Call Me Handy

We’re a young(ish) family who just bought a new(ish) house.

It’s a 1964 daylight ranch, and we’re only the second family to live in it: We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Even more so because our house inspector told us, “These 1960s ranches were built like tanks.” That’s exactly what we wanted to hear: Structurally we’re good. Plus, we don’t have to rip out weird renovations from the 80s or cheap particle board and laminate from the recent past. Which is ideal because neither my husband nor I are handy.


It’s become a loaded word in our house.

Although the house doesn’t have any weird do-it-yourself cat doors causing dry rot or non-permit garages converted to rooms, there’s still a lot to be done.

There were random closet doors off their hinges strewn about the house. The guest room didn’t have a door. Some knobs needed replacing. Bathrooms didn’t have hand-towel hooks.

Small stuff.

But we were paying professionals to do big stuff–like replace the front doors that didn’t lock, get sinks working again, and forge new wrought iron railings–so it made sense on a limited budget for someone in our house get familiar with a power tool and some screws.

I raised my hand shouting, Me! Me! 

I’m a quick learner. But what I really have going for me is zeal and an addiction to being proud of things I do myself.

  • You sewed Barbie’s costume for her Miss World pageant? Yes I did!
  • You made that gigantic garlic sculpture out of chicken wire and fabric?  Yes I did! 
  • You baked that red-pepper strata from scratch? Why yes I did!

So I was gung-ho, and quickly grabbed an imaginary tool belt and borrowed a cordless power drill from my best friend’s hubby.

  • You installed that towel rack? Yes I did.
  • You painted that wood paneling? Why yes I did (with a lot of help).
  • You sort-of refinished those bathroom cabinets? Why yes I did!

My husband insists that I can’t be called handy until I build an addition onto the house or fix a broken appliance. But I think those accomplishments belong to people who are really handy.

I’m just gunning for normal handy.

And I insist on starting to call myself handy now. It’s the American thing to do. We love building up our self-esteem with seemingly meaningless awards and hollow praise. It may be a cultural weakness, but I’m hooked and I’ll be shooting for the title of Most-improved, Moderately Ambitious Handywoman at next year’s HGTV Spectator Awards.

There’s a handy in there somewhere and I’ll take it!


12 responses to “Call Me Handy

  1. Handi-ness is a great self-esteem booster! You go Handy-Woman!!!!

  2. And you built a table! If building furniture isn’t handy, I don’t know what is.

    • Precisely! And I filled in the big gap in the tabletop with flowers instead of finishing it. So that’s handy and ingenious (thanks to Pinterest). 🙂

  3. You built a table? You were talking about building planter boxes on Facebook, too. I declare you handy! I am pretty handy myself so let me know if you need some help. The boys can play and we can get out DIY on. 🙂

  4. I think you should get a utility kilt so you are dressed properly for all this handy work. Besides, it would look way better on you than on any man! By the way, what’s the definition of a “daylight ranch”? Never run into that term… why “daylight”?

    • Yes–utility kit! I just ordered a combo drill set, so that’s a start. Never thought I would be so excited about a drill set, but I CAN’T WAIT!
      So, a daylight ranch refers to a ranch with a daylight basement. Or maybe in Oregon it’s just a house that has actual sunlight and not just light filtering through rain? So a daylight ranch has a top floor with most all the living space (kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, family room, dining room…), and then a basement that is a mirror of the top floor’s floor plan. And the back wall of the basement is sunken in the ground, and the front wall has full exposure to the light of day. There’s probably a better term, and you’re probably sitting at your computer going–duh! Evelyn, that’s a ______. Why didn’t you say so in the first place??

      • Ah ok! I’ve definitely heard of a daylight (aka: walk-out) basement, but never seen the term appended to a house style like that. Interesting. Sounds like a nice spacious house and I do hope you get some actual daylight in the basement every now and then!

  5. I would call you handy. I love it when any house is built like a tank. Enjoy the projects. (I tried to break a smartphone for an art project recently and couldn’t manage that. I don’t know how people drop and “just break” those things).

    • Ha! I’m intrigued by this smartphone art project. What were you making? The only reason my phone doesn’t break is because I have the Otter Box that is like tank armor. I can give you some smartphone breaking lessons if you still need them. ;0)

  6. Pingback: Developing Construction Skillz | momsicle

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