Two weeks ago Sunday, Mark and Bill came to help lift the huge big top plate logs, the ones that bridge the windows and door and support the doubled top-top-plate that I'll deeply cut on 24-inch centers to hold 18 rough-sawn rafter tails, milled locally by Ralph Morgan down the road, more snugly than would notches and even joist hangers.
Mark got to use hand tools this time, instead of his big 4x4 Tacoma. The right tool being selected for the right job, that truck was more useful than ever the day we brought these monster logs up to the clearing above the site. I scooted them down the MTB trail to the cabin alone, but without the muscle of an internal combustion engine, I needed help to hoist them up above six feet.
Bill is an interesting guy. A literary man, he's been a journalist, a graphic designer, and a generally thoughtful and creative guy. Not particularly outspoken, at least in a loud or dominant way, when he contributes to a conversation it's usually reflective, keenly observant, mildly ironic, and pretty funny. I always listen up. Almost seven feet tall, Bill's handy for the work we're doing today, and he tolerates all the same-old-chatter about his height.
I collect colloquialisms, and Bill has some good ones. He's not afraid to use them, either. Around here, like anywhere in any culture in any language, you greet somebody with some version of "Hello, how are you doing?"
Bill rumbles up the gravel road into the holler and slouches up to the treehouse and climbing wall, past the fire pit, then down the trail to Mark and I, and before meeting Mark for the first time, asks me, "How's-yer-ma-an-them?"
The phrase flows like one, uninterrupted, five-syllable word, the inflection on "ma" and "them." I say I'm fine, and so are Sloan and the boys, because that's what he means. Bill doesn't always talk like that, but like me he enjoys language and has fun with it, and his roots are from the Tennessee mountain lumber country and from right here in these hills and hollers. Bill can pull it off like a local. Not like Mr. Wilson or other older ones, but good enough.