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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page. She has written and produced two chamber operas, premiered in Utrecht, Netherlands. See her publication list for more.
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Bon Journal

The handy man can

This morning I woke up in the garden house to the tune of "The Candy Man," as sung in the Willy Wonka movie except it wasn't the lyrics of "The Candy Man."

Who can take an old house (who can take an old house)
Tear it all apart (tear it all apart)
Take away the clutter and rebuild it with his heart
The Handy Man (the Handy Man)

Oh, the Handy Man can (the Handy Man can)
The Handy Man can
'Cause he figures out what's right
And makes the home a place to live
(Makes the home for us to live)

Who can take a cheese board,
Turn it upside down?
Use it for the barbecue or fit it in a shed
The handyman? The handyman can
The handyman can 'cause he figures out what's right
and makes the home a place to live.

Who is the handy man? When I first met the Dutch guitarist, he said he must not damage his nails. He never said he couldn't fix anything. However, I assumed that he couldn't use his hands for anything except play the guitar.

The first time he stepped on and broke something in my home in London, he offered to fix it. I reacted nervously. "Are you sure? Are you sure you know how to mend the roof of the shed?" He replied, "I will try."

Little did I know that, as the son of a carpenter who had built more than 200 houses in the Netherlands, this Dutch guitarist was accustomed to growing up in half-finished houses, assisting his father as a child. Even after he laid the terracotta tiles in my outdoor garden after a hiccup with my builder and fixed my vacuum cleaner, I still didn't realise how "handy" he was ---- until he bought and renovated his own house.

It took nearly three years to finish renovating the house in Bussum. Ever single surface was touched and changed. By the time it was finished, I decided I didn't want to live there anymore. I wanted to move to Utrecht where I was studying, to avoid the daily commute.

And so the process began again.

Since January 2006, everything that could be done to the ground and middle floors and back garden of our monument house has been done. The ceilings were raised, the floors were changed, the walls were repainted, the kitchen was refitted, the two fireplaces were remodelled, and a separate garden house was added to the back garden.

The handy man wasn't just "handy" --- he could plan and make technical drawings, too. His design for the garden house was approved by the local council, and work commenced in October 2007. [Click on photos for larger images.]

Garden house in Utrecht Garden house in Utrecht Garden house in Utrecht

The old kitchen was knocked out and completely replaced. Even the fireplaces were "redone."

Garden house in Utrecht Garden house in Utrecht Garden house in Utrecht

Last month I caught him making a new door for a small outdoor shed to hold the hoover, mop, broom, brushes, etc.

"Have you done this before?" I asked.

"No, I haven't."

"How do you know what to do?"

"I'm afraid it's in my blood," he confessed.

Outdoor cabinet Outdoor shed Outdoor shed

The monument house in Utrecht is an artist's residence, with house concerts of the Monument House Concert Series. Visitors interested in supporting this private, grassroots endeavor are welcome to enquire about staying in this house of classical musicians or joining the mailing list for house concerts and overseas concert tours.

30 August 2010

Related links:
Le Bon Journal newsletter Vol 2 Issue 12: home improvement and do it yourself (2-page pdf)
The house in Bussum, Netherlands
Monument House in Utrecht, Netherlands
Victorian Cottage in London