“Don’t fall asleep Davey. Quit a job before you fall asleep at it.”

I’m tired. Tired to the point where wielding power, or even sharp hand tools does not seem too wise these days. Maybe it is the undeniable, yet looming onset of winter. Maybe I am slipping into hibernation mode. Either way it is a bit of a problem. It has made me realize that there are a couple of big issues with living at your job site. Actually they are more like two sides of the same coin I guess. On the one hand you have to look at -and thus deal with in some way- the project because you walk past -or through- it every day. Conversely, you can ignore it. The first can potentially fuel the necessary drive to get things accomplished. The second means you don’t get shit done. But they both have a flip side in that the first can drive you into the ground physically, while embracing the second can potentially allow you stay sane and healthy. There are other problems of course but these two can probably be tied in one way or another to most of them and thus they are not really worth getting into here…at least not at the moment.

With the threat of the weather’s sudden but inevitable betrayal I nearly killed myself over the past two weeks trying to achieve certain benchmarks. Benchmark One: knowing that regardless of what happened in terms of precipitation or temperature, the ground would at some point freeze up and be difficult at best to work with; thus I had to get the shed foundation complete. Benchmark Two: knowing that at some point, despite the severity, precipitation and temperature change would occur –both having the potential to adversely affect the timbers strewn about the property; thus I had to get them consolidated and covered. Benchmark Three: while not particularly dependent on weather, other than being subject to various levels of discomfort and inconvenience, there was milling and construction debris scattered about and it was driving me crazy. You see when not pretending to be a homesteader I am a “museum curator”. I will deal with why that is in quotes another time, suffice to say at the moment that a major quality in a person tasked with managing museum collections is wanting to have every single thing in it’s right place.

One of the side effects I had not really considered when “planning” this project –OK, just as an aside, quotes in my writing often imply sarcasm…just in case you missed that- is that when making logs into timbers there is a certain amount of left over material. I disagreed once with an acquaintance in Talkeetna years ago, (who unbeknownst to me was doing just this sort of thing… milling lumber that is) when he exclaimed that he had too much junk wood to deal with. In my young, idealistic, un-experienced, and uninformed opinion there was no such thing as junk wood. His response was to offer me all the slab wood I wanted. Being a bit of an aimless, hippy, drifter type I of course had no need for wood of any kind -junk, slab, or otherwise- and so appreciatively declined his generous offer. As I recall he scoffed.

So, while I still have a similar sensibility that there is no such thing as junk wood, I now have a MUCH greater appreciation of his sense of frustration in dealing with slab wood. You see when you mill a log, regardless of whether you are wanting timbers or general lumber, the trees need to be squared off…of course. The round edges…long, tree-length segments of them, bark on one edge, and comprised of various thicknesses are what is left over. Big piles of them. Depending on how you mill you can think ahead and try to make some random, more usable bits, out of the slab, various planks and boards and the like. We did some of that, and I sort of tried to keep them separated.

However, as much as the slab bothered me, the shed foundation was priority number one. Of course I should mention that the plan for the shed is to timber frame it as a practice run for the house… So, I did get the foundation done… in a week…by myself. The timbers were priority number two, so I started moving those…by myself. But the damn slab kept getting in the way. So I jumped to Benchmark Three…the sorting of the slab. After only a couple days of concerted effort it is mostly done, with the majority of the usable material stacked (by length, width, thickness, and other more obscure qualitative elements that say a bit too much about my OCD tendencies perhaps), stickered, and covered for use at a later date. Ah, yes I almost forgot to mention that I was still milling some of the logs in amidst these activities. So of course making more timbers to move… and more slab to sort.

So two down and one benchmark to get back to. That is right about where I ran out of steam. I was feeling pretty good about the various accomplishments but also feeling pretty damn exhausted from the effort. So the casual ignoring of the inevitable started in…right about this time I started this infernal blog. Gave me a distorted sense that I was still involved with the project and not really ignoring it…regardless of the fact that typing will not move timbers. Well to my surprise it did, in point of fact, as commenting publicly on the interwebs about the effort of moving large timbers with simple machines drew offers from friends to help. Four showed up and in the space of a couple hours we accomplished what would have taken me at least another week. It also meant that the benchmarks were all reached and I somehow slipped into ignore mode. Even had a hard time coming up with what to write the past few days.

At this point the weather is stable. Clear skies and gradually decreasing temps; perfect working weather actually, but I cannot seem to build up the steam to get back at it. The shed still needs building and it sure as hell ain’t building itself. But despite my good intentions I am on the flipside of that coin that I was talking about…there is also a tree rat that needs my attention.


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