Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I am proved a solid shipwright.  Two small boys rode out a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the crow's nest of the new pirate bed.

I am tempted to rename myself Cassandra, but of course she had no power to prepare for the worst, only to fortell.  And all I have learned from my freak prediction is to always use four inch lag screws, because maybe you'll actually need them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What I Did Instead of Gardening

Vacation.  One would think there would be much gardening.  But no.  Instead, at the insistence of one small boy I have spent practically every waking hour building a bunk bed.

If you use your imagination you can see that it is actually a pirate ship, and the top bunk is the crow's nest.  You will need to use your imagination less next week, when the captain's wheel, telescope, and rope ladder arrive in the mail.  I am thinking of rigging up a sail, but can't quite figure out where it would go.  I suppose it could be the curtain?

I have spent countless hours mulling this bed, and how to make it solid.  I was amused to realize that if I had bought a cheapo bunk bed at Ikea I would not have thought for a moment about its safety.  But this bed, which I have built by hand, I wonder about.  I tied the two-by-four that holds up the wall-end of the bed to the studs with four four-inch lag screws, and both screwed and glued the beams to the two-by-four.  The beams are held up by a book case made as solid as I know how, held together with screws and glue and a backing of half inch plywood.  This is one weighty piece of furniture, as a pirate ship should be.  And yet I lie on the bottom bunk, looking up at those beams, and imagine the whole crashing down in an earthquake with Noah below.  But that would involve the whole house falling down, probably, so we'd all be in trouble anyway.

This is life, I suppose.  I fear going to Nigeria, because I could be killed in a car crash.  I fear Noah sleeping under a bunk bed, because it could fall on him.  I seem to be unable to either stop fearing, or to stop courting the fear by doing these things.  Maybe it reminds me of how much I love the things I could lose?

Monday, August 15, 2011

An Unexpected Harvest

I got home from Nigeria on Saturday evening, and almost immediately (after hugging my boys and being licked by the dog, of course) went out to check on the Concord grapes that were ripening as I left a week before.  The birds have been eating them, picking off the individual grapes as they ripen, so that the clusters look exactly the same now as they did before - each cluster a mix of green and almost purple - but there are fewer of them.  Very sad.

Yesterday I was whacking back weeds against the chain link fence, doing battle with the bindweed.  And as I pulled the wicked stuff off the fence and grape vines...I found a gift.  Pounds and pounds of beautiful clusters of grapes, the fruit of a vine I abandoned last year after it has refused to produce since its planting.  I must have been putting too much pressure on the poor thing, because left to its own devices it climbed into the neighbor's evergreen hedge and flourished.  In order to harvest the grapes I simply tugged on the vines and cut them off the plant, and hauled armfulls of vines and fruit into the house.

A few clusters I've saved for eating - they are sweet-tart and grapey and quite seedy - but most of them I crushed and strained for jelly.  I haven't heard tell of white grape jelly, but I'll try it.