Yea tools. Ever meet a woman that likes tools more than she likes diamonds? That’s me. I have a room dedicated to them. It’s a crappy one to be sure. Sort of unfinished with a blue board ceiling and no door on the closet. But it sports these massive tiger-shelves lined with tools, and utility kits filled with screws and nails and just—stuff. Ever used acorn screws? Fancy-dancy things. Used them to rebuild my porch in sort of an antiquey creation in 2009. Had a few left over that I stored in one of those small kits I use for whatever.

A woman and her tools? Don’t expect her to get all the lingo. Me? I just go to Home Depot or elsewhere and pick out anything that looks useful without any care for the names of things. Yea, I’m a girly girl. I put that thingamawachacit on that thingamajig and create things of beauty without even knowing how I do it.

Then came Multiple Sclerosis. Horrors. I was diagnosed in the Spring of 2011 well into the disease. I had been going to doctors for decades listening to them tell me it was all in my head. I accomplished my degree in psychology and realized my head was not crippling my hands. I changed doctors for the third time in 25 years, and the new doc lowered the boom on me. I had been sick for years. There was—is—no cure. If they had started treating it earlier….

But they didn’t, and I put my tools away—for good—or so I thought. I’d jokingly tell my son I was going to my tool room to stroke my tools from time to time, but that was the extent of the contact I had with my tools. And that’s exactly what I did. I have one of those plastic chests most women use for towels. Mine is filled with hand-tools.

For five years I stroked those tools. I never thought I’d pick up a razor knife again. Then I said to myself,fargit. I’m not dead yet. I’m going to rehab my third floor. My friend had a Fein Multimaster and showed me how to use mine. I had bought it near the time of my diagnosis and hadn’t done much more than lifting it from the case. I ripped that sucker out of the case and set about carving out areas of horsehair plaster that needed to be replaced. Dust flew, and chunks of plaster were carefully discarded. I move a lot slower, but I’m still moving. After the plaster infused with brown swatches of horse hair was removed in some sort of orderly manner, cleanup began. I had laid out plastic to catch much of the mess, so sweeping was a chore.

Then came putting up the walls—3/8s blue board. My hands don’t really work, and my arm strength sucks, so I enlisted the aid of a friend. Yes—a guy. And when the decisions were easy, he was fine. He installed a few doors for me while I repaired another; he lifted the board and installed it; he jointed the seams and sanded (my hands can’t feel to sand anymore). But when it came to one wall he screamed like a woman.

“Close it up,” he said.

“No,” Said I.

You see—it had plumbing in it, and I wanted a pipe chase.

“Do it yourself,” he said.

I wanted to create a door that would swing open to access the pipes. Before my hands became crippled that would have been easy. But now I struggled with compromise. I asked his opinion, formulated an idea, told him what I intended, and he said, “Rubbish.”

I purchased the materials he suggested, called him up, and told him of my purchases. He came over (I had prepped the wall—cutting out the lathe in the appropriate places), and put up a few pieces of blue board and a piece of plywood. I went to work.

I primed and painted, and carefully maneuvered my brush around the screws providing me with easy access to plumbing. Plywood in the center that could be removed if need be, and blue board to either side—permanently fixed. I cut pieces of molding to covered the seams and used a couple of those crazy acorn screws on each piece of painted molding. And Voila!! A wall with easy access to plumbing.

Easy, ey? My third-floor hallway looks beautiful once again. This one wall is just a piece of the action. My 74-year-old friend and I set about to replace the stairs with me priming, and him cutting and shaping them in. I did the fine work, and he did the brute work. It took us a few weeks to do one flight of stairs–a cripple and an old man–but we did it. They look amazing. I’d take a picture, but you wouldn’t be able to appreciate how we mastered the corner stairs with the seams all painted. One stair has four pieces. They are sturdy and well-built.

So never say die until you have to. And keep your hands off my tools. I know where every last one is. Never get between a woman and her tools.

Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen

About the Author: Joyce Bowen is a freelance writer and public speaker. Inquiries can be made at [email protected]

Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en [email protected]

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