…or do the best you can with what you have? I think the right tool wisdom prevails, but that isn’t always possible for me. As my daughter Georgie would have said in her Flock of Seagulls years, “WHATever.” Which I translate to mean, “Whatever I need to use to finish the job.”
Several complications on my end keep the right tool idea from being easy to accomplish. First, there’s having the right tool. I don’t always have exactly what I need when I need it. And I often can’t afford to buy what might be needed in an ideal setting. When I first started making concrete step stones and trivets, I found that my hand mixer worked great and helped me achieve a homogenous mixture. At less than $10, it is considerably cheaper than a power drill with attachment. Mary Helen gave me a backup mixer for concrete work, not for food; the food mixer is at Bob’s. Since my oven decided it was under the Venusian sun and translates 350 degrees as 560 degrees, I usually do my baking at Bob’s house.
Likewise, I’ve found that olive oil is useful for more things than super salads or stir frying. It is a good sub for WD-40 which I either don’t have or can’t find when I need it. It also makes a good foot scrub with salt mixed in and a great moisturizer with a little lime juice squeezed into it. Not fragrant or particularly sexy unless you are sleeping with Wolfgang Puck but effective nonetheless.
I also have a hard time with impulse control so there are times when I’m ready to fix something or hang a picture or open something and can’t find the hammer or screwdriver. I’ve punted but found that I sometimes regret the decision. My rolling-pin did succeed in driving a nail but it has never looked the same. Today I try to keep my hammer and screwdrivers in a drawer next to the cooktop. It makes things much easier if I actually put the tools back in that drawer.
Then there are times when I have a tool that I’m not sure what it’s for but it looks like it might work. When Jack and I were laying the ceramic tile in our living room, I couldn’t find anything to spread mortar so I could set the tile. I found some tools in John’s old tool box and ‘made do.’ I ended up having to buy the correct tool when I discovered that chisels don’t have the flex to apply mortar.
Even when I know what a tool is supposed to be used for, the impulse control thing messes me up when I’m trying hurriedly to finish a task. I nearly killed my grozing pliers when I decided they could stand in for regular pliers. They don’t multi-task.
That’s a problem for me. I multi-task. I think all people and things should, too. My kitchen counter and my dining room table are places where I cut and grind glass. I do clean up the counter before rolling out pie dough with my dented rolling-pin and the table before serving a family meal.
Kitchen spoons might be called to duty to mix paint or spoon in concrete dye. And those rubber ended spatulas? They DO make good trowels (but have to take early retirement after they are pressed into that service). I use my fingers to feather in paint when the right brush would probably serve better if I had it.
I stretch the bonds of utilitarian, but it seems nutty to have something that only can do one thing. Maybe it’s the cheapness of my soul that comes into play. I would love to have every tool imaginable and a light filled hobby room in which to assemble my crafts. The truth?
It isn’t cheapness at all, but the knowledge that I have had many of those things, tools and work spaces. And I didn’t value them. I have been careless with them or impulsively used them without considering the consequences of my actions. That attitude about things has spilled over into my attitude about people.
It’s taken me several years sober to recognize the significance of the people, places and things in my orbit, to value them not for what I think they should be, not for the work that I think they should be able to perform. But to see those people, those places and things for what they are. When I do that, I can see incredible worth that I can’t distinguish when I’m quickly picking up and discarding.
Just let things do what they are supposed to do. Or not do.