Zen and the Art of Being Handy
Since Covid, I’ve tackled projects at home that I might not have even considered a year or a decade ago.
We built a garden in the yard… at least 15x30ft, complete with posts that required an auger, cement, and building and installing a solid gate to keep animals out. We hauled 4 loads of dirt ourselves – well, Maggie did all of that – and Bo did most of the planting. Izzy was a huge help throughout.
We then tackled an unfinished attic space in an old 2-bay garage that is strangely appended to our property. Izzy and I installed a new drop stairway, installed flooring and new windows, and it felt amazing to turn that into a rustic guest space / kids area (which hasn’t been used since we finished sweeping the dust)
We did stuff like this all summer. Created new trails in the thick woods, changed a flat tire on the jeep (I used to call AAA), and a bunch of other stuff that I better not mention since they quickly will demonstrate that my version of being handy is pretty loose.
Tonight, however, reality set in. I was trying to install a leaf sucker contraption from DR that I bought last fall to pick up grass clippings and leaves in the fall. We have a bunch of acres here in VT so we take this stuff seriously. The problems came when I needed to hook the new DR leaf sucker to the Kubota Zero Degree mower and had to try to hook a large tube adapter to it. Without it, the whole project and equipment are useless. I spent nearly 2.5 hours tonight with the jigsaw, drill, hammer, hand saw, wrong size bolts, stuff that didn’t fit right, and making a huge mess in the garage as I went. I could hear the cursing that was at first under my breath start to become outspoken, and with Bo at my side the whole time… watching the how-to Youtube videos as his version of helping… I realized that how I reacted to almost certain failure on this project could impact him for some time.
I took a break and we talked about how some of these projects don’t go as we expect, and how sometimes they can’t get finished (by city folk like us, anyway) at all without expert help. But walking away and letting it go was very healthy, and talking about it in an accepting way even more so.
I have moments where I’m handy, but let’s face it, I’m not honestly that good with tinkering and toiling. I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance a few years ago and it inspired me to go deeper on the machines I use. But I’ll never get to that level. And that’s ok. I can change light bulbs on my own, turn on circuit breakers when they pop (others often don’t think of that, I’m not kidding), install TVs on walls and put wires through the walls, and a bunch of other random shit that makes Maggie think I’m good. She says I’m handy. And even though I know the truth, what she thinks on this subject is all that matters 😆