Welcome To My Documentary Site

Here’s a little background:

I always wanted a big log house…never mind I was a woman with no building experience, no fat bank account, and no helpmate. What I DID have was a piece of land, an old pickup truck, tons of energy, and a high pain threshold.

The smoldering desire for a home of my own flamed into passion when I turned 40. I was a single mom waitressing in a big city, and cooped up in an apartment with my two teens. I wanted out! So I set about finding a culturally rich small town, secured a waitress job in advance, packed us up, and moved from Reno to Ashland, Oregon in my old Pinto Station Wagon. My reasoning was if you can find a decent job you can live anywhere you want. So, down to the lint in my pocket and with the North Star as a windbreak, I started out on the long road to freedom.

It took me a year to find an affordable piece of land (10 acres), secure a loan, and come up with a practical plan to build my dream house on a frayed shoestring (tips).

To my delight I discovered that wherever there is forested USFS or BLM land in the US, you can get a “pole permit” to obtain enough logs to build your own house for only 3 cents a lineal foot. (Pennies per foot may now vary from state to state.)

Son Eric is a classical pianist and needed a place for his 9-foot grand piano so I began my self-imposed apprenticeship program by practicing on building a vertical-log studio for my first construction project (cost of logs $43)——then I tackled the main house.

I chose vertical-log construction because short logs were manageable and fit in my pickup. There’d be minimal notching and they didn’t shrink in length. I lined ‘em up, spiked ‘em in, and had a wall.

After eight years of property development, solo, and learning building skills, I finished up the studio, put in the pier foundation for the main house, jogged and worked out daily——all the while working fulltime as a waitress (making $15,000 a year).

Then, as serendipity would have it, I met a Bunyanesque hunk at the local fitness center, and he volunteered to help me get the 300 logs I needed for the big house (cost of logs $72). Never mind he was half my age, we fell in love and time stood still. We joined forces and worked beautifully together for ten glorious years.

I built the 1000 sq.ft. piano studio in 3 years for $15,000, and together we built TWO 2400 sq.ft. houses for only $15/sq.ft. as well, using the cut and carry method of logging via a pole permit, and doing all the labor ourselves ($36,000 ea. over a 9-yr. period). And we passed all county inspections with flying colors!

The best advice I can give to other economically-challenged people like myself, is that progress happens in small increments over a long period of time, but adds up into huge results.

I could only go as fast as I could learn and work and pay, but the journey was priceless, and my American Dream finally came true. Yours can too!

Being a compulsive documentarian, I videotaped some of our work with an old VHS camera (before digital) and took lots of still photos. That compulsion inadvertently provided the clips to put together this documentary years later. The entire soundtrack is VHS footage of Eric at the piano back then. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to build YOUR own log house too!

Happy Hammering!


Just reached the end of the first DVD…spectacular…just spectacular!

Terry Duke
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

After the first few minutes of watching your video I was stunned by how much I was enjoying it and could not stop watching.  Brilliantly done.  Ended up watching all three in a row in succession, having lunch at 3pm.

Gordon Gourdin
Sheridan, Oregon

Your videos tell more of your story than pictures from a book. I sense the love and joy that poured into a difficult task that could have been full of something much different from love and joy. I see you and Kirt working day and night to accomplish a common goal. I see smiles on both of your faces and hear your laughter.

Jolene Armstrong
Houston, Texas

Loved the shots of the finished house at the end. You did a gorgeous job. The whole place has a warm and homey feel. Absolutely beautiful. Your documentary is a showing of hard work, determination, love, talent and the true human spirit. You rock!

Paul Casey
Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

The Cast



Ages 46-56 during the documentary

Waitress, Single mom, Self-taught Writer,

Photographer, Vertical-log/timber-frame house

designer, and Builder. See: dorothyainsworth.com



Ages 20-30 during the documentary

Pear orchardist, College grad, Body-builder

Now: Married, Father of two sons, Real estate

broker at John L. Scott Realty in Ashland, Oregon



Ages 25-35 during the documentary

Piano tuner/technician, Classical Pianist and Composer

Soundtrack is from old VHS practice tapes mom took

Eric designed and built his own stud-frame house on

the family property 2006-2012 See: pianoamp.com

I dedicate this documentary to the American Dream.

I had the good fortune of being born in America where anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

This great country is truly the land of endless opportunities, where a person of humble beginnings can reach lofty goals.

Only in America could I have achieved what I have.