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Chapter 6: Slovenia, Olympics, Falling in Love


Sometimes life veers off in directions that you’re not expecting. That was the story of my next two years. Some exciting and profound things transpired, while the treehouse was left hanging in the balance. However, it couldn’t have happened any other way. The madness began in the Spring of 2009 when I made an impetuous decision to go to Slovenia.


My friend John was doing an endurance race around Slovenia and I was drafted onto the team of clowns that would serve as his support crew. My plan was to help out for the race and then stay on, for a few more weeks, after the others went home.


Slovenia sits modestly in its fairytale setting. It’s population is staid and content, with the exception of an anti-global subculture that has taken over a region of the capitol city. Out of all the people I could have met, I bumped an eccentric wacko named Tanja, who defied all categories of Slovenian culture. Tanja’s madness was hard to detect, but the first sign of trouble was when I noticed her readily consenting to all of my ideas. While I usually rely on friends to reign me in, she was fuelling the flame.


We ended up absconding with big stuffed celebrity teddy bear and taking him all over Slovenia, photo-documenting his exploits. The plan was to put together a book of Bruno’s adventures and return him and the book to the bemused owner. One escapade led to another, and before I knew it, I had missed my first return flight home. Right before my next flight I got detained for suspicious activity with a stuffed bear on the top of a crane and missed my second return flight. By the time I made it home in August I had missed 3 flights. However, I did make sure that Bruno made it home to his owner, safe and sound.


When I arrived back in Canada, preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics had begun, and helicopters were buzzing over my treehouse in tandem formation. This was unsettling in a number of ways. Besides fears of getting scud bombed, I was worried I would be investigated as a security threat. So, I reluctantly stripped the treehouse down to it’s basic skeleton, camouflaged the ribs, and didn’t return until Spring.


During the next season, two big life-altering events happened. In late June, I landed a job as a lead carpenter, in charge of building a custom home from foundation to finish. This was a momentous opportunity, but also proved to be a significant financial setback, after buying the tools necessary to run the job.


Good things come in pairs. A month later, into my life, walked a girl named Heidi. Until that point, I had inoculated myself against the powers of love, but Heidi was too special to pass by. Before long, we were planning future adventures, beginning with a trip across Canada in August 2011. It was unlikely we’d return after that point, so that was my deadline for finishing the treehouse.


To be honest, I couldn’t see how we could possibly pull that off. Building an experimental orb, deep in the woods, was expensive and time consuming. Up to that point, I had spent over $6500 in materials and I estimated another $10,000 to $12,000, to complete it. The timeline was also tight. Heidi and I would only have about three months of evenings and weekends in the next building season, after the snow was gone.


We got a head start that fall by finishing the roof. To my delight, Heidi had the intestinal fortitude and climbing skills of a mountain goat. She was also wonderfully talented with her hands, and could deftly visualize solutions to some of the tricky problems that arise with three dimensional curves. With Heidi’s aptitude for carpentry and her eye for design, finishing the treehouse by next summer was all of a sudden looking possible. As for affording $10,000 in materials … that was still a big dangling question mark.


Chapter 7: $10,000 in Free Materials


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In the winter of 2009, I was hired by Mark to help him frame and finish the interior of this cool home that he designed. Check out more of Mark's work here.

The kamikaze endurance racer, John Markez.

Bruno seized, in the wee hours.

Bruno, meeting kids in Radovlica.

Stripping the treehouse down for Olympics..

The house I was building for Sven, summer 2010.

Meeting Heidi.

Heidi helping on the roof, fall 2010.

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