Making something positive from Sandy

With a little extra time on their hands over the Thanksgiving weekend, Keith Ryan and his four sons created a bench to more or less commemorate Storm Sandy.

"We were trying to figure out how to make something out of the mess," said Mr. Ryan, who lives on Thunder Lake Road.

He said the property his family shares with three other neighbors lost eight old oak trees, "at least 100 years old, some beyond that. Some were well over 100 feet tall," he said.

"We spent a whole day with the chain saw, and got the idea to do something fun. We started carving out the bench and got carried away."

The log that forms the seat is about 30 to 36 inches in diameter, he said. They cut a third of it out, and then set it on two stumps, fastening the stumps to the bench.

"Then we carved into the bench 'Hurricane Sandy 2012.' We took a blowtorch and burned the inside of the letters," he added with a laugh.

That was Saturday. They spent Sunday afternoon staining and sealing it. It now sits at the top of the shared driveway.

"There are 13 kids that live on the shared drive and all of them at various stages of youth," Mr. Ryan said. "Many of them, if not most of them, have to catch the bus. They're always trying to find a place to sit." Now they have one.

When asked if he had any woodworking experience, Mr. Ryan laughed and said this was a "newly discovered talent."

Of his sons, Patrick, 16, Brennan, 14, Liam, 12, and Quinn, 8, he added, "It's hard with schedules these days to come together and do something. It was nice just to get them all out there working on something together."