So close………so very far away………

As I have insinuated and stated already, building is more than hammering and sawing. Sometimes ‘not building’ is just as exhausting. I wrote this up when we were in the process of building stairs up to the cabin site from the boatshed deck. It was summer. The weather was great. And then we started……………..

“We have enough food to feed an army!” I said as I hoisted the second large cooler up the stairs to the deck. Another large box of dry goods and a few more bags of impulse purchases filled the larder to the point of excess and, given our lack of refrigeration, clearly indicated poor planning. We had too much. Or so I thought.

“Sweetie, don’t forget that Sue is coming on Tuesday and Doug said that he’d come by the following weekend. And Emily (our daughter) will be with us for the next few days. I think we’ll be fine”, she said with a smile that made me swoon, shut me up and suggested that I was fussing too much all at the same time. I am a sucker for the endearment, ‘sweetie’. I assumed that she was right. She usually is.

We had packed and prepared for two weeks of working at the site. We had recourse, of course, to the larger store twelve miles away by water or the smaller store (now closed) two miles in the other direction, but we already had more inventory than both stores so I relaxed. We settled down to a relaxed schedule of recreational building (please refer to previous articles for a definition of recreational building and the first aid tips that accompany it).

Early the next morning after breakfast, I dragged out the tools, the generator, the materials and I began the random series of steps I undertake when trying to build something. I never really know exactly where to start so I often start the genset first just to create the right atmosphere. As a consequence of all that noise, I failed to hear the footfalls of my neighbour coming to greet us. Genset shut down, we all sat down to a nice cup of tea and Sally broke out a few cookies and bits of fruit. They left just before noon.

On went the generator and, since I had passed the visiting time planning my next few steps, things got underway. Until Linda passed by and I made the mistake of waving. Linda is a more distant neighbour and tends to interpret a hand waving as an invitation to lunch. Her timing was perfect and we enjoyed her long missed company until she continued on her way an hour or so later. I tentatively lifted a hammer and, checking to make sure that no one was approaching, began to hit things – some of them were nails.

Just as I was getting my hammering sighted in and could claim more nail hits than misses, we were hailed from the shore once again. Neghbours from the North this time. Nice people. Long time, no see. More tea. More cookies. Lots of nice chit chat. Hammer rested with the nails.

Day one was a social success. We were genuinely pleased to see everyone and, despite no progress on the stairs, it was a good day.

Sue came the next day. She’s great. We love her. Haven’t seen her for months. Catching up with all the news was priority number one. Hammer developed slight patina of rust.

Day three: Sue’s coworkers from nearby dropped in. Brought cake. Needed refreshments. Wonderful company. Great guys. Noticed spider web on genset.

Day four: wife’s coworkers drop by in kayak. Nice couple. Hungry. Stayed overnight. Everyone went for nice hike next day. I sprayed WD40 on all tools and looked longingly at the starter cord to the genset before hiking. I figured there was something wrong with me – I kept fantasizing about sawing two-by-fours.

Day five: took daughter to see friend. Returned to camp from friends dock with two more people. Lovely couple. Wanted to work. Sadly, they could not. Did not know which end of the hammer to use. They, too, got hungry. Took them back hours later. Feeling spiritually weak, I offered genset to them ‘cheap!’

Day six: Sue left. Daughter left. Doug arrived. Ferry logistics took most of the day. Neighbours come by bearing gifts. Day gone. Food stocks low. Contemplate garage sale.

Day seven: Doug reveals business vision: “We can sell this! It’s beautiful! You’ll be a millionaire! I can see it now!” I carefully explain that the only thing I would use the millions for is to buy this property and build a cabin. Maybe I’d hire some help. Show him tools and try to explain concept. Does not compute. Day shot.

Day eight: nine visitors so far. Food gone. Booze gone (my fault, mostly). First Aid kit 100% intact. These are bad signs. There are no signs of anything else. No work accomplished. Not even any blood spilled (just a matter of time). Desperation enters the holiday equation. So do two more visitors. We serve toast and wine. Pretend to be Catholic.

Day nine: major gale restricts shopping trip. Too dangerous. Does not deter visitor. Sally said that I was beginning to look dangerous and the visitor left in the middle of the gale for safety reasons. Hunger sets in. We ate a lot of canned rice pudding and washed it down with Vodka. Weird.

Day ten: went shopping. No hammering. No nailing. Just shopping. Living remote means: shopping is a day-long chore. Returned home in time to admire my tools.

Day eleven: “We have to get away.” said my wife. “If we don’t, someone will come to visit!” I agreed. “What do you want to do?” “Let’s go kayaking. We can visit Ralph and Laurie!”

The insanity of it didn’t hit me until we were launched. I contemplated throwing myself on my paddle but the blade was plastic. I hoped that Ralph was in the middle of building or, at the very least, dead. It was my only hope. No such luck. We visited.

Day twelve: No visitors. Unless you count the gale, the rain and accompanying 50 mph winds.

Day thirteen: had a good day. No visitors……..until 6:00 pm. A guy rows by and I forget myself, “Hi!” I said. Then I shut up. I averted my eyes and quickly looked away. But it was too late. Damn. He turned to the shore. “Oh my God! I cannot entertain anymore. I’ll have to shoot him. I have no choice. No one will blame me…..”

“I’m John”, he said holding up a plaster cast of a very large foot. “I am a Sasquatch hunter and I heard that there were some sightings in your neck of the woods. Can you tell me anything?”

“Yes, John, I can. Come on up and have some tea. A Yeti visited us just the other day………..”

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