Sippican Cottage

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You’ve Made Your Bed, Now Fold It Up

Well, I need an office I guess. Well, I needed an office. I have one now. This is a big old Victorian, and at this point there are two or three rooms suitable for an office. When we moved here, nothing was suitable for anything. So we sort of camped out indoors while we made the place habitable. Hmm. By definition, if you’re making a place habitable, it isn’t habitable yet. But since we were already living in it, we were having a Zeno’s Paradox, or a Catch-22, or maybe we were on the horns of a dilemma or something. I’m not even sure what kind of cow a dilemma is, but apparently it has horns, and I was on them.

Well here are some pictures of my current office, just as we found it when we bought this icebox with a mailbox for $24,000:

How do I put this delicately? That’s an intriguing color scheme.

Man, I remember the 80s, when decorative painting swept the landscape. In my experience, home improvement mavens would have been better off if they never heard of decorative painting, and simply swept the landscape without it. A well-swept landscape increases your curb appeal, after all. This sort of thing just increases your primer budget.

Besides the extract-from-a-drunkard’s-nightmare sponging pattern, please note three other things. There’s a giant electrical plug at the floor, painted green like everything else. It was a 220-volt circuit, like you’d need for a kitchen stove or an electric clothes dryer. I followed it back to the circuit breaker panel, and it was labeled “tanning bed.” When we moved in, there were holes in the roof that looked like meteors had passed through them, the foundation in the back had crumbled to dust, and the roof leaked in more places than the State Department. When you’re faced with maintenance problems like that in your house, smart homeowners always turn to tanning beds and decorative painting as a solution.

The leprous wall itself is another notable thing. What the hell is it doing there? It’s sticking into the room about two feet. There’s no closet in this room, so they built a closet, and then used it in the room on the other side of the wall, which already had a walk-in closet. These people’s minds are a dark and bloody mystery to me.

Please also note the windowsill. It lists to the port side, as we used to say at the marina. The window frame had sagged about 1-1/2″ from right to left, along with the foundation, and the window couldn’t shut properly anymore. The foundation had long since been patched up, but they didn’t jack it back into place before mortaring in the replacement bricks. The window would have to be de-rhombused if I was going to get the window to close all the way.

And yes, that’s a piece of cheap paneling in the upper window sash. There were a lot of broken windows in the house when we got here. Apparently window glass was more expensive than paneling, and they solved half their window shade problem with it, too.

There was about a half a mile of hot water baseboard heating radiators in there, all trash. They’d been left to freeze with water in them, and the copper pipe inside them all burst. We’ll tear them all out, and then we’ll be left to freeze in there without them. The room faces northeast, and has four very large windows. It’s colder in there in the winter than a dunning letter from an ex-wife.

There were little shelves nailed all over the place. Each one was painted a different, barbarous primary color. I remember them distinctly. I once forgot my middle name, and had to ask my mother what it was. I’ve forgotten birthdays, and anniversaries, and what day Arbor Day falls on, and how to conjugate verbs properly in Spanish. But I will go to my grave distinctly remembering the numerous times I stood up too quickly from working on those radiators, and took one of those shelf edges right off my fontanel. Now it will never close up, I’ll bet. I also remember what I said, every time I did it. “Who the @#$% puts a shelf there?”

The floor was birch strip flooring. It was solid, but pretty battered.  We could save that. There was no door in the opening when we moved here. I slapped a coat of paint on the walls, we hung a curtain in the opening, and my wife and I slept on that old, battered, black  pull-out couch, with all our clothes on, until summer rolled around, and we could make a second bedroom habitable. Of course our children slept in the master bedroom, with lots of electric baseboard heat. We like our children better than we like each other, I guess.

[To be continued. Tell a friend about Sippican Cottage. Thanks!]

Day: September 14, 2023

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