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DIY – Do it yourself, but accept advice from others - Burke County Notebook
Burke County Notebook

DIY – Do it yourself, but accept advice from others - Burke County Notebook

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We all need a little help at times. Whether we are attempting a DIY project or a new recipe, tips, advice and shortcuts are often welcomed. We may try several ways to accomplish something only to find out they are all wrong. Advice from some people can be untimely and unappreciated, but sometimes we realize that it is correct. I would list some DIY ideas, but there are far too many to list.

The TV show “MacGyver” had a title character whose name is now a verb in the Oxford dictionary, and the definition is, “to make or repair something in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.” The original series ran from 1985-92. We cannot all have the expertise of MacGyver or the fortunate circumstances to find everything we need in every situation. But makeshift ideas often turn out to be some of the best ones. I took a photo of one person’s way to solve the problem of getting wet mail in their rural mailbox. Using what was at hand, they duct taped a gallon milk jug to the front to use as a closure. I have used a bungee cord around my own mailbox to hold it on the post.

General advice that I find useful is to “hold on.” Hold on to your money, hold on to your children’s hands, and definitely hold on to your sense of humor. Hold onto family, friends, dreams and goals. And if you climb a tree — hold onto the trunk. In other words, be a tree hugger and don’t go out on a limb. Hold onto the rope when water skiing. And if you surf the worldwide web — hold onto your personal information. A lot of older citizens born before the Great Depression had a tendency to hold onto more than younger generations. I still have some clothes from high school, old letters and the first sewing project from home economics class — an apron.

Advice given from someone who has reached a ripe old age of our parents cannot be taken lightly, but placed in a rapid recall section of our minds. Take advice from your parents and remember stuff your grandparents told you. My mother always said that we should never do anything that would harm others. She cautioned me in a gentle fashion when I wanted to go out with friends. I put a caption in my high school yearbook for a photo I took of several boy students playing cards at the store across from Oak Hill High School: “Mama told me not to come” was not only a Three Dog Night song title in 1970, but a good idea when it comes from your mom.

Watch out for scams on the phone. The social security scam phone calls started out saying that they were from the Social Security department, but the scammers eventually found out the correct term was Social Security Administration. I pressed “1” and immediately told them that they needed to be in prison and to quit calling people. I hope no one believed their spiel.

I recently received a call with a recording that said that they were from the US Customs and Border Patrol. I was told that they were holding several packages of mine and they contained illegal substances, and if I did not respond to the call, I would be impeached. I didn’t even know I was elected. So when I told them the same thing I told the fake social security people, he replied in very broken English, “Why did you take this call?” After repeating that three times, I reiterated my previous comment that they all needed to be in prison. I haven’t heard from them since. Be cautious with scammers.

Basic life advice: “Always do your best”

Encourage the arts: “Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein

There is a little Angus MacGyver in all of us. But when our innovative spirit just isn’t enough, we can get advice on how to do things ourselves. “Do it yourself” is sometimes easier said than done. There is a world of advice on the internet, but then of course, you cannot believe everything that you see on the internet.

Debra Leigh Cloer is a lifelong resident of the Oak Hill community and a member of the Morganton Writer’s Group and has six grandchildren that will receive grandmotherly advice through the coming years. Email her at


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