Yesterday I woke up to a leaky toilet. Minimal inspection revealed that I needed to replace both the valve and the flapper.  I had plans for the day that did not include spending time on plumbing repair. The plumber had just been out the day before to cut off an outside faucet I no longer needed. He had come gratis, out of the goodness of his heart, and I did not feel I could call him again. I turned off the water to the toilet at the shut off valve…and said, “I’ll deal with you later”. I had a date with a bicycle that could not be ignored. 2 blocks from home, I discovered a flat tire. A leaky tube? Back to the garage, struggle to find an intact set of tire irons. Fixed the flat (just a poorly installed tube), kept my date with a bike, had a wonderful ride with a friend to Troy for breakfast, and stopped at the hardware store on the way home for toilet parts. Could not find the right sized wrench to remove the old valve. Finally used an adjustable wrench, fixed the toilet, and spent the rest of the day going through and organizing tools. I now have a complete set of tools for both vehicles, more that I could ever use in the garage, and a box to take to Emerald when I see her next week.

I love tools, always have. When Emerald was just shy of 2, Jim asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I replied, “a weekend at home alone with my power tools”. He took Emerald up to Lochsa Lodge for an overnight of playing in the snow. I built shelves in the basement of what is now my mom’s house. When we moved into our current house, it wasn’t done. I finished all the trim using an old router my dad had sent and a table saw. In an old house with a lot of doors and nothing square or plumb, this was a feat. When I needed to replace the router, I sent Jim to the hardware store with a list of features and no brand name preference. He did not really know what he was looking for, and the clerk in building supply couldn’t quite understand that the tool was not for him, it was for his wife.

Jim started taking the kids on trips in the summer without me. “Daddy Trips”. I worked, ate and slept when I wanted to, and built things. 2 bed frames. Shelving for our current basement, and really early on, a tool cabinet for the garage. Jim never used the tool cabinet. He was not a vertical organizer. He was a piler, and liked everything out where he could see it. We co-existed by having separate spaces. He piled in his office, and on the basement floor. Any shared space that had a horizontal surface was quickly covered. I gave up on the garage a few years back. Yesterday, I began reclaiming that space. I organized and sorted my tools. I do have tire irons. And, I do have the right sized wrench. I still have to go through all the bike parts, the ski wax. Jim never threw anything away, not even used brake pads. I have a lot more to do.

There is comfort in knowing I have the right tools, and in being able to find them. There is confidence when I can change my bike tire and fix a leaky toilet. Now, if I could just locate the tool to fix the hole in my heart….the one that still makes my eyes leak when I ride my bike home from a party alone, or when I wake up way too early on a sunny Sunday.

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2 Responses to Tools

  1. Jean Shropshire says:

    Kathie, I remember you being really tired back then when emerald was tiny and jasper was not born yet. (Could that be right?) You were working on the house, trying to get the balance between working and resting. Honestly it’s the same balance we work on all our lives. It does seem like yesterday, and I can’t believe the kids are nearly adults and Jim is gone. Takes my breath away. You are a stong woman, keep listening to the voice of your heart. Jean

  2. Gordon & Judi Allard says:

    So you love your tools. I’m not surprised. It’s part of your DNA –Dad.

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