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Another week of our beloved prairie’s resurrection has passed and the greens have finally replaced the winter browns. All you’ve got to do is look out the window for proof.

I’m presently in the process of beginning my seventh year of retirement and it looks like I’ll once again spend it assisting my son, the carpenter. Most carpenters like to take winters off so I spend most of winter looking out the window of my cave. I do make it a point to hit the gym every day in the winter but that doesn’t adequately prepare my body for the contortions of carpentry.

We usually come out of hibernation in April and hit it pretty hard until after the November freeze-up. He’s a good carpenter. Not only does he take care of his customers but they take good care of him, too, so we’re usually quite busy. Among other things, we plan to tackle a huge deck, do the carpentry work involved in moving a house from south of town to north of town, a couple siding jobs, a fairly large cabin addition and whatever other projects pop up over the summer.

Our first job this spring is building a pretty cool deck for an older home on Fox Island. It’s on the river across from the mouth of the Heart with a nice view of the earth lodges and Fort McKeen. The lots down there are surrounded by old growth cottonwood and some of the undeveloped lots are still choked with natural river bottom.

Outdoor decks, especially in wet areas, require what’s known as green treated lumber. Maintenance-free decking requires that the deck stringers be 1 foot apart as opposed to one every 16 inches or every 2 feet. The narrower the space between boards, the more boards are needed to fill the space (Example: a 20-foot by 20-foot deck with 12-inch stringers requires 20 boards, 16-inch requires 15 boards, and 24-inch requires 10 boards.) The stringers in this case are 2 x 10s at lengths of 10 feet, 14 feet, 16 feet. Green treated boards weigh much more than regular kilned boards because they are treated with some sort of high-pressured gookum-puckee that permeates the entire board.

It took over a week for us to use up what’s called a “bunk” of wood sent from the factory. It’s tightly strapped together, which makes the boards extremely wet and heavy. Some of the bigger boards weighed close to 100 pounds and since we had to handle each board at least three or four times, a significant amount of grunting occurred on my part.

It took about three days to get back in shape. During that time we’d get home, shower, eat and groan our way into a prone position or just go to bed. This is not new behavior for us, but I have to report that this year I have found it harder to get up once I’ve sat down. The good news is so far I have eventually been successful.

Both my loyal readers will be happy to note that I’ve finally solved the problem of having to constantly pull my pants up. As I’ve said before, I somehow lost my butt, which has made tugging up my pants the most intense daily activity I’ve engaged in. I finally solved this problem by purchasing a pair of bib overalls.

Relieving this issue in my life has been a blissful, time-saving experience. Anyways, that’s what I do when I’m not looking out the window. Here’s hoping you don’t have to spend your days constantly pulling your pants or zipper up.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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