Thursday, April 30, 2009

House progress, April 2009

House circa Dec. 2008

My last trip was too short. I am rarely ready to come home to Cape Cod. I want to keep working. This is where I find purpose. When I am in Maine, working on this project, I feel I am where God means for me to be. I am however, always disappointed at the speed of my progress. For some reason I am under the impression that God has a deadline to meet and I showed up late for work. It pains me to leave, the work is never done.
But I have found a place where I need to be! What a relief! After years of driving back and forth across the country, living and working in a myriad of places, always searching, I could never shake the feeling of not belonging. The internal observer of my mind would never let me forget: "You don't belong here!" I tried to kill the voice with mass quantities of alcohol, but it did not relent. It would say nasty things to me that were no help whatsoever: "Fuck you!" or "You could always just kill yourself, you have options."
Eventually, with the help of a therapist, I came to the conclusion that the voice was a phantom from my childhood of growing up in a cult called "Jehovah's Witnesses". I was trained to be socially estranged from my peers. The realization gave me some momentary peace, and when the feeling returned I was able to look at it with some clarity. So, my childhood had a very strong influence on the adult that I am today; same as everyone else on the planet. At the time I was living in New York City which is an amazing place but not where I needed to be anymore. New York is a great big classroom in the School of Life and I was done with it, at least for now. I needed to be in the country with trees, my own home with a garage where I could build Hot Rods and Mud buggies.
It's never that simple getting from there to here, but that's another story, and the important thing is that my life is now going in what seems to be the right direction, albeit amid a tempest of doubt and second guesses.
At the end of April, 2009 I believe I am somewhere around the midway point to reaching the goal of having a small comfortable home with modern conveniences like heat, running water, plumbing, septic and electricity. Currently I have heat by wood burning stove and electricity for lights saws and TV. I had running water for a short time, via a dug well/ jet pump combination I dug and installed last Fall. Unfortunately during one of my stays in February, the outside temperature reached -23F. The pipes inside and leading up to the house froze and split open. There are a few reasons for the mishap, most boil down to my ignorance. I'll fix it later.
For now, I get water from the creek by the bucket full. It's the best drinking water ever!
This last trip was eventful and satisfying. Up till now a slide-on truck camper had been sticking out the side of my house. In fact, the house started with the camper. In 2007 I bought a truck and camper combo so that I would have a place to stay while building the house. Because my budget was is so limited I decided to simply expand the camper and make use of it's many appliances. The greatest disadvantage of the camper was it's heat source. It's propane/12v system was inefficient and difficult to maintain. I decided that by building a box containing a wood stove off the back of it, I could have free heat without the need of electricity. (please refer to the drawings in the post "House Sculpture").
Now, at the end of April 2009, the 16'X16' "box" is doing it's job and has become more elaborate than my original plan. The camper had gone from asset to liability. It was drafty, cramped, rotten and ugly. So I cut it off.

Well, not all of it. I had already added a little eating nook off the side and I still needed a place for the propane cook stove and refrigerator, so I cut off the front half with a Sawsall. It felt really good, like popping a big pus filled zit on your neck. I cut the sides then the top. The whole front section crashed to the ground as it hinged along the floor. The outside light poured in. The camper had been blocking the most beautiful sunlight of the day; late afternoon and evening. Sproket, my cat who had accompanied me on this trip, trotted downstairs to examine my progress.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning up the mass of metal and rotten wood that was formerly the southwestern corner of the house. As I had suspected it was also home to several mice and had been for years as I discovered that the walls were literally filled with mouse shit. Looks like I had also eliminated the mysterious odor coming from the kitchen.
The next few days I spent building a foundation out of stones from around the property and framing out a section of the new kitchen's floor with 2X8s from my friend Randy's old garage. The addition will add roughly 128 sq. ft. and will house the kitchen appliances and a washer and dryer.
Sarah came to pick me up the following weekend so that we could leave our little Subaru (which has been leaking oil profusely) in Maine before picking up Sarah's new ride (a '97 Saturn) in Maryland from her Grandmother. It also gave her a chance to check on my progress.


  1. That house screams Squirrel Burns, and Get Awesome. It looks great. I have a question for you too. Feel free to answer via facebook or in person. Did being a part of Jehova's give you inspiration with your tattooing and painting? Did it just make you want to succeed that much more? Im just curious, i enjoy hearing from people all their different inspirations. Hearing their inspirations inspires me to want to succeed more than i already do. I hope i get the extra credit, but if not i understand. Im just a little asshole, and that's just fine. by the way posting this at 6:37 am, thats kinda fuckin' early. Peace out cub scout.


  2. Facinating stuff. Great to read about how centered the project has made you feel. How a home built with your own two hands can sustain a soul. Hey, and it looks well built and completely Brunsian. Love how you cut off the camper. Broke away from the teet as it were. Fantastic!