What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

I have never really been a fan of summer. Doubly so, since I have lived in Florida for the past couple of years. (I try not to stereotype, but there’s really no reason for anyone to actually live in Florida. Sure, a fraction of the general population leaves something to be desired, but nothing is helped by the fact that the Sun is essentially trying to kill everything that attempts to go outside between the months of March and December).

What also doesn’t help my general dislike of summer is the fact that it’s been designated as the time of year for vacations, as well as for kids to think that they should get a break from life. I’ve also thought that those two factors were absolute bullshit. Vacations should happen whenever it is appropriate and economically convenient for the person or people involved.

As far as kids thinking that they’re entitled to a break, fuck that noise. My kids don’t get a break. Every year, my wife and I have made a point of securing workbooks for our children for the grade that they would be entering in, in the fall. You know what? They have been consistently ‘better off’ for it. I’m not Hitler about it. They devote an hour a day and they also help out around the house. Other than that, they are generally free to do what they want as long as no one, and nothing, dies.

For the record, 2 out of the 3 have maintained ‘honor roll’ status (the 3rd has been a solid ‘B’ student). Point of fact? When I was a kid, my parents thought I should be able to “enjoy” my summer and “do what I want”. The following school year was always an educational nightmare for me because I retained little of what I learned the year before and no one was making sure that I was doing anything intellectually stimulating (defined as, the opposite of what I was doing: watching reruns of My Favorite Martian and playing endless hours of video games).

I digress. 

This past summer, through an unusual, but expected set of circumstances, my wife, a Captain in the USAF, received orders to relocate herself and her family to Japan.

That’s right: I am now littering the Internet from the Land of the Rising Sun. (Fun fact: while I haven’t confirmed this, I’m fairly certain that Japan is referred to as that because THE SUN RISES AT 4 IN THE FUCKING MORNING DURING THE SUMMER). Suffice it to say, there will be more writings about Japan, our journey here, and the usual drek I tend to prattle on about.

In sum, I will leave you with how I found out that we were moving to Japan. You may get a chuckle out of it, or it may confirm what you all ready know about me (that I’m an idiot). Regardless this is EXACTLY what happened. 

One day in the kitchen of my former, Florida abode, I was using our food processor to get down on some dinner prep before I had to pick up my kids from school. After I had cleaned up and was ready to leave, I go to put the food processor away and the damn thing slipped out of my hands and hit the floor. Rather than try to save it or perhaps catch it on the rebound, I got the fuck out of the way because it’s heavy as hell and can easily break a foot when it is in a gravitationally dangerous state.

After I regained composure, I surveyed the damage.

This is a present-day photo

Naturally, I was sweating bullets because my wife had bought this a while back. The name plate was popped out and, as you can see, there was a massive crack in the housing. My first thought was, “Welp: I’m fucked. There’s no way that this is going to work”. After I checked the remaining integrity of the base and popped the name plate back in, I plugged it back in to see how bad it was.

It worked perfectly fine. I switched out multiple attachments and it was still fine. My next move, I thought, was fairly obvious. 

I packed up everything nice and neat, put it in the one cabinet that she’d never go in, and buried it under other kitchen gadgets. All of this was done, thanks to the thought “I’ll blame it on the movers the next time we move”.

Five minutes later, I got a text from my wife saying that we were moving to Japan this summer.

I gave my wife wood for Mother’s Day.

Yes, I know Mother’s day has come and gone. No need to be a pedant about it. 

Regardless, I would be remiss if I did not walk you through the ‘punishment’ that I put myself through because of it. 

Mother’s day (along with Father’s day) has always been hit or miss with my wife and I. It’s not that we don’t care about either of those days. It’s also not because we think the other doesn’t deserve a day to call their own. 

Speaking for myself, I think that it’s because we didn’t have a good idea of what those days were really about when we were growing up. This was the direct result of both of us coming from ‘broken homes’. Kind of hard to know what Mother’s day or Father’s day was all about if mom was talking shit about dad or vice versa.

The hit and miss of these days for us has resulted in poor planning and a light touch of misery throughout the day. 
This is not to say that all of them have been miserable. They just haven’t been as great as I thought they should have been

I am a fan of turning negatives into positives. This year, my wife was going to be out of town for Mother’s Day so I decided to capitalize on that and make her something that she wanted: patio furniture

As luck would have it, I had the materials I needed right under my nose. 

  
That’s right: I got the bright idea to repurpose old furniture into new furniture. 


Enter the parts of our sofa
that our kids fucked up. There are two parts. For some reason, the corner piece didn’t get a picture snapped of it. Sorry about that. 

“How hard could it be, right? All you have to do is de-upholster it and see what you’re working with. I ought to be done with this well before she gets home”, I thought. Famous. Last. Words. 

Here’s what the skeleton of the couch looked like. 

   

 

Obviously this was the easy part. See all that white, cotton-y, shit? That’s what was left over from the upholstery. All of what you’re looking at is held in by staples. So many. Fahking staplessssss. 

People who build furniture for a living (presumably in a factory environment) are not shy with the staples. For reals: it took me the better part of a day and a half just to remove all of them. And there were still some I didn’t catch until the very end. 

  
After the clusterfuck with the staples, it was time for me to remove everything else that would interrupts one’s ass from hitting the floor. Above, you see what that looks like. I knew right away that this piece would be a ‘seat’. All I needed to do was to shorten the width of it. 

  
Like so! Basically, I cut the motherfucker in half and left a chunk out of the middle of the original design.  To measure, I used a yoga mat since my wife was out of town and essentially none-the-wiser. The corner piece was a bit of a sticking point for the repurposing basically because it was so goddamn awkward looking. 

  
As you can see above, I made up my mind and turned that odd-ass couch piece into an extension of the original ‘seat’ idea I was struck with. 

My reasoning was simple: Don’t want to lounge, turn that motherfucker sideways and you got a table. 

To finish out the construction of the ‘seat’ piece I used wood from the original sofa corner piece. This posed a bit of a problem as there wouldn’t be enough wood to finish out the ‘extention/table’. However, it was a problem easily fixed by an old pallet. 

  

Ta fucking Da!
I couldn’t stop here, though. As previously mentioned, I live in Florida (aka the ball-sac of the east coast). If I were to put these two pieces outside, as is, the sun would go “OOOOOOHHHH HOW CUTE” and then crush all of my hard work with all of it’s burning hate. 

  

Enter the sander.
Why sand? Because when you’re working with wood that is going to be living outdoors, you need to protect that shit with the weather seal of your choice. My choice was the Thompson’s Water Seal that you can spray on. ($6 dollars a can at Home Depot if I’m not mistaken.)

How much to sand off though? This wood wasn’t meant to be ‘exposed’. It was meant to support cloth and cotton, and all other sorts of nonsense. Yes, that’s right, I fucking guessed. 

  
The top half of this photo is unsanded. I reasoned that as long as there was a slight, noticeable difference in color and texture of my wood, then it would be ready for the sealant. 

  
So far so good. Luckily, when my wife came back to town and I showed her what I had been up to, she was really psyched. 

In short I invested 3 weeks (because I was operating without a plan and it was hot as fuck when I set about this project) and $60 (That is for the sealant, a box of screws, and the cushions. The cushions were the most expensive part!). 

What I learned was that making shit is really, really satisfying. Also I concluded that the meaning behind a given holiday doesn’t matter. If you’re happy and the people that you love are happy, then it’s all goood.