BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yard Work Can Kill You

Or an alternate title for this blog: Adventures in Yard Work. Take your pick.

I had a lot of things I wanted to do on Saturday, but I got a really late start. First, I headed over to my parents' house and helped my dad take the window air conditioner down. Then my dad and mom came over to my house. My mom resumed her attempt to balance my checkbook and my dad and I headed into the yard. Mission number one: Plant the burning bushes that the bulb company sent me as my "gift."

After we got all the equipment together, we tried to decide where to put the bushes. My ideal location was out of the question because of the underground power cables in that space, so I had to pick alternates.

The instructions said that the hole should be twice the depth of the roots and twice the width. For plant 1, that meant 18 inches. My dad started the digging, before we switched to the plant auger. It's a long thing that fits into a drill like a bit. I can't remember what my dad headed off to get, but he left me alone with the shovel. The hole was nearly a foot deep then and the shovel was all the way in the hole. I stepped on the top with my toes and twisted my knee. I tested it, though, and it felt okay. I decided to leave the shoveling for my dad.

After putting the first plant in, I watered it per the instructions, but the water wasn't sinking into the ground--probably because we've had so much rain the last two months that the earth is saturated. We decided to leave that and move on.

But before planting bush two, my dad decided to find the places in the yard where the rocks were on the surface, dig them out, and fill the open space with the grass that was taken out of the spot where the bush went. This really started what ended up being big trouble. I dug one small rock out, smaller than my fist, and then I found another one. This one was big, I could tell because I had trouble finding the edges of the stone to pry it up. I figured it must be about the size of a brick, maybe a little larger.

My dad ran into the same problem and we decided to plant the second bush and then return to the stone. The original choice for location on this one didn't work--we ran into roots from the tree--and we shifted our location another twenty feet or so. We ran into more tree roots, but my dad said these were from a tree the builder took down and since he was pulling pieces out easily enough, I figured he was right since they were rotted.

There was a really big root, though, that he needed me to yank on while he used the shovel as leverage. I pulled with all my strength, but too much of the root was still in the earth. I pulled harder, the root snapped, I lost my balance, and my knee took the brunt of it--and my back since I was tugging while bent over. Now I was starting to hurt, but it wasn't that bad. We got the bush in and watered.

Now it was time to tackle the stone.

It turned out there was the big stone and another smaller broken stone right against its side. My dad was trying to pull the broken rock out, but I could tell that he wasn't jiggling it the right way. I took over. It took a little more force than I expected, but I got it out. We turned our focus to the bigger rock.

Rock might be a misnomer. Perhaps boulder would be a more accurate word. It turned out that like an ice berg, 90% of this behemoth was beneath the surface of the smaller, flattened top. My dad had the shovel in alongside the stone when I saw it--cables. "Don't dig!" I shouted. "Don't move! Cables!" He looks down and says, "That's from that old green carpet. I thought we got all of those." He bent down and tugged the fibers out. He went back to using the shovel to try to lever the stone out of the earth.

At one point, I tried to roll the stone out of the hole using both arms. Stupid mistake. Not only did I not move the boulder a centimeter, I finished torquing my knee and my back. The stone remains where it was found, a project for machinery rather than humans.

While we were working all day, the box elder bugs and Asian beetles were in attack mode. We were constantly fighting them off. As the afternoon grew later, though, the mosquitoes came out, and after all the rain we had, these things were mutantly huge.

As we reached the stairs leading from my yard to the deck, a large one flew toward me, and gardening tool in hand, I slashed at it--and put a nice, deep gash in my arm just above the wrist. It wasn't as bad as the time I sliced my other arm with the box cutter, but I decided dispassionately, this one was deep enough were it was borderline whether or not I'd need stitches. Or rather a stitch. It wasn't a very long cut. I opted to forgo the trip to urgent care for this.

It wasn't bleeding much, but enough so that my dad sent me into the house to get patched up. He took down the deck furniture by himself. Good thing I only bought cheap, plastic stuff, yes?

It was after I got the wound washed out and bandaged that my knee really, really started to hurt. I ended up sitting with the heating pad on it, but I figured it would be okay by the time I woke up Sunday morning--and it seemed to be. It was my back that was really bothering me. About 1:30, though, it was like someone flipped a switch. I could hardly walk. I don't know what happened, but between my back and my knee, yesterday was not the most enjoyable day ever.

So I spent Sunday hobbling, taking Advil, and running a heating pad for my back. I was having some fun, let me tell you. Then about 4, with the same suddenness that it came on, my knee felt better. Not 100%, but not excruciating. I keep wondering if it'll stay this way or switch again. Anyway, I learned my lesson. No more tugging at rocks or roots. Gah!

While I was hobbled yesterday, though, I got a lot done on my edits. I'm through chapter 22. Yea!