Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Possessed or Dispossessed?

Are the elderly possessed or dispossessed? Beats me. I have no idea. But Hub was one, (or perhaps the other), about a month ago when he put skids under an old decrepit wooden granary, and hauled it from the neighbor’s field into our yard.

And once it was there, the debate was endless about what it was going to be used for. But that didn’t delay Hub from immediately rain-proofing the thing with metal roofing.

And that didn’t stall the building of interior walls and a ceiling. Nor the installation of two lovely windows in the walls and one long narrow window in the door. But still, we had no idea what we would use it for.

And perhaps that is why he chose to do all he could do without cost. So rather than buy paint, he pulled all the partially full cans of old paint from the basement and mixed them up and painted the thing. Outside walls white, inside walls, what Youngest Daughter claims is very much ‘in’ at the moment—‘trendy green’.

And still, through all this, the debate continued about what the ‘new shed’ was for. Meanwhile Hub installed electrical wiring and completely insulated the walls and ceiling.

It was beginning to take on the appearance of a colonial cabin, but still no one was clear what the purpose was.

Now I have never been one to support useless work. And often, in my mind, that is what this whole effort seemed to be. But I did support it, though it had no mandate or goal that I could understand. I had to support it because while the puppies lounged in happy contentment in the new ‘shed’, Hub worked away amongst them whistling and singing like a happy lark. Day after day he puttered away.

Occasionally the kids would come for a look and have a peek in the chicken house, bunkhouse, cabin, tea house, soup kitchen, whatever…? But when eldest daughter took a peek, she said she had just the thing for Hub’s project. A few days later she delivered a load of heavy rusty chunks of twisted iron and filthy porcelain on the back of a truck.

It was the remnants of a wood-burning stove but she was the first to admit that it would be more reasonable to haul it to the scrap yard than try and fix it. There were pieces missing from the firebox and every speck of iron was layered with rust. Some resourceful soul had pulled the copper liner out of the reservoir most likely to sell for cash. The rest of it was completely encased in debris of every description – cow manure, mud, soot, damp straw – you name it, it was there.

But Hub unloaded that crap in his granary and now he was busier than ever. From early morning to late at night he was out in his granary working away, working away. Most days he didn’t even come in for coffee or lunch. Most days I heard heavy pounding in the garage and saw the flash of his welder more often than I have ever seen it any time in the past.

But soon that ceased and I saw Hub take the old futon from the basement out to his granary and then a couple of nights ago, he insisted I must come for the evening. That the fire was lit, and the place quite comfortable.

I took some coffee, sliced homemade bread, and butter and away we went to the granary. Hub had a radio out there with Christmas Carols playing. The futon was folded up into a comfortable chesterfield (that’s where the puppies were dozing), and under the big window, he had a table and a few chairs. Furnishings were incomplete but it still looked cozy.

And what did we do out there?

We listened to Christmas carols on an old radio. And we sought the exact place for the teakettle on the stove where it would hum along. And we made toast right on the top of the stove, (which I love, have always loved – quick-singed toast that is hot but so soft in the middle), and found some kind of weird joy in the ambiance of it all.

There is still work to be done in the ‘tea house’, but the stove is finished and gives a coziness that is downright joyful.

The kids are truly anxious to come for tea and biscuits fresh from the oven of the old wood-burning stove. All my children are uniquely different, but even the really uptown of the three is anxious for that treat – although she insists I must make cheese biscuits, not just ordinary ones.


Pauline said...

Now I see - your label gave it all away. What you were describing was "real life." A project need not have a foreseeable purpose beyond that of doing it. Sometimes, like now, the purpose reveals itself bit by painted, refurbished bit. How I miss my own wood cookstove, left behind at the cabin in Vermont when we moved back to "civilization." There is no room for one here in my little cottage...

You are a marvelous story-teller. I am never disappointed when I come here to read.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a wonderful story, Roberta. And I love the "trendy green" color of the walls. You don't suppose Hub fixed all this up for a "bachelor retreat" do you? Nice that he invited you over.


Cowtown Pattie said...

Gorgeous stove! Glad someone could see its potential and give it rebirth!

Scotia said...

Absolutely wonderful! Hub is so resourceful! True love of a project like that seems a thing of the past all too often these days. He took what he had available and made something wonderful (if the single photo is any clue to the simple grandeur of the rest of it.

I am sad I have no one like that in my life. :)

Roberta S said...

Thank you, Pauline and Thank You again. I am pleased when you aren't disappointed.

And I'm quite willing to share my fireside warmth with you.

Roberta S said...

Nora, I am from the old school. So you know what that means. I do enough niceties every day for Hub that as much as he might enjoy his cabin, he will not be moving there long term.

A warm crackling wood fire is very nice, the cabin is cozy, but I am cozier -- I think.

Roberta S said...

Cowtown Pattie, thanks for dropping by. I just knew that you would be cheered by the old stove (even if you didn't comment, but I'm so glad you did).

Keep that warm cheer for the season. A special little warm card from me to you.

Roberta S said...

Scotia, my biggest disappointment is that I didn't take a before and aft picture. But I know what you meant by your comment. Truly meant. There is nothing quite so satisfying as taking a hopeless situation and turning it into a grand blessing.

Don't envy me too much. I long for new things as well as old, but I'm afraid in my lifetime I've ended up with far more old than new. Not that I'm complaining. That's just how it is.

Thanks for visiting.

joared said...

I've always wondered what it was like to cook on an old wood-burning stove. My mother talked of growing up in northeastern Ohio where the winters were fierce and her mother cooked for their large family on such a stove.

Maybe this is a multi-purpose 'tea house.' I thought maybe your "hub" was creating a writing cave for you?

Roberta S said...

oh joared, you should have seen how Hub grimaced when I suggested that it would make a perfect place for me to write. He was not impressed.

But you're so right -- oh how nice it would be to write there. I could easily imagine it as the writing cabin/retreat at a distant seaside that I've always dreamed of.