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September 05, 2004

All hands on deck

So I spent the last two days doing physical labour. I even did it voluntarily. I know, I can't believe it either. More specifically, I helped Bill -- you know, Bill from Waterloo -- build a deck off his new house. Building a deck involves a great deal of wood, or "lumber," as we men call it, especially when the deck, like Bill's, covers approximately 178,000 sq ft. It also involves: toolbelts, which are awesome; crude jokes; standing with hands on hips; measuring; many fun, dangerous and noisy powertools; beer; casting aspersions on the sexuality of your fellow workmen; sweating; cursing and bending.

I consider myself an expert in crude jokes, beer, sweating, casting aspersions, cursing and bending, and, indeed, shone at these things. I quickly grew accustomed to standing with my hands on my hips, using the word "lumber" instead of "wood," and looking masculine in a toolbelt. I was equally adept with the powertools, even to the point where I was allowed to use Jamie's "super drill" to make holes for some bolts, after receiving dire warnings about knots, jams, triggers and broken wrists. Measuring, I discovered, isn't as easy as it sounds, because I'm apparently fraction dyslexic, hearing things like "eleven and three eighths" as "eleven and a quarter" or (even worse) "eleven and two eighths." Even more confusing are such things as "seven and a strong three sixteenths," which I often made so strong that the "lumber" needed to be persuaded into place with a hammer.

I inserted roughly 14 billion screws (incidentally, it seems the number of crude jokes one can make involving the word "screw" and its derivatives is for all intents and purposes limitless), carried so much "lumber" that my right shoulder is now one big bruise (real men carry two or three planks at a time, you see), learned to recognise by sight alone the difference between a two-by-four, a two-by-six and a two-by-eight, saved the day twice with clever solutions to seemingly insoluble problems, and cast aspersions on my own manhood by putting on sunblock (though I had the last laugh later).

All in all it was very satisfying, and today I ache like a bitch. Here are some pictures. The end.

(Jim, my neighbour, demonstrates world-class bending (he may also have been cursing at this point); framing all done, or so we thought; me + drill = hot; Jim, the lumber dude; Bill drives in his three inches (etc. etc.); me being safe with a compound mitre saw; I'm cutting lumber, Bill indicates his desire for 12 inches (etc. etc.); lunch; deck boards finally go on; making some progress, shortly to be stymied by lumber length problem; Jamie loves the camera; not even nightfall stops us men. Ugh ugh.)


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