Back in 1936 a baby was born to Italian immigrant parents. This was the only baby actually born in a hospital. When the nurses asked the little (and I mean little, as in lilliputian) Italian lady what she wanted to name the baby, she replied "jiminel"...or something that sounded like that, at least to the american nurses. So, they wrote 'James' on the birth certificate. For some unknown reason, 'jiminel' or something that sounds like that really meant "Vincent"....but the deed was done. My father, who was supposed to be called Vincent was named James and it's pretty much been like that ever since 1936.
The man has a distinct inability to relax. I did see him swim in a pool a couple of times but I think he'd had a couple of beers, first. My father has never seen a football game in it's entirety...same for baseball. I don't believe he's ever even seen hockey or basketball. When I was very young he worked two jobs for years and years. Eventually, he got it down to just one job, but it took 6 days a week to do it. When he wasn't working, he was rebuilding the house I grew up in. When they bought it, it had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and living room. By the time he finished with it, it had 4 bedrooms, eat in kitchen, formal dining room, living room with floor to ceiling fireplace and wet bar, attached garage, deck, three skylights, parquet floors....but still just one bathroom. Priorities were extremely out of focus when the plans were being laid. He did this entire project alone, weeknights and weekends. It took 5 years. He never rested. If I didn't know better, I suggest he was medically enhanced, but they didn't do that back then
He has since done the same thing to two more houses, living, currently, in the third. My mother likes new things. At first, she was satisfied to simply change wallpaper, carpeting or the colour of the house every two years (I kid you not)...but her condition has progressed and now she likes to get a new house every few years.
They buy simple enough houses, and then the little elf who would be Vincent gets busy. All the while, my mother directs. "put this there, put that here, don't leave that like that, I don't think I like it that way, etc etc etc. And the little elf who would be Vincent, born to a mason by trade (there's a street named after Grandpa in Elmwood Park because he built the houses on it) just keeps on whistling. Actually, he talks to himself while he works, but that is an entirely different thread.
My dad and mom retired to Florida almost 2 years ago. Apparently, the heat hasn't killed them yet, and they seem to have settled in very nicely. Dad has started making birdhouses. He doesn't sell them, or anything productive like that. He gives them to friends, which brings him even greater joy. Ever since I was a little girl, I can always remember my father telling me what kind of bird was making a particular call. Our home was surrounded by trees so you could hear a bird calling to another all the time. We had lots of bird houses in the trees, too.
He's honed his new trade. Or, it's honed him. When Lou and I visited last November for their anniversary, my mother said "Dad has a surprise for you". She had spilled the beans a couple of weeks earlier that it was a birdhouse because he wanted to know what colour to paint it. I suggested she push him towards yellow. Unfortunately, my dad didn't make me a birhouse.
He made me a bird water house
. With a working paddlewheel. And 4 little buckets for hauling make believe bird water. And a chimney for burning make believe bird logs. And there are steps that go up and around the tower, towards the bi-level roof where the chimney is for the make believe fire. And there is a fence around it so the little make believe birds don't fall off when they walk outside the tower in their sleep. I suppose it's so they don't kick their little buckets off, either. There are three holes in the bird tower of power, with nice perches in front of the holes, so, in a sense, the birdhouse (and I use that term so so loosely) is actually functional.....but so is the water wheel. Did I mention that the roof, which looks a bit like spanish tiles was made with about 2000 tongue depressors, all sawed off with just an inch left after the curve, probably with my liliputian grandmother's liliputian spanish tile saw. The chimney, which begins on the lower level roof clears the upper roof with inches to spare. I think the entire chimney is 6 inches tall. I didn't measure it into the house because I didn't think it polite to go poking around where the make believe birds would have their make believe popcorn on movie night.
The birdhouse made by the elf who would be Vincent needs support legs on the right side because the functional paddle wheel is a tad um, oversized...Not that the rest of this birdhouse is proportionate to any bird I've seen. I think the pteradactyl may have enjoyed this home, but I'm not convinced they were actually birds, at all.
I cannot put this lovely birdhouse outside. That would be a sacriledge. Besides, I don't have any hundred year old oaks around my house to support the weight of this thing. (oh yeah, it's finally at my house...he had to ship it FedEx because it won't fit on any airplane known to man. I got it yesterday) So, I made a special place for it in my dining room and it looks beautiful. I'll have to go out and get some make believe birds for it, however...just so it looks lived in, ya know
And for the record, I wouldn't have this birdhouse any other way. It was made with the love of his heart. I'm so happy I didn't ask for a little poi pond for my yard.