It’s supposed to be a guy thing, I know. At least in the widespread expectations. This matter of home repair – carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, and the like. Any of us can do it – or so we think.

It also explains a lot of what we’ve uncovered whenever we engage a new project in this house. And the common response, from anyone on the job now: What were they thinking?

Even I can see a lot of shoddy workmanship. As one example, let me mention the wildly askew joists, previously hidden by ceiling, that had never been attached to the wall. Why hadn’t they blown away years ago? We’d been lucky.

Don’t tell me about the “good old days,” either, or how much better things were done back then. There are solid reasons we’ve enacted building codes and now license electricians and plumbers, among others. As for apprenticeships?

What I do admire in our home upgrade undertakings is the skills many of these individuals bring to the task. As one Friend once articulated during worship, as a carpenter he’s come to recognize that each project is different and requires original problem-solving – it’s what he enjoys. What he didn’t add was the range of skills he also brings to the matter at hand, the recognition that you can tackle it this way or that way, certain tools are better suited at this point, or even the accumulated experience that immediately notices something the rest of us overlook entirely.


By the way, we’re still wondering about that paper plate we found, face up, in the gap as we ripped up the bathroom flooring. It was pretty much under the sink, or where the sink  had been.

Who’d left it there and how long ago? Back in the ’80s or ’90s? Or was it in the ’60s, when so much of the house was redone?

I’m tempted to blame a squirrel or one of the kids growing up here. Or just a careless worker.

Oh, the mysteries we uncover in a project like this!


My poems on the challenges of renovations, repairs, and relating as a husband are collected as Home Maintenance, a free ebook at Thistle/Flinch editions.


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