I spent the weekend doing manual labor at the house, fixing a bunch of stuff that I didn't have any idea how to fix. Really, it's how I was raised. My parents just took me to the library or piano lessons rather than taking me to those weekend classes at Home Depot. It's sort of frustrating to see that the door doesn't close at the right spot, or that the floor sags a little, or that the closet light comes on when you turn on the dining room ceiling fan, and have NO IDEA how to do anything about it. But ask me what key "Moonlight Sonata" is in, or to transcribe a Chick Corea solo note-for-note and I'll tell you that's easy.
I was frustrated this weekend, as my job was restricted to painting walls and changing locks (this involved a screwdriver ... i was way impressed with myself) and some standard yardwork. I was feeling very stupid, as I pruned the rosebushes and painted, while the boys ripped up the sub-flooring and talked about things like "joists" and "particle board" and "reciprocating saws."
Then my friend Eric came over to help me do some yardwork, and I felt a little better. He's got a PhD in Physics, but he, too, was completely blown away by the handyman skills of Friend-with-a-Truck and our other friend Kris, who were knee-deep in floor joists and hangers and circular saws. It was nice to have someone with me who was as amazed as I was. We put weeds in bags while staring in awe at FWAT and Kris who were removing a sliding glass door in order to level the floor. Eric was also shocked to learn that those long pieces of wood are not ALL called "two-by-fours." Some of them can be "two-by-sixes" and still others are called "two-by-eights." We giggled with delight when, after the fifth attempt, we properly used the term "shim."
My favorite moment of the afternoon was when FWAT and Kris sent me and Eric to the hardware store for caulk and nails. Obviously, they sent us with an empty box of nails and an empty tube so we could just ask the guy at the store to make sure we got the right stuff.
(Scene: Local hardware store in the Highlands. Eric and Brigid walk in, amazed by the tools, and approach guy who works there.)
Eric: We need two of these and one of these.
Brigid: Yeah, what he said.
Hardware Store Guy: (Silence. He stares at us for about thirty seconds.)
Brigid: (Fidgeting) Um, yeah.
Hardware Store Guy: (Silence for thirty more seconds while he stares at us, amused.) Two questions first. Michael Jackson. He had a pet chimpanzee. What was the chimpanzee's name?
Hardware Store Guy: Good, good. That's right. Okay, he also had a fully-grown pet Bengal tiger, right?
Brigid: Right. (High fives Eric)
Hardware Store Guy: What was the tiger's name?
Brigid: Oh, no ... I know this one, I swear.
Eric: Yeah, me too .. what was that tiger's name? It was something obvious.
Hardware Store Guy: Thriller.
Brigid and Eric: (groan)
Hardware Store Guy: Okay, bonus question. The question is a joke though. I'm going to tell you a joke. (He tells joke about a cat and a mouse going to heaven.)
Brigid and Eric: (laugh) Okay, two of these and one of those.
Hardware Store Guy: Right. Here are two caulks for you. Now ... we don't sell nails in a box like that. We sell them by the pound.
Brigid: (Confused. Panic. What to do, what to do??)
Eric: Okay. Can we have as many nails as will fit in this box?
Hardware Store Guy: Yes.
Brigid: I am in awe of your genius, Eric. The boys will be so proud.
We returned with our quest fulfilled, and the boys are not as amused by our story as we are. But they have somehow managed to put in an entire sub-floor while we were gone.
I was so envious of their tool-using ability that I then used my 20" Stanley Saw (yes, my smallest musical saw) to destroy an evil mulberry tree.