Archive for May, 2016

In His Right Mind

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

I know I’ve said it before, but John is a throwback to a bygone era. Life as a mountain man in the 1800s, whose only contact withhole civilization was an annual trip to town in the spring to sell his furs and purchase supplies, would have suited him perfectly. I don’t mean that he eschews all modern conveniences. He always has at least one low mileage vehicle in the garage, and when he’s in the house, chances are pretty good he’ll have his iPad in his hands, but in many cases he is old school all the way. A perfect example would be digging holes. Why would you rent a backhoe if you had a shovel and a spade? Holes are meant to be dug by hand. Backhoes are for wimps and sissies. Did you know there is a right way (and several wrong ways) to dig a hole? John enlightened me on the proper protocol for digging a hole shortly after we were married. As I recall, the result of his “lesson” was that he dug the hole by himself. You can accept my help, or you can tell me how the job needs to be done, but you can’t do both.

John has a fairly narrow skill set when it comes to things he’s good at, and just like the mountain men of old, those skills aren’t in high demand anymore, but he is an artist with a shovel and a spade. His holes aren’t just the absence of dirt, they are works of art with perfectly straight sides, flat bottoms, and dirt neatly piled on a skid for easy removal. That’s why he didn’t hesitate to start digging out the water line by hand when he suspected we had a leak at the adjoining property that has become our own version of “The Money Pit.” The part of the line that had the leak ran to a distant hydrant that was rarely used so his plan was to find where the line split and cap off the section of pipe that was leaking. That would require finding the “T” in the line so John started digging where he thought the line branched off from the water hydrant right by the house. Once he found the line that ran west of the house, he thought he knew approximately where it split so he began the excavation in earnest. Unfortunately, he was digging in the wrong direction. When darkness and exhaustion forced him to stop, he had a hole that was six feet long, two feet wide, and three feet deep. I asked him why he kept going when he didn’t find what he was looking for, and he said, “I kept thinking if I just went another foot, I would find where the line split.” I’m not sure where determination stops and blind stubbornness begins, but I think he was probably close to the line of demarcation.

The next day he decided that there had to be an easier solution. That’s when he noticed the pipe union fitting near the base of the hydrant. If he unscrewed the union and took those two pipes apart, he could turn the water on and know for sure if he was going in the wrong direction. Getting the pipe union apart was a bit of a challenge but nothing like the effort he expended digging a hole big enough to bury…well, let’s just say if I disappear after he reads this, that hole would be a good place to start looking. The water that gushed out proved that the connection was indeed in the opposite direction from where he had been digging so all he had to do was put a cap on the end of the pipe and fill up the hole. As he stood there contemplating his completely unnecessary effort he said, “No one in his right mind would dig a hole that big by hand these days.” After that comment, there was nothing left for me to say.

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