For the last two wonderful weeks, my father has been with us.
At 79 years of age, he's a ball of enthusiasm and energy.
During the first four or five years of his life, my grandfather worked on the construction of the coastal railway north of Christchurch in New Zealand. My grandmother had to make do with a very rustic life in temporary bush camps...but those times were always some of her happiest memories. Dad has a similar leaning towards nature and minimalism and I suspect that our simple non-consumerist life here in the valley reminded him of his earliest days.
He was relaxed, happy and very active. He walked everywhere. Fast. He absorbed everything. Sponge. He looked for opportunities to experience something new. Discovered.
But nothing prepared us for his utter commitment to a building project while he was here! Our heating room, which contains the caldaia equipment (used for heating and circulating warm water to our radiators in winter) had started to "move" a few months ago and we needed to shore it up quite urgently. For this purpose, we had gratefully accepted some old roof timber from a friend and we had been storing this lovely old cedar behind the house specifically for this project.
Enter Dad, who took an instant liking to the timber and couldnt wait to "play" with it!
During one hot afternoon, Dad designed a pergola arrangement which will hug the heating room, thus support it. Dad is a professional draftsman and carpenter/builder and he normally uses CAD so it was lovely to see him switch easily to the old-fashioned drafting tools of pencil and paper.
The next day, we dropped into a hardware shop to buy threaded rod, plates, nuts and washers for the building project and early the following morning, Dad, Stu and I were up and ready to work.
Dad was chief designer and tradesman, Stu was a tradesman and I was a labourer.
In a few short hours, I watched (and laboured, of course!) as Dad carried wood, climbed ladders and bent over to measure, saw and chisel like a young thing!
We now have a beautiful and strong framework, which is a lovely reminder of Dad's holiday as well as his capability, enthusiasm and energy...