Friday, September 02, 2011

Smokin' In The Boy's Room


Longtime reader and commenter and all-around swell guy Sixty Grit has poked me through the bars about an off-hand comment I made in "Tear The Roof Off The Sucka." I've been living for about a year now in a house that was something of a drunkard's nightmare cum insane asylum, so perhaps I've grown inured to the gaping strangeness of the place.
Wait, you can't just throw out "shingled inside" without further explanation. I have seen some stuff, but I have never seen that. One of my houses was owned by a guy who used to saw off molding using a chainsaw, from the looks of it, square, sort of, then nail it next to another piece, on an outside corner. He didn't know you could buy a saw with more than 1 tooth per inch _and_ saw an angle cut. But I never saw shingles inside.
I don't want Sixty Grit to think I'm a liar. I am a liar, by birth, education, temperament, proclivity, and inclination; that's why I don't want Sixty Grit to think I'm a liar. But indeed, I hereby aver that a goodly portion of my house had cedar shingles applied to the interior walls like lumberjack wallpaper:

That's my bedroom, which is still something of a horror, but at least it's not shingled now. The foyer was shingled. A bedroom upstairs. The kitchen was shingled, too, including the backsplash --even the backsplash behind the stove. A cedar shingle dried indoors might as well be soaked with napalm. Using it for a stove backsplash tests the lower limits of behaviors that result in continuing to abide above the lawn. And at least some of the former occupants smoked like steamship funnels. There are scorch marks on the rim of the sink in the bathroom, and the ultimate sign of the hardcore smoker: scorchmarks on the wooden floor around the toilet where the truly dedicated would put down their ubiquitous butt to look after their other ubiquitous butt.

There's a great deal that can be learned from my house. It's a fine example of what happens when a house is worth a lot less than it cost to build it. Every single house in the town I live in is worth less than it would cost to build it. The United States is learning right now how people behave in, and towards, things that are currently worth less than they cost to build. No one takes care of  inexpensive expensive things. They amuse themselves with wrecking it, or tinker with it, like a Home Depot flyer exploded in it, pasting nonsensical gewgaws all over everything instead of fixing the roof or keeping the pipes from freezing. People become inordinately interested in "saving energy," and are prone to listen to the siren song of rubber windows and plastic siding and willy-nilly insulation. The buboes appear as vinyl siding, generally; then the long, slow, slide with lots of stops along the way to copper thievery. Human beings are locusts to a house they don't care about.

You can have expensive houses or you can have no houses. I'd exhort you to choose, but it looks like we already have. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got shingles to put on the roof, and take off the walls.

12 comments:

Brandoch Daha said...

In my girlfriend's house in Portland, the floors upstairs are 10"-12" wide white pine boards, a century old. Painted, of course.

Some previous owner covered those floor boards with plywood and then laid down some kind of cardboard-backed plastic stuff with a photograph of tutti-frutti-colored shag carpeting printed on it. Of course, the printing faded over the years.

Fortunately, they neglected to attach the plastic/cardboard stuff to the plywood in any way. They were in too much of a hurry to start slathering lead paint all over the varnished trim without stripping it first.

She got a good price on the house, though.

Help, I don't understand Mainers. At all.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Brandoch- Your description of the flooring reads like Beat Poetry, only entertaining.

Remember everyone: you'll never understand Maine until you read The Meteor.

Sixty Grit said...

Hey, I really didn't mean to go all "picture, or it didn't happen", but damn, that is some sh*t you got goin' on there.

Any chance the previous owner worked at a shingle mill? Okay, I am just trying to find some logic where none resides.

Sam L. said...

It is kinda convenient to have lots of tinder and kindling handy for lighting your wood stove...

Hoya said...

I meet people all the time who want to put Solar-thermo panels on their
house to have "alternate energy". When I explain it would be more cost effective for them to replace the newspaper and mouse turd insulation with fiberglass, their eyes glaze over. Maybe you can get some government grant to replace your roof with 100% solar panels.

Andy said...

What are you going to do now if it rains in there?

Rob De Witt said...

Boy do I not belong in this conversation; I've gradually accepted over the decades that picking up a tool results in the immediate erosion of my IQ by a few dozen points. If it's a wrench, it means no guitar until my knuckles heal. Embarrassing.

Nonetheless, Brandon's flooring free verse brings to mind an image I gotta share....

Back in the '70s I moved into the former rooming-house abode of a hippie chick I met in the usual way. Third floor of a 2-story house, which meant garret-esque ceiling - 4' walls meeting a long slope culminating in a 4' wide flat peak.

The 80-year-old pine floor had been painted cream with a hand-painted purple oriental rug pattern superimposed (all in enamel,) which matched perfectly the purple walls and ceiling.

And yeah, I'm pretty sure she was the first speed freak I ever got into it with. Jesus.

vanderleun said...

Long ago I lived with a kind of commune in what had been, and in many ways still was, a rich man;s mansion in the Oakland Hills.

My bedroom was a large room with a large picture window that looked out on a redwood forest on the front wall.

The back wall? It was made from several large 25 foot redwood logs laid horizontally and with the bark still on on them.

It was like living inside a fireplace with the whole house above as a chimney. I smoked carefully and only put the butts onto the logs carefully.

vanderleun said...

Then there was the other house in the Berkeley flatland. We actually had an electrical fire in one of the upper bedrooms. Burned out the outlet and the plaster and wattle board behind it before we got it put out. Smudge and smoke marks all over the wall. Bedspread from Cost Plus fixed that pronto and we just refilled the bong and soldiered on.

Jess said...

Worst thing I ever heard of was from a friend, that had a friend for a renter.

The renter, who had a child, decided to accelerate their self-reliance by cutting the kithen cabinets down to a level that didn't require a stool. I understood it was a quality job - including the plumbing.

I never asked what finally happened.

Leslie said...

I live in a 1949 stucco house with charming coved ceilings and drafty windows. Unfortunately, it was badly remodeled in the 70's,(what wasn't?) by someone's brother. When I bought it in 1995, the only bathroom had wallpaper over paneling, shag carpet, and an ugly oak vanity and light strip. All the original doors and knobs had been replaced with crappy hollow core and groovy brushed gold fixtures. The cracks in the interior plaster were patched with someone's hand. I have spent all these years, undoing what was done...

Cambias said...

What's worse than old houses? Old rental property, especially apartments with a management company. The owners may glance at the building once in a while as they drive past, but nobody who actually cares about them has been inside for decades.

My first apartment had interior walls that looked like stucco. It was just the effect of about thirty years of repainting without ever stripping (or washing) first. Only the radiators could keep the paint at bay; each one was surrounded by a constantly-renewed scattering of paint flakes.

If you buy a property which has been rental for a long time, step one is simple: demolish it.