Your Own Home Repairs: Do You Dare?

home repairsIt all started when I was a mere teen. I was attempting to sew the hem on a pleated skirt while seated on my bed and watching television. My mother had told me she would take care of it and that it would be difficult to do because of the pleats, but of course, I didn’t believe her (like Mark Twain said about his father, when I was fourteen I thought my mother was the dumbest woman in the world. It wasn’t until I passed my adolescence that I appreciated how much she had learned in those last six or seven years!). I pinned the edges of the skirt as neatly as I could. Then while Hoss and Little Joe Cartwright were chasing some bad men across the border of sanity, I proceeded to knit one and purl two even though I wasn’t knitting. It took most of the evening for me to finish, long after Hoss and Little Joe found the bad guys and closed down the Ponderosa for the night. I took my time; I wanted each stitch to be perfect.

Well, I should add that my room as kid was at the foot of the stairs and with my door open I could see anyone coming up the stairs. My mother was almost at the foot of the landing and I had just finished.  I was so proud. I wanted to show her what I had done. I called to her.

“Look Ma,” I said, holding up the skirt to show her my new hem. Only I couldn’t hold it up, not by itself anyway. You see, I had pinned and sewn the skirt to both the bedspread and the sheets underneath. I might add that my mother almost fell over backwards down the stairs and did not stop laughing for a week. After that, she fixed the skirt for me and I fell into adulthood.

You would have thought I’d have learned that I cannot sew. Perhaps I did, but that did not mean that I couldn’t screw up other things as well. Many years later, I thought I could save myself some money by polyurethaning the parquet floor in the dining room of my first apartment. It was a small area and I thought I could handle it. I bought all the stuff; the brushes, the paint thinner, the polyurethane; all the accouterments to a professional job with the elimination of one minor variable: a professional. I set about to the task at hand, enthusiastic and empowered by a positive attitude.

I was so proud of myself because it really looked like I was going to make it; that is, until I needed my house keys and found myself stranded into a wet corner because I hadn’t considered drying time and forgot that my keys were ten feet away from any place a human hand could reach them. I had to do the section between the dining room table and the kitchen all over again, only to have it happen a second time because I left some supplies that I needed on the dining room table. I’d still be doing that floor to this day it if I hadn’t finally given up and called in a contractor to finish the job (So of course, it ended up costing me twice as much).

Do you think of a nail as something on the tip of your finger? When you hear about a Molly, do you think of that sweet girl you went to high school with? Does a screwdriver conjure images of a cocktail party? If so, then you are like me and should be the last soul on earth to attempt your own home repairs. It should be illegal for people like us to do so. And yet, like Christopher Columbus’s perseverance against the world being flat, we are driven to explore regions beyond which our thumbs should not dare. My house has become a brave new world where the inept have inherited the earth. I have been trying to fix things, despite recent admonitions that the entire situation is hazardous to my own health.

(photo courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/

**Marjorie Dorfman who is also known as M Dee Dubroff, is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. She now lives in Doylestown, PA with one cat named Mr. Biscuit and her significant other, a graphics artist and former designer of postage stamps, both of whom keep her on her toes at all times. For more on this topic, please visit: