Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Building a life #9. ‘All work and no play.....’

Building the log cabin moves forward steadily throughout the winter months. We also must live from day to day in rough conditions and keep ourselves and our children happy and healthy. This is just as well because it is a temptation for me to focus twenty-four hours a day on the building project. I try to, but the other needs of the day drag me out into the larger perspective. Pacing is important, and we are launched on long term projects.

Our dog Saffi is killed one morning as I drive the children ( we are late) down to the school bus stop. She has been in the habit of running beside the pick-up truck as I haul loads of logs up to the building site and this time she darts in front of the van and is run over. It is a sad business, but she has been a stupid dog from the start and that caught up with her.

We are getting to know our neighbours. Heather has started volunteering as a Girl Guide leader
and the girls have made friends at school. We are not alone in our ‘back-to -the -landing’ on Saltspring. All around us are other families building and living rough, raising goats and chickens, learning archaic skills. We begin to get together for pot-luck parties. While the children play, the women trade experiences of their non- suburban life style while the men get deep into technical building discussions and the ways to get around the building inspector with his residential codes best suited to city subdivisions.

We have a memorable children`s birthday party in the pumphouse that first winter. A hoard of girls fill the little building. They play complicated games that lead them up and over the furniture. This is so like the essence of the ‘Little House’ books. That our girls all have ‘Holly Hobbie’ pioneer frocks and poke bonnets adds to the impression. The girls all get (second hand) baby carriages for Christmas and parade up and down the paved road which has little car traffic. Our property is rough, muddy and covered in building materials so the road is their cleanest play area. Thank goodness we have the washer and dryer in the pumphouse or just keeping clean would be difficult.

Christmas it turns out is problematical for Gwynnie. She writes in her letter to Santa that we are living both in the trailer and the pumphouse and to please leave the stocking presents in the trailer as his ‘Ho Ho Ho’ would be too frightening in the tight confines of the pumphouse. Like the girls who are leading parallel lives in the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ our girls get tin mugs from Santa this year. Santa always leaves an illustrated shakily written letter for the girls each year to show that they are in his thoughts. He appreciates the sherry and shortbread that is left for him in the trailer and the carrots for his reindeer.

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