Sometimes, the more you get to know a person, the more attractive they become

Our story so far: To make way for a garage, my husband Tyler jackhammered away part of the back stairway on the 126-year-old Methodist church we were turning into our home.

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After the surgery on the stairway, it was time to dig footings for the garage. I soon learned my husband had a skill of which I wasn’t aware.

In the case of our garage, footings meant a hundred feet of frost walls four feet deep. A concrete pad wasn’t enough since our garage would be attached to a structure with an existing basement. To dig these deep trenches, Tyler rented a mini excavator and hired a guy (a friend of a friend) who could manipulate the excavator with precision. The trenches—three sides of the garage—were completed in a day.

garage trench
Now that’s a trench.

My role that day was errand girl. I went to Subway to get lunch for the workers. But I worked harder the next day when I used pruning snips, an implement similar to a manual hedge trimmer, to clip a hundred years of pine roots obstructing the trenches. The excavator had cut through a lot of roots, but it wouldn’t do to have any obstructions when we were ready to pour concrete. So I squatted in the mud to cut roots two feet below the surface of the yard, and then I moved rebar out of the borrowed flatbed trailer to the yard. As I’ve mentioned, rebar is heavy, at least for old ladies, so I opted to move carry two pieces at a time and walk more rather than try to try to lift ten pieces at a time.

That was my contribution to the garage.

garage rebar
Tyler, excavating. (That’s my neat pile of rebar there in the foreground.)

Meanwhile, as long as we had possession of it, Tyler was using the excavator to dig up bushes. Running an excavator is like playing a video game; the controls affect both the excavator itself and the operation of the scoop, depending on how you turn them. He maybe couldn’t have dug a precise trench but with a bit of practice to activate his muscle memory, he was digging up arborvitae roots like a pro in no time. Tyler first learned to operate a back hoe when he was trying to save money by digging his own septic system for his old tobacco farm decades ago. Necessity is the mother of invention (or something like that).

Tyler and I had been married nearly ten years, but I was learning new things about him all the time during this church renovation. I didn’t know he knew how to run an excavator until I saw him, sweaty and concentrating, behind the controls. Such a skill just doesn’t come up in everyday conversation. Fortunately for our budget, my Renaissance Man was saving us money in every phase of this undertaking.

Tomorrow: More heavy stuff—concrete. Read about it here.

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