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The power of relaxation ... or the power washer
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It was to be an extended weekend of relaxation at the lake. I held a book firmly in hand, ready to spend some overdue quality one-on-one time on the deck with my summer reading.

My husband ran a quick errand to town and returned just as I read the first words of chapter one. He opened the rear hatch of the vehicle and struggled to remove something large and heavy. My curiosity piqued, I set the book down and leaned forward in my chair to get a better view.

"Need any help?" I asked. (Famous last words.)

"That would be great," he said. "This will only take a minute." (More famous last words.)

I joined him at the rear bumper to view what can only be called a mechanically monstrous contraption. I recognized the machine as some sort of yard work implement, of which type I wasn't sure. It wasn't a lawn mower - although it had two tires, an engine and a handle. It wasn't a sprinkler, although it did have a hose attachment. It wasn't a snow blower, because this is summer, after all.

I looked at my husband with what must have been a quizzical expression.

"It's a pressure washer," he said with the pride of a guy who is secure in his knowledge of lawn tools. "Just wait 'til you see how this takes the dirt and grime off the cabin."

I had to admit, our place had its fair share of dirty grime, not to mention grimy dirt.

"It's ours for the next four hours," he said. "Help me get it set up and you can give her a try."

I noted his generosity and followed him across the yard.

He attached the gizmo to our spigot and allowed me first crack at the water-shooting portion of the implement, which is technically called a spray wand, but looks and feels a whole lot more like an Uzi. Harry Potter carries a wand and wears a cape and spectacles. The Terminator carries an Uzi and wears a leather jacket and really cool sunglasses. Enough said.

The mechanism sat securely under my right elbow. My left hand supported the barrel. With index finger resting firmly on the trigger, I was locked and loaded and prepared to terminate some serious dirt. My husband turned on the water and motioned for me to give her a pull.

I've never made myself familiar with guns; can't say as I've ever fired anything larger than one that shoots BBs, but the power of this Uzi-like washer gizmo under my unassuming index finger felt good. It felt mighty good. I pulled again. And again.

I took aim and shot a steady stream at the mildew and moss growing on the fascia. Muck and dirt fled my unyielding flow of H2O. With the power of nearly 3 gallons per minute shooting out from my Uzi wand with the force of 2600 psi, I became unrelenting - a commando of sorts. I blasted a spider web and made my way down the exterior of the house, headed for the grunge of the deck. I was on a roll and in control. Who knew a pressure washer could bring about such pleasure?

The kids wanted a turn. I shooed them away with a flick of my wrist and a spray of the gun. Mama's got a new toy and she ain't sharing. This was too big a job for their inexperienced hands. Besides, my husband already had dibs on the next go 'round.

We took turns all afternoon, finishing with minutes to spare on our four-hour rental. Still grimy from our day's work, my husband and I made the trip to town to return the washer. As we pulled into the hardware store parking lot, he turned to me with enduring and endearing love in his eyes.

"I was wondering," he wondered, "what you thought about painting the deck tomorrow?"

I wiped the remnants of a soggy dead leaf from my hair. How could a girl say no to a proposition like that?

We picked out paint colors and got to work early the next morning.

So much for an extended three days of relaxation at the lake. My book sat on the deck chair all weekend. Some say summer reading is over-rated. I wouldn't know. At least not yet.

- Jill Pertler's column appears every Thursday in the Times. She can be reached at