Backyard puttering


I have become my father in more ways than I care to admit.  Charlie is a putterer.  He likes to keep busy, fixing, cleaning and painting things.  He likes to fix things that have broken with available bits and pieces, collected over many decades and stored in drawers, buckets and baskets.  Unless it is completely useless, the scrap of something gets put somewhere, and filed in the inventory list in his mind.  I am the same way, as you would discover if you spent any time in my shop.

Ben and I began our Sunday by going up the ladder and scraping some flaking paint off the trim on the back side of the shop, the side that only a handful of people will ever see, as it faces the right-of-way or grassed alley that splits Hill Drive from Demers Drive. He worked from the ladder while I got up on the roof and leaned over and began the scraping process.  It took us all of 30 minutes to get it done, as we stepped back and admired our efforts.


"Oh my goodness," I said.  "We've been tagged."

The back wall of the shop, adjacent to all the lumber that has been used over two election campaigns, sports an indecipherable tag.

"You've never noticed that before?" asked Ben.  "That's been there a long time."

Standing there looking at the big patch of wall, I immediately thought it would be a great location for a mural, or a large-scale portrait.  Most of my newer portraits have been done with water colours on paper, using interesting colours to capture character, emotion and mystery.  What if I tried something similar, just scaled up to a 6' by 8' space?

The puttering continued throughout the afternoon as neighbour Norm put the finishing touches on his deck, a fresh coat of paint infused with sand to provide a non-slip surface.  As I looked from his beautiful deck to ours, unloved and untouched in 15 years, I had another flash of motivation.


I grabbed the assorted chairs, barbecue and rain barrel and removed them from the aging deck and proceeded to sweep and scrape it as best I could.  It was then that I noticed that the spaces between the boards had collected dirt and debris.  Before any painting could occur. these 2-3 cm spaces would need to be unplugged.  No wonder water collects so much on the deck when it rains; it has nowhere to go.

"Ben, come here!"

"What?"

"I have another job for you," I said.

I set him to work while we went for a walk.  When we came back after an hour, he was still working away, listening to songs on Songza.com on his iPad, having successfully made it through one-third of the project.  He had done a great job.

He hadn't realized that we had returned as I stood watching him from the kitchen window, seeing him, but at the same time, seeing myself as a kid working on a project that I had been assigned by my dad.  It was important for me to make him proud.

"Any job worth doing, is worth doing well," he would say.

Ben had done a great job on both jobs yesterday.  When I asked him what he was thinking about as scraped out the dirt between the deck boards, he said "I was focused on getting the job done."

Good answer.

Yesterdays preparations will lead to today's painting and another glorious day of backyard puttering.

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