Framing a Memory

Marcy with homemade doors, circa 1970My stubby finger traced the groove’s curves, pushing aside the fresh sawdust and smelling its piney scent.

“That’s a potato, Marcy,” my dad said. “Do you know where they have a lot of potatoes?”

I had no idea.

“In Ireland,” he said. “That’s where your ancestors came from.” While I traced the oval blobs of the potatoes, I heard the motor of his router make the strands of spaghetti for Italy.

I was maybe 5 or 6 and didn’t know Irish potatoes from Italian spaghetti, but I did know that I liked to watch my dad work on his machine and learn what all the shapes represented.

My dad created two of each type of six panels, parts of swinging doors in the house of my childhood.

The panels had sat in a dusty heap in my basement for the last several years, and I finally made a frame for them. Now, as I pause in my writing, stuck on a phrase, my eyes drift along the bagpipe-shaped blob in the frame over my desk.

Scotland, I know.

Finished frame on wall

The panels represent Ireland, Scotland, France, England, Italy, and Germany.

Making frame collage

Measure twice, cut once: My husband Randy designed the frame and supervised its construction with an exacting patience. He cares about precision in woodworking the way I care about avoiding typos.


  1. Lay out the panels and measure the lengths of wood.
  2. Cut the wood to size on the chop saw. (Loud! Scary!)
  3. Hammer the four pieces into a frame. Continually get new nails to replace the bent nails.
  4. Hammer cross beams in place for support. Continually get new nails to replace the bent nails.
  5. Stain the frame.
  6. Apply polyurethane.
  7. Nail the panels into place. Marvel that I showed no improvement in being able to hammer a nail without bending it.

Computer desk and frame

101 things button #59 (101 things in 1001 days): Make a wooden frame for the old homemade door panels my dad had made.


About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.

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14 Responses to Framing a Memory

  1. beverlydiehl says:

    Someone told me that bending nails while hammering is not (always) the sign of an incompetent hammerer, but of really hard wood. The good thing about hard wood is it’ll usually last much longer.

    It’s great that you have on your wall the sign of two things: your childhood memories and connection to your dad, AND your own competence in completing the task of building the frame. Which looks very well done, to my eyes. Bravo!

  2. Bee says:

    How cool to still have that from your childhood.

  3. Oh I love it! What a wonderful thing to have hanging on your wall. I would love to do something similar for my kids. I work on our family trees so I’m pretty deep into our ancestry lines. You have a beautiful heirloom there.

  4. What a beautiful wall hanging they made. I love having physical pieces of my family history around me. I cherish every bit of it.

  5. modmomelleroy says:

    That is really cool. What a treaure.

  6. Rogue Wino says:

    What a unique, fun memento to have. I get you on the sawing thing being scary- I’ve only done a couple projects like this before, so I’m way not used to all the hacking and sawing

  7. Larks says:

    That’s awesome! I love that you’ve made a list of projects/experiences that are on the one hand so easy to avoid and on the other so cool and easy to have done. I need a list like that…

  8. What a great way to preserve such a special piece!

  9. What a precious thing to have! Love it!

  10. Pingback: COMPLETED: 101 Things in 1001 Days | (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish

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