Labor Day: laborious projects and nearly labor-free food

I kicked off Labor Day weekend by reading a thoughtful column on the value and spiritual meaning of work, which got me thinking. For those of us who think or write for a living, getting a dose of down-in-the-dirt hard work can be a fitting rest from the mundane. I suppose that’s why I love working out really hard in the mornings, so I can then bench my body for the majority of the day and let my brain do its thing. So when our neighbors recruited us to help with a ginormous deck-building project this weekend — which would undoubtedly include shoveling dirt and driving nails — we were all in.

I figured shoveling dirt would work that elusive set of “practical” muscles, the kind of muscles you didn’t really know you had… until the next day, when they are screaming. That was especially true for my husband who logged more gravel-shoveling hours than I did Saturday morning and then spent the afternoon (apparently using his lower back) driving nails with this bullet-propelled nail gun. It was power tool heaven. But he could barely stand up straight on Sunday.

One of the pros of manual labor is the post-labor eat fest. I somehow resisted Five Guys burgers at lunch, but by that afternoon was battling mad Mexican food cravings. I was glad to lose that battle and bring back some authentically delicious Mexican from a hole-in-the-wall off Route 1 called Mexican Bakery something. The place’s walls were lined with sweet confections, which were extra hard to resist while we waited on our fish tacos and quesadillas. There was a glitch with our order, so the owner threw in a batch of house-made guacamole, a quarter of which I basically ate with a spoon. Food tastes so much better when you can look down at your dirt-crusted legs and think, “Yeah, I totally earned this.”

A foggy morning shot of our progress building a foundation for the deck. We also destroyed some never-ending tree roots to make way for paving stones near that soon-to-be replaced fence.

My husband and I couldn’t help with the deck on Sunday (and they had to wait for more supplies anyway) since we had a full day of eating fellowshipping scheduled with our church. Our poor dog was abandoned for some 9 hours while we went from church to a home group BBQ to a leadership BBQ and didn’t get home until 8 p.m. — in a state of uncomfortable stuffedness. There wasn’t much of a break between eating sessions (they were too continuous to be called meals) so we were both pretty miserable with how much we had consumed, reminding ourselves that we had not done any manual labor to earn it that day.

Monday we headed off for more manual labor — this time we forced it upon ourselves — at Ikea. Our office has been in need of organizing since, oh, the day we moved in. We’ve been mulling over my husband’s new desk decision for months and, instead of making it, decided to buy storage units and organize! I basically dread going to Ikea. The maze-like structure makes me dizzy and oh-so-hungry (or maybe that’s the pictures of Swedish meatballs they paste everywhere). To add to the temptation, they had a Labor Day special that offered free food (as much as you could eat on the premises… or hide in your purse) with a purchase over $100. We were planning to spend about that, so we got lulled into the cafeteria for some (free) buffalo chicken wraps.

The temptations of Ikea.

The Ikea trip resulted in more labor for the day: lugging a giant box to and from the car and then assembling its contents at home. But I think it turned out well:

Between our neighbors, church and Ikea feeding us for three days straight, I realized Monday afternoon that I had had a true Labor Day from cooking. I hadn’t made more than eggs all weekend! It’s nice to have a break from cooking, but in the next post I’ll go into how that does make it hard to hit the kitchen (and the grocery store) again.

So why not just make do with what you have? Next time…

One Response to “Labor Day: laborious projects and nearly labor-free food”
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