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I'm having to spend a lot of time lately assembling things. And as most everyone knows, no good can possibly come of that.

Let's take note here: I said assembling, not building or making, because building or making would imply, armed with nothing but a few simple tools and my will and grit, I created something new and unique out of the earth's bounty.

I put together a barbecue grill. And a collection of baby toys. I mean, yeah, the Golden Gate Bridge is cool, too. But how is it at leaving steaks pink in the middle but not raw and not too dry?

Apparently, based on conversations, this flurry of "assembling" isn't unique to the Smith Construction Site and Development Zone. Given the state of the world – namely, locked away, staring out the windows and cursing our fate and certain microbes – we're suddenly all into home improvement.

And, given the spike in bike sales, a little personal improvement, as well. But that's another discussion.

If we can't get out, well, we're all going to make "in" a little bit better.

For most of us, that's just fine and dandy. A little yard work never hurt anyone (unless you count blisters. And sunburn. And aching muscles. And bug bites. And the fact that, if I'm going to sweat this much outside, there better be a golf club involved.). And while the smell of paint in the morning doesn't smell like victory, it does smell like the dining room looks a little better.

For some of us, however, "assembling" requires a skill set that we may not have, a fact we continue to evidence with each and every project.

Exhibit A: a collection of used Band-Aids since I cut myself on a barbecue grill. Yes, it can be done.

Backing up here. I managed to slice my finger (barely) on the sharp edge of the side of a grill (yes, there are sharp edges of a barbecue; you just have to look for them) because I'm pretty clumsy and because I take sort of a casual attitude toward reading directions. Mostly because they always tell you to read through the directions once completely before you start the project, and that's not likely because I don't even see the same movie more than once.

Except "The Godfather." And all the Bourne movies. Though with those, I'm not sure if I'm watching lots of movies more than once or the same movie lots of times.

Since I don't read directions, I tend to bust ahead with projects, figure out I did something incorrectly and have to disassemble whatever I just assembled, which is often infinitely harder and brings you in contact with sharp edges.

I will say reading the directions on the grill wouldn't have done much good, since, apparently due to either a printing error or someone's odd sense of humor, after the first page, they were in French. Or Spanish. Or both at the same time for all I know.

Now, the grill was for a hobby I'll try to sell as something good for the family. I mean, sure, I'm out in the yard by myself cooking food I like more than anyone else because, well, basically, I want to. But, good for the family!

The baby stuff, is, of course, another, bigger deal. Seems the Littlest Princess (our newest granddaughter) comes to our house at least once each week to be babysat (OK, horribly spoiled and cooed over, but let's call that babysitting). And, of course, she needs more toys than an FAO Schwarz plus the odd (yep) assortment of beds and high chairs and those strange rolling things with toys on them.

And with that, the pressure amps up. I mean, mess up a grill and the chicken gets a little crispy. Mess up a baby toy and you're going to have a real problem on your hands. Along with your head, thanks to the Lovely Mrs. Smith.

It doesn't help that directions tend to start with some version of "improper installation can result in injury, tragedy and generally every and all bad things you can possibly imagine. So, let's get started, shall we?"

So far, and apparently, both the grill and that boatload of toys and things are working. No tragedies involving steaks, and obviously, since I'm still alive to write this, you know the baby is just fine.

But the longer this pandemic thing goes on, the more "projects" I see on the horizon. How bad can it get? Well, I cut myself on a grill. The sky is, literally, the limit.

Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.

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