Of the many things I have learned as being a homeowner, to date my top 5 triumphs are as follows and in no particular order:
1. Repaired a toilet and replaced the valve connector going from said toilet to the plumbing line. And by repair, I mean, I took the entire contraption apart and saved myself at least $79.99 + tax and installation for a new throne.
2. Replaced each and every air and return vent, requiring a screwdrivers, drills, a plethora of screws as my house was built in the 70's and even anchor screws just don't do the trick sometimes. Also, if you know me, you are aware that I am a bit fanatical about the air quality in the house due to allergies (also learned that Damp Rid gets rid of that musty old person smell under cabinets and in closets).
3. Disposal. Do you know how condescending it is when the disposal grinds to a halt and the advice you get from well-intentioned people is, "you know there is a red restart button you can push." Yes, I know of the elusive red button. After many times of fixing the fly wheels in the disposal, one day the disposal died a horrible death. I tried every trick I knew, broom handle, hex keys, unplugged the whole thing and even manually turned the fly wheels with my hand… to no avail. I bought a new disposal. The day I was going to install the new one, after hearing again about the red button from people at Lowe's who don't know me as well as the nice people at Home Depot, I began to dissasemble the old disposal. It was then I realized I was out of plumber's putty. That I even thought I had some in the first place made me feel proud. A few days go by and I am back to disassembly, a turn here, a twist there. What do you know, the disposal was resurrected. To date, this might have been one of my prouder moments.
4. Drywall. Having a typical 70's ranch style house equipped complete with the requisite old intercom system, I was determined those were going to have to go. Yes, I pulled each and every one out of each and every room, fitted a square of drywall, taped and plastered it up. And yes, I even applied the old 70's style swirly texture back on the wall so as to match the rest of the swirly pattern.
5. Wallpaper Removal. No, I am not a fan of wallpaper. The fruit and flowers on the kitchen wall was enough to make me lose what little of an appetite I possess. Obviously that had to go with the intercoms. Armed with every wallpaper removal application, a steamer and a paper tiger in my arsenal, it was time to start pulling. Very therapeutic and highly recommened. This brings about another problem however. What to do with those walls once done…. I learned how to "float" the bare walls with mud. Mud, let dry, sand down, mud, sand. White dust was everywhere for months and months yet overall a beautiful effect.
In the end is this really about my abilities as a handy-woman? Not so much. I had a desire to make my new house a home, to create something out of nothing and to find healing out of the very circumstances in which I bought this house in the first place. Amazing how much emotion and attachment are poured into where we live and why. In this time of solace and ripping of wallpaper I found peace. I found independence. I found that I could overcome challenges. And I found that through this process I could become whole again. Finding my feet firmly planted at home.
And so I found myself a short while ago making my last trip to Home Depot as a homeowner. If I have
learned nothing else, it is this: When you go into Home Depot, go in with a purpose, walk with confidence to the contractor section as if you actually do know what you are doing and people will assume you do. Nowhere worse to appear as though you do not know what you are doing then perhaps a car dealership, for example, as a female. At least to this female. I digress.
For my final project I will be learning the fine art of electrical wiring. Having been beating my head against the wall trying to solve the puzzle of why the sprinkler system is not working, I have come to the realization that it is the entire timer unit itself and so now I have purchased a new one, new connectors, waterpoof ones for the water valve irrigation boxes outside and lots of electrical tape. I can do this. I will do this. No, I HAVE to do this. The easy part was replacing the broken sprinkler heads.
So while I know I do not want to be like a girl in Home Depot I hope they can forgive me just this once when I found tears in my eyes in the electrical aisle… realizing that I knew the right questions to ask, realizing how far I have come in such a short time, wondering where I will be next…. wondering… Is Home Depot hiring? Orange is, after all, my favorite color. And in case I really need to mention this, do not try these things at home….
-Charmed, I'm sure.
PS For your listening pleasure as you read my incessant ramblings…. please see below, way below.