Friday, April 13, 2007

Moving House

Crabtot and I witnessed something amazing yesterday.

We live on the "wrong" side of town, meaning that our neighbors are drunk geriatric cowboys who work itinerantly at the nearby rodeo and at sundry ranch-related activities and then collapse into their cars with the cowboy hat plonked atop the face to screen out the brilliant Wyoming light.

I adore my street. I could spend hours staring across it from my porch rocking chair, a scarily rustic number made of bent willow trees or somesuch. Directly opposite us there is this whole cowboy-infested sprawling log compound with various attached and detached mobile homes, log cabins, and large trucks festooned with cowboys and then an assortment of truck-repairer types.

Now, one of these cabins has been the source of much town talk and much activity of late. It is a small ugly red-crappy-faux-shingled number and had caught fire shortly before we moved in. Anytime anyone asked for drections to my house, they would ask, "Are you kitty-corner to the burned-out cabin?" (I love this word "kitty-corner"...never heard it until I got here. Now I say it all the time. Kitty corner this, kitty corner that.) Back to the cabin: After it went up in a blaze of smoke after a particularly raucous night of cowboy card-playing and meth-sniffing or whatever, it stood silent and charred for the next year. When are they going to remove the cabin? Everyone wants to know. The plot thickened when the cabin saw recent activity and local good-for-nothings began chipping away at the hovel's exterior. After a spell, gone were the crappy shingles to reveal a perfectly respectable vintage cabin behind the 70s facade. Except that it, too, was badly charred.

You'd have thought these guys would chuck it in, but no. Diligently they chip away and strip the cabin back to its original 1920s condition – a burned out skeleton of it, anyway. In my house lives an architect and he, along with every visitor that came to see us wanted to know: WHY? Why are you lovingly trying to save this cabin? You have trashy mobile homes all over your yard. You have this completely bizarre main house that is leaning at an angle. There are horses banging about in trailers. So why the regard for the dead, blacked-out cabin? What are you trying to achieve? I mean, the thing cannot possibly be salvageable. It is not structurally sound.

Occasionally we would spot some geezer prowling about watching his workmen. We wanted to ask him why he was sinking all this money into the chipping of the char off the cabin. But we did not.

The denouement: Last week they began digging and drilling at the foundation. Concrete chips flying. Men peeling off layers of the cabin roof until they reach the vintage layer, ash-blackened and warped.

And then yesterday a friend comes over. "What are they doing to that stupid house?" she wants to know. The whole town wants an answer. Now I can finally give it and lay the SUSPENSE to rest!!

Just after my friend left, I was sitting at my computer ignoring poor Crabtot when out of the corner of my eye I see the cabin levitate. Yes, like the turd of my March 27 post, again – another levitation kitty-corner to my front yard. But it is not a turd this time; it is the cabin.

They are lifting it up. And then they put it – this whole little house – onto a ginormous trailer and sort of strap it on with bungee cords and begin trundling it down the street.

“What are they doing to that stupid house?" Crabtot asks. She is terrified of loud sounds and leaps into my arms. A complicated posse of men try to corner the van and take the cabin away. I encourage Crabtot to watch. This is a true Wyoming moment. In NYC you never get to see log cabins lifted out of their sockets and then trucked off. In Wyo, this sort of thing happens quite frequently, albeit mostly south of town where there are whole villages of vintage cabins that get swapped around and placed on various plots.

It's strange to peer into a house you have never been inside, that used to be across from your porch but is now to the side of it, and moving slowly toward your back yard. I take a look around my neighbor's pad...while standing in my own kitchen. Weird. Fun. Until the cabin veers toward our house and I suddenly worry that this might be dangerous. Our house is basically the same size as the cabin and the street is so narrow. Crabtot gets scared, but I speak to her in that mom-tone that suggests that this is all very standard – just another event in life that is nothing to be afraid of and perfectly normal, like a thunderstorm, or a low-flying airplane. "They're just moving the house," I reassure her.

"Where is it going?" she asks.

I could come up with something charming, about magic flying log cabins. I could answer "Where's it going?" with a fey, inspiring "Wherever it WANTS to go, my sweet. " But I don't.

"To the house doctor" is my answer.

"Is it sick?"

"Yes. It has a little owee. But the house doctor will fix him and bring him back."

I hope so. Because that yard, it looks quite bare. Fix him up nice, Doctor, and bring him home. We miss that stupid house.

4 comments: said...

I hate to break it to you ... but I don't think it's coming back.

House doctors (carpenters) tend to make house calls. Some one probably took this old 1920 cabin to a yard where it could live happily away from the run-down trailers and lop-sided farm houses.

Sorry crabtot:(

Crabmommy said...

Oh dear. You know, I genuinely have wondered whether the house would be coming back and somehow kind of thought it would. But of course it's true that house doctors make house calls -- a very salient point, Mommyknows. And this house has probably gone off to house heaven or else to EBAY where according to my Google ads, you can buy log homes. Btw, glad to see Google so promptly synching up the ads and making it relevant. Within mere minutes of posting, log cabin ads appeared instantly, like magic. YAY!

Karen Stead Baigrie said...

If you were in Brooklyn he would be moving the cabin to his new spot up in the woods because he sold his in kitty corner piece of land to developers. Said developers would be about to build apartment towers (the don't do apt buildings in NYC anymore- just towers) and a sport stadium across the street from you. At least you sitll have the trailers and assorted cabins and cowboys left to remind you of the joys of heading out west.

Nael C. Robes said...

Do you think the crazy cowboys and trailers will go with the log cabin? It does seem to be their hobby.