Friday, May 29, 2009

If Steve had a Blog, He Would Post This

My brother Steve set out to build a treehouse for his kids last weekend. And, he posted some photos of said progress on Facebook. When I saw the photos, I commented to him that the photos would make an excellent blog post.

His reply to me on Facebook was, "Yes, well, as soon as I get about 364 more excellent blog post ideas, I'll start one. I'll leave it to you until then. Maybe you could have an "other people's excellent blog posts if only they had a blog" week on yours and you could just post it for me."

So, today, here on Ate Up Amateur, we will let Steve and his kids sort of take over the blog. I'm not sure I could make a whole week of it...or maybe I can - send me your interesting blog post ideas! But, here's one for today about building a treehouse - it will make a good post for the end of May. End of May! Can you believe it's almost the end of May! Unbelievable!

Veda, second from left, performing in her class play, as an elephant.

I thought it might make a more interesting post if I asked the kids about what they thought about the project and about the photos of the construction to include in the post. First up was Veda. She is 8 and really not very available for such silliness. She has a busy social schedule and it was hard to get worked in.

I start with some small talk - are you glad school is almost over? I saw some photos of your school play. That looked cool. What do you plan to do with all your time this summer? Are you excited about the treehouse?


"I dunno. I want to go to Florida."


OK, a girl of few words. I decided to move on to the photos. I asked each kid what the photo was about, what was in the photo, etc. Those answers will be interspersed below...let's just say Veda's answers are all in the minimalist tradition.

Deacon, at Kindergarten graduation, with his teacher, Ms. Mercer.

After I spoke with Veda she moved on to her busy social schedule. Deacon came to the phone ready to talk. He seemed upbeat and interested. I of course again started with some small talk.

I saw some photos of your Kindergarten graduation. That looked like fun.

"Did you see the one of me and my teacher Ms. Mercer?" Yes, Deacon I saw that one. Why?

"Oh, well, because that's the best one. It's the only one I like." Why?


Are you excited school is out? What are you going to do with all your time this summer?

"Yes." "I don't know - maybe play in the treehouse and with the Wii."
Big plans.

Then we went on to the photos and talking about the building of the tree house.

Cora at her pre-school graduation.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Miss Cora last. She recently graduated from pre-school. The only person from the family there to witness this event was her mother. This is because up until the time of the event, Cora was on-again, off-again on whether she wanted to go. You might remember she can occasionally, just a little bit, on the side, be a little bit moody. So, her smart mother didn't invite anyone. But, she took pictures.

On this particular night, however, in this particular conversation, she was a lovely partner in banter. In fact, before I could ask her any questions, she offered up some tidbits of information.

"Today I went to Veda's show. She was an elephant and another girl was a leopard and she had a lot of leopard spots. Veda and me counted them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!"

Wow, Cora, that's interesting. Are you excited school is over? Are you excited to start kindergarten next year and ride the bus with Bubby and Sissy? (Deacon and Veda)

"Yes, but I'm not going to ride the bus home from school. Mommy will pick me up because I get out before them." OK.

Are you excited Daddy's building a treehouse? Will it be fun to have a treehouse?


"I dunno."

I asked all three kids what this structure was called - a clubhouse, a playhouse, a treehouse, what? Deacon explained, "Daddy calls it a playhouse, but we call it a treehouse but there is no tree."

Veda, demonstrating the post-hole digger.

Veda described this photo as one where she was "trying to dig a hole." She has a very literal mind, I've ascertained.

When I asked Deacon who's idea it was to build a treehouse he said, "Well, we were wondering what to do on a Saturday once, so this gave us something to do." He also reported that Veda was just starting out on that hole in this photo, and while it appears she might be wearing a hard hat in this photo, it is in fact only her "froggy hat". Whatever that is.

Cora reported that Veda dug a deep hole. "It was deep." I am not going to question the deepness of the hole....who dug the hole to that deepness, now well, that is another question. Ahem. I'm sure Veda was a big help, though.

Once that hole was dug, Steve put the corner beam into said hole.

Veda said, "Daddy's putting the thing in it and we're watching." Deacon added, "Me and Veda are standing there waiting, ready to pick up a board." And Cora had this to say: "I'm peeking behind the wood."

Everyone pretty much agreed here that "Daddy" was hammering and building the floor.
Go Daddy.

And what a nice job he did, no?

Here is where Deacon and Cora began showing a greater attention to detail when speaking about the photos. Veda said, when seeing the photo, and I quote, "Floor". OK! Deacon noticed the tools on the floor. But Cora, well Cora went into a very detailed accounting of what that pail on the left is for - it is a bucket of nails, you see. "You just can't see the nails." Cora also reported the legs in the photo belonged to her and Veda. Maybe - maybe. Sounds plausible.

I wanted to know what that tarp was for in this photo.

Before I asked that question, I got very detailed reports of the "wall, back wall, wall with a window, wall with a door."

