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Ramona's Ramblings

Sleight of ‘Hands’ and ‘The Doctor’

Ramona Jan
Posted 11/9/21

My daughter runs a business restoring old windows. This season she took on an additional project restoring shutters belonging to an 1899 Dutch-built mansion. She very wisely (not!) recruited me to …

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Ramona's Ramblings

Sleight of ‘Hands’ and ‘The Doctor’


My daughter runs a business restoring old windows. This season she took on an additional project restoring shutters belonging to an 1899 Dutch-built mansion. She very wisely (not!) recruited me to hire and work side-by-side with the new help.

I advertise for assistance on the yahoo group, Upper Delaware Community Network. Several people reply and interviews are held by phone. I was probably politically incorrect in asking the very first caller his age. Chris hesitates before telling me he’s 57. He probably thinks he’ll be cut from the running but, in fact, I’m thrilled. We’ll talk about the same TV shows and maybe even music! That and a willingness to show up, are my only criteria. Without further ado, Chris is hired.

Neither of us has ever before restored shutters. In general, I’m an all-around tinkerer and Chris, who in ‘real life’ directs plays and movies, and works from time to time as an actor, has had prior experience building sets for theatrical productions. Together we take charge of all shutter components—rods, staples, wooden pins, louvers, rails and styles—but it’s Chris who moves through the restoration with an amazingly rapid sleight of hand. I dub him Hands and the adventure continues.

Each day, someone in a partly repainted white Ford Crown Victoria, circa 2000 drops Hands off. Eventually, Hands confesses that he doesn’t own a car, and it’s his older brother who’s driving him. It occurs to him to ask, “Do we need any more help?” Older brother? Absolutely!

Soon Hands and his brother, Jon, are showing up three days a week and always, btw, on time. Jon brings an additional set of skills. Whereas Hands and I like making broad strokes with a paint brush, Jon gravitates toward the tedious stuff—reassembling each shutter louver by louver and then reattaching each louver to the shutter rod using the finest staples. Because the work requires the use of all sorts of miniature pliers, it reminds me of dentistry and so I nickname Jon, The Doctor. Dr. Jon Zon to be specific. When he weds, he’s considering taking his fiancé’s name. Both brothers are engaged to be married.

Each day, as I cross the parking lot, I can already hear these two highly verbal brothers engaging, not in your average dialog, but instead in fitful arguments—friendly ones, I suppose. Their voices permeate the very walls of the building as they openly fight about almost…everything; the subtleties of beer brewing, the proper etiquette around germs, the correct way to bake chicken, what to do about rattlesnakes, garden snails and slugs, politics, where to buy a car, musical tastes, the weather, Bowie’s image—right and wrong—on each of his album covers, even women’s issues. As much as they bicker, it never seems to destroy their love for each other.

“I’m not wasting my time,” yells The Doctor after being accused by Hands of time wasting, “It’s my time to waste.”

“They don’t teach civics anymore. Why would you want an informed public?” hollers one to the other. I forget who started it, but the argument ensues while ambient, and only ambient, music played.

“I refuse to be treated like a dog,” shouts The Doctor when it’s suggested for one reason or another that he sit on the porch during a gathering of sorts.

The amount of subject matter covered in half a day is astounding. Most of the time I just listen. Once in a while, I’ll interject though I don’t ever want to be caught in the crossfire. Hands and The Doctor are both quite amusing. Their energy level and strong work ethic is unmatched. For me, Mondays are now only a stepping stone to the arrival of Tuesdays when Hands and The Doctor grace me with their effervescent intelligence, strong opinions and vibrant problem solving. Sometimes I think they may just save us all.


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