There are, of course, ghosts in this house. I know this is so, as it is the only possible explanation for the recent shenanigans with my glasses that occurred as I prepared to write this post. Said glasses remained nowhere to be found, despite a stern, lights-on, room-by-room and surface-by-surface search. I even put on clothing, so as to promote deliberateness and thoroughness (by virtue of not having to hasten around as-yet un-curtained windows, although truthfully, almost none remain).
It was only upon a stern rebuke to the Muse - a single, vocalized warning in the empty stillness, the crack of spring ice, that my eye at last lit upon the spectacles: right before my very eyes, on top of the books on the shelf above the stereo, wherein I had loaded several Supertramp cd's as background music for the writing of the post.
I had earlier been seated on the dining table, swinging my feet, the house dark save for the glow of candles, soaking in the tranquil silence of this stately home. Upon my head sat (and sits still) my old traveling hat; made of coarse brown leather, it's crossed the country and the pacific with me more than a few times.
I had earlier given some boastful, self-congratulatory thought to myself for the quality of my weariness and the honesty of it's acquisition. I rather fancied myself hard working. I could cite tasks accomplished by hour, by day, by week - they are indeed manifold. I am labor; hear me roar.
I think that it was this arrogance that caused the ghosts to strike.
Now, here an aside: of all the supernatural forces in the world of which I have ever been apprised, I am certain as to the status of all but two. Which is to say, none exist, save, perhaps, ghosts and my Muse.
And I am aware, thank you, that the Muse is a construct of my own mind, an imagined personification with whom I indulge in debate and conversation. My imaginary friend, there always, and at most points in my life, my sole friend. Forever eloquent, and when I am searching for a word, she dissolves into a cloud of butterflies that become words, fluttering my face in offering until the perfect expression of my thought alights upon the end of my pen and is thereby absorbed into the page.
As to ghosts, there are some intriguing possibilities for coherent explanations to the phenomena our limited human minds perceive as ghosts. So the jury's out there. Or was, until this event with my writing glasses this evening.
I am dead certain my darling Muse would not be so unkind as to force me through the adventure of searching the home three times over for my glasses; finally determining to fetch my old pair of writing glasses - to include having gone so far as to make an actual attempt to write with them; and subsequently giving up in despair as the words age quickly and must be captured while fresh. I cannot believe she would do this, simply to teach me me that while I might think I am doing much with little, others have done much more with much less, to include several others who have lived here previous to me - all nine generations of them.
Somewhere in the basement lies a stone that was placed there by a man over a hundred years dead, and I rest my bones in the home that he built atop that stone. He built so well that it shelters me still, and, moreso even than that, delights me in contemplation of it's craftsmanship and maintenance.
It is my grim determination to honor that man, who quarried or arranged to have quarried and transported tremendous blocks of limestone, an easy 10 cubic feet at a whack. You'd need a bomb to dislodge this foundation, and that might not even do it - regardless of the fate of the house, the basement would likely survive.
But I digress. Regardless of my certainty of her lack of involvement, I openly rebuked the Muse and suddenly there they lay - my glasses.
Yet somewhere in that process of searching for my stolen glasses, it occurred to me that perhaps the former occupant of this erstwhile abode may have him or herself wished to undertake a written recording of some type, or perhaps a work of fiction: they may, by chance, have desired to write, much as I do, and undertaken it themselves as well.
Of course, these people, should they have chosen to follow a desire write, would of necessity faced a much more arduous task than I today face. I have a computer; the original inhabitants of this house had at best pencil and paper with which to work. I have spell check!
Perhaps more to the point, in much likelihood, adequate glasses to compensate for failing sight would likely of been precious commodities. And so I was in turn rebuked, that I had pouted over having been forced to contemplate the use of a less-preferred pair of glasses in the face of my inability to locate my preferred glasses. I mean I have two pair, close to hand. Wealth, by some culture's standards.
I also have the choice of electric lights or oil lamps and candles; the original inhabitants of this home had no such choice. Nor did they have running water, paved streets, automobiles, or any of hundred things that we each take, each day, as commonplace.
So it occurred to me that I was being handed a lesson: don't think too highly of yourself there, sport; you who toy at labor when those who have gone before you approached it not as a chosen vocation, but as the price of life. And approached the task with that solemn knowledge foremost in mind.
