My work has been slow coming in for a week or two and I’ve taken it as an opportunity to step outside and enjoy myself in the summer weather. To date, I’ve planted two Fashion Azaleas, two Trouper Azaleas, six Daylilies, three Lenten roses, five Knock Out red rose bushes, and three tubes of Gold Medal yellow roses. There’s more outside of these two weeks that I can’t recall. I go out when it’s cool or slightly warm and use a spade to remove the red North Carolina clay. Then determine if the plant will fit and be level with the ground at the base of the plant before filling in the hole with rich potting soil. I prefer to scoop the soil with bare hands so I can feel the texture. A good wash in the sink with a brush, sponge, and orange dish soap removes the signs of gardening from my fingernails and crevices in my palms. At first, I never did enjoy gardening but then I found it good to relieve stress and tension from work. Now I step outside, without prodding, to find new plants at Lowe’s or Home Depot for the garden. It’s too early to say I have a green thumb.
In March, when I returned from a short eight-day trip to Vermont for a work project that had me live-streaming seven workshops, three at a time, I had another handyman project planned. It would be my first time recovering a deck but I felt overly confident that I would do a good job. While I was in Home Depot inspecting the crown of 5-1/4 deck boards and stacking 26 boards of 16 feet each on a tray dolly, a friend during a call volunteered to help me with the work. I started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning and he arrived at 10 a.m., we pulled out all the old deck boards with crowbars and hammers. I had already removed the first three rows furthest from the house so he was able to slide in his battery-powered circular saw to cut the boards into three columns making them much easier to pry out. Then he cut while I used my impact to drive in three-inch screws. I had a single five-pound box that was used up quickly to secure the decking every other sixteen feet on center. We finished at 6 p.m. and I finished cutting and replacing the railing tops that evening and the next day. Today, I finished the last rows of screws and I had to sister three-foot two-by-ten boards to the sides of the existing joists when I came across places where the top portion of the wood was too soft, from prying out nails, to accept the screw. The rows of screw heads shifted left or right to secure the decking to the new sister board. I went through a second five-pound box of screws. I still have the pickets to finish securing. The pressure-treated deck boards need to dry out before sealing and staining can begin.