Let’s face it. I was not born with a handy bone in my body. I could learn only so much about working on cars, mostly by necessity, before I had to cry to my brother or my grandfather to help. Happened a lot when I was younger. Up until about age 28, I drove some really crappy cars. Working around the house?
I spent most of my adult life living in rental homes, the bulk of the past twenty years in two different apartments. If something broke, it was someone else’s problem. Then I bought Rancho Winter.
Um… Yeah, that was an eye-opener. For a brief time, Nita and I lived there before realizing getting the house in a divorce was not always something to brag about. But we tried. I discovered I could rip up carpet, string coax cable from one room to another, and put the carpet back without too much trauma. I discovered where the filter on the heat pump was only a year and a half after I bought the place. I learned it takes only a few nails to keep a deck together.
We moved back to Chateau Nita, however, and rented the condo out to a family with a very handy patriarch. The most trouble I’ve had since was getting the idiot HVAC contractor to understand that the tenant has to be home when you install the freaking replacement central air!
Here? Well, that’s a different story. Nita had spent most of her previous marriage and her entire time as a single woman having to do everything herself. So shortly after our wedding, Hurrican Ike came to Ohio and provided us with our first home improvement challenge: Replacing shingles. Now, the wise thing to do would have been to convince the insurance company that the roof needed completely replaced. However, life changes had maxed out our credit and, at the time, we were still trying to rent out Rancho Winter. So the deductible wasn’t there. $50 and Nita’s nephew was.
We probably could have done the job ourselves fine except… When you climb that ladder and are faced with climbing up onto a 45-degree pitch, the gutter goes from that thing you propped the ladder against to this yawning chasm which could swallow you up as soon as you try to cross it. Fortunately, her nephew smoked a little courage before climbing on the roof. I still bought him a beer on top of paying him.
More recently, when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, Nita announced she was going to redo the landscaping in front of the house. That’s nice, honey. Can you get me a Coke to wash down my vicodin? That evening, when I was down to small overdoses of Advil to manage the pain, I went out front.
I nearly didn’t recognize the place.
This spring, however, promises to be different. I have taken responsibility for the backyard. My first project is to rip out the sod behind the garage and lay down some mulch. I have to rehang a door, finish chasing down leaks in the bathroom into the basement so I can start work on the new family room. Somehow, I have to remember how to reassemble a futon I got in the divorce that I kept thinking this way, neither of us would have to move it. Nita wants to redo the kitchen floor.
Will I torch the place, dig up Jimmy Hoffa and leave a gaping hole where the house once stood?
Let’s hope not. I’m not handy, but I’m not that big of a clutz, either.
Then again, ask Ziggins about falling plaster.
G’wan. Ask him.
Our little brother still giggles about that episode having shared a room with Ziggins at the time.