Chimney fiasco illustrates difference between thrift and folly

Chimney fiasco illustrates difference between thrift and folly

There’s a list as long as my arm of tasks around any household for which one might easily hire a professional. Lawn mowing, snow shoveling, tree trimming — pretty much anything that needs to be done can be hired, scheduled and completed with little more effort on your part than writing a check or whipping out a credit card. Heck, you can even pay someone to walk your dog if you’re so inclined.

Most of the folks I run with, however, menfolk in particular, would sooner do the job themselves — or die trying.

When my present project began, I had been moved to action by three factors. First, just like the price of everything these days, the cost of having a professional come out to clean my chimney seemed just a touch on the high side. Second, the earliest the guy could make it out to my place was three weeks in the future. With cold weather closing in fast, I wanted to get that baby burning as quickly as possible. Third and most compelling was the idea I could easily do this job myself, save a lot of money in the process and have the whole mess wrapped up and blowing smoke by the end of the weekend.

Four weeks into the project and I have yet to enjoy a single moment lounging in front of a fire. I have, however, spent hours and hours suffering at the foot of the hearth, sweat beading off of my brow and dripping onto my soot-covered cheeks to streak my face like Alice Cooper in full stage makeup. Covered in ash and breathing like Darth Vader through my particle mask, I have even inspired my own faithful mutt to fear me.

Now don’t believe for a moment I’ve been stuck in the same spot all this time. I am a man of motion and action, and for every one of my actions, Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion has required I suffer an equal and opposite reaction. More simply put: I push the project, and the project pushes back.

We all know exactly who to blame for this fiasco. Sure, I could deflect criticism for my failings and claim myself a victim of “toxic do-it-yourselfism” or some other such nonsense, but that would do little more than kick my first roaring fire even further down the road. I need to come to terms with the difference between thrift and folly. The former is an admirable personality trait; the latter is an egregious waste of time. In my world, more often than not, the first precipitates the last. I believe I may be once again stuck in the resultant purgatory.

Sometimes a man can take care of business for himself. Sometimes he simply needs to hire a professional. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, “There’s a list as long as my arm … ” and I am about to roll up my sleeve to the point where I find the line for “chimney sweeps” and book myself an appointment.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at

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