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It’s never too late to be a handyman


It's never too late to be a handyman, I learned yesterday. My dad was a great journalist, but went through his entire life hardly knowing what a screwdriver was. It was like he prided himself on not being very good with tools -- and I grew up with the same approach.

So here’s what happened. I had just finished watering the bushes in the front of our townhome when JoAnn asked me to hose down the front door and windows. Which I did. About 30 minutes later, as we were having lunch, the front doorbell rang. "Who can that be," we wondered. I went to the front door, but there was nobody there.

After lunch it was time for our afternoon rest, a wonderful survival strategy for people of a certain age. We had just got comfortable when the doorbell rang again. So of course I got up to answer – but once again, to my surprise, there was no one there.

The doorbell just kept on ringing

To cut a long story short, the front doorbell continued to ring every hour or two – with never a visitor in sight – until finally, around five o'clock, I realized I had to do something about the situation. "We don't want to be listening to the front doorbell all night do we," I told JoAnn.

Presumably spraying water all over the doorbell had made it angry. But while the urgency of our situation was beginning to dawn on me (ha-ha) the problem was, what was I going to do about it? My first thought was, call someone for help. But it was Memorial Day. I couldn't call an electrician or a professional handyman, could I?

I took a bold step

I summoned my British spirit and took a bold step. "It won't hurt to take the cover off the doorbell panel in the hallway and have a look at it, will it?" I said to JoAnn.

I got something to stand on, removed the cover and inspected the mechanism. I saw it included two wires, each fastened down on separate little plates by a screw.

Here is where I am quite proud of myself. It occurred to me that these wires obviously played an important part in making the whole thing work. And if I could somehow detach them the doorbell that was threatening our peace of mind and would definitely sabotage our sleep might have a hard time ringing, right?

I went and grabbed a screwdriver

I went and grabbed a screwdriver from my toolbox. Yes, I do have a toolbox. It isn't very big, about a foot long by 6 inches wide, but there are a few things in it that can be useful, like some string, a pair of pliers etc.

Just for a moment, a thought crossed my mind, “Is there a chance I might get an electric shock?” But I dismissed it and JoAnn was actually very impressed when I loosened the two screws I’ve told you about and pried the wires loose.

“Don’t see how it can work now,” I said smugly. And indeed that is how it worked out. In fact the doorbell is still blissfully quiet as I write this post. Dad would be proud of me I’m sure. Perhaps there’s a handyman in all of us just waiting to come out and go to work?

Got any new adventures of your own you'd like to share?

Picture credit: 7dayhandyman



{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy May 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Good one Christopher, yes it isn’t too late to learn, you are a wonderful example of someone who thrives on it, gosh even on facebook, I haven’t attempted that one yet or Skype for that matter.

My latest attempt at handywork was yesterday when my new rebounder arrived and I managed to assemble it as I was excited to try it out. Hubby is away you see, he is a fly in/fly out mining consultant and often I leave those things for him to do. I must say the rebounding is not as easy as I thought and there are a few sore muscles this morning LOL. Take care JoyK from WA


Christopher Foster May 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Joy, wonderful to hear from you, and I have to say I’m very impressed you put the rebounder together and are putting it to good use already. So you’re in Western Australia, right, I was wondering whereabouts in WA you live? I had a couple of days in Perth one time, that is a lovely city, I still remember what a lovely sight it was to see swans on a river there.

Again, well done. The Home Handymans’ Guild is proud of you and you have established full membership rights.


Elizabeth Nunn May 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I enjoyed your handyman story. As a divorcee for over 35 years, I’ve had to learn how things work. A logical mind helps, but just knowing isn’t enough. For me, I find sitting quietly, reviewing the problem, and letting it go for a while works immensely well.

Then when I return to the problem I usually know what to do…which sometimes includes calling a handyman! However, my landlord, a man from India with a degree in mechanical engineering, asks, “How did you know how to do that?” I just smile and shrug and say, “It told me”.


