The Opal

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Nailing up chicken wire on the frame house,
or using a chalk line, or checking a level at a glance
gets to be easy.
 We install double-pane windows
pressurized with argon between the panes
for elevations over 4500´.
 And use pick and shovel
to dig for the footing for the annex. Lay cinder blocks,
and check levels. Pour the cement floor, and
use wood float and steel trowel to finish the surface
as it sets.
  Nailing into rough, dense, knotted
two-by-twelves, or using a chalk line to mark the locations
of the fire blocks, or checking the level of a
stained eight-by-ten window header gets to be
  In nailing up chicken wire, we know
how to cut for the canal, pull the wire up over the
fire wall, make cuts for the corners, tuck it
around back, and nail two-head nails into the stud.
And when the footing is slightly uneven and we are
laying a first row of cinder blocks, know that a
small pebble under a corner often levels the top
to the row.
  And, starting on rock lath, the various
stages of a house - cutting vigas, cleaning aspens for
latillas, installing oak doors, or plastering the
adobe wall - are facets of a cut opal.

© Wole Soyinka