White Lightning Axiom: Redux: Working in the coal mine

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Working in the coal mine

All things considered, this was a very productive weekend.  From about 8am on Saturday till roughly 4pm, we spent nearly all of our time digging in the dirt.  Most of the time was spent actually leveling the 30x20 area.  Dig, move dirt, check lines ... move more dirt.  In the end, it was pretty good job.  The level lines allowed for an inch or two difference in height, but when you are talking about a foot or more, the percentage of error is slight.  The low points actually were on the up side of the hill towards the south where less digging was done.  The only reason we could tell that is from the puddling of water once the 100 year rain-storm came.  Before that, we managed to get the landscaping cloth down and about 6-7 tons of sand in place.  That was quite a bit of fun  too.  Talk about being told to go 'pound sand'.  I had my shirt off for a while and got a twinge of a burn, but I'm getting quite crispy brown right these days so it wasn't so noticeable.  Of course, the crispy-brown is in complete opposition to the blinding white of my chest and belly.  Go figure.  After we moved enough sand about to allow us to walk on the leveled area, we started assembling the structures.  The first watchtower got started pretty quickly, only to end with us (us being myself and Hero/Amish Dad) discovering that we didn't have enough bolts of the correct size.  Near the end of this exercise, the kids with Grandma & the Mrs in tow came out.  The Twins of Sand Tossing have found the joys of lobbing sand at your head while you are trying to drill a hole in a 4x4.  We were nearly done, and me crushing my index finger pretty much capped the evening.  We called it quits, cleaned up and went out to buy a load of bolts for Sunday.  Not much else to say about that.

Sunday morning church was invigorating as usual.  This time I had enough support personal (Grams and Gramps) to allow me to escort both of the Twins.  Alexis was happy to just be held and chow down on beef jerky the whole time.  Jacob on the other hand, had different ideas.  Since we attended the early mass, he had sufficient energy to resist any actions I took to keep him from vaulting over the pews.  I love being Catholic, the mass is only 1 hour.  Any more than that and Jacob would have broken free and run amuck.  In addition to the 'invigorating' morning exercise session, Sunday morning also brought rain.  Heavy, soaking rain.  The kind of rain that stings when it smacks you on the head.  The kind of rain you cant work in sand with.  We had to abandon our forward observation facility construction and redirect our efforts towards a materials retrieval mission.   My heroic Father and I drove down to Home Depot (of course) and went over their stock of retaining wall blocks.  With all that leveling we did, there is a critical need for a retaining wall to be built around the area.  we calculated that just one long side will need at least 90 blocks if they are 4" high.  Argh, these things weigh about 30lb each and cost 2.50$.  Needless to say, we could only find 150 or so of these blocks when we will probably need close to 230 of them.  Now imagine trying to lug 6900 lb of blocks around.  I've done weight training in the past, but this is certainly a Herculean task.  The truck could only handle a small slice of this at a time ... about 40 blocks per trip.  Every time we got a load of them on a pallet, the sky would open up with all it's fury and try to wash us out.    The first trip was an "oh-well" sort of resignation to the task before us.  Lift blocks from pallet to flat-bed.  Push to cashier. Buy blocks.  Push to truck.  Load truck.  Drive home.  Unload truck.  The second trip became more desperate as the rain became more intent on abating our efforts.  The third trip required us to enlist the help of the store staff since the remaining blocks were on the upper tier.  They were kind enough to bring the whole pallet out front so we would not have to transfer them to a flatbed or haul it out to the truck.  They even went so far as to hoist the pallet to the truck-bed level so we could just grab the block and put them in the bed.  Nice!  Unloading them was still not an envious task.  The final trip, thank God, was made even easier.  The fellows with the fork-lift were still sitting there where we had left them as we drove back into the parking lot.  They indicated to us just to back up and KERCHUNK!!!, they dropped the remaining blocks right into the truck bed, pallet and all.  By the time we finished, it was nearing the middle of the afternoon already.  I now have enough retaining blocks to build one full wall and a good chunk of a second.  In addition to the sand, this should keep me more than sufficiently busy till the next big work weekend.  Gee, thanx dad...

Later that evening, the Grandparents started their trek back up north, and we went to a pig-roast.  This was being thrown in celebration for the mother of our good friends, the Seligas.  There was a lot of good food, and the kids found that since Daddy was nearing complete exhaustion, they had much more latitude than normal. 
They were into EVERYTHING.  Jacob took a break every so often to play with one of those wire and bead puzzles, just long enough to regain his outrageous energy level.  Then he would take off and wreak havoc.  There was a cat and a dog at this party.  The cat was declawed and the dog was old and had hip problems.  They did not stand a chance.  The dog would gravitate towards the children in hopes of snatching food from  their hands.  It was a trap.  Once 'Amber' was within grasp, the kids took him down like a pride of lions on a gazelle.  It was over before it started.  The unnerving thing about the whole spectacle was the precise and efficient cooperation between the two.  I'm afraid for my own safety now.  The cat fared a bit better.  Alexis would calmly pet it, making sure not too press too hard.  Then Jacob would out flank the kitty and do a flying elbow crush on it.  I don't think if it had it's claws that this would have been as bloodless as it was.  After a few of these good-cop/bad-cop encounters, the cat figured out that it would be best if it hid somewhere out of reach.  After 7pm, we decided that the local animals needed a break and we politely extracted ourselves from the party.  With weekends like this, that 40 hour work week is a vacation!


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