We couldn't afford to replace a large bay window or to insulate the most-inefficient protruding feature of our home, so we settled on making curtains for the window. I contributed a measly four euro to the job, mother-in-law Rose loaned her vintage sewing machine (at left), and Ruth did the hanging. The curtains serve as a testimony to the DIY ethic of self-sufficiency that keeps my mother ticking over well into her 80s. Mom remembers plodding through 10 depression era Christmas seasons, one of them involving moving the cows and the remnants of farmhouse living across State lines to avoid sheriffs, landmen and bankers.
There is something enabling about trying to do something ordinary that you thought impossible (without electrocuting yourself, trashing an engine, or converting a toilet into a geyser). After earning Home Repairs merit badge, my DIY sense deteriorated but now that YouTube is just a tap away, I'm newly empowered with the confident feeling that an ordinary person can learn to do more. In my personal life, the first step (carving out time to learn) has been the most difficult. However, with my purchasing power declining month on month, I've earned more time for self-learning and to actually doing things that improve our living space, our creative houses and our community efforts.
The DIY ethic is very empowering on a civic level too where it encourages alternative approaches in the face of government cutbacks. Currently in Ireland, this is an important consideration, one we thought about when hanging our hand-sewn curtains.