August 24, 2009

Manual Labor Jeopardy

The Answer: 8 hours, two wheelbarrows, two adults, a pitchfork, a shovel, and something akin to determination or stupidity (it's a fine line).

The Question: What does it take to move 25 yards of mulch?

When I got home from work on Friday, I was greeted with a site that stunned and mortified me. 25 yards of mulch. For those of you who don't quite grasp what 25 yards of mulch looks like, it's a full dump truck, the contents of which were piled up on the full length of my driveway. I lost a little of my will to live. But on Saturday morning around 8:00, I started shoveling.

A little later in the morning, my parents dropped by, armed with more shoveling implements and an extra wheelbarrow with which to do battle against the evil forces of shredded trees. This is how they get their revenge. My dad and I worked for about four hours then, after Beth got the kids down for their naps, she took over and the two of us drove it home. By 3:00 it was raining, and thunder started to rumble. We soldiered on and finished.

Later in the weekend, we spread the mulch, I put the finishing touches on the border and stained all the wood. And here are the results.


It is, perhaps, quite silly to feel this way but I am bruised, I am sore and I am exhausted but I can't help but feel an immense amount of satisfaction and pride that we managed to move a driveway full of mulch in a single day. I like my day job. I am very satisfied by the challenges it presents and the ways in which I have grown professionally. But jobs like mine - and, I'd argue, most of ours - don't provide that kind of immediate gratification and sense of accomplishment that moving a forest of shredded tress will give.

What's given you the greatest sense of accomplishment lately?

Posted by Chris at August 24, 2009 6:07 AM

Holy Shit you are crazy! It looks like a park, a real live park. damn you are nuts. Enjoy!

Posted by: Deanna at August 24, 2009 8:19 AM

Holy Shit you are crazy! It looks like a park, a real live park. damn you are nuts. Enjoy!

Posted by: Deanna at August 24, 2009 8:19 AM

28 jars of Peach Jam and 9 jars of Bread and Butter Pickles. All from fruits and vegetables I grew in my garden! Woo-hoo, ME!

Posted by: Maribeth at August 24, 2009 8:25 AM

You have some LUCKY kids. On a daily basis I feel keeping my kid alive and relatively unscared by psychological demons is a major accomplishment.

Posted by: MidLifeMama at August 24, 2009 8:44 AM

Playset looks great; you should feel proud!

Last project I felt that kind of pride on was using an old fashioned ho to weed out a stone path. Blistered up the mouse hand, totally worth it.

Posted by: metawizard at August 24, 2009 8:53 AM

I know exactly how you feel. My husband & I built a new deck on the back of the house this summer, and we are still a little giddy over it.

Posted by: Becky at August 24, 2009 8:54 AM

I'd have to say the cross-stitch butterfly fairy that I made for my daughter. It is huge - took me well over a year at a minimum of 1 hour a day and cost $175 to frame (at 50% off :0), but it IS beautiful, if I say so myself! Thanks for asking ;)

Gorgeous playset by the way!

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 24, 2009 9:05 AM

My garden boxes. My husband built them for me and I stained them and planted.

You and Beth did a great job. It looks great.

Posted by: MariaV at August 24, 2009 9:19 AM

The play area looks beautiful! Good Job!
My most major accomplishment these days has been to continue to workout and eat right despite a sluggish thyroid which is already on medication causing the scale to only move 10th of a pound per week - God I sound like an old person!

Posted by: NancyJ at August 24, 2009 9:41 AM

Way to go it looks awesome! I completely understand the feeling.

My greatest sense of accomplishment lately? I started biking my a** to work. Whenever I see the workplace (in the morning) and the house (in the evening) I can't stop grinning like a fool.

Posted by: LeSombre at August 24, 2009 9:48 AM

Oh my goodness, it is so perfect that it looks like you got the photo out of a magazine.

I think all the bloggy friends need to come over and play and the cactus-fish house now.

awesome and a good reason to be sore(and proud)

Posted by: crookedeyebrow at August 24, 2009 9:51 AM

Hmmm... I sat on my butt all weekend and read. I feel that I may not have accomplished quite as much as you did!
What a GREAT spot for the kids tho... and it looks like there's a very nice patio within view of the play set for mom and dad to sit and have a beer or two and rest their aching backs!

(And I have to say, it looks NICER than the parks around here!)

