The Handyman

I married for love but I would give my kingdom for a handyman! (actually, I always secretly hoped my daughters would marry someone in the trades, a plumber, electrician, a mechanic even, but no such luck. Both went white collar, just my luck!) Home repairs are a never ending task list and if you have to hire someone for every little chore it almost defeats the purpose of owning a home.

My father was handy and could manage any home repair. He just had an aptitude for, well, everything and I miss being able to just call dad when I needed a repair. Now I should point out, I’ve managed a number of home repairs on my own, thanks to a curious mind, ‘How to’ videos, and a cheap husband. (he flinches at the thought of paying for any home repair. In his mind it’s better to just live with it and when it really becomes unbearable, move.) Now, I don’t want to harp on his short comings because he’s really a great guy. He’s just painfully inept at home repairs. Is that a birth defect? Or maybe it’s a ‘selective’ deficiency, you know, you don’t do well the things you don’t like. Either way it’s an expensive inconvenience.

Now he has tried some home maintenance over the years. When we were first married we had pigeons nesting on our small balcony rendering it useless for our own use. Animal control advised us to toss the empty nest over the balcony. The pigeons would relocate their home upon returning to see it was gone. Sounded easy enough. The trick was getting near enough to scoop up the nest in the midst of all the pigeons – there were a lot (these things travel in hoards) and neither of us was keen on getting pecked by a bird. But, it had to be done, and the chore fell to the man of the house.

Unfamiliar with how to deal with any wildlife, he ‘suited up’ to ensure he was protected should any rogue pigeons attack him. He wore knee high rubber boots, my oven mitts, a long trench coat, and in the absence of a helmet for face protection, he propped a bucket over his head. (I wish I’d thought to take a picture!) After steeling up his courage he opened the balcony door and walked with determination toward the flock of birds. He grabbed the nest in a flurry of squawking and fluttering, and turned to quickly toss it over the balcony. As he did so the bucket perched on his forehead fell over his face and he stumbled slightly, over his rubber boot, and ended up tossing not only the nest but one of my oven mitts and the bucket that was his headgear. Not quite the smooth maneuver we had planned but it worked. The pigeons were gone and did not return, and all it cost was one oven mitt, a bucket, and a little humility.

Over the years he has tried random home repairs but most failed miserably and he eventually gave up trying the tough stuff, leaving it to myself or, if I couldn’t handle it, a professional.

Most recently he made to replace a light bulb in one of our driveway lampposts. Seemed simple enough. Now, I should preface this by saying (because he brought it up later) that I had recently thrown out an old 5 foot step ladder we had. It was left in the home we currently occupy and was rickety and unreliable. It also didn’t go as high as we often needed so we had recently purchased a 8 foot extension ladder and I had planned to replace the old step ladder in time. (apparently not soon enough) In any event, I was at the computer as I saw him head down the driveway with the new extension ladder. He said he needed to replace a bulb in our lamp post. I foolishly didn’t give it another thought.

A few moments later I heard a crash and the shattering of glass. Glancing up from the computer I sensed what had happened so I got up and headed out the door and down the driveway. There he was, getting up from the ground with skinned knees, a light bulb in one hand and a puzzled expression on his face. “This ladder is too long for this” he declared, and looked at me accusingly.  I don’t know how but somehow I kept from laughing. Maybe it was because I was biting my tongue so hard it bled. This 175 pound man propped an 8 foot ladder up against a six foot lamp post then expected it to hold his body weight as he climbed up to reach the burnt out bulb. Needless to say the post snapped and all 4 lanterns crashed and shattered. The ONLY salvageable piece left was the new bulb he was to replace.

Now, I could point out the folly of his strategy but that would be wasted on one so completely unfamiliar with home repair. Suffice it to say we now have a new lamp post and it only cost $440 plus the new bulb and the cost of a new step ladder (apparently all this happened because I threw out his ‘bulb changing ladder’)

Some people are handy, some are not. My darling husband, who is smart and funny and kind, is NOT, and if there’s one thing more expensive than hiring a professional, it’s letting ‘someone who’s not’ tackle the job!


