Saturday, May 3, 2014

Clean-up day at the Cottage

Today was clean-up day at the cottage.

It went well considering that we had 4 bosses.

Family dynamics are the springboard for much of the great literature in history.  It started with Cain and Able.

Children grow up competing for attention from their parents.  Like trees growing beside a river, they bend and weave as they seek uncontested places in the sun.  Families are the original time machine.  We regress to our teenage years with many of the scabs and bruises imperfectly healed.  Sometimes, in moments of thoughtlessness, or tiredness or even petty spite, new injuries are added to the old.

Events like the annual clean-up day at the cottage are best treated with care and caution.


My dad (Boss #1) did not make the trip this year.  The weather was more like March than May.  The pollen levels were high and the mildews and molds were elevated due to the recent rain.  Dad throws a long shadow.  He is persnickety about some things and has a clear vision of how he wants them done.  The cottage belongs to Dad and Mom so their word is law.


My youngest sister was the strawboss (Boss #2) of the inside duties.  Assorted girlfriends of nephews and one of my sisters friends handled most of the inside chores.  That included putting on a darn good feed.

According to my sister, the temperature inside the house was 52 F when they started at 9:00 in the morning.

Outside Bosses

My oldest brother (Boss #3) retired  7 years ago and has been my dad's right-hand-man ever since.  My dad is in his late 80s and there are many things that he can no longer do.  That frustrates him.

My oldest brother takes my dad along as "a technical consultant".  By the time they get to the cottage, the sound of tires on gravel roads has worked it magic.  Fifteen years peels off his age and Dad will hop onto a lawn mower or driving fence posts or whatever task is at hand.  He knows that he can knock-off at any time and oldest brother will finish up the job and put away the tools.  My brother is his safety net.

My oldest brother is a saint.

My oldest brother has very detailed pictures in his head (code for perfectionist leanings) of how things should be done, by whom, and what it should look like when it is done.  That organizational model struggles when the work party is more than 7 people and/or the task list is messy and/or the boss is most comfortable with an indirect communication style. 

Aside: Oldest brother runs a small business where he cuts the lawns of some really, really old widows.  How old they?  They think gas is still 87 cents a gallon.  He cuts their lawns and they fuss at him for his extravagant prices.  One of his coping strategies is that he is even fussier than they are so their is less for them to carp about.  He is far more compassionate about it than I am.  He realizes that they may have had enough income when their deceased husband died but prices (like gas) have gone up since then and survivor benefits are less than a full pension.  The other thing is that being gentle often means saying things in code.  My oldest brother is a gentle man.

One of my younger brothers (Boss #4) is a firefighter.  His work schedule is something like 1-0-1-0-0-0-1-0.  Those three days off in a row are great for getting a bunch of things done.  He does a pile of work at the cottage.

By nature and by professional training he is a very direct communicator who is economical with his words.  There is no time for a dissertation when a roof might collapse and you have guys in the building.  He also tends to have very detailed visions of how things should be.

So, how did it work?

Very well, thank-you.

Inside stayed inside.

Oldest brother ran raking crews outside and executed Dad's requests.  He was "cool" with some parties splitting off and tackling other jobs.  Over the years he has learned to trust that we are all out there, doing our best in our own ways.

Younger brother checked with all of the gardeners and got the OK to rototill the garden.  We doubled the size of the garden from 55 feet-by-75 feet to 110 feet-by-75 feet.  Younger brother had a new toy (rototiller) that he wanted to play with.

The new addition will be mostly onions, potatoes and sweet corn....items that the deer might ignore.  That is important because we do not have funds to completely fence the new addition this year. 

I gave younger brother some grief when he was done.  I told him it was almost perfect, it just needed some yellow pin-striping down the sides to give it that "finished" look.  One needs to keep those "detailed vision" people on their toes.

His daughter vehemently disagreed with me.  She contended that it would look much better with scarlet pin-striping.



I just kept moving.

I put ten gallons of kerosene in the tank of the furnace so the gals in the house could clean in comfort.  We followed the advice of my oil man and allowed 30 minutes for the sediment in the tank to settle before we fired the furnace up.

I started out working in my younger brother's crew.  I moved a woodpile away from where the new garden addition was going so my younger brother could do a clean job rototilling.

Then I worked in my oldest brother's crew and helped rake and drag tarps filled with leaves across the road to dump in the swamp (also owned by it was not littering).

Then I dragged downed limbs across the road.

Then I ate too much food and drank a Lite beer.

Three hours of that and I was a tired puppy.

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