May 1, 2005

No man is an island

Although I have met men who were big and imobile enough to be islands.

For those of you waiting patiently for me to put together the Model T swing restoration page, thank you for your patience. After carefully looking around I decided that imagevenue and the other one I had found are useless, and will be going with a site called Flickr, which seems a lot more useful and more to my standards. And, I'd be more than willing to spend today setting the page up and uploading pictures, if any of you would like to come out to my house and finish hanging the doors on my shed and want to spend a few hours being beaten to pieces by an old International Harvester Super A tractor and bushhog. Unfortunately, that's what awaits me today. So if you feel like a farmer today, please feel free to stop by, and I'll be inside uploading pictures.

Speaking of friends helping--I know at least one of the two reads me pretty regularly here, so I'm going to thank both of them publically here for the help they rendered me yesterday. But first, a little backstory:

My father was a carpenter by trade after he mustered out of the Air Force due to medical reasons. He built the house I live in now, all but the brickwork. He also did some deconstruction, when the need arose. Not demolition, that's just wanton destruction and a cleanup afterwards. He deconstructed, which is to say he took buildings carefully apart. There used to stand, at the back of our field, an old slave cabin, dating back to the days when this property used to belong to the Tyrone Plantation owners. When my many-times great grandfather bought the land, the cabin went with it. It stood empty for a very long time, and was actually farmed around for decades. My father, after being asked by my grandmother, tore down the old cabin, producing from it tons of very old and very solid pine boards and a one-gallon ice-cream bucket full of square nails. He also did the same for some friends of ours around the bayou, a year or so later.

Being from the deep country, and knowing how to make use and re-use of everything he got his hands on, he turned two two-room cabins' worth of solid old lumber into an open garage for the tractor and a shop for himself and his tools; the same shop where I now turn wood into sawdust and coughing fits. Years later either he or my brother or both of them added another open garage to the front of the first open bay, and that's when it got icky.

See, that much covered area naturally will not grow grass. It won't grow anything but increasingly mucky, which it did, this being Louisiana, and the times being what they are. It stank a lot in summer, when all that muck and mildew baked, and of course the spiders and snakes and etc. had a field day in it. It also collected tons of useless junk. My mother yesterday told me that she told Daddy long ago--"The more room you have for storing things the more you'll store things." He did.

For wood, with age in Louisiana comes rot, also, and the second bay was no exception. So, I decided last week to tear down that front part and use the tin sides and roof and all those 2x4s and turn it into a front wall and a pair of doors. I managed to rope a pair of friends into assisting me, and started into it yesterday morning, 6:30, bright and surly. And to make a very long story short, we turned it into a pile of nail-free lumber, a pile of tin sheets, and a wall to enclose the original open bay, soon to have doors, so I can secure my lawn tractor and all the oddments that go with it.

The thing is this--my two friends who helped that day were not carpenters, were not professional demolition people, were nothing of the sort. Both professional people, husband and wife for many decades, the husband half of this duo had just gotten off a 12 hour night shift at his job, and his wife is not the physical type, and actually has some physical limitations, but both of them arrived with hammers and gloves and doughnuts and smiles and such a willing attitude that it made me swell with pride. The walls came off and were stacked neatly aside, the supports were taken out and piled elsewhere, and when it was just a roof and two supports we cut the rafters and let her come down, whereup the menfolk fell on it like a pair of rabid dogs while the fairer of us three pulled nails out of boards.

We worked like dogs unitl 4 that afternoon, when we finally had to give up from complete and utter fatigue. But I'll tell you this--there is no greater sacrifice that friends can make for each other than time. Effort is one thing, but to spend your day sweating and filthy, gamely tearing down a building is no small feat. They could have just as easily spent the day doing what they enjoy best--driving around the countryside, touring and talking, watching the roads unwind, but they decided to come out here and help me get filthy, spending time with me working.

I guess it's the Catholic guilt/Protestant work ethic in me coming out, but some of the best times I have ever had with friends involved physical labor of some sort. Weeding beds out for new roses, pulling down old carpentry, whatever the case, and whatever my mental instabilities, that's where it's at for me. What is it Seraph said in the Matrix movie? Paraphrased, "To know someone you must fight them." Nah. He must have intended to say "work." Work beside a person, and you'll know that person.

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