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.
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!