Christopher Foster May 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Elizabeth, this is very touching. I’m impressed how well you’ve learned to cope with this aspect of living. What you say about your landlord’s comment is beautiful. I especially like what you say about sitting quietly for a moment before we tackle a problem, and I realize that in regard to this doorbell problem I did actually take a bit of time to be still before I got to grips with the issue.

But really this is good advice anytime we are called to confront a challenge isn’t it. Be still for a moment. Perhaps sometimes action has to be instantaneous but I’d say almost always there is time to do just what you speak about. Thanks again and blessings to you Elizabeth.


Glori | Crazy Introvert May 30, 2012 at 2:07 am

“Got any new adventures of your own you’d like to share?”
As a matter of fact, I have.
I’m quitting my job to try my hand at freelance writing. This one’s a huge “screwdriver.” I’m scared but I’m fortunate that I will have the chance to try doing something that I love and passionate about full-time.

Oh and Christopher, so sorry if I wasn’t able to respond to your email. I think you sent one (or was that an autoresponder? lol) I just remembered it now. There were a lot of things going on in my life weeks ago…

Anyway… that’s my latest adventure. And it hasn’t even started… 🙂
Glori | Crazy Introvert recently posted..This Introvert Quits! (Or Is Going To…)


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 10:48 am

Good for you Glori. Good for you. I can feel your excitement jumping out at me from the computer screen.

There is something about taking a deliberate step into the unknown that revitalizes every aspect of our being. I’m so proud of you as you follow the wisdom of your own heart and I know life is with you in your journey. I’m with you too Glori, and I wish you every success. I think I did drop you a line, but no worries, I’ll write you again one of these fine days. Bye for now and blessings to you.


Nadeja Gerasimow May 30, 2012 at 5:13 am

Delightful story!!! Thank you for sharing your inner handyman with us Chris. Blessings to you. Nadeja


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 10:52 am

Thank you Nadeja. Cool. Yep, there really is a handyman in there wanting to get out. Just so you know, I appreciate your steady support immensely. Blessings back at you.


Rick Bischoff May 30, 2012 at 5:49 am

Hi Chris, good job figuring that out!
Likely you shorted out the push button on the front of the house, with the water. Remove it and replace it, make sure the wires are dry and you should be ok. It should be 24 volts and should not be able to shock you.
First thing though, when you remove the screws holding that switch to the house, pull the wires out a bit, put some tape to hold the wires to keep them from falling into the house, that’s a real drag.
I’d do it but I’m quite a ways from you.


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

Rick, thanks so much for your help here. You’ve articulated what needs to be done so clearly. I printed out your email and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the friendship Rick. Where do you live, by the way?


Genevieve Ross May 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

Isn’t it amazing how succeeding at the simplest of tasks can give a feeling of great accomplishment. I’m very proud of you too, but perhaps, it’s a tad early to hang out your “Handyman for Hire” shingle 🙂
Genevieve Ross recently posted..Re: This keeps me awake at night


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 11:05 am

There’s a little bit of mischief in you isn’t there Genevieve? I can tell, I’m very sensitive and I’ve also been living with JoAnn for 15-plus years. But you’re right of course, in fact no matter how much success I have in my new role as a handyman (!) I promise not to get a big head.


rob white May 30, 2012 at 8:31 am

I love this Christopher! Such a simple, clear and powerful story. Ultimately, we all have our eyes fixed on the same goal. We all aspire to live from spiritual principles that allow us to rejoice in the exhilarating feeling of expansion.

Whenever we create ourselves anew this feeling never fails to delight. That is precisely why this summer I look forward to doing some boating with some friends… for some this is no big deal, but for me it will be quite a breakthrough!


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

Delighted to hear from you Rob. Thanks for your comment. You sum up the true joy and promise of living and existence so clearly. Life loves to grow and expand — to continually pour new wine into new bottles — just as you say. What a pleasure it is to share the journey with you.

