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When is a door not a door? When it’s a window.

I have been redoing the hatch in my roof lately,resulting in large gaps and a feeling of vulnerability for the elements and the universe in general, curiously in quite a different way than leaving a window open does. This has a bit to do with a window being possible to close of course, but also that I’m increasingly aware of the lines and borders drawn between me and the rest of the world by wood and nails.

My house is not a heavy, dense thing made out of brick and glava and three layers of insulated smartglass wired to an app. When there’s a bit missing, it’s missing, any gap is an opening to the world.

In the western world, and in Norway in particular, we have become accustomed to a house being a microcosmos, a solid barrier between us and everything that might be out there, people, animals, rain, snow or wind. The houses here are regulated with thermostats to such a degree that it’s hardly necessary to open a window at all.

This has also made it possible for us to believe that we are indeed removed from the rest of the world, that we do not live on earth, we live in a house. thinking that what happens outside our walls matters little as long as we can close our door. We have stopped living in the world and started living in houses, and now the world is dying because we have used it all to build ludicrously large houses and spew the waste from the building and our living back out into nature. Humanity need to reconnect with its home. A house is a dwelling, not the world.

That, of course, doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable, cared for, made beautiful and meaningful. But it’s still a place in the world, not outside it, as people here seem to believe.

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Here someone has created a small bit of indoors at a bus stop, from the last town where I was parked.

 

Evolutionary snuggles*

They *” say that evolution is incapable of taking one step back in order to move forward in a better direction. I’m going to claim this as the reason for my deep reluctance to fixing the afore-mentioned leak in my roof.

I mean, properly fixing it instead of just adding new bits and pieces to something that was obviously never going to work. Or at least, not at my skill-level. What was not working was this:

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A rather intricate mosaic of burnt cedar wood, using the technique of yakisugi or sho sugi ban. This is me and a closeup of one of the pieces.

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When this did not work, I tried to remedy it with huge blobs of tec7and sikaflex.  I’ll spare you the details.

And when this still didn’t work, I tried to cover the atrocity with asphalt roofing felt.

In order to fix this I had to remove all the roofing felt, all the bits and pieces and replace them with something more whole, more practical and, alas, a less interesting solution.

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But here, at least, is a glimpse of the resulting hygge, proving that evolution does not always know where it’s going and might be highly overrated.

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*There’s no point to writing snuggles rather than the more obvious struggles, just that I’m tired of the endless yapping about evolution as some sort of special olympics. The universe cares nothing for your stupid games of dominance.

**I’m not really sure who ‘they’ are. Possibly Darwin, or my 8th grade biology teacher. It’s just one of those phrases.

The curse of the angry inch

I’m doing practically all of the building by hand, because I’m quite, quite mad. Also because I think it’s important to have a multi-sensory understanding of your surroundings and of how you’re affecting the world by physically experiencing as much as possible of the process of changing it. Todays world is mostly visual, while all other senses has been more or less ignored. This is especially apparent in the shaping of our houses. I want my house to take all the senses into consideration, and for this I need to be as close to the process as possible, to the grain of the wood, to how the different materials feel, smell, how they change with the weather. I think. Possibly I’m just mad. Anyway, one phenomena anyone who has ever tried to build anything has encountered, is the curse of the angry inch. Or possibly the universal law of such.

This is something that I’ve encountered at every step of the process. It states that no matter how carefully you measure anything, it will always be slighty too big after it’s been cut. And when you alter it, it will be too small. It will make sure that nothing ever really fits and worst of all, that everything will very nearly fit. Oh so nearly. In the latest example it was this bit here

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that was preventing the skirtingboard in the ceiling from falling into place here

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Now, of course, it’s slightly too small. But at least it’s there. This, of course is a lot worse when we’re talking about a vital piece in the construction and not mainly a decorative one, but the principle remains the same. It is inherent in the bloody bloodiness of things and therefore closely related to basic thermodynamics. Ergo unavoidable. It’s certainly not happening because I’m not very good at carpentry. Nope. Laws of physics, this. Now you can tell yourself that too.

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I’m not the only one upset by this inherent problem

Rain, rain go, not away just on a slightly different route, like not down my sweater please.

Let’s talk about rain. In Scandinavia, where I live, there has been a disastrous draught, so all rain is welcome. Of course, since the weather is wonky, it comes in floods. Also, winter was unusually long and wet this year, so there has been quite a lot of rain. Just not when needed. This has slowed down the building considerably, since it’s either too wet or too hot to get much done.

And one thing I’ve learned about rain is that it’s like cats. It always finds a way in, particularly inside my sweater, regardless of the amount of rain gear I put on.

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Raindrops inside my windowpane. So many whys.

In my first post, I mused over how much a piece of air need to be sealed off in order to be named a house. While not wanting my house to suffocate, I don’t want it to drown or rot either.

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tarpaulin, not as effective as something this unsexy should be

I did not think building a house would be a picnic. If I had, I would have brought several hampers, a deck chair and larger amounts of wine. I also realised early on that building light and beautiful is a lot more difficult than building ugly and heavy.  This is not, of course, poorly hidden fat-shaming, but most materials available in shops are calibrated for much larger constructions and if they’re light, they are intended for indoor use. Mostly, weight simply isn’t an issue for normal housebuilders. So sturdy, light materials are hard to come by.

For my house, I’m using cedar wood. It smells nice. It weighs very little. And while a bit pricey, I dont’ need so much that it becomes a great obstacle.

It is, however, not waterproof. As wood isn’t or need be. This is not a great problem for the walls, where the water runs off, but for the roof it poses some problems.

Now, I know how to build a roof with the angles and materials etc needed to keep water out, but for this construction, I need something different. And that something different I’ve pretty much had to make up as I went along. Currently, the roof is one slighty slanted part of lacquered pine, one boat deck, flat, and the alcove, where part is cedar, soaking up water, but not dripping through, and part painted pine, for reasons that I ran out of cedar and also that I wanted to make a hatch for access to the roof terrace. This last bit is basically a sieve.

It does not help either, that I struggle with an intense feeling of guilt over every plank that has to be discarded or every possible damage to the house. There is generally too much disregard for the things surrounding us, matter matters too.  There is not an endless amount of matter on earth. For everything made, something else ceases to exist or will never be. But to realise this while not being overwhelmed with responsibility is harder than I had thought. Much harder than making the house itself.

One construction problem is that there are too many bits, too many places where pieces are joined together, so now I have ordered more materials and will be redoing part of the roof. I will also have to rethink the hatch,and add more layers of lacquer to the terrace and pine. Not sure about the cedar though, if I should treat it, if it will season and adjust or if it will rot. This, I suppose, is a question we all face about our selves also.