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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

My day in the bathroom

I have new neighbours. The old neighbours moved to a small condo because, as Al said, at their age you have to start think about something easier to maintain.

Al and his wife are at least five years younger than I am.

The new neighbours are having no trouble at all taking care of Al's old house. The girls are always out and about chatting to who ever goes by with a dog, mowing the lawn, fixing the roof, and taking care of business. No one over there is waiting for a man to come by and work on the house, and things are going just fine.

I woke up in the middle of the night to think about this. You see I was talking to my mom earlier in the day and like a lot of widows she is getting overwhelmed with the little things of house maintenance - sinks that are draining too slowly, loose carpet in the hall. You can hire someone to clear the snow and cut the grass, but who are you going to call when the mailbox falls into the bushes?

I would bet that the number one reason older women go into seniors housing is not broken hips but broken drawer handles.

I myself am guilty. With my husband back and forth to work in the States I have started to write to- do lists for him when he comes home. Things I need him to take care of for me, things that involve wood being cut or stuff nailed down.

My thought, at 2:00 a.m., was well why can't I do these things like the girls? Surely someone who can handle a five thread serger can hang onto a circular saw? Certainly someone who has actually completed a number of Vogue Designer patterns and worn the result can sand a floor? And absolutely someone who knows how to do a FBA doesn't need a husband to come home 2,000 miles to "screw that edge trim thing on that one basement stair back on" (item #17).

Doesn't this put me in the same category as those annoying people who bring you a button to sew on, because they just "aren't clever?"

All this brings me to my bathroom. I got up this morning and decided to learn how to do things myself. I decided to start with the bathroom because it is the smallest room in the house.

I spent most of the day at Home Depot.

I have replaced the rusty thing that looks like a giant grommet around the shower head with something that is not rusty. It is called a flange. I bought paint and undercoat, brushes, a new bathtub plug and I checked out a new window (this one is going on the husband's list).

When I got home I looked around and decided that the thing I like least about my bathroom is the two ceramic-attached-to-the-wall toothbrush and soap holders. These two units have been dripping soap juice and toothpaste onto a dark green counter for over 20 years, so more or less no matter how often you clean it looks messy in there.

So I eyed these dumb holders and found one that looked the same in the store and figured out that the ones at home had to be only glued on, not built-in.

A hammer and my husband's good wood chisel later I had both devices in pieces and off the wall, with the tiles behind untouched.

Pictured above, and yes that is blood.

And worth it.

Tomorrow I am going to re-grout the tiles.

And #17 is on longer on the list.


Skitzo Leezra Studio said...

Good for you, Barbara! My parents were big on our knowing how to sew buttons and change automotive oil, no matter the gender. Mom didn't want us to select mates based on our need for them.
When a female friend was waiting for her husband to come home to hang a picture, I gave her my only-ask-for-help-with-things-you-can't-do speech. I feel we are all charged to teach skills without gender bias.
Your story was a great read.

BeeBee said...

You go girl! With a husband that's worked out of town for most of our married lives, I've learned to do a lot. A bathroom remodel is still ahead of me, though.

Debbie Cook said...

Excellent! I can do those things and have, but lately I choose to sew instead of repair the house. Which is OK with my husband so it all works out. I'm sure your husband will be happy to have #17 crossed off the list. Did you mark it off in blood? :-)

Ellie Inspired said...

I think this is my first time commenting on your blog but I just had to say how I was giggling as I read through it! You are funny but you are also determined and a great example. Loved this post and hope you show the before/after pictures!

Branka said...

Haha what a lovely post, I can totaly relate.. and I too hope we get to see before & after pics :)

NancyDaQ said...

Hopefully, it was just a flesh wound?

Jodie said...

Good for you. I grew up very traditionally (I learned to cook and sew, my brother did the outside stuff and car, etc.) and then married a very NOT handy husband. It's been a learning curve. However, I always just tell myself "I'm not an idiot" and keep asking questions until I get it. I'm lucky that I'm a teacher and during the school year have an IA teacher to help me (and some awesome friends and neighbours). Black and Decker makes some good photo instruction books on home improvement and repairs, I find them quite helpful as it gives me the right words to use at Home Depot.

Good luck!

Jane M said...

You are definitely an inspiration....sewing and now DIY! I'll keep your post in mind when I start to tackle some "honey do" projects that have also been onour list for years.