Tuesday, February 25, 2014

All work and no playhouse a likely outcome



Hey, do you guys remember that column I wrote about the magical back yard garden I was tending? Yes? Great! That garden is dead.

I don’t know what happened. The zucchinis I had planted there did so well that, had they grown vertically instead of horizontally, I could have reenacted Jack and the Beanstalk for the girls. Instead it was more like Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed me, Seymour!” the zucchini plants screamed at me as I whacked them down with a machete, defiantly exclaiming, “My name is MIKE!”

So that was how that ended. I tried to plant other things, which always looked great immediately after planting. Then the sun would come out. 

I was left with a 6X6 block of turf in the corner of the yard that was watered every day via our drip system even though nothing grew there. This is a great use of resources, I thought to myself daily while struggling to come up with an alternative.

Then it hit me. A playhouse for the girls. Not only would this be a fantastic use of that space, it would also give the girls a special place to go to play pretend, establish their sisterly bond and also GET OUT OF MY FACE.

I’m sorry, I just zoned out for a second. Where was I? Oh yes, playhouse. But what kind of playhouse?

The plastic playhouses I viewed online were a little toddlerish and did not have the refined aesthetic I was going for. I have enough plastic junk around the house that is supposed to resemble architecture, thank you very much. I wanted the playhouse to look like an actual house, just on a smaller scale. Who knows, maybe the girls would want to live there for six months out of the year. Therefore, I’d have to get a wooden playhouse.

Wood + Valley summers = great idea. This is a proven formula in the field of sarcastics. So, I’d have to find a playhouse that was pre-treated and mostly cedar, which, according to my wife and not any inherent manly knowledge on my own part, is more resilient to extreme weather.

Speaking of manly knowledge, adding to my search criteria was that it needed to be relatively simple to put together. I actually came across one playhouse that I really liked, and which the customer reviews said was pretty easy to build. One of the reviewers went on to say, “I only had one problem, when two holes weren’t pre-drilled, but it was nothing a ¼” drill bit couldn’t solve,” and I immediately clicked off the page, closed the computer and ran away.

Eventually, I found one. Every review was positive and claimed it takes 3-4 hours to put together, so it should only take me a few weeks. It has a working doorbell and a freakin’ bay window. It arrived this week. In 100 parts. I am scared.

So scared, in fact, that I’ve already recruited my neighbor to help me. He is a Vietnam veteran, although I suspect his most vivid recollections of trauma involve the times I’ve called him to assist me in putting something together or to fix something I have tried and failed to put together. When “we” installed our water softener, it went like this:

Ron: (doing all the work) Hey Mike, do you have a pipe wrench?

Me: (looks up from iPhone) That depends. What is a pipe wrench? Actually, I’ll just Google it, hold on …

Ron: You know what? I’ll just run home real quick.

Me: Sorry, Ron. It’s still loading.

So we’ll see it how it goes. Hopefully I won’t have to take a machete to it, which is the only way I know how to judge the success of my home-based projects.

Note: This column appears in the 2/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/28 issue of the Peoria Times.

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