Friday, January 06, 2006

Handy Intentions

I remember the first time I was “handy” -- at least the first time I felt like I was stretching myself into what I didn’t know without any help. I lived in an apartment. Something was wrong with the toilet. I decided, after staring into its guts, that I’d rather try to fix it than call my landlords. So I went from staring into the guts of the toilet to K-Mart to stare for a really long time at everything in the plumbing section. I stared until I had the whole thing figured out and ultimately fixed.

Of course, toilets aren’t really complicated. But I was raised in a family where Mother thought roughing it was having to stay at the Holiday Inn and Daddy thought I was an electrical genius when I replaced a fuse in my car. I had uncles who were handy, and the town had W.R. who did everything in our house that required any handiness (he also built houses), but to be handy yourself, well, that was obviously beyond us somehow.

Yet every boy I liked was handy. Even the one who eventually consented to marry me. “Handy” being a bit of an understatement since I remember helping a high school boyfriend replacing his Jeep’s engine, and since we built our own house ourselves, everything.

Still, I sometimes understand why people want to buy their whole lives -- it is easier. Handy is often frustrating, inconvenient, painful even. Take replacing our washer. There was taking the old one apart to figure out why it wouldn’t spin, and to diagnose that it wasn’t fixable. Then there was a whole trip to town just to buy an old used cheap one. Just getting the thing into the house, wow, hard. Heavy. Awkward. Then even after it is wrestled into place (a few bashed human parts there) and hooked up (husband had done an excellent job of making sure we had everything we needed here to do that with, otherwise there’s several days of waiting until someone is going to town for something else), it leaked like a sieve so that had to be cleaned up, diagnosed, fixed, fixed again, moved a bit (no bashed digits at least), there finally it works. Wash a load of clothes to make sure.

And then it was time for supper. And handy husband took care of that too. Praised be his name.

I think people only lose touch with handiness because they think it is below them, like MadCap was talking about some people’s relationship to food, where it is just supposed to appear, mechanically, out of some Star Trek machine.

I’ve said before that a grandfather of mine used to say that the road to hell was paved with good intentions. Intentions to him being what you meant to do but didn’t actually do. But intention in the magical/spiritual realm is what you intend to do and do, and the more intention that goes in to something, the more magic/spirit you get out of it. Like those home conceived/prepared/eaten meals. Like old washing machines even.

Intentions that remain only in the realm of ideas were never actually intentions at all.


madcapmum said...

Talking about hauling in your washer reminded me of the incident 4 years ago when Chive and I were hauling in our new stove. It had to go up several stairs, and since he has long arms and I have strong legs, I was at the bottom. Unfortunately, somebody lost their grip and the whole damned thing fell right on top of me, with the cement sidewalk cushioning my head. You're right - DIY can be painful at times. A dolly would be a handy tool to have waiting for another such occasion.

clairesgarden said...

television news is often fond of statistics, they often say the one where most injuries are caused in the home by people doing DIY.
I agree a job well done is more satisfying than paying somebody else to do it, I'm lucky that I have good neighbors who will help with lifting heavy things and things which need a bit of know how like laying the path in the garden, putting up fences and greenhouses. Perhaps I could have done these things myself but it was better fun with a few folks around. Now... just need somebody to help with those shelves...

the Contrary Goddess said...

Well, it is true that people who are not actually doing anything themselves in their homes are unlikely to be injured there.