If You Want Something Done Right…

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.   So the saying goes.

I have come to the conclusion that the people who are fond of saying this are those who have the luxury of delegating. Managers or business owners, and people with husbands and children.

In my house the saying goes, “If you want something done (not well, but passably), you can do it yourself, or you’re S.O.L.”

I was reminded of this fact most recently as I attempted to put up a bird feeder.

There’s a Herculean task, right?  Yeah… baby steps on this “home owner” thing.

I was pretty happy about the bird feeder I found at Zamzows. It’s pretty, it matches my patio furniture, and it was on sale! As soon as I got home, I walked outside holding my little gesture of good faith (to the neighborhood… I will do yard work, I promise), and starting looking around. I looked at the vinyl, and metal along my roof and realized I would not be attaching a hook or hanger to anything on the house.  That minor setback left me looking at the tree in the yard.

This is what the tree looked like when I moved in, at present it is pretty bare, it is just starting to spout tiny green buds. But, you can see that it sits on a hill. A somewhat steep hill, as a matter of fact.

So, I invite you now to picture me hanging the bird feeder in one of the limbs of this tree, facing the patio. Here are a few things that may help you with that:  1)  I am still in my teacher clothes- heels, khakis, sweater from anthropologie.  2) I don’t own a ‘real ladder’. I have a 3-step indoor stepladder, which I have tried to balance by mashing the legs into the soft soil of the slope. “Balanced’ is a stretch. 3) I am holding a nice wrought iron hanging hook with the bird feeder attached to it in one hand as I begin my ascent.  If you are wondering why I didn’t change first, or something reasonable like that, I don’t really have an answer. I needed to do it then while I was thinking about it, so I didn’t find the untouched bird feeder in the garage next winter.

Through an impressive acrobatic feat in which I ended up on the tip toes of one foot (more height on one foot, other one out for balance) on the top step of the ladder while stretching my 5’2” as far as possible to grab the chosen limb with enough of my free hand to pull it down fractionally so I could scrape the top of the hanging hook over the branch, and all of this before my calf cramped, or the muscles in my weak little arms started shaking so badly that I dropped the bird feeder or let go of the branch (which was keeping me from falling off the ladder). If any of my neighbors happened to be looking out their windows that afternoon, they were in for quite a show, albeit an anticlimactic one, since I did not fall.  I came inside with mud on my shoes, twigs in my hair, bird seed down my shirt, and a sheepish smile on my face.

I’m not big on asking for help.

Which leads me to today’s topic, unforeseen difficulties of living alone.  Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I really like living by myself. It’s just that the benefits are not as interesting to hear about as the inconveniences.

So, my top seven, in no particular order:

1) Car stuff. I had a headlight go out a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to fix it myself. I tried to walk into the local NAPA store nonchalantly to find a replacement headlight. That lasted until I figured out that I had to tell the guy at the counter what I was looking for, because he needed to look up the model number and get it from the back. Right. So I got the light, and then realized that unless it would take nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver, a pair of pliers, or a hammer and picture hanging nails, then I did not have the tools needed to replace it. I have a cute little turquoise bag of matching turquoise-handled tools… I think they’re from the Dollar Store.  Thank goodness for friends with husbands.

2) Cooking. The day I am given a book like “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” or “Going Solo in the Kitchen” is the day it will be time to hide the sharp objects. But seriously, what a pain. No one to share the food with, so I always make too much. No one to share the mess and the dishes with, so sometimes, it just isn’t worth the trouble. Do you remember those commercials (for Lean Cuisine, I think) where the ladies are talking about last night’s dinner?  Their answers are something like “I ate four grapefruits,” and  “I ate 1/2 a block of cheese.”  Yeah… not that funny.

3) Chores. The ones I’d really like to hand off. Mowing. Weeding. Yard work in general. I like the idea of gardening… like planting some plants and trying to remember to water them, but that’s about it outside. Changing ceiling-height light bulbs. I know there are plenty of households where one person is still largely responsible for all domestic duties, but I can dream about how nice it would be to divide the work. Kenya’s lack of thumbs makes her of very little use.

4) Spiders. I don’t like them.  It’s not a phobia… but they make my skin crawl a little. Mostly if they are big and fat, and hanging around somewhere unsettling, like the ceiling above my bed, or in the bathtub. Ugh.  Again, no one to kill them for me. And by ‘kill’, I mean ‘gently place outside’ of course. I try to put them outside, but holding a live, agitated spider in some type of likely fallible container long enough to get it outside before it jumps onto my arm… it makes me a little panicky. Plus, if they are up high, I have to get the evil stepladder out again, and try not to fall to my death, while upping the ante with the possibility of the spider falling on my face.

5) My actual phobia. (As in, irrational fear). Ice cubes, in the freezer tray. Where they could stick to you. I hate touching ice, until it’s melted enough that it can’t stick to me. I’ve been running my own exposure therapy for this one actually, so it’s gotten better. But if I had my choice, it would definitely be someone else’s job to put ice in the glasses. It takes a lot longer when I’m trying to pick them up with my fingernails only.

6) Sweets. If I make cookies, or a cheesecake, or buy a container of ice cream, there is no one to blame when said item(s) are eaten. “What? All the cookies are gone? I just made them two days ago! Bad Dog! You got up on the counter and nicely unwrapped the plate and put the Saran wrap in the garbage, and didn’t lick the crumbs? Okay, well I’ll let you off the hook this time, but you should probably watch your calories.”

7) Jars. Occasional bane of my existence. Perhaps the single most humbling item on this list. Those weak arms I mentioned earlier? Not very adept at twisting the lid off of a well-sealed glass jar. I will not say that I have nearly ended up in tears of frustration over a marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s. I just realized that night I really didn’t want pasta anyway, a bowl of cereal sounded way better.


Oh, and by the way, the bird feeder? It’s empty. A squirrel with more impressive acrobatic skills than my own found it the next day. The smug little thing ate/carried off all of the bird food. In one day. The birds didn’t even have a chance.  The feeder will probably hang empty in the tree for a good long time now. Until I’m ready to brave the stepladder again, so I can take it back down, and find somewhere else to hang it… using all those tools I don’t own.


~ by Lindsey on April 11, 2011.

3 Responses to “If You Want Something Done Right…”

  1. Try using a shepherd’s crook instead of hanging the feeder from a tree. Most stores with a lawn/garden section will have them; they’re good for hanging feeders or plants. Just stick it in the ground and you’re good to go.

  2. ICE CUBES?!?! HA! Also, do you do the whole “bang the lid (side of lid) of the jar on the counter until the lid “pops”” thing? It works for me with particularly stubborn jars!

  3. Good suggestion Gillian on the bird feeder! And oh those jars get me too!! I still live at home, but I’ve cooked dinner with no one home before and wore myself out trying to open a jar. Definitely makes me worried for when I do live alone! lol

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