Renovation & Design

Grandpa Mountain brings out the kid in all of us

Repurposed water tank doubles as storm shelter

Laurie Mustard / Winnipeg Free Press

Grandpa Mountain is a buried water tank the kids can enter through a small opening.

There’s plenty of room inside for the kids to cool off in summer or warm up in winter.

Reading today’s column may save your life!

But before we get to that, let’s have a much needed chuckle shall we.

I get some very interesting, and much appreciated feedback to these columns. This one’s priceless. The writer has asked to remain anonymous so as to protect the dignity of her grown children’s professional lives.

Dear Laurie. I read your amusing story about the outhouse artwork. I have a story to tell you.

My grandmother always had an outhouse. My mother and aunty grew up on a farm. When I was a child my parents and I often visited my grandmother when they could get away from the city. As a small child I never had to use the outhouse in winter or at night.

But as I grew older and became a teenager there was no excusewinter or summer. It was to the outhouse I went. The spiders would sneak up on you. The smell could be something else in summer, until grandmother poured ashes from the woodstove down the hole.

My grandmother and mother and aunty grew up using old catalogues because toilet paper was a luxury then.

My aunty bought magazines from the local store to read. There were titles such as True Love and Forbidden Love. It was 1970. I was 13. My grandmother couldn’t read so she didn’t know what the magazines were about. Once read, they were left in the outhouse.

That summer I discovered a stack of these racy magazines in the outhouse. Despite the conditions and smell I would sit there for a long time reading these eye-opening stories. Wow! What a learning experience!

Eventually after a few days of wondering why I was spending so much time in the outhouse my mother caught on. The magazines and my eye-opening education ended when they all of a sudden disappeared. Cheers!

Cheers! Wow, 50 Shades of Brown! Funny story, thanks Anonymom!

OK, back to saving your life. The weather seems to be getting nuttier and a little more dangerous every year.

Some time ago I told you about Grandpa Mountain, a landscaping project I designed and constructed for my grandkids in my backyard — it started by placing a concrete 1,500-gallon water tank on its side, running power to it, then burying it with many loads of fill and top soil.

The idea was to give the kids a hill they could run or ride over in summer, slide down in winter, and be able to go inside to their secret fort to cool down in summer heat or warm up in winter.

But aside from the fun aspect, should the crazy weather start generating a few more tornadoes hereabouts, this also makes an excellent shelter to have handy should the need arise.

The kids do love it, but I think I’m going to make the door a little bigger so grown ups can get in a little more quickly during an emergency. There’s presently wedgie potential here if you know what I mean.

So if you’re planning on doing some landscaping to your presently flat yard, and you’d like to add a mound or a hill or two, you might consider making one of them this secret fort/emergency shelter to increase your survival possibilities should a tornado blow in for a visit.

A great place for the kids to hunker down in a wicked thunder storm, or sit comfortably in, lights on, sipping hot chocolate, as a Colorado low howls outside.

When you’re a kid, and even an adult come to think of it, nothing beats a secret place to be. Cool place to sleep in summer heat waves too. Or just escape to for solitude. And if this saves even one life, I think I should be handsomely paid for it.

Comments and feedback are always welcome


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