Category Archives: Working with your spouse

2015 Day 24: Do It Yourself Folks!

I come from a long line of DIYers.  My grandfather and his siblings came to the United State in the 1800’s because they were carpenters.  There were actually advertisements for carpenters in European countries.  So he came here.  My Dad was a mechanical engineer who loved to get his hands dirty.  He did two additions to the house where we lived. He mixed and poured his own concrete.  He knew how to do block work for foundations.  And he had excellent woodworking skills.  There was a period of time when he built redwood picnic tables on the side to make extra money.  It was a lot harder to have good carpentry skills in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  He did not have those radial arm saws or a flooring nailer that was run by the air compressor.  When he laid flooring, he sat on the floor and nailed each board by hand.  When you missed, you hit your thumb.  For months, Dad had a blue thumb.  It was a hazard of the job.

I am not a fabulous carpenter but my Dad taught me the basics.  When I was a child, you helped out with chores. And if that meant being the “holder” while Dad cut wood, you did it.  I can measure twice and use a variety of tools.  I DO have one of those radial arm saws in my garage right now.  I cut some trim yesterday.  I can use a drill, a circular saw and so on.  My husband has some carpentry skills, too.  So when we built our house, we did some of the work ourselves.  Let me tell you right now that there is a huge difference in cutting some trim and putting it up AND building a house.   A HUGE difference.  We had a builder but we could save a bunch by doing some work ourselves.  Boy- that sounds like one of those programs on television right now.   The hardest thing we did was to roof our house.

My Dad was excited that we were building a house.  So he said he would help us out on the weekends.  Great! Somehow that translated to roofing the house.  Well, the shingles were delivered and a friend used his tractor to lift them to the roof for us.  Whew! That would have been hard alone.  Those things are heavy! So then all Dad, my husband, our 5th grade daughter, our 7th grade son and I had to do now was to get busy.  We put down the tar paper and started on the shingles.  One side of our house was two stories.  It looked a long way down.  Dad just sat down and started on the shingles and so did we.  After a few hours, we had a lot down.  I was just glad we were away from the edge.  I just scooted along on my sitter and nailed between my legs.  I made sure that my sitter had contact with the roof at all times.  I don’t think I ever got the tar stains out of the seat of those jeans!

We-yes, all of us-ran wiring, put in insulation, and put up sheetrock. We did plumbing.  Every weekend was an experience in what seemed like the longest house build ever.  I will say one thing about this experience.  It was tiring but one of the most fulfilling things we have done as a family.  We all learned a lot.  We laughed at our mistakes and sometimes we grumped around our mistakes.  But we did it TOGETHER.  And we were stronger for it.


Day 27: Sometimes You Don’t DIY!

Many years ago, in a small North Georgia town lived a family with two small children. Dad was a telephone engineer and mom was a stay-at-home Mom. In order for them to make ends meet, they sometimes did projects at home themselves. They sometimes didn’t agree on what and how to do things, but they agreed that they enjoyed saving the money. Some projects were small and some were large. They painted their home-inside and out. That was ok. They replaced the carpet in the living room and hallway. That was ok even though they were pretty paralyzed the next day from crawling around so much on their knees. They planted a garden in their backyard even though the mom had never raised veggies. She had read Organic Gardening all winter and had a few ideas about what to do. Of course, their neighbor HA-Hawed a lot when they planted the garden. He pretty much so said they were nuts and would not harvest a thing. Although the mom had a few moments of anxiety from his comments, she went blindly ahead and grew a lot of veggies that summer. Another successful DIY project was completed and they were able to cut their grocery budget and have marvelous veggies, too. Yay!

Feeling confident when Fall arrived, they decided to try another kind of DIY to save a little money. The other projects had gone well-so why not? Well, the couple was us-big surprise there. And the new project was frosting the mom’s waist length hair! Why not? The ads said it was nice and easy. And lots CHEAPER. We bought the frosting kit at the local drugstore. We read the instructions several times and gathered all the materials. When the kids went to bed that night, the wife and husband put the tight rubber cap on the wife’s hair and began to pull the individual hair through the cap holes using a crochet hook. The wife finally went to sleep with her head resting on his knee. Let me tell you, it took hours! About midnight, they finished and her hair looked great. And they saved a bunch of money. Mission accomplished!

