Saturday, July 22, 2017

Screen Porch: Pole & Shelf Installed

Done.  Pole for drying clothes and shelf for Whatever.  Installed.  Did it.  But I have a confession to make.....well, more than one; maybe at least two.

First of all, I made a poor job of it, although I tried my best.  I'm pretty sure that I used the wrong sort of screws but I used what I had at hand.  And I know for a fact that I had trouble with the drill.  That's the second thing (and this is kinda big):  I'm scared of my electric drill.  Seriously.

It doesn't look too intimidating, does it?  It's a tough little Craftsman Mini.  And it goes, as they used to say, like Gee Whiz.  I'm not all worried about using cordless drills because it's easier to go slow when necessary.  This electric thing does Not do slow.  But, at the end of the day, it's not the drill's fault that I'm scared of power tools.  For that.....well, you'd have to know what it was like for me growing up.

I was the only kid in a family with three domineering adults, so I was always in somebody's way.  I learned to keep my nose to myself, particularly when my stepdad was using tools because I was Absolutely Never allowed anywhere near.  It was either dangerous or dirty, and it certainly wasn't for girls.  He wasn't very fond of my presence generally in any case.

My stepfather made only one single exception to the No Tools rule and that was teaching me to change a tire on the car.  I wasn't allowed to get my driver's license until I could pass Dad's Tire Changing Test.  He made me practice over and over until he was satisfied that I could do the thing properly because he said my safety could someday depend upon it. 

Oddly enough, several years later, my mother and I were driving through the middle of the NASA Buffer Zone when a tire went flat.  No one lives in the Buffer Zone.  It's a lonely place.  Isolated.  Dense forest.  Kinda very worrisome.  We were literally ten miles from anywhere in any direction you might care to name.  But I was happy that I knew what to do with the tire.  And my mother said that I Must NOT.  We should wait for someone to come by.  After 45 minutes, I grew tired of being obedient and I defied my mother--a rare thing indeed.  I said nothing.  I simply exited the car, opened the trunk, got out the jack, and made a very proper job of changing the tire myself, just the way Dad taught me. 

My mother was utterly livid.  She stood over me the entire time I was working, telling me that nice girls didn't change tires and that any decent female would wait for a man to change the tire correctly.  It couldn't be safe if a woman did the work.  She called me a few unfair and untrue names, too, that made it clear that she called my femininity into question.  I never said a word.  It was hard to keep quiet.  I got very dirty indeed, and the tire was too heavy for me but I moved it.  I broke my fingernails and scraped my hands but I changed that tire.  After I had finished changing the tire and putting the tools back where they belonged, I got back into the car while my mother continued raving.  And I waited for her to drive on which, after waiting fruitlessly for another 15 minutes to see if a man might stop to check on our safety (no one did), eventually she started the car.  She was furious with me for months afterward and told anyone who would listen how I had humiliated her. 

The Flat Tire Incident still hurts to think of now, and I guess I do inevitably think of it whenever I use tools.  The funny thing is that I still feel kinda bad that I let my mother down even though I was trying to do the right thing to keep us safe on that lonely stretch of road where wild boars and sometimes strange people with guns roamed. 

My family was very old-fashioned, even for the days I grew up in.  Good Girls simply didn't touch tools.  

When I was in college, I made a second small act of defiance:  I went to the dollar store and bought a little tool box, a hammer, screwdriver set, and a tiny assortment of screws and nails because I wanted to hang pictures and curtains in my dorm room.  I didn't tell my folks for awhile about that.  Fortunately, when they did find out, they were reasonable this time, and they decided that it might be sensible after all since I wasn't making a big deal about it myself. 

It was only many years later that my stepfather relented and also regretted deeply that I had not learned how to handle tools.  I had at that time, due to complicated circumstances, moved into a partially gutted mobile home--no floors laid, no doors hung, cabinets sitting on the floor instead of hanging on the walls, and more--and my parents' health prevented them helping me.  I had no choice but to learn a whole bunch of stuff the hard way on my own--in other words, by screwing up.  Dad apologized sincerely because he finally wanted to teach me but his dementia was advancing so fast that he could no longer tell one screwdriver from another.

I also had to try to learn to use yard tools shortly thereafter when Dad passed on.  And that I could not do.  After a summer of trying desperately to keep more than two acres of grass cut using a riding lawn mower, I essentially had a nervous breakdown.  The mower was just too frightening.  A neighbor told me that every time he saw me sitting on the mower, I looked like I was perched atop a 10 ton bomb that was about to go off any second.  Well, that's fair enough, because that's precisely how it seemed.  I still feel sick every time I hear a mower, and it's hours before I recover my calm.  There are some things in life that we have to accept; I'm never gonna be able to mow a lawn, that's for sure.  Shogenai.

Anyway, I've gone rabbiting off topic again.  But let me say this:  I loved my parents.  And they meant well.  But they were harsh sometimes and their expectations weren't always the best.  I have forgiven them but I do still remember.  And one of the things that brings on memories is when I have to use that scary drill.  The batteries are dying on the cordless drills so I didn't have much choice today.  It was the electric drill or an old-fashioned screwdriver, and I didn't have the strength for the latter.

The good news is that I now have a Whatever shelf and a drying pole.  The pole is actually a nice curtain pole that someone gave me instead of throwing it out--I just love stuff like that.  It had wooden rings with it, too, and I've saved those in my Goodie Box for a rainy day; never know when I'll need them for some other little project.  The shelf is a cut-off bit of plywood that has been used and re-used in half a dozen different projects.  It's too long really for use on the porch but I don't see any point in cutting it shorter.....after all, I'd have to use the jigsaw (and that's scary, too). 

The point is that I did it.  I put up the brackets; I attached the pole and the wood; I've got what I need.  God is good.  Yes, I prayed about it.  We're supposed to pray about everything.  And I'm sure God understands that humans tend to be more frail and frightened than they'd care to be.

Ah well, we live and we learn.  And sometimes we have to stare the past in the face so we can move forward.  Tools are a good thing.  Maybe I just need some more confidence.  And I also need to figure out how to work those turnbuckles for the clothesline.  Eeeeeek!

Tomorrow is another day.
Life is good.

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