On theIt has been a long summer. My young children, the oldest 6 and the youngest about to turn 3, had been away camping in the mountains thousands of miles away with their mother and her parents. The pain of missing them had begun to take its toll. My mother, feeling bad for me, sent me one of those Buzzfeed articles with DIY projects thinking that if I had a something to distract me the time sans children would pass easier.

One project caught my eye: DIY See Saw for under $20.  I went to bed planning to get started the next morning, but I awoke with crippling pain in my hands. I knew right away what it was. I live in the Caribbean where we have many mosquito borne diseases. My first year living here I got dengue fever. Much like what I was feeling that morning, the dengue attacked my joints. In that case all my joints took exactly one week to recover. Last year, I got chickungunya. With “the Chick” as we call it here, I escaped the joint pain but it hit me with a sort of bleeding scars that still have not healed. So, despite the zika, I was just going to ignore the pain and build my kids a damn see saw!wood - Copy

On the first day all I could manage was to pick up the lumber for the project. As can happen in the Caribbean, the experience was filled with comic ineptitude and no concept of time. What should have taken a couple of minutes purchasing 2 2x4s and 2 2x6s took a mind boggling 1 hour and 40 minutes and cost 84, Euro well over the price of the now mythical $20 see saw.

My tools

My tools

The next day the zika spread to my forearms and elbows as well. I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Not being a carpenter and having few tools myself, I borrowed a circular sander and a hand saw from a friend. I had a tape measure and a one speed Black and Decker drill from the 1970s, I think, and some assorted screw drivers. A little dismayed by my lack of cool state of the art equipment, I decided to just do the wood cuts on the second day. On the smaller 2x4s my cuts were not bad, not completely square, but not a huge problem. My 2×6 hand cuts on the other hand looked like gently rolling hills meeting a mountain base.

start on the top3

On the 3rd day I was sore all over. I have no idea if this was the zika or just my body telling me to stop using muscles that had long been in retirement. I made a trip to the hardware store to get the missing pieces for my creation. I had a simple list, but the hardware store had other plans. Each item required rethinking and reimaging. I knew the internet plans that I had been so diligently following would be no help to me now. I would have to make the beast on my own. The rest of the day I spent predrilling holes and painting a few pieces of the wood.

working on the base - Copy

On 4th and final day I awoke feeling about the same as the day before, which made me feel that although I was still sore perhaps I had beaten zika by causing more physical pain to myself than it had in store for me. Today was assembly day. I was excited to see the see saw come together, but I was dreading having to hand screw each screw. I lost count, but I think there are about 50 3 inch screws in the beast. I took water breaks and jumped in the pool a few times that day, but I didn’t stop to eat. I was ready to have this project done. The end product is not perfect. There are floating boards and my wood cuts don’t rest flush with adjoining wood, but, the beast is solid if not kid tested yet. I wouldn’t recommend building anything under these circumstances. If I had had a power saw and proper drill let alone being zika free, the see saw would have looked more professional. I think my kids will love it, and that is why I stepped out of my comfort zone in the first place. If you want to see what the see saw was supposed to look like and or want to build it yourself here is the link.

All done

All done