Mr. Handsome likes to invent things to make life simpler. He always says he should’ve been born in—
Wait. What period was it? Hang on a sec while I call him up on the phone:
Me, with zilch introduction: You always said you should’ve been born in a different time period. What was it?
Me: Just answer the question.
Him: I don’t know. The eighteen hundreds, or the colonial period.
Him: I don’t know. Do we have to have this conversation right now?
Him: I guess we do. Uh, because my skill set is suited for that period? I don’t know. Don’t quote me.
Irritated pause. Banging hammer in the background.
Him: Is that it?
Me: Yep! Thanks. Bye.
So there you have it: the colonial period.
A small sample of his inventions include:
1. When we lived in Nicaragua we were practically back in colonial times. We built our house with nary a power tool in sight. (This means we sawed the beams by hand. And we planed the beams by hand. Our hands just about fell off.) We had to haul our water from a well that was 100 yards away, down in a ravine, and instead of doing what the other men did when they got stuck with the women’s work of carrying water—they hauled it in five-gallon buckets, the heavy buckets bouncing awkwardly against their legs (the women carried buckets on their heads)—my inventive husband crafted a wooden yolk to wear across his shoulders, a rope dangling down from each end and a bucket hooked to the end of the rope. He carried hundreds upon hundreds of buckets of water that way.
2. Also in Nicaragua, we had a hammock by our bed for Baby Yo-Yo. Mr. Handsome strapped a belt to it so that we could lay down and rest while periodically tugging on the belt to keep the baby asleep, or to make him go back to sleep. I liked that one.
3. Currently, my concrete counter top has a drain hole in it underneath the drainer. This way I don’t need the (so often moldy, slimy, gunked-up) rubber mat that drainers sit on. I can just set my soppy dishes directly into the drainer and the water drips down onto the counter and then runs into the little drain hole. It’s one of my favorite things about my kitchen.
Those are just three random examples. There are dozens more.
Note: Not all of our life is ease and comfort. Among the many glitches is our stairless attic. To get to the third floor (storage space only), a person (never me, always Mr. Handsome) has to shimmy up through the little hole in the ceiling using whatever is at hand—door/chimney/oddball furniture—to give a boost up. It’s crazy difficult and drives me mad when I think about it for too long.
Another area that Mr. Handsome likes to fiddle with and improve upon is My Kitchen At Canning Time.
(Alert! Alert! Random, totally off-track thought: Is Mr. Handsome’s name sexist? I always hate it when men refer to their wives as “my beautiful wife,” as though that’s their main asset. But yet I’ve gone and named my husband based on his appearance. So I must be sexist? Discuss.)
Back to canning and Mr. Husband (the Handsome One).
We often butt heads over his constant piddling with my methods (ha! we’re buttheads!), but lots of times it works out fine. And it’s only fair that he has a say in the canning process seeing as he does fifty percent of the work (or more), depending on the project at hand. He hooks up hoses so I can have (hot, sometimes) water on the porch, moves tables around, creates makeshift tarp roofs to keep out the sun, and so on. Last year when we did applesauce he came up with a new apple-coring method. (His apple-cutting/smashing method wasn’t as successful. You can’t win them all!)
Last Saturday morning, applesauce-making day, I ran errands in town, leaving Mr. Handsome at home to set up the whole process. The night before (while I was living it up in town with my girlfriends, eating enormous dinners and attending a magnificent theater production of Wild Oats), he had already washed the four bushels of apples.
When I returned home mid-morning, already there were bowls of steaming applesauce, kettles of chopped apples burbling away on the stove, and more cooked apples in the process of getting cranked through the mill.
Except they weren’t getting cranked. They were getting drilled.
Eeeeeeee! Eeeeeeee! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
I stared, confused. Mr. Handsome pointed to the mill, his face wreathed in grins. With just one trigger-happy finger, the cooked apples were getting sucked down into the mill and the hot sauce came pouring down the shoot.
This is what happens when carpenters make applesauce.
We got the applesauce done in record-time this year—about nine hours total. All the kids worked hard—hauling buckets of water, running more jars up from the basement, squeezing the drill, filling and lidding jars, cutting apples—but this kid busted his tail all day long.
I didn’t touch a knife the entire day and I never even stirred a kettle of apples. This, my friends, is my definition of progress.
*Some of the photos courtesy of Yo-Yo Boy.