I think my four favorite words must be I DID IT MYSELF! Once in a while, things probably would have turned out a lot better if I wouldn’t have done it myself, but I usually end up a bit smarter because I tried.

This summer, I made up my mind that I was going to pressure wash my house, in spite of the fact that I remembered how hard it was when I tried to do it the last time at my former residence. Even though I was a bit older now and had a few more aches and pains to deal with, I headed out to the rental place to pick up a pressure washer. When I called I had asked to reserve the smallest one they had, and when the clerk loaded it into the back of my van, I asked him how much he thought it weighed. “Oh, about 60 or 70 pounds,” was his answer as he hefted it like it was no heavier than a child’s tricycle.

I got home and stood looking at the machine, wondering how I was going to lift that awkward thing. I had visions of dropping it on my foot and decided that maybe I needed just a teensy bit of help with this part. I looked at the guys working on a new house next door and wondered if I should ask one of them, but they looked really busy. Just then one of my neighbors came by on her morning walk. I flagged her down and she graciously helped me get the machine on the ground. Now I had to figure out where and how to hook the hose to the machine, which wasn’t easy either, as I couldn’t get the threads to match up and turn. After getting out a pipe wrench the size of my forearm and practically standing on my head, I finally managed to make the connection. Next I made a trip to the shed to get the extension cords. By then I was sweating profusely and hadn’t even gotten started!

I began on the side of the house instead of the front because I figured I’d practice on an inconspicuous area. The wand had a pretty hefty kick to it and I had to keep changing hands, but I was really getting into it now that I was seeing how much dirt I was removing. I gradually made my way around half of the house before I had to take a break.

Fortified by my lunch, I went out to continue my job. To reach the other side of the house, I had to unplug and move the extension cords and drag the machine up a small hill, which I never realized was that STEEP! I had turned the machine on, but then I happened to notice a very LARGE scary looking striped spider in the grass. Without thinking, I turned the stream of water on the spider. Remember what I said about getting smarter? Well, I now know that mud will fly everywhere if you aim a pressurized stream of water at the ground. It was hard to see through all the mud, so I never did find out what happened to that miserable spider.

That wasn’t the only way I came out of that experience smarter than I had been. I found out that when you spray way up above yourself to get to the high places, you also get very wet. It might be better to get on a ladder and remain even with the stream of water, except that I’m not real fond of climbing ladders any more. Even so, I managed to pressure wash my house BY MYSELF!

Shortly after I had hip replacement surgeries a few years ago, going downstairs to the laundry room in my other house presented a challenge. Gary was there and offered to simply carry the laundry basket downstairs for me, but oh, no, I couldn’t give up that easily. I needed to figure out a way to do it MYSELF! With much practice, I got pretty good at throwing a full basket of dirty clothes as far as the first landing, carefully going down the stairs and throwing the basket again to the bottom of the steps, all without dumping too many of the clothes on the floor. Gary just stood at the top of the stairs shaking his head.

Before the advent of the Garmin and the TomTom and other navigation devices, I got in my car and headed for parts unknown whenever I wanted or needed to. Armed only with a map, a faulty sense of direction, and extra travel time for getting lost, I eventually managed to somehow get where I wanted to go. Was I scared? Oh, yes! Did I get lost? Many times! But I DID IT MYSELF!

Winters in Pennsylvania often require a lot of snow shoveling, but I was determined that I would manage to keep the driveway clear all by myself. I bought a large plastic shovel that happened to be purple, just like my winter coat. After a few backbreaking sessions of shoveling, I decided I needed better equipment, so I bought a snow blower attachment for my riding mower. Feeling quite smug about this awesome set up, I went out to do battle with over a foot of snow. I promptly got my ‘awesome’ machine stuck and had to get out my shovel to do the job anyway. I had just moved into the neighborhood at the time and was hoping nobody saw that mishap. After enough backaches and frustration, I decided that maybe this was one job that I would have to pay someone with a plow to do for me.

As I get older and have enough artificial joints in my body to qualify as a bionic woman, I was afraid I’d have to give up riding my bike. The consequences of a wreck could be devastating, and I almost lost my courage. ALMOST. With a few modifications, a good helmet, and a road with very little traffic, I gave it a try. I just loved the freedom of pedaling down the road and feeling the wind on my face, and I was thrilled that once again, I beat back the fear and did what I wanted to do. I also decided to start letting a family member know when I’m going and when I expect to be back, just in case!

There’s no doubt that accommodations eventually have to be made for the aging process, but I’m still going to continue to do as much as possible and feel quite proud when I can say, “I Did it Myself!”

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