Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How did you do that?

Sometimes guests ask me how I learned to do most of the construction and maintenance jobs that I have tackled. (Or have been too foolish/poor/stupid/stubborn to hire out.) Back in the olden days I watched "This Old House" when the homeowners actually did a lot of the construction themselves. It didn't seem that hard. Then I found books that spoke in a language that I could understand. Trial and error contributed greatly to my knowledge base. My brother-in-law taught me to sweat copper pipes.

But it was my mother's can do attitude that really shaped me. She taught me the basics that a girl would need in the areas of cooking, cleaning, sewing, handicrafts and gardening. She encouraged me to have curiosity and to think out of the box in problem solving.  In some leap of enlightenment I began to just translate traditional                       "girl's jobs" into construction terms. 

When you have an odd shaped house that needs new wall board just fall back on "girl skills." Cutting the wall board is just like cutting a fabric pattern. Screwing it to the wall is just like pinning a dress together. Mudding the seams is just like icing a cake. (Not my best skill but it gets done.)

So when there is a hole in the icing because you cut the opening for the electrical box wrong, get out the icing piping bag and get to work. First make sure the electricity is turned off. Mix a bit of plaster of Paris a little on the damp side - sort of between the texture of Greek yogurt and set pudding. Use either a cake piping bag or heavy plastic bag with the corner cut off. Don't bother using a cake decorating tip. Roll up the bag and gently squeeze the plaster into the openings outside of the metal box to fill the hole. 

This technique was tidier than filling the areas with a putty knife. It allowed me to put a thicker bead of plaster evenly into the space.  The tip of the bag squirted the plaster behind the metal "ears" of the box and self-leveled so there weren't any annoying air gaps. 

I'm sure a professional plasterer would roll his eyes at these instructions but they sure Worked for Me on Wednesdays.

Happy Mother's Day Mom. Thanks for all you taught me.