Monday, March 05, 2007

Family words

Does your family have special words that come out of your common experience and mean something only to the members of your family?

Years ago, my son was wrestling with the pronunciation of the big vehicle on the road behind us (when he was much, much younger!). I told him the word was written backwards. He gave it a try. Now they are all "Ambliance"'s to our family.

Working on the barn this week, I have had the worst time remembering the word, "level", I keep wanting to call it a ladle, but I know that's not right. So, it has become the "L-thing that is not a ladle" or "Elthing". So, if you come to help us with the barn and we ask you to hand us the elthing, you know what it is.

And speaking of level - all the books and articles we read on building talk about the importance of plumb, straight and level. My current favorite book of the pole building genre is Low Cost Pole Building Construction, by Ralph Wolfe.

Now, we have several levels in our toolbox - a corner level for fence posts, a little level for the cleats, a big red 2-foot level for beams, and we use them. We use a plumb bob to true our posts. We line up the holes with string. And still, the barn has, umm, shall we say, "character"!

I was standing back and looking at the barn this morning as I was nailing on the lathe strips to put the siding on and I realized - we are working with wood. Wood is a live substance with its own personality and character.

Have you ever seen a truly straight board?

If you can't answer this question - go to a hardware store and look in their stock of finished lumber. You will find all kinds of interesting bows, bends and twists. And that is in supposedly finished, smooth boards that are ready to fit into a nice, square and level house.

Now, I know those guys who wrote all the books we are following have done the work and have used real wood - so why don't they clue you in that "Level, straight and plumb" are concepts to aim toward, not something that really happens in the real world!

We are using rough cut lumber in this barn. I know that is part of the challenge. On the ground and in a pile it looks good and even. And I promise that I can find a spot on each post and rafter that is level. Probably more than one spot. And I think that all of these individual pieces of interesting wood are coming together into a strong, happy, unique barn. Certainly unique...

As we were wrapping up this evening, Shawn found a nice heavy hammer for me. We hadn't been able to figure out where they were packed. I was really, honestly thrilled to see it. Having two real, solid hammers will make tomorrow's work go so much faster. My brain got excited.

Give a girl a hammer....
Give a mouse a cookie....
Give a fish a donut.... huh?

Obviously, it is time for bed....

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