Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Dream sequence begins….
I am one of those incredibly good-looking people. My whole life has been easy because of my natural good looks. I’ve always got the best jobs. I’ve always had the best opportunities. I’ve always earned more than my less attractive co-workers. Young attractive women give me their seat on the bus. Companies want me to work for them because I just look so darn good. Life has just been a walk in the park because of my incredible good looks….
Dream sequence ends.
OK, I lied. That was just a fantasy dream sequence. Dream sequences are a very effective art form. They must be because David Chase constantly used them in “The Sopranos.”
I’m not that good looking, haven’t really had many jobs working for other people, and women don’t have the opportunity to give me their seat because I’m a bad environmentalist and rarely take public transit.
Through the magic of Facebook I did recently learn that Kim, the vice-president of the Student’s Council at my high school, had a crush on me. Nice. She waited 35 years to tell me this…
It wouldn’t have mattered though. I had already met Michelle in Grade 12 and there was no need to keep looking for the perfect woman (Michelle’s note: this isn’t exactly what Cam wrote here, but close enough.) Michelle apparently found me attractive since in high school I think this is what most of us use as the main criteria for mate selection. I think she also found me funny. She used to laugh at my jokes.
Have you ever noticed that over time your spouse doesn’t laugh quite so often at your comic material? At the start of any relationship it’s all “Oh, you’re so funny!” Laugh out loud funny. Over time Michelle stopped laughing and would only just smile at my jokes and antics. Then eventually she stopped even smiling at my incredible comic genius and instead she just rolls her eyes most of the time.
Usually the key to good comedy is to just change the audience. I can always get a laugh from people who don’t know me. That’s easy. The challenge is in keeping those audiences that come back to the comedy club night after night (i.e. your spouse) entertained.
Over time I’ve learned that it’s a good strategy to hedge your bets and I began to believe in the Red Green philosophy of long-term relationship building. Red Green would end his duct-tape-inspired shows with this little nugget of wisdom;
“And remember men, if the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”
I have come to rely on this axiom more and more as we approach 35 years of being together. This is not easy for me since I’m actually not the “handiest” of men. Oh sure, if Michelle wants a fancy newsletter published or an eBook created, I’m there for her. Those are skills that I have. But if the toilet is plugged up, that’s another story.
Since moving to our little piece of paradise I have been working on my “handiness quotient” very hard. When we first moved into this house there were only 2 bedrooms and one large open space upstairs. We used bookshelves to delineate a space for Katie’s bedroom. Eventually she requested a “real” bedroom and so I built her a wall. It included receptacles and light switches and even a door that works!
When the girls started high school we decided that one bathroom wasn’t enough to handle the morning “rush,” so I converted a large walk-in closet upstairs into a bathroom. This included a toilet and sink and light fixtures that worked … the whole nine yards. The fact that I put this new bathroom into a house that was built in 1888 when indoor plumbing didn’t exist made it all the more challenging. As always, I have my neighbor/coach Ken Gorter to thank for my newly acquired skills.
When we put up the new Bergey wind turbine on a 100 ft tower, I did it. The whole thing. The digging, the concrete work, the assembling of the tower, the wiring…. Everything. When we needed a chicken coop, I built it. When the starting motor went on my old green truck, I put a rebuilt one in myself (with Ken’s coaching). When we decided to put in a solar thermal hot water system with all of the plumbing and electrical work and the hot water tank and the welding of the steel frame, I did that. Including the welding.
So when the kitchen tap recently needed fixing, I was up to the challenge. It had been dripping for a long time. But I’d been lazy. I just kept plastic jugs under the tap to catch the drips and used the water to fill the kettle or to water plants. The water never went to waste. But it was kind of annoying. I took it apart once and couldn’t fix it the easy way, so I decided to replace the cartridge.
So once I had purchased a new cartridge, I took it apart again and messed around with washers that weren’t the right size and all the other little things that seem to go wrong with every do-it-yourself project. And then, it hit me! Fixing the leaky tap would, no doubt, put me way up on the “handy” spousal rating scale, but I knew I could do even better!
Years ago Dan Aykroyd did a skit on Saturday Night Live in which he played a refrigerator repairman. And while he was busy repairing a fridge, there was a significant amount of his “butt crack” showing.
So on the morning that I finally got around to repairing our kitchen tap I called Michelle in to the kitchen. “Come and see this before I put it all back together,” I said. Michelle walked in to find me bent over the sink working on the kitchen tap, without a shirt on, and with my loose-fitting work jeans pulled half way down my butt. And in the annals of comic genius, I hit this way out of the park. In fact, I hit it three streets out of the ballpark.
Michelle erupted in laughter louder than I have heard in decades. And it wasn’t short lived. These were deep, visceral belly laughs that went on for 3 or 4 minutes. I believe her eyes welled up with tears from laughing so hard. It was just another red-letter day at Sunflower Farm.
The moral of the story is that the tap is fixed and that luckily she finds me handy, and apparently after 35 years she can still laugh at my jokes. Or laugh at me. Doesn’t matter. As long as she laughs!
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Don't forget about Cam & Michelle's new book, "Little House Off the Grid" available right here at Mother Earth News! Click on the shopping link above to find it!