I am certain my sloe-eyed Muse would ne'er be so unkind as to teach me such a lesson in such a haphazard fashion, and in so doing threaten the loss of the very words she has given me, and so I conclude the house must be haunted; it must be ghosts taunting the Muse, setting her up, as it were.
So here there be ghosts.
I have been here, by my reckoning, about eighteen days. I departed Columbus, fully loaded (the truck, not me, heh-heh, but I did treat myself to a bottle of Laphroaig upon arrival), on the 12th of July. I arrived mid-day on the 13th, a Wednesday, and unloaded the truck completely before knocking off. On that evening, having traversed no fewer than 1200 miles in two days, I had my new neighbors over for a fireside chat.
Since then I have steadily worked 10 to 14 hour days, with my 'easy' days now being the three days I spend working for Bill Kirk. While working for him, I have help, expensive power tools, and intermittent down time. Easy days, compared to what I put myself through.
There is no end to the work that is necessary: the real number one job on the schedule is to gut and remodel the main floor bathroom. I won't go into detail but suffice to say, we will shortly be back to wall studs and copper tubing in there. But in order to do something fairly significant like remodeling a bathroom, it helps to not be working out of a bag.
So I do understand that this grand undertaking, this Jupiter Project, is not a weeks or months or possibly even years-long process. My unscientific (but generally fairly accurate) estimation of the time needed to take the Project to what I would consider 90% complete is about ten years, give or take two years either way under expected conditions.
Given good luck, favorable weather, and some modest economic success with Against the Grain, we may be able to whittle the establishment phase of the entire project down to five years, but even that is quite a stretch ( and that's assuming access to fuel and heavy machinery).
I am well ahead of schedule with the shop - it's very nearly complete. I must still sort and organize a great many of the smaller tools and expendables, and I must still wire it, but those will be done in short order. The heavy work is done - the new floor, the workbenches.
The inside of the house - the parts I frequent, anyway comprise one of the most beautiful homes in which I have ever been privileged to live; and I've done little but install new shades, clean, arrange furniture, hang pictures and decorate.
Still to do is a complete remodel of the interior.
I've begun the landscaping. Nina has begun mapping flower locations in beds (she maps each flower's placement down to the inch), and along with the debris from the destruction of the garage floor I've brought in two loads of creek stone from Creek Road and some of the timbers left from bridge construction. Also, a dozed bags of crushed gravel for base for the stone wall. The lot of which will soon form a backdrop to phase one of landscaping the back hill.
I've already cleared the hill and established the baseline contour of the wall using concrete rubble, which has saved ma lot of work: the width of a dry stone wall at the base must be twice the final height; I have been spared a great deal of hauling of stone from Creek Road by having the garage floor to hand.
The timbers must be cleaned, stripped of bark, and stained, to lengthen their lifespan. No doubt, however, I shall be revisiting this task in about ten years. That's okay. Next time, we'll work only with stone, and plan for centuries.
So feel I have accomplished an fair amount in a short time - and, still, I feel as though I am a man who has determined to move a mountain, and having taken the first shovel-full, looks about himself contentedly, basking in his accomplishment, only barely beginning to grasp the enormity of the task which he has undertaken. He rather is pleased that he has undertaken a beginning, and content to call it a day at that.
But calling it a day at one shovelful and a warm glow will not suffice; actual work must be done.
And so I dig in, with my hands and my sweat, and I end each day gritty and exhausted, some days hobbled a bit if I have been carrying great weights. And I have not stopped for a day yet, and won't until the 16th when I am inbound to sit a spell with my bride and my children.
By then, the shop will be completely finished, the landscaping will be well upon it's way to being done, and the basement will have been once again reorganized after having been somewhat bestirred during the process of building and outfitting the shop.
Then, the ghosts shall have to do without me for a few days, and remain instead content with my new kitten, who arrived in a stranger's arms today, a seeker after the cat's master, and to that point luckless. But now the cat has a master, and I have a cat, and my erstwhile village mate (whom I shall now forever consider her named as She Who Brings Cats) - whose name I do not know - is relieved of her burden, and returned to her own three cats.
And I am content. In fact, I am no on record as affirming that my life is at present almost perfect, the sole flaw being the absence of my wife from my side. I miss my children also, but that sting will be there whenever one doesn't see them daily, as one recalls parenting, and so I do not count that suffering as resolvable.
I am beyond content. I am at peace.