caught on the faucet of the sink, and two of the slats snapped in half. This DIY fiasco solved my problem with the defective brake mechanism, because now I had to go out and buy a whole new set of blinds.

Yesterday I finished the dog stairs, and Jack refuses to use them. They will not, however, be going back to the store. I can’t get them back in the box they came in.

Steven Simpson