The Horse Garage Chronicles


With a bruised right rib and something seriously wrong with my elbow today, I thought about titling this blog entry: “Burn Horse Garage, You Sputum of Satan – Ptttttth, I Hate You – Love Chris.” Instead I decided to focus on the ridiculous aspect of this project: What I will do to create my workshop.

During the last 12 months I have failed to install the new screen door for the front of our house. It’s an easy job – probably only half a day. But apparently I’d rather spend weeks mired in rebuilding concrete block walls, heaving old mattresses to their doom and ripping out 40 square yards of disgusting detritus all for a 25’ x 30’ bunker to hold a few machines and a wood pile.

For the last three years I have neglected to make and install 5’ of moulding on the stairway of our home. It’s an insanely easy bit of work. I could do it with moulding planes or a router in an hour or two. Lucy would be so happy. But no, I’d rather rip out weird tile and ceiling boards for four days straight. (Asbestos? I hope not.) All for a dark cave that is as inspiring as a Communist debriefing room.

Our house’s lamppost and doorbell haven’t worked since the Clinton Administration. The risers of our stairs need a quick coat of paint. My office walls need to be painted after a plaster repair five years ago.

I’m a horrible person. And apparently I am also a sociopath because I don’t care. Today we spent hours restoring the jambs of the Horse Garage – resetting them to their original place in 1906. We filled all the nail holes with an all-weather putty. We sanded. Scraped. Primed and painted.

Honestly, this blog entry could be entered into evidence in a divorce proceeding.

And that’s fine. I deserve it.

As long as I get to keep the shop.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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28 Responses to The Horse Garage Chronicles

  1. I’ll be thinking of you while I’m swapping over the winter tires on the wifes car, and quietly hoping she has forgotten that I promised to fix our doorbell, and install the new motion sensor porch light. Shhhhhh…..


  2. bluefairywren says:

    That garage is a really ugly building, but the red brick building next door is awesome; what is it?


  3. jonfiant says:

    Oh my, you get off easy. The list of things that need to be done around my house, for years I might add, is immense. I’m too embarrassed to recount it here. Mind you, I do this stuff for a living, not a hobby. In all seriousness, your list is not that bad, although your mileage may vary based on your wife’s mood of the day, and your daily outlook on the current state of affairs. I feel your pain! All the best, it will get done somehow!


  4. kendewitt608 says:

    Just look at all the sawdust you will keep out of your shop, then you will forget what this building looks like. Having the lux of a separate building is something we all yearn for.


  5. fitz says:

    No new roof yet 😦


  6. nrhiller says:

    Have your cake and eat it: No divorcing! Keep the fabulous Lucy May and your concrete interrogation bunker/machine shop. Here’s wishing you speedy relief from that bruised rib. I hate when that happens.


  7. John Rowe (a past student in Maryland) says:

    Take it from a twice-divorced guy (not my idea either time), it’s easy to be cavalier about these things but important to keep the wife happy. The expression “happy wife, happy life” is truer than you know. Be grateful. Who else would indulge your adventures?


  8. volzwgn says:

    Ribs, elbow, what did you do? Maybe you need to relax a bit, do some stretches or shoot a few hoops… Or did you take down the basket on the alley?


  9. About 15 years ago, I purchased a 1927 house in Oakland, CA. One of its chief points for me was a very rare two car garage. (“Car Garage”, not “Horse Garage.”) During the purchase process, the seller’s stored stuff occupied half of the garage so one set of doors was not accessible. Once we had the keys, I went straight over to prepare the garage for the lathe and milling machine. Each garage door opening had a set of two rail & style type wooden doors with top windows. As I unlatched the second set that had previously been blocked off and pushed them open, most of the joints failed and both of the two doors for the second garage opening slide into a pile of very tired door parts in the driveway. As the cloud of dust was just drifting off toward the street, I looked at my watch. Ninety minutes. We had owned the house for 90 minutes. And if you think this was the last of the time bombs left by previous owners, you would be wrong. Of course, on the plus side, there was no glitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Richard Mahler says:

    If any of this was grounds for divorce, that would mean that wives harbor much in the expectations category – which defies logic. On the other hand, the husband forgiveness catergory is undeniably vast.


  11. tpier says:

    Easy fix, ask her about the baby rhino or cat or whatever it was and pretend to listen to the response. You are good to go for at least another month.


  12. leeboyz86 says:

    Nope. Guilty as charged. So, she gets the house AND the horse garage. Sorry, man 😀


  13. Craig Regan says:

    One of these pyramidal sky lights for flat roofs would be neat. Let the sunshine in!


  14. I sent this post to my wife, just so she knows she’s not alone.


  15. I find, when dealing with communists, it’s best to leave your briefs on.


  16. Richard Mahler says:

    “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” is a true saying. What you do for a living, even if you really like what you do for a living, means that doing neccessary (and thus boring) projects for yourself (not to mention your long-suffering spouse), will get neglected. On the other hand, any project that you find personally interesting will get done no matter how much time is required or whatever else never gets done. You are right about one thing, you are a horrible person and a sociopath. So am I. I would much rather start (and finish) a new more interesting project than one that was begun and abandoned ages ago because it proved to be more mundane, less creative and challenging than I expected. And a new project always trumps putting the shop in order. Onward and upward. The spouse says, “How can you stand to work in this mess!?”, and I say, “But look at the great and beautiful things that come from it!”


  17. Craig Regan says:

    After all the fires and floods in this country, you should be grateful its only 5′ of moulding and some paint on the stairs.


  18. Patrick says:

    My advice is to hire out most of those jobs. Yeah you can do them yourself but what is your time worth? If you decide it is worth more than the cost of the hired labor it’s a no-brainer. The jobs get done. Lucy is happy and you can use your time toward things that put money in your pocket like writing, editing, and furniture making. It’s a net gain all around.

    Also, you probably won’t be the one deciding to get divorced and you won’t get to keep the shop. So be a good hubby and do things for her. Happy wife happy life. Anything you do for yourself doesn’t count, no matter how hard a job it is or how much you say it is for her too. Fixing the garage, while it is part of the future homestead, is not doing something for her too.


    • Richard Mahler says:

      The problem is getting over the idea of hiring and spending money to have someone to do what you can likely do much better yourself – and you know how you want it done. Economics has less to do with having someone do for you what you do professionally. As an artist and graphic designer for a multinational corporation, I refused every attempt to move me into “management” simply because I was not going to sit behind a desk and direct others to do exacting creative work less ably than I. Management could not refute my position so I became a VP without any staff! In retirement I still stubbornly refuse to hire anyone to do what I can do for myself, which is practically anything – and it will remain that way until I am no longer physically able.


  19. Thanks for all the marriage advice. I’ll simply let 25 years of uninterrupted happiness speak for itself.


  20. spoiler says:

    That entire post could have been summed up in a sentence…. “Dear readers… I am a guy”
    100% of your readership would have nodded in silent acknowledgement of the sins you/we have committed. At least we don’t spend hours on end watching a bunch of grown men chase a little ball around the field all day and night on weekends and holidays while ignoring said todo list.


  21. Writing checks to keep the house in proper order gets easier as the years go by. The passing years means less time is left for me, so I’ve got to maximize the pleasure of what time remains. Getting surprised by premature death or a debilitating condition is always a possibility so I’ve got to make each day count.


  22. neitsdelf says:

    Good luck with your two-car-buncle conversion.


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