I’m not naming my wagon La Chouette, or little owl, just because I like owls. Or because of the snasne doorhammer that I got on etsy.
I’m not sure where to start here, so I’ll start at the end. My dad died last autumn of a very aggressive lymphoma. It only took a few months from the first symptoms set in, and all attempts of treatment were useless. He died at home, surrounded by family. I keep repeating that to myself whenever the tragedy of it all starts looming.
His family name was Uglehus, which in Norwegian literary means owl house. Thus the name of the wagon. My full name is Tone Uglehus Wasbak-Melbye. Wasbak is my moms’ maiden name, and at some point, my dad took his moms’ name, Melbye. I’m not really sure why. I was little and my family has never been talkative. Well, not about important things. Anyway, he was a carpenter. He worked most of his career as a music teacher, but he was trained a carpenter. So while I don’t have any kind of building experience myself, I did grow up with the building of a cabin and the house my parents lived in. And endless projects planned, half-started and dreamed of.
I mean, endless. The house, where my mom now lives, was and is full of materials, bits and pieces, treasures my dad gathered in stores, on sales, in bins, at the sea side after a flood. He was, like me, the creative sort. Half the time he was not really where his body was. Of course, quite a lot of projects were finished, or practically finished. But for every finished project, there were ten castles in the air.
So, my dad died. And left a house full of dreams. And so I thought I’d build a new house partly out of those unfinished ideas and lost treasures, partly out of things new and only my own. Halfway between the old and the new world, between the former generation and whatever I am. Between the practical and the impossible. Part legacy, part something different. And part mystery, because I’m not telling why the name is in French and you’ll never guess.
The wanderlust bit is mostly mine, having the house on wheels, keeping on the road as much as possible, no destination in mind. Although my dad did love driving, far and often, and was probably a lot more fond of travel than he let himself be. Perhaps, like me, he didn’t really like traveling, just wanted to keep on the road. There is a great distinction there which took me years to find out and which I’ll get back to inlater posts.
My house then, is made from materials I have bought and chosen for mostly aesthetical reasons, and things I found in and around my parents house. There is also somewhere in this an echo of a lost world that perhaps never was, a world from my childhood that I never got to claim as my own before it was driven away by the light of modernity. A world of warm shadows, of quiet evenings and the sound of rain, a world as dark and fuzzy as a charcoal drawing. I would like to call back some of this. Not to look to the past, but because the future we are presented with was dated over a hundred years ago anyway and we need to decide on a new one.
And I know I’ll probably fly too close to the sun with this project, as one does with the mad dreams of the former generation. But I do hope that the old owl gets to fly at least just a little bit. Also, unlike Icarus, I’ll be carrying a tool kit to make repairs on the way.