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Thoughts on Building and Learning

by Tara

After a productive planning session with Charlie, Becky treated us to a fabulous supper of homemade pizza topped with spicy merguez sausage, arugula, parmesan cheese, and pickled red onions. As we settled in for the meal, our conversation turned to cooking. Instantly, I felt myself begin to unwind, easing into the familiar comfort of a beloved activity I know very, very well.

Unlike with cooking or baking, the subject of building invariably leads me to endless questions, stacking upon themselves in a never-ending fractal-like onslaught. A typical planning session will have me thinking things like: after we get the frame up, how long will it take to put the roof on? Once we get the roof on, how are we going to build pony walls? Once we build pony walls, we'll be ready for strawbales. Where are we going to unload two hundred strawbales and how will we be able to carry them one by one up to the house site?

Wesley: Now, there may be problems once we're inside.

Inigo Montoya: I'll say. How do I find the Count? Once I do, how do I find you again? Once I find you again, how do I escape?

The Princess Bride

All I think about these days is window casings, floating floors, R-values, vented roofs, drip edge flashing, wool insulation, eps foam, and on and on. Whenever I am driving, I scan houses and sheds and barns, immersed in a world of construction I used to be blind to: looking at how various parts of buildings are connected, how the gutters and siding, trim boards, shingles are installed.

I often feel like I am going to explode, trying to get my hands around what feels like an ever-expanding mountain of interrelated details surrounding our house build. It's hard to keep perspective, to remember that I cannot do and learn everything in a single moment. I have to take my time, trust in my abilities, and remember that all big projects are built one brick at a time.

When I get bogged down in planning, I take a break and pick out appliances. Getting lost in the details of which sink I'd love to have, or which door knocker I want is incredibly exciting and fun to me. Thinking about where I'll store my pots and pans, and what kind of rug I want in the entryway—this helps me remember what I'm actually doing: creating a home, not an abstract conglomeration of building materials I don't know how to use yet.