An opportune chore

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 28, 2018

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This year I’ve tried to turn over a new leaf and change my pessimistic ways. I’ve taken the view that there are no problems, only opportunities.

Mother Nature recently presented me with a tremendous opportunity, ripping down three panels of my fence. It’s not the first time I’ve been presented with the chance to test my limited fence-mending skills.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

This opportunity also wasn’t totally unexpected. A tree growing near the fence line had warped the fence and weakened it. I had even entertained calling someone to remove the tree.

A powerful April gust sped up the decision. Immediately, my wife suggested calling someone to remove the tree and rebuild the fence. But determined to be financially prudent (code for cheap), I chose to show off my savvy handyman skills. I own posthole diggers for a reason, right?

Of course to make this a special opportunity to test my skills, the wooden posts broke right at the ground. That meant some of the better methods for pulling the posts and concrete out were not options. Not long into digging out the old posts and concrete, the magnitude of the task became evident, and I was making the first of three trips to the hardware store to get a pinch-point bar. It didn’t take long for the 18-pound bar to feel like a 100-pound dumbbell, using it for three days to break up and pry out concrete.

That may have been the easy portion of the job compared to the tree removal. Luckily, I was about to find cheap help from an equally financially prudent, stubborn fellow Capricorn, my oldest brother.

With his chainsaw, we got the tree cut down in no time, only to get truly stumped by a stump. A stiff wind prevented burning out the stump. We had to do this with manpower. After a couple of hours of cutting, chopping, prying and cursing, we hit our wits end. I even picked up the phone to try to find someone to come grind out the stump on short notice. With the sun going down and unable to move, we gave up, and I headed back to the hardware store for temporary fencing to keep the four-legged children in the backyard.

The next morning I somehow crawled out of bed and once again went to work busting out concrete and digging holes deep enough for the new posts. Then we went back to work on the stump. After a couple of hours of ingenuity, sheer will and clumsiness, including multiple backward falls and rolling on the ground, the final remnants of the stump came out of the ground.

We soon looked like true professionals, getting the new posts concreted in and the new panels up in no time, paving the way for a celebratory meal.

By the next morning the good feelings were replaced with a sore back, arms, legs, hands and just about everything else on my body. It’s a feeling I had an opportunity to enjoy for several more days.

The end result of the work drew rave reviews from my wife and a little appreciation for a job well done for myself. But next time, I’ll listen to my wife and take the opportunity to let someone else enjoy the task.

Richard Greene is editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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