Thoughts by Richard Bleil
The storm blew the tree down. I was living there with my wife (now divorced) who co-owned the house and property with her ex-husband (yes, I was her second ex-husband-to-be) who lived uncomfortably close. He had a mini front-loader and “took care” of the tree by pushing it, quite literally, against one of the only two doors in the house. My wife wanted me to call a tree service to remove it. I didn’t.
What I did do was go to the hardware store and buy a medium-duty chain saw and spent the day cutting the tree up as she was out with her boys from the first marriage. We had a “burn pile” (that was too dangerously high to actually set afire), and by the time they returned, I was hauling the tree, piece by piece, to the pile. I’ve always been a fairly competent do-it-yourself kind of man. I know when I’m in over my head and don’t have a problem calling in a professional when I need one, but I’m not afraid of hard work and like to save money when its possible. This chainsaw was a fraction of what it would have cost to bring in a tree service, and not only did I successfully remove the entire tree (with both of my legs still intact), but we had a chainsaw to add to our tools in case it was needed later.
She was livid. I didn’t do what she had asked, and although I was successful and saved us considerable money, she never did show any form of appreciation for my efforts. As it turns out, a year later we had a home of our own, and a storm blew down about half of a tree. We did have to have a tree service to remove the part that didn’t fall, but once again, I pulled out the chainsaw, but for a different reason. That night, she was at a “sleepover” for a wedding in which she was participating. The bride wanted to be sure that the bridesmaids didn’t drink too much and so she arranged for a place for them to stay the night before the wedding. It was one of the few nights since our own marriage that we were apart, but the bride apparently couldn’t control her. An acquaintance of mine called me about two in the morning telling me that she was at a bar, smashed out of her mind, flirting with all of the men and had gone home with one of them, a man I know she always wanted to be with.
I’ll tell you this, there is nothing like good old fashioned physical labor to work off the angry energy that is associated with finding out that your wife is having an affair. (You might say that it could have been innocent, but she didn’t want me at the wedding as a guest and didn’t come home the next night either.) After the storm, once again, I wielded the chainsaw, but this time we didn’t have a burn pile, so I loaded the tree in pieces into our truck and drove it to the city dump. This would, of course, be the end of our marriage, but while I suggested we see a marriage counselor, she simply wanted out.
Having some skills is a marvelous thing, but not always appreciated. Our house, like the one I’m in now, was quite old and in need of new toilets. I had installed a toilet before, the biggest struggle of which is just the weight of the gangly clay toilet and lining it up with the weight over the drain. It would have been very easy with another pair of hands, but of course she was upset that I hadn’t called a plumber opting instead to install all three toilets (all damaged by freezing) myself.
This is becoming a post about venting, but honestly, that’s not the point. I’ve worked on wiring, plumbing, landscaping, dry wall and more over the years, and saved considerable money in so doing. I’ve done a lot of these things here in my new house as well, and the honest truth is that it’s actually a lot of fun. The benefit of saving money is actually secondary,
The greatest hurdle to overcome when doing your own handy work is just your own self-doubt. There are some things you probably should avoid. Don’t try installing your own 220-volt wiring. You only need to get your tongue stuck in that wiring once to realize it’s a bad idea, believe me, I know. But there are so many “how to” videos available these days that it’s worth looking at it to see if it’s something you can, and want to, do yourself. In my Ford, the seats were stuck. The driver side seat was all the way back making it nearly impossible to reach the pedals to drive it, and the passenger side seat was stuck fully forward making it almost impossible to sit in. I never worked on seats before, so off to the internet. As it turns out, the repair was quite straightforward. Cutting a few details out, remove the seats, use an electric drill to reset them, and reinstall. This process permanently disconnects the motors so they can no longer be moved, but they’re now both more or less in the middle. I’m so proud of myself for that, and I didn’t have to hire a mechanic (although my friend did help, something for which I am very grateful).
Seriously, the point to this post is not about appreciating the efforts of a husband and bound to cheat on, but rather, to encourage you to have confidence. If you are not the kind of person to do these repairs yourself, just do a little research before contacting a professional. You might find it’s well within your scope, and probably a fun project, especially if you do it with your significant other. What a marvelous way to strengthen the relationship and do something of which you can both be proud.