Monday, November 20, 2017

Of DIYs and decals

I watch quite a number of DIY videos - I guess because the World Wide Web is bursting at the seams with them too. I had figured I wasn't so bad as a handy person when I was younger. At least where I come from, I wasn't expected as a girl, to be interested in fixing things or be able to fix them. While growing up though, you could almost always find me with my Dad when he was putting something together or tearing it apart. It gave me some measure of satisfaction to see something become of a jumble of pieces of nothing (not like there were many opportunities to put things together really in those days - a divider here, a ceiling fan there). I surely favored it to sitting around in the kitchen after helping prepare vegetables and stuff for a meal.
Photo credit: Pixabay

I grew more confident about my 'handyness' when I got admitted to study some 'pseudo'-Engineering course in University. But I quickly realized I wasn't as good with my hands as I'd thought. I sucked at wood work and never attempted welding and my technical drawing course (in as much as I enjoyed the technicalities, I decided it wasn't my cup of tea) was one abysmal failure. Outside academics though, I was still comfortable doing minor fix-ups at home - stepping in for dad sometimes to fix things as long as they don't require extra strength.

All-in-all I think DIY is cool, empowering and it appeals to the minimalist in me - change the look of an old (white) sneakers; use plastic, plastic and more plastic in the 'most' creative of ways in the house; solve those sticky problems using simple?, tested and trusted options etc. I admit, I have tried a few of these - absolutely nothing over the top though - a plastic bottle here and rice as a desiccant there, put together the fans here and a shelf there - but I must have gotten carried away with regards to my DIY prowess at some point, because I went online and bought, not 1 or 2 but 5 DIY home decors - 2 clocks, 2 wall decals and a tiny shelf. 

My first shock was discovering that it was not at all put together. Nothing. Zilch. Hmm..."oh well I can manage",  I thought. I got over my initial shock almost a week later and put together the first 2 - clocks. I started by spending time reading the (poor excuse for) directions. It was a good thing that I had a clear idea what the final product was supposed to look like, so after much struggle with positioning the many parts on the second clock (and several attempts at giving up), I did an ok job of putting up the clocks. However, it took about a month later to fix the wall shelve, the easiest of all the DIYs. It was pretty, but pretty much useless (it was too small to hold any number of normal sized books) and the rungs hung precariously between booth footholds. Oh well, at least it was pretty. 

Finally I got around to fixing the decal (1 of 2). Listen up! It took me at least 3 months to prep myself to put up the decal - i read the (sorry excuse for) documentation many times and even went online to get tips. They made it look simple and straight forward. I was deceived. For a decal that had less than 15 words on 2.5 lines, I spent at least 3 hours, aching arms, sweaty me with the fear that it wouldn't come out right (and still got a ripped 'W'). Given, it was at a height and that made it that tad more difficult to put up. In the end it doesn't look so bad but it isn't at all aligned to the wall - who cares! (the slightly OCD part of me does). After I'd done all that, I looked at the last decal in the shipment I received 4 months ago and 'side-eyed' it. I have decided that this (at least 50 words) decal will have to either be someone else's problem or I'd tackle it when I move house. Nowadays if I see DIY stuff on sale, I spend some seconds admiring it but not remotely considering making a buy. 

I still have a DIY list though. I want to bake bread and scones and grill fish (see I have done the non-kitchen ones already)...and NOT put up any more decals.
Photo credit: Pixabay

There are things I learned from my DIY experience:
  • what you see and what you get depends largely on how well you put it up: So if you are finicky (and you should be) get the professionals to do it if you can afford it
  • if you still insist on DIY, then read the manual (no matter how shoddy),  get as much help and 'training' (read as Youtube videos) as you can and if you are still unclear ask our dear mutual friend (google)
  • before you set out in an adrenaline rush to put everything together check that you have everything you need*: Check the items inside the box and physically check that you have everything the box says you should have, plus make sure you have all the things you need to put your purchase up (screw drivers, sellotape, markers and an extra hand - just in case)
  • it still gives a sense of satisfaction when you put stuff up successfully: So have fun while at it
  • you win some, you loose some: Don't be too hard on yourself for the ripped w's that are bound to happen
  • if you are buying online, take everything with a pinch (teaspoon) of salt especially if you are buying in places like Nigeria (I don't mean to blacklist us but my experiences have not all been great and customer service is still not top-notch): Check out the seller's profile if available - reviews et-al; decide on the balance between payment methods and inspecting the condition of goods that you ordered for (for better control I do payment on delivery for smaller, not-as-visible stores) and understand the return policy, if any. I found out while receiving my orders that one of the clocks didn't its dial in the box. Imagine a clock without a dial!!!
  • don't forget to stay safe while doing your DIY (funny yeah?)
  • BONUS*: At the end of your DIY, you shouldn't have any left overs if everything went exactly according to plan and there were no extras in the 'box'

Share your DIY stories - the good and the not-so- good in the comments below. Or if you are one of those who don't see the point to all the DIY brouhaha let us hear it too. 

Much love

*I learned this at my last paid job

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Word for today

vertigo |ˈvərdəɡōnouna sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nervegiddiness.

