Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Praise Of Advil ...

Yesterday, I worked.

My back yard was surrounded by a fence that over time had taken to tilting, this way and that, and which, over time, I and my neighbors had propped up at various points. But much of the leaniness was hidden by trees and other green things, so while it wasn't an ideal fence aesthetically, it sufficed.

Until a couple of weeks ago when a major storm moved through, bringing flash-flooding conditions and insanely high winds. I wasn't home during the worst of it, but when I returned and looked in my back yard, I saw several sections of my fence either on the ground or leaning into my neighbors' immaculate yard.

And so the time had come to get rid of the fence, since the culprit of the instability was posts that were never sunk properly by the company that installed the fence, just cedar posts stuck into the soil a foot or so, so that, over time, the moisture in the ground rotted the wood through. Add a gale-force wind to that equation, and voila!, my very own Three Little Pigs moment.

And since I have no real need for a fence, having neither a dog nor children nor the ready cash to have all the posts pulled and have new posts installed properly, fence eradication became my mission.

But who to call?

My uncle. I can't tell you how handy it is to have a contractor in the family. Especially one who knows everyone who has anything to do with anything related to anything constructiony.

So I called him to ask him if he could recommend someone to come by, take down my fence, and haul it away.

"Yes," he said. "I can come over."

Well, I hadn't expected him to do it himself. Of course, he can do it. He can do anything. But he's not so much a contractor in my mind as a craftsman. Still, I wasn't about to say no to his offer.

So yesterday was the day to bid my fence farewell.

I thought he'd cut the fence apart into its component sections, and we'd haul those to his truck and be done with things quickly.

But he had other ideas. Once he put chain saw to wood and discovered my yard was surrounded by slats of red cedar, he started cutting the fence into small pieces.

For kindling.

I have a big yard. Which means I had a lot of fence. He left my house yesterday with a pick-up truck bed full of kindling. Those two sentences are relevant when you consider that someone had to get all of those little pieces from my yard into the bed of his truck parked in my driveway. That someone was me, while he was busy slicing and dicing the rest of the fence, and then me and him when he and his chain saw were through.

I must say that my mother's exquisite grocery-cart packing skills served me well yesterday. When I was a kid and we bought a lot of groceries for the family, mom would pack her cart with Tetris-like precision, far before the advent of Tetris. Yesterday, my uncle's truck bed was packed with bits and boards very neatly.

Now, my uncle, you may have guessed, is considerably older than me. But in his line of work, he's up and at 'em every day, working, lifting, hauling, holding. His job is physical.

By comparison, most of my days are spent sitting in front of a computer.

So you can figure out who of the two of us was better suited to yesterday's stooping, bending, gathering, lifting, and hauling. Yep, that's right, the correct answer is: Not Beth.

I was fine while I was working. I was glad for the exercise. (In addition to all the fenceness, I was also hauling branches to the curb that had become a casualty of an ice storm earlier this winter, as well as raking up the entire yard to gather the remnants of last fall.)

But once I stopped moving, once the yard was cleared (with the exception of the two big piles of fence remnants that contain nails and/or screws and need to be hauled away, destined for a construction Dumpster), once I put away all the tools, and came in from the cold, oh baby.

Not good.

So I popped a couple of Advil Liqui-gels, hoping to stave off near-immobilizing stiffness and soreness today.

It seemed too much to ask for. Last night, when I wanted to get up off the couch, I had to put my hands on my knees as I stood up, then "walk" my hands up my thighs to help me straighten up slowly before stepping, gingerly. It was pretty sexy, lemme tell you.

Remember the old-man character Tim Conway played on The Carol Burnett Show, who would shuffle along at a pace so slow he could be lapped by a snail?

I wasn't quite that bad. But I went to bed wondering what I was in for in the morning.

And this morning, despite waking up far too early, I swung my legs over the side of my bed and didn't even think about my back.

It feels fine.

Well, as fine as it feels most mornings.

But for a girl who expected to spend the day in makeshift traction, I am very pleased with my mobility.

I think I'll pop a couple of Advil to celebrate.


Blogger Rick Hamrick said...

I'm reminded, Beth, of a long-ago Dilbert cartoon when he was to be photographed for some reason. He said, "I'm ready. I was recently mousing, so my muscles are all pumped."

Just as you do (well, not exactly the same), I get out there in the yard and take care of all aspects of cleaning it up, as long as 'writing the check' counts as getting out there and working hard.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I love Advil. I swear it's the best drug ever invented. And an absolute blessing for anyone whom Tylenol doesn't work and does not want to take aspirin.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Matthew M. F. Miller said...

I admire your craftiness, although am jealous of the contractor in your family. If there was one thing I wish I could do that I can't, it's being a handy.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I hear you, Matt. I was just at my mechanic's this morning for an oil change and was marveling at how easily he worked. I know it's because he's been working on cars for most of his life, but like with my uncle and his skill with his tools, I really admire that which I can't do. Or could do, I guess, but have never really done.

I do own a cordless drill, though!

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad Beth, I helped him with my patio cover 3 years ago and he almost killed me. cus, Dan

3:31 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

LOL! Thanks, Dan!

He's amazing, for sure!

3:32 PM  

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