“Measure twice – cut once.”
That simple saying has been my mantra for the past couple months. I haven’t necessarily applied it as often as I should, but that’s because my mantra for so many years was borrowed from Albert Einstein, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Lord knows I love to try new things and I almost always refuse to read or ask for directions. I believe learning from your own mistakes is the best way to learn, maybe not the easiest – but there’s never a dull moment!
My ‘anything new’ of late has been carpentry. Yes, you read that right, carpentry. This stiletto wearing, perfect nail polish, big hair diva borrowed a power saw a few months ago and now I’ve morphed into Tim from “Tool Time” – but with boobs and I’m much easier on the eyes. It began when my backyard gate fell apart – literally fell off the hinges, giving my dogs, Stella & Vinny, their first taste of freedom. That freedom resulted in me chasing them through my neighborhood at 6:00 a.m. with no makeup, wearing pajamas with little martini glasses on them, a severe case of bed-head yelling….. “STELL-AHHHHH”!
Vinny is only eight weeks old, and while he likes to do everything Stella does, his little legs were no match for mine. Ok, that’s not entirely true. Vinny can still be bribed and he returned to me like Baby did to Johnny in Dirty Dancing, leaping into my arms when he heard me open the package of dog treats. Stella, however, seemed to be channeling the running scenes from Chariots of Fire, (now you have that theme song in your head). But I digress.
I’m a pretty resourceful gal, but carpentry has never been my thing. I looked into having someone build and install a gate for me, but quickly realized that unless I won the lottery, this was going to be something I had to figure out on my own. And that’s exactly what I did. A quick internet search revealed more than enough ideas to get me started and after numerous trips to Home Depot, I was ready to do this. Using a circular saw, hand saw, power drill, crow bar, galvanized screws and the occasional swear word – I designed, built and installed a gate all by myself and I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed. In the end, there were minimal casualties: one broken nail, two broken toes (I advice against trying to install a gate in the rain) and my “Joe’s Italian Restaurant” shirt now has extra venting after getting caught on a nail – multiple times. And that folks, is how my love affair with building things and power tools began. I’m not sure my friend will ever see his power saw again because, well, I’m in love.
With my gate now complete, I desperately needed a new project. A few months ago I built a sensory toy for Joey that he could stay in his wheelchair and play with. This idea was inspired by those toys babies play with before they can walk. The ones that are shaped like arches and the baby lies on the floor and reaches up for all the toys hanging from it. Joey loved those when he was younger but now he needed something stronger and age appropriate. Of course, I could have purchased one for hundreds of dollars – anything labeled special needs automatically quadruples in price, but since that wasn’t an option, I decided to build one myself. Joey loves to reach for things and is learning cause and effect and I was having a difficult time finding toys that entertained him and held his attention. So with some PVC pipe, nails and wood – my creation came to life – but that only took a few hours and I needed something that would keep me busy for a few days or even weeks.
While sorting through Joey’s toy chest one afternoon, I came across a pin wheel that my friend in Louisiana had sent him and I was reminded of a project I had dreamed about over a year ago. You may remember me writing about the day my little guy discovered pinwheels.
I wanted to somehow build Joey a garden full of pinwheels and that’s exactly what my next project would be. During the past year, any time I had a few extra dollars I would buy Joey a pinwheel and I now had about ten, along with other little things I thought would make him smile and be visually stimulating for his sensory garden. Using wood from a previous project gone bad, some borrowed power tools and paint from Gionna’s many science projects, I began constructing Joey’s garden. I didn’t exactly have a plan, things like this seem to come to fruition as I go, taking on a life of their own and that’s exactly what happened. Some nights I could hardly sleep, I would wake up with a new idea and couldn’t wait for daylight to make it real. And quite often, I didn’t wait. Thank God I have neighbors that are heavy sleepers.
Having built several flower beds for my garden over the past three years, that was something I could now do in less than an hour. So, first I built a basic flower bed and added soil. From there, I added posts to hang things from, used bright-colored paints and tried to build this through the eyes of my little boy – what would he find exciting, what would make him smile and reach out in wonder. That’s all that mattered to me, his smile and happiness. I can’t afford to take Joey on vacations, he will never play sports like other little boys or do many of the childhood things that I wish he could, but I can build him his own little ‘park’ – that I can do. I have to admit, I felt like a child watching this all come together. As I ‘planted’ the pinwheels in his garden a few days ago, the perfect breeze blew through and all the pinwheels were set in motion. I’m not sure why, my but eyes filled with tears, those happy ones that us moms get from time to time. From the moment I first thought of creating this garden for Joey to its completion a few days ago, took a little over a year – but I think sometimes the things that mean the most to us, and hopefully others, can’t be rushed. And like so many other things in life, this will be a work in progress. I would love to add to it as time goes on and Joey’s interests change or he learns new skills. I want to somehow incorporate water into this area – Joey loves to feel water on his hands and toes. Maybe even wire his new sensory garden for sound and lights! I want to use up every inch of remaining dirt in my garden for Joey. The possibilities are endless and that’s what I love about creating something like this – it’s constantly evolving.
Ten years ago, I would never have believed that I would pick up a power saw and know how to operate it, and then actually enjoy it. Don’t be too impressed though, I had to watch quite a few “You Tube” videos before I knew what I was doing and even then, I said many prayers to St. Joseph, the Patron Saint of Carpenters. I also would never imagine that I would build gates and flower beds and sensory play areas filled with pinwheels. But ten years ago, God chose me to take care and love the most amazing little boy and He knew I would need to be able to do those things. And I thank God that He did. However, I do believe that he puts an extra team of guardian angels in charge of watching over me anytime I pick up that power saw.
“God gave the seed, but he wants the fruits back. Pick the seeds up.Plant the best ones. He promised the rain. It will be a bumper harvest!” ~Israelmore Ayivor