Sunday, August 14, 2011

A new instrument, part 2

I was a little stunned to look back and see that it was February 1, more than six months ago, when I posted the first bit of this story. Here's what happened: I decided that I needed to finish a room that I had been working on for four (!) years in this house (which I have been working on for 20 years). Get something done, and then I will start on the gourd banjo.

In the interim, I did work on some music of course, and I moved many yards of river rock by wheelbarrow, and I had a lot of prairie maintenance and seed collection in there. But I also finished this room, and it was an important one because it's for my wife, Dona, a sanctuary for her spirit and her stuff, away from the crazy lives of her boys ("I live with boys!," she says). Beginning with the stair railing in 2007, this has involved as much woodworking than the kitchen did. The newel post here at the bottom was original (though I added the maple cap and Dona's dad Frank turned the walnut finials), but I made the other 4 1/2 from a beam recycled from an old church in Pullman.

In 2008, I trimmed the stair landing and built some cabinetry. The white drawers and the trim above them come from an old bolt cabinet I found in the barn. The drawers, with the delicate calligraphy of Vo Lucas (who lived in this house from c. 1940-1980) labeling garden supplies, turn up in the kitchen, there's another bank in this room, and there are a couple drawers left over to use in the bedroom, when I at last finish that room.

The bookcase was built (also in 2008) out of a taller bookcase that came out of someone's office at the University of Idaho. I tried to get it upstairs but it wouldn't fit through the opening for the stairs, so I cut it in half and built it into the knee wall. Sealing and insulating that wall made a big difference in the coziness of this room.

The rest of the cabinetry along the knee wall, the window and skylight trim, baseboards and door trim took me the last year. So, I was really already seeing the light at the end of this particular tunnel when I realized I wanted to build an improved gourd banjo last winter.

It feels a lot better to take on building this new instrument, having reached an important milestone in the renovation of this home, finishing this special room for a remarkable woman.

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