leave old job....leave old home...enter new home...engage new life...maintain what matters

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

End of a Story

Done!  Finished!  Complete!  No, that falls so short.  If only I spoke German.  Then I’d have the precise boot-stomping, bark-of-a-word for announcing the official completion of House the Land Built.  For today Oct 2 at 3:40PM, Doug compressed the final skip-textured coat of American Clay onto the masonry heater.   And perhaps we saved the best for last:  masonry heater, heart of the house, finally blazing like this autumn prairie, Amber Grain over Jasper Green.   I feel so compelled to look at it---even drawing my attention away from the sky-dazzling avian drama outside the bank of windows---that I can’t seem to type a sentence without peering over my shoulder.  
Of course we’re not totally done.  No project is ever 100.000% finished.  There’s always a to-do list:  paint the garage, install the solar ventilator, touch-up that one nagging paint splatter on the basement stairwell ceiling.  Yet, at some point, I need to declare victory by closing this book, House the Land Built, and starting a new one.  And to me, the book is not simply a metaphor.
Perhaps the greatest wonder of my humanity is that I get to live two lives:  my “actual” life (the in-the-moment experience of every creature) and the story I wrap around my life.    I am not only free, but bound it seems, to contemplate, create and ever-edit The All-True Tales of Michael Larsen.   Memoir.  Comedy.  History.  Mystery.  Science Fiction.  It’s all there, in my mind at least.  So much so that I wonder if humanity wouldn’t be better named as creature-of-the-story.   And it is my story that guides me, urges me, propels me forward.  I’d never, ever be sitting here, next to our newly finished masonry heater in our off-grid, passive solar, rainwater harvest, composting toilet home, without the power of a story that began when Linda said “I can’t go the rest of my life without stars”.  Or was it when she first opened the Omnivore’s Dilemma?  Maybe that’s the beauty and wonder: my story has a fluidness unmatched by Microsoft and Google.
Even the best of stories need endings.  And this house building story---whose ups and down I’ve chronicled since May 2011 in this blog---is no exception.  Like any really good read, I expect the feelings will linger long after I softly, reverentially, close the book and sigh.  If this were an actual good read, I might not be ready to start a new book.  Sometimes a book is so profound I need to wait a day or two. But ready or not, The All-True Tales of Michael Larsen must go on.  Even now, as I wonder about what tomorrow might bring---what it means to be done with House the Land Built---this very act of wondering is already penning those timid opening sentences of the next book. 
I’m a lucky man!

P.S.  Don't forget to check out the 2012 Minnesota Solar Home Tour this Saturday from 10AM to 4PM.  Come to Home the Land Built or any home on their site map.


  1. might the next book be "The Life the Land Built"? You are already writing the chapters.

  2. The heater looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. I agree, you are a lucky man.
    Love, karen