Lessons in Home Improvement

While vacationing at the beach this summer, I spent some time planning for Around the Yard and soaking up family encouragement.

My two uncles like to spend their vacations tackling various projects around the beach house, and every so often one of them would stop on their way to the first-aid cabinet and say, “You really should be down here following us around, you might learn a thing or two for your articles.”

At first I avoided their invitation, but my curiosity finally got the better of me, and I ventured down into the so-called “Man Cave” for a lesson or two.

Here are some of their tips for successful home improvement:

  • Wear gloves, or as they put it, “You get a lot more done if you’re not bleeding.”
  • Always remember that one project always leads to other projects, such as “Retrieving The Drill Bit From The Marsh.”
  • Extensive planning is essential. During a lengthy debate process known as “Projectorizing,” one must examine pending projects, consider all possible contingencies, and synchronize watches, while relaxing in lawn chairs. Also, spouses’ reactions must be carefully predicted, analyzed, and compensated for. This is exhausting and should be followed by a long nap.
  • When planning any project, always include a “Fun Part.” This might be taking a trailer of stuff to the dump, getting to use the water hose, or exposing each other to low-voltage electrical charges.
  • Do projects in the proper order to prevent un-doing your hard work. For example (they said with a collective sigh), trees should be pruned BEFORE replacing the landscape lights beneath them.
  • Plan for snags – there will always be snags.
  • Hearing loss – whether real or feigned – adds spice to the dialogue and protects you from the laughter of onlookers.

At about this point in my education, I decided it was time to go back upstairs and restock the first-aid cabinet.


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