To the chagrin and occasional rage of my dear and darling wife, I’m not the do-it-yourself type.

Now, when I write that, you have to understand, I don’t just mean that I cannot be found fiddling weekends away in the garage, making cabinets or crocheting. I mean I don’t fix leaky faucets. I don’t clean gutters. I don’t install shelving. It is only in certain apocalyptic crises when my wrists can be seen twisting a screwdriver. I mow the lawn only under threat of divorce.

Andi is handy – or, at least, she’s becoming so. Indeed, it was part of what excited her so much about getting into this house in the first place.

So, what is my excuse for being such a sorry householder?

Sins of the father, of course.

My dad – the son of a lifelong tinkerer/electrician/master gardener hires out for everything (apart from yard work and snow shoveling – different story). Growing up, our house was paraded through by different characters, all with the same distinguishing suffix: “Guy.” There was the Gutter Guy and the Water Softener Guy and the Roof Guy and Tree Guys of various sorts – some to inspect them, some to cut them down. There were Rodent Guys and Carpet Guys and Garage Door Opener Guys. You name it, dad found a guy out there who could deal with it.

And when they were gone, he’d turn to me and say “Son, why make a perfectly good problem worse by trying to fix it?”

Odd logic, I suppose, but it stuck.

The thing is, at this stage in our life and journey, Andi and I can’t really afford a lot of “guys.” We have Bob, the moustached handyman, and he does a little bit of everything with enough skill to keep the house from falling apart, but even he’s going to prove too spendy if we are to keep up with the little day to day things that come up, or fall down. So, it makes sense for us to be using these years in a comfortably, mostly functioning home, to hone the skills we’ll need later on down the road.

But, as Andi and I had occasion to discuss this weekend, when we found ourselves overnight at Dream Acres – one of the original inspirations for The Story Farm – if I don’t take some kind of interest in the general upkeep of our house in the city, our future plans seem a bit far-fetched.

Those future plans, for those new to The Story Farm or whose memory has lapsed in these months of our relative web-silence, includes buying land, building or remodeling a house, a barn and outbuildings (or cabins), running a small-scale veggie farm to sustain ourselves and our visitors, and hosting events. This amounts to a perpetual and long list of to-dos that, as yet, I have little or no experience to-doing. So, there’s a problem, here, which Andi tearfully reminded me of this weekend.

Honestly, it broke my heart to see the disappointment on Andi’s face as she tried to explain through tears that she’s been “coming to terms” with what my un-handiness means for our future plans.

I tried explaining that I really want to be handy, that I have vivid fantasies filled with 2×4’s and joists (don’t know what that means) and clouds of sawdust following me everywhere; but it felt and sounded a little hollow. It’s a sorry state for an Integral Coach to be in, I know. And yet, and yet.

A few minutes after we got back to Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon – resolved to fight this battle against myself — I fought a comical battle with the long ladder that our neighbor, Steve, lent us for the weekend. I won, eventually, and was able to lean the ladder against the house at what seemed like a sensible angle, climb it, and earn myself that time-honored title of Gutter Guy.

Story farm, here we come!



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2 responses to “D.I.Why?

  1. We should form a support group, Eric. Or hire a professional to do it for us.

  2. Annie Quinn

    When I read the first few sentences of your post, I knew exactly what you were going to say about the reason you are the way you are. The reason? I am the same way. Except when it comes to gardening, which I want and intend to do myself (although I must admit more recently, I have a “guy” for that temporarily).
    If it makes you feel any better, my husband has good intentions of being handy around the house, too, but I urge him to find a “guy” for that, too. But I understand your concern and frustration with that since it IS expensive, but as Dad says, “why make it worse by trying to fix it yourself,” and honestly, you’ll probably spend less in the end for some of the more major efforts if you just hire someone (sorry, Andi, I come from the same background). THAT SAID, it could be fun to learn some new things and become a little more handy! Just BE CAREFUL 🙂 Love you!!!

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