The Slate

A number of things are making me feel particularly foolish. I get so angry at myself it’s hard to sleep. I don’t have time today to write about the problems so instead I’ll share something cheerful.

I’ve always wanted to have a chalkboard in the barn. By now you know I am comforted by lists. (I have learned that if I can remember to write something down, there’s an excellent chance I will remember to do it.) Modern whiteboard markers are frozen and useless here six months of the year, so I’ve wanted a chalkboard to mount in the entry as you walk into the barn aisle. But real chalkboards these days are hard to find, and very expensive.

Last summer I was walking through a neighborhood barn with the owner. Leaning in a corner was a giant piece of slate, about 4.5’x3′. My eyes brightened. Miss Dexter was trying to clear out her barn and would be happy to have me take it away. I picked it up just before snow blocked the barn doors for the winter.

The slate was an 70-lb potato chip, simultaneously very heavy and very fragile. With difficulty I walked the big slice of stone into my barn tack room to be stored out of traffic until I had time to address it.

In January my friend Larry routed some pine to make me a frame. Unfortunately with the frame the slate was too big to fit anywhere in the barn. The winter was long and I had no mental bandwith for extra problem-solving. The slate sat untouched, part of the general clutter.

Yesterday, however, discouraged by recent events, I decided to cheer up by cleaning the barn. I came upon the slate and frame and suddenly felt motivated to tackle the problem. I took down a broad shelf next to my milking stanchion, pulled out the frame, and measured. I realized that if I shaved the frame by 1/2 an inch all around, I could squeeze the slate vertically in the space without, as I’d believed, having to tear down the stanchion. I carried all the pieces of the frame up to the garage to my table saw and cut them down.

Then (standing on the shelf I’d just removed) I grunted the heavy slate up to rest in the bottom piece of the frame which I’d previously screwed to the wall. Though I’m tall, I’m not really very strong so it was touch and go there for a while, the heavy slate wobbling, the shelf wobbling a bit under my feet. But I got it done. I drilled in the rest of the frame, and… I now have a chalkboard in the barn! I still have to secure the power strip that controls the lights, but the slate is ready for my lists.

It’s the little things, sometimes, that lift your spirits.

3 Responses to The Slate

  1. Sue Pagano says:

    It looks great and I am inspired by your carpentry skills-makes me want to try my hand at it!

  2. T Cupp says:

    I love old chalk boards and I love your chalk board. Putting one in the barn is a great idea! I might have to be a copy cat!

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