I am performing small touchups to my house, very badly also with glee upon glee upon glee.
Backing up, it may come as no surprise that I know nothing about fixing much of anything, having over the years done much more inventing than repairing. When one has a certain talent, by which I mean nothing glamorous, just a methodology that seems to produce success, one uses it. The point is that getting older can allow for growth.
Growth, for me at least, requires not minding non-catastrophic mistakes. You? If we’re lucky, even enjoying them.
That’s a doorknob. You’d guessed. But the wood around this doorknob had rotted, and split, to the point where once I poked around a bit I could see right through to the other side. I have previously replaced this entire door: it’s prone to water damage because of where it sits. This time I took a risk. Prompted by Daniel Kanter, to whom I then failed to pay sufficient attention, I bought a can of something called “wood hardener” and another can of a very gloopy substance called Bondo, which hardens to essentially plastic when you mix it with a little tube of less gloopy stuff.
Oh the cursing! Oh the fussing about with plastic cloths and putty knives and the spilling of wood hardener on gray slate. And is there anything so heartening as the raucous laughter of a no-longer-middle-aged woman all by herself confronted by her own witlessness? Because in the end although this looks terrible, at least it’s solid. Lesson. For life?
It got worse.
Because then I tried to repair the door header. Can I tell you that I only just now found out what the board thing on the top of your doors is called? Yes.
This required standing on a ladder. A ladder! I haven’t yet explained that Bondo hardens in 1-3 minutes once you add its companion goop but now imagine I am trying to splop (splash+plop) this stuff over rotted wood chasms without having it adhere in drops to my poor slate patio? I’m not even going to show you a photo of what this header looks like now, because while I did sand as directed, turns out the people who do this regularly have power tools. I had failed to pay attention. Power sanders or whatever they called. Older lady biceps do not qualify.
The board is white now, and perhaps less reminiscent of a Japanese wave painting. At least the rotting process should have been arrested.
I have also washed most of my windows, spackled walls where a leaky roof caused the paint to peel, planted 16 white alyssum in the empty raised bed in the front yard, and chopped down as many pyracantha branches as I could reach from a tall ladder. As opposed to my short ladder. Yes, I have two.
I did this all badly, except planting the alyssum. I can dig holes; I can get my hands dirty.
The pyracantha berries planned to clog my gutters and rain was on the way. Sorry, fruit frens.
- Holidays are here, and I am using upcoming guest arrivals as deadlines for completing tasks. Love me a deadline, love a series of small tasks that can become a named project.
- I am home. I have the time. Hiring people in the Bay Area is tricky these days.
- These days it’s not so scary to try things. YouTube exists. Not that YouTube videos of men spreading Bondo made me good at all this, it just made me less scared of failure. I’m all for mastery but for my particular being, willingness to screw up as long–as it’s not a disaster–might be more valuable.
- Turns out DIY is kind of fun! Turns out that fixing holes makes me happy even if the results are ugly. I’d never be satisfied by someone else doing work like this because I wouldn’t be able to include having fun in my internal calculations of value.
- It’s freeing. It’s new. It’s calming, to believe that rain will not leak through the door, and that my gutters will not overflow.
However, I did not repair my roof, myself. Nor do I plan to refinish my kitchen floor, myself. I’m a fool perhaps, in the court jester sense, but we hope no longer foolhardy.
Oh, and I have yet to polish my silver for holiday meals. That’s next, or maybe priming some more leak stains, don’t know. But guess what? There’s a YouTube video for silver polishing. I’ve always found the process tedious but this man loves his forks. The joy of small things.
Have a wonderful weekend. Fixing a hole where the rain gets in, and stops my mind from wandering, where it will go. Some of you will know exactly which song that is. Happy American Thanksgiving to all!