Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Weekend, Day 2

I slept in until 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. I had a cup of coffee and started writing out the Blog entry. It was long enough that I had another before I finished. It was overcast outside and I just didn’t feel very motivated. But, I had a lot to do!!!

Still, I dragged my feet. I took care of the Sunday morning chores. Since I had to wash the cast iron pan from the corn bread anyway, I used it first to make a fried egg sandwich for my breakfast.

Remember me saying I had gave my neighbor’s some cherry tomatoes? Well, Tammy had an emergency appendectomy last week and is slowly recovering. As a result, Rick wasn’t outside a lot. So, I just left them in a dish on top one of the ladders he has attached to my fence. Today, I was looking out to see if the rain gauge showed anything (it did rain last night, since I could see puddles) and saw something on the ladder. I went out back (less than a 1/4-inch of rain in the gauge, BTW) and found some big tomatoes, two cucumbers and various hot peppers on the ladder. Nice! 

Anyway, all in all, it was just after noon when I actually got out to the garage.

First on the list was to stain the seat base, the back brace and the sides brace. While those were drying, I used glue and the brad gun to attach the top(s) to each back board (some have one, others have two).

Then I took the two sides and determined where the bottom of the seat would go to get a standard 18-inch seat height. From there, I used the protractor to draw a line with a 5-degree downslope. Sidebar: When building a bench with a back, you want a back-to-the-seat angle of a true 90 degrees. But, you want the seat to slope backwards 5 degrees.

I went back inside for a bathroom break and was shocked to see it was already 2:00 p.m.! Since the plan was to finish the bench (except for polyurethane) today and work on the bike tomorrow, I had better get moving!

Sidebar: Regrettably, there are a LOT of things going on around here on this Labor Day weekend. There’s Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak (always wanted to go), the Jazz festival in Detroit (ditto) and finally, the Michigan State Fair wraps up out here in Novi. Not to mention I was told of a new lake nearby to fish and I still haven’t shot my pistol. Sigh…

Anyway, next I attached the base to the sides. I set the base on my trusty 1/2-inch plywood so it would sit that much back from the front of the sides. I used glue and the nail gun to secure it, and then deck screws through the sides into the 2x4’s. I filled in the screw holes with wood putty. The sun finally came out, BTW.

Then I screwed the back boards to the base. Next I screwed in the back brace and nailed the back boards to it. I set it back upright and nailed the three seat boards on. It was starting to look real by then!

I took the two armrests that I deliberately made too long and determined where the notch should be, then I cut the notches out with the saber saw. I nailed each armrest to the sides and then glued and nailed in the two armrest supports.

Next, I used the orbital sander to clean up the wood putty. Then I donned my rubber gloves and opened all the stain cans. I touched up the wood putty and all the nails holes, using the various colors on each board so they would blend in. Then I moved the bench to one side to dry overnight, put the lids on the stain, cleaned everything up and, finally, pulled the car back in. I went inside and washed up. It was 5:30 p.m.

Now, before I show you the finished bench, I should explain a few things. First, I really should have made the back boards about six inches taller. But, since it will sit on the porch next to the picture window, I was afraid of cutting too much into the view from the couch. However, when I tested it, I noticed that, if you sit way back, some of the tops of the shorter boards hit your back. So, if you ever come to my house and sit on my bench, don’t slouch!!!

Second, you have to remember the context, i.e., the porch. Thanks to my two lovely daughters, who were kind enough back in the day to remodel Waconda cottage for my Mother, using the theme of birds (which she admittedly loved) and the thoughtfulness of my Brother Joe, who made sure I inherited all the birdhouses the girls put out at Lake Orion, I have a birdhouse kinda theme on the porch. It was the only place I could think to put them! So, I have two suspended on fishing lines and two more sitting on the porch railing. And that mysterious plaque from Adela, whoever she was.

Sidebar: At least the plaque was not from Adele. If it was, it would have a much sadder saying and I’d want to cry each time I looked at it.

So, the bench had to carry on the theme (or so I thought). Now, it’s not treated with polyurethane or put in place, but here’s what it looks like:

Inside, I took a break and watched the news. But, before I did, I took out the rest of the frozen shrimp, put them in a colander and rinsed them with cold water to thaw out.

After the news, I went out and started my supper. It’s a one-pot dish called Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta.

While the pasta water was heating up, I peeled and deveined the shrimp. Now, as you know, I love linguine for some dishes, thick spaghetti for tomato-based sauces and so on. So, I thought for this light dish I would use Angel hair pasta. Whatever pasta you use, you need to back off three minutes cook time and, at that time, throw in your shrimp. So, I boiled the pasta for three minutes, added the shrimp and then cooked them both for three more minutes.

I drained the pot and put everything in a big bowl. I seasoned it with a little more salt (there was salt in the pasta water, of course). Then I added a big handful of chopped fresh basil, three tablespoons of drained capers, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of one whole lemon (about two tablespoons). I tossed that about to mix it.

This was the one dish I planned for the weekend that I thought, “Hey, I already have all that at home!” NOT! You were supposed to serve it on top of fresh baby spinach, but I forgot to get that at Westborn.

So, I plated it without the spinach. It was excellent, with the capers giving it a bit of bite and the lemon juice a nice tang.

I watched “Breaking Bad” live (Mountain Man was a rerun) and had to put up with those pesky commercials. I then watched a taped DIY show. Finally went to reading again until bedtime.


  1. Adele is Jeff's ex-wife's Aunt (Monica's mom, Glendy's sister) All you had to do is ask!!

  2. Um, I did ask, about four or five posts ago!

  3. That bench is twelve kinds of awesome! If we can figure out who the heck Adela was, I bet even she'd like it. Maybe Adela wasn't a person but a spirit within us all. Like the Great Pumpkin... woah. I just blew my own mind.

  4. @ Jake: Thanks! It was a pain in the ass, and I was worried all the time it might turn out more "corny" rather than the "funky" I was looking for, but I am pleased.

    I think your Uncle Carl has positively identified Adela (even though he can't spell her name right) but I did like your Great Pumpkin idea!

    Sidebar: I remember when I was your age and things would blow my mind. Nowadays, they barely blow my nose.