BUILDING ERIC'S HOUSE
By Dorothy Ainsworth
On a beautiful spring day in April---SIX YEARS after getting Eric's building permit---we passed the final. As I watched the inspector sign off the job card for the last time, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Then a week later we received our "Occupancy Permit" in the mail and Eric eagerly moved in---grand piano and all. He christened the new house by spontaneously playing Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu" as explosively as one would break a bottle of champagne on the bow of a new ship. It was glorious!
But, now, almost daily, people keep saying the darndest thing to me: "You aren't gonna know what to do with yourself now that Eric's house is finished". I respond with a fluttering eye roll that should speak volumes, but they just don't get it.
After 31 years of property development on "Broke-pipe Mountain" (1981-2012) I guess I can't blame them for assuming I'm a single-minded carpenter ant with a hammer in one hand and a saw in the other. But even though it has been an incredible journey, I'm ready to get on with all my postponed hobbies and artistic pursuits that don't require so much blood, sweat, and years. After building 16 structures, Eric's being the last, I am finally ready to hang up my tool belt for good.
Every day used to be a new nail in the road and a few more scars (life's tattoos), but now it'll be a new camera and a road trip to Wyoming to photograph wild mustangs with my daughter Cynthia (www.wildhorsesandwesternart.com). I can't wait! I may even get my hair styled by something other than the weed eater so I can look and feel like a born-again woman.
Don't get me wrong---I have no regrets at all of spending the most physically-demanding years of my life creating a beautiful oasis and several livable structures to enjoy and ultimately leave to posterity. And although I was financially challenged, I was blessed with tons of energy and drive to fuel my goals.
Back in 1995, I quoted my favorite motto in a Backwoods Home article (March/April Issue #32) and it still rings true: "He or she who would do some great thing in this short life must apply him or herself to work with such a concentration of forces, that, to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity!" ----Parkman
All any of us have is a limited amount of time and energy and it should be used wisely and timely, no matter what one's interests are. I chose to build my own house because I had no extra money to pay for help, and I wanted security without being beholden to anyone. I could have bought a little stud-frame house in town, but I wanted to do it MY way and create a family homestead in the country.
I am a huge advocate of others doing what I did because of the great rewards, not only in tangible ways, but in profoundly intangible ways. There's really no describing the growth, knowledge, experiences, and skills that come from doing it all yourself---you have to live it. Not only that, but self-sufficiency will help insure your survival when/if all hell breaks loose. Even wealthy Henry Ford said: "The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity."
If you have any inclination at all to get back to the land and build your own home...DO IT NOW! Time is not a renewable resource. There will be lots of shouldas, couldas, and wouldas, but the didahs will make it all worthwhile.
I'm just beginning to live the next chapter of my life, but before I take a new fork in the road, I thought it would be helpful to share the how-to articles I wrote for Backwoods Home Magazine since 1994, in an anthology titled: "The House That Dorothy Built". So my book is in the works and will most likely be published by BHM Books sometime next year.