A friend of mine in Toronto wrote me about my New Year Editorial (please see December 31, 2003 Archives), wondering what I meant by: “I want to continue building on our property. Wherever it might be”.
He asked if building on my property meant “Settlements”? I assume he was joking.
Since his letter, I have received several other e-mails basically asking the same question. What did I mean about building on my property?
Life is far more than just working, regardless of what you do to earn a living. And it is also more than reading and writing opinions as I love to do. So, in addition to working, reading and writing, building things is one of my personal passions.
Over the years, I have purchased an enviable assortment of building and woodworking tools. So much so, that when I visit my favorite building center, which are all the building centers, I find that I have nearly as many tools in my workshop as they have for sale. I even have tools that have never been taken out of the box.
I was writing about a little village which I am constructing on our property in Alexandria, Ontario. I love building things with my own hands. But not fine carpentry like cabinet-making. I build buildings and outside play-things like swings for adults, shade structures . . . etc.
I don’t have the patience or the inclination to sweat the details for delicate finishing work. The same can be said about the way I look at our advertising business, where the detail work is masterfully handled by my wife Anne, while I deal with the broader overview.
This is the same way I see the world. I can not deal with the minutia of politics and social issues. I see what is right and what is wrong and let the intellectuals sweat the details. Or as the Do-Nothing Do-Gooders like to say – the “root cause”.
On our last property in St Lazare, Quebec, which was just 1 acre, I built a work-shop cabin, a shavings shed (shavings for the Horses’ bedding) that resembled a prairie grain elevator, a huge swing-set built for two, several covered benches, a large ride-through archway off the property, a permanent Succoth (Jewish harvest house with a thatched roof), a house to shelter our generator, a garden-tool storage cabin, and a full blown office building (built under my supervision by professionals) for Promar.
We now live on a 10 acre property, and I am in the beginning stages of building a village.
Since we’ve moved to Alexandria 3 years ago, I’ve built a tool and work-room in the basement, a garage for my farm tractor, a garage for my lawn tractor, and a garden-tool storage building.
As part of my village, I am in the process of finishing a 5 star heated cabin. Which upon completion (the exterior is totally done), will be my own personal club-house from where I will read and write. It’s good to be a 53 (soon to be 54) year old adolescent.
Three of these buildings are located pretty close to a river that flows behind our home, and are clustered to look like an old western style village. They all have electricity. And as soon as spring arrives, I will build a cook-house for Bar-B-Q’s, and a sun and weather shelter next to the cook-house for eating outdoors.
The village even has a working street lamp.
I’ve also built a viewing deck (about 150 feet from the village), which is an elevated structure (approximately 6 feet up) mounted on cedar posts overlooking the river. It has seating, a coffee table and a sun umbrella.
There’s no more pleasant a spot on our property from where to enjoy the fresh air and country experience, while sipping on a cold beer, a glass of wine, a soft drink, a cup of coffee or a glass of tea.
From the perch on the viewing deck, we can see wildlife, farm fields, the occasional fish jumping in the river, and the horses munching away in one of their two pastures.
And as an added bonus, our neighbor on the other side of the river owns and operates a small airport where the occasional plane takes off and lands, and para-jumpers practice their skills.
In addition to the structures, not including our barn, which I had a contractor build for us according to my plans, I’ve built a 50 by 100 foot wood paddock for the horses, more than a half mile of pasture fencing, and three fenced courtyards for our dog Scot.
Plus – I LOVE trees.
When we bought this property, there was hardly a tree on it. Since then, I’ve personally planted about 1,000 cedar hedges, more than a hundred deciduous trees that are now higher than 12 feet, a dozen or more pine trees, several stands of lilac and dogwood, a small orchard with a variety of fruit trees including a half dozen types of apple trees, plus pear and plum trees.
I even built a sun-dial courtyard (it works) with blueberry bushes around the base of the brass sun-dial, which is mounted on a cedar post surrounded by cedar bushes, and roped off with a white plastic chain. It looks like something you’d expect to see at a botanical garden.
I’ve also planted more than 350 Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings as a property divider between our farm and the neighbor’s. Not to mention two different qualities of hay on 7 acres.
Now you know; when I am not writing, reading, playing with the horses, travelling for business and trying to earn living, and MOST OF ALL, spending time with the Anne; these are the things I do.
It’s around 11:30 Saturday morning as I am writing this. Anne has driven off to meet her sisters in Montreal. It’s been ice-raining, so the horses have been fed at around 7:30 in their stalls, since it was too damp and chilly to put them out, even with their blankets and a huge 12 by 20 foot shelter they have.
But the weather is changing for the better, and as soon as I finish this editorial, I’ll head to the barn which is just about 100 feet from our house, I’ll turn out the big boys (the two horses), and then I’ll muck-out (shovel out the manure) the stalls.
And after all of this is done, I’ll plaster over the screw holes on the dry-wall in my cabin. Believe it or not, this more or less sums-up a typical day in the life of the Galganovs.
Who says I’m just another pretty face?
And now you all know what I meant when I wrote: “I want to continue building on our property”. Let’s hope that in 2004, we will all be able to do the many varied things that make us happy.