Saturday, 16 February 2013

Scrapyard Time Machine

It might not happen to everybody, but I just woke up one morning convinced I was meant to build a time machine.
The idea was to build an opening contraption that would "bring" ancient artefacts from the Bible to our Sunday school room for the kids to play with. The idea sounded great, but whenever one of my ideas involves words like "build", they generally require a lot of help from my now husband, the marvellous and very handy Mr M. Already the task looked impossible, as Mr M had just come out of his second round of chemo, and he had the bald head to show for it! Despite that, I somehow managed hims to help me build a time machine.

Step one was to find a base. As I try to be as thrifty as possible, I did not want to spend a lot of money on this project. So I prayed, "God, if you want me to build this time machine, please provide a base for it, preferably under $5". Satisfied that only the miraculous would further drag me into this huge project, I put it to the back of my mind and carried on with life. That is, until one day I was scouring and I came across two black bookshelves for sale. They looked perfect! It was a bit of a drive away on the other side of town, but I looked at the price: five dollars. It was like a neon sign was flashing above my head saying "Amy, build a time machine!"

I picked up the bookshelves and took them to the house we were sharing with Mr M's parents. Soon their patio became a junkyard as I collected every gadget, gizmo and broken household object I could get my hands on. At least, I'm pretty sure the vacuum cleaner was broken...

Some things were easy to get apart, like the timed bell from an old game. Others, like the food processor and the vacuum cleaner, took hours. I think I could have saved a whole week if I had used a nuclear missile to blow up the vacuum cleaner, but even then it might have stayed in tact!

Mr M was in charge of teaching me how to use power tools and pulling apart the radio. Anything we found that could be played with was an added bonus. We took the buttons off a fan, the cord reel from the vacuum cleaner and the cassette drive from an old head unit. 

On the top of the time machine were the controls: an old keyboard painted black with a few bright colours, some plastic guttering from the garage, an old clock and a joystick we picked up along with a whole box of bits and pieces from the local dump shop for $5. 

By the time we had drilled, glued and nailed everything down, it was looking mighty impressive. I even had a few spare moments to clean up the huge mess I was happily making. 

When the parents-in-law had visitors, they would point with both pride and confusion at the contraption coming together out the back. The occasional brave soul would press a few buttons and turn the key which revealed the hollow space inside where "artefacts" would appear.

After weeks of hard work, the time machine was finished. I was more proud of this collection of junk than I had been of any previous creation I had ever made. Perhaps that was because this time machine was the first project I had taken on with my new husband. It signified the great things we could accomplish together, chemo or no chemo.

An honest review: 

The time machine immediately captured the imagination of the young boys at Sunday school. The pushed and turned and pulled and had a wonderful time. However, when the grand opening came, and the fog machine turned on inside and the timer rang and the door slowly opened, weighed down by a pulley system of old power boxes no less, a very unexpected thing happened: a little girl started to cry. Some of the boys started to cough and complain about the smoke. Other children had their hands over their ears and were rocking back and forth. What a disaster, the children were scared! I was devastated. Mr M and I had worked nonstop for weeks to have the time machine ready, and the kids were crying

I made a few more half hearted attempts to use the time machine over the next six months, and there was less coughing and crying after I took away the smoke machine. However, the kids seemed to like it better when it was not in use. The boys continued to poke and spin and twist and yank until eventually the time machine was an obvious safety hazard and we had to take it home. It sat in the garage for months until I finally decided it was time to let it go. I put it on the sidewalk with a sign saying "Free" and another sign saying "Play with me". 

I thought that was the end of the story, but one day I noticed the time machine was back in the garage. Turns out my dad thought it too precious to leave in the rain. I smiled, thinking about the hot summer days spent undoing screws and pulling phones apart. Even as I write this post, I wonder if God had a different plan in mind than what I saw in the near future. I mean, after all, it brought Mr M and I closer together, and now I know how to use power tools! So, even though this project was not a huge success at church, I am still glad I obeyed what I thought God was telling me to do, and I am still secretly proud that I have a time machine in my garage. Do you?

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