Hmm. What to talk about today. 

Oh, right.

I knew it was Gazebo-settin’-up-weather when I walked outside; no way around it. Granted, I had some other things to do, like swap out a hard drive, but that would only take a minute or two. 


Fifteen minutes later I was still trying to get the drive out of the sled; the screw was stripped, and she wasn’t moving. Checked online for a replacement: $40. To compensate for one screw. Well, recalcitrant-part that; I’d find another way. In the meantime, though, daylight’s burnin’! Best get to it. 

Can’t be that hard. 

I have done this twice before, you know. Last year’s was quite easy, but that’s because it was made out of drinking straws and tissue paper, and hence was easy to lift and arrange. That was also why it ended up as bent and twisted as Pier Pasolini towards the end, and I have to put up a new one. Well, I don’t have to, but ever since I built the first outdoor-living-room in 2005, I’ve loved having a shaded space out back. 

So. The raw materials:




The smaller box of obscure items the likes and use of which you have never seen before:

Ugh. You expect an alien face-hugger to burst out. 

The Chorus of Fasteners, including several nails you can pound into your head when it gets really bad:


The first step: assemble the top frame. Easily done, except that one screw refused to go in at the proper angle. 

This isn’t going to work, is it?


This isn’t going to work, is it?

I set the screw aside to try it later. Already had one part left over, and still on page one. Grand. Finished the framework, set it aside. It was big.





I wept out loud when I pulled one roof strut from the box and saw it was bent. No. NO. I will not wait for China to send another. I just won’t. What – the other strut was bent. And the other. All four. Then I considered that they were supposed to be bent, and sure enough: the instructions showed them slightly kinked. Ah. Well. Carry on.


More screw-screwing. The phrase “as finely machined as a Chinese nut” does not come to mind for most people, and there’s a reason. In order to tighten them up, you had to hold the nut with a cheap little “wrench” with one hand and use your hardy dependable co-worker, Allan Wrench, with the other. I did four before I realized the pointy-screw-end would be visible, as opposed to the nice smooth head-end. Undid them, did them again. 


Okay! Making time! Also, a gazebo! I managed to get the roof completely assembled. GOTT IN HIMMEL, this thing is GROSSEN:




Went on to the next step. And I quote:




Nevermind the difficulty of moving that SETI radio-telescope dish across the lawn; how the devil would I secure it to the frame once it was on? Build a trench like they have in oil-change shops? 

And how would I get this thing on top of the posts? 

Called the Giant Swede. “I will pay you money,” I said. But I knew he’d work for a small cigar.

While waiting for aforementioned large ration of Swede – who got a job, by the way; he was sent to the knackers’ yard when Northwest Airlines was consumed by Delta, but he found gainful employment in his field within a fortnight – I decided to drain the Oak Island Water Feature’s main tank, so I can clean out the accumulated grot, replace the light bulbs, and get that wretched, miserable, soul-searing moneypit going again. I got out the pump, put it in the water, plugged it in. 


Tried the other outlets: nothing. So either the outlets were dead, or the pump was dead. This is where you shake your fist at heaven and ask WHY it seems so NECESSARY that we BLEED MONEY OUT OUR NETHER APERTURES EVERY DAY for EVERYTHING. 

He arrived a few minutes later, surmised the situation, pulled out his Engineer Mojo and threw the instructions aside. We’re going to do this differently, he said. You might think this was a sure route to making something that looked like Homer’s BBQ pit, but he’s a capable fellow. 

How capable? He summoned Velcro from a place where Velcro was thought not to be. One of the instructions said I should attach the roof to the struts using the velcro, but I couldn’t find any. Anywhere. Turns out it was pre-attached for my convenience , hanging from the roof. He also managed to get that balky part to fit, channeling John Henry. Pile: driven. Now it was time to attach the legs, bring it up, lean it over, and other maneuvers that made this look like the Hokey-Pokey for centipedes. (NOTE: in this post-Dowd era of attributing everything lest you be accused of plagiarism by people who think it means lifting an entire paragraph a friend read to you over the phone, then copying a few words for some strange reason, one of the many helpful folk who read the afternoon’s twitter play-by-play mentioned “the Hokey Pokey” as an example of concise instructions. So that’s obviously on my mind. I apologize.) 

There was great grunting when the roof was finally added, but it had that honest, plain, Amish-gazebo-raising spirit, and when it was done, it  was done, and -

Remember the screws I redid because I didn’t want the pointy part looking down? Turns out that meant the pointy part would be looking up, i.e., poking through the fabric roof. So. I redid all eight, with the roof on, which was like changing the sparkplugs on a car with the hood down. But it was done. One more thing – had to put on the skeeter nets, then take them off and put them on again because they were backwards – and it was done. 

Except for the chandelier. Yes, it came with a matching chandelier. But this meant getting bulbs, so we went to Home Depot. Nothing like Home Depot at five PM on a Sunday. It’s a quiet, contented  place. We went to the bulb aisle, where I realized I didn’t know what kind it needed. Phoned home. Child was no use whatsoever. GO GET MOM. My wife said I needed C base bulbs. I had no idea there was such a classification system; you learn something every damned day in this life. Found A base, B, G, F . . . no C. Found Ca, though. This would be the calcium base? Asked a clerk if there was any difference between C and Ca, but she said no, they’re all “Candelabra.” 

