Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 31 August 2010 16:29
My husband, Randy, is a fixer-upper kind of guy. When he gets started on a project, it might take him awhile to finish, but once it’s done, it looks fantastic.
Most of his inside work is done or developed during the winter months when it’s too cold to work outside. But by spring, he is ready to go outside and get started.
For many years, I didn’t see the fixer-upper part of his personality.
Like most parents, when our three children were at home, we spent a lot of time helping them with their studies or enjoyed sharing in their extracurricular activities. We took an active role and looked forward to seeing them grow and change into the young adults they are today.
Weekends in the summer were reserved for swim meets or other events that required moms and dads to take turns getting them to or from one activity or another.
During the school year, we might be called on to assist with a school event or provide technical support for science experiments.
As with all good things, our child-rearing days did come to an end. It was when our children neared emancipation that I discovered this new side of Randy that seemingly wasn’t there before.
In hindsight, I should have been suspicious even before that because Randy liked rearranging furniture even more than I did. Another contributing factor to his passion for fixing things was also prompted by new technology, namely the Internet.
Armed with a new computer in the house and plenty of information popping up constantly on the “Super Highway,” Randy’s passion for fixing things flourished.
The first big change happened a year before our youngest son graduated from high school.
One of our neighbors owned a small basement house next door to us and she was trying to sell it. After months of it sitting empty, the homeowner told us she was desperate to do something and planned to sell it to someone in Nebraska.
The potential buyer, she said, was going to convert it into rental property. She speculated he could make some good money renting it to three or more college students.
That wasn’t a bad idea, but because the little house was already showing major signs of wear and tear, Randy and I both knew it would eventually deteriorate beyond repair without someone nearby to keep tabs on it.
Many of our other neighbors fretted about the future of the little house, but I sure didn’t think we would be the ones to buy it.
With the ink barely dry on the loan papers, and a building permit for the renovation, Randy was ready to begin demolition.
We both worked full-time jobs and Randy also had a part-time job managing the local movie theater, but that didn’t stop him from strapping on his tool belt and heading next door to begin his first major undertaking.
For the next year, he would hurry home from work, eat a quick dinner and the pounding would commence.
As I said earlier, once he finished a project, it looked fantastic. What impressed me was how he never lost patience with himself. Once the house was done, he set out to landscape that house and ours at the same time.
Somewhere along the line, my husband became more confident. He started multi-tasking, having simultaneous projects underway ranging from dirt work to pouring concrete, digging up the yards and ordering plants, trees and other native grasses to building decks, overhangs, painting inside and outside and so much more.
The problem was that any one of these projects was major in itself and he was beginning to stretch himself too thin. Plus, we had made the decision to move to Hillsboro and needed to get these improvements wrapped up.
To this day, I am not sure how we did it. It was overwhelming at times, but we finished and moved on.
Which brings me to the latest set of projects.
Almost two years ago, we bought a very nice home in Hillsboro. The first summer, Randy started a few projects—building a deck, adding or subtracting dirt around the house because of drainage issues, making a brick driveway that required more than 3,000 bricks and a few other interior jobs.
One thing about Randy, he’s unpredictable when it comes to projects. I never know what to expect when I get home.
Probably one of the funniest projects he’s been trying to tackle, in my opinion, is getting a handle on the crabgrass in the front yard.
The first summer, our front yard looked great. The grass was green and well-manicured. I remembered thinking how nice the driveway, sidewalk and lawn was. Our new home was really coming together.
Within days after thinking that, I noticed the lawn was beginning to look dry and turning yellow. A few days after that, the grass was dead.
When I inquired, I was told about the crabgrass and how we needed to start from scratch.
That fall it was starting to come around again, but just as I was thinking it was back to its original beauty, a few days later half the lawn was dead.
Questioning again what happened, I was told the crabgrass was coming back on one side.
I am going to stop thinking about how nice the front yard looks. I must be jinxing it.
Seriously, I know I am someone who likes instant gratification on things like losing weight or saving money, which is just the opposite of my husband.
If there is any lesson to be learned from all this, I believe I am learning a lot of patience.
Randy enjoys his little projects and I know he does them not only for himself, but for both of us.
Some of the best things in life require years of hard work and waiting.
Without sounding to philosophical, I sometimes need to remind myself to stop and enjoy some projects too. Maybe not the way my husband does, but in a way that works for me.
While I begin working on that, I still wouldn’t mind seeing a normal-looking yard, a few projects completed before he starts anymore and maybe the house painted before winter.