During the spring of our pandemic lockdown, my husband nearly wore a hole in the carpet.
“Maybe a project would be good?”
I always have twenty twelve projects going all over the house. Over by the TV, three books I am reading and maybe never finishing. In the yoga/art room, rocks and canvases waiting to be painted. Take a peek outside—potting projects, seeds to be planted, compost to be turned. Turn on the computer and I may have any number of writing projects in stages of completion.
My husband is a one-project-at-a-time kinda guy. Ridiculous. How do you go thing-to-thing-to-thing?
“We have all those recycled bottles I was saving for a garden border, and we talked about a garden wall.” He nodded and disappeared into the garage. I cranked up the Michael Franti and danced in the kitchen making tea.
He appeared five minutes later, “I need to go to the hardware store, are they open yet?” This was when everything was shut down and we were trying to be safe and responsible. He went anyway.
This was a craft emergency.
No judgment, we survive how we can.
After hours of Pinterest research and YouTube tutorials, he was ready. Sort of.
In all my experience (none), I was definitely (mostly) sure he should make the frame flat on the ground, drill holes for the metal rods, and thread the bottles on. Pinterest said so. He decided against my perfect plan.
I retired to the bedroom to nap. I did so much napping last spring, I am now really, really good at it.
Craft Guide Advice #1: Let your partner do their project however they choose. If they want advice, that’s what YouTube is for.
My husband and I agree, The YouTubes don’t take it personal when you don’t listen to them, they don’t complain when you do it wrong, and mostly they don’t argue with you.
So he drilled and cleaned nearly a hundred bottles in the basement and the ones that survived the drilling were ready to be threaded on the iron rods to make the wall. Wine bottles, kombucha bottles, bottles from neighbor’s recycling bins.
At the start of the lockdown, wine and champagne bottles were plentiful as our neighbors prepared for the apocalypse. By the summer, the recycling bins overflowed with crunched Bud cans.
Craft Guide Advice #2: No sense in rushing things. If the craft project gets done, then what are you gonna do?
After months of drilling and cleaning recycled bottles, he was ready. Sort of.
I sat in the living room, pretending to read my three books and trying not to watch him not measure.
Craft Guide Advice #3: Practicing the art of slow, mindful breathing helps.
I didn’t say a thing when the wall went up and immediately leaned to the left. I just inhaled and exhaled.
We shoved rocks under the wall to keep it straight. My eyes were drawn to the rows of unevenly spaced iron rods. I am that kind of neurotic person who has to straighten picture frames and rugs when I walk by. I mean, I. have. to. Sitting at the patio table and noticing the uneven spaces was causing a twitch in my left eye.
So much breathing.
Craft Guide Advice #4: Remember that sincere compliments go a long way. After all, this isn’t the Craft Olympics.
I told my husband how much I loved that he had placed right at eye-level a favorite bottle, one that we shared for our anniversary. Also, I did love the way the evening light made the bottles glow. But then my eyes would drift to the uneven spaces again.
I avoided looking too much at the crooked wall.
Then one day, I noticed a hummingbird at the butterfly bush that had pushed between the bottles. That busy nectar collector made me pause and notice nasturtium wound around the metal poles and blooms between the bottles.
I felt my innards calm. I let my gaze flow slowly over my husband’s loving gift to our garden and to me. I smiled, grateful for how this wall was becoming part of our garden in a lovely, lopsided way. Still crooked, but beautiful. Just as a COVID-time craft project should be.