It’s a troubled relationship for sure. What can I tell you? It’s been a long term relationship – gosh I think it’s lasted a decade! We started flirting when I bought my first (and only real) house in Colorado. Back then it was kind of superficial, other people were involved in the same activities so you might say it was more of a friendship. We bonded on life’s textures, colors and patterns but never got beyond the surfaces – walls, fences and floors were the boundaries. But it felt like a relationship upon which I could build.
Then there was a hiatus of sorts when we moved back to California. Distance, you’ll say but it wasn’t that. I was just too busy with a new job and living space and the gradual but unrelenting upheavals of the recession. We were renting back then and it wasn’t a good space to meet up and that only got worse when we moved into our tent! We had no contact at all to speak of during that time.
We reconnected when we moved into our first travel trailer. Not at first but some time on when I really needed help with the rotting floor in the bathroom (long time readers will recall – for newbies that was back in the early days when we discovered that the ‘soft’ floor that the salesman assured us was NOT a problem, was a sign of rot). The floor was caving in. Leaky toilets, peeling wallpaper, loose screws – these were all well within my ability, but rotting unstable floors and toilets that listed dramatically when sat upon – those issues required assistance. And this relationship was built entirely on the doing and making of things so it was natural to hook up again.
Making and doing – oh that wasn’t all of it of course – I can’t discount the pull of the bright and attractive, the fresh and new, and sure there was a bit of fad and fashion involved as well. But deep down it was a relationship built on need. My need. And so it went. On again, off again. There when I really needed it, on the back burner otherwise. There were no hard feelings when things cooled. It was extremely easy, albeit usually expensive, to start up again.
And start up again we did after we moved into our latest abode (aka the big tin can). This has been the most intense and difficult phase of the relationship. It’s constant for one thing (and I’m a person who likes her space), and the kids are much more involved as well. We never seem to have any down time – there can be such a thing as too much togetherness you know – and there’s been a lot of mistakes and failures. Sometimes I just want to throw in the trowel and walk away from it all.
Before you judge believe me when I say it’s not like I haven’t tried. I’ve invested. I’ve spent time. I’ve tried to acquire the right tools to make it a success. I’m not oblivious to the benefits of the relationship. I want, heck, I need it to work.But despite all of this, I’ve come to this conclusion: DIY and I are incompatible.
That’s right, even after nearly a decade of increasingly difficult ‘do it yourself‘ projects I am still incapable of making a straight cut with my reciprocal saw, I can’t snap together the easy-lock laminate flooring, can’t hammer in a nail with one or two confident blows without one landing on my thumb. My fences sag and the goats clear them in a single bound. My chicken coop egg boxes (made with the oh so cute idea from Pinterest of repurposing old kitchen cupboards) melted in the rain making it easy for raccoons claw their way in to massacre our flock. My planned porch consists of four deep hand-dug holes positioned at almost the right spots to place the 4×4 uprights that will support the old porch. The old porch that was removed from the house when it was moved and which has been propped up in the pole barn where it ages and warps ever since (it’s quite heavy and beyond my ability to move on my own). My driveway is still muddy ruts, my garden overgrown weeds, and there’s a patch of drywall that the dog chewed through that still needs to be patched. I confess to being a do-it-yourself failure.
Unfortunately the alternatives are win the lottery and pay someone to do it right or keep making a muddle of it and hope to improve eventually. So many of my failures are due to cutting corners and jury-rigging things. I recall a picture book from my childhood about the backwoods Tatum family (mainly the boy named Beanie and his dog, Tough Enough). They lived in a ramshackle sort of place, all patches and mismatched bits and pieces. That’s us.
Postscript – I was interrupted while writing this post by my daughter who informed me that the goats had escaped again. So we rounded them up and then I went out into the pouring rain and pounded in another fence post to shore up the sagging fence. 🙂