Want Some Cheese With Your Kryptonite?

Happy New Year!  I missed you!

I thought I was doing myself a favour by taking a one-week vacation from blogging, but apparently if I want to retain my sanity I need to interact with people who don’t exist solely inside my head. (And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll be justifiably horrified that this is my version of ‘sanity’.)

But sane or not, I’m grateful to all of you for taking the time to read and interact with me every week – thank you!

This is prime time for New Year’s resolutions, but (as usual) I haven’t made any. I’d love to pretend there’s some noble intellectual reason for that, but the sordid truth is that I avoid making resolutions because of my donkey DNA.

I’ve mentioned before that it forces me to respond to dares, but it also impels me to do the exact opposite to any resolution I make. The instant I resolve never to (fill in unhealthy habit here) or touch another bite of (fill in unhealthy food here), I’ll immediately seek out the prohibited food or activity and binge on it… even if I don’t really enjoy it. I swear I could renounce brussels sprouts and within a day I’d be sneaking away to pig out on them.

Okay, bad example.  I could probably resist brussels sprouts, but everybody has their kryptonite: a substance that renders them weak and utterly helpless. I’ve already confessed my shameful addiction to hortiporn and my ongoing membership in Toolaholics Anonymous, so I won’t revisit those-

…Vegetables! Perfect vegetables and brilliant flowers, and the seeds are so cheap! And tools! Shiny beautiful wrenches and air tools and-

*shakes head and slaps own face vigorously*

Sorry. I’m back now.

You’d think two varieties of kryptonite would be enough, but no; I have several:

  • Ice cream – I’ll eat it any time of the day or night, even when it’s 30-below outside. I’d eat it for every meal if I didn’t know I’d gain so much weight that I wouldn’t fit in my car. And that would prevent me from going out to buy more ice cream, which would totally suck.
  • Cheese – Ditto. Any kind of cheese; or better still, all kinds. I’m particularly partial to stinky ‘robustly-flavoured’ varieties but I love them all, from mild to malodorous to mouldy.
  • Yarn and fabric – I don’t go into those stores anymore. Crossing their thresholds would violate the terms of my parole.
  • Camping/outdoor equipment – Show me anything from a Ka-bar knife to a kayak, and I’ll immediately begin to salivate. It’s pathetic.
  • Outdoor reference books – Want to identify a bird? I have seven bird books. Mushroom? Four volumes. Wildflower? Fish? Animal track? Turd? Yep, yep, yep, and yep! (Do you know how hard it is to find books on identifying animal scat? Sheesh.) And still, any time I travel to a new area I buy a flora and fauna reference book as a souvenir.
  • Potato chips – I can’t even have them in the house. At least not for longer than it takes me to snarf the entire family-sized bag.

You may notice that I’ve omitted beer, chocolate, and rare steaks from the list, but believe it or not, I can actually resist those if necessary. (Most of the time. And I reserve the right to define ‘necessary’.)

What’s your kryptonite?

I Love A Guy With A Big Deck

As you may know, I’m a toolaholic.  Most men are eager to show me their tools, and in fact, they frequently invite me to play with their tools whenever I want.

I’m old-fashioned, though.  As much as I love tools of all shapes and sizes, I really prefer not to handle any but my Hubby’s.  After all, when I’ve got a top-quality tool at home, why would I go out looking for anything else?  You just don’t know where other men’s tools have been.

The other day the conversation turned (again) to tools, and Hubby showed me his deck.  You’d think after nearly fourteen years of marriage it would be old news to me, but what a surprise!

He had gotten one of those deck enlargement kits.

I know, I know.  I used to be a sceptic, too, but now I’ve seen the proof.  This kit really worked.  He used to have a much smaller deck.  It was nice and rigid and it worked well, but everybody knows size does matter.  So he paid the money and got the kit… and now his deck is huge!

When he showed it to me for the first time, I couldn’t keep my hands off it.  After I’d fondled it for a while, he asked if I had any ideas about mounting it.

Boy, did I.

But we were worried we might not be able to use his new deck safely because it’s so big.

We were right.  We had some difficulties with the fit.  And stability was an issue.  Even though it was big and stiff, it tended to shift sideways without warning, particularly if any significant force was applied.  And it was positively dangerous under vigorous use.  Slow and smooth was the only workable option.

We agreed that even though the big deck was impressive, it really wasn’t working as well as his original small deck.  But we both liked the idea of the bigger deck.

So we got creative.  A minor surgical procedure reshaped it to make the tool fit snugly but comfortably in the aperture.  Then we added some extra supports so the deck wouldn’t collapse even if I got careless about how and where I placed my piece.  And he could push as hard and fast as he wanted.

It took a bit of extra effort to get everything working the way we wanted it, but in the end we were glowing with satisfaction.  Now Hubby’s got the biggest deck of any guy I know.  I can use it as often as I want, and it never fails to stand up to even the most enthusiastic use.

I’m so excited, I just have to share the before and after pictures of Hubby’s deck:

Original tiny deck

Original tiny deck

New huge deck

New huge deck

Yeah, it’s a bandsaw deck.  Jeez, what did you think I was talking about?

If, like me, you can’t get enough big decks, here’s one of my favourite comedy routines:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ7Ue5emo6I

Anybody else like big decks?

Toolaholics Anonymous


Hello, my name is Diane, and I’m a toolaholic.

I first realized I might have a problem the day I caught myself whining at my husband because he wouldn’t let me buy a hydraulic engine hoist (it was on sale, too, dammit).

