A Really Good Day

Yesterday was a really good day. Which may seem weird, because I woke up to two feet of snow blocking my driveway. My heat went out. I ripped half of one of my toenails off. I was insulted for being a girl… twice.

Days are like that sometimes. On paper it looks like a total shitshow, but in reality… couldn’t be better. There’s probably some kind of moral about having the right perspective in there, but honestly, I’m not feeling that philosophical right now. And just look how pretty it is…


That’s… my driveway. Um. Somewhere in there.

But really, the story of my awesome day doesn’t start out with a pretty Monday morning sunrise. It starts Saturday, when I was bound and determined to get the tile board installed in the upstairs bath, like I said I was going to.

(Well, you know, technically it probably started three years ago–to the day, if you’re reading this on the 4th–when I happened to drive by this house for the first time… and then bought it online while sitting in a bar. But that’s getting a little too nostalgic for a Tuesday night, and I’m saving all that up for the 3 year anniversary of closing on the house next month.)

Anyway, Saturday. Tile board.

I knew there was a reason I was avoiding this project… because it seemed like it was going to be easy. That’s a huge red flag. Any time it seems like it’s going to be easy, very frustrating things are about to happen to you.

In my case that meant that farm chores plus a full social schedule put me behind, and I only had one hour to get as much tile board hung in the tub surround as possible. (If you follow on the good book, twitter, or instagram you saw real-time updates of this fiasco in progress…)

First step was putting furring strips on the wall because the original drywall had been furred out to fit the smaller-than-normal tub that was here before. First mistake was that I used the exact same size furring strips that had been there before…


Then I tried to wrestle the board in place…


Then realized because of the old odd-sized tub and all of the ensuing wall-drama, I was going to have to shave a half-inch off this thing to get it to fit. There is nothing more annoying than trying to take a thin strip off of drywall or cement board, like this. My oscillating saw was nearby though, and this actually was way easier than scoring-and-snapping.


Then, after it was cut to size, I managed to install the first board While balancing on the edges of the tub, and using my hip to strategically hold everything in place while driving the screws…


This worked, and for about 30 seconds I looked at the tile board hung on the wall with an immense feeling of satisfaction…

Then I realized I’d misjudged the width of the tile board vs. the old drywall, and instead of being flush, the board was inset 1/4″. (Basically, wrong size furring strips.) And since I was out of time, I had to take the tile board down and it wasn’t going back up that day.

Progress made Saturday: 0

Then Sunday I decided the only way to make appreciable progress in the bathroom was to hold the only bottle of wine in the house hostage.


The last comment on that photo is from my trainer… dude has been working with me a couple of times a week for a year and a half now, and not only is he a saint for putting up with my shit for that long, he also totally has my number.

So after I cut new furring strips, got everything in place, went to screw the board in again, and then realized…


These screws were not long enough to go through the tile board, furring strips, and drywall, and sink securely into the studs. And there was already a foot of snow on the ground preventing me from going to get different screws… I decided to have a damn glass of wine anyway.

But I paid the price for it.

imageThere are so many lessons to be learned there about wine and screws and not making bets with your trainer. I don’t intend to learn any of them.

Progress made Sunday: 0

Instead I went to bed, and woke up Monday morning with three-foot snow drifts between me and civilization. Or even just like… the barn.


After last year, I’ve been through this enough times to know how the story goes. It starts pulling up my big-girl Carhartts and doing a lot of shoveling just to get the barn door open so I can get to the tractor…


But, you know, it was sunny, the wind wasn’t blowing, and all that shoveling was a great way to loosen up my arms from all the penance-pushups from the night before…


Then I got to spend a couple of hours breaking in the tractor for its first time plowing snow….


I managed to put in a full day of work from my home office, shovel my way to the barn, plow my driveway, and was just about to congratulate myself on a good days work with a hot shower and maybe another glass of wine (and 20 more pushups) when my heat went out.


This house is heated with fuel oil, and monitoring the tank is more of an art than a science. I also must have burned through 400 gallons in 5 weeks, which is definitely a record, so I wasn’t expecting to have to watch it that closely for another week or two.

But I couldn’t even get irritated about this because I was so relieved that the tank didn’t go empty until I was already plowed out and able to go get some diesel to keep things running. So I popped my collection of gas cans in the back of the truck, headed out to the nearest gas station (a good 20 minutes away) and then figured, what the hell, I’m out driving around anyway, might as well stop by Lowe’s and get the right fasteners for the tile board.

(I also may have stopped at the liquor store, because… backup wine.)

Anyway, in the space of about 15 minutes between the liquor store and the gas station, one asshole called me “sweetheart” and another one wolf-whistled and shouted “looks like you’re a working girl” across the parking lot as I’m hauling cans of diesel into the back of my truck. You can see my response to that nonsense here.

And I joke about delivering a well-deserved ass kicking now and again–step foot on my property without an invitation and it’ll stop being a joke realquick— but for the most part, here’s how I really respond to shit like that…

I go home after a day of shoveling and plowing and doing my actual day-job, and I haul 25 gallons of diesel out to the take to get the heat back on, and then strip out of my Carhartts, walk straight up to my upstairs bathroom, and install those dammed pieces of tile board.