Seemed like a fancy word at the time we officially 'met' but I was no stranger to the feeling. It all seems like a long time ago.

I don't remember the first time I experienced vertigo but it was probably in an elevator. The metal types that probably had poor sealing. It didn't matter if it was going up or down. I would feel this lightness in my stomach and head either way. I eventually learned to tolerate it - "no point going up any number or flight of stairs just because of a minor discomfort" i must have thought. I had a big fear of heights for the same reason too, even up to going out on balconies on floors that were far up above the ground (I don't think I have quite overcome this one).

I don't remember the last time I experienced it either - might be because the elevators in use these days might be better designed. I remember clearly though, the few weeks following my accepting to work for this company that required you to do a lot of some fitness training as part of induction, I was worried about how far I would have to push myself - fire fighting in claustrophobic and dark places, height trainings, car racing (ours happened on a rainy day too) etc. I was determined mind was made up to not be a wuss. In one of those exertive-type trainings though, as I was at some 30ft height or so, going to make the drop in a spiral made of basket-like twine, I realized I could do anything I wanted to - vertigo or not. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tales by moonlight

The tortoise and his mother 

As a kid, I used to love listening to folk tales - whether it be tales by moonlight or tales by no (electricity) light - of course if we had power, chances are that we would be watching TV. My dad has a gift for story telling - one I didn’t inherit sadly - and he would regale us with stories any opportunity he got. We used to look forward to it as kids (I think) especially so we could re-tell it at school too/when we were with our peers. My dad was brilliant at telling these tales - complete with songs and always something to learn. 

One of the stories I remember is about the tortoise- who had become for me, an exotic animal - full of cunning and trickery and who made his way through life by being smarter than all the animals in the ‘animal kingdom’. The story I am sharing with you today is the one about the tortoise and his mother. 

Story, story.... Story! Once upon a time...

In the animal kingdom, there was a great famine as the rains were not falling. So the animals had nothing to eat. Many animals were dying from starvation and the King Lion had to call for the animals to assemble at the village square. Because they hadn’t eaten for months, none of the old animals could make it to the village square. The lion addressed the animals “Hail my fellow animals, it is with heavy heart I call this meeting and I hope at the end we can be in a better place than we are at now. In all honesty, I am at a loss as to what we need to do to contain the death of our people till the famine is over. Any suggestion is welcome”. 

Everyone was silent for a very long time, then the snake spoke and suggested: “Long live the king! I am of the opinion that the only way to make it through this drought is by making the best use of what we have. Since we don’t have water or crops, I suggest we use what we have judiciously - ourselves. You see, the older ones are already at death’s door, as is evident by their inability to make it down to the village square. I think we should take turns in killing our old and feeding the young till the famine is over!”. All the animals agreed with the snake except the monkey. The king ordered that the monkey’s old father be brought to the palace and killed first as punishment. The king was pleased with the snake’s wisdom and put him in charge of executing the plan. 

The snake and the tortoise were good friends and although the tortoise didn’t raise any objection, he was deeply worried about killing his mother as she was his best friend and close confidant. The tortoise approached the snake and asked the snake to allow his mother to be the last one to be killed as she was currently sick and might ‘infect’ the others with her illness if killed now. The unsuspecting snake agreed. And thus it went, each animal took turns to kill their parents for food. Except the tortoise who shared his portion of food with his mother. 

Then came the turn of the tortoise to bring his mother to be killed for food. Unknown to the rest of the animals, the tortoise and his mother had perfected their plan of survival - storing food and making their house inaccessible by building it up on a tree. The only way to get up the tree was if the tortoise sang out a code song to his mother, who would then throw down a rope ladder for her son to climb up with. 

Days went by and the tortoise kept finding excuses not to keep his side of the bargain. The animals were fed up with the tortoise and decided to teach him a lesson. The snake was assigned the task of finding out what was going on with the tortoise and report back to the animals. He followed the tortoise to his house and watched in amazement as the tortoise sang beautifully to his mother in code, and how a rope ladder appeared, as if from nowhere. The snake was indignant and reported back to the animals at the next meeting when the tortoise was absent. The animals then decided to pay the tortoise back in the same cunning coin. The animals followed the tortoise back to his place everyday for weeks until the learned the code song by heart. 

On the fateful day the executed their plans, the king sent the tortoise on a long errand to a far city. The monkey and the snake went to the tortoise's house and sang in code to the unsuspecting mother who let down the rope ladder thereby granting the monkey access to the house. The monkey got in and pushed mother tortoise from the house to her death. The animals served her up for dinner and served the tortoise who ate with relish.

On getting home, he sang himself hoarse and realized what had happened. 

The moral of the story?
a) nothing
b) political
c) religious
d) a lesson in story telling

Monday, November 28, 2016

The sum of all fears (1)

I have a poor habit that means I rarely take notes, pictures and generally document things especially as they happen.

