I’ve always been one of those persons who won’t hire someone to do something for me if I can do it myself, such as painting my house, building a deck, building a utility barn, caring for my own lawn, installing new flooring, etc. It was just the way I was raised. And it stuck.
Noticeably absent from that list is electrical work and plumbing. Electricity can kill you, and plumbing can make you kill someone else. So I hire that done.
Of course as the years go by and I realize that there are more roads behind me than in front, I have begun to rethink my aforementioned philosophy. As my wife so appropriately points out to me, I’m not as young as I used to be. Sometimes I can still jump as high, I just can’t stay up as long.
My son and I have just completed a home improvement project in which we installed new flooring, replaced some ceiling and did a little painting. The very first night after the first day of installing new flooring, I hurt in places that I didn’t even know I had. And this surprised me because I work out regularly at the gym, and I thought doing a little squatting and bending would be a piece of cake. Not so. We ran out of Advil.
I got to the point that I used a cushion from the porch swing and just scooted around on the floor. When I needed to get up, I scooted to the doorway and pulled up on the door post. Not dignified at all. As well, before I would get up, I looked to see if there was anything else I could do while I was down there.
I’m thinking that if I continue these types of projects, I might need to add yoga to my workouts. My wife already takes yoga lessons. During the first week of lessons she asked me if I could reach over and touch the floor. I said, “yes ... once.”
I’ve discovered through the years that when I take on renovation projects at my house, not only must I prepare myself physically, I must also prepare myself mentally. By that I mean I have to get my mind right. I have to accept that I have an old house, and there’s not a square room in it. That means if you’re going to hang wallpaper, don’t get any design that has parallel lines because at some point you’ll brace yourself because the illusion is that the house is tilting.
It reminds me of my first homemade cigar. As I maneuvered on my hands and knees, I grabbed hold of some buffalo grass because I was sure that I was going to slide right off the earth.
We have one room that is as much as four inches off square. Through the years, foundations have settled and walls have torqued accordingly. And in some cases, someone apparently didn’t notice that their three-foot ruler was a few inches short by accepted standards.
Dealing with these issues causes one to have to stop, take a deep breath, count to 150 and have a beverage. You can’t tear the house down and start over. That’s why they make caulking, wood filler and wide molding.
Occasionally I watch a home repair show on television. They can make everything look so easy. But I’m not naive. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of non-centered studs and unleveled joists. I carry with me my caulk and my molding. I will fear no cracked sheetrock.
I realize on those shows that there’s much more film footage than meets the eye. In the time it takes me to find my framing square, this guy has built and installed a book case. It’s kind of like observing Congress, it’s what you don’t see that will bite you. But I do get some helpful tips once in a while. I just have to factor the time element.
There once was a home repair show titled “This Old House.” I thought about talking to the network and seeing if I could bring it back titled, “This Damned Old House.”
You can conatct Walden at firstname.lastname@example.org.