Friday, September 3, 2010

Dream Repair

For those of you dreaming of building a big house in the suburbs, or the country -a few words of advice. In order to build out the attic with a half bath, or to have a carpeted room over the garage (a little bit of hers/his?) or even to find a way to get a double sink full bath with whirlpool and shower, do not, simply do not sacrifice the quality of your materials and shuck the value of time worn techniques. No, it doesn't matter that your GM or your carpenter tells you he can do without the house wrap or tar paper. Don't listen to him when he tells you he can save you a bundle by using half-inch OSB and staples for the sheathing. And simply walk away, or better -give him the hand, when he lets you in on a little known secret in siding technology that will save you so much that all your dreams will come true.

Because this is what happens. In 10 years. An OSB sheathed and sided house in a cold and wet climate is a sin. Forgo the house wrap, and you'll be sent straight to hell. Having saved so much on these items, you decided then to build the house extra large. It's a good thing the siding is so cheap because you now have even more surface area to cover with it. A house built this large is not a throwaway item, but it doesn't matter, because your rationality was clogged by your outsized dreams, your magnificent belief in the power of house and home.

Over the last four summers, my wife and I have been replacing the siding and sheathing on Rex's house. For the record, he did not build this house -he bought it from those who did (divorce, ugly). He bought it for the woods; the house he has changed not one bit from the day he bought it 9 years ago. Sometimes I fantasize that this house would burn down, replaced by insurance money that would build a smaller, well-built house. But Rex is too old for all that turmoil. He's happy that we work on the structure, staving off more costly repairs.

On this day, although we had greater goals, we ran out of materials and called it a year. It was hot and humid, phantom mosquitoes biting along with the real ones. Southerly flow, storm's coming. Let's hit Little Long before the rain. As we rolled from the concrete pad, we were amazed by the hundreds of large dragon flies circling and spiraling the front yard. An event.

The phenomena continued on the road to Little Long Lake. In some spots, birds flocked to wires, apparently to catch dragonflies. The roads here are dirt and gravel and this one is being widened and paved.

The water was cold -at first. A slight breeze was being pulled in by the thunderstorms to our east. The rain never came. We were the only swimmers. There was a man with a dog fishing in a boat.

Can you see the fish?

You can see the watermilfoil, Myriophyllum spicatum. Imagine it like underwater mint.

Little Long has little of houses on it. To the west is an esker. The trail I imagined last year passes by the lake along the esker.

Purple Loosestrife makes its appearance in many, but not all, of the marshes around here. It's a wonderful addition where it is spotty, undoubtedly part of how it perseveres. Rex says it is declining in the area, but I am skeptical.

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