Because I understand that when someone tries to patronize me for any reason– because I’m a girl, or because I’m short, or because I’m young(ish), or because I don’t fit their idea of what another person should be– well, that shit is coming from a small person, with a small mind. And I can guarantee that someone like that would never have the fortitude, the confidence, or the strength of spirit to do the awesome things I do, even on my worst day.

And that’s the kind of shit that comes together to make one really good day.

27 Responses

  1. Yep, perspective.

    I hear that shit and think….
    ‘I am NOT the Jackass Whisperer’
    ….and move on with my day.

    Gotta ask……Why is your mower still attached?

  2. I have spent my life being non-stereotypical. My degree is in construction management. I have sold auto parts and managed said store for 20 years. I can’t tell you how many times I have been called, “honey” “sweetie” “babe”. Every time it makes my skin crawl. I have had customers ask, on the phone, numerous times “Can I talk to one of the guys?”. I try to let it roll off my back, but I am going to need to remember the “small person, small mind”.
    Thank you for helping break the stereotype! You rock!

  3. You get that kind of talk when you’re a girl in the I.T. world too. I once saw a t-shirt that said “I *AM* the I.T. guy.” But fortunately I’ve been at my current job long enough that most people have stopped assuming that I don’t know what I’m doing and actually prefer me over my male counterparts (because in addition to technology skills, I also have communication skills and empathy!) So yeah, we do things #likeagirl!

  4. not to sound super weird or anything.
    but i want to be your best friend hahahaha.
    I want to learn all of this awesome stuff from you and figure out how to even BEGIN installing all of the things that you do – i basically attempt things and die trying in the process. 🙂
    which is why i come to your blog, read, and walk away thinking, yes…i am she-beast, hear me roar! 🙂

  5. Congratulations on the tile board! One step closer to your Calgon moment.
    I don’t have the constitution you have dealing with snow related chores. My muscles tense up just thinking about walking to the car. I was wondering, is there some sort of outdoor electric heating pad that would work to keep the area by he barn door free of snow?
    Good luck with the rest of the bathroom.

  6. I work out of an office all day long. People are used to seeing me looking all “business casual”. I got my first pair of carharrts not long after we bought our farm this fall. I kid you not when I say that nearly every male that has come to the house and seen me wearing my carharrts has laughed at me. Like, out loud. This list would include my brother, a co-worker, a neighbor, and more. Not sure which would be worse, getting laughed at or being told “looks like you’re a working girl.” Thanks for sharing your story and being so awesome. Boys are dumb.

  7. When I tiled my tub, I put the boards on bottom-up. That way, the tub holds the weight of the first board and the first board holds the weight of the second board.

  8. Love it! Kick that tile board’s ass like a freaking girl!

    I’m often mocked when neighbors walk by and see me in my garage wearing mechanic’s coveralls and wielding some power tool.

    Yeah. Screw you, buddy. Do you build your own furniture? Did you custom route endless linear feet of material for custom designed wainscoting? Did you just finish drywalling the ceiling in your basement? No? As you were, sweet cheeks.

  9. I find it funny that if I walk into my regular Lowes (I practically know the layout by heart), the amount of attention/times I’m asked if I need help depends entirely on what I’m wearing. Paint stained work clothes? I get a polite nod and we both keep walking. A dress and flip flops? Lipstick? I get asked a million times by a very diverse group of employees if I need assistance. Instead of being annoyed, I’m just satisfied in knowing myself- knowing I am both things: Wielder of power tools and rocker of sundresses.

  10. You did Rock the day Kit! Perseverance, determination, the cement board got up, drive got plowed, house got heat, critters got fed & watered…hugged. The cat callers,
    small minded…they be a portion of ppl my
    adopted second niece calls ” stupid humans” a more correct term I can think not of. They have short comings, which is mostly a narrow cranial region. I’m impressed, you got all that done with ass hole deep snow to trudge through to even dig the tractor out then had the discipline to not do a cranial adjustment on the cat calling ass hole with your dry – wall hammer. You got your stuff done, critters happy n fed, drive plowed, screws picked up, walls re-firred (new word) cement board up, some upper core exercise done and saved some ass holes life.
    😉 Fun part to me is next, tile planning and installation. Everyone has their own way but
    I’ve found it easier to start tile board at the tub rim, leveling the top edge going up stacking the next on top.
    Looking forward to see when complete.
    Rock On…

  11. I’ll never forget the time I was checking out a new hardware store in Sylvania (now out of business) and a man said to me “a woman buying paint? Now there’s an oxymoron!” I replied, “look, dude, my husband is a doctor….he makes the money and I do everything else around the house. Trust me, you don’t want my man painting or doing anything else in your house!” (No disrespect to your Uncle Paul. Just speaking the truth here, and he would agree) I wonder where I get that attitude from. Lol. You rock, Kristin, but you already know that!

  12. You go, Kit! I’ve spent the majority of my life being anything but the typical girl. It still rubs my fur the wrong way to be put down because my gender automatically makes me too weak, too dumb, too whatever to do physical labor and calculate angles on a compound miter saw. I love you attitude and your outlook. Keep it up!

  13. A few things come to mind:

    1. Love the patterns on the snow.

    2. The snow reminds me why I don’t miss living in Milwaukee.

    3. I knew you would lose the bet.

    4. Don’t move below the Mason Dixon line. Every female gets called sweetheart-among other things-at least ten times a day. Men are called honey-and other things-about as often.

    But no matter where you live, being patronized feels exactly the same.

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