Archive for the ‘This Old House’ Category

“It’s all good.” And other dumb expressions.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

I was waiting, not altogether patiently, for the plumber to come today and replace my upstairs water heater.  I thought he said “Tuesday morning” but maybe not,  And then the expression “It’s all good!” popped into my mind.

“NO IT ISN’T!” I said right out loud.  And what does that stupid expression mean, anyway?

So I looked it up.  According to, it means  everything is fine, despite any indications or fears to the contrary; there is nothing to worry about (often used in an insincere, dismissive, or resigned way).  Often used as a waste of breath, if you ask me.

That made me think of something a teaching colleague once said to me when I was confiding some concern or other about my 95-year-old mother.  “Bad things happen to people whether you worry about them or not.”  I wanted to say “No shi*, Sherlock!” but for once wisely held my tongue. It’s been twenty years since I received that ridiculous “advice” and it still irritates me.

I guess it’s human nature to want to reassure ourselves and others when things are not heading toward a good outcome,  But empty platitudes and inane clichés don’t do it for me.  Just let me rant, please.  Or maybe tell me “I feel your pain” if it’s something that applies to you, too. But for Heaven’s sake, don’t tell me “it’s all good”when it isn’t.  Actually… was it ever?

I’m probably certifiable…

Monday, June 5th, 2023

Our House and Contents in Six Albums? Really?

Some years ago — maybe five or six — I went from room to room in our house photographing EVERYthing — furniture, paintings, knick-knacks, even the contents of some of the drawers and cupboards.  Then I printed out the photos, labeled them with identifications and explanations and placed them into scrapbooks — six of them.

My “labels” included the history of the house and how it had changed in the years since it was built in 1869.  My explanations also included the provenance of the furniture (much of which had been in the house for three generations) as well as what I knew of the paintings and photographs on the walls, the ‘collectibles’ and the tchotchkes and the things of no value to anyone except family members.

Every pink sticky note represents a correction. There are a gazillion of them.

When Charlie and Marta came the next summer, I shared the albums with them — probably proudly which was a bit of a downer as we found about a gazillion mistakes.  It undoubtedly comes as no surprise to anyone but me that I am just now getting around to “correcting” them.  Maybe I’ll have made inroads into the task by the time Marta and Charlie arrive this year — about three weeks from now.

“Why?” I ask myself,  “Who will really care?”  There will be no fourth generation in the house.  There will be no fifth generation grandchildren in my line.  But… somehow, the need to document (for posterity?) seems urgent.  So… wot the hell?  I’m on it!

Built like a brick… chimney!

Monday, March 13th, 2023

West Side of Our House, 1964 showing lower chimney

There are some things I have always just taken for granted, I am somewhat chagrined to report.  One of those is this old house in Oysterville that has been here since 1869.  Though I’m not sure exactly who built it, I suspect it was Charles Beaver who was living in the village then and was beginning his career that culminated in the creation of Seaview.

Ten Years Ago — Ferns Began Growing Out of the Chimneh

He built this house for the Tom Crellin family and it was purchased by my great-grandfather in 1902. As is often the way in this neck of the woods, our family has been in touch with their family over the course of five generations.  Through that long association, we know a great deal about the house and its amenities — some would say its “peculiarities.”  The Crellins brought the plans from the Isle of Man where they had lived for some time — maybe centuries — and both our house and “The Bottle House” a block to the north — were built using that same set of plans. Our house has changed very little over the years; the other house (the John Crellin House) has changed considerably.

Not too long ago, a member of the Washington State Preservation Office, on a visit to Oysterville, asked me when “the  lower part of the house had been added.”  When I responded that it was a part of the original house, he gave me that patronizing look of disbelief that those who are partially informed seem to assume — especially when an uncredentialed person “corrects” their mis-impression.  Oh well.

ChimCare at Our Gate

Suffice it to say that although the lower structure was, indeed, an integral part of the building from 1869 onwards, it served utilitarian purposes for a number of years — a meat-hanging room, a woodshed, a laundry my mother remembered.  Then, in 1910 or 1911, there was a chimney fire in the (then) kitchen and my grandmother saw “an opportunity.”  The burned portion was gutted and became my grandmother’s dream library and, when all was said and done, the one-story part of the house was converted to a living room, dining room and kitchen.  (I refer to that remodel as “when my grandmother moved West.” The kitchen stove and living room fireplace were back to back and shared the same chimney.

Setting Up on the Back Side

Which brings us to today — 110-some years later.  Finally, the chimney has failed — not just the mortar, but the bricks, too, have begun to wick water and crumble. leading to instability and scary falling-down-chimney thoughts.  With all the patch-patch-patching over the years, replacing the chimney was never on my radar at all!  The work begins today!