It was drizzling a couple of days ago. And it was a bit cold too. And very very grey. Like November in Scandinavia, just a tiny bit warmer.
I biked to Plätten to see if I finally could convince the inverter and the new generator start talking to each other and charging the batteries. That in itself is a long story that I probably will write something about later, but let’s focus on the greyness and drizzling rain for now.
The work ahead of me (after sorting the generator and inverter problem, which I successfully did!) was to berm the container foundation, now also including the concrete shims making everything pretty level. Although the first tire in each part of the foundation is dug down into the ground and the tire(s) above are kept in place with four 1.2 m rebar hammered down into the ground, I also want to berm everything with the clayey sand/gravel/rock mix we have so the foundation stays in place even if the people delivering the containers happen to have a bad day and slam a corner into one of the pillars…
OK, back to the stage. Rain, cold, grey, bicycle. And a shovel and a wheel barrow for the dirt. As soon as I see the wheel barrow, I remember that I removed the wheel to get it replaced in town. It’s not a wheel barrow anymore, only a barrow. The wheel is in the car. I don’t want to bike 14 km return trip to pick up the wheel so I decide that two buckets will have to do instead.
I started filling bucket after bucket after bucket after bucket with wet mud, wading through the mud from a pile of mud to a mound of mud that is supposed to become solidly bermed container foundation.
I started shovelling and hit a rock. Made a new attempt and got stuck in the clay. New attempt, and finally there goes a shovelful into the bucket. Another one. Argh, a rock. New shovelful. Two full buckets. Wade through mud, empty them on the footing. Return to the mud hill. Another shovelful into the bucket. One after another. Sweaty and cold at the same time. Hours pass, a few of cubic meters moved. My back hurts (I’m used to office work, computers and DNA and stuff like that, remember?), and the hands ache badly from carrying the mean buckets. I shout at the drizzling rain to either stop or get serious so I can stop. I’m cold and dead tired.
Here’s where I wish I was less stubborn. If only I could tell myself “ah it’s such shitty weather, just go home and have a glass of wine and wait until it gets better”. But no, that’s not how it works. Just shoveling on, bucket after bucket.
I was on my knees in the mud trying to negotiate a particularly clayey part of the mud pile when got I overwhelmed by a feeling of What if I’m just imagining this? What if I’m not in Uruguay trying to berm my container footings? What if I’m in a prison camp somewhere or a slave in a mine on the Moon (after a bit of terraforming I imagine it may well drizzle there too), doing the very same digging and carrying of mud in cold rain, and I’m hallucinating and think I’m doing this work because I want to? What if I’m simply imagining Uruguay to avoid going crazy? The sensation was so strong it almost took my breath away and I had to sit down in the mud and let my imagination finish its job. A little while later Virginia came with the car, and relieved I threw the bicycle in the car and crawled into the seat, very tired.
It’s weird how I happily (well, at least voluntarily) do this fairly boring and physically rather demanding work for an idea when in reality I wouldn’t even consider doing it for money. I can’t imagine the salary that would get me out and do that work under yesterdays conditions. But doing it to fulfill a dream – no problems.
The sun was shining a day later and Virginia and the kids kept me company. The generator was charging the batteries, the wheel put back on the wheel burrow and Virginia finished the footings with significantly drier dirt while Tristan and I built a tiny shed to protect well tubing from the cows (they break the tube when trying to scratch…) and the water pump breaker box from rain. All we have to do now is to add walls to keep the hares from eating the electric cables.
We’re pretty much done with the foundation and all we have to do is to wait for the containers to arrive and be put in place. Then we have plenty to do again, like building a house behind the container to put the batteries, water heater, gas tubes, washing machine, sort the porch so I can sit there drinking bad wine and listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon and watch the olives and wine grow. Not to mention building a proper house… But that will take a while I guess.