Baby You’re No Good

On New Years Eve 1974 twelve inches of snow fell in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My long time friend Earl and I were doing what kids do, drinking tea and playing pinochle, kidding. It was almost midnight and being average outgoing Minnesota teens we left the warmth of one party, and set out to find another. We threw the brew in the back, and then it happened. I broke the key off in the ignition. I looked at Earl, and he looked at me. We both expressed a “Dang it all” look. Just then the radio warmed up enough to break the silence, chastising me with “Your no good, your no good, baby your no good!”  Good times.

I had been working in my uncle’s body shop in Rockford, Illinois. In my younger day if I had a toolbox, and something to work on, with enough money for a date, I was happy. I am not a very complex person. One of my projects was this 1958 Dodge panel truck I bought for $75.00.  Mechanically this vehicle was very sound, all the glass was good, but the body was in desperate need for a makeover. One feature this truck did have, was a super low ratio high torque granny gear transmission; it was absolutely fantastic in the snow.  Perfect for bombing around town on said 1972 New Years Eve.

The back half of this 1958 Dodge Panel Truck had literally separated itself from the chassis.
Rusted sections were cut out, and replaced with sheet metal.
“Holy oxidation Batman this is a total piece of junk.”  “Fear not Robin. We will add some metal panels and smooth it over with some Bondo.” “Cut away that rusty metal and throw it off to the side.”
“That’s right, now braze some new metal into place. Curve it just so, and affix it to the frame.”  “Good job Robin.”
“Keep spreading that plastic filler Robin.  Fill in the holes with Bondo, and let it set up.  Slap it on, and grind it off.  Keep that grinder busy.” “Spare no expense, go buy more Bondo Robin. We need (3) more cases.”  “Holy budget breaker Batman, that’s a truck load of Bondo.”  “Get it, truck load?”  “Yes Robin, I got.  Not your best line.”













“Why didn’t we paint it black like the Batmobile?” “Well you see Robin, this is the Joker’s ride. It is grace that allows one to show good will, even towards your arch enemies.

Puzzling Prayer

I was surfing youtube the summer of 2016, and came across a wood and nail puzzle. I found it somewhat mesmerizing, and pondered, “How did that nail get in the block of wood?” Wondering the how, is more exciting than knowing the how. I made over 50, and gave them as gifts. The gifting response varied from no comment to, “My boss borrowed it to use in a presentation about problem solving.”

My wife and I are on a prayer team in our church.   When prompted, I will gift a wood and nail puzzle to the person I prayed with. Luke 1:37 reads, “So the impossible is possible with God.” I think it is fitting knowing prayer works, not so much how it works.  Not long ago a prayer partner shared a short story with me. A guy he was visiting with said, “Hey check this out, I want to show you something.” He reached into his pocket and produced the wood and nail puzzle.  My youtube surfing effort had been confirmed.

Production line. Wood blocks are cut to shape, boiled, compressed, allowed to dry,  drilled, nail inserted, then boiled again to regain shape.
Wood blocks being boiled after nail has been inserted. Second boiling allows wood to resume original shape and size.









Wood blocks drying on top of furnace. Prior to final machining.
Ready for gifting.

Gazebo Build

At the Bohnarosa we believe in freedom.  For example, freedom from bondage is a good thing, but we also have free-range mosquitoes. The little suckers arrive in June and fly free until September.

A short walk from the garage to the bird feeder is an exercise in performing arts.  Slap the neck, slap the forearm, slap the shoulder, slap the forehead, “Wow I could have had a V8.” Setting down the bucket and fussing with the feeder itself means loss of blood if not done quickly. Sitting outside on a summer evening after work enjoying a cold one is signing yourself up for a suicide mission. Yeah you might get some of them, but the little buggers always win.

It takes effort to fog the lawn, and not greatly effective. Chemical agents work well, but they are sticky, and who knows what all is absorbed through the skin.  The best defense is a good offense became my strategy. I decided to build a screened gazebo.

