By Dan St. Yves
Despite a proliferation of HGTV shows and other informative repair/renovation programming running virtually 24-7, my lack of home handyman skills remains at about the level of a new-born giraffe immediately after getting into a pail of fermenting fig juice.
Over the years, that hasn’t prevented me from attempting modest fix-it jobs around various houses, despite a long-affirmed inability to even draw a straight line with a pencil placed over a yardstick. In short, my glaring inability to have any natural abilities with arts and crafts translates into even less skill sets when applied to home repair.
Like my father before me though, I persevere. As a child and early teen, I helped him with a variety of projects around our family home, included installing a ceiling consisting of large egg crates, stapled into thin strips of wood and painted with a sort-of early version of a paint spray gun. We enjoyed a few days of dinner table camaraderie along with my sisters and mother, both of us showcasing bright canary yellow faces from that year’s hot paint colour. We apparently had no concept of how handy masks might have been while tackling that project.
At some point during my childhood, we laid down stick-on linoleum on a basement floor that was prone to flooding. Once those tiles lifted a few times too many, we put in a questionable flooring trend of the era. That methodology consisted of a foundational coat of paint or primer, hand-tossed dry paint chips of varying colours, and then a final coat of varnish or some such other clear finish. Somewhat psychedelic to be sure, and a bit of a tripping hazard given we had no way to ensure uniformity of pain chips nor elevation after all the ingredients dried up together.
After that trend wore thin a few years later, and the water table issue was eventually resolved, we put in indoor-outdoor carpeting that remains to this day. Again, as the era dictated, it was a hideous orange and green swirl of odd wavy designs that frequently lifted in high-traffic areas. I’m confident that when my mother goes to sell the home, we will hire an actual professional to ensure the basement floor passes muster, or at least conceals as much of our ineptitude as humanly possible.
Once I moved out and got into my own homes, I did try to handle some minor tasks that virtually anyone should be able to complete. I now have a lovely collection of leaning bookcases, sloping curtain rods and a cordless vacuum wall charger with the old power cord snipped off and a new one held in place with a picture hanger.
One of my most recent shining moments of incompetence was trying to follow some online advice for safe, natural spider and insect deterrents. I researched a concoction of fluids that included peppermint, which is supposedly the kiss of death for arachnids. Not in my case.
After spraying an exterior wall with this magical elixir, I returned a bit later to find out the handful of spiders that were a concern beforehand must have sent out an alert akin to the Klondike gold-rush to their brethren (or sistren?). I retreated hastily after discovering the virtual curtain of the beggars outside my front door.
I cannot heap enough praise on actual handypersons, and my single skill set is in knowing when to call them in, to the rescue.