Tag Archives: Home repair

Creative Fire Journal, Day #4


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If I weren’t afraid of failing, I might…

If I weren’t afraid of failing, I might tackle a lot more home repairs. There are several waiting, if I ever feel brave enough.

Outside, I am unafraid. I have dug up and transplanted shrubs and vines and bushes like someone else might rearrange furniture. Eventually, they end up in a spot where they both look good and thrive…then I let them be. Until I decide to thin out, rearrange or redesign again. I built a low stone wall to border a wild area of the yard, and a stone walkway to my backdoor, though I don’t know a thing about the proper way to do either. The walkway in particular has several issues with holding water, growing weeds between the stones and tripping up visitors on its uneven surface. No matter. I’ve dug out every stone at least twice, in an effort to get it right; I can always try again. In my little vegetable garden, I built raised beds, tried out Ruth Stout’s “no weed, no work” gardening ideas, employed Patricia Lanza’s “lasagna garden” plan, used methods outlined in Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening…and many others. I have removed dozens of gigantic wild junipers from my property with a pair of long handled loppers and a “tromp and lop” technique I invented myself. I may not be using the right or the best method, but it doesn’t seem to matter much outside. I can figure it out, make it work, or try something else.

At the hardware store, I am always willing to tackle large organizing projects.After more than ten years of working there, I have a pretty good idea of what sells, and what things are used for. The company provides “planograms,” in many cases, as a guide for arranging an area. They can be very helpful, but don’t always work with our space or our inventory. I have gotten in hot water more than once, for veering off in a direction of my own. If I don’t know the product or it’s function, I devise my own method of arrangement. When I organized the spark plugs and later the oil filters, I laid them out in numerical order based on their product number. That way at least, it’s easy to find the one you’re looking for. In housewares, I organized by function: cooking, baking, table-setting, clean-up, and on and on. When I organized the fishing lures, I did it by size and color. When all else fails, make everything look pretty!

In my studio, I am fearless. I almost never know why I’m doing what I’m doing or where I’m going with it. I have always ignored hierarchical methods and hard and fast rules in favor of letting the materials dictate. Ooze, drip, squish and rub are my main techniques, though I have a few others, too. It doesn’t matter if  I’m working with clay, paint or charcoal, I want to give it full reign. I have a lot of failures, but I also have a lot of fun. I learn from everything I do, and gain insight into the materials as I go. When success happens, I know it’s something that has never been done before, in exactly the way I did it.

When it comes to jobs around the house, I am timid. I can’t shake the idea that there is one right way to do a thing, and that I am not privy to that knowledge. I feel clumsy and inept at most home projects. Those that I’ve tried, I have usually messed up. I can rearrange things without end, but I panic at the thought of hanging a door, cutting a mitered corner or putting up woodwork. Replace a window? No way! Put down flooring? Yikes!

If I could conquer my fear when it comes to home repairs, there is plenty to do!

Here I Go Again


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I am sixty-two years old.

I’ve been down this road before.

Seems like I’d learn my lesson.

Obviously not.

It begins like this: I am perhaps mildly depressed, suffering from a bit of malaise, lonely, bored, or just have a little too much time on my hands. My attention will be drawn to something that is not quite right. That “something” will generally fall into one of two categories.

The first is home repair. I’ll notice a patchy wall, a leaky faucet or an uncomfortable furniture arrangement.

The second is my hair. Always nearby; always in need of help.

No matter how I try to distract myself, once noticed, the offensive “something” will not go away. I may be able to delay action…for hours, or even days…but it will eventually win out.

It continues this way: I will jump in and take action. Euphoric at first, I will delve in to that five-gallon bucket of drywall compound, pull all furniture out of a room to get a fresh perspective, start disassembling a faucet…or begin perming, dying or cutting my hair.

During this phase of the operation, if I were thinking out loud, you’d hear things like this:

“Do drywall finishers even train for that job? I bet they just do it, and learn by doing. Who couldn’t do this?”

“Plumbers obviously make too much money! It’s the mystery of it all. If people would just jump in and try it…look how easily everything comes apart!”

Hairdresser is just a title. Mother’s have been cutting their own children’s hair for hundreds of years! What did people do before we had hairdressers? It’s just a matter of cutting it evenly, isn’t it?”

That blessed phase gives way to doubt:

“This isn’t going as far as it should. I wonder if I’ll have to buy another bucket of this stuff. This [table knife/ piece of cardboard/ spatula] might not be the best tool for the job…”

“Now that I have it all apart, I wonder where the problem is…”

“Oh, so I’m clearly not the first person to think of pulling all of my hair into a ponytail on top of my head, and cutting it off. That must be how the “mullet” was invented. And there is no way to cut the back without being ambidextrous…”

Desperation leads to poor choices:

“Maybe I’ll actually go for that deep stucco look…like the walls in early Taco Bell restaurants…”

“…wonder if I turn the water back on?”

“Possibly if I cut every single strand the exact same distance from my head…if I can find the tape measure…”

Which then devolves into failure:

“Clearly this product should not be falling off the wall in big, damp chunks…AND IT”S TAKING PIECES OF THE WALL DOWN WITH IT!!

“…Dear God, please let me just get this back together the way it was so I can call the plumber…”

“If I call in sick to work, and beg the hairdresser to get me in before hours…in secret…and maybe I could tell her that my hair was caught in machinery…or that I was drunk…”

It almost always goes this way.

I should know better.

Clearly, I don’t.

Though the wind is howling and there’s snow coming down and the roads are slippery…

Though this is my day off, and it would be nice to be able to stay home all day getting the house back in order, with soup on the stove and bread in the oven, with a good book waiting by my chair to read when I take a break…

Not this day.

Some foolish person – that refuses to learn her lesson – cut her own hair last night.

IF the hairdresser will see me, I think I’ll leave my warm house and go out in this weather to go get a real haircut.

They are trained professionals, after all!