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Home improvement projects are all in the eye of the beholder

by Peter Kostes

For the most part, my wife doesn’t have any trouble pointing out my shortcomings. But every so often she has an inexplicable and puzzling lapse in memory.

She is quick to point out how horribly inadequate I am when it comes to such things as taking out the trash without being reminded or mowing the lawn before the weeds start to block our view of the Sierra. Same goes for other simple duties such as turning off lights and locking doors at night.

On the intelligence scale I’m usually rated barely above a giant three-toed sloth in Julie’s eyes. However, in the blink of an eye, there are times I’m expected to answer any number of riddles involving physics, auto mechanics, electrical engineering and plumbing.

When her car won’t start, sparks spit out of the electrical plug or a faucet starts to drip, Julie invariably asks “What do you think is wrong with that?”

One minute I’m a total failure at the job of piling trash at the end of my driveway once a week, the next I’m expected to be Einstein.

“Oh, you’re just lazy and don’t want to fix that,” she says.

“Whadya mean?” I reply. “There are sparks coming out of the wall socket and you want me to stick a metal screwdriver in there and see what’s wrong?”

I’m a newspaper person. If I can’t fix it by tapping in changes on a keyboard or through a click of a mouse, I’m not the sort of person you’d want dispensing information about how to repair failing electrical wiring or what’s causing black smoke to belch from your car’s exhaust pipe.

Despite my admitted shortcomings, and Julie’s general acceptance of my ineptness, we still try and occasionally plan home do-it-yourself projects. However, what we consider home improvement projects might be different than your definition.

A few months back, I was able to hang a large framed watercolor in the living room. All by myself, I set a picture frame holder in the wall (a nail and hook, essentially) and then got the picture frame to hang straight.

By our reactions, you would have thought I unlocked the mysteries of the theory of relativity. I’ll give Julie credit, though, she may ridicule my inabilities when they are frequently exposed, but when I get something correct she’s quick to praise.

Heck, we were high-fiving and dancing in the living room after that frame didn’t come crashing down as I nudged the last corner into line.

Having let that rousing success get to our heads, we took an even more daring walk on the wild side a