Thanks to Herman Melville
"Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse (purse?), and nothing particular to interest me on shore I thought" I would build a brick oven for my brother.
"It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul (and in New England); whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever"* my California brother asked for improvements to his place.
I had previously designed and built the terraces on his steep hillside lot. The oven, built between mid-December and early January expanded into a wine cellar project from a converted concrete tool shed.
I worked with local masons on the basics, something I do when far from my home turf. The technical parts of the oven and the 'artistic' finish of the oven are mine to do. Having seen some stone roofs in France, I modified the design to incorporate 1500 pounds of flat stone laid in a relaxed shingle.
"Now small (and tasty) fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."