The Box Is the Present

Finished Box

When one of my nieces finished graduate school and celebrated her 27th birthday last year, I told her I was making her a present and it would be done “soon.”

“Soon” is a relative term, of course, and by geologic standards, she barely had to wait at all; I ended up only a year behind schedule and finally gave it to her a few weeks ago. I thought I’d take a moment to write about its construction here.

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Pulling Posts (Fence, not Blog)

The previous owner of our property ran a dog boarding business and as part of his setup, he built a nice fenced-in area behind the house. It’s a livestock-style wire fence with large wooden posts — some are eight inches in diameter — sunk deep into the ground. Since I’m not running a dog boarding business, I don’t really need (nor do I want) this fence. I’d rather open things up to give the property a more free-flowing feel. But how do I go about pulling these posts, each of which may weigh 50 pounds or more and are sunk three to four feet into the ground? Physics to the rescue.

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Crown Molding: Adventures in Angles

As I’ve written about in recent posts, I’ve been doing some work in our living room and on the fireplace in particular. Re-painting it and re-crafting the mantle were two projects from this spring. Both projects turned out well, but something was missing. The room just wasn’t “finished.” What it needed was some crown molding to give it that final flourish.

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Softening the Hardscape

As previously described, I’m incredibly lucky to have a large shop on our property in the form of a four-bay garage. However, being a four-bay garage, it sits as a rather large and imposing structure at the top of our driveway. It’s not exactly inviting.

In an attempt to rectify this, I decided what was needed were some wooden planters filled with colorful flowers. This would soften the brown and brick façade and also give me a relatively quick and easy weekend project to work on.

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For the Bird(houses)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy working on a wide variety of projects, including rebuilding small engine carburetors, taking down fencing, building garden plots, creating a wildflower field, replacing a well pump, and minor auto repairs, among other things.

It’s one of the “other things” I’m writing about today: building and hanging birdhouses. A dozen of them, actually, from small chickadee abodes to huge owl boxes. They’re fun to build, relatively easy, relatively cheap and provide joy for years. Building them is the easy part. The hard part is mounting them high enough on trees. But that’s nothing a little cleverness can’t solve.

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The Power of the Electric Meter

One of the few improvements we made to our house after moving in was to replace the roof and to install a solar array. I love the environmental aspect of solar, as well as the prospect of cheaper electricity, but perhaps the coolest aspect of the solar system is the ability to monitor its energy production through an app or website. And, as I later learned, it could also tell me how much energy I was consuming. Unfortunately, getting that information proved tricker than I thought.

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A Dog’s Breakfast

It was a little over 13 years ago that our family brought a little chocolate bundle of joy into our lives. Milo joined our family as a palm-sized pup, but being a Labrador Retriever, he displayed an unflinching devotion to his food bowl and quickly ate his way into adulthood. I like to think he loves us, as we love him, but we also know that when the chips are down, Milo will absolutely snarf up those chips — and plead for more.

Recently, though, his food fixation has become increasingly disruptive. So much so, we’ve had to take action. And, I’m pleased to say, that required a trip to the woodshop.

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