Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pimp my house

I have come to the realization that yardwork, which I really do enjoy, and the house in general, is too much for me to keep in good repair.

Carren works her butt off betwixt the kids, school, me, and the 1000 or so other things she does each week.

Now that summer is here, I relish the idea of mowing, trimming, planting, and generally making our yardspace beautiful. Last summer, I ran a backhoe, stump grinder, chain saw, and tiller just to make the yard into a yard. At the end of summer, (the last time I mowed) I ran over a stump I missed with the grinder, and bent the snot out of the blades on the mower. (We had just purchased a riding mower for father's day, because our yard is just big enough to kick my ass with a push mower.)

So on Sunday I dropped the deck, pulled the mower blades, installed new ones, installed the mulch kit, and re-assembled it (and only lost one piece!) I've poured concrete for a dog run (just to sink poles, not make a floor) (actually, I've done it twice, the poles were too short and the concrete dinna take the 1st time) and now I see the damn poles are bending again. I turned soil with a shovel, planted a couple of flower gardens to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and even dug a doggie septic tank--a place to put used dog food--that biodegrades it instead of just tossing it.

The yard still has some stumps, it doesn't drain right (there's always a "marshy" area, even in midsummer), and the remnants of the previous owner's garden leave a nice trench for catching mower wheels as well as ankles. Worse, the poor drainiage and slope of the yard cause basement flooding, and the retaining wall leading to the basement door is bowing in, and looks like it will collapse at exactly the wrong moment (not when the tax assessor comes over.)

Inside, the floor in the kitchen is warped, the house isn't conducive to keeping clean, and we've too much clutter and poorly used space.

I could fix most of the problems. The landscaping is just a matter of time and labor, and renting the right equipment. The re-arranging of the house/remodelling is also not too terribky difficult, I could do that too.

Except. After doing some relatively easy maintenance on the mower, I was exhausted. The next day, I was so sore I barely got out of bed to go to work. I tore open my skin graft (not too bad, it'll be okay) working the shovel and rake this week, to dig holes and plant the garden. I can't physically do this stuff anymore. At least not with the same proficiency I used to, nor with the physical stamina to accomplish all of the jobs I used to. It isn't a matter of healing and regaining. I can't feel and use my hands to do the detail work, I risk hirting myself even more when I use power tools (I burned my hands really good last summer with a power drill--huge blisters from the exhaust air.)

I love doing this kind of work, feeling the dirt in my hands, getting an all-over sweat worked up where the sweat pours freely down my face, and soaks everything from my ballcap to my socks. There's nothing better tasting than the cool glass of (sweet) tea Carren brings, somehow always at the right instant I need a break. Nothing, that is, than a sizzling ribeye grilled as I survey the results of a hard day's labor, good, honest, salt of the earth labor.

I love working like that. If I had it all to do over again, I'd have been a farmer. But I can't do it any more. The big projects, those things that I relish in the summer and plan all winter, the things that make a home "mine" (I even did a lot of landscaping in Kansas, when we lived in gummint quarters--taking care of thouse quarters is something I viewed as my responsibility to the taxpayer).

Now, doing a hard days' labor is going to cost a minimum of three days of mind numbing pain, and at least a week of generally shitty body aches after that. I can see what needs done, and it might as well be a pair of shoelaces, for all the effect I can have on it. (FYI, I still don't have the dexterity to tie shoes well, but operate powered lawn tools. I'm not real smart.)

So, If anyone knows Bob Vila, or any of the discovery channel home makeover/landscaping show people, or anything of that ilk, please plead my case to them. Hell, call Oprah (why is her name "Harpo" spelled backwards?) I don't care if I have to host a BBQ for monel williams and Jerry Springer, if it'd get the work done. If anybody knows anybody, I need help. Please.

--Chuck (the gimp)

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