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Quick fixes

Have you ever searched for a way to temporarily mend equipment or quickly solve a difficult problem?
Have you had to quickly solve a difficult problem? Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Have you ever searched for a way to temporarily mend equipment or quickly solve a difficult problem? When you own and operate a farm, it happens all the time. My dad was a master. He could strap down, piece together, wire up, snip, fabricate and hold at bay anything he needed. I've watched the man construct a cattle gate from nothing more than some binder twine, a stick, and three nails.

Nonetheless, I think we've all faced this problem at one point or another. Some repair ideas are ingenious, such as when a friend fixed a failing tailpipe on my car by strapping it up with an old Campbell's soup can and two clamps.

Others are born of necessity, like when I had to park my boyfriend's manual transmission Trans AM on a hill so I could get it rolling from the open door, lunge into the driver's seat, and pop the clutch to start it. That wasn't easily accomplished in stilletos, but I managed. Then, when it roared to life, there was an added bonus: the thrill of accomplishment and a throng of impressed onlookers. At least, I think they were impressed. Perhaps they were thinking, "Who's the knucklehead pushing a car in a dress?"

Another perfect example of patching something up to keep it past its prime is a lawnmower my husband, Tom, tenderly cares for. That lawnmower is older than me, which is pretty bloody old if you think about it. The thing's an antique! I am a little bitter, though. I don't believe he’s ever once patted me on the head and said, "Good job, honey," like he does with his garden equipment.

However, I have to say Tom is a handy guy. He recently repaired my shoe by cutting a lump of plastic from some old roof racks and shaping it to resemble the missing heel with his pocket knife. He then stuck it in place with a glob of glue, named after a giant ape, and used a black felt marker to match the colour. Ingenious right? Of course, I did run into a bit of trouble when it rained, and I was forced to walk through several puddles to make an appointment. (Dripping black ink across a bank floor isn’t cool.) Also, the heel was ever-so-slightly thicker, causing me to walk with a decided limp, but that's beside the point. It worked!

Here's the ultimate in acting on the spur of the moment to save the day. Once, when I was riding home in the work truck with my boss, Dave, and several other men, he lurched to a halt on Highway 16. Leaping from the vehicle, he barreled across 4-lanes of traffic and a wide median, clutching a coffee cup and thermos to his chest.

What the heck?

Then I saw the problem. The back seat of a westbound car was on fire, and people were huddled on the pavement, wringing their hands in despair! Without a thought for personal safety, my fearless boss pounded up to the scene and dashed the contents of both containers on the blaze, quenching the flames and saving the day. (It was a big thermos).

Of course, just before he tossed away a perfectly good cup of coffee, he paused beside the fearsome flare to hastily glug down one last swallow. That’s not only a fine example of a quick fix, it’s also a thirst-quenching and economical use of java.

Well done!

Helen Row Toews is an author and humorist, works as EA and school bus driver, and carries a license to drive anything on wheels. She grew up and still resides on the family farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan. Helen feels privileged to entertain and bring her readers a smile with her columns and books entitled Prairie Wool. She’s also written a fantasy series for young adults called Runestaff Chronicles. To contact Helen or check out her books, please go to