Trenchin' Observations

Wake up.

They say even the longest journey begins with a single step--but that presupposes a linear trajectory. What if you're walking in a circle? Then the trip is infinite.

So while we are prepared for this being a drawn out process of multitudinous tasks and literally thousands of individual actions large and small, we're not immune to moments of FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. What if we never finish? Well, a house in never "finished" because there's always maintenance, but what if we never even get to baseline habitability? Or worse, what if it turns out to be beyond reclamation? As I literally dig in and get to know the structure intimately and see the degraded foundation and other unknowns arise, a specter of dread looms.

Which is why I like to start each day with a straightforward, self-contained task. Today it was re-attaching refrigerator handles that had been removed when maneuvering it out of the house where a friend of a friend gave us a full set of kitchen appliances for free. Sounds simple, but there was a catch: one of the freezer handle's two attachment points was broken. The head and shank of a screw had sheared off, leaving just the threads stuck in the door. Vise grips to the rescue and it only took several minutes of rooting through every tray of screws before I found an approximate match. Victory!

One down, two to go.
Speaking of fridges, the previous owners left one behind on the back deck, duct-taped shut and the power cord cut, not suspicious at all. The proverbial elephant in the room, we did a pretty good job ignoring it until now but it was time to get it out of the way as it blocked the stairs to the breezeway where firewood and exterior lumber are stored. The plastic deck is slimy and the fridge was slippery, like wrestling a greased hippo on ice skates. So we resorted to toppling it down the stairs. A controlled topple, end over end, mystery contents knocking around. "Sounds like human heads," I said. We couldn't be sure it wasn't.

 Though it stank of death, at least it wasn't body parts.

Sarah shut the door and we tried rolling it over lumpy ground with our undersized handtruck so, predictably, it fell over and disgorged its disgusting guts. We let it air out a while, then I pushed it onto its back and gingerly shut the doors, like lowering the lid on a rank sarcophagus. Though inelegant, I'm marking this a Win.

Then we got down to some dirty work. Actually, not dirty. Just dirt. Using permaculture techniques, Sarah cleared, regraded, and mulched a future garden plot at the side of the house. There'd been a chopping block there so the area was rich in organic detritus which she raked into a berm to build up the soil. Truly transformative. It takes imagination to work at that time scale.

Me, I dig trench. Make headroom in crawlspace. Fill many buckets. Strain rocks out. Set 'em aside for later to hold down ground moisture barrier, 900 square feet of 6 mil black plastic some guy from gave me.

The funny thing about it is we're here because of the location--only 200 steps to the water. (Maybe fewer since we found a shorter path.) But the funny thing is there are days when we don't even go that far. (You don't have to look both ways before you cross the road. It's so quiet you hear a car coming from a long ways off.) I'm content in our yard, can see silver water and hear seals bark. (What are they barking about?)

But today we made it a point to go out to the spit, knocked off just before sunset (4:35 pm in these parts), ambled along the rushing creek wondering how much of its flow was runoff versus the outgoing tide. We lingered where salt and fresh water kiss--right at the mouth. On way back picked up two separate driftwood 2x6's from its banks, each about 6 feet long, one pressure-treated lumber, the other more exotic--tight-grained, dark, and hard. Could it be mahogany? Score!


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