Thursday, April 16, 2015

The first tree falls

In the years we were on the land, in the  woods, we never cut a tree. Some fell, and we would harvest the wood for firewood, when we could. (we is a large word there, Paul did the cutting, with a bow saw, and split the wood; I gathered twigs for kindling).

In the past 10 years or so one of the large firs near the cabin died, and about 5 years ago the fire officials warned us that we had to remove it.

Last year we asked around, but no one wanted to cut the tree, fear that it would fall strangely, that it would kill them, etc.

Enter tree dude. Tree dude is a long term book customer who has been a logger and a tree worker since the Summer of Love. Slightly pudgy, Jewish, a solitary and witty man, he lives by himself in the small town to the south of us. Tree dude said he'd be willing to check out the tree last year, but last year there was no money to pay for such a thing.

This year, there is money. And time. And absolute necessity. I talked to tree dude for a long while, and he told me he sometimes refuses to cut trees, not because of fear, but because of love. Some trees need to live. The forest needs to thrive. He's turned down jobs.

Last Sunday he and my eldest son felled the huge dead tree, laying it down gently without hurting anything.

I ran into him yesterday and said "you did an awesome job". "Yes, I did" he said. I asked him about another fir, that I was thinking would have to be removed--it is dripping sap, it might fall, etc. He said "no, that's a healthy tree. It's an anchor tree, well rooted. It will live and grow another 20 years at least, leave it be" I asked about it falling on the new small building. He assured me it would not fall, no worries. But there are other smaller trees he would thin out from the forest, to make it healthier, more robust, and more beautiful.

We'll have to go out together sometime soon.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The dream

No, I'm not speaking metaphorically.
Wanted to record the dream, in which I met my friend V. at her monastery and I tried to hear what she had to say. In the tumult of people around I had trouble listening. I said "it has been a long time, I am not used to your syntax, can we go someplace more private?"

We walked out of the building, across fields and wet ground. I noticed that beneath her robe she wore kitten heeled red paisley shoes, like something from the pre Revolutionary days in France. I didn't ask her about them, but noted that the heels sank into the mud, awkwardly.

I said to her "you wouldn't believe how much we've gotten done at the land" and she looked at me, inquiring. Of course, I said, we hadn't really built anything yet....

We came to the edge of city, and stared between the narrow walls of the start of an alley. And there it ended.

V. was the first on the land, she and my partner built the original 12 by 12. And I can just imagine, in real life, her practical concerns. She said to me back then, "why on earth didn't you marry a plumber?"

P. says they were ever Mary and Martha, with the industrious and talented V. being Martha. Whereas we are definitely Mary and Mary, the babes in the wood, the most cloud headed souls on the planet. But we did raise three children, and we have survived.

And hey, we have done a lot on the land. Step by step.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

actualities and possibilities

Life goes on with all its meetings, the business of running the shop, the care of my youngest, the constant street outreach that my partner calls our sociological emergency room. I've been unable to get to the land for several days, but my partner has gone out whenever he can, continuing the cleanup. As I type he is out there with our oldest son, filling a truck with garbage.

In ten years a lot changes; he reports finding things left under tarps "just for the time being" that have moldered into shapes from some prehistoric movie. Clothing, blankets, unrecognizable detritus. The forest swallows things up. It is a daunting process.

Meanwhile we continue talking of size, position, and what is needed. He worries about enough room for the books; I show him my calculations.

I pin pictures of the most unlikely and lovely interiors to my Pinterest account. Unlikely that we shall have crystal chandeliers. But it is good to notice how much I like them.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Well, partly it is my fault. I sold the concept of a new building as a rescue point for the books we love. We have, after all, an old, bear battered, rainsoaked cabin on the land already. My sweetie built it with his own hands and hand tools, and the help of random shaggy anarchists invited to come camp out and pound nails and talk about the way the world should be.
I still recall Molly and her baby, who was the age of my baby, my middle kid, my daughter. How we bonded over nursing and sawing. And how I never heard from her again, once she was back to real life.

So, anyway, there are memories in every inch of the old cabin.

And my dear says 'but you said library" and I say, yes, of course, and we figure out how many books will fit in my plan without even bookshelves in the middle of the room (around 6000 books) and he is somewhat mollified. We talk bed nooks, bed placement. Where the doors should be. A courtyard between the buildings, perhaps.

He is talking of a high room where I might write and I think...well, I could have a loft in the plan, maybe, but then I realize he thinks I will be in the upper room of the original cabin. Which is a pretty room, plastic windows and dry rot and leaking roof and all. One year I glued mirror pieces around the window frames, and tarot cards on the door to nowhere.

Yeah, there's a door to nowhere from the second story. We kind of meant to have a porch, but...well, the decades went on.

It is going to be a long conversation.

Meanwhile there's a dead tree to be felled, and a store customer, Dave, who understands trees. Talking with him I am finally talking with someone who understands how grave it is to cut an old tree, who understands that I want to tred lightly. We have a worker willing to walk gently through the next steps. That's good.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

other wish list thoughts

Sometimes I turn pragmatic. Heaven knows I will need that. And then I think:

Storage! In such a small building, we will need storage (or, we can put everything into the leaky roofed bear destroyed original cabin, for the mice...but no).

And then I go back to dreaming of velvet chairs and window seats and castles.

the wish list

In thinking of the house, I found I had many desires. Pinterest is all too enticing: we could have chickens! We will have fountains and marble statues!

Yeah, right. But poring over Pattern Language and thinking about what worked in the old cabin and what decidedly did not work, some thoughts keep coming up.

The house should face south, and there should be some sunlight. (this is difficult, the site is well wooded and I love trees).

The size needs to be small for economic and practical reasons, but not so small it is oppressive. People in the new house will be 3: a man fond of clutter and more fond of books; a young man who will need oxygen and other medical equipment and room for his toys and books; a woman who longs for a little space of her own away from the general rush of things (and who also has many, many, too many precious objects and books).

We settled on maybe 30 feet by, oh, 24? Thinking out size in terms of what sizes lumber comes in naturally might change that, but that is the basis.

Wish list includes such fantasies as an attached solarium with bath tub amongst the plants (again, remember, deep shaded woods. Somehow in my mind sunlight will magically break through).

Books. One of the primary items (remember, we are booksellers and if our store must close there are still shelves of orphaned and beloved books we will want to keep). The main area of this little house will in fact be a library. Shelves along the walls. Books everywhere. Comfortable chairs.

And light. There will be light from all sides (and in such a small space will this be hard?)

The roof will not leak!

Bed nooks. I like the idea of bednooks, which close up and sort of disappear during the day, but which provide cozy retreat. My nook and that of my son need to be very close to each other, because I must watch over him in the night and make certain the machines are running.

Machines bring up the need for electricity, which I am told will be far, far more expensive than I imagine (it will involve a generator, batteries, etc). I think of solar (but note: deep woods)

We need to have some sort of kitchen, though I have thought of using the original house as the cooking and pantry area; the new building will be quite close to it.

Compost toilet.

(and that will need to be close to my son's bed area, for his comfort, but not so to speak in our faces).

A porch. The approach to the building, from the road, will come to the front entrance, which will be on the north side of the house. I want a porch entrance, inviting, with plants. (always with plants!!)

Bay windows? A loft? I ponder and look at pictures and go off in fantasy. Reality is quite another thing.

The past comes in

One unexpected factor is how the past wells up. It was, after all, here that two of my three children were born (and conceived, for that matter). As we look at the land and try to figure out where our place really is, the shreds of our past life tug at us. Nostalgia is around every turn. And yet, everything has changed.