Category Archives: DIY

Made to Measure

Wooden_ruler_used_for_measuring_cloth_in_a_Bangalore_tailor_shop

Some people are good with rulers. I’m not one of them. My best relationship with a ruler occurred decades ago when we lived in England for a year. Every new entry in every essay book we kept for every subject had to have a perfect line drawn separating it from the entry above, a little the way you use those long black thingies in a check-out line to separate your groceries from those of the person ahead of you. I was good at drawing those lines, once I learned how not to leave long smears of ink from the fountain pens we were required to use.

So the task of creating an arrangement of family photos on our living room wall continues to daunt. Aka frustrate. (Aka madden.)

pics on floor

Because I have to measure. (Not to mention use a level.) I know that in this, the continuation of my second freshman year, I’m supposedly reveling in learning new skills. But precision work like that makes me want to throw things.

You might ask, why, then, am I so interested in learning to quilt? A craft that requires precision at every infinitesimal step? Answer: I’m still in the delusional, what-pretty-fabric stage.

It hasn’t helped my photo project that some of the frames I’m using come from my grandparents’ house and are some sixty fragile years old. Nothing worse than finally getting to the hanging-picture-on-accurately-placed nail moment and having the frame fall apart. (Glass breaks when it hits a wood floor.)

My point (I do have one) is that I’m just not a precision person. The art of eye liner, for instance, continues to elude. One of my uncles (now deceased) a physics teacher at Exeter was probably a precision person. One, at least, of my sons has inherited the gene. And while it’s true we can learn new skills, and especially as we age probably should to stimulate our brains, we can’t become what we’re not. Which I’m always wanting to do. Become the person who’s the life of the party instead of the empress of all introverts. Become the person whose phone vibrates every few minutes because so many friends are texting in (see above). Become, for the moment, anyway, the person to whom marketing oneself comes so naturally that it won’t take longer to write the query letter to prospective literary agents than it did to write the 60,000 word novel.

But–I’m stuck with me. Like it or not. And maybe that’s one of the most basic skills I need to be learning: how to live with what I’ve got.

 

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DIY = DYI?

OK, I admit it was a typo, my title from blog before last. I really DIDn’t mean to type “DYI.”

But as often happens, the fingers precede the brain.

DIY-ing this patio, walk, and landscaping may do wonders for household budget, but possibly at the cost of “Doing Yourself In.”

2900 pounds: that’s the weight of a single pallet of the pavers we’re putting down. We bought five. Over the last week, I unloaded all of one and got down to the last rows of the other four. That is, loaded them into the cart, wrestled it down the hill to the house, unloaded it so James could set the pavers in place.

tommy james patio

 

A “Heads Down Job,” Tommy explained to me, is one where you do just that: grit your teeth, put your head down, and get on with it, little comfort or perks involved. Yup. Well, at least I had music: “Les Miz”–most appropriate. “Jekyll and Hyde,” with the amazing Australian baritone Anthony Warlow playing that doctor/monster, and if you haven’t heard him in Jekyll or any of the Australian Opera Company’s productions, you’re missing a treat. And of course, hip-hop “Hamilton,” which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Thank God for gravity: the cart pulled me down the hill, rather than me having to push it. (Though it had a tendency to want to take off in its own direction on the curves.) Thank God also for gloves, though it was so cold I was wearing two pairs.

But the real thanks goes to Tommy, who gave us a week of his time to do the heavy digging which would have taken me three times as long. And to Marshall, who spent much of his Thanksgiving break planting shrubs. And yes, Charlotte-fans, she toted some of those pavers as well. 

 

 

tommy digs 2

Do we appreciate our children enough? I’m learning….