D-I-Why Not repair technology

Bricky and Friends

Bricky and friends.

You’ve already met ‘Bricky’, my smart-enough flip phone with the tiny touch screen. Update: It is everything I hoped it would be. It also closes with an endlessly satisfying k’thunk. Which makes it easier for me to literally close that world away, and go look instead at plants and bugs and books and such.

I bought Bricky because I needed a working phone-phone, but I didn’t get rid of its predecessor, a Moto g6. (Even though we never bonded, and my favourite thing about it is still the mushroom sticker I put on the back.) I also didn’t get rid of the phone before that, an Asus Zenfone.

I’ve tended each of these phones so they still work and have a job here. Together, these three kinda-shoddy phones add up to exactly what I want from my technology. It’s like if Voltron was made up of cracked screens and weak motors, but also told you great stories, always had the best recipes, and didn’t bother you while you were trying to sleep.

Sleep is the bailiwick of my Zenfone, on the left there. After several years of hard use, its charging port stopped working. I couldn’t be without a phone at the time, so I replaced it. But a few months and a new part later, I was able to pry the Zenfone open and solder it back to life.

Since the Zenfone is too old and SIM-card-less to cause trouble, it gets a pass on the no-phones-in-the-bedroom rule and lives there. Where it’s still fast enough to play meditation prompts, guide stretches, or play a chill inspiring video or two when the noise and worries of the day are a bit too loud.

The moto g6, right, is the Zenfone’s successor. Because it was in stock, unlocked, inexpensive, and ran Android. But after a few years, the screen cracked, charging and audio got flaky, and eventually it stopped ringing. It held all my calls, whether I wanted it to or not.

The g6 is designed to be unrepairable (boo). BUT I don’t need to repair it for its new job in charge of once-a-week Instagramming, morning YouTube-ing, recipe googling, app testing, and quick camera…ing.

Right-to-repair can’t keep up with planned obsolescence, and the new-new is always calling. But sometimes old+old+old might equal something better. 💚

D-I-Why Not homeMADE repair

Re-duce, re-use, re-fill it with chocolate

Upcycled-recycled chocolate calendar adventure! 🍫
🔎🦌: I love searching for things and finding things. Back in our Toronto apartment, Neil would hide quarters around the house for me to find. Like, the same quarters, over and over. Under books, on my nightstand, around my computer.

He’s a good egg.

🍫🤢: Enter chocolate calendars. I still like them, even now, happily knee-deep in my middle age. So I still get them for myself. I like searching for each day’s number. Although because of the middle age thing, I am *much* less tolerant of calendars containing terrible chocolate. (As a child, I didn’t believe such a thing existed…).

🍫⛽: Last year I got a calendar that was really and truly awful. The graphics were great, the ethics were there, but the “chocolate” was like nibbling a candle. A cheap one made from oil industry effluent. Pass.

What it had going for it though was great little shapes. So I saved the box and insert, thinking perhaps this year I could give DIY a go…

🍫🛠: Fast forward to last weekend, when I made simple coconut oil chocolates and froze them in the tray. And… success! Ingredients in the photo below: equal parts coconut oil+cocoa powder, plus some sweetener (homemade maple syrup), and good salt — mislabeled here as “vinegar dill pickles”. The cabbage was just also there.

🍫🧙‍♂️: So the calendar of daily disappointment has been remade as one of daily DIY joy, filled with yummy little homemade chocolates.

📝: Improvement recs welcome! I hadn’t made these chocolates before. And while they *taste* delicious, I got some unexpected clumpage and separation in the cocoa powder/coconut oil. Perhaps because my cocoa is dutch processed? Anyone who knows more than me about chocolate (so pretty much everyone), please send me your tips for next year 👍👍

There are some things we should probably leave behind in childhood. Pettyness, selfishness, hitting people when you’re angry… But I submit that if you left things behind that once brought you joy, well, go look for them again. I bet they’re still there waiting for you.

Have a great one folks! ♻️


D-I-Why Not homeMADE repair

I have a handle on it now

SNAP! The handle broke off in my hand.

I’ve been working on this automata in my spare time for weeks. It’s a bit intricate, and has a quite a few moving parts. (Literally.) I had it all working. I handmade wooden gears fercryingoutloud. And during final assembly, as I got it ready for glue-up, the axle snapped in two.

Am I looking for a reason to stop, or a way to keep going?

I ask myself this sometimes, when I get frustrated. It helps me notice whether my brain is helping or hindering. When I’m building something, repairing something, baking something, making something. When something goes wonky, when it gets tough. When the soup tastes like hot garbage or the light won’t turn on or the part doesn’t fit.

Like the Saturday before last, when I hit one too many tool challenges in a row, and decided to handle it by… crying. It happens. I didn’t want to keep going, I wanted to declare everything everywhere stupid and go sulk. But what I know for sure, even while being a grumpy hothead, is that won’t get me where I want to go. Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Okay. It snapped. What I built once, I can build twice. So I exclaimed a few words that would make a sailor blush, and then switched tasks. All that’s changed is what I’m working on next. Take a moment to grieve, then drill out the old glued-in dowel. Source a new one, get sanding. I can rebuild him. Better, stronger, faster!

As much as I’m working on making this automata, I’m also working on my ability to keep going. Every maker I know has finely honed this skill in themselves. They work on it at least as much as they work on their craft. They work on it by trying again. And again and again. And maybe one more time after that.

All the speedbumps I know how to go over, it’s because of Past Me. Sometimes she gives up, sure. Yes, I’m a hothead, and I can bail with the best of them. But everything I know how to navigate today is credit to her. I’m super grateful for every time she kept going. Even and especially when it suuuuuuucked. I want Future Me to be able to look back on Today Me and say the same thing. I want to make her proud.

Have a great week folks!

D-I-Why Not repair

Thar she blows

Car blower motor, replaced!

Today I changed the blower motor in our car and polished its headlights. Harvested mulberries for jam, picked rose petals to dry, did laundry, and cut wood to build a chicken coop. Some jobs where women have historically been excluded, and some jobs where men have.

“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

I love to fix things. Though I had pulled out the blower motor once before (to thwart a chipmunk nest in progress), I hadn’t yet replaced one. But the more you repair, the easier it gets, and the more you see the crossovers.

Things are made up of other things, and we humans tend to reuse our ideas. Refilling the spool on a weedwacker is near exactly the same as winding the bobbin on a sewing machine. And a blower motor unplugs from a car just like… well, anything else you plug in. If you have plugged or unplugged anything ever, you’re halfway there!

Grease and solder and thread and metal and wood and seed and wool. Make it from scratch, take it apart, put it back together, love what you love.

Have a great week folks!



Watch, closely.

My post-holiday internet rabbithole: watching watch restoration videos.

So tiny. So satisfying.