Monday, October 26, 2009

Every Husbands Nightmare - The DIY Wife

Ever had back trouble? Lower back pain is the worst; and it doesn’t take much – the slightest move the wrong way can take you out of commission for days. For me, recent lower back issues reinforced a few things:

· I’m not getting any younger;
· My sofa is pretty darn comfortable;
· And daytime television is - well... not very stimulating.

Daytime Television:
There I was, laying on my couch with my new best friends: a heating pad, a pain killer, a muscle relaxer and a steroid. While my new friends took the edge off my discomfort and set about to speed the healing process, nothing could relieve me from the pain of being held hostage by daytime television. I have one word for daytime programming: BORING!!! The Price Is Right, Let’s Make a Deal... Come on. Game shows, soap operas, talk shows. Even the movies on cable were lame. Ellen, Oprah, Tyra – a bunch of fodder on The View. It didn’t take long to get my own “view." Give me something interesting and informative to watch – something that will encourage me to do more things and make my life better. I kept helplessly clicking from one channel to another. Then I found it. Channel 207. The DIY Network.

DIY Network:
Bathtastic, Sweat Equity, House Crashers, Yard Crashers, Disaster House, Kitchen Impossible, Garage Mahal, Renovation Realities (the ugly side of renovation) – all of these are programs that show DIYers... well... DIYing. In one afternoon, I learned:

· How to install a toilet;
· Simple ways to give my home more curb appeal;
· How to determine if a wall is a load-bearing wall;
· Patching Hardwood Floors;
· Tips for installing accent lighting;
· How to use the newest cool tools;
· Installing tile.

And in between shows, DIY Network has these little 30-second instructional spots on everything from building a fire pit to replacing window screens. When my husband came home that afternoon, I began telling him how easy it would be to refinish this or replace that… Obviously, he thought that my new friends were having an adverse affect on me.

I’ll Show Him…
The following weekend, I was getting around much better. I had taken all my medications and had begun physical therapy for my back. The first cool front had blown in and it was a beautiful day. I wanted to open up the windows – but I couldn’t. The screens were old and the dogs had scratched huge holes in them. John had been putting off replacing them because we had five custom screens to replace and it was going to take two weeks and cost close to $200 to have them fixed. Then, I had a 30-second flashback. I did some quick measurements and calculations, then John and I got into the car and drove to our local True Value Hardward Store.

Turns out that our True Value hardware man was a woman. She quoted us a price of $185 for repairing the screens and confirmed that it would take two weeks to complete the order. Then I decided to show my savvy. I asked the woman if they carried a 36” inch stainless steel insect mesh. “Yes ma’am,” she said. Great! John, who is a contractor, nudged me and told me to be quiet. “I’ll need about 14 feet of the 36” stainless insect mesh," I said. "And what about that black strip that acts like a gasket and holds the mesh in place – the SPLINE?!?” “Yes ma’am,” she said. "Do you know what guage you will need?" I think it is a .180 round," I said. “Great!” John shot me a quizzical look. I gave the woman my calculations for the spline. “And I’ll need that special tool too – the splining tool… Yeah the splining tool. No not the metal one," I said. "I understand it can actually damage the mesh during installation. I’ll take the cheaper plastic splining tool. Thank you! You have truly been a person of true value to me.”

John and I headed to the register. The whole way I was being lectured on how I was probably going to end up costing us more money because I didn't know what I was doing. What do you mean? I just had a very knowledgeable conversation with another woman who knows her stuff. The cashier rang up our sale. "Twenty-seven dollars and eighty-three cents," she said. Wow! Is that all? That’s not quite $185 worth of material. I was beginning to second-guess myself. I had done the measurements and calculations twice and had added enough overage. Certainly I hadn’t miscalculated. Had I?

The lecture on the way home was less intense. After all, if I failed, the cost would be a minimal $27.83. We got home and John helped me removed the old screening. Then I got a small piece of plywood and laid it over the kitchen table. I placed the first screen frame on the plywood and unrolled the screen coil just enough to cover the frame. Then, I zipped around the frame with the convex edge of the splining wheel forcing the screen edges into the frame. After that, I took the spline and forced it into the frame edge using the concave edge of the splining wheel. In less than 15 minutes, I had replaced my first screen. Upon completing the last screen, I had exactly two inches of overage. I hadn’t miscalculated. For $27.83, I had done my first DIY project. I saved approximately $157 by doing the project myself and I did it in one afternoon. I opened my windows and felt the cool fresh air as it rushed through the screens and felt the satisfaction of a project done well, done quickly and done cost effectively. And...You can bet your sweet penny it won’t be my last DIY project!

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