Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I am the handiest man I know around here......

First off, I need to issue a statement in order to clarify my intent with this blog, and to tell readers exactly where responsibility lies for its content.  Many (all) of my readers have come over from my darling wife's blog.  She is quite talented and skilled at what she does, and has created an audience of people that most likely share her style and aesthetic.  She is not responsible in any way for my work, and even if she tried to shape it, I have told her many times that you simply can't keep this tiger in a cage.  My intent is to share stories or ideas I find entertaining or humorous, and these are occasionally a bit crude or off color.  I am not a total caveman, but I do enjoy a little potty humor now and then.  I have no desire to make anyone feel bad or to hurt their feelings, so please realize that this is strictly the ramblings of a mad man.  Think Ted Kaczynski's (the Unabomber) Manifesto without the pipe bombs or mine shaft abode. 

On to business.  Let me explain; it seems everyone we know around here either lacks the handy gene or is simply smart enough to hire a pro.  I am slowly catching on.  Let me tell two brief stories before I get to some photographic evidence. 
First off, here is an example of how my projects frequently progress.  We lived in a lovely old Craftsman in St. Paul, MN before moving west.  I painted all thirteen rooms in that house, some several times over the course of 3.5 years.  At one point, I decided to refinish the wood floors in the kitchen.  I carefully taped newspaper over the appliances to keep some of the dust off (smart, move, eh?).  As I was running the sander, I backed into the stove, and somehow managed to turn on the gas.  I could feel my back getting hot, and turned around to find my shirt on fire.  Also aflame was the newspaper on the stove, and it was quickly shooting up towards the ceiling.  In am in a room full of dust and I have an active fire.  Nice.  I threw my shirt in the sink and grabbed a pitcher to douse the flames.  It took three pitchers to extinguish, which is a lot of water on your now sanded and unprotected floors.  After several hours of cleanup, all was restored.  The floors looked great in the middle of the room, and like a sore ass on the edges where actual skill is involved.  I should have bowed out of home improvement then.  All my friends in MN were extremely handy, so I soldiered on out of a sense of obligation.  My theory is as follows: us Midwesterners exhibit a strong need to prove our self-sufficiency.  Folks on the West Coast just don't give a rats ass.  And now neither do I.  I know I could provide food, water, and shelter for my family if needed, although the well wouldn't win any awards, and the hovel would be a bit drafty. 
Once we moved to PDX, I continued to do things in a half-ass manner.  The only difference was, no one I know here could (or would) even do it that well.  A few weeks ago we had friends stop by while I was replacing some outlets in the kitchen.  This is about the easiest job imaginable, but my friend was looking at me like I was splitting the atom.  It took me 2 hours to replace three outlets, and would have taken an electrician or even a handyman MAYBE 15 minutes. 

Now I shall share some photographic evidence of my current creation- our long-tenured kitchen remodel.  See below.
This photo shows the slightly different vision I had for the tile around the outlet as compared to the tile guy.  Tile guy, you ask?  Oh yes.  I hired someone because the first four tiles I laid looked horrible.  Anyhow, you can see how the tile doesn't come down below the outlet plate.  Notice as well the uncovered phone jack,  Classy.  These are on my list to fix.  Sometime.
Above is a fine photo of the shelf above our stove; the wall is not plumb, and it needs some work as you can see.  As does the wall above it.  Perhaps we will work on that when my brother visits.  He is very handy.  Bastard.
I leave you with a shot of the actual countertops; they turned out lovely, so all is not lost.  I would compare my abilities as a handy fella to a master baker that does 98% of everything perfect, but then instead of adding a pinch of salt to the cake he adds a cup. 
Fear not, I won't let this dampen my spirit.  I will simply hire it out and then act like I could have done it.

Mr French



  1. You should move to our block. We live down the street from a contractor, who has now worked on the houses of at least half of our neighbors.

  2. oy. after spending an hour and a half today trying to make purchase in the god d*mned walls around our windows today( just to hang a curtain rod and curtains for god sake! ) I understand your trials and tribulations ( although you are obviously WAY more skilled than me, I am half assed at best) The shirt catching fire story sounds like me though...:)

  3. That was a good laugh :)