Bob V ila never had it this tough

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

My wife has been confused throughout most of our 24 years of marriage. Somehow she’s under the impression that she married Bob Vila but she actually got something more akin to Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor.

She’s been undeterred by my lack of skills with a hammer and saw, however, and continually comes up with new home improvement projects. The advent of satellite/cable TV and all the home improvement shows hasn’t helped a bit. She sees some bubble-headed blonde on TV being taught to give her bathroom the look of a Roman palace bathhouse with just a coat of paint, the right technique and a few accents and I find myself remaking our home into the Hippodrome.

The wheedling always starts like this.

Wife, waking me from sound sleep at 3 a.m.: “I saw something I think would look real good in our dining room, and it won’t cost hardly anything.” Then she proceeds to outline a project, that in her mind would only take a few hours, even though it requires moving the entire house off the foundation temporarily and putting it back at a different angle.

Me, waking immediately to the defense and employing my standard dodges: “I like our dining room the way it is, besides, we don’t have enough room for what you’re talking about. And anyway my (whatever tool applies) is missing (or not up to the job in some way).”

The thinking on adding the insufficient tool ploy is to at least get the permission to buy something for myself in the deal if, indeed I’m doomed to a project.

Some of the home projects I’ve attempted have turned out pretty good, others not so great. The common factor in everything is usually that they all cost about 10 times what she thought in time and money and usually about twice what even I estimated.

There was the Z-Brick project on the wall behind the woodstove years ago. It would have been all right except the bricks kept slipping on the wall and my grout line didn’t come out very straight. It was one of the early projects in our marriage. I should have learned I was handyman challenged.

Later there was the faux-finish painting technique for the living room that involved three different paint tones, rags to wipe one of the coats off partially and mental therapy for myself after I finished. They have all of these neat rollers now that will do these faux techniques pretty easily. But there was nothing easy about that project. My greatest amazement wasn’t how bad I was at faux painting techniques but that we were actually able to sell that house when we moved here with that paint job still in the living room.

Later in that house, my wife wanted to paint Z-Brick that someone else had put up, neatly I might add, behind that woodstove. She said she was just tired of the color and she’d seen the painting done on TV. I fought it for months, then one day in anger after fighting about it, I filled my paint sprayer with the orangish color she wanted and thought I would just show her how bad it would look. To my amazement it didn’t look too bad and the color took your eye off the flaws in the faux finish.

I have installed a Pergo floor, fortunately for me I managed to coincide that project with a visit from my wife’s aunt, who can put Bob Villa to shame in the handyman category. The floor was the best project I ever completed thanks to Aunt Betty.

My wife accused me of making this last move to avoid putting in a patio door off the dining room. So I made sure that the new house already had a patio door off the dining room. She immediately wanted me to put up blinds to hide the patio door.

She’s always, no matter what the layout of the house, had this romantic fantasy about French doors out of the bedroom onto her own private patio. When we lived in Tucumcari I finally got around to doing that project. About a week after I finished the small deck, my boss came to town and offered me a promotion in another town and the longing for French doors continues to this day.

One of the first projects on the home we live in now was to refurbish the covered patio. I’ve just about got it done. Another few mornings of painting and some flashing should do it.

I’ve been sore all week, and walking stooped over from last weekend’s work putting the roof on the patio. My arthritic fingers won’t close around a pen and the sunburn is starting to peel. I don’t remember Bob Vila ever figuring any of those things into a project. Then again you never see him being nagged at by his wife either. That would be real reality TV.

Karl Terry is managing editor at the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: