Saturday, October 31, 2009

Building a wall

Sometimes, you just need to get your hands into a large tub of mud. It can be quite a nourishing and calming experience. Such a shame I never got into any mudbaths at the spas surrounding San Francisco the brief year I lived there.

I spent this week with Martine. She's doing the finishing work on her 'green' house. Working up in Brittany this year (and hopefully coming back down at the end of the year), she's only here for school vacations. Thus, perfect timing. I'd rented my house for the week, was not going to the winery for obvious reasons, and needed to be housed by someone who could put up with me in my current state (intermittent depression and babbling). That this person could also put me to work was just the icing on the cake.

Thus, after departing the home of my dear Scottish friends (where I'd over-stayed my welcome just a bit... but that's another story), I headed over to the small development in Jonquières in the Gard to Martine. When I arrived, she was putting up wooden boards on the walls just under the roof -- thus complicated and precise angles to cut. I was useful as a counter weight while she sawed away. A bit in a daze, and eager to speak with her, but hesitant as it was working time and a friend was there too whose ears I didn't feel like filling with my woes, I just helped as I could and bided my time.

Next up, a wall of raw bricks to be put together with clay and straw mortar. There were mason's tools available, but after attempting to use them, hands just seemed better, easier. Martine began the wall with me. Her friend pointed out where to put the nails in the wood at either end to hold the wall solidly, and how to (hopefully) build it straight. We didn't have a small level, so, it was a task that required eyeing things carefully and slipping into the flow of clay, balance, equilibrium and the sense of straight. I remembered my class in the 12 senses of Rudolf Steiner, and amongst them, is the sense of equilibrium/horizon. Interesting. You could also say, I was doing this à l'africaine, using just my hands and my eyes, scorning all Western tools.

Quickly, this became my task. Martine was much more at ease with the wooden planks, and for some odd reason, building this wall was just the thing I needed to do: repetitive, but requiring attention to detail. Soothing textures in my hands, the clay grounded me, the repetition centered me, level by level. All my wiggy, sad, stressed feelings seemed to ooze away as I handled that clay in my hands. It was truly a marvelous act of creation.

There I was helping my friend in an unexpectedly useful way, and healing my hurts all the while. Plus, I've discovered a hidden talent in myself. Who would've thought that I could build a clay wall?


Zuleme said...

and here Olof and buddy Rick put down a new floor in the laundry/furnace room and moved in the milling machine, I sorted out the collection of art supplies, organized my jewelry workbench and orders started coming in from all over the world for the custom made camera plates.


Madeleine Vedel said...

how wonderful for the orders! I would like to feel the same for my spring hiking and biking tours... t'would be loverly to feel a bit of outside confirmation of skills and knowledge accumulated over years in the field, hm?

Zuleme said...

Yes, Olof was born to be an engineer. He developed an aluminum plate for a Sony camera and posted it on a board. Now he is getting orders from all kinds of interesting places, like France, Guam etc.
I find this house really intriguing, as in, hey we could do this. I'd love to see it on our next visit and get some idea of how hard it is for a very handy Swede/American to get through the regulations to build.

Lylah Ledner said...

I appreciate your heart and that you share from it - without much hesitation.....and that you keep overcoming by putting your hands to "do" with whatever is in front of you.

This post is one I will refer back to.....great job....


Madeleine Vedel said...

Thank you Lylah -