Playing In The Dirt.. And With Hammers.. And With Wrenches

The sun splashed itself around today, practicing its shine for the warmer days that are coming. It has been raining since I arrived in Minnesota, with only a few sunny days popping up jere and there. I have tried to take the opportunity to get outside on every nice day. When a person gets out into the garden things can get done fast, that might be the thing I love the most. Working in the garden is a joy. As of right now I am just weeding, but it is joyful nonetheless.

It hasn’t been all rain and sunshine, though. On May 18th it snowed here.

It wasn’t a real snow because it melted as it touched the warm surfaces that awaited it here on the ground, but it was a snow. Fluffy white flakes floating down in front of my picture window. The way the snowflakes fell to the ground varied throughout the day. The winds would shift and the flakes would pelt rather than float, then they would go back to meandering. I felt better about still weeding the garden rather than planting already when the snow began to fall. A cool excuse for how slow things are moving along.


See that? That's snow.

On May 18th, while I watched the snow come down from the warm confines of my cabin, I built a shelf. I didn’t know what else to do and I knew I needed a shelf. I haven’t ever built a shelf, so this was a new, and foreign, thing for me. The dude I’m renting from has a pile of scrap wood which he has given me permission to plunder, so I utilized some of the pile in the building of said shelf. I started by knocking nails out of the some scrap plywood that had once made a cupboard. I found two nice pieces of almost equal size I would use. The pile was also home to some scrap two by fours, that’s only problem was having been excess in avery nice project. They were about two and half foot long so that was the decided height of the shelf. I chose four of these scraps, and then I dug out some various scraps to use for attaching my plywood and my legs.

I sat in my rocking chair, contemplating this pile which I had scattered out in front of me. I got up to stoke the fire many times, and I drank two cups of tea before moving forward on the shelf. Meanwhile, outside,  the snow continued to fall and melt, so there was no reason not to turn to building on the shelf. After much consideration I did just that. It was a lesson in humilty, and a good reminder of trigonometry and high school woodshop, which I had last taken in 8th grade. I was pleased when at the completion of four hours I had a finished shelf  that stood on its own. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was that the more nails a person pounds the better wood holds together, so, I did that.

The shelf was set up, and then I set to organizing my records and putting them on the shelf. The record player was put on the shelf, as was my newly acquired toolbox. My shelf was the perfect fixture for the corner.


The shelf had a wonky leg. I wasn’t sure what I had done to make the leg so crooked, but it appeared to hold up so I ignored it, until May 19th, when I woke up to see that my records and shelf were leaning to the one side, leaning more than just the quaint lean that they had been doing before. It looked as though it was all going to collapse. I decided to prop it up with brick and wood, that didn’t work. I realized that the problem was deeper than just the leg. I looked futher, and diagnosed this curious lean on the top piece of plywood which I had nailed to the legs unevenly. I removed the record player and newly acquired toolbox off the shelf, pryed up the top piece of wood, and then renailed it. The shelf has stood straight ever since. I am very pleased.

That was my project a few days ago, I have been eyeing it up ever since, but I have moved onto other things. Like today, it was sunny. The sun showed that precipitation whats for and I got to enjoy a pleasent 65° in the garden with my gardening companion.


Lady Gray is the dude-I'm-renting-from's cat, but I sort of like her too. She follows me everywhere, and brings ticks with her wherever she goes. I like her anyways.

I pulled weeds to my hearts content. I also removed Little Wing’s back tire in preparation for the tire changing I am going to perform Saturday with the help of my motorcycle fixing buddy, Dan. I had asked my neighbor if he would help me put the bike up on blocks so I could do the removal. I asked him last night and he had said yes. After deep consideration, though, I realized that was actually unnecessary. In fact, having help with getting the bike propped might actually have been more trouble than it was worth,  unless I had more than just one extra set of biceps. I opted instead for my wits.

I built a ramp off my front steps, got the jack out of the bed of Ol’ Smokey, set up some stable boards, amd rode Little Wing up onto the ramp. I jacked Little Wing up just enough to have the back tire hang in mid air, and then I set to taking off the tire. This was where things got tougher, though and I realized I would need help. I couldn’t get the axle nut off by myself. I needed an extra hand to hold the wrench on the other side of the axle to prevent it from turning as I broke the nut loose. I waited for my neighbor to get up and at ’em.


When he was up and about we made short work of it. After he went off to work and stuff I set to actually taking the tire off. An easily accomplished mission, and now I am all ready for tire changing. Ready and eager. I can’t wait to ride again.


The view out my front door until I get the new tire on Little Wing.

While working on the tire I saw my first Minnesota hummingbird of the year. I was very excited by this. I have seen many hummingbirds this year, but none here in my home state. California had soo many, and I saw hummingbirds in Oklahoma and Missouri as well, but there is nothing that says “spring in Minnesota” like the buzzing of a hummingbird. I also saw many woodticks — which is really no suprise — and three mosquitos. I was very disappointed to see mosquitoes. It froze last night so they shouldn’t be out yet. It is what it is, though. Besides which, I smacked and killed all three of them.

While working in the garden I got my first sunburn of the year. Wait, excuse me, first Minnesota sunburn of the year. I was hot today. I mean, seriously complaining hot. Like had-to-take-a-break hot, it was awesome.

After a hot day in the sun I came back to my cabin, turned on the record player, sat in my rocking chair, and contemplated my shelf.



One thought on “Playing In The Dirt.. And With Hammers.. And With Wrenches

  1. Ah, yes, nothing as satisfying as playing in the dirt, unless possibly playing with hammers or wrenches! When I was a landscape contractor (in the 80’s) and my brother was a carpenter, we confided in each other that we felt like we were on endless summer vacation, digging in the dirt and pounding nails and getting paid for it! Couple of Minnesota kids. I envy you the warm sun, it’s been cold and foggy here every day, at least in the morning. Looks like a good start to the summer!


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