Drama Queen

There are those who walk with drama, constantly…… they seem to be surrounded by a whirl of emotion and turmoil. They attract it…they seem to thrive on it, and you have to wonder why because it’s exhausting. It depletes your energy and permeates the mood of all who come into contact with you. Those who thrive on drama can bring down a room just by entering it; so far reaching is their negative energy, and unless you can effectively surround yourself with a shield of emotional protection, you are better to avoid these people. They are, in short, a complete downer!

We’ve all encountered the over-sensitive individual. They read too much into any conversation and interpret everything as a personal criticism of themselves. They see only the darkness of the tunnel instead of the light at the end – a misguided interpretation of the situation and a complete waste of energy.

I suspect those craving drama are really just seeking attention and in the absence of constant accolades they embellish the simplest of situations to create a flurry of emotion at which they are always centered.  They are the victim, always. Every worldly woe is their burden to carry……”poor me look at what I have to contend with”, and if they left it at that it wouldn’t be so bad, but they don’t. For some reason they feel compelled to share their drama  with everyone and if they can’t engage enough sympathy they ramp up their sob story and expand their audience falling short of screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of a crowd, “Look at me, I’m suffering and I need to suck you all into the vortex of my agony!”  Needless to say these people eventually drop off the top of a guest list. There’s a shock.

Then there’s the person who ‘feels’ another’s pain and suffers right along with them. They empathize too much taking on the burden of a situation as though it were their own because….. they don’t have enough drama in their own lives? (For heaven’s sake, get a hobby, or get a life….if only to get out of the drama of everyone else’s.) These individuals stress over everything, anticipating the worst and living in a constant state of high alert because a crisis is always just around the corner.

Could it be that those who live in constant drama do so because they need a distraction from their own deeper issues?  Or is it that they just want the attention, negative or otherwise, that comes with drama? Maybe it’s genetic, or maybe it’s just habit – if you grow up in an environment riddled with emotional drama it has to rub off on you (children learn what they live)

Regardless of how or why drama plays a role in some lives, it’s a cycle that needs to be broken because the energy spent on drama could be so much better utilized anywhere else. Deflate the overblown balloon of drama when you can, and when you can’t, just avoid the company of Drama Queens altogether…. cause life is too short.

Drama Queen

That Lovin’ Feeling

My husband plays cribbage with a group of men. Recently one of the group passed, quite suddenly. They resumed play a few weeks after, at our house, and naturally the first topic was the loss of their friend. I happened to mention how sorry I was and on a practical note, I added that death is inevitable and someone needed to go first. My husband without skipping a beat, leaned over, touched my arm, looked tenderly into my eyes and said, “ok, you first”.

Ok, not the typical display of tenderness one might expect, but I know my husbands’ playful attempt to lighten the mood was in fact a very personal display of his affection for me. That’s his sense of humour.  (Granted it’s also the cradle of idiocy but it drew some chuckles and it is his way of expressing warmth)

A dear friend complained to me that her husband wasn’t as ‘romantic’ as she’d hoped. He was a good husband, father, and friend. He adored her and she him. He just didn’t understand what it was she wanted from him. Now only a woman could understand this, she wanted those little extra touches. Opening her car door for her, (open any door for that matter), offering to help with the household chores, planning a date night, telling her she’s beautiful even when she’s  spent the day in her sweats cleaning. Any of these small gestures would go such a long way in nurturing that romantic need in her, but he just doesn’t get it.

The couple agreed to each plan a spontaneous surprise for the other, something to reignite that spark, that something special that would bring a smile to their eyes.  She planned a ‘naughty evening’ to entice him; dumped the kids at Grandma’s for the night, bought a sexy nightie and a bottle of wine and laid herself out for him for the evening. He surprised her with a ‘Thighmaster’ and a six week membership at a local gym because she had complained about gaining weight on her rear and he thought she’d really appreciate that he’d been listening. (kind of brings a tear to your eye doesn’t it?)

