Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting Strong - Slowly

Getting Strong – Slowly

In the continuing process of regaining a portion of the woman I used to be, I’ve found that slow and easy must be the maxim. However, when the blood is pumping and oxygen is flowing in the act of manual labor, it’s easy to get caught up in the good feeling and over exert. I’m sure there is a fitness expert somewhere who would dispute this with the clichĂ© of “no pain, no gain”, yet if you’ve ever lost a full day because of “the pain” you’re well aware there really is “no” gain in that scenario.

Last week my neighbors opened A Wing and A Prayer CafĂ© in Copperhill, Tn. It took several weeks of cleaning and construction. I helped only with a bit of the painting and final setting up. As most know, my expertise lies in writing, graphic design, and web design—so that’s what I did. I was lucky enough to acquire all the scrap wood from the construction for the building of my chicken coop, compost pile, and whatever else. Wood is a valuable commodity in the country.

I had help in loading the pickup but I did the unloading myself. It wasn’t a small amount (even though the picture doesn't seem to show that) but after the loading, every part of my body was flush and roaring with strength, so I continued. It took a bit to spread out the plastic, stack in sizes and type, and cover all secure with cement blocks. Afterward, I went back to painting for a few hours.

By bedtime the roar was replaced with screams. The muscles in my legs pinged like stretched rubber bands and my back throbbed. Eventually a tub of steamy water and Epsom salts became my midnight rendezvous accompanied by a cup of frothy chai tea. The next day was a complete waste. I managed movement enough to make sure the puppy went out and I received a minimal amount of nourishment.

It took only one day to recuperate, which shows I am getting stronger, yet it was still a lost day. Think of what other healthy pursuits my body could’ve experienced in that day if I’d only remembered slow and easy, because there is no gain in pain.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Able-Bodied Female Again - Almost

I've not written for awhile and I'd like to say it's because I've been doing tons of 'stuff' around the property. I've not, mainly due to finances, but I continue to plan and imagine. The past couple of days I've done a few things:

Back door
Being a single mother of three, there wasn’t much I couldn’t do. I could hang drywall, replace a toilet, build a deck, brakes, oil change and tune-up on a vehicle, or plant, maintain and harvest a garden to last a family of four through the winter. That was thirty years ago.

After 10+ years behind a desk and in an airplane seat traveling for business, then writing, teaching, and living in a city where everything is within walking distance, I became very soft. Very! This I knew and was prepared for when I made my move to the mountains. What I wasn’t prepared for was all the mechanical aptitude I’d lost.

The first example was the screen doors I needed to hang on the front and back doors. Simple wooden doors with all hardware included. Place the door in the jamb, mark where the hinges go on the jamb and door, drill holes and screw down. Simple enough, except I didn’t have a drill. Thankfully, I have neighbors that do. And, he had an extra screw gun that he gave me. Nice. Even with all the assistance, nothing ever comes that easy, at least, not for me.

The minute I placed the door in the jamb, or tried to, I knew there was a huge problem. Either the door or the jamb was out of square, because the door didn’t fit into the jamb. That was the front door. Tried both doors in that jamb, then tried both doors in the backdoor jamb, and none fit correctly. Off I go traipsing next door to ask if they have a plane. Of course, of course, I can use it, and of course, it’s been thirty years since I’ve even touched one. Thankfully, men have this need to take care of damsels in distress.

 He planed one side, didn’t fit; planed again, and again; then he planed the other side, didn’t fit, planed again, and again until finally it fit, so he went home. However, once I drilled and screwed, the bottom stuck. Off came the door and the bottom planed, again and again. Everything fit perfectly except when the door closed; the inside caught on the doorjamb and wouldn’t close. I quit. Took the door down and left it sit on the porch until the other neighbor came by. “I thought Floyd said he got it all hung for you.” I told him the problem. “I don’t know why Floyd couldn’t take care of that. It’s not rocket science. I’ll come over later and hang the door for you.”

Front door
I’ll be damned if you will!!

I hung that door back in the holes drilled and got an old fashioned utility knife and shaved the inside of the door where it met the jamb and wa-la, a screen door hung. I moved onto the back door. Planed the sides and hung the door. Both still need a bit of sanding on the bottoms to prevent the minute sticking, but they are hung and in operation daily. After all, it’s not rocket science!

Today, I finally hung the water hose holder. My goodness. I used to be able to look at a hole or a screw or drill bit and know—2/3, 5/8, 3/4—not anymore. Obviously, mechanical aptitude is a use it or lose it ability. It was going through siding and into cement block, so my neighbor said I definitely needed to use an anchor. He gave me cement drill bits to use and then he and his wife hit the road—over-the-road truck drivers.

The holder got hung but it took me an hour. I must’ve made fifteen trips in for different size anchors, different size screws, forgot the hammer to get the anchor in, go back for a different size drill bit, drill again, more anchors and more screws. Finally, I said fuck the anchors and used the heavy-duty screws. Solid! The worse part of this whole scenario was winding the hose. How can you possibly forget how to wind a hose? By the time it was over, my back hurt so bad I could barely make it back into the house. I won’t mention how I would’ve reacted if one of my kids hung a hose like that.