Friday, January 15, 2010

The Old House Blues

I love my house, but it has been problem after problem of late. The valves on all our ancient radiators went bad and did a lot of damage to our window sills; the roof over our front bedrooms needs to be replaced and on and on.

The people who come to repair the various problems tend to say, “This house should never have been built this way. The pipes should never have gone directly into the wall or the roof over the bedrooms should have been much steeper etc.etc. The builder and/or architect were probably not all that skilled. (The house was built in 1916.)

My husband said, “Maybe we should never have bought this house." I was kind of upset by this. It was almost like a parent saying, “Maybe we should never have had this child.’’ He later said he didn’t mean it.

Warts and all, I love my house. Even more I love my garden. One of my recurrent bad dreams is that we have sold the house and I can’t get into my garden to tend my beloved plants.

We bought the house largely for the garden. It’s not easy to get a city lot that it is a half acre. So okay, it may not have been the greatest investment, but I love it and I love my plants. They’re like old friends who for the most part reliably come back year after year.

So I am trying not to get too bent out of shape by the latest problem: once again pipes built into the walls are breaking down, destroying the wall which will need to be cut so pipes can be removed and replaced. Then the wall will have to be replastered and repainted. I just hope it can be done before a 60th birthday party I am having for a very dear friend in late Feb. If not, I guess we’ll just all have to avert our eyes from the ugliness in my living room.

Despite it all, I love my house, and we intend to say here as long as we can!


  1. Oh, what a lovely old house. I love the yard and wish you luck.

  2. Thanks, Mary.

    Just hope things stop breaking down!

  3. Not "Old House Blues", by a long shot. Everyone deals with the trials and tribulations associated with home-ownership. Yours are just a bit wackier because your home is so old. The value of your "mature" landscaping cannot be overstated (at least not to a gardener like myself). Especially with a 1/2 acre of it in the city! If the walls aren't perfect in time for the party, consider it a great opportunity to educate your guests in the relatively obscure topic of old house plumbing gone wild. Nice house.

  4. Yes, the value of "mature" landscaping cannot be overstated. I love all of my mature trees—although each one of them is a power outage waiting to happen. Not to mention the expense of having these fallen giants removed!

  5. I love your house too especially the Garden. The house is old therefore if you are planning to stay. Maybe it would be good to have someone who really knows about old house so you can correct some of the problems. Francesca

  6. Good point Francesca, I have an electrician, plumber, roofer, painter etc. but I don’t have an old house consultant. I need someone who can help me prioritize—decide which repairs I can put off and which ones I must do ASAP or there will be hell to pay.