You Just Need the Right Tool

Jeff and I have an interesting relationship. After decades together – last week was our wedding anniversary – we know each other well. And we know the little games we play with each other to fineagle this little thing, and that little thing. Well, as least I know Jeff’s little tells that make me smile. And lately, I’m going with the grain.

Jeff’s and my love for tools is well documented here. I like it when something needs doing and we can go out onto the work bench and retrieve the right tool for the right job. Then complete whatever tasks is on the list. And with the business getting going, we have needed a lot of tools. And you know how I know? I’ll tell you.

Every time I would bring out the list, Jeff would scratch his chin. ‘Sure, I could do that. But if I had an impact wrench (or Mig welder, or Tig welder, or…) I could do it so much quicker and easier.’ I caught his meaning straight away. He could do so many more things on my lists if he had the right tools. Noted. Or he just wanted tools. Either way. So, I started buying tools every time I was at the Bricomart aka Home Depot in Lugo. And I was there A LOT getting things for the biz. They know us there, very well. Especially, because I always ask for a factura (an invoice) for the business, so I can get my VAT (sales tax) back. And our business is called Happiness Enterprises. When I roll up to the register on the contractor side of the building, the checker – no matter who it is – says ‘Happiness Enterprises?’ and I say ‘Sì.’ It’s just like the people at Lowes and Home Depot in Issaquah and Bellevue, WA in the US, who knew us very well. They used to be open 24 hours a day. Jeff replumbed one of our houses himself and the night crew knew him as he was often finishing projects at 2am. He’s like a vampire, and an introvert, he does his best work in the middle of the night when it’s quiet. Whenever we went to one of those places they greeted him by name. ‘Hi, Jeff.’ It was weird at first. You learn to roll with it.

So, now, Jeff has a chop saw, a table saw, an impact wrench, a huge set of ratchets and extensions, tool boxes, clamps of every shape and size. I even went to multiple furniture makers in Lugo to find him extendable pipe clamps. Sadly, you can not get these in Spain, even if you are willing to pay a premium for them. Jeff would have brought some back with him from the US in May, had he known. Drills of every size are in the barn now. And a band saw. A grinder and a bench grinder (not the same thing , at all). Not to mention all the hand tools and multiple sized vices. My Dad always said you should never buy cheap tools. A person’s tools, apparently, communicate a lot about the owner. Jeff’s tools are the best we could find in Spain. And finally, the piece d`resistance, Jeff got a welder.

We will need things welded around here. Fencing, and the like. And he knows how to weld. My first project for the welding machine is our front gate. The previous owners did a hack job on the gate and it fell off the pillar awhile ago. Which meant we didn’t really have a front gate we could close. We could set it there but a strong wind would blow it down. And that is very strange here in rural Galicia, where EVERYONE has a front gate. And it is shut, until you need to open it for the Amazon delivery guy or the mail person. A pain, because ours is not electric. Yet. Needless to say, our gate needs replacing. But we can’t replace it, yet, because it must be submitted to the Patrimonio for the Preservation of the Camino de Santiago, since it opens on to the Camino. And our gate replacement is part of the larger plan submitted for our entire project – which is in some sort of bureaucratic black hole stuck in another universe. On a side rant: I hear Pilgrims freaking out because there are no beds and nearly all accommodations are booked up from Sarria to Santiago until October. Some places are taking reservations for next year! Already. If the turismo and Patrimonio had approved our cabin and campground plans months ago, we would have cabins to shelter Pilgrims right now! In air-conditioning, no less. I let one girl from Barcelona camp in the front yard the other night. Against the rules, for sure. <eye roll> Don’t get me started. <heavy sigh> But I digress.

That old gate and fence gotta GO!

So, at long last, Jeff ground off the old fence from the bracket. Then he removed the hinge from the crumbling pillar and leaned it against the hedge. The broken gate sat that way over the past few monsoon rainy weeks, with winds that would take your hair off. I looked out the window wishing we had a gate we could close, but we had to wait for the weather to clear. Then, the rain finally stopped. And now? It’s the 7th level of hell in Galicia, for as far out as the weather forecast – well, forecasts. Yet, Jeff decided today was the day to get the gate re-hung. Because, even after we are closed, Pilgrims come in and wander around. We like seeing them but we need to have some privacy, too. This gate operation would require using the welder in 35 degree (96 degrees frht) direct sunlight. Nothing like melting hot welding rod on the hottest day of the year.

Because I am filled with compassion and wanted this gate done, I helped by providing a plastic watering can full of water ‘just in case’ a fire broke out on the hedge near where he was welding. Or he happened to set the front lawn alight. It was the very, very least I could do to support this effort. But it turned out great! And now, we can close our gate at night. Not that someone couldn’t scale the small ribbons from the field next door that separate our properties. But it makes us both feel better.

At last, Jeff’s laser CNC machine is finally repaired after the company in China sent him the new motherboard. He’s built a full set up for it in the barn. So we are nearly ready to begin truly branding Bessie. When the weather gets into a reasonable 25 or 30. Look out for new pics and some cute Happiness Cafe stuff he’s imagining and experimenting on.

All of this just goes to prove what we’ve always believed. Anything is possible with the right tools.

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