The DIY Crowd

My husband and I are do-it-yourself-ers… I always have been, my husband became one after marrying me. My dad was one and he trained my husband who then far surpassed him. My husband does quality work, and I have a beautiful kitchen to prove it. Of course the story behind that is its own tale. But we DIY people are a breed with our own magazines and our own insiders jokes. Just say “mushroom factor”. Yep…. a DIY knows exactly what that means and could probably regale you with a few incidents where we all sit around nodding our collective heads.

There are men who cannot fathom how to follow this path, even though they try. One brother in law and my husbands father are representative of this sad estate. They try, and you have to feel sorry for them, because for some reason their stain stays tacky indefinitely or their attempts to put up a cabinet always ends up saying “call the professionals…please“. I think I might have clued in to why this is: they finish the job in no time at all. People who are DIY’ers tend to take their sweet time getting the job done. They aren’t experts usually, and they have to research, plan, ask questions… and borrow books… then get it just right, as they make repeated trips to the nearest Home Depot or Lowes. See that word “repeated”? I’m not kidding. My husband is on first name basis and good buddies with the employees of the three main stores he frequents. And I like to go to those stores as much as he does… I just don’t hobnob with the help as much. That is because I hand the how-to over to my husband on most of these jobs ( he’s better at it ,that’s why). Plus I rely on my own research more. Not a better way of doing things- just different in style.

My sons are a mixed batch- some can do a better job than their dad, some…well, they need to call their brothers if they expect to work on their own place in some far off future time. Each to his own ability and talent. But as Red Green says, it’s a good thing to be “handy”. We’re just one big handy family- we fight but we get the job done. Eventually.

It does have its drawbacks, though… say, like too many duct tape experiments. The latest of those was an attempt to fix the muffler, exhaust pipe of the tractor so I could mow. After the heat made it shift and wobble again, I put in the final call, ” You have to buy a new pipe, ok? Please?!”. No more duct tape on the tractor pipe, I now have a new part firmly in place and will mow come the first unrainy day.

I do all the mowing unless the kids help, my husbands time is better spent on doing trim work, fixing bathrooms, putting up screen doors and all that sort of thing. We all work at something around here; part of that is the large family, part is the DIY self sufficiency.

Good ol’ Yankee can-do attitude. There is the mentality of the quintessential DIY crowd, “mend it, fix it, make-do”. These are the preservationists and conservators many times, as there is a whole sub-segment of the DIY-ers. I used to be one of those, but many times it is hard to live a modern lifestyle without making changes that are anathema to the purists. I still admire those who do keep historically correct renovations. And you can learn alot even if you don’t fully follow all the rules. In Old House Journal is a feature, “Remuddling” which documents do-it-yourself gone wrong. Lord, preserve us from the DIY gone wrong.

I hope you enjoy the coming posts and essays on my life in old houses. Oh,and which are you? The veteran renovator? The amateur remodeler? The curious bystander? The general handyman? Or the hysterical Help me! man?
Or (eyebrows bouncing) the lady version of said categories?

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