Tools of the Trade

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

Once again I’ve delayed in catching up in our correspondence. This is mostly due to my untenable workload, but partly to blame is also the endless “light construction” going on around here – the kind that requires no heavy equipment but lots of patience, a bank account with a sense of humor, and more than a little wine.

Tin Shears

I’m a fairly organized person, as you know. I handle multiple schedules and tasks concurrently like the line chef I used to be, and I tend to plan well. We’ve had a few projects needing doing, primary of which was the bathroom in the downstairs apartment, where Auntie L and Blue live. In spite of four or five fixes, the poor original construction meant no option but to gut the thing and start again. I scheduled that for October, to be all done and lovely by the holidays. After twenty-six years in this house, my wish to move the laundry to the second floor was made possible by Thing 1’s move to his own apartment (there’s still a sofa bed in there for holiday sleep-overs and possible evictions), which meant my twice-weekly head trauma from opening the cleaning cabinet and having a broom fall on me could be remedied. Where the washer and dryer had been could now be a large closet for injurious cleaning tools and bottles of liquids, the kind that fall on top of your foot when you’re running to pick up a spill or broken glass. That was planned for January. The garage repair and bump-out for renter’s bikes was scheduled for March 1st, and the deck repair and back hall redo was set for June.

They all showed up the last week of April. Well, not the garage or deck guys. I’m assuming they’ll appear some hot summer morning when I’m away and everyone else in the house is asleep.

Last Tuesday, the floor sanding guy showed up for my office floor.

So for the last few weeks, everything from Thing 1’s room, renamed Shipping and Receiving for its current use of non-profit conference supplies, swag, and poster storage, everything from my office, everything from the laundry area, and everything from the cleaning supply places has been in the dining room. Auntie L and Blue haven’t had a bathroom, and half their apartment has been moved onto the other half, which has meant we get to spend more time with them, but I suspect they’d rather have some time to themselves.

For you, this has meant one thing: Hand tools.

The first time I learned of your fondness for such things was during an internet repair. I will say, Beagz, that any situation pitting you against a Comcast representative is just plain unfair. It’s not like the guy stands a chance. But I’d told him several times in the hour he’d been here to close the door to the basement. I’d told him each time I brought you back up and closed it behind me. I was engrossed in work, not paying attention, when I heard his cry of, “No, stop that! Give that back! HEY!”

Then I heard the running steps, yours cartoon-like, scrabbling on the wood floors, his heavier, farther back. Losing.

You came around the corner at full speed, carrying the one-inch chisel appropriately by its handle. You stopped in the hall and looked at me, panting, grinning, ready for the chase. My first thought was how your missing teeth really made panting easy when you were carrying a chisel. My next was, “Oh shit,” as the Comcast guy rounded the corner, arm outstretched to grab you, and you leapt into the air, spinning.

That arterial blood was going to be a bitch to clean up.

Wire Cutters

There are a few things to know about you that are key to successful interaction. One is that when you’re in a certain mood a smart person does well to simply find a different, maybe safer hell for you to raise rather than trying to get you to “stop that.” Another is that you’re no spring chicken. You take off hot, but within a few minutes of real exertion you head for a couch, essentially wheezing, cheeks scrunched back in an oxygen-deprived grimace, maybe a little drool glistening from a lip as you plead for me to cover for you til you catch your next wind.

There are a few things to know about tools that are key to longevity, among them, “Never reach for a spinning chisel.”

I knew you had only a few more airborne spins left in you. But I also knew if the Comcast guy did manage to catch the chisel – by the sharp end – it was going to result in what you’d call an “epic game of tug,” and what he’d call a “severed tendon, resulting in big insurance payments for that crazy lady with the beagle.”

Tape Measure

Only one of you could hear in that moment, but you were ignoring me. I ran over, planting myself between you and the shouting, reaching man, fully aware that one step back might hobble me like a mule caught kicking the milkmaid.

“Stop.” I said. “Really, stop. I’ll get your chisel.”

“But she took it right out of my toolbox!” Somehow that was the worst part for him I guess. You and I looked at each other, but I let it go.

“Will you please wait here for a sec?” I asked. I started to walk away, but I saw him move toward you, so I returned, picked up the change jar from the side table, took his hand, amazed that he still had two of them, placed the change jar in it and asked, “Will you hold this, please?”

He looked confused, but I was sensing this was not unusual. At this point you were doing laps in front of him, banking off the couch, zooming back in front of him, then running up, then down the stairs. I grabbed a cup full of dog food from the kitchen, and came back into the hall where you greeted me.

I dumped half the cup of food on your head, you dropped the chisel and started snacking. I picked up the chisel and handed it to the Comcast guy. He started to walk back toward the basement, but I called him back.

“Could I have my change jar, please?” He seemed to only then realize he was holding it, handed it back and headed downstairs.

Tape Measure

“Remember to close the..” I heard the basement door slam.

I mention all of this, because the last few weeks have been a veritable buffet of hand tools, and you’ve taken full advantage of it. When the fridge broke last week, the Sears guy merely commented, “Hey, those are my gloves!” Then smiled as I returned them, repeatedly.

I’ve advised each repair person to leave you be if they find you with a tool, but I’ve noticed that each item you pilfer from their work station coincidentally goes missing from my tool drawer. You see, rather than chasing you, they help themselves to my tools, and then, once you’re bored with with their original item, take that, too.

You’re costing me a fortune in tape measures Beagle. But I appreciate you staying away from the power tools. Those can get very pricey.

Your Person


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