Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Job Too Small

I just finished sorting my screws. As pathetic as that may sound, I take great pleasure in tasks that involve organizing things. Years ago I bought one of those plastic, multi-drawered storage containers that I set up with assorted screws, bolts, nuts, washers, anchors, and electrical/ plumbing miscellany. Over time, the little bins got all jumbled up and it bothered me. So, I bought a new plastic, multi-drawered storage container and re-organized everything. I even made little labels for each drawer on my computer and pasted them on. It's not a major accomplishment, but something that had become disarranged is now in perfect order. It's the "Monk" in me. (If you don't watch Monk on TV, please ignore that last reference.)

Another job that doesn't sound exciting, but that I enjoy none the less, is washing the car. When I was younger, and my friends and I were getting our first cars, nobody would be caught dead with a dirty car. Black was a popular car color back in the Sixties, and anyone who's owned a black car will tell you that they show the dirt very quickly. I had a black '61 Chevy Impala, and washing the car every Saturday was a ritual I loved. That car was gleaming inside and out when I was done, and I would always tool around the neighborhood with the radio blasting and the windows rolled down to show it off. To this day I can't stand a dirty car.

Before we hired a gardener, I also used to like mowing the lawn. As a city kid, we never had a lawn; nobody did. When we bought our little piece of the rock on Staten Island, I went out and got a Black and Decker lawn mower with a hundred foot electric cord. Every week, weather permitting, I was pushing that mower over our front and back yards, marveling at how the grass clippings flew into the bag attached to the side of the mower. One day I was cutting wet grass on our steeply inclined front lawn. The mower got stuck, and without thinking, I gave it a kick with my foot. I saw the front part of my sneaker fly over my shoulder a second before I felt the pain. With me holding a towel over my bleeding toes, my frantic wife drove me to the emergency room. Did I mention we hired a gardener?

Painting is another chore that most people dread. Enjoy might be too strong a word for how I feel about painting, but I do like how something looks after its been freshly painted. It's so much easier these days with latex paint, custom-mixed colors, and all the great gadgets they've invented to make the job easier. In the past couple of years, I've painted the entire inside of my three children's houses. I prepare the rooms ahead of time by moving furniture, taping off around windows and moldings, and patching any uneven spaces on the walls and ceilings. I also bring my radio along to listen to the oldies while I work. I enjoy working alone and never plan more than I can do in an 8-hour day. I know, I'm weird.

I like to cook too. I'll never be as good a cook as my wife, but I do like trying different dishes to see how they come out. The variety of recipes available on the Internet is astounding, and if you follow the recipe, generally the dish turns out alright. I enjoy experimenting too, making up dishes with whatever ingredients are around the house. Stir frys with some pasta thrown in are a great way to clean out the refrigerator. Breads too are a favorite...not the great crusty Italian and French breads that I love but are hard to make in a home oven, but the pan breads like cornbread and pumpkin-nut loaves that are so nice with a cup of coffee.

I think as I get older, I take pleasure in simple things. It's important to stay busy after you retire or you begin to lose your sense of purpose. I should go sort out my socks now, but that's a job for another day.


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joe del broccolo said...

I know that screws feeling! Having done the same thing myself, I sometimes want to show complete strangers my screw arrangement! I know it is silly, but when you clean something up, it feels great!

The Whiner said...

I too like organizing things. However I do not cleaning all ofour perfectly sorted items are covered in dust. And the inside of our house looks very nice thanks to you!