I’m a tad envious of your coming boating adventure but hey, perhaps I can be there with you in spirit, okay? Loved sailing when I was a young fellow. I had a 22-foot sloop in Victoria BC and once spent three of the most exciting months of my life living aboard and cruising in BC and Washington waters. Stay well Rob.


Loma May 30, 2012 at 10:04 am

Love your story, Chris! Several years ago I cleaned the top of a gas range and then couldn’t get a burner to light. I asked a man for help (classic response) and he looked it over, found the problem, and fixed it. More importantly, he pointed out that he hadn’t done anything that I couldn’t do — quietly examine it, see where the holes weren’t aligned so the gas couldn’t get where it was needed, then turn the burner so they lined up.

This lesson stayed with me when I became a single mother years later and decided to go up on the roof of my mobile home and figure out how to start the swamp cooler. I did it! and many other things too, thanks to this man’s taking the time to nourish my practical intelligence and confidence. Oh, and thanks also to my own spirit of adventure!


Christopher Foster May 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

Loma, I’m delighted to hear from you. How is everything going? You express yourself so well here. Your story about the man who wasn’t content with just fixing the problem, but shared a valuable life-changing lesson with you in the process is most inspiring.

I was thinking how it took both of you to make this story work. The man listened to a nudge in himself to go a bit beyond his normal routine and share something deeper. And you listened, really listened, to what he had to say and applied it in the years that followed. It’s a beautiful story Loma. Thanks for sharing.


Kaylee May 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I really enjoyed your story, Chris! Glad you fixed the doorbell – could you imagine it going off every hour all night? Annoying! (Btw, I love your idea of an afternoon rest – sounds pretty awesome right about now)

A new adventure of my own? Sure! Sunday, I decided (after many years of meaning to do it) to take a yoga class. It was hot yoga too – about 95 degrees in there. When I walked in and immediately felt sweat bead up on my forehead, I thought there was no WAY I would make it. Well.. As you can see, I did! 🙂 And actually, it was pretty fantastic. I pushed myself and even did a half-headstand kinda thing – way beyond what I thought were my limits!

Peace and blessings to you. 🙂
Kaylee recently posted..Lacking Support? Why You Must Live Your Dream Anyway!


Christopher Foster May 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Kaylee, how are you? Sounds like you’re definitely reaching out and expanding your boundaries:-) Congratulations on the yoga, and you describe it so graphically I was there with you but without the pain. I love the theme of your new post. Oh yes, we sure must live our dreams and give our gift mustn’t we. Whether the wind is at our back, as sometimes happens, or if we face challenges and disappointments, which of course sometimes happens too.

Very grateful for your comment and your interest Kaylee. Blessings to you and all the very best to you in your various endeavors.


rob May 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Your story motivates me to share this, Christopher.

Student: “Why don’t I see it when I live in psychic slumber?”

Teacher: “You have not yet lived long enough to see the difference between psychic sleep and consciousness.”

You have lived plenty long enough to see the difference, Christopher, and you share it with your blogs.

Thank you


Christopher Foster May 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Rob, thank you so much for your very kind words. And thank you for the great story. Very thankful to have reconnected with you. You’re making a powerful contribution to our world and I’m so happy to share this adventure of living with you. Be well.


Durwin Foster May 31, 2012 at 10:53 am

best post ever, dad! laughing my face off here, as this morning i was contemplating a required fence to meet insurance purposes, and feeling so very grateful that i have handy neighbours living on both sides!!
Durwin Foster recently posted..It’s NOT All In Your Brain! What YOU Can Do About Feeling Depressed…


Christopher Foster May 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Durwin, this is your big chance. Somewhere along the way the Fosters have to make a stand! It’s too late for my Dad to change his ways. I’m making modest progress as a handyman (ha-ha). But you’re just a young guy, I’m rooting for you to learn whatever you need to learn from your neighbors and have a real victory with your new fence.

Make our family proud son. And by the way, is my grandson Brogan showing promise as a handyman? He’s almost 4 now isn’t he?


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