Duct and Covered!


I am pretty sure that almost everyone has at one time or other been faced with a challenge that only duct tape would meet. I am one of those people. Things that stick to things are good. In fact, at one time I even used contact paper instead of wallpaper to brighten my kitchen–I am just that kind of decorator.

I love duct tape. It’s easy and it works. I am convinced that duct tape and bailing wire would solve the world’s difficulties in no time. Years ago, I lived in a grand little place about five miles away from the mountain community of Wrightwood in California. The little town of Pinon Hills was small–population 500–and I always thought of my house, with its stone fireplace and tiny rooms, as my hobbit house.

My daughter and I took care of six ducks and a goose, a golden retriever dog, my daughter’s horse Spirit, and basic repairs. When you live in the middle of nowhere, you better be a creative “fixer.” I had left my reporter/producer job in Los Angeles and moved to the high desert because I thought it was better for my daughter and me. We basically had to start over. It was fun–most of the time. I was working at a deli in Wrightwood on the weekends and sanding wings on a Burt Rutan composite airplane during the week. I carefully managed our finances and looked for DIY opportunities at every turn. Gathering wood wherever possible was one of the activities I focused on. Winter got cold at 4,000 feet. Whenever I had the chance to get free wood, I took it. I know this has nothing to do with duct tape yet, but it will.

A friend of mine knew I needed wood and said if I worked with him and his friend limbing and rounding a giant fallen fir tree, I could keep my share of the wood. A great opportunity that was about the most tough work I had ever done. And, it probably would have been infinitely easier if my friend and his friend had not been drinking. Whatever work we were doing was instantly doubled as some of the rounds rolled back down into the canyon below. I couldn’t waste the wood, so I went down and towed each of the fallen rounds up the hill. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement.

I finally got back home and was basically catatonic on the couch. My daughter asked, “Mom, are you dead?” and scrambled to get me some warm bowls of soup. Then she broke the news that our air conditioner was teetering off its platform on the backside of the house. It was summer. It was warm in that desert. And something had to be done. The folks who rented to us were out of town, and I was out of ideas. But, just as I had run out of ideas, there it was–a gigantic roll of duct tape. So, I went outside and duct taped every inch of that thing to the platform. That was years ago. It never budged while I lived there, and I am quite sure that it never will.

When my former neighbor, and future husband returned from his fire-fighting work, his eyes bulged out at what I had done. I don’t think he ever got over it. He is one of those perfectionist kind of guys. His garage is categorized and organized and utterly devoid of character. I thought my duct tape solution was genius, of course. To this day, he never lets me fix anything without his guidance. It might be because my next duct tape fixit job was the pipe under the sink–it was leaking, and then it wasn’t. Some people are so particular.