As spring approached, the mom needed a touch-up. So off she went to the local drugstore to purchase the frosting kit again. Before beginning, they talked about what shade and how much hair to pull through that rubber cap. Well, it was Spring. We would be outside a lot. Why not make it a tad blonder? Seemed to make sense to us. Just full of our previous accomplishments, we went ahead with the blonder tone which meant we left the dye/color on longer-a lot longer. The timer went off and we headed to the kitchen to pull of the cap and look at my gorgeous newly frosted hair. The cap was off. We put on the toner. We washed. We conditioned. My husband put a towel over my head and I turned around. I was smiling and couldn’t wait to go look in the mirror. Then I noticed my husband’s face. It was not exactly happy. It had a puzzled look and he said,” It’s a little brighter than the picture.” What exactly is a little brighter???? I went to the bathroom and flicked on the light. My hair was brighter. In fact, it was almost bright enough to stop a school bus! I looked like Bozo the Clown with bright orange hair!!

Since this happened on a Saturday night, I had the rest of the weekend to look at my orange hair! Then on Monday, I found a professional hairdresser who laughed at my story, cut my long hair, and colored the remainder of the hair on my head. Every time I thought about self-frosting my hair, my husband strongly encouraged me to seek a true professional. Sometimes it isn’t about the expense, it is about finding a true professional!

Day 23: Notes on Being A Greeter

A  few times in my adult life, I have worked as a “Greeter” .  It has generally been in connection with churches and is a terrific way to start off your morning worship  because you smile a lot and welcome people. I am thinking that  my my second music teacher would be proud of me. She always taught me that being warm and friendly was a life skill. And she was right. I sometimes work as a greeter at other kind of functions. I usually know right away when I am going to be asked because every conversation starts-” We were trying to figure out who can talk to total strangers and your name came to mind.”  Yep! That is me! I can talk to anyone.  And face it, some folks cannot. Some always look like their shoes pinch or their panties are in a bunch!

Many years ago, I was serving on the greeter committee in a church. We were involved with a lot of thing there and in the community.  One of our other fun things was working as chaperones with some high school scouts.  A big day trip had been planned and I was SO excited! We were going canoeing in the mountains for the day.  I had been canoeing a few times and loved it.  When we arrived at the river, the water was down. It had been really dry and the water depth was not as much as we expected. But that was no BIG deal, I thought. Little did I know——water dept is very important!

My husband and I were partners. That was BIG mistake two. We had been married a long time. Who would realize that you should never partner with your spouse?  We started out with adult couples spaced between scout canoes . I was in the front. My husband was in the back. Part of MY job was to notice the water depth so that we did not run aground on the rocks. If that happened, we would have to jump out and pull the canoe to deeper water. Well, rats! It was so hard to judge the depth from the front of the canoe. It would look just fine and then we would hit the rocks.  My husband began to complain bitterly about my canoeing skills. And probably I was a little touchy from just not being able to quickly determine  the depth.  By mid-morning, I would have traded my husband for —well almost anything.  So I decided to become the depth finder of the ages! I would NOT screw up again. I carefully leaned forward to see better and WHAM! We hit another rock. Unfortunately, my paddle was posed so that the sudden rock hit slammed the handle into my forehead. In mere moments, I had a huge lump in the center of my forehead and both eyes were beginning to discolor!

We stopped and put ice on my head and switched places.  Quickly, my husband saw that indeed it was hard to determine the depth.  Even with his expert canoeing  skills we ran aground!

But this is not the end of this story. The next day I was one  of the greeters at church. There I was with a discolored lump  in  the middle of my forehead. And two black eyes! After the initial shock, people would ask about what had happened to me. When I told them  that my husband and I had a canoeing accident, they would smile and say “sure”.  Then they would ask about what really happened.

Oh my!  I should have had a better story!