Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

A Quandary
by James Glaser
February 12, 2010

I am in a real quandary. I want to build a woodworking shop on my property, but I don't know if I should stick a lot of money into it with the economy the way it is.

Our house is brick, and if I want to make the shop look like it "fits" in with the setting there should be some brick, and the building should be of the same construction as the house. The windows should match, and I was thinking the siding would be the same type and color as that on the gable ends of the house. Of course, that type of construction is the most expensive—wouldn't you know it.

There is another way to go, and that is a metal building, which would cost less than half, but would more or less stick out like a sore thumb.

There is another problem, I don't want to build just a shop. I also want a one-car garage for Wanda, which could be incorporated into any shop structure. Oh, and also, we want to add a sunroom, or as they call them down here, a Florida room on to the back of the house to be an office for Wanda.

We have almost two acres, so nothing we build is going make the place look crowded, but with the way home values are going, we might just be throwing money away if we go the expensive route. But then again we never bought this place thinking it was a investment that we would want to flip and make money with. A nice shop would be, well, nice.

This construction thinking has been going on for a while now, and I have spent too much time thinking, drawing, and researching. It is time to bite the bullet and make a decision, but as you might have guessed, I haven't.

Right now, in Northern Florida, the weather is perfect. In fact, for me it couldn't be better. Tomorrow morning they are talking about snow, but snow down here is not like snow up North. Here it could stay all the way till noon, and would be talked about for years. A few days ago the woman who runs the book store in town was telling me about the last snow they had, and that was in 1989.

This past week I have been working outside, and in the afternoon it has been in the high 50's or low 60's with a bright sun and a little wind. Now that is working weather! If you are really working, at that temperature you don't even need a vest. Maybe a tee shirt isn't enough but a short sleeve shirt is about right. It keeps you moving, and that sun shine sure feels good.

This week we trimmed our crape myrtle trees, and will do the same to our roses next week. With all of the big trees we have, every day becomes yard clean up day. It takes a couple of trips around the yard picking up fallen Spanish moss and small branches. There is another project I want to do. I need a nice area to burn in. Someplace surrounded with stone, where you can have a cook-out or you can burn yard debris.

Then I want to set up a couple of horse shoe pits, with a little wall behind each, and maybe a couple of benches. Hey, I'm in the rural South, and pitching horse shoes is always fun.

As long as I am making this little to do list, I have to tell you that a tree house is on the list, too. We have all of these big oak trees, and it would be a shame not to build one. I have built tree stands for deer hunting up North, but never a real tree house that you would feel good about taking a nap in.

Then there is a fence to put around the property if we ever want to get a dog. Something decorative along the road and the rest, a practical wire fence on metal or treated fence posts. If you have a fence, then you need a gate, and maybe way before that, we should redo the driveway, either in new gravel or asphalt.

All I can think of is money pouring through my finger tips, but this is where I live, and I want it to say something—something like we care. Your home and yard are the first thing people see about you before they ever meet you. Actually, I can look at the yard and house and think of it as a big canvas or the start of a big sculpture, and if I put it all together in the right way, it will say something.

Like any piece of art you work on, you might think it says one thing, but you soon find out that other people see a lot of different things. My whole working life I have tried to make things so fine that if a person didn't get what I was trying to say or didn't like the subject matter, they could at least appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the piece.

I guess that answers my problem. I guess if I want to make a statement with my home and the setting it sits in, I better opt for the higher cost buildings. I guess it is only money.

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