[July 11, 2021]
simply revland: fresh new digs (2003)
Turning 50, for some, might instantly signify a mid-life crisis. I absolutely and thoroughly understand. For me, personally, it was a marvelous and miraculous milestone, something 15 years earlier, as speculated, I would never ceremoniously celebrate. After 12 years of sobriety, I’m still attempting to catch up emotionally to my chronological age, but now having serious doubts of that ever occurring. I kind of like being stuck at 39, actually, as the late Jack Benny had a preference for, and only pretend to act like a grown-up when I’m forced into adult-like situations. Does that make sense?
Photo credit: Wikipedia
To commemorate 50 years on this magical, earthly planet, and with every intention of perpetuating 50 more, I thought it was time to create some fresh new digs. Consolidating mid-century modern living quarters with a detached backyard, state-of-the-art woodshop was my last “hurrah,” so to speak … the ultimate utopian landing station for my amalgamated personal and professional life. What a joyful contemplation! However, I was also unmistakably aware that producing this over a one-year period, unassisted, would be beyond physically demanding, even for a 39-year-old.
Front side of finished home.
[Formerly Dan Luther Grocery Store. Built: 1940.]
Once the strategic planning was formulated, my 50-by-150-foot property canvas was laid bare. I had a 1200-square-foot shop space that would now become my “forever home” living quarters, and a 50-by-75-foot backyard that, within a year's time, would be my little slice of heaven, complete with a colorful courtyard and an updated woodworking studio. This more efficient studio space would continue to behave as my primary source of income, undeniably supporting my conservative lifestyle, along with my coffee-guzzling fixation ... the one drug I’ve been granted permission to consume. All of this, all humbly so, in the historic Oak Grove neighborhood that I loved.
The main obstacle that I saw, if I chose to do all of the work myself, was my damaged rotator cuff. Thirty-five years of full-velocity tossings to first base from the left side of the infield had taken its toll. Softball was certainly a blessing, but at the same time, a curse. I was aware that shoulder surgery was on the docket once my project was done, but at least I could rehabilitate in my newly-formed courtyard, knowing the work was behind me, all the while witnessing the resurrection of my perennial plantings, methodically interred prior to my surgical repair. August of 1994 was my goal for completion. We’ll see how that goes.
Today was “pour the slab” day for my studio. I had laid 500 feet of hot water piping first, on 4” of pink board insulation, prior to the pour. [Having “in-floor” heat is every woodworker's dream, as it makes furniture finishing a breeze, not having to deal with air movement in the shop area.] Seeing the finished slab on my backyard visual canvas, only added fuel to this ambitious undertaking which, once the concrete had cured, was just a heartbeat away. I could also begin laying patio pavers ― 25,000 of them! ― from my sidewalks to the alley. A formidable task indeed. My good friend Stanley Hoglund had provided me with these 4” x 8” colorful concrete nuggets which, in the end, would add color and texture to my finished canvas.
Studio concrete slab.
Trusses in place.
Stacks of patio pavers.
Framing the studio and finding a way to hang the roof trusses by my lonesome was, as one of my neighbors would eventually say, ”dumb and dumber,” in reference to a new Jim Carrey movie being released that I’d seen hilarious trailers of. I was a few months into this project, being September of 1993, and I’d fallen off the roof a few times, fortunately without injury. I needed to “button up" the structure before the snow flies, so I could do “inside” work throughout the winter. I was keeping track of my weight loss as well, now standing at 20 lbs., which was a good thing, as I had multiple pairs of 32s, folded and waiting, to reappear around my waist again. Oh, the madness of it all!
Completed courtyard and studio.
Fast forward to October, 1994.
I missed my deadline by two months. Not surprising. And my shoulder was totally shot. The canvas, however, has been painted, signed, and delivered. I couldn’t be happier with the results as I lay in my courtyard recliner, recovering from much-needed rotator cuff surgery. It is a gorgeous Indian Summer day as I pray for a speedy recovery. I have a premium collection of wood slabs waiting for me in my new studio so my mind is in designing-mode overdrive, chomping at the bit to use some electricity again. I can’t help but revert back to my childhood, some 40 years earlier, drawing remarkably similar parallels to today.
What a journey it has been. In actuality, nothing more than the journey of a simple man, trying to find his way in a complicated world. In a nutshell: simply revland. Nothing more. Nothing less.