Saturday, February 28, 2009

Timeline resumed

I keep interrupting myself in my narrative of the house build. So, now that my explanation of preparing a log is over, I'll return to Fall 2008 and where I left off. If you'll recall, the walls are rapidly going up, log by log.

Early in the process, The Husband would notch and rout one log and fasten it on the wall, measure the remaining length in that course and then cut the next log to fit. As the walls got higher, however, he no longer could reach the top of the wall to place new logs simply using Alice. For 4 or 5 courses after Alice's last course, he used a friend's front end loader with a welded steel piece sticking straight out from the bucket (affectionately called 'the Unicorn'.) Eventually, the walls rose too high even for the Unicorn. It was time to hire a boom truck. So, he switched gears and prepared the remaining logs and set them aside, instead of placing them on the walls immediately. This called for planning - identifying each log, much as you do when building a kit house. The Husband, mainly working from a plan in his head, has a little notebook in his shirt pocket with a cool code page. It looks something like this:

NE1 24' NE2 20'
NW1 19'4" NW2 24'
EN1 17'6" EN2 14'8"
ES1 14'8" ES2 17'6"

Every wall has two logs. "NE1" refers to the easterly log on the north wall, first course. The "24'" refers to the length of the log. When I had the *ahem* pleasure of working with Bob to prepare the logs, I witnessed him glance at the notebook, stand back and look at the house, flip his hands this way and that and then proceed to cut the log, etc.

No blueprint. No log-building school. The logs aren't pre-marked or pre-cut.

That's the sum total of the (outwardly apparent) planning that went into building the walls of our home. And therein lies the difference between Bob and I. Everything is exterior for me: a detailed calendar on the wall, photo albums filled with labeled pictures, 'to-do' lists tacked up everywhere. Bob's whole world is interior.

Who knew he had a whole log house in there?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Return to Suburbia

We just returned from a week-long trip back to Suburbia. We cadged dinner invitations from old friends and invaded the sister-in-law's house. We visited my former employer and noted the scores of new housing developments and strip malls. More sprawl, more crime, more traffic, more McMansions. Less snow. We love to visit. We love to come home.

So my whole thing is that one day the Husband and I looked at each other and said, "what the hey... let's move back to the North Country!" and I was surprised by both our decision and by my contentment with our new life. Right? Even though we left jobs we liked with decent salaries, good friends, our church, Bob's sister and her brood of young'uns, decent shopping, cultural opportunities out the ying-yang, etc., we're fixing to live in the woods and have embraced living lean (financially, not physically), don't lock our house or our car and have learned to rise above an overwhelming tide of consumerism (most days). But there are still things we miss about Suburbia. It's been nearly five years now since our move, and the longing for the mall, the fast pace, the better grooming have faded. The ache of relationships put on hold, meted out in dribbling doses once a year, once every other year doesn't fade. We are grateful for the time we just spent with these dear ones. Dinner conversation alternately flowing easily and tumbling out, trying to cover as much ground as possible, now marks our friendships with these friends we left behind. Wild, frenetic play marks our kids' time with their cousins.

I don't like most people, but I do like them. And, since I've gone to the trouble of giving them space in my little grinch heart, I think I'll try to keep 'em. Especially since they're not that mad that we left them and do tolerate our smugness about ditching Suburbia, which is, after all, where they've chosen to live. I've had long-distance friendships last and I've had them fail, and you never can tell how they'll go. But God gave us six good years in Suburbia and I will honor that by nurturing these friendships as best I can --

(Just don't ask me to talk on the telephone!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

PART THREE: Routing the log

This post is part three of my photo essay on preparing a log to be part of a wall. In parts one and two, I described the milling, measuring, marking and notching of the log.

We now find our intrepid hero and his cold, miserable wife standing before a log, preparing to rout it. 'Rout?' you ask. Aye. Each log nees a channel routed along the center of one side in which to stuff foam. The foam serves to be an additional barrier in case a gap forms between stacked logs, as they twist and warp and subtly change shape over time. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I wish I had a video of the few occasions when I helped Bob prepare the logs. I just know that it would be riotously funny to watch. With the log up on sawhorses and The Husband positioned at one end with the router, I stand on the other side of the log with 7" spike and a hand broom/shop brush at the ready. The Husband starts to rout the channel at one end.

Note the steam and sawdust flying out the end!

As soon as he is 9-12" along, I begin to furiously sweep the sawdust out of the channel and away from the router bit. Without this valuable service I am rendering, the sawdust catches on the sides of the channel as it races along and clumps up, rapidly backing up to the router bit and flying up in the face of our hero. The duller the bit, the rougher the sides of the channel, the more sawdust builds up.... and the more furiously I have to sweep. So, The Husband is hunched over the log, pulling the router through the wood along the chalk line and I am feverishly sweeping with the brush and occasionally jabbing with the spike to unclog a knot before the river of sawdust hurtles backward toward the router. Now, throw in a squeal and some threatening shouts by me (directed at the log) and you've got the picture.


Because, as a helper-of-last-resort, I was only there to do the elements of log house building that The Husband absolutely couldn't do alone (and that didn't require any actual construction knowledge or strength.) And that meant that he had saved up all the chalk-snapping and routing for me.

Routing completed, Bob brushes off remaining sawdust

Don't get me wrong: I am quite pleased to have been able to help a little in the building of our house. Firstly, because now I can say I helped. More importantly, of course, because now I have an even GREATER respect and admiration for my husband. He loves this. And it's hard.

I'm still digging sawdust out of my eye!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Words, Grad School, Stomach Flu

--We now interrupt Log World to bring you an important word from our nerd--

I can't believe it's been a week and 1/2 since I last posted. But, last week was rather taken up with last minute grad school application details, including financial aid forms. But, that's done and now I wait. Unfortunately, I've got a stomach bug and am trying to get through my day's 'TO DO' list between waves of nausea and searing stomach cramps. So, if I'm a bit less than coherent, please be gentle in your ridicule.

I actually felt like posting last night, but the Husband was on our computer, so I filed away my delicious word and resolved to bring it out at next opportunity. And that word is: ...........


Isn't it beautiful? Knuckle under! Knuckle sandwich. Knucklehead. Knuckle down. Doesn't saying it just make you want to crook your arm and make a fist and twist your wrist once decisively? [go ahead -- try it -- I'll wait]

Knuckle is one of G's spelling words this week. Being Our Son, he's naturally a spelling genius. And, Being Us, we're glad he doesn't need practice each week, because we're awfully lazy and the poor lad would probably be woefully under-prepared for his Friday tests.

Knuckle. It has got me going now and I can't stop. Knut, onomatopoeia, allegory, limpid, pernicious, captivating, gnu, quadrangle.

Oh! Stomach.... ugh....... must.... ergh..... bye!