DIY Disasters

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In a sister article to this one, I described a bad month that we survived, and hinted at buying white goods in advance. We live in a very rural area with only cows and elephant grass for immediate neighbors. I have a tumble dryer out in the turf shed for emergency clothes drying (we have a rainy season that can last twelve months out of the year). One day earlier this year, I went to use it and the glass door fell off (or so I thought). I was panic stricken, as I hate to break things. All evening I worried about this but carried on with my other chores. I went to take out the wash from the machine, and the clothes were sopping wet. After spinning them again and putting them on radiators to dry, I tried to dislodge the outlet flow but it was stuck with masking tape. Dislodging this took time, and, with a flourish, I pulled the last piece free and a torrent of dirty, soapy, pungent water flew at me. The washing machine started itself and water pumped over me. Standing, I took the plug out and cogitated my next move. I mopped up and decided to pull it out and look behind, praying for inspiration. Pulling it out involved emptying my work surface, taking off said work surface, and then pulling the washing machine out. With a torch in my mouth, I peered down into the nether regions of the machine, first noting the cobwebs, daddy longlegs, and other spiders nestled amongst the dust. I fetched the vacuum cleaner and sucked up anything it found. Looking again, I saw wodges of material, piles of dark wet material, smelly and moldy. Great, I thought, what next?

A quick phone call to my husband confirmed that the washing machine had been half broken all the time I had been working away, and he had “fixed” it on numerous occasions. “And the tumble dryer?” I hesitantly asked. “Ahh,” he said and then hung up.

I was on sick leave and about to take two years off work; my last pay was coming this week, and I wondered what other delights were lurking under and behind my presses, beds, and drawers. It is an old cottage, where no wall is straight and no floor level. In fact, the perfect house for my husband’s DIY efforts because he can blame it on the house, not his lack of skill. I decided to tackle the kitchen first; with the work surface out I could begin to organize, clean, and tidy. I often tell myself that in a new polished house I would keep it clean, but in truth, the show How Clean Is Your House? would have a field day.

Later, hubby arrived sheepishly and explained that he was reaching for some tool in the shed and stood on the door of the dryer to do so. The hinges gave way, and therein is the crux of the story. I could’ve pointed out to him that the step ladder is at the side of the dryer but twenty-four years with this man has taught me not to waste my breath.

Two weeks ago, I went on retreat and my husband promised to paint a bedroom while I was gone. I arrived home early to find a paint brush in one of my best bone china cups, breathed in and out, and walked away. I went down to the room where he was working to find my mixing bowl and two smaller Pyrex bowls full of paint, drips, and brushes. Instead of saying anything, I pondered on whether he actually realizes he eats the food I prepare in them.

He will never stop amazing me at his DIY ineptitude, but he has redeeming qualities, and I love him to bits. Three days last week I had running hot water—but that’s another tale …


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