December 17, 2011

The House of Fallen Timbers...

... a small log cabin that David Lottes built from the dead trees that were cluttering up his 4-acree wood.

The blog-saga begins here.

ADDED: 2 good quotes in that blog's sidebar:
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” — John Steinbeck

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." - Voltaire
The Steinbeck quote reminds me of this essay by Larry Kaufmann: "The Occupy movement has it all wrong: Income mobility proves that the American dream is still alive." ("No one can change the past, so it's pointless to worry about what others have earned (or saved and turned into wealth) in previous years.")

The Voltaire quote seems like the theory behind Nina Camic's blog. She's in Paris now, after her pilgrimage to Warsaw. ("I’ve stopped speaking Polish for good... I became an immigrant without at least initially intending to be that....")

AND: Thinking of tiny houses and OWS encampments and prompted by Sofa King in the comments — Does he have all the permits for building that? — I went looking for this:
However, if one designs to construct a dwelling-house, it behooves him to exercise a little Yankee shrewdness, lest after all he find himself in a workhouse, a labyrinth without a clue, a museum, an almshouse, a prison, or a splendid mausoleum instead. Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary.
I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind. Formerly, when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, for unfortunately I am become somewhat callous, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free. This did not appear the worst, nor by any means a despicable alternative. You could sit up as late as you pleased, and, whenever you got up, go abroad without any landlord or house-lord dogging you for rent. Many a man is harassed to death to pay the rent of a larger and more luxurious box who would not have frozen to death in such a box as this. I am far from jesting... 
Near the end of March, 1845, I borrowed an axe and went down to the woods by Walden Pond, nearest to where I intended to build my house, and began to cut down some tall, arrowy white pines, still in their youth, for timber.... It was a pleasant hillside where I worked, covered with pine woods, through which I looked out on the pond, and a small open field in the woods where pines and hickories were springing up....
I hewed the main timbers six inches square, most of the studs on two sides only, and the rafters and floor timbers on one side, leaving the rest of the bark on, so that they were just as straight and much stronger than sawed ones....
I have thus a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen long, and eight-feet posts, with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap-doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite. The exact cost of my house... $ 28.12 1/2.

30 comments:

traditionalguy said...

John Steinbeck FTW.

The French Salon secrets of how to be interesting are for the old world.

I declare a Monroe Doctrine of literature. Our new world could care less about the perversions from the Salons of France. And keep that whoremonger DSC away too.

Sofa King said...

Does he have all the permits for building that? Is he properly licensed for housing construction? Is the construction up to code? Does it have the required foundation? Does it posess all the mandatory sanitation requirements for a dwelling? Does it meet effeciency standards? Is it compliant with local fire ordinances? Is that parcel zoned for housing of that type? Are there impacted wetlands on the property? Is this structure indicative of blight?

If all these regulations and more are not complied with, it must be destroyed, for his own protection of course.

All for his own benefit, of course.

Don said...

Among the many, many pleasures of reading the Althouse blog and the wonderful assortment of links it provides, perhaps the thing that speaks most highly of Ms. Althouse's taste, style, and position in the strato-blogo-sphere firmament are her frequent links to the treasure that is Nina Camic's blog.

edutcher said...

Regarding the cabin, a little more of that kind of self-sufficiency and the Occupiers wouldn't need to repay their loans because they would have been sensible enough to get a trade (if that was their long suit) or at least not get their degree in something more practical than Hispanic Lesbian Studies.

Peter Hoh said...

Delightful.

There's something primal about building one's own cabin. It was a long-held dream of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen.

I caught the Dick Proenneke documentary Alone in the Wilderness several years ago. I like to rewatch it every winter.

Milwaukee said...

Henry David Thoreau is much more impressive if one doesn't learn that his mum wondered out once a week to collect, and drop off, laundry. But he did give us some things to think about, and I have a few favorite quotes, attributable to him, which I mangle. Specifically, the one about 'want to live, so as when I came to die, find that I had not lived.' and the different drummer thang.

Joe Schmoe said...

I caught the Dick Proenneke documentary Alone in the Wilderness several years ago. I like to rewatch it every winter.

