I am in the middle of a series of home improvements.
The work isn’t difficult, as long as you are a tradesman familiar with wood, electricity, pipes and fixtures, how they all work and all the tools used to measure, cut, manipulate and connect them together.
Needless to say, I find the work impossibly difficult, not to mention dangerous.
Indeed, when I am doing the renovating myself, I can summarize the level of difficulty of a particular job simply by examining my body when the work is done. The greater the number and severity of wounds, the more difficult the project.
- Replacing baseboards, Level 1: minor nicks.
- Replacing a bathroom sink, Level 2: one large bruise, a cut and a gouge.
- Replacing windows, Level 3: smashed thumb, sawdust in the eye, scraped forehead and sprained ankle – don’t ask me how.
- Building a custom shelf for a new, over-the-stove microwave, Level 4: sliced forearm, sprained knee, two smashed thumbs and a broken microwave oven.
I won’t even go into the injuries that occurred during the one Level 5 project I attempted; it is too embarrassing.
I will only say thank goodness for government medical insurance and I am sorry about the gold fish. They didn’t deserve it.
Of course, all electrical work is out as well, ever since I melted the tip of a screw driver in a duplex receptacle and simultaneously launched myself head first across the bathroom into the toilet.
That was three years ago and I still have a lump on my head.
So now I merely assist the tradesmen who come and do the work, handing them tools, cutting lengths of wood trim, applying dope to the ends of pipes.
It is better that way. Plus, I can observe and admire the skills that good tradespeople have – the ability to visualize how to use space, to imagine how a variety of parts can be assembled to create a finished product, to utilize solutions that have worked in the past to solve new and unique problems today.
Those are important skills that take time to acquire and I no longer have the time.
The best part is that when the work is all done, I will not have lost any blood, no part of my body will be swollen, and I will be able to walk without a limp.
– Jim Holtz is a columnist for the WEEKENDER and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette.