It doesn’t take much to make a functional item out of just about anything. One, 32-ounce yogurt container, a piece of cord, a marker, a jackknife, and in 5 minutes you’ve got yourself a dandy raspberry container for picking.

Thinking of Grandma’s serious, tanned face when she was picking berries with a pail around her neck reminds me of one of my other fabrications. That was when I was eleven and staying with her and her husband for 3 days in the summer.

One day I was rummaging around in Grandma’s shed, looking for something to do, and I came across some stacks of those old wooden berry boxes that everybody had then and nobody has now. The wood was thinner than veneer, and quite soft. I found a couple of broken boxes and set out to make a replica of Grandma’s stinky old outhouse, the only outhouse I knew of that was still in use.

I used my jackknife to cut pieces of the thin wood to make the walls, the roof, and the door, and the interior seat with the traditional two holes. Since Grandma didn’t have any wood glue, I laced and knotted the parts together with thread from her sewing box, and used thread to hinge the door as well.

I was quite proud of my achievement when her husband suggested that I carve out a little man to put in the outhouse. I found a couple of small chunks of wood and carved away until I had a little man in a seated position. He looked a little too naked to suit me—after all, this was at Grandma’s house–so I found some paint and painted black pants on him and a red shirt.

Although Grandma wasn’t amused by much, I do remember her opening the door of my outhouse to peek inside. She sure did smile and actually let go a laugh at the sight of that little man sitting in there with his clothes on. It is a fond memory, both of her and of one of my childhood projects as well.