A Work in Progress

It has now been over a month since I have published a weblog post. The reason for this is best described in the photograph below.

Cliff Cottage aka Fjellheim, 2018-09-19. Photo: Trish McLellan

Yes, construction work is time consuming, but provides healthy exercise. The goal of the construction work is to re-construct the house so that it is suitable for a couple of old people to live in. In March 2019, we will have lived in the house for 30 years.

The outer wall of the main level of the house has been replaced. From the outside inwards the new wall consists of 25 x 340 mm horizontal siding (cladding), 23 x 48 vertical nailing strips, a wind barrier, 36 x 198 mm (vertical) studs with 200 mm of insulation, a vapour barrier, 48 x 48 horizontal nailing strips with 50 mm of insulation, 12 mm inside paneling in panels measuring 600 x 2390.

The horizontal nailing strips allow space for services for power and communication. Potentially, other services such as water and waste water could also use this space, but they are not needed along this particular wall. Services are not permitted to penetrate the space provided by the 36 x 198 studs.

On blustery days, work is being done in the attic. Previously, ceiling/ roof insulation consisted of 150 mm of insulation between the floor joists of the attic. In the extension (added on about 1984, five years before we moved into the house in March 1989) to the right in the photograph, it was impractical to add any extra insulation. For the original house, two solutions were needed to upgrade the insulation. In the center third of the attic insulation is being added between the rafters, a 50 mm airspace is being provided to prevent moisture buildup (and wood rot). Then 48 x 48 mm strip is being added to the bottom of each rafter so that 200 mm of insulation can be added. In both of the two remaining outer thirds of the attic, 36 x 198 joists are being added at 90° to the original joists. These measures will provide a total of about 350 mm of insulation.

During the summer, Alasdair was of great help during the construction process. Since he returned to Bergen, I have usually worked alone, with help being provided by Trish as needed. Since the photograph was taken, scaffolding has been added to the wall to facilitate the replacement of studs and the window in the attic. A chain pulley block, fastened to the peak of the roof, will allow heavy objects to be freighted up and down.

A chain pulley block showing lifting chain (black) and control chain (gray).
Cliff Cottage in May 2018. The new siding will be painted the same colour as the old, vårgul (spring yellow). Rot in the bedroom window on the right is clearly visible.


Location, Directions & Royal Warrants

Some days I am overwhelmed by the response to this blog. So many questions! One of the more frequently asked questions is, “Where is Cliff Cottage?”

Cliff Cottage, along with Unit One, is physically located in uptown Ginnunga Gap. The uptown is situated about 300 meters away from downtown Ginnunga Gap, which is the location of a former ferry quay, as shown in the photo below.

Downtown Guninga Gap
Downtown Ginnunga Gap (photo: Alasdair McLellan)

Some people have difficulties with directions. One person lacks a functional understanding of left and right. Another has an inability to orientate himself in a grid using north, east, south and west. Because the buildings are not oriented along a conventional grid framework, the walls of the house and workshop have become proxies for conventional directions, and will soon have “street signs” posted, so everyone can check. Here are the proxy directions: Nifl (which points to the land of ice) where the workshop doors are placed; Carmel (which points to a beloved mountain in Israel)  which hosts Machine Alley; Muspel (which points to the land of fire) is the wall adjoining the Annex; and Atlantis, which has a (highly theoretical) view over the Atlantic ocean, but overlooks the main workbench.

In much the same way that some British firms hold royal warrants allowing them to print on their offices, factories and even product packages something like, “By Appointment to Her Wellness …., suppliers of toilet paper and other fine sanitary products,” Unit One humbly writes, “By Appointment to the Citizens of Ginnunga Gap, Unit One suppliers of space, tools and machines to transform individual and collective visions into practical products that make the world a better place.”

Visiting British, Norwegian or other royalty will be treated with the same respect that we treat all members of the Greater Ginnunga Gap community.

A Spiritual Heart

My hope is that in the future every family will be able to have a home that has a spiritual heart – an area devoted to the needs of the soul. It will be a quiet place allowing prayer and reflection.

As I approach retirement, I see a need to reappraise and re-purpose the space  in our house. Our children have moved on with their lives. Rather than keeping their rooms as monuments to their childhood, both they and their parents have to accept that rooms can serve many purposes.

Cliff Cottage, or Fjellheim (as it is also called) has been our home since 1989-03-01, over 27 years. Even though an urban apartment would be a more practical way of life, I have no desire to sell. I have seen two generations long to return to their childhood homes. While we are spiritual creatures, we are also grounded in physical space and time. Childhood is a special time. I lived in my childhood home, on Ash Street in New Westminster, between 1951 and 1972, a little over 20 years. In many ways, I have never gotten over its loss.My mother also talks fondly of her childhood home in Kelowna, keeping a drawing of it even now on a wall of her apartment in New Westminster.

While I accept that my mother’s childhood home is important for her, to me it is just a building. I am not sure that I have ever been in it, although I have stood outside it, and have clear visions of its interior in the 1920’s and 1930’s. For me, it is nothing more than a house, a building.

God willing, I will keep this house in Vangshylla, in trust for Alasdair and Shelagh. There will be changes made to it, but nothing irreparable. If either child wants to take over the house, they will be welcome to it, and I will gracefully move to something more appropriate for someone of my age.

I hope you will forgive me, Alasdair, for my plans to transform your former bedroom into a prayer room. Similarly, Shelagh, I hope you will forgive me for using your former bedroom as a workroom and guest room.

This does not mean that everything is perfect at Fjellheim. We are not always living in paradise.

2010-12-11 Snowblower
Brock using a snow blower for the first time, 2010-12-11.