Ah, Memorial Day weekend, a luscious long weekend full of the promise of summery things like camping, or parades, certainly cookouts, and languid long afternoons spent relaxing and reflecting on the reason for the break from the daily grind.
Unless you're me and Biff.
Instead of relaxing and reflecting or doing any of those other marvelous normal things that Memorial Day weekend involves, we built at deck. In Richmond. Virginia.
"But why?" I can hear you say. "Why give up a long weekend during which you could lounge and play to build a deck 120 miles away from the comfort of your own fully-stocked bar?"
One word: Friendship. FRIENDSHIP. (And some spendin' money, but friendship
first and foremost)
You see, one of my dearest friends of long-term duration is doing a kitchen remodel, and hired Biff to do it. "Hang on," you might also be saying (while interrupting the flow of my storytelling). "Kitchen does not equal deck, so what's the story here?"
The story is that first things must be first, and the First Thing in the kitchen remodel plan was to replace the charmingly rickety deck out back so that when the remodel time arrives the workfolk won't have to be toting large amounts of heavy and unwieldy stuff up carnival-ride steps and delightfully bouncy probably semi-rotten decking. It's about safety, really, both for the workfolk and for my buddy and her daughter. Can't have someone falling through unexpectedly!! That's lawsuit territory!
And thus we began our work, confident that by Monday we would have conquered this initial task on the path to her new kitchen. It's not a very big deck, so how hard could it be, after all?
Famous last words, of course. Highly amusing, in retrospect, that level of innocence.
It wasn't unexpected that there was going to be some repair work done on part of the deck, as it was rather bouncy and in some places outright squishy. That was on the radar going in. What WAS kind of cute to discover that the original deck served as the ceiling
for part of her basement, allowing moisture and dirt right into her house. Isn't that adorable? Just whang down some deck boards and who cares about little things like being weather-tight, right? Pish-tosh on your notions of ensuring the boards don't rot out from accumulated years of exposure to moisture, that's something for future generations to address! That bit, the deck-as-ceiling-is-not-ideal issue, was primo on the list of things that needed fixing as you might imagine. Good thing Biff is kind of a genius and came up with what should be a nicely elegant solution to the problem that will keep her basement from the elements for many years to come. It just took some extra time devising the scheme, then figuring out how to best deploy said clever solution. Nothing is ever as simple as it should be.
Throughout the weekend's process I tried to be as helpful as possible, but all I'm really good for is fetching things, holding a tape measure, and using an impact driver. OK, I did also prepare meals, which is a strong positive on a jobsite. I also learned how to use a post-hole digger (the clampy kind, not the spinny kind), which is not as much fun as you might think and involves lots of upper-body work, which I apparently desperately need given my staggeringly weak performance digging said holes. It would likely have gone faster if I'd hired a troupe of trained squirrels to remove the dirt tiny handful by tiny handful. A humbling experience. Even so, I did give it my best, and thought for SURE I'd be very sore today between wrangling that awkward piece of equipment and using the very heavy smashy stick (tech speak, yo) to bust up the clumps of brick and concrete that were in the space here we wanted our new hole to be, but nope, apparently I wasn't trying hard enough because there's not as much pain as I'd imagined there would be in the shoulder region. The bits that are talking more loudly are my hips and knees - because of all the stairs involved in getting up and down for fetchery or screwery (the deck-ish sort!) or cookery or bathroomery (they're on the top floor of her house) or simply to get into the house. We are very much not used to all those stairs, which is another point to consider improving upon in my newly-evolving Get Thee Back Into Shape Plan, version eleventy-hundred. And also - my thumbs hurt. There is no clear explanation for this, and no way to work it into the GTBISP.
Achery aside, in the end it feels good to build things, to improve in a tangible way something that needed improvement, and when it's for a very good friend who appreciates the work and lets you sleep in her very own personal bed while she takes a mattress on the floor of her daughter's room, well it's a pretty good gig to have. Even with the sore thumbs.
How did y'all spend YOUR holiday weekend?