Remember the poor River’s Bend front porch, leaning and wobbly from all those excited sale participants and their heavy purses? We decided we should probably strip the 2 inches of accumulated lead paint off the pillars, railings and posts before rebuilding it, right?

But wait! We had just finished stripping the salmon pink paint from the inside woodwork and were heartily sick of the smell, the mess — everything about that process. I think we sent all of the kids in the zip-strip family to college. A handyman friend said: "You should get a heat gun. It’ll burn the stuff right off."

What a good idea! I can do this myself! So I went to my local Sears store and wandered through the tool department admiring those gorgeous red metal tool cabinets that I had always lusted after. I had to ask the guy with the tool belt where to find the heat guns.

When he asked if I wanted the regular one or the extra heavy duty one, I, of course, answered in my best "one of the guys" voice that I'd take the biggest and the best, because I had a whole front porch to strip. He seemed very impressed. Or maybe stunned, would be closer.

The first day nothing went right. I kept shorting out the circuit breakers, the cord was not long enough and the dog ran away with my milk carton full of curled-up paint layers. But, by the second day, I was sort of getting the hang of it. By 3 o’clock I hadn’t burned myself once! The seven layers of outside grade oil paint that had been there since 1895 just seemed to peel off like butter. This was easy-peazy. Why didn’t I know about this before?

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The third day, I was on to the pillars, and the fourth day, I set the whole thing on fire! Whoops! Another good idea bites the dust. Or goes up in smoke. Oil paint, dry rot and blast-furnace heat-not a good combination. But, I had fun, fun, fun ‘til my family took my heat gun away-yay-yay. Sorry, Beach Boys. On to other misguided helpfulness.

Here's one big gross idea, destined to be a trainwreck from the first glimmer: Our daughter and her husband also built a log house, not far down the road from us. They are both very handy people and can do almost anything, so they did a lot of the work themselves. The land had to be cleared, trees and shrubbery cut down and hauled away, all before the foundation could even be stepped off.

The only objection to the land clearing came from the army worms that had been nesting in those very trees and shrubbery.

It was the year of the last and greatest army worm invasion. They were everywhere. In the concrete that got poured for the foundation. In the subflooring. A board would get laid down and you'd have to sweep the worms off before you could wedge it into place because they'd be squished in between if you didn't.

I got a wonderful "Mom Will Help You" idea of what I could do to save the day. I got a heavy metal coal shovel, two large garbage containers and green plastic bags. I would shovel those green wiggly slimy things into the garbage bags, put them into the containers before they knew what hit them and then our kids could haul them away to the dump.

So I did that — for hours and hours. But the kids didn't notice what I was doing. Didn’t see the two big cans full of my hard labor. Didn’t haul them away to the dump. The garbage cans sat there in the burning sun, all closed in tight, all dying, all fermenting, for about a week, until one unlucky soul happened to say: “Hey, what are these trash containers doing here and what is that ungodly smell?”

Y'know they still bring that up at family gatherings. Twenty years later! You would think by now they would have gotten over it, wouldn’t you?

They sound so sensible at the time, those good ideas. Some are innovative, some interesting, some doable, and some are only pretending to be doable. But, you know, a disaster masquerading as a good idea is just like cleaning out your closet. You start out with all the flurry and good intentions in the world.

However, things start to go bad when you hit the clothes that you haven’t been able to get into for 10 years, but you wistfully think that when you go on that new diet you will surely need something smaller to wear. As you sit on the floor, bogged down with each and every garment, you know it's going to get a lot worse before it ever starts looking better.

Cue the creepy music. Next time it’s Halloween!

Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at the College of St Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.