Making a Late Resolution

Over the course of time we all gradually learn things about ourselves. I have come to realize that I actually look forward to Monday mornings, for they represents a fresh week of new opportunities. I also don’t mind deadlines, as they force me to stay focused rather than diving into projects that really don’t deserve the time and effort they inevitably consume.

And I don’t wait until New Year’s Day to make a new resolution.

Last week’s was simple.

I resolved not to make any more new mistakes until I corrected some old ones.

Now, I’m not talking about any earth-shattering, life-altering changes. The first one, in fact, was rather mundane, but it has bothered me for nearly two years, so last week I decided to correct it.

Nineteen years ago I made one of those Friday afternoon decisions that you wake up the next morning and ask, “What was I thinking?” On that particular day I fell in love with a small, steep, empty lot on Lake Lure, a small mountain lake made famous as the site for the filming of both “Dirty Dancing” and “Last of the Mohicans.” While I thought so that next morning, buying the lot was not a mistake, for I set a deadline for getting it paid off, and made a resolution that as soon as I did, I would personally design and build a modest lakeside cottage. Not quite Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond, but a twentieth-century adaptation perhaps.

My mistake came four years ago when I constructed a new deck off our boathouse at Lake Lure. Instead of selecting ipe, a dense hardwood nicked name “Ironwood” for its durability, I went for the less expensive, pressure-treated pine from one of the big box home centers. After a year or two baking in the sun, the pressure-treated pine began to wilt, crack, rot, twist, buckle, split, shrink, splinter, and explode, snapping off three-inch decking screws as it did. It got so bad — and so dangerous — that none of us wanted to walk on it — including Jasper and Daisy.

So when last week I got the news that we would have several days of sunshine, I corrected an old mistake. On Monday I bought the ipe I should have purchased the first time and began removing nearly 1,500 screws from the old decking boards. I hire two young, strong men to carry the ipe down to the boathouse, taking the old boards I was removing back up with them on each trip. By the end of the day they were exhausted, and I had blisters on my hands and knees. But the new boards were all laid out and ready for me to begin cutting and attaching with 1,500 new stainless steel screws — costing fifteen cents each!

It took me another three days to cut and attach all of the boards, but the weather cooperated beautifully, with sunny skies and moderate temperatures. On the final day of the week I was able to apply a coat of oil-based sealer to the ipe (pictured top), which while not required, brought out the grain of the wood and will help delay the sun’s inevitable bleaching.

And so while I did lose a week away from my computer and my work in the office, I can check one mistake off my list as now having been corrected, and that is a good feeling.

Until next Monday,

“I know what pleasure is, for I have done good work.” – Robert Louis Stevenson