Rendered Fat Content


"The slivers and sandpaper silicosis
hasn't slowed me down yet. Yet."

I might best define ReModeling as the willful self-infliction of repetitive motion injuries. The recent proliferation of cordless tools only seems to have exacerbated the dilemma facing any helper. Screwing in one screw seems easy enough to do, but spend the whole day screwing in one after another, with respite only accompanying the occasional dropped one, and the fingers go numb by the end of the day. Of course, any project worth doing insists upon just this sort of over-doing to ever get done. For the hardly initiated like myself, each ultimately numbing task starts as a sort of adventure, for I've likely never removed dry wall before or taken responsibility to insulate an outside wall or worked a cordless drill all by myself. The steps seem easy enough, and are, until they're amplified to the scale of any real progress. My muscles ache by the end of every day.

Not that I'm yet persuaded to play hooky.
I'm up again the next morning, more or less raring to go. I do not know how people like my grand nephew and my niece's husband, who each engage in this work every freaking day, ever manage to face another one, but the few weeks I'll spend engaging in this kind of work serves as more of a vacation from my usual toiling in my head. If I'm not dead by the end of it, I'll warmly remember these aches and pains. I'll probably even proudly inflate my contribution.

Yesterday, it was a half day working the ancient nail remover, a nifty steel baton with a slide, ingeniously designed to extract flush-sunk nails. Not only does it work like a charm, it requires no batteries, just a repetitive series of motions unlikely to cause extensive permanent damage. Then, once I'd stuffed and stapled insulation into the walls and wrapped them with a vapor barrier cloth in an act reminiscent of the one-handed wallpaper hanger's dance, I armed myself with the cordless drill and screwed back on those boards I'd spent the morning removing. My lips grew chapped from the surprisingly sharp self-tapping screws and my hefting arm grew weary, but I persisted.

I'm no quitter. I think some chemical reaction occurs inside my head when I engage in any sort of meaningful work, even simple repetitive tasks, determined to leave me numb, aching, or both. I learned to buck up and dig in when I was a ten year old paper boy, insistent to prove that I could run a route as well as my much more mature one year older brother, though I appeared too small to fulfill the responsibility. I employed the grit I imagined that I inherited from my pioneer forebears. I figured if they could successfully cross on the Oregon Trail on horseback, I could complete my six mile route in the snow, so I did.

In my real life, my regular routine, I rather religiously refuse to accumulate power tools. They terrify me, especially the saws. When I need a board cut on this job, I ask my grand nephew to cut it, for I would use a standard hand saw, but never one of those limb-severing power jobs. Each power tool comes with some trick for its operation. My nephew replaces drill bits in a sleight-of-hand move I cannot quite follow, so he replaces the drill bits for me. The pneumatic staple gun runs through staples like a Gatling gun, but refused to disclose the shifty trick to reloading a fresh cartridge. I learned that trick, though, then set about seeing how I might produce another sort of repetitive motion injury with a pneumatic-powered tool.

Yesterday, for the first time in this now ten-day old job, I felt as though I contributed to progress rather than simply staying out from underfoot removing nails or sanding endless wainscoting boards in the backyard. My grand nephew managed to painfully ding his knee while attempting to remove old flooring which had been securely nailed to the floorboards with long lines of hardly-spaced nails, probably to try to eliminate some ancient squeak. Each day brings another few opportunities to repetitively injure myself anew. So far, each evening brings a soothing beer or two and an early, groaning bedtime. The soreness mostly disappears by morning, though if I had spend two days prying up flooring, like my grand nephew had, I'd likely be kneeling forever after. The slivers and sandpaper silicosis hasn't slowed me down yet. Yet.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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