Tuesday, April 4, 2017

on sunday evening my daughter texted me, "don't be so hard on yourself."

she knows me well. i'm stubborn, independent, determined and yes, hard on myself. these traits are most evident when i get an idea for a diy project that is probably beyond my skill level. but, i want to do it myself. i know that there will be tears and cussing and massive frustration. but i want to do it myself.

here's the story.

i stumbled on a library book about vertical gardening in a raised bed. i read it front to back in an evening and made a list of what i'd have to buy: 2x6x8s, 2x2s, 2x4x8s and deck screws. at lowe's, i enlisted the help of a young man who seemed skeptical about my ability to construct a raised vegetable bed. he cut the pieces to my requested lengths and loaded it all in my van. "good luck," he said with a smile.

at Tractor Supply, i purchased a roll of rabbit fencing with the right size holes, loaded it in my van and smiled about all the veggies i would grow.

the supplies sat in the back of my van for weeks while i waited for Mother Nature to cooperate. this last sunday morning, i laid my camping tarp out on the ground in the back yard and unloaded all the supplies from my van. there was a drill bit in my drill that i needed to remove. i couldn't figure out how to remove the drill bit as it had been a couple of years since i'd used it.  i pushed every button and turned every knob. nothing worked. so, of course, i googled it. twenty minutes later i had the drill bit out and inserted the thingy that came with the box of deck screws. it fell down into the drill. i had lost the nib or jib or whatever that thingy is that holds that other thingy in the drill that allows me to screw instead of drill. it was nowhere to be found in my plastic case of drill bits. twenty minutes later i had managed to tighten the drill enough to hold that first thingy in place.

fast forward another twenty minutes and i've figured out that the screws will not drive into the yellow pine without me pre-drilling holes. out with the thingy and in with the drill bit that i think is the closest size i have to the screws i've purchased. i don't own a work table or saw horses. i'm sitting on a tarp on the ground with the 2x6x8' boards standing on their 2" sides on the ground. i attempt to drill holes into the wood while holding the drill perpendicular and horizontal to the surface. as i'm doing this i am totally aware that drilling is much more effective when drilling down vertically into a board. but i'm stubborn and determined to do it my way.

forty minutes later, i'm sweating and crying and my right hand aches from holding the drill. i have managed to drill 3 holes. each hole is way bigger than the screws i plan to use because the board keeps leaning and falling while i'm drilling. at this point my language has guttered and my sleeve is covered in snot.

i give up.

i load everything back in my van. i go inside for a shower.

i pout, stew, worry, fret and beat myself up. i eat a piece of rhubarb pie and warm up my coffee. my main train of thought is that ten years ago i could have easily built this dang thing. by myself. (i'm not 100% sure there is truth in this belief). i admit to myself that this is another indication of my pending old age. it's not just physical, it's mental. my mind fogs easily and breaks down when i let anger and frustration seep into my emotions. i feel defeated. i cry.

after reading for an hour or so i convince myself that there is no shame in asking for help. i text my son and he says of course he will help me. he said from the beginning that he would build it. i wanted to do it myself. i cry again.

a note about the tears. i am not prone to crying or feeling sorry for myself except when i'm feeling vulnerable. "i'm getting old" thoughts have creeped into my consciousness more and more lately. it's hard for me to have a strong will to fight back when the weather is cold. fighting back gets harder. giving in becomes easier. and diminished brain capacity comes with giving in. it's a vicious cycle that many (most?) of us fight. spring/summer/fall foster feeling young(er).

later that night i was reading and texting with my daughter about a random variety of things and shared a snippet of this story. that's when she strongly suggested that i not be so hard on myself.

i continued reading while letting the events of the day play out in my head. and like a light bulb being illuminated, an image of nails popped into my head. hot damn! who says i need to use an electric drill/screw driver?! a friend has loaned me a three pound hammer. i can hammer this damn raised bed together. hot damn! i'm back in the game.

my grandson Ben accompanied me to the hardware store yesterday. he knew right where the nails were. he knew to weigh them in the scale and put them into a paper bag. he said to write the price on the bag with the pencil. when i asked him if he would help me hammer the boards together he replied sure.

i still have hope of building this raised bed. but maybe not by myself.

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