I like the whole DIY approach. As a kid watching MY DAD replace the family cars brake shoes I asked, “How do you know how to do that?” He answered, “If some guy put this together, it should be able to be taken apart, and put back together.  If you have to, you can read a book and learn.”

So I did some reading and research on how to build a gazebo. A book from Menards, and a visit to an  outdoor-furnishing place in Anoka, MN got me started. One paragraph read, “Most gazebo’s can be built in a weekend.” Time management can be tricky. This gazebo took two years.

A cement contractor was hired to do the foundation, as I simultaneously built the gazebo walls and roof in the barn. A great tip from the Start-To-Finish Sheds & Gazebos book was to build the roof at ground level. President Trump would say, “This is gonna be a HUGE time saver!”  The structure having an elongated octagon shape complicated the gazebo design. Two center hubs were required with an extra long center.

Most of the rafter cuts were compound angles.  I used a string and compass to measure the angles. It would have been very difficult attempting all this on a ladder. I suppose a guy could have calculated it on paper, but I’m not into drafting architectural plans.

Green treated lumber was the material of choice with exception of the roof underlayment. I mapped out the walls and roof to exact measurements on the barn floor. The wall sections were built first, and then the roof and cupola. After a wall section was completed it was set off to the side, and another section started. The walls were simple to build. The roof was a bit tougher to design and construct. The entire gazebo is put together with lifetime deck screws. Any component can be taken off and replaced if needed.

The roof required an eye catching element, so asphalt shingles were out. I considered slate, metal tiles, and metal panels. Imagination voted for slate, cost won the vote with metal panels.

Jigs were made for repeating patterns, such as the lower panels and screens. I discovered black metal screen provides the best viewing capability.  Easy peazy.

Materials list:

  • Green treated lumber – various length and size
  • Lifetime deck screws – several buckets full
  • Black metal screening – enough
  • Metal roof panels – enough
  • Time – what ever it takes

Gazebo foundation
Patio forms
Patio and foundation for gazebo. View from house roof.
I bought a nice table saw from Home Depot.  Some assembly required.  I had to remove the saw from the box and transport the parts home in the car trunk.
To get a perfect right angle use the 3-4-5 method.
Gazebo base plate cut to exact size.
String line simulating the rafter center line. To cut compound angles I used a compass to determine the miter angle, and the bevel angle.
Rafter sections.
Green treated wood has a tendency to twist. I used a pipe wrench and notched pedestal to align the rafters.
Gazebo rafters built in the barn. Note buckets simulating walls elevating the eves off the floor.
After removing the cupola I could disassemble the roof sections.
Setting up the pre-built walls.
Drilling anchor bolt holes with dads 1/2 inch drill motor.
I used a straw to blow out drilling dust to insure a clean deep hole.
Steve, Larry, Self, Darrel, and Darrel’s son helped lift the one piece cupola of the roof.
Cupola finished and ready to be set on top of gazebo.
Delivering roof sections to the job site.
Friend Steve helped manually hoist the roof sections into place.
Building out the eves
Break time
Nine decorative base panels.
This is how far I got the first year.
1x6x3/4 pine roofing
Temporary ramp used to raise cupola to gazebo roof.
Deb and I used a block and tackle to roll the cupola up the ramp. Using 4′ lengths of 2” PVC pipe as rollers the cupola rolled right up the ramp.  I’m sure this is how the Egyptians would have done it.
A little more raw muscle power and we’ll get this cupola in place.
Deb said the cupola looked like a coffin.
Window jams for screens.  Mass production.
I love this photo
Collar connects the roof sides together. Note blue tarp, not blue sky.
Tar paper underlayment prior to metal roofing.
I bought a band saw for the sole purpose of cutting the metal roof. Craigslist $100.00
My mother-in-law (Mary Ann) painting screw heads for me.
Manufacturing end caps. Various bends pictured
End caps in place
Nephew Alec digging in the electric line.
Nephew Alec and I fishing wire through conduit.
They actually sell fans for out door use. A fan outside how crazy is that?
On a still summer day, the fan is nice. Beautiful napping conditions.





