First up, I needed wood, and old wood at that. The original print looked as though it were painted on old fencing with lots of character and weathering to it. Fortunately, our house, when we purchased it nigh on two years back, came with not only a wood shop but a wood shed as well. The wood shop is an outbuilding that is kind of wasted on me, as I’m by no means a wood worker and own very few of the power tools necessary for the cause. Our home’s previous owner, however, was a woodworker and built the shop to spec for all of his carpentry needs. It’s basically a long one room structure, on a cement block foundation, lined with peg board and with a rough wooden floor. In the summer, it can be cooled with a window air conditioner. In the winter, it can
be heated via wood stove. We mostly use it for the storage of tools, paint and gardening supplies, though I have a desk out there to occasionally go and write. The wood shed is a different outbuilding that is, as its name suggests, a shed filled with split wood. This is less useful because the only wood-burning heater on the property is the wood stove in the shop. We have a fireplace in the house, but its currently set up for gas logs. However, the wood shed does allow us room to store mowers and there was also a small supply of 2×4 lumber that had been weathering nicely for years. Bingo.
I hauled the selection of lumber into the wood shop and laid it on the floor. I tried to arrange it side by side in
as eye-pleasing a fashion. After several rearrangings, I was satisfied that it looked good. My next step was to flip it all over and try to secure it together with smaller, thinner lengths of wood, barn-door style. I already had a supply of self-piloting wood screws. What I didn’t have was a drill with batteries that were charged. After several hours on the charger, neither battery for our Black & Decker Firestorm drill gave up much power. Great. They were dead. Which meant more delay in the assembly of the present. It was looking like my emergency backup jewelry would be needed. Still, I ordered new batteries and hoped for the best, deciding that their not inconsiderable cost could be counted toward the total value of the present.
A few days later, Monday, October 21, my mother-in-law arrived for her visit.
On Tuesday, while the wife was out running errands, I shared with her my potential horse-painting on wood surprise project and gave her the backstory on its origin. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to paint the horse part of it, but had a few ideas. Ma said she thought it sounded nice. She also let me in on a birthday secret, which was that my sister-in-law from Kentucky would be sneaking into town to surprise the wife on Wednesday. This, I knew, would be a great surprise and was more incentive for me to pull the trigger on my surprise so that I was not left out of the surprise game. This meant finalizing the plan for the horse.
The idea I had for doing it was to purchase a large horse silhouette wall decal which I would (hopefully) be able to affix to the boards I would (hopefully) soon be securing together. I then planned to splatter paint the whole thing, allowing the splatters of paint to create a reverse silhouette so that the horse silhouette would appear as just bare, weathered wood against a Jackson Pollock backdrop. I did a bit of research on such decals, but most of them were either not what I wanted or were a lot more expensive than I’d hoped.
On Wednesday my drill batteries arrived. The wife did not seem suspicious. Nor was she suspicious when someone knocked on the front door at 9:00 that night. In fact, she thought it was me home early from my play’s dress rehearsal, `til she opened the door and saw some woman standing there in the darkness. It took her a few seconds to see through the gloom that it was her sister, Amber.
On Thursday, October 25, while ostensibly outside hauling lawn furniture to the basement for the winter, I snuck out to the wood shed. I figured the wife would be distracted by her mother and her sister and wouldn’t know I was gone until I’d had a chance to try out my new drill batteries, which had been charging all night. Sure enough, the drill sunk a self-piloting screw through the thinner bit of wood on the back of my weathered boards and with great efficiency. I tried another. It also worked great. Soon the whole upper cross beam was affixed to the boards. I was so happy that I did the lower beam, too. Then, as I was starting the first screw in the diagonal cross beam, I felt a disturbance in the force. Somewhere nearby I was missed. Every psychic fiber of my being cried out that I should put down the drill and return to the house, for a one woman search party would soon be sent out. Alas, I ignored this in favor of finishing the cross beam. A couple of minutes later, I was just about to drill the last screw when I heard the shop’s door knob rattle and looked up to see the wife trying to peer in through the window in the door.