I've sure come a long way from hammering nails into a cake of soap ..."
This was my only thought as I strode into the inner sanctum of Bunnings' power tool section last week.
Hammering nails into soap is possibly my earliest memory. I have no idea why this was ever a thing, but it seemed to be a popular pastime for a toddler in the '70s.
Standing at the power tool threshold, I was on the hunt for a drill. A good one. One that could be used for not only minor repairs, but the big jobs.
I have a drill but it's not that flash. My father gave it to me I think when I bought my house more than 10 years ago. He said it would get me out of trouble if I needed to fix something urgently.
The old drill was OK for tinkering around the edges of DIY, but I was ready to trade up.
I'd moved on.
My Dad, Jimbo, is a king of Mr Fixits. He can turn his hand at anything really. Growing up, I can't remember a time when Dad didn't have something on the go. Whether that be a job Mum had demanded be done, repairing one of his kids' bikes or toys, concreting something out the back or tooling around with an old car.
The Richards kiddies were often employed as apprentices. This involved us sitting by the tool box, or by the old man's legs poking out from under a car, poised to hand him the necessary tool when he hollered.
But, as sometimes is the case when you have a parent who is really good at something, you tend to not follow in their footsteps as it could be dispiriting when you realise you didn't inherit their super gene. My brothers took on the challenge and did well in the handy realm. I was way too busy digging about in the garden, hanging out with the dog and dreaming about becoming the next editor of Dolly magazine.
Anyway, I came late to the handywoman party.
I moseyed back to the house like a gunslinger who had just permanently silenced a few troublemakers who had ridden into town.
Back to my new drill hunt. I had spoken briefly to my father about my plan. He offered to come with me so that I wouldn't be talked into a drill that would prove to be "as useless as a hip pocket in a singlet".
But I jumped the gun and decided to do a lone reconnaissance of the drills.
How hard could it be? I'd choose from a few models, buy a few bits, and off I'd go.
I strode into the OK Corral and immediately knew I was not OK. There were more than a few models. It looked like an armoury, and that was just one aisle, one brand, one shelf.
I knew I had to hightail it out of there before I was cornered by a shop assistant who would force me to air my ignorance about "drills and bits ... and bobs". Before long, they would sniff a "bloody amateur" and would lead me to the bloody amateur drill section. I escaped drill-less.
For my next trip to the Drill Dome, I called in the big guns: Jimbo. Within 15 minutes, I was sorted. Kitted out with a suitably impressive drill.
I was all ready for a showdown with my nemesis: the back fence. In the past few weeks more palings had fallen off.
But, now, I had just the tool for the job.
I got to work: ZZZZZTT .... ZZZZZZT ..T..T ... and it was all over.
A few screws had put the weathered palings firmly in their place.
I moseyed back to the house like a gunslinger who had just permanently silenced a few troublemakers who had ridden into town. It felt good.
I know I'm not likely to be named Australia's Best DIYer any time soon, but that afternoon I had put a notch on my imaginary tool belt.
The next day, I saddled up again with my gun and returned to the fixit frontier.
Most of the boundary fence was secure. The only work needed was replacing some rudimentary repairs done a few months ago by yours truly with her trusty hammer.
That sort of cowboy repair job was no longer welcome in these parts.
This cowgirl expected better.
I stood back, hands on hips, shook my head, and said, with more than a hint of disdain, "bloody amateur".
Of course, I was shooting from the lip. But I did warn the fence that if it ever was fixing to take me on again, I would arrive armed.
Surely my nemesis would know the drill by now?
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