The Roofwalkers by Adrienne Rich
...Was it worth while to lay--
with infinite exertion--
a roof I can't live under?
--All those blueprints,
closings of gaps 20
A life I didn't choose
chose me: even
my tools are the wrong ones
for what I have to do...
This is the kind of poem that makes me believe in poetry the way I believe in hammers.
I feel for the one in this poem, I really do. Not because I am in the same situation, but because I was---completely unable to choose the life I wanted. But what is missing here, I think, is that in the effort to lay a roof, your life is changed. Each swing of a hammer means you also take a hit. A useless edge is shorn off, a loose part is lost or secured. A roof, like a life, has to be built---it doesn't just happen by wishing it so.
We got okayed to insulate yesterday. We have to have the inspector comeback to okay rough framing completely---I hadn't sealed all the pentrations yet, so he wants to see those, as well as making sure I tighten all of the post nuts and bolts and the turnbuckles keeping the cupola roof from spreading out.
Tomorrow, the new heating contractor installs the solar thermal panels and I can take the top set of scaffolding down and set both sets up in other rooms in prep for insulation. (We also got the okay to clad our built-in storage without having to drywall and firetape it---this is great.)
And I have to make a decision about the ceiling of the cupola.
I have a lot of salvaged cedar and fir, but probably not enough. We also have a lot of big leaf maple from our trees. I have 1x6, 1x8, and 1x4 (some dim, some true). The 1x4 will go for flooring, which I need to plane, square up, and then mill with a tongue and groove. I also have a bit of salvaged mahogany and I'm thinking of bordering the maple floor with mahogany to give it a distinctive edge. The room isn't very big, so it won't require too much material, and maple and mahogany are a great combination.
But I'm wondering about doing something similar the ceiling in the cupola. A line of mahogany at about 1/3 or 1/4 up from where the ceiling inetrsects with the wall, then maple all the rest. Maple is pretty hard, which is why it's used on a floor and I've never seen it on a ceiling.
I have to find out if I need to cut tongue and groove or if I can just route the sides and ends.
Anyway, time to start milling material for the Great Wall of Storage. Fir from a flour mill built in the 1890s, cedar from a barn built before that, more cedar from a house built in 1920, and more from a house built in 1930, and yet more from a house built in 1960 (Canadian old growth), maple and yellow cedar from our trees, some mahogany, oak, cherry, and poplar from salvaged pallets.
And I have to hold enough material back for some furniture I'll be building. A crazy mix of old and new, but wood is funny in that what's old can be easily made new.
There are no where near enough exclamation points to convey how excited I am about this. We essentially were okayed for our rough framing---this is a major structural hurdle I expected to fail for substantive reasons. The inspector came by to give us a pre-inspection to point out where I fucked up and to okay insulating. Instead, he said we were fine, other than sealing the penetrations, which will take an hour.
So when he comes back next week to okay insulation, he'll okay the framing and the mechanical. Then we won't see him again until we're ready for our final.
Fourteen years. Fifteen years come December. We've been planning and saving and getting set back for that long. And now I get to do the finish, which is what I love to do, and one reason is because everywhere the fab GF looks, she will see that someone loves her more than she could ever know. We built this house to shelter a life we build together. We built this house to shelter what's to come, to give respite from the natural disasters of everyday life. I am at the age to expect disasters.
In the midst of all the mess---local, regional, national, global---there is this place we make new just by getting up in the morning. Is it worthwhile to lay with infinite exertion? Today, yes. An infinite, echoing yes.