“That canoe is your Austin-Healey,” my wife recently declared.
Here’s some background. The canoe to which she referred is a partially built wood-strip canoe, which has been taking up my half of the garage for a decade or so. (Yes, we have his and her sides of the garage; my side contains workbenches, tools and projects while she wastes her space by parking a car in it.)
The Austin-Healey is a 1958 British sports car which has been occupying my dad’s garage since before I was born. It was my dad’s first car, but as long as I can remember, it’s been up on blocks, with various pieces and parts scattered around the garage.
Restoring the car is his “someday” project — you know, the he’ll get to someday, when he has the time and money. Over the past forty-plus years, he’s sometimes had the time, sometime had the money, but never both at once. I remember periodically going
I guess the canoe has become my “someday” project — though it didn’t start out that way. It was so long ago it’s hard to remember, but I’m pretty sure that when I started, I figured it would be a good winter project. I’d work on it here and there over weekends or before or after work, and launch it come spring. It sounded like a good plan at the time.
Things didn’t work out that way, though. While I have done a little bit here and a little bit there, it’s still amounted to a very little bit. And it’s been a while since I’ve done anything on it at all, as most of my free time is now taken up with other family activities or more pressing chores, like replacing a garage door opener or fixing a faucet.
So now, what could someday be a canoe is just something in the way. In fact, even if I wanted to do a little bit of work on it, I’d need to spend a weekend just cleaning up all the tools, camping gear, pieces of wood and who knows what else that has accumulated on and around it.
What’s more, I don’t have space to work on other things. If I want to work on another project, it means backing my wife’s car out of the garage so I have space to work. She’s not usually thrilled about that idea, especially if it’s a project that is going to take a while. In the winter, there’s snow, ice and cold temperatures; in the summer, there’s that gunk from the birch trees that covers her car.
I don’t have room for waxing skis or working on bicycles or fixing the snowblower. Retrieving the Christmas decorations from the totes on the shelf behind the canoe requires strength-training movements that would impress hard-core cross-fit enthusiasts. I can’t work with a piece of wood longer than about four feet on my table saw because it’s on the wrong side of the canoe (didn’t think that one all the way through, I guess). Bikes, skis, skates and other sporting equipment, tools and recycling bins are all hanging from the walls or ceiling because there’s no floor space for any of it.
Recently, I’ve started thinking seriously about dismantling what I’ve done so far, and trying again someday when I have more time, maybe when the kids are off to college. I’ve thought about sending it off with a Viking farewell — lighting it on fire and setting it adrift — but there’s not enough of a hull to float at this point.
I also thought about cutting it up for a bonfire, and spreading the ashes in some local body of water. But then I also thought that if I put that much effort into taking it apart, maybe I should just keep working on it instead. Besides, by the time I get to that, they may very well be spreading my ashes, too.
In the mean time, there’s a chance that my dad may get to his Austin-Healey. He’s getting ready to retire this year, so he might have some time to work on it — though grandkids and other projects around his house are keeping him pretty busy in his free time. And my brother has suggested that the car could be moved into his garage — but with two young kids himself, I’m not sure when he thinks he might work on it.
Then again, if I get rid of the canoe, I might have room for the Austin-Healey myself ...
Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.