LOT'S WIFE..Turn around..look back...see with new eyes

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Can We Build It?....YES WE CAN!

I just finished ANOTHER landscaping project. This is a running joke in my family. It never seems to stop. I like designing space, landscaping, and working with my hands.

I get a deep feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment from the focus on restoring and redesigning. Hands on work offers a chance to see real change because I can literally point to it. The difference between before and after is tangible.
It does appear to run in the family. All my kids build and fix things.

This is my middle son’s self-built chicken coop!

My youngest brother is a do-it-your-self-er and my PHD son-in-law builds computers as he needs them.
My youngest son and my nephew built much of their own homes on down time from their day jobs.

Although the landscaping I do gives me satisfaction it is the CHICKEN COOP CONCEPT that gets my admiration. I am REALLY bad at building and repairing things. I could not build a chicken coop, a house, or a computer.

I have a true respect for skilled trades. The value it delivers, the feeling of pride among those who practice it and, not a small thing these days, the knowledge that it can't be done by someone on the phone in Pakistan.

I teach a growing number of young people who will never be exposed to any type hands on work and hold a rather snooty view of highly skilled manual labor. I have also come across those who think that such labor requires little high level thought or capability.

As one who also works with words and ideas, I can testify that, when performed by those who do it very well, skilled manual labor is an art form. Hands become intricate tools when guided as accurately as the mind will allow. Truly skilled repair and construction requires proper diagnosis from careful observation, logical deduction and methodical testing. (Kind of like brain surgery!)

I have to say that it was not the academics we needed when Hurricane Wilma hit our area. Many of us found ourselves helpless. I was pitifully grateful when I saw our tree services, electricians, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, and road companies out on their jobs of restoring civilization.

During times like these, as our lives start grinding to a halt because of mortgage meltdowns, market crashes, unemployment, and belt-tightening, hands on work seems to be rising in esteem. Being able to DO IT YOURSELF is becoming more than a hobby.

How precious is the reliable, knowledgeable, and honest car repair service to to those of us who are CLUELESS about this machine that is an ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to our lives? And how even more precious is the ability to be able to fix that car yourself?

You can tell a great deal about people while watching how they go about building and repairing something. Character is reflected in displays of widely ranging abilities, decisiveness, and integrity. So, I celebrate all of you who professionally and in your own lives are able to construct, fix, rebuild, and generally keep society functioning. We need you desperately and we need our young people to realize that we will pay well for those skills.

As Machinist's Mate 1st Class, Jake Holman, in THE SAND PEBBLES (played by Steve McQueen in the movie) looks over the main engine:

“He looked at it, massive, dully gleaming brass and steel in columns and rods and links arching above drive rods from twinned eccentrics, great crossheads hung midway, and above them valve spindles and piston rods disappearing into the cylinder block. … Under his controlling hands, when they steamed, it was going to become living, speaking music.”



  1. Hence the popularity of the tv show DIRTY JOBS.

  2. Thank you for acknowledging the importance of manual labor...I too had a snooty view of it b/c I was raised in suburbia where it was always "call the plumber, the mechanic, the roofer". Now I have an awesome husband who saves us thousands by doing it all himself. You raised him well.