Thursday, April 26, 2012

Building Boats

     When I was a child, part of every summer was spent in Lockeport, Nova Scotia at my maternal grandparents' home. My Nanny loved children and would bake us special treats she knew we liked and spend her time teasing and cuddling us. But my Granddad didn't really take an active part in our visit. I don't think he knew how to interact with kids. He was never mean to us or anything like that but he left the cuddling and talking to Nanny.
      But there was one thing that he always did for us kids that I will never forget and I believe it has stood me in good stead ever since. Out in his barn, under the work bench he had a box full of small blocks of wood. He would get a big armful of this wood and dump it on the walkway for us. Then he would go back to the barn and get a plastic container of roofing nails and a couple small hammers (one was an actual cobblers hammer). We would pass many happy hours building boats and towers and being creative. It was better than Lego!
      Sometimes we would later take our boats to the beach to see if they would be seaworthy and usually we had built them too top heavy so they always capsized, but it was still fun to try. When our vacation was over Granddad would patiently take all the blocks apart again and store them under his workbench for another visit. I have always loved building things. I'm not a carpenter by any means but I do love a hammer and some nails. I love my Granddad for allowing us to be creative, it has given me a love to build. He may not have known how to interact with kids like my Nanny did, but in his own way he did.
     Recently, our eldest son, Benjamin, and I decided to build a shed. We used what we had: seven doors, three bi-fold doors, a kids metal swimming pool without the liner, nails of every size and some scrap 2x4s and boards. It doesn't sound like much but it worked. We used the three shorter doors for one side and the three taller for the other so that our roof would have a slant. We saved the last door as an actual working door for the front. We joined them together by a 2x4 across the top and the bottom horizontally and used scrap pieces of wood vertically for reinforcement. Once the walls were finished we joined them together by using the boards we had across the back of the structure. Then we put on the roof which was the metal swimming pool. We not only had enough to cover the roof but the back of the shed as well. We used 2x4s across the top and two of the bi-fold doors under the swimming pool to give it extra strength from the weight of snow or rain (they're actually quite strong). We used part of an old deck for the floor. We used everything we had. We still have to paint the shed and install the front door, but we're pleased with what we've created. It gives us a shed to keep our snow shovels and lawn mowers in and it doesn't leak. We plan on painting each door a different color and we left each door knob or latch in place for a whimsical look. Our shed won't win any awards for 'best built' but it serves the purpose and it didn't cost us a cent. We used what we had.
     Granddad used what he had too to relate to his grandchildren and I am so glad he did. He could have retreated into the background and not tried but he didn't. He found something to connect us and because of that anytime I see a roofing nail, I remember my grandfather and what he did for us.

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