I'm a pretty self-sufficient person. I can cook, clean and take care of small repairs around the house pretty well. I'm not afraid of a do-it-yourself project, even if those loaning me power tools throw in a cautious, "Now, you're not going to hurt yourself, are you?"
I've painted walls, replaced broken belts in clothes dryers and tackled minor home redecorating. There isn't much that intimidates me, though I know better than to go messing with plumbing, electric or gas lines. There are some things that are better left to the professionals.
Aside from the various home utilities, another area where professional help is worth the price is hair care and pet grooming.
For years, I was addicted to at-home hair color. It was readily available. It was relatively inexpensive. It was easy to use. I would pour some on from time to time, leading me to tell someone I hadn't seen my natural color since I was 16.
Then it happened, as is bound to happen when you play with things you shouldn't. I rinsed the color from my hair, dried it, looked in the mirror and screamed.
My hair, which was supposed to be a lovely light auburn, was fire engine red. Now, some people may think that's a great hair color, but it really didn't suit me at all. Thankfully, I'd heard of others with hair color disasters and knew I'd find something to help at the corner drug store. They have color removers or color correctors that can help at least dull the mistake. The finished product was kind of a dishwater brown blob. Not something I wanted, but I could leave the house without a hat, at least.
As I was driving to get the chemical rescue, I vowed, "No more!" I haven't touched the stuff since.
Yes, I still color my hair, but I leave that to the pros. They've talked me back from some crazy ideas and kept me from making a huge mistake.
Dog grooming is another thing I believe should be left to those with the right training and equipment.
My dear dog, Bogie, is a long-haired breed. He doesn't shed, but his hair grows faster than mine. As he doesn't particularly care for brushing or combing, he tends to get tangles. And he's still just a pup, really, so he likes to get dirty and run through the bushes and roll around until those slight tangles are tight little knots of hair. Try getting a brush through that kind of mess.
Unfortunately, I can be absent-minded and forget that Bogie needs to visit the groomer and next thing I know, my little pup looks like a little bear running around on my leash. Add in 100-plus degree temperatures, and I decided to take things into my own hands.
I borrowed some clippers and brushed Bogie, trying to calm him down and get his coat ready for a little trim, just to make him more comfortable.
He wasn't having it. He wiggled and squirmed the whole time. I should have had an extra set of hands there, but I didn't think about that. I was sure I could do it myself, thank you very much.
In the end, he got a haircut — mostly. He refused to allow me or those clippers near his head or tail, and he didn't want me touching his feet, either, but the rest of him is looking much cooler.
"It's just hair," I tell myself. "It'll grow back."
Luckily, he's far less vain than his owner, and I doubt he particularly cares that the clipped areas are not smooth, that his head looks shabby and now his body looks far to small for his head. He pouted for a little while, feeling he'd been treated harshly, but he seems to have forgiven me.
Next time, I'll make the appointment and let the pros take care of him.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.