  • At work (there were insights I could have shared - from the office to the field experience)
  • In school (my sojourn through the city of Dubai could have been better documented)
  • At home (when we moved houses, the progression was very slow but sure. It'd be good to have captured many more memories)
  • In business (I took it for granted that I'd remember how far I had come from the beginning. Most of the pictures I took were either for troubleshooting or specifically because someone asked - you know how they say 'pictures say it all')
This is hardly intentional. At least in the first two instances, I planned to give 'live' commentaries on my day-to-day not-so-normal-routine, but life happened! Honestly, life happened big time. 

At work, the romance was quickly over. Sea sickness, 12-hour shifts, time zone changes, food wahala, the real business of the day - namely working in a dynamic environment, with people of diverse cultures, bad bosses and not-so-nice colleagues, having to do this everyday for at least 5 weeks at a time - then press repeat! So, nope. My feeble attempts to keep the memories alive and keep you 'posted' died a quick death beneath the reality called life.

In school, I was sure I had it all covered. I hadn't had a bad enough experience with learning yet. So even if this wasn't going to be a walk in the park, I figured I was up to the task. Then came in lecturers - the good, the bad and the outrightly incoherent
and course works - that made me wonder whether I should quit now or later. It was 'la overwhelming'
and colleagues - some smart asses and some just outright devious 
The usual routine - Sunday to Thursday - was 9am to 5pm lectures with a one hour lunch break; and expected something like 20hour per week after school hours. Haba! I cooked most of my food while in school and the shopping mall wasn't a 'quick dash'. I had to do laundry too, eat for goodness' sake and of course pretend socialize - sleep was a natural offshoot of tired brain. Where was I supposed to get at last 4 hours everyday from? Plus I am a slow coach in these things. I was lost and panicky and a lot of other discouraging things. Blogging or taking frequent pictures wasn't on my list of things to do to survive this ordeal.

The common denominator through all these was, I was too busy dealing with the specifics that life sent my way that I forgot to 'smell the roses' - namely take pictures and make the best memories I could all the time. The good news is I plan to redeem myself somehow. I'd stretch my photographic memory and bring back as many 'highlights' as I can. So I say .... WATCH THE SPACE 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sameness of things

A popular belief is that: The more things change the more they become the same.

There is more than just an iota of truth in this and something happened yesterday that makes the above saying more relatable.

I had a conversation with an acquaintance which was so dated it got me furious with myself.
The kind of conversation I haven't had in a long time.
The kind that I have since concluded is a pointless battle of the sexes if you are not having it with a rational version of your better half. Pointless in a very disheartening way.
That kind that even fellow women will disagree and scorn your audacity to think/talk like that.

It's not about being feministic or any other label. Although I don't shy from being called a feminist - but to me, it is being realistic and questioning the way things are (especially when it comes to human relationships) with a view to understanding the real reasons we do what we do.

For the record, I don't dislike guys. I have more guy friends than girls and my best buddies are predominantly male. This is despite the fact that I went to a female-only school for 6 years. But am yet to understand the dynamics that go into marriage such that many-a-woman goes through it feeling short changed. I'm getting ahead of myself so I'd try and present the conversation that irked me so without being colorful.

It began with general talk about how the day went: I had done some laundry and run some other errands - so in summary it had been busier than my average day. I mentioned that I'm one of those people that take forever to do laundry the hand wash way so I was grateful for washing machines which gave me some time to do other things.... and I was ready to move on. Mr acquaintance sounding like I am incredulous says: You sound snobbish. I wash my clothes by hand. What are you going to do when you get married and your husband bans washing machine in the house? I bet you will wash his clothes and yours.
I should have shut the conversation down right there. But I couldn't believe my ears - honestly? Does the guy not have money to buy a washing machine? Then that is a different matter 'cos if I do, I'd buy one. If not, I guess we'd have to pay to get the bulk of the laundry done.
At which he bullheadedly goes: No! The guy has the money to but refuses to buy a washing machine for his wife. And there is no option of going to the laundromat or dry cleaners.

It became apparent that I was talking to the antithesis of my ideal men - Men, because I've met or read about men who don't have it all put together but try. The mindset Mr acquaintance was carrying about was archaic at best. He mentioned some use of violence and did not give any reason whatsoever why a man would deny his wife the comforts that modern day technology has provided that is within his means - just because he could.

After a few minutes of trying to shame me into cowing under the guise of 'I'm sure you are joking', I finally shut down the conversation. I kicked myself mentally for many long minutes after that conversation because in all honesty and without meaning to be mean to him, he is a non-issue. He is not my problem and I wish his future wife all the best. Yucks! Really, I am disgusted.

In conclusion, I had told him that I don't even have friends like him. My friends don't all agree with my sometimes extreme take on things but I bet you that 99% of those I call friends will feel as disgusted as I felt. Maybe I'd never talk about this from the perspective of a married person, maybe when I get married I'd not be such a hardliner - maybe I'd even do a radical 360, maybe my friends actually think I am an unrealistic fool who refuses to get with the program called 'a man's world'...whatever the case is let this be me saying exactly how I feel about lazy men that hide under the excuse of 'ego', 'tradition', 'religion', 'false superiority' - and the list is inexhaustive - to lord it over their wives. I pray that I never cross paths with such backward people again.

Thank God for those articulate enough to say it as I think it. Thank God for Mrs Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (insert Husband's name)