When the house first went up—the barn, I should say—it was the embodiment of promise. The simple post and beam structure was handsome and elegant. The skeleton of it rose into the air with grace and yearning, like a yoga posture, if buildings are capable of such a thing. It was the ruins of an older life rebuilt, transformed, modified, retrofitted, made to work beautifully again. Part of me was loathe to do anything more to it. I wanted to leave it open to the birds and the wind. I wanted to sit in it, climb on it and dream and pretend.
Work proceeded however, and we got the concrete floor poured and a layer of painted plywood on before letting it sit for a few years until we sold the Columbus house. And now good old 1055 Glendale is giving back—work is progressing steadily. I think it is never going to be done, because I am impatient. And, we keep adding on to it. We are building a bump-out so that we can use a remote-system composting toilet—it has to have a direct drop, and will do so into a bin in the “basement,” which is a concrete holding tank with a door cut into it. And now I think I’ve talked John into adding the mudroom onto the other side at the same time. (“You know, to make it uniform on the outside—while we’ve got Tom here—we really could use a mudroom—I’m just sayin’…”)
I’ve been learning lots of lessons through the process of building a house from scratch—with no fancy architects, no drawings, no clear idea of what I’m agreeing to or not. I am not good at envisioning three dimensional spaces. I have big ideas and I flag pages in magazines of things I’d like to have in my house, but transforming ideas into reality and adjusting my expectations as we do that, has been a challenge.
One of the main lessons is that there is no such thing as perfection. I often comforted myself with the thought: in the new house things will be perfect! But, here I am, at the “in the new house” stage and guess what? Not only is it not perfect, it is sometimes the epitome of messy, jerry-rigged, patched up craziness. At one point, while the guys were digging trenches all over the place getting the water situation handled the thought occurred to me that the whole human world is jerry-rigged. Even in the suburbs where things look tidy and orderly on the surface, underneath is a tangle of wires and pipes and “oops, we don’t need that—just bury it there.”
So…out here in the country, I’m trying to let go of my obsession with perfection. It helps to have the cabin porch to sit on and the woods to trompse through. Nothing works better at bringing me into the present moment. A light breeze across my face, the sky changing subtly as the clouds move in slow motion towards the east…my brain settles down and my heart takes over and then everything is a different kind of perfect. The kind of perfect I could really come to love.