We’ve made it this far in the COVID-19 pandemic, and if we keep our wits about us, hopefully we’ll be able to look forward to a more relaxed atmosphere when we’re out and about.
In a regular winter, we get plenty of time indoors reading or watching whatever’s distracting on Netflix or Amazon. I’ll bet the bill from whatever streaming service you use has climbed to the stratosphere this past year.
If you don’t or can’t get outside, there needs to be a way to burn through time till spring yardwork.
“Man cave” was a term that emerged in popular culture in the early 1990s. It’s typically a room or part of a home used by a man as a place to relax and pursue hobbies away from the rest of the family. Over time, its usage has faded away, as do a lot of clichés. But the space can have a useful function, especially if it's heated. I cringe when I hear the term, but I do look forward to using a warm garage next winter when I get stir crazy.
The past few years, I’ve missed having a cozy spot where I can putz around. In our previous house, we built on a heated and insulated addition to the two-car garage, so I had a place to fix or work on home projects. It was invaluable.
As a person who writes, I can sit only so long at a desk typing away before I get squirrelly and get up and start raiding the kitchen cupboards for something to munch on. If I don’t want my weight to balloon, I need to get out of the house. That big enclosed space next to the house is a great place to escape. But in this area, in the middle of winter, heat is a must
This year was the year to put a ceiling in the big garage.
Ideally, if I had my way, I’d live in a 600-square-foot house with a 2,000-square-foot garage. I know, I know. While a tiny house sounds good as a concept, practically speaking, it would be an interpersonal disaster; distance does make the heart grow fonder, but only if it’s in small doses.
There’s a lot of surface to cover when putting up a ceiling in a 26-by-26-foot garage. I wasn’t going to do it myself, so a friend with 60-plus years in construction offered to help. He knows what he’s doing.
Putting up a 5/8 inch, 4-by-12 sheet of wallboard is a challenge. You’re not going to hold it up over your head and put the screws in place so it doesn’t fall and crush you. We rented a lift that made life easier — kind of.
There was a lot of cutting and modifying of the dimensions of the “rock” to get it to fit. Once it was snugged against the ceiling joists, the sheetrock screws could be twisted in with a drill. There was only one problem with that scenario: I have pretty close to no rotator cuffs, having had one repaired and the other one worn out by just getting old.
Somehow, we got half the ceiling up over a two-day period, but not without consequences. I don’t know what my buddy did to relieve the aches and pains of the process, but I sat in a hot tub, took Advil in reckless amounts and went to bed early both nights. We decided to take a break before finishing the other half of the project and waited for his son to arrive from California the following week; a smart move.
The rest of the job went quickly with a young body that fell easily into the rhythms of the work. Exhaustion was held at bay, and the results were excellent.
The space will be insulated, but that can wait a little bit. I’ve put back most of the stuff that was in the garage before the start of the project. It looks nice and neat for the moment, but that will change. Whenever I walk in there, however, and turn on the lights, I grin from ear to ear. What a great place to putz around in.
Doug Lewandowski is a retired counselor, educator and psychologist. Write to him at email@example.com.