When I asked about that plastic, though, Veda said it was to go under the floor. Huh? I tried to ask again, but got the same response...I was confused. To me, it looked like it was OVER the floor. So, I asked Deacon. He had the skinny. Apparently, another "floor" will go on top of the plastic tarp, so that's sort of a spacer in between the floors.

This also helps define the unfinished space for me. Obviously, the section without the plastic will be the "porch" or "deck" on the front of the treehouse.

You can see this delineation in the side view here.

And here, that front wall is starting to be in place.
And Deacon is standing by, helping.

This photo is telling to me, about what was going on during the build. Notice Deacon is still on the "construction site". And the girls - well, the girls are over there in that giant tube. See them?

I sort of have a feeling they were otherwise engaged at this point in the build, while Deacon hung on.

Actually, my dad told me that he and Torchy took Deacon to lunch this week. While at lunch, he asked when he could come over and spend the night at their house. My dad, his grandpa, told him that he and grandma would have to discuss it. Deacon then responded, "Why don't you discuss it now?" Well, OK. They did and suggested Saturday. Deacon said that wasn't going to work for him because the weekend was when his Daddy did the really cool stuff on the treehouse and he didn't want to miss that. Alrighty, then. So, Thursday, last night, he was penciled in.

This whole scene takes me back a bit myself. I remember as a kid my dad would drag me with him on the weekend to Central Hardware to pick up some various odd thing. It smelled like fresh cut wood. That smell to this day - no kidding - induces in me a Pavlovian response. I am immediately sleepy when I smell fresh cut wood. In other words, I would have probably been over there in that tube with the girls.

Not that I wouldn't have LOVED that treehouse. When it was done, of course, and I could hang some curtains in it. Not that, with three brothers, and a neighborhood full of boys, I was a very girly girl, and am not very girly even today. But, that's what I would have wanted to do. Decorate it, darlin'. Decorate it.

Steve, taking a break.

Or, at least that's what it looks like to me. I mean, he built it up to this point and he decided to sit down and take a little rest. The kids - they interpreted this photo differently. Veda said it was a photo of, "Daddy sitting in it." I asked her point blank if she thought he was tired and she said no. She thinks her Daddy is Superman. As she should.

Deacon thought he was sitting down in the chair to think up ideas about how to put on the roof. A photo of his dad sitting down doesn't look like inaction to him - it looks like a strategy session. Since it's Steve in the photo, I'm going to have to say he is probably right. Steve's one of the smartest people I know. And I'm not just saying that because he's my brother. He is. One of the smartest people I've ever met. Anywhere.

Deacon also pointed out you can see the wood cutting command center in this photo. Very cool area to a six year old boy.

Deacon, demonstrating the ladder.

Deacon reported the ladder works, "pretty good." He also said he's been practicing to use the ladder like his dad does - walking up it with NO HANDS. Apparently Steve has demonstrated this option to him and he thinks it's cool. He even said he did it once but hasn't been able to repeat it.

When I asked Cora about walking up the ladder with no hands, she said, "When you climb up the ladder, you use your hands AND feet." Don't be getting all "no hands" on Cora.

Getting there.

Cora noted the branch under the treehouse - that branch, according to Cora, was cut down by her Daddy to make room for the treehouse.

The back of the treehouse with siding on.

Further progress continues to be made. The roof has been completed and the siding is beginning to go up.

A look at the progress from a distance.

I notice the trimmed branch has been moved away by the time this photo was taken. Oh, and there's Dolly over there in the background. One of the sweetest dogs I've ever met. So sweet. I love that dog. Be kind to her, children. She's old and sweet and she deserves it.

Deacon reported that the roof looked like a roof on a house. So, when Cora told me the roof was on, I said, "Does it look like the roof on your house?" She reported, "Kind of, except it's black." I noticed in one of the other photos that the shingles on their house are gray. This detail did not get past Cora.

It's shaping up quite nicely indeed.

Of course, the really cool action will happen this weekend, and Deacon will be on hand to help and to witness the coolness of it.

When I asked Cora what she was going to do in the treehouse when it was done she said, "I don't know - it's going to be a treehouse!" So clearly, the possibilities are endless.

When I asked Deacon when he thought the project would be totally finished, he replied, "Probably on Sunday or Tuesday." We'll see.

I'll try to get a photo of the finished project to share with you here on my blog, you know, since Steve is still working on those 364 other blog posts before he starts a blog of his own.

Best wishes for a lovely Friday and a great weekend. Stay cool!


  1. Cleverly written blog post for one who was not present. Enjoyed it. Guess that is saying maybe another non-blogger post would be enjoyable sometime.

  2. We've had a couple of slips on the "ladder", so that may become a slide with a more traditional ladder on the other end of the porch. FYI

  3. And, really, I'm not that smart. I just pretend. Nice compliment, though, considering it comes from the sibling that actually completed college.

  4. The ladders dangers was demonstrated by Steve early on when he fell from it and injured his ankle. It didn't look serious to me...just a scrape; but Steve described it as extrememly how Steve describes pain. I think the tree house is a wonderful idea. I ask Steve if he was building what he had hoped I would have build for him when he was a boy and he said, Yes.


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