Ok, so the guy isn’t romantic, but he is practical. She grudgingly acknowledges that she has voiced her concerns about her weight on occasion, so he gave her what he honestly thought she wanted. How can that be bad? It’s actually pretty considerate, not smart, but considerate. Interestingly enough these two have found their happy medium. He still tries (and fails) to perform those little romantic gestures she craves, and she has learned to laugh about it, accepting him for the lovable lout that he is.

Expressions of love are as unique as the individual. Some are tender, some are playful, some are humourous, and all are delivered with a very personal intention. We might not always get the gist of their meaning but you have to appreciate the effort,  because they all, one way or another, inspire that lovin’ feeling, so just revel in it, and don’t complain about how it comes…… just be grateful it does.

That lovin feeling

Keep it simple

English is one of the ten most spoken languages in the world (Mandarin is number one) yet it is one of the most difficult to learn and I think the challenge lies in its’ phonetics. The English language is laden with silent letters and various pronunciations of the same letter combinations. Consider the spelling of words like trough (pronounced troff) and through (thru) The same letter combination with completely different sounds. It’s a wonder new immigrants can ever learn the language (and yet they do).

Why then do we further complicate our language with elaborate spelling of our names? Why can’t ‘Leigh’ just be ‘Lee’, or ‘Thomas’ just be ‘Tomas’, what purpose do the extra letters serve? Written communication should be simpler than it is.

I know a young woman who named her newborn daughter Sheelagh (Sheila) Now I get that many names are derived from other languages; in this case Sheelagh is from the Gaelic (Irish) but don’t people have enough challenges in life without having to constantly clarify the pronunciation and spelling of their names? And this particular child was born and raised in North America so what happened to ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’? (speak English already!)

I suppose an argument could be had in support of the numerous alphabets and I do not discount the need to maintain the worlds various cultures, but thanks to technology, there is a move to simplify. Anyone texting or emailing looks to abbreviate phrases.  “Are you ok?” has become “r u ok?” It’s like the population has moved to a verbal form of shorthand. I suppose it’s all in the quest to save time but are we losing something in the process? (or do these people not know how to spell?) In fifty years will we even know how to spell or will we have created a whole new language, one of acronyms and abbreviations? And will anyone care?

Cursive writing has been removed from school curriculums because students now type on computer keyboards that ‘spell-check’ everything so they don’t have to. Calculators now do simple math, so again, students don’t have to. God help us if the worlds computer systems fail. There’ll be a multitude of zombies wandering the world unable to communicate because they never learned how.

OK, ok, this is an extreme projection but you have to admit there’s an underlying inkling of truth here. Simplification has its’ purpose but in our attempt to over-simplify are we disabling our brains? (why think if a device can do it for us?) Is this how artificial intelligence begins?

I suppose as long as we have a variety of languages and alphabets in the world we’ll have to face the challenges of mispronunciation (assuming we can all still read…… computers will do that for us too) I grew up with an ethnic last name that was constantly mispronounced. It wasn’t that it was complicated. In fact, it was almost phonetically perfect (almost) to pronounce correctly yet people constantly bastardized it. When I married and changed my name to one that was much simpler I was (and still am) shocked to see that people still grossly mispronounce it. My current name couldn’t be any simpler and yet it’s a problem for many. Is it that people just expect the written word to be difficult or are they making it more complicated than needed?

It’s too late to change the ‘official’ spelling of words because the languages and alphabets are age old, however simplification is still within our control. It just takes effort and the flexing of your brain muscle…… and a really sound knowledge of your alphabet because acronyms are after all, the modern day phenomenon…and, I’m afraid, the future of language. So if you’re having a baby or getting a pet and need a name, please, keep it simple. Drop the silent letters…they serve no purpose and just frustrate those of us who have to listen to the painful mispronunciation of it. Besides your time is better spent learning the new language.,the one that only uses half the alphabet…….TTYL!


Keep it simple