Working together

Susan Manzke

For many years Bob and his dad had a dairy herd. Day in and day out they worked. Winter was especially taxing, but they worked just the same.
            All those cows are long gone now. Bob doesn’t mind not doing those chores especially when the temperature is below zero, but he’s still a man who has to be busy.
            If my husband seems out of sorts in winter, it’s usually because he’s stuck inside with nothing challenging to do—or just bookkeeping staring him in the face.
Sometimes I find chores for him—just to make him happy. I’m a nice wife that way. Other times, Bob looks for his own busy work to do.
            For example, for some time my husband has been analyzing the broken arm on an old couch in our living room—it’s not over-used old. For its age it’s in good condition. But it is old. Bob’s parents got this couch when they were first married, meaning it’s probably 75 years old.
            The couch rides kind of low for Bob and I to use. Our recliners sit up higher. So they are much easier to get in and out of. This couch is only used when we have a house filled with company
            Anyway, one of the wood armrests was loose. The couch is extremely heavy because of metal framing as it folds flat for sleeping. Every time it was moved, someone tugged a bit too much on the armrests and loosened the connections.
            The other day, Bob decided it was time to fix that armrest. He had been putting that chore off because he didn’t exactly know how to tackle it. To fix the pieces he’d have to lie on the floor next to the couch.
            Bob doesn’t like to get down on the floor because he knows eventually he’ll have to get up again. Getting off the floor would be the most difficult part of this whole operation.
            Before starting, Bob gathered all his tools so they would be right where he would need them. I minded my own business. If my husband wanted my help he’d ask for it.
            First, Bob dismantled the upper part of the maple armrest. Most of it wasn’t connected anyway. He then thought through the process of putting it back in place.
            The screws that had been used on the armrest years ago had broken off. He had to remove them, but no screwdriver budged them. Bob had to get up and get better tools and a flashlight—this is when the grumbling started. It wasn’t until curses began to fly that I stepped in to help.
            I couldn’t do much except hand him tools and hold his light, but at least with me there his language changed for the better.
            Bob complained about the hardness of the maple armrest. He called it hard rock maple. I had never heard of hard rock maple before, but this wood sure acted like hard rock.
            Eventually he removed the old screws and with an extra hand from me secured it in place. Then the difficult part came. He had to get up off the floor.
            Bob had wedged himself between the furniture, so he had to wiggle free. When he was out in the open again he made his first mistake. He flopped over on his back.
            Legs and arms flailed as he tried to flip back on his side. Bob looked like a turtle on its back.
            Of course, I was a lot of help. Not really, I was too busy laughing. That didn’t help because then Bob started laughing and his progress was interrupted.
            When we settled down, Bob managed to swing his leg over. The nearby couch was put to use as he pushed on it to get to his feet.
            The armrest is fixed, well mostly. When our big cat walked across it that evening on his way to Bob’s lap, I saw the wood give a little. I don’t think that couch is going to be moved from its resting place from now on.
            As you can see, Bob and I still work and laugh together. That’s not bad for two old fogies.
            Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com

Bob decided it was time to fix the armrest.