“You betchum, Red Ryder. I can get it done.”
So where did that woman get her silly ideas? What had my own wife doubting that I could do it? After all, I’ve been around the block a time or two. I know about these things.
You see, the old wood-frame deck on the back of the house was already in pretty rough shape when we bought the place. Now the time had come to deal with that, to perform the necessary surgery.
The deck was a large two-tier affair……..more deck than we would ever use. Over the years the lower, uncovered area had born the brunt of a dozen or more Oregon winters. It sagged where it wasn’t suppose to sag and the wooden railings were rotten enough to be dangerous.
This summer’s sunny and dry months would be the logical time to act. After all, I knew what had to be done and how to do it. It was simply a matter of getting off the couch and going to work.
At first the only thing holding me back was her unsurprising questions. “Can you do that?” Roma asked, as she often does when I set off on some new project, especially since my crash and burn ladder experience. Still, what had I done to earn that lack of faith? (I will leave that answer for another time.)
“Of course I can,” I replied. And in that moment I was speaking what I believed to be the truth…….at least in my octogenarian mind. Though it was too early to have exact “how-to” answers in hand, I was sure I would able to sort those out when the time came.
You see, like many renovation projects, eliminating half of the deck would be a two part process. First the outer, lower portion would have to be torn down. With that accomplished new steps and railings would be constructed for the remaining upper deck.
That meant I would be beginning with my strong suit, what I do best. Even my doubting wife would agree that I am at my best when taking things apart. I have always been good at that……all the way back to the foxy Model-A coupe I bought her fifty years ago. It needed some work, as you might expect. And I went right to work……purging the offending parts in preparation for a major renovation.
Long story short—-the gutted carcass of Roma’s Model-A, along with dozens of assorted parts and pieces, filled our garage for months before a mechanically-adept friend bought it for a pittance and let us have our garage back.
By then the truth was there for all to see. Gil does pretty well taking things apart. As for putting them back together again ……. well, that's another matter.
Except…….demolishing a 20 x 12 deck, with its bulky wood infrastructure and half-rotten railing, would be a really big job. If I was looking to hire someone to do that work would I choose an 81 year-old fellow, who had never done that before? Probably not.
It took a day or two for my bruised ego to accept that logic, and move on to a better answer. You see, we have three sons and a son-in-law. They’re a strong-backed, hard-working bunch who could do the entire demolition job in a single weekend. That was what we needed. Obviously, it was time to call for a family work party.
Except……..the four of them, my potential wrecking crew, were dealing with their own busy summertime schedules. It might take weeks to find a day or two when everyone was available. If we waited too long to tear things down, there might not be time to finish the construction part of the job before the rains came? Man alive, I was still in the planning stage and already I was out of answers.
Except…….Terry, our youngest son, lives with us. In one sense he was already on the job. You might say he had a horse in this race. And more to the point he had a definite idea of what the demolition process would require. “Forget the work party,” he announced one evening at dinner. “The outer deck is already falling apart. I can tear the whole darn thing down in one day.”
Really? My octogenarian logic was having a hard time buying that. But did I have a better idea? No, I didn’t.
Except…….Terry didn’t get the job done in one day. True, it took no more than eight or nine hours, but that was spread over three or four days, most of it in the evening after work. And you can bet he didn’t do it alone. As fast as he and his trusty saw carved the lower deck into bite-sized pieces, Roma and I were there to carry the remains to the refuse pile.
By the end of the week the lower-deck area was bare and the upper-deck railings were gone. And in the process Mom and Dad had managed to save Terry perhaps half an hour of lumber removal.
And that, my friends, is how I was able to manage that job. It took some doing, but the deed is done…….and I am ready to turn my attention to installing new railings and steps on the upper deck. As the designated ‘idea man,’ I have some thoughts of how I'll do that.
Except…….I’m pretty sure that too will be a team effort. I’ll be on hand to point out what needs to be done, and Terry will see that it happens. After all, that's one of the lessons we October and November folks have learned along the way. Two or three heads (and strong backs) are a lot better than one, especially if the ‘one’ is me.