Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vintage Thursday: The Log Cabin Project

At the cabin yesterday, we continued de-construction:

What looked like this in April...

Looked like this yesterday evening.

The large opening was created when we removed two windows. One of the windows used to be the front door the cabin, as we found out when we tore out the window's framing. The stone used for the doorstep was still in place, and when we tore out the cobbled-together wall under the window we found a broken spur. I wonder how old the spur is? We can use it, I think, as a hook in the new room we plan to build with the logs.

The entry was probably moved because the road moved, something I often notice in old country places. The road now passes on the other side of the cabin, so they turned the entrance to face the road and used the old door opening for a window, probably after the kitchen addition was built (you can see some of the kitchen's wall on the far right of the first photo. It was the first thing we tore down).

Talk about vintage! Don't you wonder just how old this mud chinking is? Since the cabin is supposedly over 200 years old, then the chinking is probably about that old too, although some of it may have been replaced over time. All the chinking had been covered over with scraps of wood at some point to keep out the cold.

At the end of each evening's work, we haul away a truckload of junk wood for the bonfire piles at our house or at Derek's, and usually several bags of trash. BURT (for Big Ugly red truck) is getting a workout.

We'll stop work over the weekend but may be back to it on Monday. It's exciting to see the logs emerging from the accumulated trash, tacked-on additions and chinking covers. We have at least 10 more truckloads of trash and probably almost as many loads of good one-inch oak boards to haul away before we actually get to take down the logs, but we're getting closer. I'm knocking on wood that we'll meet our September 18 goal.

Speaking of knocking on wood, did you ever wonder where the expression comes from? We've said it all our lives, or the variant "touch wood." If I find money, I always try to find oak to rub with my right hand. Now where did I hear that? My mother, Englishwoman that she was, was the source of many of these traditions/superstitions, at least for me. But I wondered about the idea behind these sayings, and here is what I found:

The Islamic Bulletin website gave this explanation for "knock on wood":

"When someone is thankful for something and hopes that his luck will not change he says, "Knock on wood" and looks around for some wood to knock. The origin of this belief goes back to the time when people in Europe thought that gods lived inside trees. If the wish were granted they would touch the tree again to thank the god." The Catholic faith has a different story connected to the practice, however, linking it to the wooden rosaries used long ago.

Wikipedia lists similar superstitions in countries all around the world, so if you're a knocker like me you have a lot of company. Touching wood is a British version of the same practice, and according to Michael Quinion: "There is, I’m told, an old Irish belief that you should knock on wood to let the little people know that you are thanking them for a bit of good luck. There’s also a belief that the knocking sound prevents the Devil from hearing your unwise comments."

I think I like that explanation the best of all. I'll be touching a lot of wood in the coming weeks, so I'm hoping to be the beneficiary of whatever good may come of it!


Jaime said...

Wow, the cabin project has come a long way since you started.

Granny Sue said...

Slowly, day we'll have it down. Then slowly, slowly, one day we'll rebuild :)

hart said...

Somwhere I heard it was to appease the nymphs that lived in the trees. Touch the wood and ask for permission to pass. --Jane

ewenique said...

Your deconstruction project looks like a lot of hard work. I'm sure you are learning a lot about historical construction. I'm following you to keep up on this project. Margaret

Granny Sue said...

Jane, what you heard sounds a lot like the Irish belief that it was touching the place where the fairies live and that was good to keep them on your side. I like the idea of asking permission to pass.

It is hard work, Margaret, but it's so interesting. When we did this before it was the middle of winter, which was good and bad--no snakes or bugs, but plenty of mud and cold.

Mamabug said...

That's really neat taking the old cabin down; never know what you'll find under each layer. I like that you'll be reusing the logs. I intend to keep following your special project.

Nance said...

Archeology going on here! You and Larry are archeoligists, taking this house back to old home, then back to cabin. I love it that you found the original door stoop! and that the family probably moved the front door to the back. (our 3 yr old granddaughter insists our back door is our front because we use it more!)

Do you know who's hands, 200 years ago, first chinked those logs?

Wow! interesting stuff! can't wait to "read" the next chapter!

Granny Sue said...

I don't know, Nance, but I would like to find out. There was a 94-year-old woman who last lived there. I bet she could tell some tales about it, but she passed away in 1994.

Susan at Stony River said...

Burt's a champ! What an amazing project this has been - I hope all goes well to the end.

Rowan said...

It's really interesting reading about the progress of the cabin project. What fun finding an old spur and the original door stoop! It really connects you with the past doesn't it?

Angela said...

Hey Granny Sue!

Love the name of your truck! Only you can come up with a good name like that! You two have done a lot of work tearing down the log house. I hope you find some more treasures in there. What a great idea to try to use the spur as a hook in the new addition!

Happy Vintage Thingie Thursday!

Tara Beaulieu said...

Wow, what an undertaking! Good luck with your continued deconstruction and Happy VTT!

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