Deck work.


Last weekend I flew out to my parents’ house to help with a complete deck rebuild.  This job was important to me on many levels, some of which I didn’t fully understand until I came home.

Twenty years or so ago, when I was in my early thirties, I worked construction.  I was in really great shape and could work hard, without stop, for weeks at a time.  Like most construction guys in their early thirties, I felt that I was capable of anything, indestructible and unstoppable.  I built the deck for my parents to bridge the gap between their new pool and their house.  It was around four hundred square feet and made up of redwood and pressure treated lumber.  At the time I gave no thought about the life span of the deck.  I felt that the deck, like my strength and stamina, were eternal.

After more than twenty years of use, the deck was sucking the life out of my parent’s back yard.  It was a hazard to walk on and a serious impediment towards entertaining and enjoying the pool. More importantly the deck was a constant reminder of how everything decays and becomes fragile with time. The back yard needed an attitude adjustment just as bad as I did.  We needed to heal each other.

As the day drew near I began to worry, what if I flew all the way out there and wasn’t capable of completing the job before I had to leave?  I am sure my wife was also worried that I would push myself too hard and come back sunburned and wounded, possibly incapacitated.

Well, I managed to survive and complete the deck on time.  Everything came together perfectly.  But it was my brother that really deserves the credit.  He came out early and made sure that the old deck was completely removed, the ground was prepped, and the new wood was staged and ready for work.  I wouldn’t say we worked together like a finely oiled machine, more like an old reliable car that leaks a bit, squeaks, and you have to be careful with the clutch.  But we got the job done and it looks good.

I really felt good about helping out my parents and providing them a nice place to relax and entertain.   It was also good to spend time with my brother and work side by side for a few days.  Then just as we were showing signs of weakening, my cousin and uncle showed up to help.  They really did a great job, not only helping to complete the project early, but with fresh eyes on the details they kept the quality from suffering due to our fatigue.  There we times where I was going to say “Good enough” but they kept us honest.

I really needed to feel that sense of accomplishment.  I am not sure if there is a name for the emotion you get when you’re satisfied with the results of hard work. I know runners feel this from exercise, but what about the sense of accomplishment?  Anyway, whatever it is I am sure it is addictive.  When I got home found that I was feeling compelled to do more.  My lovely wife seemed to sense this.  The next morning I found myself painting the house trim boards, fixing the entry posts, and doing odd jobs with a renewed sense of purpose.

Thanks Mom and Dad for all of your hospitality.  I came out to build the deck for you, but ended up needing the deck to work on me, as much as the deck needed me to work on it.


What it looked like when I got there

What it looked like when I got there

18 hours later

Nearly done





Finished deck with bench

Finished deck with bench


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4 thoughts on “Deck work.

  1. Suzanne Cravens says:

    A great restorative tale of victory providing natural beauty, wellbeing, creativity, reunion, inspiration, all in the most pragmatic sense.

  2. Thank you. Pragmatism is underrated.


  3. Mike Dwyer says:

    That’s a beauty. I want to do something like this for our house. Inspirational…

  4. S. Le says:

    Wow! I’m jealous!

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