That guy was a freak. Unbelievably resourceful. Building my own cabin in the woods with no people around is nothing I'd want to do, but that movie is incredibly compelling even for extroverted city slickers. Although as a conservative/libertarian I guess I'm naturally suited to reality shows and documentaries (nyuk nyuk).

Calypso Facto said...

Fallen Timbers is a beautiful and inspiring blog. I easily have enough fallen timber, but not so many free summer weekends, nor any desire for a rustic cabin on the premises. My 1920's house is rustic enough.

And, as Sofa says, you'd risk the wrath of the Nanny State. I've been considering adding a garage/workshop like every other property in the neighborhood has, only to find that the Town citizens have, in effect, closed the door behind themselves by limiting outbuildings through zoning. Now, I get to go and beg permission from my neighbors and the Town in order to get an exemption and construct what they all already have. Blech.

Peter, I was so amazed by the Dick Proenneke documentary I had to buy the DVD. Self-sufficiency epitomized.

Ann Althouse said...

I was assigned to give the "invocation" at my high school graduation, and I based it on a Thoreau quote. Afterwards, some people -- including a nun -- criticized me for not making a more conventional prayer.

Now, I teach Religion and the Constitution in law school, including the case where the Supreme Court nixed all graduation prayers.

My rights were soooo violated, and I was only trying to share a Thoreau quote that impressed me.

And now I share Thoreau quotes with all the world.

This was the quote:

"Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through Church and State, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin, having a point d'appui, below freshet and frost and fire, a place where you might found a wall or a state, or set a lamp-post safely, or perhaps a gauge, not a Nilometer, but a Realometer, that future ages might know how deep a freshet of shams and appearances had gathered from time to time. If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimeter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business."

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." - Voltaire"

spinelli???

Paul Kirchner said...

“the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

I think the poor, and many in the middle class, no longer aspire to become wealthy, which no longer seems possible, but to have government jobs, with their short working hours, excellent medical plans, job security, and pensions.

Michael said...

Very similar to the Steinbeck line was a bit of dialogue in the movie Reds-- perhaps the most perceptive thing in that movie. John Reed at this point is disillusioned and he shouts something to the effect of, "Who's going to convert American workers to socialism, Louis Fraina's bunch of immigrants? Americans all think they're going to make it rich!"

Which in fact is pretty much what happened. By the 50s, a vast swath of the American working man owned a house full of electrical servants, a car, ate regularly and well and enjoyed his leisure time-- in all the ways that really mattered, had the privileges that belonged only to wealth throughout human history. That's why socialism hasn't worked here, and unless capitalism REALLY screws up, never will. (As long as the parking lot at Costco is as full as it was today, capitalism may have hiccuped, drunkenly, but it hasn't collapsed.)

raf said...

@ Paul Kirchner:

At today's prevailing interest rates available to the middle class and down (1%), a guaranteed job paying $50,000 per year has a net present value of about $5 Million. Getting a government job IS becoming a millionaire.

Freder Frederson said...

Income mobility proves that the American dream is still alive.

Problem is is that income mobility is not that good in this country. Many European (including all the socialist hellhole Scandinavian ones) have better income mobility than the U.S.

Meade said...

"Many European (including all the socialist hellhole Scandinavian ones) have better income mobility than the U.S."

And not just the socialist hellhole Scandinavian ones but also the socialist hellholes Spain, Italy, Greece ones too.

Trouble is - the income mobility is mobilizing for them in the wrong direction.

EDH said...

I was born as a commenter in a "blog cabin" called Althouse!

Rockport Conservative said...

clIf I were young.... that is what I would do.
I'm old. We built our house in the middle of 7 acres of woods. We wanted it to, and it does, look like an old Texas farmhouse. Sometimes way too much like one. But if I were young, I would build a cabin from some of these trees. Or at least I might talk my husband into doing so.

Freder Frederson said...

Trouble is - the income mobility is mobilizing for them in the wrong direction.

Funny, you forgot to mention Ireland, which swallowed the Republican dream whole and ended up choking on it.

Freder Frederson said...

Is the construction up to code? Does it have the required foundation? Does it posess all the mandatory sanitation requirements for a dwelling? Does it meet effeciency standards? Is it compliant with local fire ordinances?

