Thursday, December 21, 2017

This old house in retrospect

We've done what we can.

We managed to salvage this house 45 years ago from a certain slide into rubble, and it has served us well.

When we moved up here we had been married, incredibly, only 4 years.  (My mother nearly had hysterics when she realized we meant it)  We both had basic survival skills and the willingness to let go of preconceived ideas of comfort (laughing hysterically over that one), and were willing to compromise on NOW wth the carrot-on-the-stick of LATER.

 This was a photo Rods grandmother took, in 1968.  "My Home" it said on the back. Four years later we moved up there. We listened to wiser heads and bought a very inexpensive old trailer to live in while we did the heavier renovations.  It was stationed directly across the driveway, and lasted for four years. This was a side view (right side of the photo below)  We added the porch when we redid the siding.

My husband said, not long ago, I cannot believe we actually rebuilt the foundation UNDER the house.  Or a new shed because the old one was beginning to (literally) sway in the wind.   A lot of things we did were major renovations (new roof, carrying timbers,  siding, porch, new windows) not to mention wiring, plumbing,  a kitchen, restored chimneys and a garden. Internal walls, ceilings, a full kitchen. Eventually running water and a real bathroom (don't ask).  The house is an L shape,with two long sides, which is why it looks lopsided at the roof edge.

this is what a house looks like with no foundation under it and yes, you could see sunsets that way--we were also working on the chimney, as well.  

I learned how to make a load of hay,  how to deal with a garden, mix cement,  how to deal with wildlife (mostly just take pictures and be vewwy vewwy quiet--so as  not freak the poor critters out),  how to plow the driveway, build a stone wall,  split wood and stack it.  and understand the 'why' of when it fell over. Aha, she says, One mistake I won't make again...we each brought our growing up skills along as well (I could build brushpiles and burn them flat without blinking, he could use a chainsaw and drive  a tractor) , and figured out the rest of it as we went.   I became a passable carpenter and am still amazed at  how much you can do with a skillsaw and hand planes, and he now knows how to navigate a grocery store and keep a fire going in the stove.

I've never regretted a bit of it. And we've both learned a lot about leaving things too long, or  fixing the tiny hole so it won't become a huge hole.  The nature of the beast up here is proactive. Fix the wobble now,  or the wheel will fall off when you need it the most.  Getting up at 6 a.m. to find there is no fire in the stove and the dog's water dish is frozen solid is something you only want to encounter once. After that you get up in middle of the night and feed those stoves.   It grows you up very fast.

And not long ago we both realized that if we hadn't moved up here when we did, in five years the  house would have slid too far south and collapsed. The bedrock under this house is apparently on a southern tilt, and any structure, from a house, shed or barn to a compost bin or fence, will eventually tilt or lean or drift in the same direction.   We even had the power company replace a power pole in the yard because it had begun to lean south as well, and since it was the pole nearest the house,   at some point it would overbalance...and now, ten years later, the new pole is beginning that same southern tilt.  Sigh.

It's like a moveable feast. No matter what you do, something, somewhere, is creeping up behind you, ready to fall or drip or come undone at 2 AM, or come down with a crash and the dreaded tinkle of broken window...

But the day is thundering toward us when this old house will be somone else's old house (with all those wonderful restrictions in the Conservation Easement),  and even though I know and like the people involved,  I also know that there is nothing they will do  here, for whatever reasons, that I will approve of.   Being aware of that helps, immensely.  When I leave here, whether I'm driving or being carried out,  I don't want to know what they do, what they plan to do, or see the cool pictures.  No, please, no.


  1. I'm already making the gotta-do list for the Spring; not that either My Beloved Sandra or myself are likely to be the do-ers. I admire (I almost ~mistakenly~ typed "envy") the willingness and ability to personally care for your home that you express here. Home. No place like it, whatever it is, eh?

    1. A lot of it is monetary, since when we started we were pretty much coming out even and simply could not afford the expense of workmen for a lot of the work.

      A lot of it is the willingness to learn how to do stuff. The Mr. is a born handyman, and can turn his hand to almost anything, from wiring to plumbing to carpentry and machinery. It's a bit daunting, but I have yet to see him stumped by too much.

      The people we hire are generally able to work around the permit system, since we are well off the main road and no one really cares. Except maybe the town. (Insert $$$$$ here)

      And the choice to live here was no choice at all. It was here, or in town somewhere (oh, ick).

  2. Do you have your next home in mind?

    1. Nope. If I have to leave here it would probably be when I--or we--are unable to tend the place, and ourselves. And low income housing would be the way to go.

      This is, realistically, no place for someone living alone, there is just too much that needs doing. (I HATES being sensible)

      Right now, with that (hopefully) distant shore looming, Im trying to pare down the rubble and dispose of what needs to be disposed of--furniture, clothing, books read and never again, de-cluttering as I go.

      But (she said briskly), that's for future consideration.

  3. Hm. That's a big house. Murphy's law of clutter states you will accumulate enough stuff to fill all the rooms given enough time.

    Per Se [test run]

  4. (yay you made it, Perse. I hope you didn't have to bargain with your immortal soul to get here...)

    Actually we passed and surpassed Murphy's Clutter law years ago. what no one wants, be it curtains, bedspreads, mattresses or books, it ends up here.
    For a year now I've been undoing it all, one carload at a time to the Salvation Army. What isn't worth passing along gets recycled, repurposed, trashed, or burnt in the stove. Or the brushpile.
    Next spring, she said bravely, the attic.

    1. If you click on my thingy you'll see the price I paid :)

      Call up the whositdingits from the tv show that buy the antiques and stuff. Who knows they might give you cash for treasures, not have to lug them about, and be a genuine tv star for 15 minutes.

    2. Oy, such a price. Now you are a Blogger. I do appreciate the sacrifice, I hope to be worthy of all of this.

      I'll pass on the genuine tv star, thankyouverymuch. =) The stuff I've got they don't want, trust me.

      It isn't the antique stuff (such as it is) that bothers, it's the clutter.
      It tends to accrue over time, and what we don't use goes up in the attic and stays there long enough for us to forget it's there. Pretty soon we're cutting a slow sideways path through the attic (watch your head on that low beam) wondering where all the space went...
      When the weather gets warmer.