Thursday, March 24, 2011

Make Something of Yourself

Have you ever wanted to make something?  To contribute a useful object to the existing stock of reality?  Building a tree house for my daughter was among the most satisfying things I've done.  Pick the site, draw the design, buy the materials, drive some nails, smash your finger, shingle a roof and paint it.  The tree house still stands unlike a lot of things where I've expended effort only to end with something abstract or amorphous.    

This is a short list of authors express the satisfaction of making something from start to finish: one house, one ship and one motorcycle.  

1.  A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder, Michael Pollan (1997).  I admire this book for the careful details described in the writing but also for what the author accomplishes--a snug "dream hut" in the woods.    Bought as a remainder.    
A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

2.  Spartina, John Casey (1989).   John Casey's novel about a Rhode Island fisherman struggling to build a fishing boat in his back yard.  Goes against my strong bias to include only non-fiction on my lists.   The thing about boats is that when you're on them, they are your self contained world.  If it's a boat you made, its your self-made world.  Bought new. 

3.  Rebuilding the Indian: A Memoir, Fred Haefele (1998).  The author couldn't get his book published and as a diversion bought a box of parts to a 1941 Indian Chief Motorcycle.  Haefele is an arborist by profession who describes his experience-- and anyone else who has ever tinkered or built something--as "the spirit of the backyard Daedalus."  Bought as a remainder.  
Rebuilding the Indian: A Memoir

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