I’ve always been my father’s daughter. Well, yeah, obviously. But I mean in the sense that I was a total Daddy’s girl. He was a craftsman, with fully pimped out garage complete with power tools that he actually used. I loved watching him build stuff. He built so much of the furniture in our house: bookcases for any empty wall, though he could barely build them as fast as my mom could fill them up with all the books she was reading. He built tables and chairs, gorgeous custom dollhouses for both me and my sister, complete with wallpaper, working lighting, and doorbells.

When I was little, he helped me build bunk beds for my Cabbage Patch Kids. When I took Shop in Junior High, my mother told me how my shop teacher shared nothing but accolades with her about my talent for construction during Parent-Teacher night at school, and her reply was simple, “She is her father’s daughter.”

I don’t have a workshop in my apartment, but I make due with the space I have whenever I am inspired to try something new. We needed a solution for our balcony doors. You see, here in Switzerland, most people don’t have air conditioning, and we make due with well constructed buildings that shield the sun with awnings and blackout blinds. And open windows. We’ve got this fresh mountain air around here, and a lovely cross breeze thanks to one side of our apartment overlooking the Lake and the Alps, and the other side facing the Jura.

daphne_gateBut many Swiss don’t use screens. I got used to living without AC, but I’ve never been thrilled about sharing my apartment with mosquitoes and wasps and that flying grasshopper that invaded my bedroom last summer. We kept the balcony doors open, nonetheless, and for some reason, gateDaphne acquiesced to the drying rack that we placed as a gate against the open doors and she never even tried to jump over them (though she could’ve) to circumvent our flimsy protection and gain access to the balcony.

Zeus and Tiny are not so mellow, and immediately walked right through the crossed wires of the drying rack (Tiny is that small) to discover the balcony. I knew I needed a smarter solution. I bought three pieces of wood for each door and mosquito netting. I cut the two pieces to the height of the door openings and the other one into four equal sizes to hold the frame together horizontally. I screwed the wood together, securing it with wood glue, and then added the adhesive Velcro along the edge of the frame and then secured the mosquito netting on top.


I’m proud of myself. The cats really like to be able to look outside and watch the birds, and we like the fresh air without worrying that the cats will escape onto our very un-cat-proofed balconies.

Just one thing. When I was moving the finished screen into the bedroom, it fell on me, hitting me directly on my nose. You see, I have my dad’s nose, with the same bump in the middle that acts very much like a lightening rod at times like these. I have a big red bruise on my nose now and it hurts like a bitch.

So thanks for the nose, Dad. And for teaching me to build things.