Planking Old School

“For the last time,” I sigh, “I have no idea what kind of wood they want.  If it’s not written on the sheet I gave you, the pieces can be made from cardboard for all I care.”

I tapped the ‘sheet’ — a square piece of cut cardboard, where Mom and her carpenter had scribbled the dimensions of various planks and decorative trim.  The sheet wobbled atop a stack of wood samples like the roof of shanty poked with a funnel cloud.  The guy behind the register was not particularly blind, but I felt that calling attention to the list helped to establish my incompetence.

“Well,” the old man said, returning my sigh as if vying for a Grand Slam, “well, do you want to call them?  See what they want to do?”

I pause for a few seconds and pretend to consider the suggestion, soaking in the fact that I’ve made authority figures out of nothing more than pronouns.  ‘They’  could be the Queen of England (using the royal plural) or the NSA, scouring the guy’s phone records.  Or perhaps our alien overlords.  That’s the power of obscurity.   Besides, specifying my employers as ‘Mom and Dad’ just sounded lame.

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RE: furbish

Work in progress

Work in progress

Over the past several months, my folks have undertaken a massive home renovation project.  We plan on taking our small undersized kitchen and expanding it into a culinary workshop that would make Gordan Ramsey sit up and beg.  ‘How?’ you may ask?

Mostly, it seems by totally rearranging the whole damn house into a lifesize Escher painting.   Currently, I have little to no knowledge of the location of cereal, forks, television remotes, the Lazyboy, salsa, chips, pots, soap dispenser, can opener, or the front door.  All are lost or currently buried beneath bins, boxes and furniture.

You see for years, our current kitchen has abutted next to the ‘good’ or unused dining room. Nearly every home has one, a well-polished table adorned with silver candlesticks and untouched silverware, relics which mothers maintain in mint quality as if the queen might stop by one day unannounced for tea. Our own dining room was an ersatz museum collection of fine china, dark ebony tables, Polish tea cups, Belleek vases, and grinning Hummel figurines. Needless to say, if the queen did stop by for a cup of Earl Grey, digestion would prove difficult with hundreds of small frozen children exchanging blood-red posies, laughing maniacally in their small ceramic wheelbarrows from dust-caked bookcases. Teaching before a room of bleary-eyed kids and . . . well, it’s no wonder I’m so anxious. Anyway, we rarely ate or drank anything in this dining room, even just to spite Mom, who despite our professed phobias screamed bloody murder at any sign of drink or beverage on her ‘nice wood floors.’

Fear them . . .

Fear them . . .

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Homeward Progress

Well, a month or so has passed since I’ve written about my brother’s house; mostly as we leave behind the lumberjacking portion of the construction and begin laying sticks and bricks, my presence on the job site is becoming less and less necessary.  Considering my skill with a hammer, the helpful absence of one additional carpenter can only speed along completion — not to mention reduce injury.

Still when you stop to imagine the lifetimes spent building the pyramids of Giza, the great cathedrals of Europe, and the Baltimore beltway, you appreciate the speed and efficacy with which we construct the modern home.  Thus, I wanted to post the first and latest pictures from Pat and Tiff’s property, hopefully illustrating the construction timeline for the last two months. Continue reading

I, Lumberjack.

Tree-rich forest“Seriously dude this is the greatest moment of my life,” Frank said as we pulled up to my brother, Pat’s, house. Or rather where his house will be in two months.  “It’s like heaven without the virgins.”

“Heads up,” I muttered.  A large poplar crashed across the road, sending a spray of splinters the size of daggers into the air.  Dad waved at us from the fractured remains of Mother Nature.  Against the ragged stump, he rested his chainsaw and chugged at a canteen (filled with sweet tea).  Several thunderstorms were predicted to roll across the county later that afternoon, dissipating some of the heat eventually.  However, we were not about to cut trees in the rain and so until then, we would suffer the heat.

Finished, Dad wiped his brow and handed Frank the saw, grunting as he did so toward a sixty-foot tree at the edge of the property.  At his nod, I moseyed toward the chipper, where Sean and Ryan stuffed broken branches and freshly cut saplings between revolving gears and mechanical teeth.  The machine gurgled and screamed as it chewed, finally spitting out its waste like a bulimic model onto growing piles of discarded chips and shavings. Continue reading