When I was a kid, power outages weren’t uncommon. Heavy snow or a summer thunderstorm could easily cause trees to come crashing down on power lines. And when that happened, everything went not just dark, but quiet. We’d find our flashlights and light our candles and enjoy the tranquility the lack of electricity created. I was always pleasantly surprised to rediscover how quiet the world was when we turned everything off.
In more recent years, power outages still happened in Arlington with alarming frequency. And when they did, it wasn’t peace and tranquility I noticed, but the roar of the many neighborhood generators. Diesel engines destroyed whatever peace there could have been. And I understood — you don’t want food to go bad in the refrigerator or freezer and summer heat can become unbearable or even deadly without air conditioning. Nevertheless, I missed the quiet stillness a power outage enabled.
So when we moved out to the country, I had mixed feelings about the whole-house generator that was already in place. It turns out, the generator — like so much with this place — is more complicated than it first appears.
Continue reading “Power Hungry”
Question: What do you feel when you come across a piece of machinery that no longer works? Do you feel sadness that it’s not able to fulfill its potential? Confusion as to why it isn’t working as it should? Anger that some kind of engineering injustice is being inflicted upon you, it, and the world? Joy that this is proof that machines will not rise up and challenge humanity for supremacy? Or nothing? Maybe you feel nothing because it’s just a machine and this is kind of stupid and there are more important things in the world.
I think most people probably go with “nothing,” because they are normal, well-adjusted people with better things to spend their time thinking about. Not me, though. I feel compelled. Compelled to see the machine returned back to its rightful working state.
And that’s why I spent too much time and too much money resurrecting an old air compressor.
Continue reading “Full of Compressed Air”
As I’ve been working on more and more projects in my shop, I’ve become increasingly annoyed by the mess — not to mention the health hazards — caused by sawdust. It’s not like I’ve been letting machines just spew out dust willy nilly; I’ve been following the well-worn path of cheapniks everywhere by connecting a shop vacuum to my machines. But, shop vacuums really aren’t made for this purpose and it’s annoying (not to mention a tripping hazard) to move the vacuum to each machine as I work around the shop.
I guess you could say I had approached another one of those lines between adolescence and adulthood, like drinking amber liquids from cut-crystal glasses; hiring professional movers instead of begging friends for help; making beds after sleeping in them; preparing entire meals instead of opening a can of smoked oysters and a box of crackers. It was time, in other words, to be a man and install a central dust collection machine and permanent ductwork in my shop.
Continue reading “Duct, Duct, Goose”
Among the many reasons we moved out to the country — space, quiet, nature, workshop — perhaps the top consideration was plenty of space for a garden. Or, better yet, multiple gardens.
We got that, for sure, including lots of existing garden beds that were already well established. So over the summer we’ve been working to expand what was in place and create new space for veggies, flowers and more.
I’ve already written about our wildflower projects. Those meadows are well underway and beginning to pop with color. And I’ve also written about the greenhouse we put up last fall. But those are just the beginnings of our efforts.
Continue reading “En Garde(n)”
One of the reasons I haven’t written a ton about my work in the shop is that I haven’t actually been doing a ton in the shop. Instead, I’ve mostly been focused on outdoor projects this summer, including the creation of some wildflower meadows. It’s a project that actually started in April.
Continue reading “Among the Wildflowers”
A few months ago, I decided to make some outdoor games for when friends come over. I started with a simple oversized Jenga set using leftover 2x4s from the dog kennel demolition. And while folks do seem to love Jenga — especially when a falling tower has the potential to break a toe — I decided I needed to add a less destructive game to the mix. Cornhole to the rescue.
Continue reading “Cornhole in One”
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.
Continue reading “The Box Is the Present”
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.
Continue reading “Pulling Posts (Fence, not Blog)”
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.
Continue reading “Crown Molding: Adventures in Angles”
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.
Continue reading “Softening the Hardscape”