so clearly weeks have gone by since my last post. life is busy busy and i can't seem to find the time to make a post these days!! but more honestly, so many hours went into this project that by the time it was finished and the garden was open, i was too tired to talk about it, write about it, or even think about it. i'm going to do my best to quickly top this thing off and attach some pictures.
last i left off, i was heading to the shop to begin on my instruments and turning over the painting to the volunteers. good move. there's no way it all could have gotten done without me missing work at the shop, not to mention losing countless hours of sleep. here's a few shots of painting in progress.
the reason for making the instruments was that i wanted the kids to see that you don't have to spend a fortune on a drum kit, or expensive instruments- you can make noise/sound/music on everyday objects. so i gathered up tin bowls from the dollar store, plastic buckets from all over, brass pipe, discarded cymbals, and wooden decoupage boxes from michael's..all different sizes and shapes. i was able to make some wooden drums, some bucket drums, some steel drums, some mallets out of dowels and super balls, a chime set of goblets and a discarded flag pole and some tin can shakers. along with cymbals scattered about on the walls, there is plenty of noise to be had at the house of rock.
the week leading up to opening day was a huge push for everyone. it had been raining for days on end so progress was at a snail's pace and anytime it wasn't raining the place was buzzing with workers. the 3 nights before the opening i was there at the playhouse until late....the last two as late as midnight. eeeery and peaceful at the same time.
opening day finally came and it was a mad house- kids everywhere.... banging on everything. i couldn't help but join in. it of course rained and that was kind of a drag but the kids didn't seem to notice. nearly everyone in my family was in town for one reason or another and they all came, so it was great to share my big day with them.
by the end of the weekend i'd gotten word that a few things had been destroyed so wed. after work i went over to assess the damage. it was hard to take when i first saw all my hard work in a heap on the floor, or dangling from the walls. the worst of it was seeing the mothers just stand there while their child wielded with all his might to destroy anything that was left. first of all, this is suppose to be a learning experience, not a seek and destroy mission. second of all, what parent stands there while their kid destroys things that aren't theirs?!! maybe that should have been the "first of all".
after they all left for the day, i retrieved the broken pieces, along with my pride, and returned to the shop for a better stronger solution. forget the kids learning about making music or sound out of everyday objects. that's not on their radar and clearly the parents aren't going to make the connection or interaction with them so i'll just let it be.
i made a repeat of the bucket drums. i changed the way i did a couple of things and found some thicker buckets that i hope will hold up to the mongrels they encounter. the wooden drums i changed all together. i did a little research and built a replica of wooden symphony blocks made of 3/4in thick plywood. surely they can't break these.
early one sunday morning about 6am, i returned with help to the playhouse to install the upgrades, tighten up a few things and do some touch up painting. it was great to have the help on the paint job, but it wasn't the neatest job for sure. i also tried to drive the message home to play gently and make music by painting it on the back wall and on the drums. who knows if it'll actually work or not.
so i finished all that up and on the back side, posted a message to my son, who i can't wait to share this with. so much of my days, nights, hours, and minutes were spent thinking of him and the day he gets to come here and experience this place that i built.
oddly, after i finished, i didn't want to leave. but eventually i said my goodbyes with a little prayer that it would hold up and serve it's purpose and bring many kids joy through the sound of and act of making music.
oh- i never saw the dog again. one of the landscapers finally caught him and has since given him a good home.
it's been a little over two months since My Big Backyard has opened and i still get compliments and photos sent to me to let me know how much the kids love it....all the way down to an exhausted mother who, after 45 minutes at the House of Rock, had to drag her son away while he had a crying fit about leaving. not that i want anyone to cry, or drag, but it does my heart good to know that the kids are loving making music so much they want to stay. i'm very proud that it has turned out to be such a success.
this is john, who couldn't wait to tell me that my playhouse was his favorite.
.....and some photos of the rest of the garden. i have to give credit to stacey greenberg for these that follow. and a couple above. i snagged them from her blog. i couldn't help it- they're so good! thanks stacey. and still, there is so so much to be seen that is not included here. so i hope everyone makes it out some time or another. it is definitely for the kid in all of us.
thank you to everyone for all their hard work on such an amazing project. thank you to all who have shared their stories and photographs with me. and most of all, thank you to my loving partner jamie, who gave me more love and understanding and support than anyone could ever hope for.