Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grandma House

If you've read my poetry collection, Written Life, you'd know that I grew up in an old house. You'd also know that I live in an old house now, as well. By my estimation, at the rate I'm going, I'll probably die in an old house. To be honest, it may be an old house that kills me. If you've ever lived in one or, even worse, owned one, you know that they are a lot of work. Something is always backed up, leaking, creaking, leaning, crumbling, sparking, shorting, dimming, sinking, heaving, corroding, or just in need of a good coat of paint.

Our house was built in 1922. The house I grew up in was built in 1907. While both of them were built as solid as a rock, not like the cheap construction of today, that is not always a good thing. Solid as a rock in our case means plaster walls. While these are nice from a noise muffling standpoint, getting at things like plumbing is kind of a problem.

Outlets are strategically placed, but we always seem to be one short of perfect in every room. It's a blessing in disguise though, because the place was wired by a drunken, cross-eyed electrician, I think. This guy must have had two circuits to work with because 80% of our house is wired on one. Just last night I was vacuuming downstairs while a small space heater was running upstairs. Well, that little combination plus a computer equals lights out! My son was oh-so-happy with that little log off.

The house has lots of "character" on the first two floors. Built-in cupboards and lots of old wood trim give it a nice old feel, if there is such a thing. I replaced all of the windows in the place with vinyl a number of years ago. This cut down the wind speeds a bit in the winter, and I have to admit it beats having to use a hardcover book to hold the window open. Ah, the good old days.

The basement however, bears the bulk of the house's sin. Understand that when the rest of the house commands so much of your time and money, the basement becomes an afterthought. Besides, our basement is damp, dank and musty. People have said, "Why don't you re-do your basement?" To this I reply, "Why don't YOU re-do my basement?" My inertia is driven by the fact that it would go from a damp musty unfinished basement to a damp musty finished basement. In it's natural state it more closely resembles the "cave" that people talk about when they refer to a man cave. No stalactites yet, but there's some good spiders down there, let me tell ya.

To prove it's age, one only has to look at the large hole that once served as a cold air return. That, accompanied with the defunct coal bin, speak to an age of really-cold bedrooms.

Cistern
Then there's the cistern that was opened up to serve as a poor man's walk in storage area. I'm not sure how the whole cistern system worked, but hey, I got one if you need it.

Beam? ^^^
One of my supporting beams is more like a log than I feel comfortable talking about. I'm not sure why it wasn't a "finished" beam but I guess if it's held for this long, I'm not going to replace the thing. My guess is that some construction hack came up one beam short on an order and, well, his "buddy Larry had an old log out back'a his house," that served the purpose quite well.

Into all of this joy, you throw four inches of cellulose insulation in the attic (since augmented with 12" of rolled fiberglass), virtually no insulation in the walls, cast iron plumbing, and all kinds of other little niceties and well, there's no lack of work for the workin' man.

But as I say in one of my poems:

",,,But we love our Grandma house.
She keeps out the rain
and shows us the sun with her eyes.
We rest in her embrace
remembering with understanding

that, after all, she is ninety two."

--excerpted from Pushing One Hundred, --Written Life, 2015

Which about sums it all up.

Blogging off...


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