Spring Cleaning Underway in Earnest

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THE DECK — The time had come. Pollen season had finally ended. The deluge of pine peanuts had subsided. The oak trees ceased dropping clusters. The time had come to tackle the massive wooden deck that wraps around the rear and north side of our house. By n

ow, I know the drill.

This is a four-day process. The deck is 1,800 square feet with long benches and railings all around — a shipload of treated pine that has to be stained every spring.

The first spring after we bought the house, I got a bid from a painter. He quoted $3,000 but was nice enough to explain what needed to be done, pointing out it wasn’t complicated, just tedious. I saved the three grand and DIYed it. Time is not necessarily money when one works from home and can stop a home project to answer the phone or emails.

The first step is to clear the tree debris between the boards. I drag an old rolling chair outside and use a modified weed puller whose blade has been sharpened on my grinder. I roll around in the chair clearing the cracks, then blow it away. For musical choices while performing this monotonous task, I recommend Jason Isbell, the new Sting & S

haggy album, Paul Thorn and anything by Mary Gauthier. But that’s just me.

This usually takes most of a day, which ends with a cold beer and me collapsed in a non-rolling chair, contemplating the next step. That involves buying a half-dozen jugs of bleach at the dollar store and filling up a pump sprayer several times. I have already pulled all the plants and furniture off the deck. For about a half-day, I bleach all the wood, m

uch of which acquires a patina of green fungus during winter, because of the rain and tree droppings. Inhaling bleach for several hours is probably not the healthiest activity, and I invariably burn my legs with the overspray. All in the line of duty, I suppose.

I have an affinity for mindless labor, such as bleaching the deck, repainting a bedroom, washing the many picture windows that are a key feature of our house. I do my be

st thinking — not that it’s ever that great — while involved in repetitive tasks that do not engage much of my concentration, leaving my imagination free to ponder the next writing project, who to approach about buying one of the newspapers I have listed, or if the Red Sox can outlast the Yankees this season. Important stuff.

The next day, out comes the pressure washer, which is loud, powerful and whose starter cord will practically rip my arm out of its shoulder socket, if I forget to pull the nozzle trigger to release the pressure before trying to start. I rinse off the bleach, wait another day and then buy the cheapest disposable pump sprayer available, fill it with deck stain and attach a paint pad to a pole. Out comes the office chair again, and I roll around, spraying and sprea

ding stain. This time, it’s Aaron Watson, Margo Price, Amanda Shires and Chris Stapleton on the Spotify playlist. Applying stain requires country music, but not that drivel that passes for country on the radio. I call that chicken fried steak music. It is imminently forgettable.

Keeping the cats off the deck while I’m staining is a challenge. Tater and Tot spend most of their days outside, so naturally they want to see what I’m doing. Usually, I crank up the blower and point it in their general direction, which impels them to skedaddle.

Finally, the deck is dry, the plants and furniture restored to their rightful places. My Beautiful Mystery Companion invariably shakes her head as I work like a banshee for those four days every May, wondering why I feel compelled to work so hard and long. Well, other projects await, such as touching up the house’s exterior, repainting the upstairs hall, then tackling the master bathroom.

I am already working on a new playlist, music to paint by.

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