School starts in six days. I'm working on a web site to help my students and their parents keep up with homework and grades on the Web. I'm desperately trying to get lessons ready for the first three weeks of school.
...And I have one last summer project to complete: Ellie's log hogan.
When we were on the Navajo Reservation in June, we saw hogans everywhere--so much so, that I began to believe that even a person with my limited building skills might have a shot at making one. Here is how it's gone so far.
Step 1: The Site. We chose a place among the pines on our property. I wanted a place with a good view of the East (the door must face East according to Navajo custom) and where the ground was flat. (In the picture below, Ellie and a neighbor boy, Taylor, sit in what will be the doorway of the hogan.)
Step 2: The Logs. I have plenty of wood on my property in the form of thin, strong locust trees. 3/4ths of the logs, I took from fallen trees. Later I thinned out some of the trees in our wedding site to complete the task. All told, I have sixty, seven-foot logs with which to build a hogan I expect will be seven feet high.
Step 3: Build. I invited several friends over for Navajo tacos one Sunday night. Then I drafted them into my work gang. What slowed us down were the screws we used to fasten each of the log ends together. At first, I began drilling through the top log and trying to fasten the screws into the wood of the bottom log. Unfortunately, the screws kept snapping (locust wood is tough, even after it's been rotting for years). Finally, I began drilling holes and hammering these huge, galvanized nails to fasten the logs together.
Last Sunday my cousin, Stephen, came and helped me add two log layers to the project. I'm up to 3 1/2 feet high (one meter for you modern readers), which is the halfway point. I'm now hoping to have the project completed by Labor Day weekend (one month from now). We'll organize a campout for Ellie and her friends up there when all is finished.