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By Pam Burke 

No rest for the weary or negligent

 

September 13, 2013



If you torture a house long enough, it will quit you. It will fall apart in little ways, and big. It will cost you money, sweat and just a little bit of blood. But it won’t all be bad.

I had always considered our approach to home maintenance a practical matter: We paid $1,000 dollars for the trailer house when it was new-only-to-us, so we’ve never felt it was a good investment to sink a bunch of money and labor into it. ... beyond what we spent to replace the 6-foot square hole in the wall and refurbish the bathroom that was not inhabitable by wild hyenas.

Our opinion on that home investment didn't change over the years. We are only going to live in this trailer house another year, two tops — this, by the way, has been our daily mantra for the past 24 years.

What has seemed like justifiably benign neglect was, in fact, much worse. I see, now, that our treatment of the house was like how people can cheat or fight or steal from a stranger, but it’s hard to do those things to someone you know, someone you’ve said good morning to for half your life, someone who has shielded you, however fuel inefficiently, for so long.

Like a family member, this house has sheltered long and received little. Paid off in 10 months by a couple of starving college students, it owes us no favors. Yet it will, it seems, extract some measure of punishment of its own this year, though I tried to get out of it.

This spring we made a list of repairs that had to be completed over the summer to ensure this house would be able to continue sheltering us in the manner to which we had become accustomed — like having the rain run off the roof, not through it and keeping inside things in and outside things out while allowing the inhabitants free rein to transition from indoors to outdoors and back with a functioning door where there would otherwise be a big gaping hole in the living room. Wind whistling through the window gaps is acceptable.

Little repairs like that.

After making that list, I carefully laid out priorities and plans with parts and tools lists and an expense sheet — then I promptly started looking for another new-to-us trailer house to invest money into rather than this old home.

Somehow it felt like a betrayal.

Alas, we are down to the last remaining outdoor work days of the summer, and the decision was made to abandon the house search and start implementing repairs.

Regular readers know that a new front door is in place. A few last details need to be addressed, but they can be done in any weather, so I have moved on to the next major outdoor repair: the roof. This requires a lot of knee-crawling, double-bent, back-breaking work for which I could never be paid enough to do as a living.

Despite the physical toll, I have learned to appreciate the fact that this is not mentally taxing work, and the simple rhythm of tasks has inspired a meditative state and a kind of, dare I say it, joy in the labor.

Yes, I will continue with the search for a new single-wide mansion because eventually, and I fear sooner rather than later, this old home will collapse from old age and a hard life ... or it will need to be euthanized.

(Have you ever realized there are no old age homes for homes? Not even at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)

 

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