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.