So you have no problem if your neighbor builds a house that is prone to fall over, is a fire trap and leaks raw sewage onto your property?

Meade said...

I wouldn't say NO problem. But I would say, compared to my neighbor's problems, I've had bigger.

And since my neighbor will soon be moving back to town, my problem is soon to get littler.

Calypso Facto said...

Funny, you forgot to mention Ireland, which swallowed the Republican dream whole and ended up choking on it.

The "Republican" side of the Irish dream worked just fine, growing GDP and gov't revenues by 500% as lower corporate taxes were implemented. Unfortunately, these gains were subsumed by the "Democrat" nightmare of even more rapid government spending.

Craig said...

Blue Jacket's army took a defensive stand along the Maumee River (in present-day Maumee, Ohio and not far from present-day Toledo, Ohio), where a stand of trees ("fallen timbers") had been blown down by a heavy storm. They reckoned that the trees would hinder the advance of the army, if they came. Nearby was Fort Miami, a British outpost from which the Indian confederacy received provisions. The Indian army, about 3,000 strong, consisted of Blue Jacket's Shawnees and Buckongahelas's Delawares, Miamis led by Little Turtle, Wyandots, Ojibwas, Ottawas, Potawatomis, Mingos, and even some Canadian militia.

The victor in the Battle of Fallen Timbers was Mad Anthony Wayne, after whom Fort Wayne was named as a result of this battle. The headwaters of the Maumee and the Wabash were about eight miles apart at the site of the battle, a portage used for centuries by Native Americans traveling by canoe from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Ohio and the Mississippi.

Washington had designs upon this portage for a western extension to the Erie Canal called the Wabash and Erie. Construction didn't begin until four decades later, but land speculation along the canal route was rampant in anticipation of the fledgling country's first major federally financed public works project. It provided the rationale and focus for Indian Removal.

Fallen Timbers said...

Thank you for sharing The House of Fallen Timbers!

Great conversation here.

As to the building codes. I did make some inquiry into the legal implications. In a nut shell this is what I was told.

If the building has no electricity, no plumbing, sits more than 50 yards from any other structure, and is no more than 12 feet high it needs no permit. If it is built primarily with materials acquired on the property, mud, wood, stones, etc., it is still covered under an obscure "Go West Young Man Go west" kind of homesteading provision that further exempts it from regulations.

I don't have a resource for this information just the verbal statements of a county building inspector who basically told me not to worry about it. Of course I am in an unincorporated township that is very remote with no nearby neighbors. Just farm fields.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers is in my opinion the moment when the North West Territory fell to the Untied States. For better or worse my cabin would most likely not exist if that battle had turned out differently.

Thanks again for sharing my blog!
Best Wishes - David

george said...

As someone who is currently building a house all I can say is that there is no pox so vile that the codes inspectors do not deserve to have it fall upon them.

Now I have to go out and see if the gravel is exactly 12 inches deep on my temporary driveway.

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, David! Thanks for stopping in here... and for your inspiring tiny house and blog project.

"The Battle of Fallen Timbers is in my opinion the moment when the North West Territory fell to the Untied States. For better or worse my cabin would most likely not exist if that battle had turned out differently."

I have a special affection for the typo "Untied States." And I can't remember ever hearing about the Battle of Fallen Timbers, even though I used to live in Wayne, New Jersey and went to Anthony Wayne Junior High School. And though I am a law professor, I have no idea what the law is about cabins like yours. It's an interesting subject, these cabins. Very American.

Fallen Timbers said...

"Untied States" .... oh my :}

Gabriel Hanna said...

The Steinbeck quote is bogus. It appears only on the Internet.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The "Steinbeck" quote appears to be a distortion of a quote from "America and Americans", 1966.

He's talking about Communist activists he knows personally, not "the poor" in America generally.

"Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: 'After the revolution even we will have more, won't we, dear?' Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property."

"I guess the trouble was that we didn't have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn't have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves."

Fallen Timbers said...

The blog is now available in "Blook" format! 32 page 9"x7" paperback with 15 color photos and selected entries from May through October of 2010. Available now at: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/house-of-fallen-timbers/18819577

The Flying Tortoise said...

Thankyou.
I'm glad I found this blog...