FRANCES EDSTROM

And then just sit back and enjoy


(2/15/2004)

by Frances Edstrom

I was waiting for my oil to be changed, reading magazines and feeling empowered the other day.

A little background: When Cassidy was in college, she came home and proceeded to change the oil in the car that she was allowed to drive. I was a little leery of this, since she had never done it before, and we aren't exactly the auto mechanic talent type of family. "Why don't you take it over to the station to have this done?" I asked. "I think there's a coupon in the Post."

"Oh, mother," she said, "don't you ever want to feel empowered?"

So, she empowered her way through the oil change, and being the environmentally sensitive person she is, didn't just hide the old oil in the trash, like some people might. Instead, she left it in the garage in the old 9 x 13 pan into which it had drained. And, there it stayed after she went back to school.

Every time I went into the garage, I saw it there, and I didn't feel empowered at all. I felt kind of put-upon. I had visions of the pan still being there when I was gone, and the kids coming across it when they had to clean out the house to sell it.

But, a year or so after Cassidy graduated, she did, in a caring and correct way, dispose of the pan and the old motor oil. By then I had decided that my idea of feeling empowered was to write a check to someone else to change the oil in my car.

Back to the waiting room. You can tell a lot about people by the magazines they have in their waiting rooms. Of course, Readers Digest, which probably would be out of business if it weren't for waiting rooms, was there. But the rest of the reading material was outdoor stuff, which I get plenty of at home, and a home improvement magazine.

As we get towards Spring, I always get the home improvement bug, so I picked up the magazine and settled in.

The lead article detailed how to rebuild your closets. I figured neither John nor I could or would do this, but it did give me an idea of what to do with shoes to get them out of the way.

Then there was an article on how to hang dry wall by yourself. There were pictures of a guy muscling around big pieces of dry wall, using a movable stairway contraption I was advised could be rented at my home improvement store. I didn't spend much time on this, and moved right along to building a bookshelf. Trouble was it used nails and glue and stuff like that. Whatever happened to boards and cement blocks?

What if I wanted to put an addition on my house? Could I hook up to the existing heat ducts? Well, I found out it depends on a lot of variables, and looked like way too much work.

I was beginning to notice a theme in this magazine. These articles tended to breeze through the directions, making everything look as easy as pie, able to be accomplished with absolutely no mess whatsoever.

In my experience, this doesn't happen.

And at the end of every article, there was a picture of the finished product, with the encouraging words, "and then just sit back and enjoy!" I was getting a little depressed thinking that I would never be just sitting back and enjoying.

I found a little more interest in a section on new and improved products, especially a no-drip paint can. Now here, I thought, is something I could get behind, if I ever painted, which I have no talent or patience for.

Then, I turned the page. Almost at the very end of the magazine, right before all the little ads for cheap blinds, was a "trick" to use to hang pictures. "Hey," I thought, "Here's something I actually do!" The trick involves gluing together two bulletin board pins, head to head. Then you stick one end of the pin in the back of the picture where the wire reaches a peak. You then press the picture against the wall where you want it to hang, take it away, and the other end of the pin has made a little hole in the wall right where you want to hammer in the nail.

So I did it. Now, I'm going to sit back and enjoy. What a sense of empowerment. Enough handyman work for one home improvement season.

 

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