And once it's sawed and split and your arms have turned to jelly, it lights with one match and a barely scrumpled style section and burns hot and bright for hours on end. Here's a picture of the first fire we lit after moving in.
And here is the fruit of their labour. The Jim McPherson Mantelpiece, with clock. As fine a dod of eucalyptus as was ever hewn and oiled and placed atop a bracket or two.
It was no mean feat, thanks to the idiosyncrasies of Fred the Fireplace. There was a bit of trigonometry involved in getting it to fit.
And now there's no stopping him. Curtain poles? Pah. Curtain poles are for wimps. Crack out the chainsaw and get some pelmets worth the name.
If only I could sew I could match the effort with something to hang from them. I can't sew (or knit, or crochet, felt, quilt or tat) but luckily I have a friend who'll fly from Edinburgh to San Francisco to sew stuff for me. And she's a professional designer. Catherine Lepreux, my oldest and dearest friend.
Next week, I'll show Catherine's part of the project. By then, I'll still have the ugliest house in California on the outside but the inside will be dripping with original craft and design genius (and all I did was open the beer and make the tea).