A while back we purchased a chair to double as a room accent and desk chair. The look was right, but the height was wrong. All I needed was two more inches. I can work with that! I had some left over hickory from a coffee table project. Good deal, that’s almost like free material. The easy part was cutting and gluing the rough stock planks together. Forming the shape was a bit more challenging.   I do not have a lathe, so round was out, and square was in. Cutting tapered legs got a little complex. I had to create a jig to accommodate the table saw. Thank you youtube.

Once the taper was formed all that remained was the sanding, implanting a threaded fitting, staining, and a coat of poly. Easy peazy.






“Caaaareful, caaaaareful, watch what you are doing.” Concentrating on where the spinning blade meets the board, I found myself wondering, “What the??? am I crazy? Can I really become a minimalist? Where will I keep this table saw?“ Worried about cutting my fingers off, I shut down the saw. The notion of selling the Bohnarosa and all its trappings hit me hard as I was working on a project. As the saw powers down I look around. This is my happy place; I like being surrounded by hand tools, power tools, and mechanic tools, large and small. A generous inventory of lumber sits against the far wall. Bins of sorted nuts and bolts, both standard and metric thread waiting for use.  What am I considering? “Sell the Bohnarosa!!!” This is nuts, and I don’t mean metric.

Growing and bailing hay, feeding horses, tractors, farm implements, and fencing. Years of coming and going calling this, “Home.” With the help of friends we planting over a thousand trees the size of pencils, and now an establishing wind break stands. Providing shelter for deer, birds, and other critters. Putting up out buildings, cutting and splitting wood for heat. Thirty-six years in development and now the daunting proposition of putting up a For Sale sign!! Cheeesse, gimme a break.

Within its boundaries the Bohnarosa contains a personal history. Idea’s becoming realities, hardships blooming into beauty, years of a married couple getting better at, “Doing the next right thing.” It’s not just the compost pile that is decaying. My self is melting.  I’m in Stress City.

The Bohnarosa was once a cornfield; now it is a reflection of how I define comfort, safety, and refuge. I walked away from the table saw and unfinished project. The next three days required some thought and Biblical truth.

It’s good to know my days are numbered. Only God knows the number.  I’ve been blessed and had days multiplied by years. I’m grateful for that. So why am I anxious about going on an adventure? I mean really, how many coffee tables can you fit into a travel trailer?  Seriously I stressed over not having materials at the ready.

Planning and creating, tools and equipment; I take pleasure in projects and accomplishments.  They represent a connection to my dad.  Many of the tools were his.  I’m past the table saw melt down, and working towards a very manly garage sale, not to be missed by the DIY types.

My ambition to do, is morphing into, “To go”.  I’m sure there will be plenty of “To do’s” along our journey.  This is still the same book, just a new chapter.



“Fire it up boys!”

I like the whole DIY approach. As a kid watching my dad replace the family cars brake shoes I asked, “How do you know how to do that?” He answered, “If some guy put this together, it should be able to be taken apart and put back together again.  If you have too you can read about how it’s done.”  Dad was an airline mechanic, He liked reading instructions, manuals, and that one insight gave me the confidence to take apart car engines and then reassemble them. I would go the the library and check out a Motors Manual for the vehicle I was working on, and “Get ‘er done.”  I wonder what dad would think of the internet online manuals?

Each spring I shut down our radiant heat boiler and fire it up in the fall.  This fall it did not fire up. Bummer. The pilot light would not stay lit. Past experience told me the thermal couple was bad. So for $6.50 I bought another one and installed it along with cleaning the firebox, heat tubes, and flue.

Earlier in the year I had heard a scratching noise in the exhaust flue, I waited till now to inspect it. I was expecting a dead squirrel, but found some twigs instead. I suspect a bird tried making a nest in the flue. It had to have been difficult flying 6 feet in and out of a 5 inch tube. The bird must have eventually given up and flew away.  Good plan, poor execution.

After 90 minutes of DYI we had a working pilot light, clean boiler, and a clear flue. Thanks dad.

boiler-fix.jpg  46k--stick.jpg

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