I have to dedicate this post to my dad, who, even though he doesn't think he did, spent an awful lot of time teaching me how to build things.
I grew up in a house built in 1970. My family moved there when I was nearly four, in 1987, and my parents are still there. In all those years, my parents have remodeled, and re-remodeled nearly the entire house. My dad has always had a workshop in the basement. On a huge bench he made himself is a big rusty-green vice. On the wall hang hand tools, under the bench is scrap wood, and on the shelves is everything else. As far back as I can remember, my brother and I were always allowed to play there. Somewhere along the way we learned how to use a hammer, screwdriver, saw, and sandpaper. When other kids our age were watching MTV we were in the workshop, hinging together little pieces of wood into pretend phones, computers, and yes, even a homemade teleporter.
We followed Dad around as he painted walls, laid floors, constructed a deck, sidewalks, and garden walls, and built a whole room on the end of our house. Somewhere in all that he found time to humor me when I wanted to build my own playhouse. I was ten, and more or less came up with the plan for the frame, but he made it happen and bought me the two blue tarps to cover it. Some say about parenting that when it comes to time spent with one's kids, it's all about quantity over quality. Everything I remember about weekends with my dad, working around the house, was quality time, but I think it was simply the shear quantity of time that helped me learn my way around a tool box.
One of my biggest bugaboos about this roaming military life is the absence of permanence and sense of place for my kids. We've been fortunate to live in nice houses with nice yards to play in and I do think we've made the most of it, but every once in awhile this lack of "ownership" (for lack of a better way to put it) boils over inside of me and I do something crazy like decide to build my kids a (really heavy) playhouse out of WOOD, darn it, because that's what real playhouse are made out of, and what I'd build two of if only we had a yard to call our own.
So anyway, that's the back story on the crazy playhouse. It seems to be working out so far. It is a bit of a parallelogram, honestly, but I think I have cheap lumber to blame more than shoddy workmanship. It was great fun to plan it out (I love graph paper) and swinging a hammer all afternoon was enormously satisfying. I really hope it can last through a few moves, and I hope the kids are not too old or too big by the time we get somewhere permanent that I can use it to make a real, permanent, honest-to-goodness playhouse in the backyard for them.
Thanks, Daddy, for giving me the tools - of all kinds - to make this happen.