Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Wax on. Wax off." - Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

An overcast summer morning in Houston, or a giant yellow fire alien intent on conquering humanity with a trident. You be the judge. You can click on it for bigger wallpapery goodness.

I believe that work is the best medicine, after, well, actual medicine. I also believe that work is the best teacher, after, well, Mr. Miyagi. I also believe that π is exactly 22/7.

It was Saturday and The Boy was parked (on a middling nasty day) in front of the TV, watching a show on how to install ceramic tile (I am not making this up). The Mrs. was sprawled out on the couch, making a noise gentle soft snoring noise, similar to an industrial vacuum cleaner with a tennis ball stuck in it. I looked at The Boy and saw what every father sees when he looks at His Boy sitting watching TV: free labor going to waste.

“Get your shoes on. We’re going outside.”

“Okay.” The Boy got up, with no protest. Maybe he thought we were going to do something fun.


Out into summer Houston, just as hot and humid as the inside of Al Gore’s pancreas, we went. I had a chainsaw and a trimmer, and it was time to take out a little vengeance on the trees.

The previous owner of the house had let the trees grow wild. That’s not so bad, unless you have to walk under them, or, worse yet drive a riding mower under them. I got hit full on in the forehead at full mower speed by a nice branch, and had a little chainsaw party for that particular friend early on. I thought I was done.

As we got more moved in, I continued unpacking and found the canopy/sunshade that attaches to the mower. In Fairbanks, this little canopy was frivolous, since the Sun was never overhead enough for the canopy to provide any protection at all. Nor, really, would you need it. The Sun was never intense enough in Fairbanks to give anyone a tan, let alone a sunburn – and our family is so pigment-deficient that you can actually look right through our skin and see our major internal organs, sloshing around inside us, doing the icky things they do. Despite their being no immanent danger of immolation in Fairbanks, I put the canopy on the mower anyway. It just looks right that way.

I looked at my canopy and then put it on the mower – it was a bright, sunny, hot day. The canopy helped in two ways:
It kept the Sun’s evil rays off of my skin, and,
It kept the Sun’s evil rays off my beer.

That theory worked fine, until I drove the mower under a tree and a low-hanging branch caught the edge of the canopy, ripping the nylon fabric and breaking mangling one of the supports of the canopy.

This was war.

I proceeded to hack, grind, and rip every branch within 84” (261 meters) of ground level. The Boy’s job? Pick each branch up and put it in a plastic trash bag for disposal. Difficulty factor? Prevent Pugsley from doing stupid two-year old things. (Pugsley was outside wandering about on an edict from The Mrs. that there be no stinky smelly boys in the house for a bit. Saintly though she might be, she does tire of us from time to time.)

I gave The Boy trash bags. Were these ordinary bags? No. The plastic on the bags is as thick as one of Grandma’s quilts, and there’s enough volume inside each bag to put the entire population of Switzerland, with a little room left over for a few assorted short Bolivians. Each trash bag is so big it takes approximately six barrels of sweet, sweet oil to manufacture.

I continued hacking while The Boy, well, frittered, sputtered, and complained (around the time I’d finished amputating limbs from the trees). Eventually, Pugsley decided he wanted to go take a nap, and that left just The Boy and I.

When working alone, The Boy was cantankerous, obstinate, and just plain whiney. Working together, he stooped and picked up the branches and leaves and ran them back to the bag like a sweaty irritated rabid weasel after three cappuccinos and an espresso. The Boy motored. Me? I just moved the bag along, encouraging him gently with repeated fatherly encouragements such as, “More” and “Faster” and “Maggot.”

We loaded up nine of the humongous trash bags.

In The Karate Kid Daniel-san learned how to block punches by waxing Mr. Miyagi’s car. I’m thinking that The Boy learned his own lesson that day.

Hide on summer days when Dad comes looking for help.


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