A Finished Job: Of Power Drills and Blinds

I had meant to leave the job for John, for after work. I always thought it was good to provide him with manly things he could succeed at, something that required muscle and brawn. But I couldn’t wait. I wanted to see what they would look like and John, perfectionist that he is, might not have gotten them done for a few days.

Plus, on further consideration, hanging blinds is like the final test of interior design. In Feng Shui terms it’s more yinnish than yangish. For us, it’s the final installation in the new addition. After more than three months, the house is slowly getting back to its usual chaos, not someone else’s work related chaos.

I’ve picked colours, looks, placement and feel. I’ve moved furniture around, reorganized rooms, lifted and carried boxes of stuff, hunted for reused products as much as possible, chosen paint colours, light and bathroom fixtures and installed just the right sustainably harvested flooring. Blinds seem to be nothing after all this. And John’s tool belt and new power drill were sitting waiting to be used.

I guess what I need to point out is that my Dad is a carpenter. I grew up with the sound of construction, mostly hammering and sawing, as background music. He loved his work and more often than not, brought it home with him.

He got home at 5:00 in the afternoon, ate dinner, and went downstairs to his workshop, building, adding, and repairing. I’m used to the sound of metal on metal, lumber slamming against lumber, and the rhythmic noise of a hand saw slicing through wood. Those I don’t mind. It’s the scream of power tools that really does me in.

My aversion to power tools began when I was two years old and Dad introduced a Skilsaw to our home. I was 2 and didn’t respond well to the sound. At all! As mom tells it, I was inconsolable; screaming and flailing in her arms. Though Dad was not overly tolerant of this behaviour, my mom was no one to debate with. For years, the only time Dad could use the Skilsaw at home was when I was at the other end of the house. Then he brought home a power drill. He loved that thing. He wanted me to love it too. To share with him the wonder of how easy it was to build desks and toys and tree forts. But it sent me off in a similar fit. Unable to admire it or partake of what he saw as incredible usefulness. He’d get very frustrated with my unreasonable fear. I don’t blame him. It’s hard to comfort a frantic child.

As an adult I still find the sound of power tools grating. I cringe when I hear them. It’s like scraping your nails across a blackboard times 20. I don’t even like watching someone use them. It follows that I don’t use power drills. I use a screwdriver. It takes me forever to screw things together, I get calluses on my palms and achy wrists, but it’s quiet and a screwdriver can’t fly out of your hands and drill a hole in you, at least I hope it can’t.

Installed Blinds by Beth

I debated installing the blinds, knowing it would be easier with a power drill, knowing my wrists would get tired screwing the fasteners into the wood window frame. But I guess I’ve inherited a stubborn streak from my Dad. He never left a job unfinished. Just before his stroke mum asked him to build a room under the rafters in their townhouse where she could put a sauna. A week after he painted the last piece of crown molding, while standing at the sink in the kitchen wiping a dish, he had a major stroke. The dish shattered when it fell on the floor. Mum noticed something was wrong and was able to reach and catch Dad before he hit the hard tile. He’s had several strokes since and is now in a home. He can’t speak, but he can understand, he can’t move because he’s too weak. But he finished his last job. He built mom a beautiful room for her sauna.

I found the right bit, put it in the right hole and tried to tighten it so the bit wouldn’t fall out. I knew the tightening ‘key’ went in a hole on the side of the shaft but I couldn’t get the bit to stay snuggly immobilized in it’s receptacle. After each screw went into the frame I’d have to hand tighten it again as best I could. The bit fell out a few times, rolled under the bed once, and dropped out the window. I wanted to quit every time. It was hot, I was sweating and my glasses kept falling off. But the screw moved through the wood like a knife through soft butter and the blinds slipped into their metal sheaf effortlessly and tonight I wouldn’t need to worry about people seeing in my window. And I could say I finished the job myself. I could say I did it. I could say I’m my father’s daughter.

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