I grew up in a small, somewhat remote mountainous town in BC. Yes…I am a girl and an only child. Growing up being inside with my mom was not a favorite pastime but being out with my dad was. In some ways I was a tomboy…snowblowing…taking care of firewood….helping him if needed, as he built or remodeled something and helping him in the garden. He was an extremely handy man, who took pride in all aspects of his life. Among the many things he taught me was, it didn’t matter if you were a girl or a boy, it could be accomplished. He also taught me, to challenge myself. Be the best I could and even then, that was not always good enough. For these life lessons, I thank him as they still stick in my mind as I look and start any project. You know the old saying….If you don’t find them handsome, you must find them handy! Well, I guess he must have been handsome because I married him. Being a new wife, I started off trying to be the amazing cook, baker and sewer. Buying, decorating and even a little gardening to show him how diverse I was. After children came, I sewed cute quilts and made Halloween costumes that won prizes. I went all out and threw over the top birthday parties. Trying to be unique and not just have a plain old cake and loot bag. I spent hours going above and beyond for my kids to have an amazing mom, they would never forget and no one would compare to. Part of all this creativity came from living in such a small town. We did not have big stores with huge varieties. If I saw something in Parent magazine, I had to create it myself. When it came to larger projects in the home, I would wait endlessly for my ex husband (notice the ex….guess handsome doesn’t get you everything) to accomplish them…or more like acknowledge them. In the beginning, my dad would show up and rescue me, by completing the things I wanted done. But sadly, my dad passed away 9 years later and I was on my own. My first experience with a larger project actually happened out of frustration and anger. When my first child was born, I bought a portable dishwasher for $25 at a garage sale. My reasoning being it would sterilize bottles and toys I brought it home and decided if we removed the small end cupboard, it would fit perfectly. It would even look like a built-in model. Four years later, my daughter was born and there shockingly, was the dishwasher in the middle of the kitchen being rolled around from spot to spot, as to not be in our way! My ex husband was a logger and we all kept logger hours. Early to bed and extremely early to rise. At about 4 am one morning, I handed him his lunch bag, smiled, and softly mumbled under my breath today is the last day I shall stub my toe on that dishwasher. As the truck pulled out of the driveway…..out came the skill saw. I had no clue as to using one…especially on a countertop. Would it work? Would it chew up the counter? Would the blade fly off? OMG…fear! I plugged it in and then slowly pulled the trigger…whrrrrrrrrrr. I stood there for quite sometime…pulling the trigger and staring at the counter. Well finally I thought…it isnt going to cut itself…and I heard my dad’s words….anyone can do it! When he arrived home that night………TAAA DAAA!! Dishwasher had found its forever spot and the cupboard looked just like it had before he left, only a little shorter. That day…there was a twinkle in my eye, a twitch in my fingers and thoughts in my head…many thoughts. Just like my dad had taught me….there is no gender….just do it! After that, I never waited or ever asked a man to complete a project I wanted done, ever again. I also learned, I am demanding, impatient and picky. I have a vision. I know what I like. I can and will create it.
On any given weekend, take a trip to the local DIY center such as Lowes or Home Depot and you will see first hand the significant role that women are playing in the home renovation field. Aisle after aisle, men and women are in a gender wars over who is doing more! The number of single female home buyers is on the rise almost surpassing males. I am not sure if they are trying to save money after investing in a home or this has become the “bra burning” of the new millenium but, more and more women are tackling their own home renos. For some home renos simply means painting a room, hanging new curtains, picking out new lamps or deciding what flowers to plant but to many other, no matter what age, it involves installing new lights, plumbing in a toilet tub or shower, putting down new flooring, building and removing walls or even adding a whole new kitchen. They are not licenced carpenters or contractors, merely mothers, wives,women and even grandmothers. Online, videos, websites and even blogs are there to show you step by step techniques on any aspect of renovations. Free DIY mini courses are offered at the local DIY centers. There are even schools that now teach young girls “life skills” such as word working, mechanics and welding. They are actually teaching them confidence and independence. They are learning their capabilities have no bounds. It has been noted that women often succeed at many typical “male gender ” jobs due to their attention skills, especially to the fine details.
Today, I now live in rural Ontario. A trip to town is 30+ minutes, so we don’t go until we have a list. Factor in the price of gas and it just may not be worthy of going. A major draw back to living rural is the lack of trades people handy. To call a service man ends up being rather pricey to come from town. So, we learn how to plumb and do a little electrical work. Far cheaper and usually faster to go and get the part ourselves. If I can read, listen and understand…I can learn how to do it. My dad’s words still flash through my memory…anyone can do it. I also suffer from a powerful sickness. I have “junkitis”. I am addicted to junk. I love to paint, transform and revamp. As soon as I see something I love, my first thought is…what can I make from that? Do I have other supplies? Do I have the tools? No need for knowledge, that’s what the internet is for. There is no “I can’t” in my vocabulary. Things I want…things I need and things I long for, are with in my reach by being an avid DIYer. By letting my own fear of handling tools frighten me, I was putting so many projects in the back of my mind like a memory or a dream. If men can learn to become amazing cooks, handling mixers…then why can I not become a great carpenter handling a drill? After all is it not the same machine…with different attachments?
The market for women and power tools has exploded! Small, cute and pretty tools are everywhere, in all major stores, DIY home centers and even dollar stores. To make sure your husbands or boyfriends wont be touching your tools (after carefully cleaning them and putting them away properly) check out a line called Tomboy tools. They offer everything from pink drills to pink jumper cables and everything else in between! They even offer a “party” similar to the old Tupperware parties. While you sip a crantini and snack on appetizers, you can browse their display. Listen to their pitch, then place your order with your graceful hostess! Times have changed! I myself will take a Tomboy party over a candle party or plastic dish party any day. The tool industry has found a new niche, catering to the up and coming DIY woman! So don’t let fear stop you from trying new and exciting things, or even saving a few bucks. The feeling of accomplishment is over whelming. You will be beaming from ear to ear full of pride and self-esteem. Now get out to the DIY home center and buy your first gun…no permit required!