Wednesday, February 16, 2011


My dad is the consummate DIYer. He will tackle any project. Growing up, he had a plan for everything, and it often involved child labor. We moved river rock, shoveled dirt, dug holes, painted rooms, hung ceiling fans, ran electrical lines, moved outlets, installed telephone lines, built a swing set, chopped firewood, changed brakes/water pumps/alternators/oil, laid brick, and installed irrigation. You name it; we did it. Work was truly a family affair.
Benton and GrandDad
It has always appeared that my dad knows everything. For every project he has a story about how he has done this particular thing many times. His recount often includes one time when he was quite young living next door to the Avery's. His knowledge is truly extensive, and it is only surpassed by his tool collection. Having the right tool definitely helps when you tackle so many things. He has whatever you need for the project. Some of his tools are old, and most have a history. A few need a bit of work, but all are perfectly good in his mind (and don't tell him otherwise). 
His perfectly good wheelbarrow
My dad works hard, however, he does not work well with a deadline. Some tasks can take a very long time. (Don't even get my mom started on that one.) He made our playstands, but it took a lot of gentle nudging. Projects can last many months and occasionally years.
Benton and Grandma holding the tether
The most memorable DIY project as a youth was installing the landscaping. My parents bought a new house in the early 80s that came with no landscaping. Instead of hiring someone to do it, my dad felt our family was up to the task. He had the dirt excavated from our neighbor's pool installation deposited in the street to help shape the front yard. We shoveled and moved dirt to sculpt the rolling yard. Once that project was done, we trenched and installed irrigation lines. Then he had river rock delivered as well as granite. We shoveled and raked until I never wanted to see rocks again. Finally we laid sod and planted trees and scrubs.
Eamon waiting to use the pickaxe, while watching GrandDad with the chainsaw
A bit later, we tackled the backyard. My dad joked that as a family we would dig the diving pool. I wasn't completely certain he was kidding until the contractors arrived. When the pool and playcourt were done, he decided he wanted some of the front yard rock moved to the backyard around the pool. We shoveled and moved the rocks again. Finally it was finished. Or so we thought. I think we moved those rocks a total of 5 times. I was certain no one ever had it worse than me.

I spoke with my brother today. He is in town to help my parents with some household chores. I asked if he was moving rock. He wasn't completely sure that it wasn't on the list. We joked a bit about past DIY projects.
My brother's work boots
The kids wanted to see their uncle, so we went to say hello. True to form, we ended up helping. We didn't move rock, but we did remove a few scrubs that have grown beyond their space in the past 25 years. Eamon, Aine and Benton learned how to shovel, hoe, use a pickaxe, remove an agave stump, feel an agave center and sweep. They LOVED it. There was a lot of joking around with my brother and parents. I could tell my dad was happy.

As it turns out, my dad was right. Work is still a family affair.

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