Tuesday, August 5, 2014


It all starts with a tree. One to plant, one to cut down, one to hike to, one to mill, one to saw and nail. Remember the tree.

We started clearing and leveling ground all by hand a month or so ago. . .
that oak tree was dropped, that boulder yanked away. . .the region is bumpy with rock, heavy tree roots, ledge, creeping ground water . . . the elements.

It isn't a job if there isn't a can of spikes, long screws and nails.

I needed stone, lots of stone, so I tore down a stonewall I built 30 years ago to get the stone. This opened up two magnificent oak trees that had been corralled by the stonewall, plus opened a whole new area where we used to shovel snow by hand by having to throw the snow load at every snowfall over this former stonewall. Former is better. And I have stone to build with.

Here's where some of the stone went into, deep foundation pits, heavy with rock. There's more stone under these stones, there always is.

Get grubby

Tools of the trade, bucket of water to pour into the post hole pits. It puts the dirt down where you want it, cements things up. Nothing like an iron bar. You should use a long level on the job everywhere, and on your own life. Of course the can of  nails.

String is essential and so is your eye. Train it. Rock. Sawdust. Notching. You may be off a half inch, it will meet you at the roof line. Wait and see.

Good, clean crushed rock. Nothing like it. It will go everywhere, even where you wouldn't expect. The orange cord comes 200 feet from the house, through a window, plugged in the bookshop behind old children's books.

Here's the building roughed-out. The ground isn't close to being leveled or finalized. The dreamers are still dreaming. Know when to stop dreaming and get practical. Don't get bored by being too practical, start dreaming again.

I wouldn't know life without a wheelbarrow. Two in fact. I have a poem about this. And Susan has a little red wagon saved from Carson to complete the WCW cycle.

Try to get one day off a week — take a hike


Now we're getting somewhere. The interior has been boxed in, sills disappeared behind pressure treated plywood, fill hauled in by wheelbarrow and brought to eye level. The old stonewall rebuilt on the end and matched to the framing. Look real close and you'll see a Batman figure sitting and watching me, all day, there all night. He sits, waits, asks for nothing. Soft mossy seat at least.

Use the tailgate as sawhorse and truck cab as tool shed. Wear your glasses.

One Saturday morning at 6AM we just went out and framed up all the walls. Me and Sweetheart who is behind the camera. I haven't touched the camera yet. We had the walls studded by breakfast at 10AM. Sweetheart isn't a carpenter, she's weaver, she is way over-extending herself to help like this. You can do it.

Step-ladder that has been with me everywhere. Not as paint messy as the other one. Extension ladder is quick and light and gets you 12 feet. Don't forget the side braces make everything  plumb or plumb won't hold.

Soon enough, after the timbered sills were in and stonework supported, floor joists spread the trees. . .

Old saw sign. It came out for a visit.

Every job has a building inspector . . .they come in all sizes and disguises. Just make sure you keep 'em tied down with a rock.

Handwork the rock inside and feel it all. Mike brought this over hill & dale since the load wouldn't be allowed over the town covered bridge. A bridge about to go out of existence because a town has lost touch with that way of life. Where we live has stayed remote, quiet, part of itself because of this covered bridge. I just paid more money for this stone delivery because the driver has to go the extra distance. One will learn, maybe, that we always pay dearly and work harder to reach some solace.

Dreaming the roof height. One board can do it. Take it as high or as low as you want, just remember the consequences and the snow load. Yes, use the tree. There may be a further attachment there when I'm finished.

Sweetheart tells me if she likes the roof height, angle, and look of it all. There is some deadwood to cut out of my pal towering maple tree before the roof goes down. And some to think of it one of the two twin maples may have to come down — it has a good lean into the building, makes dead limbs which will be precariously over a steel roof. Not good.

While waiting for a lumber delivery — breakaway and put down a new steel roof on the lean-to part of the big woodshed. Sheets all came from protective top and bottom sheets from roofing jobs I've had over the years. I kept them all. We think enough to cover this small roof, and to side all the new building. Time will tell.

Wide board pine, combed on one side, planed on the other, will make the second floor. Twelve and sixteen footers.

The tool you want when setting down long floor planks.

Leave some space to work, break your joints, green life all around you.

Ah, a second plan gets hatched. The lean-to building to tuck in the pickup truck. That two-wheel dolly is going to save your back and your life. The flat rock on it is as heavy as I am. The timber posts you see will be eventually covered with stone. All will blend. Close to.

Timber sill for the lean-to extension notched into place and set on stone.


Corner notch.

High up on the wooden scaffold we built for rafter work.

The base of the scaffold, and stone.

Framing, always framing . . .


what is it?

it's a chapel of the heart

a dance floor with the lightning bugs

a stone and timber companion piece

a soon enough two-door harbor

vehicles, winter, covered!

more to come

photos 2014  © bob & susan arnold