Saturday, August 23, 2008

Uphill Both Ways

We’ve been reminiscing lately about how our gonads must have been as big as the Mississippi is long for us to have come out here and done this. We had just gotten married when we bought this piece of land. We moved out here some months later, after having started the house and the garden and the chickens and learning that we just couldn’t get it all done not being here. We were pregnant for the first time when we moved out here and lived in a tiny and ancient unheated trailer (we heated with kerosene heaters those winters).

There was no bridge across the creek then -- we simply forded it. If water was high we parked on the other side and hiked home, or if we were caught with the vehicle on this side of the creek, we stayed home until it subsided. When we parked on the other side, which we had to most of every winter back then, every item was carried home, uphill -- children, laundry, groceries, every single thing, more than a quarter mile, often in really bad weather and in the dark.

It never crossed either of our minds that we could fail. It simply wasn’t a possibility. Yet lots of things did fail. Those first chickens were killed by a pack of dogs that then got themselves trapped in the chicken coop so that we not only found every single chicken dead, we then had to kill three dogs. And I can’t tell you how many times we planted apple trees and grape vines. Everything took longer than it took. Except the children. We kept having children. Until my mother called the last one “problem number four” although that wasn’t why we stopped.

We built a house that is truly home. It looks like some mushroom sprung up in the woods. It is not large but you can’t see it entire from any angle because it has so many corners. I remember when we had the roof on but the ceiling wasn’t in. We’d been working very hard and yet hadn’t yet reached that last year’s push yet. My dad came up, probably his last time up it turned out. My dad, bless him, was always proud of me and baffled by me both. I absolutely honored everything I ever learned from him yet always took off at some ninety degree angle that he couldn’t quite understand. He looked up at the timbers in the house and asked how we got them up there. My husband answered, “One at a time.” My dad still gazed. Husband expounded. “A good day was when I got one rafter put up.” All that wood, everything up there, everything all around him, my dad understood all at once that we had done all that with only our hands. I think he also grasped that the only other person he’d ever known who had done that had been his own grandfather.

It took two more years to actually get us in the house. That last winter husband simply made a point to work at it every. single. day. And except for the days I took the kids to a homeschool meeting or to see my mom, I worked at it every single day too. In the mornings he went off to town to work and I cooked and cleaned and did all the work of running a household full of kids and in the afternoons and evenings, often until midnight, in the cold dark wet winter, we worked on the house. The kids ate a large number of frozen burritos that winter. That was a trade off. That and that after we were in the house, we didn’t want to speak to each other for several months. Ah, but they still got homemade bread and jam and eggs and potatoes every day too, and eventually husband and I found we again had things to say to one another.

And we didn’t buy much of anything except building materials and sinks and toilets and such. And legos. I really like my kitchen sinks and my roof by the way. And the kids still play with the lego sets.

And all of that and ten times more is still not the half of it. It sure wasn’t easy. But you know what? It wasn’t hard either. Or rather, it was very hard but worth every drop of blood, sweat and every single tear. It was fun. It was fulfilling. It was challenging and provoking in the best of ways.

on a different note: I had three posts written on a different computer that went phftz. One of them, I can't even remember what it was really so no hope of re-writing that! (and you are no doubt better off without it) One is the very nice award Alecto has given me, and I will have that up before long, I promise, because I have a whole new idea for it. And the last was the story of the cow's artificial insemination which did happen this week and I really don't want to re-write that so maybe if we can find the NT disk around here somewhere, we can get it off and I can post it. In the meantime, its the meantime and life really is good.


Anonymous said...

I don't pretend to have your knowledge of animal husbandry, but it's not possible for you to have gonads.

Alecto said...

It is too possible! She might keep them in her back, same way I do.

CG said...

yeah, you need to light a few more candles kyndill! Gonads are gamete producing organs -- those are testes or ovaries. But personally, balls is a good useful terms that in its meaning of daring, chutzpah, stuff like that, can definitely apply to all sexes.

Anonymous said...

"Men hide there gonads. Women wear theirs on their chest!"

CG said...

once again showing a non-understanding of the term.

Alecto said...

balls is balls. That was a great post, gonad misunderstanding aside, and I really appreciated reading it.

Cielo said...

Your house, and your family, are awesome!!!

(Do I get extra credit for proper subject/verb agreement, since I already know about gonads?)

Anonymous said...

It's times like these that I wish I had been born smart instead of strong and good looking.

CG said...

I'm so glad we could really clear up the gonads thing! And all be strong and good looking in the process. And Cielo has actually been here, has actually dared spend the night with us even, so we know she is also brave. And I might have to quote Alecto's "balls is balls".

eyemkmootoo said...

"I think he also grasped that the only other person he’d ever known who had done that had been his own grandfather."

Yes, you don't see too much of this these days. Few people I meet see the value of doing anything by hand when a machine can do it faster and with less work.

The occupants of eyemkmootoo's cod sack. said...

We've been called nuts, and stones and jewels.
You people can be awfully cruel.
We once were labeled furry huevos
while sunning ourselves in Acapulco.
And we just idly by
while you folks pile the names on high.
Of all the titles with which we've been cursed
I thought that "hair figs" was the worse
but "gamete producing organ" sounds bad
to these two unpretentious nads.
You see, we're simple backwoods balls
suspended beneath these overalls
and we would shrivel up with shame
if saddled with a fancy Latin name.

CG said...

oh eyemkmoo! Just seeing that you've been here makes me smile. I would quibble that machines can actually do things faster and with less work . . . if you figure everything. Living simply really does provide more time for life. Imagine children who don't see their father as only a visitor in their lives! Those are mine. I digress.

I certainly didn't mean to insult your sad sacks! But even using the inclusive term "gonads", people thought women couldn't have them! I mean, really, that should teach me about trying to be inclusive, non-offensive, and stuff.

Come back soon Kmoo as you will actually be featured here!

Anonymous said...

Oh nonononononoooooo. Definitely balls - and I know plenty of women with more balls than plenty of the men I know. If that makes sense. Sounded awful Baggins-ish, but whatever.

The Wife has balls to spare, and I love her dearly for it.

NOW - one can get deep with this by asking:

"Why is it that saying someone has balls as a compliment (after a sort)...why should the phrase have to fashion itself behind a male anatomical feature?"

Then again, if something is full of crap, or screwed up, one can assign a balls-oriented phrase or other to it. In this respect, I can understand why the terms "ballsed-up" or "bollocks to that" is appropriate, gender-ly speaking.

Best of luck with your computer ills.

I am asahmed to say that our "watermelon" vine ended up being a squash vine. I may know my bugs, but I damn sure have a long way to go on the rest. *sigh* At least the fruit of the vine is going to be delicious.

Alecto said...

it's ok, Thingfish. I once spent an entire summer carefully nurturing rag weed in a pot that I was certain was a chrysanthynum reseeding.

Lisa said...

Well, I had a comment to leave here, but I was distracted by the gonad/ball discussion in the comments!

My husband and I have done two homes, not wholly on our own, but more work than I ever planned on doing! I could do entire essays on taking a roof apart carefully so that we could reuse the wood, and then tugging out the biggest nails on the planet with a hammer and screaming THIS SUCKS. (Did you say something, my husband would stick his head out from the debris of the disappearing roof, and I'd say this sucks, and his little grin would make me envision using the hammer in my hand for other things.)

I so get the not speaking thing.

Even now, some 13 years later in this house, it's not done. It will never be done. Done is for sissies I guess.

But every now and then I visit a Sissy house, and try to imagine what it would be like to live like that. I know I could do it!