Today the Goat and I spent the entire morning sanding the floor of the front porch prior to repainting it, and I am thankful for two things: 1) power tools, and 2) the fact that sanding the porch didn’t require graph paper like building it did.

Generally the Goat and I make the perfect do-it-yourself team. I think up the “what,” and he figures out the “how to.” Painting, refinishing doors and woodwork, knocking down walls, digging flower beds, and the like aren’t a big deal, and both of us escape more or less unscathed unless you count broken fingernails, ragged cuticles, bruised shins, creaky knees, aching backs, assorted scratches and splinters, and the occasional smashed thumb. But other projects–like actually building something–require graph paper, and that’s where the problems start.

I’ll get a very simple idea, and before I know it, my dearly beloved Goat gets out the graph paper, and with it comes the protractor, the compass, the  ruler, the calculator, and–gasp–the mechanical pencil. I, myself, am incapable of using a mechanical pencil. They make me nervous, and, as a result, I get a death grip on the shaft and press down ten times harder than necessary. I can go through a box of lead faster than a Sea World walrus goes through a bucket of fish. Part of the problem is that I know the appearance of a mechanical pencil in the Goat’s hand means that I will eventually be on the receiving end of a long-winded dissertation about how my little idea won’t work, during which, at some point, my eyes will glaze over while my brain heads off to Tahiti.

At the end, when I’m jerked back to reality, my by-now not-so-dearly-beloved Goat will look at me with profound pity and expound at great length about his failure to understand why, when I have an art degree, I can’t “see” the end project as indicated by all the chicken scratches his mechanical pencil has made on his graph paper. When that happens, I try to get back to Tahiti. If he’s being particularly condescending about it (he would say he never uses that tone), I might lovingly point out it’s an art degree, not an engineering degree, and that, anyway, I got it back in the Sixties, when everything was all loosey-goosey and that my art professors espoused the “organic” concept of creating art, which said a project was finished when it looked finished and not to overthink it. My comeback never wins him over to my way of thinking, but at least it shuts him up for a while.