There came a moment when my wife and I stood looking into our garage (a scary enough prospect), and noticed the charcoal grill and lawnmower. How had we come to this? As a new homeowner, I was flush with the potential of making a place of my own. Building things never seemed like such a big deal to me. As I have mentioned several times in this space, I came to this time in life with little or no actual carpentry skills, and a certain amount of fear when it came to power tools. It began with a sand box.
For our tiny boy, who was already showing a fascination with cars and trucks and things that go, having a place for frontloaders and dump trucks to push around piles of sand was a necessity. We bought the finest imported sand that Toys R Us had to offer, and we watched as he built highways and tunnels and buried and rescued vehicles for hours at a stretch. We learned rather quickly that the design element that we had overlooked was a cover - to keep the neighborhood cats from dropping by late at night to play with the Tonka trucks (and other less pleasant activities).
We bought a big piece of plywood. It kept the cats out, but had the unfortunate side effect of keeping the kid out too. It wasn't something that a two-year-old was going to hoist by himself, and there was always the fear of and errant gust of wind toppling it back on top of him. This was just before we began our Renaissance period. Each time that Home Depot dropped off a load of improvement materials in our driveway, we unloaded them into the garage, and the empty pallet became potential clutter. That is, until we had three of them.
It was at this point that I realized three pallets could be cobbled together to make walls. The offending chunk of plywood could be placed on top as a roof, and suddenly we had an enclosed sandbox. It no longer fit comfortably in the space below the apricot tree, so we moved the entire setup to the back of the yard.
As the months and years went by, more spare lumber and pallets arrived at our house. After the painstaking efforts of making the house more livable and aesthetically pleasing, I was free to pound together the scraps into what has become our "Boogle House." Since that initial box, there have been several additions, and it now stands at a short two stories, with a fire pole and a slide for easy exit. Even as the power tool collection continues to expand in that garage of ours, my home repair acumen continues to grow. The silly construction in the back yard stands as a monument to all the things I have learned, but still looks like a cartoonist designed it. It's not "up to code", unless that code comes from ACME. Tomorrow, a tribe of my son's best friends will be crawling all over it, and all that sideways and cockeyed effort will get the attention it deserves.