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Gazebo On Steroids

I had a buddy in high school named Ed Johnson.  He and I used to ride around in his 62 Chevy and do a little country road drinking and Quad City cruising.   There is always a lot of jockeying between activities and people and groups in school days but Fast Eddie was always a good friend and has remained so through the decades since graduation.  I was in G-Burg and he was in Peoria; families to raise and careers to establish.  I've talked about Ed in the past on this blog and longtime readers will remember the great story of him finding his Dad's old truck in a junkyard near Aledo a few years ago, and restoring a door.  His son, Michael, a Floridian living not too far from St. Pete, and my name is not just a coincidence.  Michael also had me and Brendan on his boat for a fishing trip last year, too.  

When I was up North I got a call from Eddie asking where I was.  In an ironic twist of fate I happened to be in G-Burg and he was in Florida.  He was down here building a gazebo as a wedding gift for Michael and his bride-to-be.  

When I returned to Florida he wondered if I could run over one day and help him build this structure that had started out small but had grown to a double-decker that he called a gazebo on steroids.

I'm no genius but when a friend calls for help, you drop everything (not that I had anything to drop) and go running.  The downside of my life now is that I have no projects or need to hold a drill or hammer.  When you own a house you have projects to do,  maintenance to fulfill and tools to use.  A day with Eddie and drills was just too exciting to pass up.  So I hopped on my bike around 5:00 am and headed over the Skyway Bridge and up I-75.  Now the bad part:  I'm not a big fan of night riding and it was a little chilly.  Damn chilly.  

But I made it in about an hour and 40 minutes.  I got lost but eventually made it to a country area between Dade City and Zephyrhills.  The picture above is what greeted me.  A damn fine looking two-story deck that Eddie had been working on for a couple weeks all by himself.  The house on the right is new and will be the home of Michael and Dee Dee.     

From the upper deck was this beautiful site.  Across the road was a band of newly planted pine trees.  Beyond that was a field with cows grazing and once in a while a flock of egrets would move from place to place.  A couple of farmsteads in the distance reminded me of Illinois.  And then I heard a train in the distance and that was the topper.  

That's my bike in the foreground.  It was a damn cold day and even spit a little throughout the day.  I seriously wondered if we'd see snowflakes.  

This is Eddie sawing some edges.  My contribution was minimal throughout the day - my primary mission was to not screw anything up.  I drilled a few screws and helped move some lumber around, but it was really Eddie who did the bulk of work.  Eddie was the builder and prime mover on this thing and he was understandably proud of it, and it sure looked good.  Frankly, I wasn't aware that Ed had that much talent.  

A beautiful new house on 4 acres out in the country.  A swimming pool and a new two-story deck round out a damn nice place for the newlyweds.

This is Michael's Packer's decorated office area in the house.  

As I was scampering around on the floor drilling in screws like a mountain goat I would be reminded the next day that I wasn't 18 anymore.  I thought I was going to need kneecap replacement.  It was great day with Eddie, Michael and getting out doing something.  It made me feel useful again. 

The trip home was in daylight but during rush hour.  And several points home it was stop-and-go traffic on the Interstate.  Imagine that.  Heard later there was an accident someplace and everyone was funneled over to where I was.  But then again, I really don't mind stop-and-go traffic - it slows everyone down.  

In the next week or so you will see the finished job and how it was integral to the wedding.  Stay tuned.  Thanks again for calling, Eddie. I got more out of it than you did.    


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