Saturday, April 28, 2007

herein is peace

again & again i'm reminded of how necessary it is to live with a firm grounding in truth. i'm not really referring to truth as a philosophy, although it could be that too. i mean truth as in your most honest assessment of the present moment.

i am so often tempted to "spin" the facts to my own liking, or to my own convenience. but when i do so i feel a sense of unease.

so i wrote on the palm of my hand, with a black magic marker, the words "accept reality".

after all, reality is all there is.

"cease striving, and know that i am god"
--so says the ever-existing one.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

from "the great divorce" by c. s. lewis

"Hell is a state of mind--ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself."

This reminds me of a night (several years ago) when nightmares and foreboding plagued me. I always sleep with earplugs in. It was as if I was floating wretchedly in endless space.

At dawn, I pulled out my earplugs, and what I heard was the most lovely, simple, real thing. It brought me back to earth, back from the whirling torments of a restless mind. A raindrop, landing on my wet windowsill, sounded its single perfect note.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

i haven't spent a quiet morning at home in a long while, so it's very peaceful to sit here, drinking coffee, feeling a cool breeze. the sky is overcast outside, but now that we have heat again it doesn't feel quite so ominous.

between the shootings monday and the roads closed due to the raritan river rising and rising (right behind our complex, although we are on a bluff) we were starting to feel a little spooked. add to that no heat or hot water because of flooding in our basement.

but things are back to a semblance of normal, for now. the jade plants are happy that i remembered to raise the blinds for them. just that tiny ritual of caring for two lovely little beings gives me joy.

yesterday the textbook on carpentry (for the vocational building class) arrived in the mail. it's huge, and packed with information.

the day before, my new contract for 07-08 arrived in the mail. it's sad to look at the number of dollars i'll be turning down if i don't sign it. still, my dreams are of houses.


i think there is a common thread running through my love of mathematics, of philosophy/religion, and now of building. there is a large cluster of rules--somewhat intimidating, tangled, and unnecessarily complex. and like a closet filled with some treasures and some junk and desperately in need of sorting, this body of rules draws me. i want to pull it all apart and understand each piece. then, armed with that knowledge, i want to strip the whole thing down to its essentials, so that what was complicated, ugly, and intimidating becomes simple, elegant, and accessible.

the first time i looked at a book explaining how to build a house, i was overwhelmed with the complexity. i was almost turned off. but slowly i'm growing in the hope that it can be done more simply and naturally. i'm learning which systems can be eliminated, and which are essentials.

this is a joyful process! (just as the process of simplifying my religious/philosophical views filled me with a sense of freedom and hope.) of course, there is an inherent arrogance in looking at a system and saying, "i can do it better." and that's before i know anything about it. well, at least i admit it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

what i learned about roofing today at habitat for humanity

(this is all really exciting for me. if it is boring to you, then at least you can be convinced that i have found something i love.)

tar paper goes over the wood. in areas where there's lot of water, you put another kind of tar-rier paper down. flashing goes against the wall, to keep rain from going behind the shingles closest to the wall. moisture is the enemy. it's all about keeping water out of the walls.

shingles begin at the lowest part of the roof and are gradually layered up. you put a double thickness at the beginning. the overlapping is such that everywhere, the shingles are actually two thick. 4 roofing nails to a shingle. the shingles should extend a half inch past the edge of the roof. every other "layer", or course, should begin with a short shingle so that the courses are staggered and cover the gaps between shingles.

in the "valley", the crease where two slopes meet, special 'weaving' techniques ensure that the water that gathers there will be safely funneled down. avoid nailing in the valley as the nails will be more likely to rust.

elsewhere, we make sure that the courses of shingles are well-lined up, use a chalk line and a tape measure to ensure that your shingles are parallel to the edge of the roof. it's easy to get the shingles crooked. it's also easy to erase the chalk lines with your behind if you are scared to stand up on the roof.

near the top you probably will need to trim the shingles so that they stay lined up and go all the way up to the siding (we were working on a roof of a porch, so there was wall above). keep a shingle underneath the shingle you are cutting so you don't cut through and slice your nice roofing job.

the shingles we were working with are called 'architectural shingles'. they have lots of flaps at irregular intervals, so they look fancier than the simpler ones with just three flaps each. habitat for humanity doesn't go for fancy accessories but they get lots of donations and sometimes the donations are for the high end version of a product.

i had so much fun today. i didn't wear sunscreen so i'm a bit burnt. the weather was gorgeous and i was just having the best time enjoying the air. the other people are nice. my hands are a bit raw--i really need to find a pair of gloves that fit and a tool belt. they have equipment there you can borrow, but the gloves are all enormous and the tool belts are little wimpy canvas aprons that slide everywhere.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

course description: building and construction basics

This is an introductory course designed for the person with little construction or mechanical knowledge. The course will focus on building and construction basic terminology, theory and practical application as it relates to wood framed construction of a single family dwelling. The main topics of this course will be comprehension of dimension, scheduling sequences, measuring and marking for building location, foundations, framing and sheathing. This is not an all inclusive course for construction finishing, however it touches on each and every aspect of rough construction. The course is an essential for those contemplating contracting or becoming a home inspector.

This is the course I begin this Thursday night.

I also have been accepted into NEW's pre-apprenticeship program. I have mixed feelings about it, as being a union carpenter is not really my goal. Still, it's a positive thing. The ball is rolling. I am just a little scared of making a commitment.

Monday, April 09, 2007

the trees are home.

my painting is home! i like the freshness of the air in the sky. it feels like early summer. also, i love the distant horizon. i miss that here. it's so open.

thank you so much, michael. he graciously touched up the farthest tree at my request right before i brought it home. it was cool to watch and to request red dabs. it makes me want to get some brushes and try, too. here is an earlier version michael posted about on his blog. it looks like winter. was it winter? how did the painting become summer?

maybe the next one you paint for me can be a winter one. but i'm really enjoying having this here. what did you put in its place above your table?

Thursday, April 05, 2007