March 25, 2012


Working with my hands …

Periodically, as a teacher and attempting to get my students to talk, one of the questions I ask is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As a child from North America, and I would hazard a guess that today is not really any different, most little boys will say they want to be a fireman or policeman.  Most little girls would say a nurse or ballerina.  Very stereotypical careers for gender.  As we get older, our parents and educators nowadays help us to realize that no career choice is gender specific.  Anyone can conceivably grow up to be anything they want to be.

It’s not until later on in our teen years that we learn about other types of jobs and careers.  As we get older and learn about these new choices, other options become available and with grasp.  Suddenly the idea of being a police officer or a ballerina isn’t as enticing as it was when we were 5.

Certain career choices you never hear any child mention are jobs like carpenter, painter, mailman, hamburger flipper, garbage collector…  Why is that?  Perhaps it’s because we get into these positions as a first job, and something happens that keeps us there – money, low expectations, job security…

I never imagined as a child of performing what would be typically referred to as manual labour – carpenter, bricklayer, painter.  I always hoped that I would do something like social worker or teacher.  Well, here I am.

I look back though, on my home life.  My father worked for Bell Canada as long as I can remember.  In his blog, he regales stories of his past work life, the years when he was growing up.  The one job I was surprised to read about, was his working for CN Rail.  I’m actually kind of surprised to hear this now, and never hearing about this while I was growing up.

Working at Bell Canada, I knew a little bit of what he did.  As I was perhaps too young, I didn’t understand what these jobs entailed.  All I knew was there were times when he would be working late because of a broken telephone line, or new lines being installed.  Sometimes, he would have to go on training courses in another city and be away, but we did hear from him every night.  He would call, chat with mom, and then chat briefly with us kids.

One of the things I do remember though, and this may be partly do to his years growing up on a farm, was that he was a bit of a handyman at home.  I can remember many times he would build something – a barbeque, a shed, creating a skating rink in our backyard.  He always seemed to be able to fix anything, no matter how big or small.

Perhaps some of that has rubbed off on me.  When possible over my lifetime thus far, if there is something I can do myself, I will try.  If I am absolutely sure that it is beyond my grasp or knowledge, then it is time to call in someone who can do the work.  If the task is way too big, then again, a ‘professional’ is called.

And it is no different here in Tainan, than it was back in Ottawa and New Westminster.

I used to watch programs on T.V. like, “This Old House” and “Changing Spaces”.  These were (and are??) reality shows, whereby the hosts would renovate homes.  Some tasks seemed easy, where others seemed impossible for the average person to perform.  After watching many of these types of programs, I decided to ‘test’ my own skills.  The easiest of these, was painting.

I had watched enough of these programs to learn how to do different techniques.  The one I tried was sponge painting to obtain a marble-type effect.

The idea is to have three different shades of paint.  Paint a base on the whole wall.  The, using the next lighter shade, sponge it randomly on top.  Finally, the lightest shade is sponged randomly over that.  The effect is actually quite attractive.  I tried this technique in my kitchen in New Westminster.  As this was my first attempt, I thought it was quite good, all things considered.  It changed the look and feel of the kitchen.

Here in Tainan, I haven’t done quite as detailed a paint job, until more recently.  Yes, I have painted apartments to make them feel more like MY place and to make the place look and feel clean.

The apartments that I now occupy, I have been granted free reign over my renovations.  I have assured the landlord that what I plan on doing will be nice – not gaudy.  I have also posted my progression on my Facebook account so he is able to see the transformation.

This is the first phase of my transformation of these apartments.  The wallpaper all had to be removed.  I hate to say it, but it was horrible, disgusting, and dirty to say the least.  Once it was all taken down, then the painting began.  These ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos are not the completed work, but you get the idea.

I’m not working on what I call Phase II.  Basically, it is the second apartment, however, this apartment is in even worse shape than the first.  It will take a lot longer to complete.  Part of the reason is that, with Phase I, I had not moved in while the work was being done.  It made it easy to move around and accomplish the tasks.  Now I am moved in, so I have to move furniture around as I do the work.  I also have my babies running around, so I have to be very careful where I step, and what products I use for the renovations.

However, things are progressing – slowly, but steadily.  As I am not really under any timetable, I can take my time and do a good job – or, as good a job as I can do.  I constantly keep in mind that at the moment, this is my home.  I want it to be a reflection of who I am.  Also, it would be nice if, somewhere down the line, the new tenants who may move in, will appreciate some of this work and adapt it to their own lifestyle.

Have a look on my Facebook account albums to see the renovations as they are occurring.  I try to post once a particular task is completed… show the ‘before’ and ‘after’ results.

Well, back to work…

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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