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The Neverending Project Essay, Research Paper

The Neverending Project

I stood at my kitchen door looking across the breezeway at the outside garage wall. Planning some light remodeling work prior to selling my home I figured I would replace a few of the cedar shingles and layer on some fresh gray paint. My house is a small Cape built back in 1948 and although the previous owners updated virtually everything, they never replaced the old cedar shingles that are now worn from several cold winters and hot summers. Considering the simplicity of such a project, I knew I would have to set aside the better part of the day, a whopping six hours or so, to complete the task (trip to Home Depot included). A six hour job would leave me just enough time to mow the lawn!

While looking at the garage, I noticed some odd dirt stains appearing to leak down from behind the cedar shingles so I stepped out of the house and walked across the breezeway to get a closer look. Sure enough, it looked as though dirt, carried by rain, stained the shingles leading me to believe the breezeway roof must be leaking down between the shingled wall and the inner garage wall. I stepped very close to examine the stains and found tiny particles of sawdust clinging to the shingles like cobwebs. Suddenly my neighbor, Ken, let out a yell from his driveway scaring me enough that I jumped up nearly knocking over my wife s prized collection of garden statuettes placed on a nearby table. Ken is an older man who is hard of hearing, although he ll tell you differently, and one of the nicest neighbors a person could have. It never ceases to amaze me the sheer physical effort he puts forth to yell hello to me each morning and how it always scared the hell out of me. The man is loud! This morning it wasn t hello he was yelling, instead I watched him for a few minutes as he walked around his front lawn stomping his feet. Not feeling too neighborly I stayed out of sight until Ken went back inside muttering something like, Damn ants!

With the morning entertainment now over I returned to stare at the little sawdust formations for a few seconds realizing the apprehension growing within me when a black carpenter ant scurried out from behind one of the shingles. Remembering an old science fiction movie about giant man-eating ants ravaging the southwest, I had visions of James Whitmore, the Nevada State Police Officer starring in the movie, fending the ants off with a flamethrower only to meet his demise in the oversized mandibles of an attacking ant. The ant and I stared at each other for a few moments as if to contemplate each other s fate should we attack. I guess under the present circumstances the ant decided to make a hasty retreat back within the wall of my garage while I simply stood there wondering where could I rent a flamethrower. Knowing the damage and sheer power these wood nesting insects could bring forth on my house I think the ant s hasty retreat was not so much out of fear but to warn the rest of the impending threat.

I re-entered my kitchen, sat down at the table and planned my attack. First, I researched why these ants chose to create a metropolis within my garage and how I could launch a successful, yet swift, attack upon them eradicating their presence and sending a chilling message to any future invasions. The research uncovered my original concern, carpenter ants typically nested in wet, rotten wood. Not a very comforting factor considering the pending sale of my house.

After a brief reconnaissance mission to the local Home Depot, I returned with battle gear, no flame throwers, just insecticide, in hand and proceeded to tear apart the wall knowing what I would have to accomplish. First, I tore off the cedar shingles finding water damage and several carpenter ants running about. Continuing on I removed the siding previously installed that the shingles covered and found two thriving suburban communities of these creatures within the wooden planks. Standing on a small stepladder I almost came crashing to the cement steps when Ken noticed me working on the house and voiced in my direction an ear-shattering HELLO! I humorously thought, wouldn t it be great to use that verbal sonic blast as some type of weapon against my plight? Returning a wave to Ken, I turned back to my battle. Looking at my watch I realized four hours passed since crossing enemy lines, so much for the six hour project plan. I guess the lawn won t get mowed anytime soon.

It wasn t until two full weekends, and three more trips to Home Depot, that my battle with these little voracious armies was finally approaching a victorious end. Originally planned as a six hour project replacing a few shingles and some light painting, my home improvement task turned into a five day major construction job complete with the bills to show for my efforts. I had to completely rebuild the wall inside and out as well as reshingle and paint. Of course this was after tearing out the sprawling infestations of suburban carpenter ants and laying waste to their stronghold in what could be called a celebrated victory rivaling some of the most famous global conflicts.

Certainly I felt the elation as I flexed the will and might of a superior being in the tiny faces of my enemy just as Ken rounded the corner with another HELLO almost causing me to spill my last can of paint.

Just thought I d stop by and see how goes the battle! Can t stand them ants, I find them all over my yard every spring! As quickly as he appeared he disappeared into my garage to take a look at my handy work. Thinking how the confines of the garage would only serve to amplify his questions I decided to continue painting outside. It became quiet inside the garage so I yelled to Ken to make sure he was all right and he answered, Sure, I m fine, but what s all this sawdust up on your ceiling rafters?

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