Now I know how Charles Manson went bat-shit crazy: do-it-yourself home projects.
See, no matter how easy you feel a job will be, the half-assed job some pinhead who owned your home before you will guarantee a ten-minute job turns into an all-day, life-sucking affair that will leave you wanting to stab someone in the eye.
My plan today was to put up a new pair of clothesline posts, then have plenty of time to do some writing. Instead, I spent the afternoon wandering around three major hardware stores in search of clothesline posts. Apparently nobody carries them anymore. At least, nothing like what we’re looking for. After weighing various options for building our own, we finally said to hell with it and bought this umbrella-style deal that mounted on a single steel pole.
When we got home, I still figured on an hour — tops — to yank out the old poles and install the new one. I borrowed a jack and chain from my father-in-law, which should have yanked the posts right out of the ground, especially since they didn’t appear to be buried in concrete. Note the word “appear” in that last sentence. After the jack kept burying itself and the chain finally crushed the rusted part of the pole, I grabbed a shovel and started digging.
When a normal human being needs to install a pole, they get a post hole digger, make a hole, drop in the pole, and pour in a little concrete. Apparently hundreds of years of tried-and-true construction wasn’t good enough for a cretin who at one point owned my home, and my project has stalled right here:
A 6-inch hole for a 2.5-inch post wasn’t good enough for this brainiac, no sir. He dug a hole about a foot and a half in diameter. I imagine he called cousin Bubba and they cracked open a few beers before fetching the shovels.
Not that such a large hole stopped them from using concrete. The hole in that pic is nearly a foot deep, and the concrete is just under the layer of dirt at the bottom. The edge of the concrete is a the edge of the hole, and I’m afraid to find out how deep it goes. (I also have no idea how I’m going to find out how deep it goes, short of renting a jackhammer.) So rather than trying to pull a pole straight out of the ground, the jack was attempting to rip out the pole, a chunk of concrete, and about two cubic feet of earth — while it was directly above the concrete.
I’m trying to think of a home project that didn’t go sideways like this, and the porch is the only one that comes to mind. I’m thinking I’ve got patience enough for two more projects like this before I carve a swastika into my forehead.
Assuming I make it through the rest of this project, that is…