It’s been poring down. The winds at gale force and gutsy. The last couple of days have been like a Seattle winter. And I can hear the sturdy wind chimes playing at my front porch, the one I bought down at Pioneer Square on my first stay in Seattle 21 years ago. It was on the very end of the stay, 22 $ we couldn’t afford, but yet couldn’t leave behind.
Entering the dark and cold season isn’t my cup of tea. The combination of closing the front door to keep the cold out for nine months / all the things that didn’t get done at my place this summer. Not this summer either. Doesn’t make me happy.
Saving the roof of the Big Barn. Lifting up the front of the wood shed/coach house. Painting the carport roof trusses. Fixing the leaking gutter. Burning the huge stack of twigs topped with discarded wooden furniture. Cleaning out the coach house which has become a black hole of recycling. What to do about the baker’s cottage, it looks like the ants are ruining our summer cabin? Taking care of all the windfall birches surrounding my house. To mention a few of the tiny things on my never ending to do list.
The art of focusing on the things that actually got done and can be (temporarily) crossed out from that list is, unfortunately, something I am not mastering very well. But I am remembering now how Trouble 2 made a heroic effort cleaning out the wood shed which had turned into a giant garbage storage, not to mention him carrying down most everything from the bakers cottage attic, which, among other things, is the extended family furniture storage. Hurray for Trouble 2, that was an amazing job he did!
To keep a place like mine, with a house, a summer baker’s cottage, a wood shed/coach house, an old hay barn, carport, out house, a sweet play house and a big yard and forest property, you need knowledge, tools, a strong physical body, interest and time. I have a lot of interest, a bit of knowledge and some time. My sons have strong bodies, some interest and no time. We have been lacking pieces of knowledge and all the tools. The equation is a hard one to figure out.
So, what to do? Well, you ask Mats for help.
Mats is a dear friend who builds baroque flutes and lifts an out house which is sinking down into the ground with equal enthusiasm. Mats also loves sharing his knowledge about most everything, holding lectures which can be terribly annoying, but sometimes a lecture is exactly what you need.
So, at the end of this summer Trouble & Trouble, Mats and I got together for a work day. To start with, Mats taught my sons how to build a tool to lift the heavy branches of my grandfather’s apple tree, something that needs to be done every summer. Mats is an extremely thorough person and the apple tree has never looked this good after the yearly face lift before!
Then on to the main mission for the day, saving the out house from tipping over. Why do I need an outhouse? I usually don’t but it’s there because it’s always been there, and it’s an unusually stylish out house built by my dad. And this summer when I needed to dig up the sewer system I actually used it for a couple of days, and hey, was I happy it was still there! But as the front is tipping forward you could hardly open the door, and that was needed to be taken care of.
I loved watching Mats and my sons together. Trouble & Trouble were soaking Mats’ knowledge and skills like dry sponges, and the way Mats showed them how to do, he made sure they could do it themselves next time. And that’s how a really good teacher does it. I was moved, a little bit sad, and deeply grateful.
So how come I don’t have tools? At a place like mine you got to have tools! Well, I do have tools, but none working. The lawn mower was quite all summer, the trimmer has been sitting in a dark corner for as long as I can remember, the chain saw died years ago and the clearing saw who I own in shared custody with my ex brother in law Kjell, hasn’t come my way since I don’t know when. So, even if my sons had the time they don’t have the tools. And I can’t help them out since I can’t transport any of those things to get them repaired.
Then, out of the blue Kjell called and asked me what I needed to have cleared out! I had made some comment on Facebook that led him to the question. The next thing I knew he was in the grove across the road and I had free sight down to the fields east of it! And then he searched all my sheds for non working machinery, filled his trunk, brought everything to the Husqvarna repair shop and then back here when it all was up and running again!
At that point I was close to crying out of gratitude. But Kjell wasn’t done. On top of that he met up with Trouble 2 for a lesson in how to run a clearing saw. And a long list of what we need to purchase to make power sawing of all kind safe. This is serious stuff.
Kjell lost his father when he was eight years old. He didn’t have a dad passing on his knowledge to his son and had to learn everything by error. Or, as he told me, what he later learned, was from my dad, his father in law. Kjell has three sons who are accordingly well educated in practical matters, and now he willingly is ready to take on an uncle mission with my sons. And Trouble & Trouble and I are equally grateful and relieved to receive this unexpected support.
Now, a note from a feministic perspective. It so happens there are no girls in the generation after me. My sister and I have altogether five sons. If there had been daughters I can assure you they would have been educated in how to keep an old homestead. My father taught me everything from changing tires to lifting the corner of a house in need (which means I have the theoretical knowledge of how to lift a house, but I can’t be there with my hands). The only thing he kept from me was the chainsaw. Which I found annoying.
This Sunday Trouble & Trouble, Audrey and I are making fall at Stoltergården - Mats’ name of my place here at the end of the road. The rain is taking a break today, but the wind is still at gale force and gutsy. We are putting in the winter windows, ironing the fall curtains, turning off the summer water and preparing for the Christmas lights in the garden. The leaking gutter is temporally taken care of, and the damned and huge stack of twigs and discarded wooden furniture is burning! It took my sons quite some time to get the fire going, and when it finally did the wind turned the situation a bit risky for a while, but now that stack is gone, hallelujah!And for next summer, Mats’ plan is to teach my sons how to take care of my grandfather’s wooden windows. And Kjell will be holding a class on the subject safe power sawing. Trouble & Trouble are lucky to have such enthusiastic teachers. And I am lucky having such great friends.