Gainin’ On Her

My elderly friend Allen has an expression he has always used to encourage me, when I am attempting some long and overwhelming task. “Good girl! You’re gainin’ on her!”

I picture myself in an elementary school foot race, closing the gap between myself and Heidi Grossman, who was faster — pumping my arms, straining to draw breath, pulling up to her shoulder, gainin’ on her.

Last night I thought with satisfaction, I am gaining on this barn addition.

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Yesterday Luke and I got a little less than half the siding up. (There will be a four-foot-wide dutch door at each end of the space, and as soon as I have a minute to look at the plans I will frame them in and side above them.)

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I was disappointed not to finish it, but the reality of working in deep cold is that everything is slower and takes more time. For most of our working hours the temperature was below 10° F, and for part of the morning it was below zero. Though I was swathed in many layers, my hands and feet ached with cold.

I was too cold to remember to take pictures until we were ready to leave. My phone’s battery went dead.

The footing was an ice sheet where we were sawing boards on the truck tailgate. After many slips and near-falls I brought out a few flakes of hay and scattered it on the ice. “Really should have some manure, though, to make it tacky,” I remarked seriously to Luke. He started to laugh. We kept working, slowly, watching our step.

This morning it is already forty degrees warmer than yesterday. Later today it will be a balmy 30°. Luke is on his way back to college and I had planned to take a day off, quietly cleaning house, folding laundry, and writing my 48 student reports.

But looking at the weather forecast I’m going to see if, working alone with the Skilsaw and nail gun, I can gain on her a little more.

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