Island living did a great deal to change that. I still had to improvise a lot, but I began to appreciate real tools, such as a spline roller, strap wrench, PVC cutting wire and a set of screwdrivers (both Phillips and flat) in various sizes. Now I enjoy going to Lowe's almost as much as I love Staples and Office Depot.
I haven't left behind the days of "this should work," though. In my constant quest to downsize and keep things simple, I'm not inclined to run out and buy a new tool for each household problem that arises. Instead, I just make sure that my basics are always nearby.
Here's what's in my toolbox. (OK, some of these things aren't technically tools, but in my mind they are.)
Screwdriver. If I have only one, it's a medium-sized flat head. Good for prying, piercing, stirring, getting things that are just out of reach and yes, turning screws.
Hammer. An excellent Team player with a screwdriver. The two tools fixed my lawn mower many a time.
Duct tape. Of course. If it can't be fixed with duct tape, it can't be fixed.
A black Sharpie. Useful in the kitchen, in the garage and even in one's wardrobe. (Shoe polish dries up so easily!)
WD-40. Needed more in the islands than here in Richmond, but always helpful. I can fix a well pump with a screwdriver, WD-40 and bug spray.
Corkscrew. It has only one use, but it's such a vital one!
Scissors. Especially important for the way things are packaged these days. Also helpful with lobster.
Serrated knife. Hardier than even a chef's knife. With a hammer and screwdriver, it can handle coconuts.
P-38 (also called a John Wayne). This is a miracle tool I didn't existed until I met Tom. It's a small can opener issued to soldiers during World War II to open K-rations. Works better than anything designed for the kitchen, and it's small enough to keep on a keychain (or dog tag). Handy little thing.
I'm not saying I wouldn't gladly take a specialized tool for a special task (and I have kept a number of Ikea's Allen wrenches), but this list gets me through most of what I need to do. And it's still so nice to keep things simple. I guess I'll never get rid of my improv impulse.