Archive for December, 2011

Losing to win

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

So I’ve started the process of giving away most of what I’ve built up during my adult life. Not the important things like my favorite oldest and favorite youngest daughters, or the love of the one who holds my heart, but the house I built, well, the first one I helped build, and half my retirement, and I’ll ha ve a hundred dollar a day fee that ive got to pay for about four thousand days. 

And while that worries me…will I be able to help my favorite daughters? Will I be able to provide for the one who holds my heart? It’s not what’s making me sad.

I’m remembering the wood in my hands, sitting on the steps of a rented duplex, watching my daughters playing in the parking lot. They were riding around on “pink thunder” a two wheeler with training wheels and a big wheels trike. I had been given the wood by my contractor, who was trying to get me out of his hair. It had been raining for almost twenty days, the foundation was ready, the modular house was ready, we just needed ten dry days in a row so the crane that would lift the modules into place, wouldn’t sink or tip over. My carpenter was tired of me asking “are we almost there yet?” and had handed the piece of 5/4 fir to me (with a bit of velocity) and told me to “go make sawdust.”

So I was sitting on the porch worried about the weeks passing, the lack of progress, when my favorite oldest daughter asked me to draw a hummingbird.
I took out a pencil and drew one on the board. She asked me if I would put it up over her window. I found a small chisel and carved the bird in low relief in the board. My favorite youngest daughter asked for a fish, so I drew and carved on for her. I did a few others, and brought them to the carpenter who nailed them up over the appropriate windows. My hands worked that house, tarring the basement, priming siding, designing little custom bits, all throughout the summer of 1989.

I’d start each day at the house site early, sipping a bit of juice, and having a donut while sitting in one of the ground floor windows looking over the tangle of greenbriar that would become the backyard that I enjoyed mowing in long flowing lines following the count our of the land.

To be accurate, there were times I didn’t enjoy the mowing, or the mistakes I made with the paint, and I didn’t ever like the wood for the back deck but, the house, the yard, the garden, the secret pine grove where we’d have ccokouts, and the playhouse that quickly was renamed “the pony house” I liked making them for the girls. It was all this I remembered and the idea of giving it away makes me sad.

Little things like loosening one stair tread so it would squeak when someone came in late, the little window where we’d sit on the stairs to watch for the school bus, all that’s gone now. The garden looked overgrown, the holiday lights were half heartedly draped, the work of my hands slowly rotting away.

A house you build has something of you in it, like anything we make, food, cards, stories, the thinking, the effort is a gift, one we usually give freely hoping the gift will bring pleasure. I think in the case of this house, it feels like it was stolen, at least those parts that came from my mind, and my hands.

I’m not in the habit of wishing anyone ill, but I’m hoping that if a person takes a gift, that the cosmos will look badly upon them, and that no joy will come their way….well it’s the worst I can wish…

Losing the house may be appropriate as an analogy, that life is past, nature will take back the wood in time, and soon maybe, I’ll get to put my hands on some wood again and build something.