Bob the Builder I am not, but I try
I’ve decided I need to make it official. I’m going to become (drumroll, please) a handyman (err, woman).
This is not sudden. I’ve been dabbling in the stuff for years. When you’re single you learn to be resourceful. And you also learn if you want something moved, lugged home or put back together before next Christmas, you’ve got to figure out how to do it without muscled assistance.
Sure, folks say, “I’m here to help. Call me anytime.” When you call them, you hear these helpful replies:
“Oh, that leak should fix itself by morning.”
“Just ferhoodle the fuse box with a 9C and replace the balky wamfit.”
“Don’t you have a boyfriend with a truck?”
I must admit I’ve become quite handy.
A lot of it is common sense and remembering how you took things apart, and some of it is just dogged determination. I’ve replaced cabinet parts and door hinges, assembled furniture, reattached trim and plugged leaks. Outside, I’ve reattached siding, installed edging, applied pesticides and set small cement steps.
When the lazy Susan cabinet in the kitchen went wonky — tilted on its axis and stuck in place — necessity spurred me into action. The men in the family had tried valiantly to fix it. The cabinet installer attempted and failed. Contractors couldn’t make it work. So, one day I just emptied all the shelves and started from square one. And when I was done, the thing worked.
You see, I had a secret weapon.
I read the directions.
Funny, but when you read those, you kinda learn how things work.
So I removed the C-clamp, loosened the top and bottom bolts, adjusted the pitch, tightened the bolts and attached the clamp — just like the instructions specified. The shelves worked and the door fit perfectly. I felt like I had conquered a small country.
There’s a lot of satisfaction in these small victories.
Like the day I hacked up the huge old pine tree root that was right where I wanted to plant a new bush. The tree had been gone for years but its tough, woody tendrils still wove through the lawn. I had spades, a crowbar and a hatchet. I dug the hole, then proceeded to carve down to the right depth. Dirt and woody bits rained down and rocks sailed through the air. After a couple of hours, much sweat and a few bruises, I made a final swing with the hatchet and out came that root.
I hoisted the tree root in one hand and the ax in the other, launched into a victory dance and shouted, “I’m the queen of the wooorrrrrrllllllld!”
Funny, I haven’t seen some of our neighbors since.
But there are times even that elusive boyfriend with a truck can’t save the day. When you’re about to pull out your hair, cry, or head for Wyoming, there is one phone call that never fails.
Paula Brewer is assistant editor for weeklies, TheCounty.ME and Fiddlehead Focus at Northeast Publishing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 764-4471.