You know how you look at other people and what they do for a living or hobby? Have you ever wished that you could do what they do at the same level? I have.
When I was little I remember watching my dad build stuff. I remember the work he put into putting up our back yard fence so that my brother and I could play there in the grass or on our swing set. I remember dad building privacy screens at the back of the house so that my mom could sun bath in privacy from our neighbors – at the time I did not understand this but after I got married and moved into my own home I did. In later years I remember my dad building mom a pantry cupboard for the kitchen and then more storage cabinets above the refrigerator and freezer. He redid our front walkway and deck in wood after removing the cement walk that had cracked and moved with the winter freeze and thaw cycles over the course of a few years. Even today, in their retirement house, dad is still building things. He built the garage and apartment, with some help from my husband and my mom, of their home as well as building much of what is in there. He has made their entertainment center, a chest to hold extra blankets and such (kind of like a hope chest) and more recently, a new dining room table and chairs.
While growing up, I was the littlest one so my job when dad was building stuff was to keep the wood from moving. Dad would place the wood that needed to be cut over two chairs (I am not sure if he used the chairs instead of saw horses because he did not have any or so that I could help – I will go with the belief that he did it for me) and I would sit on one end of the wood so that it would not move while dad was cutting it. In those early years dad had not acquired a table saw so he was using a handsaw most of the time for the 2 x 4’s and circular saw for the bigger pieces. Sometimes I got to help hold things while dad measured or even put them together. How I loved being able to help dad build stuff for our family and home. I would give up playing with my friends to help him, well, depending on what the friends were doing and what dad needed me to do.
Now that I am married with children, and now a grandchild, and a home of my own I still enjoy helping my husband build things. Sadly it is not as often as I might like (or as much as he would). He is a mechanic by trade and an artist by temperament. When he does build something it has to be done right not just thrown together. He built our shed and had to tell himself that it was just a shed and that we would not be living in it. A few years after that we acquired some chickens and he had to quickly build a house and yard for them, again he had to remind himself that we were not going to be living in it (both are still standing, are in use, and have had trees fall on them yet have not been damaged). Several years ago my son began playing the guitar, first the bass guitar and then electric guitar, and he needed a case for one that was given to him that needed it. The two of them, father and son, came up with a plan, bought the wood, and spent the next two and a half days in the garage building this case (made with some very fine wood, good foam, and a velvet lining) to house the son’s first electric guitar (the bass guitar had a case already though it was fabric). Trust me, that case has garnered many complements and has traveled quite a bit, it is probably worth more than the guitar and will be around long after said guitar has gone. As a gift to me one year, and at my request, my husband built selves for my make up in our bedroom made from some beautiful mahogany would he has – if we ever leave this house those shelves will be going with us.
With all of that said, if I could have a gift for a trade it would be carpentry. I have always loved wood and things made from wood. By wood I am not talking about the stuff that you get in a box from the ‘big box stores’ that you just use small nails and glue to put together, frequently made with particle board. No, I am referring to solid wood items that are both sturdy and beautiful. Those items that are not put together on a whim but have much thought and time put into them. Those are the items that you find in antique stores, that fetch a good dollar amount at estate auctions, and in quality furniture stores. They are the things that stand up to the test of time for more than one generation to enjoy.
I would love to be able to build things from wood that would last through the generations. Items that would garner memories and character. To be able to build something that was both beautiful and useful, not something that could easily be thrown out with the trash. Something that could hold up to a houseful of boys/men and animals but only become more beautiful with time. Something that had a definite purpose today and tomorrow.
While I do not know if the fence or privacy screens are still standing, nor do I know if the front deck and walkway have been removed or are still in use, I do know that my dads furniture will still be solid after his passing and that my brother and I will be discussing who gets which pieces (unless mom and dad have already decided – if you read this mom & dad, pick me, pick me!!!) and then we will pass them on to our kids. The out buildings here will most likely still be standing when this house is sold, if we do not take them with us when we move (not for many years I am sure).
The test of time brings out the beauty of both the piece and the one who created it.