Saturday, June 14, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

I have always been rather proud of my cleverness. I can string together words and sometimes people laugh. I can make art out of trash, which probably wouldn't have gotten me a seat on a Titanic life boat. I can get a pill down a cat gullet, which I don't mention often, because my friends all have cat gullets in need of pills; and they are not shy about asking for assistance. And I usually know how to get from here to there, which used to mean a lot of panicked calls to my cell phone until I gave out GPS units one year for Christmas.

But now I realize my "clever" is really just "marginally clever." Maybe even just "kinda clever for a non-clever person." Possibly even, "well, she THINKS she's clever. What's the harm?" I have just faced Mega Clever, And I've had a two-hour drive to marvel over it. I have returned from the house my brother-in-law (with help and encouragement from my sister-in-law, of course) built.

Oh, so YOUR brother-in-law builds houses, too? I bet he feels very clever. But I'll also bet he doesn't build log cabins.

Yeah? He built one? Put the kit together all by himself in a week? Well, nanny-nanny-boo-boo...he didn't build it out of

raw trees.

No joke, BIL cleared a "footing" ("place to put a house", if you're not building literate) and peeled the resulting trees, which were now officially logs. I mean, I guess he peeled them. They don't have any bark anymore. They are about the size of interstate bridge pilings. I have trouble peeling thick asparagus.

Then he stood some up on end, and glued others lengthwise in between. I understand the concept, but I can't imagine how. The strongest stuff I know is Gorilla Glue, but I wouldn't trust it to keep a pile of eight foot long logs in an eight foot high, one atop another configuration. Maybe he used that stuff they show in the infomercial where they put a blob of it on the roof of a Volkswagen Beetle and stick a crane hook in the blob and crank the VW up to the top of a building. Which I think is a pretty stupid idea these days, given all the crane accidents. So now crane manufacturers are scrambling to prove that not only were none of those accidents their faults; but their cranes are also perfectly safe for lifting Volkswagens with blobs of Infomercial Adhesive.

Eventually, BIL made a Log Box. It had a main room and a sleeping loft; and an outhouse. So if nature called during the night, one had to shimmy down a ladder and walk through the wilderness to answer the call. Prompting my sister-in-law to maintain a 4 PM fluid intake cutoff, until BIL decided to add a real bathroom. (I think that was very clever on her part. A Fluid Boycott.)

There was a problem, though. BIL had used up all his native pine trees, and had also run out of friends and family to convince that "that pine there really needs to come down. A little bit of ice, and it's Hello Living Room! Hey, I just happen to have my equipment with me - let's deal with it and I'll haul it away for you." So he had to come up with a new method of tree collection.

You know when there's a storm and everything gets knocked around and amazingly a Good Samaritan in a flannel jacket shows up (with a gas powered chain saw) and kindly clears the road for you? And tells the local On The Scene news reporter "Just trying to help a neighbor..." That's BIL.

He next added a living room and a bedroom, using logs cleverly scavenged (with permission) from a logging site nearby.

Then he built a fireplace out of pieces of an old patio a friend replaced. (BIL marvels, "They were going to throw them away!") My repurposed candy wrappers and bottlecaps are now mere specks of dust in the recycling universe.

My sister-in-law pointed out a subtle but Oh-So-Clever touch in The House Made of Trees - the curtains (can't confirm or deny whether they were dyed by boiling them with local plants) are held back with, not ties! Oh, no! Antlers.

So I was thinking as I drove, these folks have it going on. They are prepared. Yeah, I can change a dead-bolt, and I can get my car radio out of "Safe Mode" (whatever that is. I think it means "doesn't work") without going to the dealership. In case of emergency (or getting chosen to be on a Reality TV Show) it is good to know how to build a house out of trees. And how to peel them, and stick them together.

I spend too much time on this computer. I am going to shut it down for the night, churn some butter.


High Desert Diva said...

I'm exhausted reading about all the work entailed here...

Nancy said...

I was exhausted typing it.