Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Joy of Toil

"A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink, and take satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 2:24 
There is little I like to do more on the weekend than to catch up on all the nothin' I meant to do during the week but never got around to. The unread books, unfinished models, uninhabited hammocks, or incomplete videogames call to me in a polyphonic siren's song of abdicated responsibilities.

Now, obviously my domestic situation precludes my actually indulging such proclivities, but even so, this past weekend was one of the most enjoyable in ages.

We got a little bit of a lie-in on Saturday, after which I got up and made steak and eggs out of the last chunks of tenderloin from last year's Costco stocks, only recently re-discovered during the defrosting of the deep freeze.

A big breakfast was in order; a busy day lay ahead with an atypical amount of physical labour in store. After languishing on the patio all winter and through the spring, this was our last chance to move our fix-em-up tent trailer into the garage prior to our Churchill pilgrimage at the end of the month.

After getting the garage arranged, we came up with a plan, with me lifting the hitch, Glory would manage the blocks holding the tongue jack, while Audrey and Fenya pushed from the opposite side. Working in concert, we got it off the patio, onto the gentle slope of the back lawn, and into the alley, stopping to rest my hands a couple of times, while Glory dutifully replaced the blocks.

From the alley, the real work began: shoving the trailer up the significant incline into the garage, with about 4 inches clearance to either side. Glory had to work double duty, managing both the heavy wooden blocks and the plastic wheel chocks needed to keep the trailer from rolling back on us when we stopped to realign, while Fenya helped us narrowly avoid clipping one side of the doorway.

Soon enough, we had the trailer safely ensconced in the garage, with no damage done to the vehicle, its shelter, or its carbon-unit propulsion system. It was nice to have a big job out of the way, but the best part was doing it with the girls. Despite it being an onerous, arduous task, they were eager to help, fully participating, giving ideas, staying high-spirited, and working like donkeys because we all were.

Now that the patio was clear, other jobs loomed: sweeping all the spruce needles away, bringing out and cleaning off the table and chairs, retrieving the glass tabletop from the basement and the seat cushions from the garage rafters. When that was sorted, Audrey and Fenya cleaned up the front yard and garden while Glory and I muscled $50 worth of bottles and cans into the Flex and hauled them off to the depot.

With that done, I had just enough energy left to start soaking a set of cedar planks for barbecue season, and with dinner started, at last I was able to feel I had earned a relaxing evening. I played a bit of The Last of Us on the PS3, drinking a gin & tonic while the chicken strips cooked, then Fenya toddled off to dinner with a friend while the rest of us watched Ant-Man on Netflix.

Sunday got off to an even better start, with Audrey making a Father's Day bacon and eggs breakfast, and the girls gifting me with all manner of BBQ paraphernalia, plus a beautiful mug and the Historical Events version of Timeline. That afternoon we finally played the copy of 7 Wonders we got a couple of Christmases back and really enjoyed it.

We wrapped up the evening at Soda Jerks, a first time treat for the girls, and $6 Grown Up (i.e. boozy) milkshakes for Audrey and I. Fenya tried to egg me on to eating The Doris, a challenge burger that costs $30 but gets you a t-shirt if you finish it, but I demurred in favour of a cherry bourbon milkshake instead.  All in all, a perfect weekend.

And yet, looking back at games played and meals enjoyed, I take the most pleasure at moving that stupid trailer. What sense does that make?

It makes more sense when you look at this past weekend less as the starting of summer, and more as the finishing of a school year. And Fenya's final one, at that.

I know myself too well and see my mistakes too clearly to feel I've earned any sort of world's greatest dad trophy (or mug; mine today says 'Father' in a Gaelic font and has an Irish blessing on the obverse), but knowing that your daughters not only get along but work well together, that they don't shy away from work because it is dirty or tiring, is probably the best kind of Father's Day gift a fellow could ask for.

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