Thursday, November 26, 2009

Building a life # 15. Blowing things up, putting things up, putting up with things.

The first thing I must do to make a start on the main house is to create a flat building site where there is at present a long ridge of hard rock. We have decided that although we would like this house to be up above the shady forest floor, so important in the rainy winter`s low light, neither do we wish to blast flat the highest part of the ridge and thus destroy one of the nicest places for a garden. We decide to blast the end of the ridge and tuck the house into the hillside. It is an exciting week while the pneumatic drill chatters away making many deep holes and even more exciting when all of them are filled with explosive and the whole mass shatters in one great THUMP! The rock shards are pushed over the bank and I begin laying out the foundation form work. It is so frustrating having to work for wages too but this is the money that pays for the blasting and the concrete as well as looking after the monthly living expenses. We will build just as fast as the money comes in to pay for the materials. This can only work for us because we have no loan from the bank that would have imposed time deadlines and forced us to hire all the work out.

The winter is a snowy, cold one and we are glad to be in the log cabin, although the enormous space we experienced at first has shrunk again with all five of us bumping shoulders. This has certainly encouraged me to continue with our building schedule. We are reasonably secure in our log cabin but it doesn`t take much to shake our confidence. Once I get a terrible bout of flu and lie helpless in bed while Heather tries to manage things on her own and care for me. The final straw is when she runs out of split firewood and can`t handle the big splitting maul to make more from some big fir rounds. Neighbour Bruce finds her in tears of frustration in the snow and takes over from her and later a doctor makes a house call for me.

When winter brings even more snow, the school bus does not run, so we all go cross country skiing up and down our trails and it isn`t until next Spring when we have felled many more trees, had them milled into lumber by a portable mill and we have got a load of plywood delivered that we are ready to begin framing up the new building. We have designed a split level house this time with its main windows facing south and with Bruce`s help the frame goes up in three days. After the long labour of the log cabin, this is a big boost. Bruce also has a house worth of repossessed windows he will sell me cheaply so we design around those sizes. We have bought a logging truck load of cedar poles from a neighbour and will use them to build posts and beams into the interior of the building. The upstairs room layout is still undetermined at this point so I pace around the big two-level space, figure out two bedrooms, a bathroom and living room and then frame up the window spaces. Then the plywood sheathing is cut out with the chainsaw. An architect no doubt would scream at such a process but it is so much easier to walk around in a space and plan it by laying pieces of lumber on the floor and moving them around to represent walls and doorways. I build a loft room for one daughter with the other two occupying the bedroom below. Like the log cabin, the upstairs will have high cathedral ceilings, this time lined with our own cedar planks milled from our own trees.

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