PLEASE DON’T LET THE CHIMNEY FALL ON YOUR HEAD – Marilyn Armstrong

Life is killing all of us, but it seems to be killing some of us faster than others. Maybe it just seems that way.

Mystery bricks are falling

Right now, my house is killing me. When we moved in here, we put up a new roof. We put up vinyl siding. We put in French drains. We removed the old rotting back sliding doors and put in French doors. We replaced all the toilets and sinks. We painted almost every room, though it took another ten years to get around to the floors. We never got to that kitchen restoration or repaving the driveway. Both are still on my agenda (ha, right, sure).

Meanwhile, we are doing what we can. We installed the new roof in 2000 — 18 years ago. It is in reasonably good shape.

Mayflowers – in May!

And of course, there’s the heating unit. It  was installed 12 years before we moved in. Add another 18 years we’ve lived here and suddenly, you’re looking at a moderately well-maintained 30-year-old boiler.

The front door is in round three as of last summer and just got its first layer of paint on the inside yesterday. It was my mother’s day present along with Owen putting together my new Oreck vacuum cleaner which, though they promised me it was better than the old one, apparently is exactly the same. Isn’t there some kind of bad joke about women who get vacuum cleaners for mother’s day?

The new – identical to old – Oreck vacuum cleaner. Turns out, I’ve got a spare in the attic I can use for extra parts.

Have I mentioned that advertisers lie? It is almost exactly the same machine with a bigger motor and a fancier handle, but the main difference is that it says “Commercial” on the box.

We replaced the steps to the deck right before I got to where going up that many steps was no longer an option. We put in a stair lift, but it needs some kind of fixing. It works, but only sometimes.

The el cheapo flooring with which we replaced the ratty old rugs is beginning to peel and the house needs painting … which is not happening anytime soon.

Ever, actually.

A few days ago, bricks from the chimney landed on the front stoop which I commented was “not a good thing.” We don’t own one of those old charming houses with 12-foot ceilings and tall windows. This is a 1970s bread box of a house that is getting old and tired. It’s not a bad place to live, mind you … but charming? Not so much.

When they say “They don’t build’em like they used to” they are NOT referring to this house.  They build houses today exactly like this, only worse. Regardless, all houses need repair and maintenance which costs money. Unless you are luckier than most seniors and have money.

We had a bit, for a while but it paid for the restored septic system and the well. Last week, we had to add a replacement window and a substantial piece of the house’s front wall. There are lots of other damp spots on the house. Turns out, vinyl siding is not a cure-all for your house. It looks good, but it doesn’t mean the walls underneath aren’t damp or crumbling. It is, as the pest control guy said, “cosmetic.”

See the round white thing in the sidewalk? That’s the well-head.

We are on round three (or is it four?) of the hot water heater. It’s an expensive one because it runs through the boiler and keeps the boiler working all year round. If it didn’t do that, our heating system would croak.

I live in holy dread of having to replace the heating system. We are way beyond wood. No one able to chop it and haul it into the house not to mention that buying wood is not cheap.

They were new just one year ago … time flies!

I also need new glasses. Wouldn’t you think weaker glasses would cost less than stronger ones? I’m here to tell you it isn’t true. Although larger size clothing always costs more, petite clothing never costs less. So it also goes with glasses.

Politically, the country is revolting and three are too many stupid people living in it. They are busily trying to take away the few things that are keeping us alive.

I’m curious about what they think they will do with the vast majority of aging baby boomers if they take away Medicare, Medicaid, low-cost senior housing, food stamps, et al. We’ll have entire cities full of grumpy, pissed off sickly boomers mugging you. Not for your wallet but because they are in a really lousy mood and they don’t like your face.

I’m not sure what is going to finally kill us. It might be keeping the house, trying to get up the stairs, a stroke, heart attack, cancer. Who knows? We’re all going to go sometime. Most of us would prefer to do it in a heated house with dogs, WiFi and a modern television. And computers, too.

Never underestimate how lethally angry a senior can get. Or how dangerous. We’ve got nothing left to lose except what remains of our crumbling chimneys, so we might as well enjoy clubbing people who think they are immune to “the bad stuff” in life.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

19 thoughts on “PLEASE DON’T LET THE CHIMNEY FALL ON YOUR HEAD – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Everything ages, not only us, but unfortunately our possessions. We don’t have a choice, owning an appartment. If the makority, youngsters mostly, decide to modernize, we have to go with it. They now talk about things that will have to be done in the next 20 years, as if I care, I will then be 90 years old an Mr. Swiss 8years older

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    1. I know. I’m pretty sure when we are gone, they will bulldoze this house and build condos. But in the meantime, we are living here, so we need to at least keep it reasonably warm and safe. But I am SO tired of the endless caretaking. It’s expensive and often seems pointless. I hated living in a condo. They were always charging us for things we didn’t want and not doing any of the things we really needed.

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  2. There is always something with houses and they always seem to pull their stunts when you least expect it or can afford it. As you know I’ve done a few things to my place over the past two years but it’s 100 years old more or less so there is still more that it needs. It could use a new roof, won’t get one unless water starts coming in, there are weatherboards that probably should have been replaced when the outside was painted. There are floorboards that move here and there and of course there are things I’d like to have done that don’t seem worth it if I end up moving because I wouldn’t get that money back if when it sells. I’m also well aware that any house we buy will also have things that need to be done to it so now that things are reasonably ship shape this will have to do. As you say new houses are not always well built so even if I liked modern houses buying one would not guarantee that it would not need money spent on it.

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    1. Even if you buy a brand new place — our condo was still being built when we bought it — it needs painting and drapes and better floors and appliances. It doesn’t come with that stuff. But you get maybe three, four years before something really needs doing. But something WILL need doing. The water heater will blow up and ruin all your floors or you’ll have an invasion of ants (they are EVERYWHERE). Owning a house is expensive, but so is renting one. Take your pick. One way of the other, it’s going to cost.

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      1. I am very fortunate that I own the house freehold. Renting is so expensive now that I would never be able to afford it on my income unless maybe I gave up eating and using electricity.

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  3. Hubby and I went through this entire discussion before purchasing our current home. Renting would have been cheaper and we wouldn’t have had to do outside maintenance. But we have the dog, and we don’t like sharing walls with unrelated people. Heck, we don’t like sharing walls with RELATED people! So, we, too, are back in the lets-fix-what-we-can-while-we-can mode, at least for the next few years.

    BTW, those are really steep deck steps! I wouldn’t attempt them.

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  4. BWAHAHAHHA!! “We’ll have entire cities full of grumpy, pissed off sickly boomers mugging you. Not for your wallet but because they are in a really lousy mood and they don’t like your face.” I didn’t mug anyone, nor have I ever; but I do get in those lousy moods and am grumpy, crabby, pissed off, and vocal about it because I don’t like the asshat’s face. Just did it today at the Mickey Dee’s. Wonder how soon it’ll be safe to go back there?? There’s a video clip I’m going to have to find of an old lady in a parking garage, some young thugs and some ass whuppin’. Cane style….

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