Saturday, April 25, 2009

Garden Shed

I spent six hours on my day off putting up a garden shed and I think to myself, how shockingly domestic I am become.It isn't that I was a wild youth in the conventional sense, I joke that I was the white sheep of my family when I took off and never came home. I was never into bars or drugs or the forced adventure of low people in low places. I would always rather have spent a night in the desert with a tent than a night at a strip club wedged into the bathroom snorting cocaine, which was what my contemporaries were doing in the 1980's. And now I am growing vegetables and marveling that my driver's license shows my actual correct address which hasn't changed in half a decade. I suppose some people would look forward to a day off as a day to be spent propping up the bar at Hog's Breath telling visitors how cool it is to hang in Key West. I spent my day off unpacking two very large cardboard boxes. I drove up to Miami (on another day off. It's lucky I only work 14 nights a month) in a rental van a couple of weeks ago and spent $430 on these babies at Costco off Exit 19 on the Turnpike. The drive up was hell on wheels as I was burning a gallon of gas every 16 miles (6km/liter) and it had all the acceleration of a pedal tricycle so where normally I swoop and pass and call the road my home at 43 miles per gallon, I was bouncing along like a pogo stick in this big white box on wheels. It was highly unsatisfactory.In the event I was glad I rented the cargo van as the boxes were far larger than my modest 4 x 6 utility trailer, but I got them in and unloaded them at home all by myself. I was hoping indeed that these two boxes would magically transform into something "ideal for the garden" as our Francophone friends to the north would say. Zut alors! Magic was not involved, pas du tout, I had to get on bended knee and spend a day assembling le truc.
I had never heard of Keter Industries before this job and whoever they are they have their instruction package down pretty well. There was one error I spent some time mulling over, to do with the door handle where the letters did not correspond to the picture but I went with the picture and ignored GLL versus GLR and kept on keeping on. It worked remarkably well.
"Frente" means "avant" in Canadian which translates approximately into Front in the universal language. And so my day went. I think these things are designed in the Netherlands or England or somewhere as the instruction book is all drawings, with awful warnings in eight European Union languages (I can read Two persons required! in Greek Swedish and Portuguese now). The assembler in the pictures is a slender well muscled man dressed appropriately in coveralls with proper protective gear. I was in my shorts, sweating like a pig and only rarely cursing the designer of this erection. A tribute to the accuracy of the whole. The first job is level off a piece of ground, which is a bitch at my house because I had to hump six loads of pea rock from one over-supplied spot to this one, whereupon I laid down some outdoor carpet and the floor:The vertical bit isn't actually a coconut palm, it's the first panel of the wall installed using enormous screw type contraptions:In the instructions, everybody, no exceptions in any language, is sternly admonished to make sure each screw has a washer. I have no idea what would happen were I to omit one of those little black metal rings but I shouldn't be at all surprised if an EU Health and Safety Inspector didn't drop in to give me a stern talking to. I was very good which was easy because Keter is smart enough to supply one or two extra fiddly bits for each application, like spare screws and washers. I am starting to like this company whoever they are.This was never intended to be a garage for the Trumpet, which is a good thing as the doors won't close with the topbox in place (I checked just to make sure), the idea is to relieve the congestion on my so-far-hurricane-proof wooden shed and give me a space to keep my increasing collection of garden tools and potting supplies for the vegetables. So if strong winds blow it down it won't be a terminal financial loss, though formed plastic is stronger than you might think. Well I was surprised anyway despite appearances:
It comes with a couple of shelves and the walls are rated to support 44 pounds on them which is a lot of dog food if you thing about it. It would be only 20 Canadian pounds, probably because they have a lot of snow up there which stresses everyone and everything.I was hot and thirsty at this point but I was absolutely determined to get my shed in place before the wife returned from the salt mines, so I ignored EU Health and Safety Directives and installed the roof by myself. I got Fred to help screw in the roof panels, Fred being a large brick I keep lying around which I placed on top of the screw holes to keep the material in place while I forced the screw into it from underneath. The good news is the shed is going to live it's life mostly in the shade, the sun being the killer around here. I found a spot under a side deck next to a leafy West Indian almond tree on the north side of the house:The doors and door handles were a bit of a conundrum with lots of fiddly pieces and me standing there saying to myself: "Why do I have to assemble every single last tiny piece goddammit!?" And then the other voice kicked in: "Because it only cost four hundred and thirty dollars you halfwit!" I then learned that the floor has to be exactly flat if the hinges are to line up properly so I had to slide and shove and get the erection lined up properly, until at last:The roof even comes with a built-in skylight as the main beam is thoughtfully made of translucent plastic. The overhead light is helped along by a window, which really does need two people to install it as the frame needs to be compressed tightly, more tightly than Fred could manage using a broomstick (visualise that: a large brick balanced on a broom pressing the handle against the window frame).There, all done and time for some long delayed lunch and a nap. It's not even too obnoxiously intrusive.Hell's teeth! I 've still got to water the bloody garden and collect the garden trash to put curbside for collection in the morning! Being a settled homesteader is nothing but work, work, work, I tell you.