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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My House and Being Old

I spend a lot of time thinking about being old, now that I've managed to slide into that stage. You might question whether it's good or legitimate to spend so much of that fast decreasing resource on the subject. But if a subject is as interesting as being an old dude, then how can any amount of time spent on it be wasted?

I've never understood why so many old people curse what they see as the disadvantages of age. Didn't they see those things coming, no matter what they did, provided that they were lucky and if they could get past their and other people's poor decisions?

I have no regrets about being old, and actually I'm grateful for it. Lots of people don't get to spend so much time on this amazing planet, and no matter what is so often said and thought, it is better to be alive than otherwise, even if it is a purely temporary situation. There's nothing in particular that I want to do that are limited only to the young. The things that I want to do I can still do, subject to certain constraints.

This house that my wife and I live in, the front view of which graces the upper left corner of this page, this house that I built myself, every nail, board, wire, pipe, and screw, this house that I love so much is turning out to be generous in demonstrating those constraints.

I wasn't young when I started building it, back in the late 1970's. I was in my mid-40's. But I realize now that I didn't give much thought to the possibility that if I lasted long enough, I would get to the point that it would be too dangerous for me to continue to maintain certain things on it myself.

I was vividly reminded of that yesterday.

Quite often in the otherwise tough month of January, we get enough of a warm spell for me to go up on the roof with my rods and brushes to clean out the chimneys for the heating stove and the cook stove. I built both chimneys properly so that they run straight up with no bends or crooks in the stovepipe, and the one on the heating stove is insulated. Consequently not much creosote builds up in them, but it is still necessary to ream them out once a year.

I gave the roof of my house a mere 3-pitch, which means it's not far from being flat, and the balcony on the front allows me to simply walk out on the roof without the use of ladders. Still I've always been afraid of being up there, and yesterday I was especially afraid to go out there and clean those chimneys and sweep all the tree debris off the roof and clean out the rain gutters, and I wondered how old I would have to be when it got too dangerous for me to do any of that. It must be only a few more years.

So I wondered why I had to build that second story bedroom so that the front edge of the roof is a good 30 feet off the ground, Why couldn't I have kept all the house only one story high?

Well, at this point even a fall of just three or four feet is a serious matter, so the regrets make little sense. Also I guess I thought it would be only proper and fitting to have part of the house tall amidst all those tall trees.

And it's probably good that now I'm so scared of that aspect of this modest little structure that I feel so fortunate to have been able to build and to have already spent nearly 30 years living in it.


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