Rocky Road of Love

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September 1, 2009 by David Gillaspie



A house becomes a home the moment you can’t make yourself think of ever moving again.  So much milled wood and dimensional lumber crowds your garage that you could open a store. 

You’ve collected material for projects so far into the future that you’ve forgotten what they are.  Birdhouses?  One lucky bird gets a five-quarter red oak house if that’s it.

The first time you need movers turns a house into a home.  That you can no longer move your stuff without help is the signal of Home Sweet Home.  It’s also a signal that your friends are either too old, too lame, or both to lift a washer and dryer onto a truck bed. 

Sometimes you really can’t ask.  The work still needs to be done, so you find another way.

The Home-sensation isn’t something that strikes with blunt object force; it’s more a speck of rash that turns into rampaging scabies.  At first the surface is clean and clear.  The years pass and you notice gaps in wood joints, paint flaking off a door, and the roof leaks.  You show your house love by taking care of it.  You start by collecting the right tools.  More stuff to move later.  It’s a vicious cycle; you are closer to home with each task.

Which element officially turns a house into a home: hardscape, or softscape.  It’s a ‘scaping question.  The first is the rock in the landscape, the second are the trees.  If you said hardscape you are correct.  Once you ‘Bobcat’ boulders down a hillside, they’re not coming up.  Trees and plants are susceptible to the chainsaw; not the big rock.

How can moving rock make a house a home?

If you love something, you do more for it; the more you do for something, the more you love it.  That’s how it’s supposed to work out.  All about love.  Lovey-dovey.  Except there’s something about moving rock that feels like prison.  The chain gang works the roadside crushing rock with swinging sledgehammers; I work along the rock wall trying to find the right pieces.

My idea of a retaining wall begins and ends with cement block notched for greater stability.  I like the block with the rough outer surface.  It has that ‘just out of the quarry’ freshness.  Another opinion sang the beauty of natural rock so a hardscape crew looking like extras from Shawshank Redemption brought the rock.  This was a team trained and coordinated for safety.  I took pictures.

They are lovely pictures, but not enough to turn the dial from house to home.  I watched these guys do the sort of work that made the pyramids.  They sorted rock, cut it, and laid it where they’d already skinned the dirt and pounded the ground for the correct drain angle.

Tons of rock traveled across my front yard and turned into sets of steps and level walls.  Then it was over.  It was called an artistic triumph.  I could have left it alone, but I moved one rock on a wall.  Then another.  Because it was an artistic triumph I had to rebuild one wall section in secrecy.  I believe I saw what the hardscape crew wanted to do, so I finished for them.

This house became a home after I picked up loads of rock from local mountains.  It’s a volcanically active area so rocks are everywhere.  There might be a law against scavenging for stone, but would it apply fifteen miles up a logging road?  If rock hunting is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. 

Wild rock is so much nicer than rock-yard rock.  You’ve seen where it comes from; you’ve made an effort beyond reason; and you did it for love. 

There’s no place like home.


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