July 3, 2016
My father taught me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver.
He had a carpentry bench in our garage in Washington DC. I don’t remember either our VW bug or the blue and white VW van ever being in it. I do remember my dad showing me his tools: the hand saw, the pliers, the hammer hanging on the peg board along with the wood planer.
“There’s a saying,” he would tell me. “Measure seven times and cut once.” My dad would measure a number of times — maybe not seven — before he sawed off a dowel rod of whatever else he was cutting, creating a small pool of sawdust on the garage concrete floor.
He showed me the difference between a Phillips-head and a flat-head screwdriver. Maybe he was a secret feminist in 1970s, but he saw nothing odd about teaching his daughter about tools.
As an adult this has come in handy. Enter Ikea. Lured by visions of sleek Swedish design, I am both inspired and overwhelmed by beautifully designed rooms at the Ikea showroom. Even fortified with Swedish meatballs, my heart races in the massive warehouse as I search for the correct bin number for the yet unassembled item on the shelf.
Hail the Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers. Complement with a hammer and patience.
My entryway console should take 30 steps. Just 30 steps between pieces strewn on the floor and a Nordic design sensibility.
The trick is to not feel overwhelmed, I tell myself. Take your time. Focus on process, not outcome. Another trick is coffee, chocolate, wine, exercise breaks when you need them.
My dad showed me the tools. You just need some basics. Then figure out the steps (in some logical order.) Once you have that you can build.
Just think what else I might do? I might write up that business plan, run that marathon, create that budget or build that career.
I have to date assembled two nightstands and a hallway entry console.
PS. For those who might be wondering about the difference: a Phillips-head will work with a Phillips screw head that has four cross points; the flat-head works with a screw with a single slot only. (pictured in the first photo)
Got it? Good. If not, let me suggest a Home Depot near you.
Photo credit: me (not the helpful canine)
Our work group had worked for months. It promised to be one of the biggest events of the spring semester and that morning my son got sick. We were hosting the senior senator from Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren for a noontime talk. Whatever your politics, getting to meet a national political figure and to see her […]
Our weather-man is life-work balanced. Earlier this week on his weather blog, David Epstein urged everyone to get outside. New England weather is notoriously changeable. In the fall especially, the temperature differential can be up to 30 degrees on two consecutive days. It can be Indian summer or a Nor-easter can be barreling up the […]
In the span of a year, I became a mother, stepmother to three, and a wife. It was a happy jumble, but a maelstrom, a whirling dervish and a heart pounding collision of roles and perspectives. Helpful it was not — according to every blended or step-family resource I consulted — that the stepmother typically […]
Thank you, Derek. My son named our dog after you. An act of heresy, some would say, since we live three miles from Fenway Park, the heart of Red Sox Nation. When I walk our two year old chocolate Lab, Jeter, down Beacon street, I have been a little sheepish when asked his name. “At […]