Should be Li for Liberace, maybe. Bought another *(#$*%$# pump, then hit Lunds for some groceries, as the Giant Swede had been instructed via wifely text to pick up some items. Only family I know that buys six gallons of milk at a time. The store, Lunds, is doing its best to assure cash-strapped customers that they’re not really the high-end place they’ve been acting like for all these years, and so they have a new strategy:


That’s right: lots of signs everywhere with the BOGO logo. Buy one, you get one free. 

Which would be BOGOF. 

BOGO is what always happens. You buy one, you get one. BOGOF is the real term, but it sounds like BOGUS crossed with Eff-Off. In any case I got BOGO cheese and BOGO lemonade. Back home to wire up the chandelier. Cleaned away all the construction detritus, and lit it up:


TODAY: well, it depends; this is ISP switch-over day, so anything could happen. Or not happen. Bear with me. If all goes well I will have the matchbook up around noon, and even though I have nine miles worth of work to chew through today, I may have a surprise later. At least it’ll run sometime this week. Stay tuned, and see you ASAP. Oh – is up, and I’ll be the weather-sports-entertainment anchor on NewsBreak at StarTribune M-Thu as well. Hell of a week coming up, but I don’t care, because A) it’s employment, and B) I love it, and C . . . 
I have a gazebo. Again. Let the season of sitting outside with a fine beverage and a good book and the sound of the Oak Island Water Feature running dry . . . BEGIN!






66 Responses to Monday, May 18: BOGO, or Build One Gazebo Outside

  1. HunkyBob says:

    I suppose guy lines temporarily attached to the vertical members running to stakes in the ground could be attached in the event of high winds. Would be a shame to see this one go away like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

  2. notbilly says:

    My favorite BOGO-ish promo is “Buy one, get one half off”, which would be BOGOHO. But they never call it that. Don’t know why not — it’s fun to say.

  3. MikeH says:

    I was thinking that crossdotcurve’s post was supposed to go to another blog, wasn’t paying too much attention. james your a brave man for even attempting this before accessing the big Swede. I suck at assembling things and would have hired someone else immedietly to assemble it, or just not bother. And yes i consider myself a real man

  4. Pam-EL says:

    Just use a small brick of neutronium to anchor each post. You may not have any, but your Giant Swedish Engineer will. They all do. It’s the law.

  5. Baby M says:

    In crossdotcurve’s world, the Bush administration is probably responsible for the last gazebo blowing over. You have to admit that it’s amusing, however, to see a comment that begins: “Dowd — and the person she shamelessly stole her sentence from — are right . . . .”

    Even more hilarity: the AP ran a story about Dowd’s overuse of cut-copy-paste, and had to run a correction about it!

    My advice: forget politics and enjoy your nights out in the gazebo.

  6. Charlie Young says:

    Everyone needs a Giant Swede!

  7. Charlie Young says:

    Today: The Gazebo Conclusion…Tomorrow: The ISP Fiasco!

  8. Mxymaster says:

    Charlie, those sound like episodes of a Quinn Martin production.

    VO: “Grovelsnurt, P.I. … in color!”

    [brass music]

    “A Quinn Martin production!”

    [brasso crescendo]

    “Tonight’s episode…Death Stalks the Gazebo!”

  9. huddydrvr says:

    If it was a Quinn-Martin production, half the pictures would be of James driving to Lowe’s in his convertible.

  10. Jon says:

    There is a formula that deals with the weight, size, and parts of the project that therefore requires certain numbers of guys, boomboxes, and coolers full of beer. It sounds like you ignored this Guy Projects Law ® at first, but you wisely adjusted later on.

    In order to avoid all the publicity with Gitmo and renditions, sympathetic people in the journalism business are now installing a network of gazebos and “water features” across the lands, so Cheney and his minions can continue their secret dirty work. Nobody would believe an al-Qaeda operative was subjected to harsh interrogation at Dave Barry’s house. It’s perfect!

  11. Z says:

    In England, it’s relaxedly written BOGOF in the supermarkets and pronounced ‘bogoff’. Which I understand is a euphemism for bugger off. This mild vulgarity appeals to us.

  12. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – buy two and the second one only costs half the total price you paid!

  13. Nancy says:

    “On the other hand Nancy says the CIA always lies.”
    Hey, I do not say that! OH! You meant that Pelosi broad…

  14. Jazzbo says:

    Looks great. I hope you have many fine summer nights in your sturdy, chandeliered gazebo.

  15. Elisson says:

    Why, it’s glorious! You are now an official Gaze-Bubba.

  16. [...] contrast, would any of you blame me for stealing something from James Lileks?  Here’s what he wrote yesterday in describing his struggle to assemble a gazebo from a kit: More screw-screwing.  The phrase [...]

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