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I am a sucker for tools. I never saw one I did not want. I can go down the tool aisle in a box store as slowly as other women go down the Nordstrom’s shoe racks. Some women get jewelry but I get tools. How either of us wear them speaks volumes about us.

When I inventoried my tools after the fire, I discovered how many there were. Most people, like I did, collect tools over the span of years. I imagine a new carpenter might go to the store with a list like going to the grocery store but most DYIers like me got a one tool here and two there until there is almost no room left in the garage for a car.

My tools crept up on me like pounds at Christmas. Each new project need a specialized tool and soon my tool box became boxes and those beget Rubbermaid tubs of tools.

When I did the major remodel on our now deceased house in 2010-2011, I amassed an impressive array of tools for painting, tiling and lighting. I had dry wall tools. I buckets for concrete mixing and to mix grout. I had one grout bucket for light-colored grout and one for dark grout. I had three drills and an impact driver. I had 5 gallon buckets with tool carriers. I had not one but three professional tarps for painting. I had an orbital sander and a beautiful professional tool belt.

In 2011 and 2012 I took on landscaping of our house in the dry-mountain desert. More tools. We placed 500 pounds of rubber mulch and 5 tons of decorative rocks and gravel. I got a nice wheel barrow out of that.

Gravel placed, I started building garden features. I built a trail that was the home of bird feeding stations. I put up an arbor and placed a bench. I  thought I was through with the building and could enjoy the maintenance of our carefully selected native plants. Ney, we were tripping over drip hoses and shovels, on buckets of dirt and organic fertilizer, on trowels and deer fences. We needed tool storage or we were going to kill ourselves on my trip hazards. After a noxious amount of comparison shopping, I selected a potting bench, a rolling garden tool cart and a garden wagon. I organized my gardening tools and life was tidy, or so I thought.

It might have been trying to store the 5 foot tall stakes for the deer fence but I realized we had not solved my tool storage problem. As I though on the solution, my mind alighted on the pile of wood in the garage left from an undertaken, but not finished project a decade earlier. I could redeem that shameful DYI-gone-bad project by using the lumber to build a large cabinet. I designed the cabinet around the location and the wood we had. The cabinet fit under the eves of the house and not to impede our view, projecting no farther than the edge of the corner of our log house. Although only 10 inches deep, it was 12 feet tall and 14 foot long. Its position under the eves required that I build it on the ground and affix the wobbly thing to the house.

More tools. I sent my spouse to Lowes to buy an inexpensive corded circular saw and he returned with a bag of cordless lithium battery tools. I dreamed of ni-cad cordless tools and did not even know lithium batteries existed. My spouse told me the salesman had said the lithium battery was the wave of the future.

After I got over my shock and he overcome my protestations, I picked up the jig saw and snapped the lithium battery in place. It was sublime. It was like the first taste of a chocolate eclair, the slightly chewy pastry encasing silken vanilla pudding with chocolate icing on top cementing the relationship of pudding with pastry. One has to stop and savor tastes like that. My lithium jigsaw was an eclair. I stood there with my eyes closed and savored the moment.

Then the fire came and my tools went (A Needle is Not a Needle…). Over the past year and a half since the fire I have accumulated an astonishingly large number of tools. Right after the fire I purchased a basic workshop of tools and a shiny red rolling tool cabinet that sports a reduced price, display rack dent in the middle. People have given me tools. For Christmas the year after the fire, my sister and her daughter gave me a small pink tool bag. This year my spouse gave me a professional tool belt in pink, not flashy jewlery. I have pink tape measures that cause eye rolls. I also have “he man” tools so no one takes me as a pink powder puff. I suppose I don’t need tools to establish that but I do get a kick out of drawing my 19.5 volt extended life battery Porter Cable impact driver out of the pocket of my pink tool belt. When I snap on a 2 inch drill bit no one argues with me.

I will wear my tools and leave the jewelry to others. With my 19.5 volt extended battery life power tools and a pink tool belt I know I can look good. Now, all I need to do is prove that I can use those tools. As I survey with trepidation the projects I have taken on for this house, I think I will be my toughest audience.

looking into a bathroom at the batutub where there is a stepstool. White bre-foot footprints lead from the tub

This is my favorite self-portrait. I was sanding grout in my bathtub surround when the phone rang. I carefully stepped off the ladder and out of the tub to grab the phone. The steps dislodged the towel I had been carrying in my pocket. My foot prints coming from the tub into the bedroom grew lighter and lighter and made me think of life emerging from the primordial slime. It felt about like that when I had to clean up the mess I made on the floor.