Thursday, August 13, 2009

Clearing the Deck

My approach to home projects is to think about them for several years and then suddenly burst forth with a flurry of work, seemingly out of no-where. Such is the case with my arch nemesis, my back deck. I think about it... sizing it up... figuring out the scope... the hurdles.. the necessary equipment. And then without warning I stormed the beaches and began ripping the old one apart. "When did you decide to do that?" my daughter asked. "2006" I answered truthfully.

The problem with fix it projects is that they never take the course that you think they will. In my mind, it was a simple process of replacing the decking. A weekend project, at best. Up it comes, down it goes... and voila. A new deck on which to drink my Mojitos.

But when I ripped down the railing.. I realized how bad the wood was. Rotten. The hardware rusted almost throughout. So that would need to be redone as well adding an extra week the timeline.

Then came the footers... which were now in the wrong place to do what I needed to do with the new railing. So now I'm digging three foot holes in my backyard to pull the current cement footers out to be replaced and swearing under my breathe.

The wife comes by to tell me that the backyard looks like "White Trash Ville" and suggests that maybe we should get an old car on blocks back there to complete the set.

All fix it projects are the same. Even self-fix-it programs. You start in one place... with one goal... but as you pull out the roots and memories and past transgressions in one area... you realize that whole other pieces of you are rotten through as well. And so we leave it all well enough alone, knowing that someday it could all collapse, the rotten wood and rusted hardware finally giving up the ghost. It takes enormous effort to undertake any of these projects. They are physically and emotionally wearing. There is a risk that I will get caught in a never ending process of tearing down and rebuilding... and will become a permanent Casa De la Basura Blanca. On the other hand... the reverse is also a risk... leaving well enough alone will result in a shaggier, rotten version of myself that will eventually collapse.

I suppose we all collapse in the end. But the process of taking down and rebuilding better than before is rewarding. Yes... it is exhausting. But the longer you wait the more there is to work on.

For now... I will finish my deck. Then I will sit on it and drink my drinks... and ponder what to work on next. The list of possibilities is endless.


  1. This is eerily profound, in true Captain M fashion. Really hit the mark for me, as my emotional decks have been on questionable footing for over a year now and I have just begun the demolition.

    Funny think you can ignore it for awhile...procrastinate...eek a few more months out...and yet every time you step foot out on that monstrosity you are reminded what a complete mess it is. It won't hold anything of any weight, you can't use it to get the most of life (a sunny day, a view at the sky and the birds). And you certainly can't invite anyone else there with you for risk of putting them in harm's way. It's got to be repaired or, in my case, rebuilt...the foundation solid...the decisions made about Treks vs. treated wood. It's at great expense, resource-wise, in many ways. In the end, though, I rid myself of the frustration and embarrassment and emerge with something solid that I can build on anew.

    You hit me right between the eyes today. Good writers do that, and yet at my age I am still surprised. Didn't know you were blogging over here. So funny how people are using Twitter and MySpace and Facebook to link people here.

    My thanks for tweeting and for a piece that gives my soul hope. So great to see your here.


  2. Glad you liked... you can stop by anytime and help me pull up some rotten footers.

  3. I've been doing much in the way of removing the rotten wood, of finding ways to rebuild my foundation and it's moving parts...after all, even a porch or deck has that constant movement and change as the earth beneath shifts and it's surrounding change.

    oh blah. Well, I don't do well with all this imagery and I have no clue if what I wrote made a wit of sense. Any who, they can rebuild..I just need to find who they are!


    p.s. great write. it's nice to see you again!

  4. Perfect analogy.

    I agree with LD and Marjie... it's nice to see you back!

    You know me as "CajunSoleil," in case you had no clue who I was.

  5. I did this a few weeknds ago when I decided to paint my kitchen. I was really enthusastic at the start and my interest waned with each brush stroke.
    I am 98% finished.Yet even though it's "technically "done" it taunts me, too. Come on, Lori, paint just a little more." Next thing you know it will be asking for a new more "matching folor" and I'll be hooped,stuck forever more d y ing something new in my kitchen.
    Reading this made the voices come back.
    Damn You!!

  6. Marjie... nice to see you too.

    Cajun... ditto.

    Pina... the voices never stop. The best you can do is compartmentalize them into a project... and then finish that... and put the add on ideas into the next project.

  7. You've always been so talented taking an every day event and turning it into a life lesson. This was a great blog... I've missed you, and so glad I ran across your blog again. I haven't seen you since myspace days...


  8. Oddly enough - because I have home improvement projects I am too broke to finish, I have little else to do than to dwell on the internal renovations list. However - I can easily watch Penguins of Madagascar for half an hour with the toddler, and forget the whole kit n kaboodle. :)