Thursday, 20 September 2012

Taking the Measure of Keels

When I was a kid, I dreamt of houses with secret passages and curvy, elegant stairways. I was obsessed with an imaginary, mysterious, rock wall, several storey home, encircled by humongous, leafy trees and a black wrought iron fence. The more Canadian Gothic it was (if I may coin the term) the better it suited my fancy. Now, in the "grown-up" world of the Keels Field School, my dream is much simpler. Now I dream of walls covered in gyproc so I don't have to measure each and every exposed stud.

As I'm sure you've gathered already, I spent the day of Thursday, September 20, 2012 measuring buildings with an eternity of exposed studs. An "eternity" might be an exaggeration, but not a big one. We work in teams of three, and each person in the group is responsible for measuring one outbuilding (not to be confused with outhouse, thank goodness). My team spent the morning measuring a storage shed, called a store in Keels; the afternoon was spent measuring a fish store--similar to a store, but used to store all things fishing-related. As two people called out the measurements, the third person drew the floor plan to scale on jumbo graph paper. 

Noah Morritt and Claire McDougall take the measurements of the studs in Phonse Ducey's fish store.

Photo: Jerry Pocius
Don't mistake me when I say "two people called out the measurements." This was not a simple task, and it warrants more than six measly words. Those two people became, for the space of several hours, ingenious acrobats and contortionists, pulling on every bodily resource available to them. Those two people are modern day heroes. Seriously. 

Noah Morritt, Alicia Farnham and Claire McDougall
taking the measurements of a 5' x 6' bathroom.

Photo: Jerry Pocius
The same can be said of that thrid person, drawing the floor plan, minus the acrobatics. This task involved miniscule markings the likes of which someone with 40/40 vision would have trouble with; it involved the most strategic labelling one can imagine. And all in a generally cramped, crouched over, body-stiffening-by-the-second position, to be held for upwards of half an hour at a time. Or more. No joke. 
Carefully drawing my floor plan.

Photo: Jerry Pocius
I paid to learn how to do this. This afternoon, as I made the calls on my own outbuilding, which detail to include in the floor plan, and which to leave out, I had to remind myself why I was bothering with such a tedious, mind-twisting/numbing task. A few times I almost forgot. 

When I backed up, took a look at the whole picture, I'd remember the pleasure I used to take in discovering a floor plan that existed in my imagination. As it gradually took form in perfect ruler-straight lines on my paper, I would imagine myself living in this home, enjoying all the various intrigues required of a house with secret passageways. And I would remember how much I loved, as a child and as a young adult, to explore every nook and cranny of the historic homes preserved in Kings Landing, a historical settlement in my home province of New Brunswick. If I didn't draw that floor plan correctly, to scale, with the details, how would any child ever be able to examine with fascination the intricacies of a fish store in Newfoundland, when, decades down the road, there is nothing left of an original fish store in the province except what has been rebuilt in a provincial historical settlement or something similar? I want that sense of awe and delight to carry on past my own lifetime. And as disconnected as those two points in time might seem (my floor plan of 2012, and a restoration effort of c. 2092), that's what kept me drawing those tiny 1" x 3" studs on my 1' = 3/4" plan. And believe me, I needed the inspiration!

Finally Finished!
(Alicia Farnham, Noah Morritt, Claire McDougall)

Photo: Jerry Pocius

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