When Did I Become That Kind Of Guy?

We had some pretty fierce storms here in the Springfield area last week, and at one point the wind and rain lashed at the west side of our house. We have a walkout basement, and some water dripped in over the door. The next morning, I went out to inspect the door to see how the water was coming in. The door frame is inset from the brick exterior, and the mortar connecting the bricks to the lintel had broken down.

So I did what I was supposed to do: I grabbed a hammer, chisel, and wire brush and chipped out the broken mortar. I brushed the loose stuff out, sanded and painted the lintel, and then thought about the mortar. I found eighty pound bags of it at the hardware store, but that seemed a little excessive, so I used this caulk gun mortar patch to draw and shape a nice bead of caulk all the way across.

Still, at some point as I was tapping away, spraying mortar dust all over my tender little beading hands, I wondered How do I know how to do this?.

My background isn’t in the building trades. My other houses were asbestos shingle (later vinyl siding) and vinyl siding. My sainted mother never did anything like this when I was around. When I lived with my father, who had worked in the building trades and probably knew how to do this, I was a smart ass college kid with no time for that. And face it, my recent readings in Kipling, Epictetus, and handicrafts didn’t cover it.

But there I was.

Maybe I read it in one of the do-it-yourself magazines I took some years ago. Maybe I did see my father do it somewhere. Or maybe well water just has free-floating radical testosterone in it that naturally gives a man the ability to work with his hands.

It always impresses my wife when I do something handy around the house, making a small improvement or repair. Sometimes, though, it impresses even me.

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3 thoughts on “When Did I Become That Kind Of Guy?

  1. Good for you!

    My Dad can build or fix anything. One of the bigger mistakes of my youth (of which the list is very long) is that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities to learn how all of these practical skills, like basic carpentry, plumbing, and electronics.

    I can generally diagnose a car malfunction and fix small problems. When a mechanic tells me that my flux capacitor needs replacement, I know that he’s trying to shaft me.

    But household repair skills escaped me — in part because I grew up in apartments and have never owned a home. This past week, I decided that I could and would be more intentional about developing such skills.

    So I will engage in a small carpentry project. My wife wants a set of bookshelves. Now I must find some manuals, designs, and the necessary tools and get to work.

  2. I am not that advanced. I think I’m more like my mother, who was unafraid to try things and she often undertook pretty large projects like bathroom remodels with tolerable results.

    The key is to be unafraid, I think, although I’m still leery of electrical projects and some plumbing, although I have replaced light switches, faucets, and dishwashers (which is both electrical and plumbing).

    I’ll get better, though, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to pass some of that onto my boys.

  3. I think that’s exactly it — being unafraid.

    Except with electrical issues. I’ll fool around with my car battery, but only when I’m absolutely sure that I’m following correct procedures.

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