If you are lucky in life, you find one thing you can do well and do it for a living.
I know I was, but it continues to fascinate me that writing is nearly the only thing that I do well.
That is particularly true this week when I was on the farm near Wellsville, Mo. It is out in the country where my incompetence really rises to the occasion of whatever I might be trying to do.
I am supposed to be putting window trim on this cabin that my son, Matthew, the farmer, helped us build out behind the barn. My task requires careful measurement, precise cutting and patience.
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Since I belong to the school of measure once, forget that number, measure again and then cut wrong anyway, frustration quickly replaces patience.
It’s not that I don’t plan. I even went to an auction and bought an adjustable chop saw which can cut the 45-degree angle necessary for the window trim. Unfortunately, the blade on the saw was so dull it hardly cut. I couldn’t read the writing on the blade so I just bought one that fit the saws I saw on display in the hardware store.
Naturally it was smaller than the one on the machine. That really didn’t matter because I couldn’t get the old blade off to put the new one on. After watching me come in and out of the shed several times looking for the right tools, my son finally came out and did it for me in a couple of minutes.
He apparently got the ability to do things through his mother, who got it from her father, who used to not only repair his own farm machinery, but sometimes built what he needed from scratch.
Meanwhile I can’t even buy the right thing. But I made do with the smaller blade.
Things got worse this morning after an overnight rain. I discovered I had left both front windows on the car wide open and my laptop computer was in the front seat. Somehow it is working although it occasionally turns itself off and on as if in protest. If you see this, you will know it endured.
These kinds of things don’t happen to me when I am home, mainly because I would never leave the car windows open in town and invite trouble.
And at home I can try not to fix things and sometimes get away with it. Or at least take my time with the work as I mentioned in last week’s column.
With a little wood putty to fix the gaps in my misguided cutting and a lot of paint to cover the putty, I may get this window project done. But a big part of the problem is that I also installed the windows, which meant cutting big holes in the siding. There isn’t a straight window among the bunch.
My wife keeps telling me just to get it done and not worry so much about how it looks. It’s supposed to be a rustic cabin, she says. With its barn wood paneling, barn wood floors and tin ceilings, it does look pretty cool.
And if rustic means constructed by someone who doesn’t really know what he is doing, then we’re there.