Falling in love and digging sewer trenches for enjoyment (kinda).
Hello hello, Traipsers!
Anyone else feel like we're teetering on a tipping point right now? Next Tuesday a giant hand leans on the tiller one way or another... May you live in interesting times, said the people who didn't want to live in them!
I wonder how we'll remember 2020 in thirty years - inflection point, nadir, apex? Hard to imagine forgetting it, that's for sure.
This Week's Newsletter:
Keeping it short this time around since all I did recently was construction and family time...
Falling in love all over again, plus a shortnew blog post about my recent build-real-stuff trip to Idaho (and why hard work is sweet).
The project! My brother gave me an Official Construction Sweatshirt, though clearly I needed a haircut more.
Sewer Trenches Versus Carpal Tunnel
(Read this post on the blog for more pictures.)
Most weeks of my life yield few concrete results. Phone calls and piano practice, emails and payroll approval, bike rides and socializing leave a scant real-world trace.
When the results of our work hours are digital detritus, carpal tunnel and bad posture, tackling physical projects is even more valuable!
Two weeks in October delivered on said physical labor. While helping my brother build a second dwelling on my parents’ property, I did the following:
Dug a deep 200’ sewer trench with a backhoe, plus lots of (cough too much) hand digging.
Laid sewer pipe in the trench (hopefully the closest I’ll get to WWI-style warfare).
Cut out downed tree branches after a windy ice storm.
Installed a door to keep skunks out of a barn utility room.
Scraped off kiln shelves for a pottery firing.
Ran electrical wiring for the building, sank 8’ grounding rods, and installed an electrical panel.
Put up siding, cut and installed trim, installed a heat pump, moved four pallets of hardwood flooring in a snowstorm.
Somehow convinced two city inspectors the above quality was good enough to sign off on. (No bribes were paid.)
That non-comprehensive list is off the top of my head. At each day’s end, I’d drag my exhausted ass up the stairs, practice piano for 12 minutes, call Chelsea to say goodnight, and faceplant into bed.
I don't share this list to brag. (HA, some of you are probably pitying me!) Instead, looking back, I’m amazed by the sheer volume of tangible work we accomplished in two weeks.
Doing Real Stuff
Laying pipe in a muddy trench is certainly not on my bucket list. But you know what? Chunks of labor with physical results are SO satisfying. From building out our van to installing solar panels on our house to my recent efforts, I love a good project.
Our backyard garden remodel is a prime example of this. Rather than spinning out this spring with the quarantine in effect, Chelsea and I launched headlong into creating her dream garden.
Yegads did we labor, converting a fugly backyard lawn into planter boxes, paths, and ornamental plantings! Our reward: voluminous quantities of vegetables and a relaxing sanctuary for us. Totally worth it.
Hard work on my parents’ property felt even more transformative.
Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain
My efforts on the building will help my parents age in place. When my brother and his family move into the main house, my nieces and nephews can grow up with Grandma and Grandpa around. As a bonus, my brother receives childcare support and a beautiful property for the kids to rampage on. How can I not feel good about contributing my sweat (and occasional swear words) to that?
Sure, I missed a few bike rides and my piano playing suffered. Yeah, my body is tired. WHAT.EVER.
From changing out a light fixture to full-scale home construction, the sense of accomplishment and satisfying glow from a solid DIY project pays dividends far down the road. Rather than a sense of dread, I see it as an opportunity for well-rounded living and feeling capable.
While I don’t want to work nonstop on DIY house projects - this effort wore me out - the results fire me up and balance out my cushy life. Nothing like contrast to make me appreciate what I’ve got!
Even if contrast is provided by hours in a muddy sewer trench.
My dad in his 1870s miner outfit, me and my brother. The Idaho snowstorm added extra "levity" to the project!
That's it for this edition. See you on the other side!