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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pandemic project: Building park bench brings couple together amid shutdown

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

A road trip to a cemetery inspired Jenny and John Rose’s pandemic project.

Toward the end of March when everything was shut down, the couple decided a Sunday drive might lift their spirits.

“We drove to Chewelah and visited my dad’s grave at St. Mary’s Cemetery,” Jenny said. “We saw new park benches had been installed. I said, ‘Why don’t we make a bench like these?’ ”

John, no slouch in the woodworking department, agreed. He’d already used cedar fencing from Jenny’s childhood home to build a curio cabinet, a TV stand and a couple of benches.

“I think I have a book that will help,” he said.

Sure enough, back in their home in northwest Spokane, he found “Building for the Lawn and Garden” on a shelf.

The book was published in 1997, but John had never built anything from it.

Jenny had never built anything at all, and she was eager to make this a couple’s project.

The book had easy-to-follow pictorial plans and a handy supply shopping list. It also had an error.

After purchasing the lumber, they began assembling the bench on their patio.

“We didn’t have enough wood,” John said.

The list called for six 8-foot-long 2x4s. That wasn’t enough to build the 60-inch-by-32-inch bench. Back to the store they went to pick up two additional boards.

They spent several April weekends perfecting the project. John, with an eye for detail, even filled in the nail holes with putty, giving the bench a seamless finish.

When construction was complete, they decided to paint the bench cranberry red.

“It adds a splash of color to all this green,” Jenny said, pointing to their well-manicured lawn and flower garden.

It also took a lot of paint.

“Four coats to cover the primer,” John said. “I think it’s going to last a while.”

They used the leftover paint to liven up a nearby window box and picnic table.

The couple’s four grandchildren enjoy playing in the backyard situated on a bluff overlooking Northwest Boulevard.

Jenny said the kids have them sit on the new bench while they entertain their grandparents with “shows.”

She smiled, enjoying the autumn sun with her husband while relaxing on their pandemic project.

“This gave us something to do together during COVID,” Jenny said. “That was the fun part. It also gave us a lasting good memory of this time.”

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