Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Cold Frame is Finished

This is the second part of the blog posted 2/29/08... how does Life sprint past soooo fast??

When I had recuperated from fetching the window out of the attic, I went looking for the other parts of the cold frame, which (according to the instructions) everyone surely has lying around the house. Luckily I had bought some boards for shelving, and since the shelving was still in the planning stage, I used good old ReAllocation Implementation Process - Owing From Future (RIPoFF) to steal the raw materials for the frame. Having read that a slanted frame does the best to catch the sunlight (and keep the rain from pooling on the window until it shatters the glass), I started to measure the various boards viz a viz the window. I think I’ve mentioned before how measurement-handicapped I am: not only am I a 1950’s victim of New Math (we didn’t learn arithmetic, we learned Venn Diagrams and Base 2 - computer language), but “relative size of things” is not a concept that I have mastered. I can’t pack a trunk. I can’t measure a cupful by eye. And I rarely leave enough room when parking to squeeze my body out of the truck!

Anyway, I had a 2x4, a 1x8, 1x12 and some assorted poles and planks… I measured the window, measured it again -- got a different number -- measured it a third time -- got a different different number… and gave up on numbers. I resorted to my old habit -- the visual measurement. I took the 1x8 plank and lined it up along the window and drew a line. I have no idea how long that was, but it came to the end of the window, which was the important point. I did the same for the wide board, and I also measured that board against the 1x8 to get the top of the angle that I needed to cut at a slant.

Now I know you’ll tell me, “It’s 8 inches, Cath!” but it never is -- that’s the point! Somehow the marks on the bloody ruler move around and it never does work out to the supposed measurement. My best guess is that my ruler is marked off with irrational numbers. The only thing that doesn’t seem to shift around for me is the physical object… so I drew a line on the 1x12 at the place where the 1x8 stopped and then measured the bottom angle against the 2x4. The only difficulty as I was doing this was trying to hold these various eight-foot boards against each other in a studio which is only 15 ft wide and is full of shelves holding ceramic artwork! So -- I’m trying to balance one board on my chair, while the other is leaning gingerly against the shelf of art supplies, and using my knee as the drawing surface, which tends to make the line a little wobbly… No matter, since there’s very little chance I can follow a straight line with the huge, double-handed circular saw (described in a previous entry) that I have to use. I figured if I cut it without also cutting through the cardboard box used as sawhorse, I’d be very grateful. (The 2x4 was actually scheduled to become a sawhorse, but RIPoFF got there first).

They always recommend that you measure all the pieces before cutting, in case something doesn’t add up. Since I wasn’t gonna do any adding, and because I was running out of places to put eight-foot boards, I shifted to cutting the primary planks. The sound of that circular saw always reminds me of an airplane engine, and the similarity doesn’t stop there… once I manage to chew through the board and release the power switch, I have to hold it at arm’s length (all 35 lbs of it) while the engine (ie: saw blade) comes to a complete stop. Since there were several small cuts, I ended up holding the snarling saw at arm’s length for at least a half hour total… while watching the sawdust swirling into every sculptural cranny and open box in the room. I made a vow to get enough boxes unpacked in the garage to be able to do this dirty work there next time… but meanwhile, I finally had the four pieces and it was ready to take outside. Oh, but no -- there had to be some kind of stake/support that the window sat on… I checked the picture again and saw the vertical pieces. I found a 2x2 and painstakingly measure them against the edges of the board, and cut two -- and somehow lost the marking of the other two. No matter - I decided the 2x4 was thick enough to serve. And I was getting tired of cutting -- I wanted to bang some boards! (I tend to approach construction projects with the attitude of a 5-year-old). So out I went, and lugged the boards, window, hammer and nails to the flat ground where I was gonna place the cold frame. This was the location of that ugly old shed with the truck-topper roof… I will document its demise in another entry.

While kneeling to hammer the boards into a box, I discovered the local cats had gotten there first and were very appreciative of a new litter box. I raked the place clear and started again. I know there are clever braces and traditional methods for getting boards to line up square to each other -- but this is a 5-year-old working, so I held one board between my knees and tried to nail the other one to it… my knees don‘t grab that good. Next, I used a left-over log as a brace, but it was being braced in turn by the grass, which although strong enough to resist any attempts to dig it up, was not actually good for leaning things on. Eventually I stood one board up, resting the other on it and hammering downward… it was close enough for Republican economics. In similar makeshift fashion, I got a rough rectangle that -- mostly -- fit the window, and proudly placed my tender seedlings in their new cold frame.

And two days later, the weather had plummeted like the stock market, leaving swirls of frost on the cold frame window… but that’s another story…

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