Renovation & Design

‘Bee' there for someone

A little collective effort can truly brighten someone’s life

Laurie Mustard / Laurie Mustard Productions

Tuques. Hats. Leave them alone and they reproduce!

Laurie Mustard / Laurie Mustard Productions

It really is time to create a zipper that lasts as long as the coat!

So it’s already mid-January, and I consider March to be winter’s end, making it only six weeks till spring, and what a wonderful thing that is!

Humour me on this, will ya?


Sitting here pondering summer and the many outside projects I have waiting for me reminded me of an idea I had while in another media role, and it turned out to be a win-win for all involved.

I asked my audience members to submit names of those whose yard and house really needed some TLC — maybe the fence needed work, the lawn was overgrown and had some junk in it that needed to go, any number of things. At some point, one of the names put forward would be chosen to be the recipient of my idea, which went as follows.

I had put out a call for volunteers with varying skills to offer up their services for one day, me included, when we would all gather at the chosen person’s home for a good old-fashioned “bee.” The goal, for someone who didn’t have the manpower, the skills, the money or the resources was, in one day, to transform their situation from a negative, depressing one, to a positive hopeful state, not only bricks and mortar-wise, but also mentally.

Sometimes, when life gets a little overwhelming, we all need a lift.

And it really helps to know that people care.

I will never forget the faces of that somewhat disadvantaged family at day’s end when the fence was repaired and painted, the lawn and yard cleaned up, a number of minor repairs taken care of, and everyone hanging around for a nice “thank-you” barbecue where a whole group of people who’d been complete strangers at the beginning of the day, just stood around and visited.

It was such a feel-good, rewarding and helpful gesture all the way around. I think I’ll create a Mustard on Everything version of it for this summer. Everyone involved said they’d be happy to do it again anytime, including the local businesses that provided the materials needed, which wasn’t much, but showed great community spirit.

Nice to have an idea that actually works once in a while.

However, no delusion here. It’s nice to look ahead but I’m fully, tragically even, aware there’s still lots of winter left, lots more snow blowing to do.

S’matter of fact, a few days ago, in that lovely -30 C stretch, I had some snow clearing that had to be done, and instead of just a hat, I decided it was tuque time. So I reached up into the top shelf of the seasonal clothes closet, felt around in the pile to find a suitable tuque, couldn’t lay my hands on what I wanted, so I just pulled everything out.

There were some plastic bins up there as well, storing winter-type stuff, most of it which I just don’t need or use.

I eventually found the tuque I wanted, but the experience pushed me back into ponder mode. Just how many tuques, hats, mitts, scarves and so forth does one person need? Then I started thinking about how many hammers I have, and how many screwdrivers, socket sets and measuring tapes. And who needs six Jackall jacks? I mean, I live alone here. Two would suffice. The irony of course is, despite the plethora of whatever it is one needs to have on hand around the house or garage, when you go looking for a specific thing, you can’t find it.

I also discovered in that closet a whole bunch of good jackets and coats with broken or malfunctioning zippers. It seems wrong to discard a really good coat simply because the zipper needs replacing, but that costs more than the coat is worth. So what do you do with them?

And really, how many tuques should one keep? Hats? I give up. Happy weekend.

Comments and column ideas welcome.


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