I don’t have tattoos. I have scars. An injury that caused one of these marks came during the Blizzard of 1978 when one of my brothers accidentally hit me in the head with his shovel while we were trying to dig out the drive of our rural Midwestern home. He stopped working for a minute to give my bloody head a quick review and then said, “You’ll be alright, but don’t stand so close to me.” Since we were snowed in, medical attention was not an option. I pulled the stocking cap back down on my head to soak up the blood and kept shoveling. That would have been the end of it except for the scar that gets more prominent with age and hair loss. A decade and a half after the blizzard I found myself working in the Appalachian Mountains on a large construction project. A piece of rebar sliced my hand as efficiently as a razor blade, but for multiple reasons, a trip to the emergency room was once again not an option. So, on that hot summer day, I covered the bloody gash with leftover fast food napkins, wrapped it with duct tape, and got back to my job of tying steel.
I’ve consistently taken a hands-on approach to my renovation projects because I totally enjoy every phase of fixing up a run-down home. I can and will hire subcontractors for scopes too great or technical for me to tackle alone, but if I’m capable of knocking out an activity working solo, I will. When it’s been suggested that I pay others to complete various tasks I’ve often explained that I wouldn’t hire someone to watch a football game or play golf on my behalf so I’m not going to pay someone to complete work that I enjoy doing myself either. It’s simply too much fun to pay people to do it for me. Scrapes, cuts, work related wounds with the resulting blood are routine. It’s not uncommon to see red drops suddenly start appearing on my work that serve as evidence that I’m bleeding. This is not all about how I was raised, I really become so immersed in what I doing that I’m oftentimes oblivious to whatever caused me to accidentally injure myself.
Sweat is part of the process too. During the summer months I’ve gotten into the habit of rotating shirts to deal with the issue of excessive perspiration that often starts in the first sixty minutes on site and continues until sundown. I’ll hang a wet shirt on a section of handrail or fence, grab a dry one from the stack, and keep swapping shirts in and out until the first shirt is dry. Then I slip back into shirt number one as I start the rotation cycle from the beginning. It makes me more comfortable so I can focus and I need a dry shirt for the seemingly endless need to wipe the sweat off my face.
In addition, I make a point to fill an empty milk jug with water and place it in the freezer overnight. In the morning I’ll throw the block of ice encased in plastic into my truck and I’ll suck it down all day as it thaws out in the sun. I regularly finish off this gallon of water myself during an average work day in June, July, August, and September.
Blood, Sweat, and Pig’s Ears, they all go together for me in a way that makes me truly feel right at home in a run-down house.