Posted by: Kim at August 24, 2009 10:01 AM

Wow! You and the crew did a great job! I unfortunately do know how much mulch that is, but I work in a park, so that is a yearly thing for me. Fortunately I have a small crew of somewhat elderly volunteers to help spread the evil shredded trees. Still, it usually takes a crew of about six to eight of us three hours. Not a fun job, but your yard looks wonderful. Save that photo and show it to your kids when they are older (like every year until they understand) and maybe they will be able to appreciate just how awesome you and Beth are.

Posted by: Ashley K. at August 24, 2009 10:12 AM

I filled our two garden boxes with loam last year. I completely and utterly understand that sense of satisfaction.

Posted by: Hope at August 24, 2009 11:17 AM

Jeebus, but you have a giant (and really cool) back yard.

Posted by: Brooke Habecker at August 24, 2009 11:34 AM

Great job!

Posted by: LaineyDid at August 24, 2009 11:38 AM

That, sir, is quite impressive. Good work!
By comparison I feel extremely unaccomplished heh.

Posted by: Katie at August 24, 2009 11:48 AM

Friday one of my former students came by to share the news that she was starting graduate school. I love moments like that and I know why I work here.

Also, your backyard looks amazing. You should feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

Posted by: hannita at August 24, 2009 11:54 AM

I have to say, that border looks fabulous - like you paid to have that part done too. Nice job!

Posted by: Teresa at August 24, 2009 12:13 PM

I cleaned my toaster. That's pretty damn huge (because hello? WHO SCRUBS THEIR TOASTER? Not me. Which is why it needed it so badly).

Also went to the post office and to the library where my four year old picked up four books about dinosaurs. Like - REAL BOOKS. From the non-fiction section. And she wants to know about fossils and which ones were plant eaters and which ones were meat eaters.

So, raising nerd children. That's a huge accomplishment also. AND ONE I AM TREMENDOUSLY PROUD OF.

Posted by: sarah at August 24, 2009 12:48 PM

Wow. And just think, someday you're also going to have to dismantle that sucker when the kids get older and don't want to play on it any longer! Ha!

We shovel that much mulch every spring for our yard - it's a bitch. We are very excited though: we just signed the paperwork this weekend to get an in-ground pool!!! Awwww yeah. Spent all day yesterday wielding a buzz saw prepping our fence line for the new fence we're going to have to put up. Very, very sore today.

Posted by: Liberal Banana at August 24, 2009 1:41 PM

That is indeed a very impressive sight! I have no huge accomplishments at the moment, but in the coming year I shall have two big ones: finishing my album (all my own stuff) and finishing my BA which has been extremely hard-won.

Posted by: Heather at August 24, 2009 1:56 PM

Good work. They will play on it a total of 2 hours their entire life ...

Looks good. You did a good job dad.

Posted by: Knot at August 24, 2009 2:17 PM

I'm impressed and it looks great, just remember that when you have to start refilling it, in a year or two.

Unless, of course, the kids play down at the neighbors and ignore all of your hard work, then it might make it to three years.

My greatest sense of accomplishment lately, getting up to come to my dead-end job. Or watching all of the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, back to back to back.

Posted by: Roger at August 24, 2009 4:01 PM

It looks really great. What a great parent you are. to be honest, I haven't tackled a job that big in a while.


Posted by: cassie-b at August 24, 2009 8:39 PM

WOW! Are you going to start charging the neighborhood kids admission? Looks like the beginning of a Cactus/Fish park!

I'm jealous!

Posted by: ProudMary at August 25, 2009 12:38 AM

WOW! Are you going to start charging the neighborhood kids admission? Looks like the beginning of a Cactus/Fish park!

I'm jealous!

But it looks really awesome and I'm sure the kids will love it!

Posted by: ProudMary at August 25, 2009 12:39 AM

Our school just bought a new building, and we spent last Thursday night doing much of the same thing with our new playground. We counted 47 large wheel barrow trips, plus some random direct shovel loads. Roughly 10 adults in and out over 3 hours.

I actually enjoyed it. It was physically consuming, but it did give a nice sense of satisfaction when done. I was wishing at the time that I always had such an interesting, different way to get exercise.

Posted by: Lisa V at August 26, 2009 12:51 AM

Look at that play set: WOW!! Go you!

Posted by: Nadine at August 26, 2009 3:04 PM