Better Home and Garden

I spent yesterday morning moving my tools and such into the garage. You’d think it would be an easy task, because an unhandy woman shouldn’t need a lot of tools, but I’ve ended up with a slew of things. Some I bought. Some I inherited from various folk. Some were gifts. Some came from people who thought I should have a tool collection. And so now I do have a collection. I have way more screwdrivers and wrenches than I will ever use, more hammers than I have hands, a power drill I used once, an electric screwdriver. Long-handled garden tools, of course. Oh, so many things! (I have a hacksaw and a Japanese pull saw, but I don’t have an electric saw. I might need to rectify that omission.)

Now the tools are nicely arranged in the post-WWII steel kitchen counters that apparently once resided in my kitchen and now sit comfortably in my garage. This opened up my utility/sun/exercise room. And what a difference! Ever since the old garage was torn down, all my tools and storage items were stashed in that room, so now not only do I have a garage, I have my sun room back. Unfortunately, since that exercise equipment has been freed from the confines of all the storage, I no longer have an excuse not to use it.

I spent the morning giving the room a thorough cleaning, and have mostly reclaimed it. The only thing still in the house that doesn’t belong there is my battery-operated lawn mower. (Though maybe I’m wrong here? Maybe all houses need an inside lawn mower?) Because of the steep drop out the back door, I can’t move the mower to the garage by myself, so next time the builders come, I’ll ask them to do it. And then, the room really will be mine again.

After that cleaning stint, I went out to the yard to pull weeds. It’s not a chore I particularly like doing. The problem isn’t that it’s a never-ending job or that it’s hard work or that it seems futile. The problem is that I can’t help wondering who am I to decide what plants get to live and what have to die. But I overcome my nicety and do what has to be done. For a while, anyway, until exhaustion sets in.

The tarot card I dealt myself for study today was the seven of pentacles. Some readers say the card means loss and disappointment. Others say it’s about efforts that come to nothing. Still others mention perseverance and planning, as well as affirming my long-term vision and helping to show that I am not confined to seeing results in the short term. Sounds like weed-digging, doesn’t it? I’d expected more from my Tarot studies than such mundanities.

Still, the mundanities — sorting and cleaning and weed pulling — all help to create a better home and garden (and garage!) for me.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Have Caulk Gun Will Travel

I just got an email from a friend who suggested I post a blog to let everyone know how I was doing. I shrugged it off, thinking I’ve been doing that very thing, but I checked anyway to see when my last blog was. Wow! Has it really been a month since I last wrote? It just goes to show . . . well, I’m sure it shows something, I’m just not sure what.

Some of the work on the house is going well, due mostly to a visit from my brother and sister-in-law who brought with them their expertise and just about every fabulous tool they own. Still, oddly enough (at least odd to someone who has never before owned a house), very little can be crossed off my to-do list. There always seems to be one more thing to accomplish on every job.

Caulking all sixteen windows and repainting the framework has been left to me. Since I have never in my life done any work on a house — growing up, I was just a girl, you know, and so such tasks were never allotted to me — my share of the work is slow going. (BTW, the window is a true rectangle; the odd shape is due to the angle of the camera.)

But I now know how to use a caulk gun, and even better, I know how to clean caulk off my fingers. (Nail polish remover!)

I still don’t have a workable garage. The crack in the floor was fixed, the place insulated and dry wall added, but then the floor recracked, so for now, the garage is just a big shed. One day, perhaps, I will be able to use it to park my car. Perhaps . . .

The back room is mostly done. Although foundation is rebuilt, the walls and ceiling painted, and the floor installed, the doors still need to be framed, though that job is scheduled for Monday. (Fingers crossed!) It’s a lovely room, now, and can no longer really be considered a porch, enclosed or otherwise.

My exercise equipment (even a ballet barre!) has been set up in the room. I can no longer use the lack of space as an excuse not to exercise so I’ll have to find another excuse.

The above mentioned aren’t the only tasks to be finished/started, just the more obvious ones. (Fixing the basement floor from long ago flood damage and reinstalling a sump pump are perhaps more pressing, but since I don’t go down into the basement, it’s not an obvious task. Not to me, anyway.)

For all these months, a lot of my stuff has been piled in the dining area, and now that the back room is usable, I no longer have to use the dining area as storage. And suddenly, this place seems huge. It’s still technically a small house, but for a person who has been living in a single room for the past few years, it seems a surfeit of luxury to have so much space. After all, I can only be in one room at a time.

But of all the problems I have dealt with in the past decade, this embarrassment of riches is one that is easily shouldered.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.