Sunday, September 18, 2011

Back home

Ok Here it is. The truly final post of the building in europe 2011 blog.
It feels really good to be back home. My landlord and good friend Stuart picked me up in my truck from Logan airport and chauffeured me home to a bottle of Mayflower IPA.  A wonderful, simple, bittersweet taste made just around the corner. I couldn’t think of a better welcome.
The little cottage was  predictably a bit stale after a humid New England summer, so there is cleaning and rummaging to do. I do have Kitty back though, and she is doing great at stirring the air and helping me put life back into these walls. 
The mail is sorted, the fridge is cleaned and stocked. The motorcycle is still in the shed, the internet is not hooked up yet and the phone is still waiting for replacement after quitting overseas. I hope to be back on the greater radar in a few days. 
Locally the word has spread that I am back and I am slowly making my rounds the old fashioned way by showing up unannounced on people’s doorsteps. So far I have had nothing but big smiles and hugs.
Again. It’s good to be home.
All the best

Just a couple of days with Mom and Dad are incredibly restorative.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Last post

"La Main....

...égale et rivale de la pensée."

Paul Valery

"The hand...equal and rival of thought."

I saw this quote in the museum of the Compagnonnage in Tours, that I visited with Emmanuel on our return towards Paris.
I had already asked Emmanuel to take these pictures of my hands after leaving the job.

After four days, most of the black stain from the tannins has been scrubbed off. And another week or so and most of the little scabs will have healed. The dark red stain under the nail of my left middle finger from a poorly placed blow of a two pound hammer will take the longest to disappear.
If I am sounding like I am licking my wounds then that is how I feel. This quote struck me for it's relation to one spoken at my first project in Poland at the beginning of the summer: "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind" Rick Brown.
It seems that the hand and the mind are closely tied: And it is with a few days rest that I realize what level of stress I was under during these last six weeks. I am sure that this job has scarred my mind with lessons as well.

This was a hugely ambitious project to begin with, and at each turn it became more challenging. Emmanuel and I went right up to and over our levels of comfort and had to remain there in order to achieve what we did. We both got way more work than we bargained for and I kept pushing harder. Emmanuel, my friend, I am sure I that my patience wore out and that I was very rough at times. I apologize for going into tunnel vision and not stepping back sooner to look at the big picture.

I will not go into the details of what made this project such a draining experience, for this is a public space and it does not belong there. I repeat that I found myself working harder than I ever have, and I don't have to be ashamed of the result. I am still working out, thinking about how things developped. The mind is still working and in some dreams I am still on that job. I am looking forward to many discussions with friends, family and colleagues.

May the lessons learned from this job make the ones to come easier and more enjoyable.

This is not to say that there were not a few incredibly nice experiences in this very small world of La Garélie. Namely the help and gifts that we received from the old Compagnon cabinet maker Maurice Belair from the end of the road. Compare the size of his hands to mine, and I have another 35 years of work to get there. 

Thank you all for following my adventures this summer. It has been a great source of motivation to see that people check in on me again and again. I cannot wait to get back home to Massachusetts and have my own four walls back!

I still have a day with my parents in Aachen, then my sister Ingrid will pick me up and take me closer to Frankfurt to their new home. On Wednesday she'll take me to the airport and by the evening of that long day I hope to be back in Plymouth.

OK. I'll post a picture when I get there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

fourteen rafters....

... and 138 to go. Everything is a challenge. A nasty rain today did not help. So here a few more pictures from yesterday. 

Two more days. There's plenty of work yet to do.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There it is

Second raising day

The frame is raised. That is good. It took all day, dawn to dusk. I can't tell you how many trips we had to make from the peak to the wood piles. One snag, many many lessons learned. We are tired.
The frame still needs to be tweaked. The rafters are in big bundles in the first floor and still a major challenge. Like everything has been a major challenge about this project.
I'll post pictures as soon as I find my cable to hook up the camera.
The frame is beautiful. I have tears in my eyes when I think about it being actually raised and all the sweat and muscle and back and brains it took to get it there. I have never worked this hard in my life and I can't remember being this tired.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First raising day

A lot has happened that I have not yet been able to post. The short of it is that the crane is coming today and that we are raising the first part of the frame. which are the summer beams and the joists. depending on how well things go we will try to raise a bent or two. I am kind of happy with our level of preparation. We got a lot done. Yet there are a few things we will have to make up on the weekend. Second raising day is on monday, when we have to set all our bents and sills and purlins, get the rafters a little higher up.

Lots of work. I am surprising myself at how little nervousness I feel. Should I be concerned?

Raising a samson post

Not as hard as expected, but not easy.

The bolster blocks. Ready for the summer beams.