Everybody needs an engine hoist.  I have an engine stand.  How am I supposed to get my engine block off the stand and back into my car without a hoist?  At the time, I rationalized it as reasonable behaviour.  But I knew I’d hit rock-bottom the day I sneaked home with a knife-sharpening kit… and hid it.

Maybe I was feeling guilty because I already have a wet-wheel sharpener for my wood-turning tools.  I’ve used it in the past, but the stone is really too coarse for my good-quality kitchen knives.  And Hubby’s diamond sharpening set doesn’t have a jig, so it’s hard to put a precise angle on the blade.  And I’ve never mastered the art of using the steel to hone knives.  And nothing drives me crazier than a dull knife.

So really, I needed a five-stone sharpening kit with a jig.

My husband is my enabler.  Sometimes he buys me tools for my birthday and for Christmas.  Sometimes he buys me tools “just because”.  Tools are the perfect gift.  They’re beautiful.  They’re shiny.  They’re powerful.  They’re practical.  I need tools.  Everybody needs tools.

I wasn’t always a toolaholic.  When I got married, I only had one set of carpentry tools, one set of kitchen tools, and one set of automotive tools.  My tools were always clean and organized and ready to use.  Hubby had a couple of sets of his own tools.  Everything should have been fine.


I’m a put-it-away-er.  He’s a drop-it-where-you-used-it kinda guy.  So he misplaces tools frequently.  Then he steals mine, because “they’re easy to find”.

Yeah, because I actually put them back where they belong after using them.

Then I go to do some small job and I can’t find my goddamn-sonuvabitch-where-the-hell-are-my-fucking-TOOLS?!?

He’s a resourceful fellow with a well-developed sense of self-preservation, so he solved the problem.  Not by putting my tools back after using them.  Oh, no.  By buying me new tools when he gets in trouble.

For example, we now own at least eleven hammers.  A couple of framing hammers, a couple of ball-peens, a couple of hand sledges, and several multi-purpose claw hammers.  Oh, and a brass one for when you can’t risk striking a spark.  And a rubber one.  Plus three full-size sledgehammers of varying weights.

I still can’t find a hammer when I need one.

The same thing has happened with socket sets and screwdrivers and pliers and drill bits and oil filter wrenches.  I may have actually threatened him with death the day I couldn’t find my nice little ultra-fine flexible Japanese hand saw.  (It still hasn’t turned up, but he bought me another).

After a few years of marriage, I began to stash tools in out-of-the-way places, hoping they’d still be there the next time I needed them.  Then I started buying extra tools “just in case”.  Soon I couldn’t walk into a tool store without buying something.

So really, the tool addiction isn’t my fault.  He drove me to it.

But I can quit any time I want.


Show Me Your Tool

I was struck by an epiphany the other day.  And yes, it left a nasty mark; thanks for asking.  I won’t offer to show you the mark, but the gist of the epiphany was this:  If you’re considering a serious relationship with a man, ask to see his tool first.

It’s not about size.  It’s what he does with it that counts.

If a man refuses to show you his tool, run away.  A man who has no pride in his tool isn’t even worth considering.

If he does show it to you, you can infer a lot by observing the type and condition of his tool.  In particular, get him to show you his torque wrench.  It tells you everything you need to know about him.

In the first place, owning a torque wrench indicates some automotive know-how and a willingness to get his hands dirty.  This is good.  Tread cautiously if he doesn’t own a torque wrench at all.

The cleanliness of the tool is important, but don’t generalize this statement to his box-end wrenches or sockets.  They’re meant to be ingrained with black grease.  In fact, if a guy’s box-end is too clean, watch out.  You may be dealing with a compulsive neat freak.

The torque wrench, however, is a precision instrument, so it should be relatively well-kept.  Is his tool shiny and clean, or caked with nameless grime?  If he doesn’t take care of his tool, don’t let him anywhere near you.

The type of torque wrench is also instructive.

  • Beam-Type:  A beam-type torque wrench is a solid, flexible tool that’s good enough to do most jobs.  Its owner is an easy-going guy who isn’t extravagant.  He cares enough to do the job right, but he won’t drive you insane over tiny details.
  • Click-Type:  A man with a click-type torque wrench offers you a rigid, accurate tool that’s a joy to use and handle.  He will do the job with enthusiastic precision.
  • Electronic:  Ah, the electronic torque wrench.  Yeah, it’s impressive at first glance, but does he know what to do with it?  Some guys can handle these bad boys just fine, but this can also be a sign of anal-retentive pickiness and a tendency to overcompensate.

Brand can be difficult to interpret.  If his tool is Snap-On brand, ask some pointed questions to determine whether he is, in fact, a pit rat at the local track and/or a qualified mechanic.  If the answer is yes, you can relax.  This is a guy with a high-quality tool, and he knows how to use it.  This is the way life should be.

But if he’s just a backyard mechanic, a premium brand like Snap-On could go either way.  On one hand, he might be a spendthrift who’s hung up on brands and status symbols.  On the other hand, he might have lots of money and appreciate the finer things in life.  Tough call, but consider this:  a guy with a Snap-On tool is pretty much every woman’s dream.

I have both a beam-type and a click-type, and I’m not going to speculate what that says about me.  But here’s some free advice for my male readers, too:  If you find a woman who owns any kind of torque wrench, it means she knows how to handle tools, and she’ll know how to appreciate a good one when she finds it.

You can thank me later.