Monday, May 2, 2011

Dare to Repair

A few years ago, when I first lived in my condo, I was having a problem with the toilet in the master bedroom.  I struggled with it for a while, tried to figure it out, and then called my dad.  He asked me a few questions and diagnosed the problem.  I pretty much needed to replace everything in the inside of the tank.  It was a pretty easy fix, he told me what to buy at Home Depot, and he would come by and fix it.  So I bought the kit and waited for him to come by.  I don’t remember how many times I asked him about it.  My guess is, not very many.  I always feel guilty asking my dad for too much help with these kinds of things.  I’m a grown up, and he has his own house full of stuff to fix.  So, not wanting to nag him about it, but also feeling the necessity of having a working toilet, I thought about possible solutions.

About the same time, this book caught my eye.  I think what probably drew me to it was the huge image of Rosie the Riveter.  I absolutely love that print, and have a huge poster that hung in my house until I got married and my husband made me take it down, and then I took it to the shop and hung it in my office.  I thumbed through the book and found that it had the solution to my problem.  I felt empowered to fix it myself!  The book is written by two women (if memory serves, their husbands were in the army and often deployed so they had to know how to fix stuff themselves), so it’s got funny girl humor in it, it’s written in non-technical language that I can understand, and the illustrations are of women fixing stuff.

I bought the book, went home, and took my toilet apart.  I used the kit that I had bought and figured it all out by myself.  It took forever.  I ran into a snag.  I needed a huge pipe wrench (something the book hadn’t mentioned because my part was corroded…) and they were like $40 and I knew I would only need it for this one project.  So I proudly called my dad and asked if he had one.  He wanted to know what I needed it for.  I told him I was fixing my toilet.  He said, “I was going to do that.”  I responded like a toddler “I did it myself!”  I’ve never felt so proud!  After borrowing the one tool, I finished the project, and darn if that toilet didn’t run like a dream for the rest of the time that I lived there (7 years).  Plus, it totally taught me how the inside of a toilet works, and I’ve fixed many girlfriends’ toilets over the years.  And what girl doesn’t want to be known as the toilet genius?

Now that I’m back in the throws of home ownership, I’m feeling the stress of the dad-list vs. the wanting to do it myself.  My family has been so amazing that I just feel like I can’t possibly ask for more.  I had a list going of stuff that was starting to drive me crazy, and I have a friend that’s offered to come by for an afternoon and fix stuff, but the top item on the list, the sink stopper in the upstairs bathroom, was starting to make me feel like “Imma kill someone”…so I remembered my book, found the instructions easily, and gathered the tools I would need.  It suggested a flashlight, and I had the sorriest excuse for a flashlight anyone’s ever seen, but I was still able to figure out how it all worked.  I’m missing a part.  Tomorrow morning, baby, Home Depot here I come.  Problem solved.

I highly recommend Dare to Repair to any widow or single woman who owns her own home.  Or a married woman who has a husband that’s not exactly handy and wants to get projects checked off the list.  It simplifies things and you have no idea how empowering it is to do it yourself!


  1. HOLLA! I love being handy. I do not necessarily love understanding the inner workings of a toilet nor unclogging a sink, but I love THAT I CAN DO IT!. Just like a child. :)

    Also, being part of a club with a friend helps. It's called the "We Do Shit Club," or the WDSC. We take turns. One time, she helped me sift through wedding crap and presents and reclaim order in my garage. I helped wash and clean out her car. She drove with me to SPOKANE and cleaned that house. I really owe her some more getting shit done...

    Love you! Way to go!

  2. @Addie...I love it! I have a friend like that, but I didn't know to call it a club. She's gonna love that. And I definitely owe her. I think I'll call her and see if she needs her toilet fixed or her sink stopper replaced.

  3. I always call my dad and brother because they are so handy. And I think I make my husband feel emasculated and I don't mean to. This is such a good idea I am pissed I didn't think of it first. Not that I would because I can't even hammer a nail in the wall without sending a crack floor to ceiling.

    Also, bravo to you for fixing your toilet. I cannot take the lid off without gagging and coming THISclose to puking. I just can't handle whatever is going on in there for some reason. So bravo to you.

    I've been reading your blog for a while, and you are so inspiring. Blessings to you while you start this new journey in your life.