Patch! Patch! Patch!

Jun 22, 2012 | 6 comments

There’s an old joke that goes:  After forty it’s patch! patch! patch! And after sixty it’s patch-patch! patch-patch! patch-patch!  It’s no joking matter, though, especially when it comes to houses and gardens and property, in general.  Especially in the northwest.  We are a high maintenance locale.

And never mind sixty years.   Our current patching problems have to do with roofs and picket fences and I do believe thirty years is considered a goodly time for them to last. For parts of our fence, it has been forty and, as might be expected, it’s falling down faster than we can make repairs.

We have just completed one section of our north fence – one out of ten or twelve.  We’ve been working on it – time, weather, health permitting – since January.  Meanwhile, the north sections of the west fence are beginning to lean precariously.  It’s a never-ending situation.

But with a house that was built in 1869, and in a climate where things rot and mildew and become encased in brambles and ivy just as soon as you turn your back, Repair (with a capital R) is a way of life.  We’ve more-or-less given up that idealistic view of traveling the world (or at least of few corners of it) in our “golden years.”  We are patching and propping, instead.

I imagine my grandparents had the same difficulties in the 1940s and 1950s.  The pictures from those years show a garden somewhat overgrown and the house in need of paint.  In their turn, my parents “refurbished,” as they called it, and so did we, twelve years ago.  I don’t think we were so foolish as to think we were “done,” but I do think we were looking toward a few years of reprieve.  Silly us.


  1. Anne Kepner

    We understand. Just replaced some pickets ourselves.

  2. Kathleen Shaw

    I love old houses. I never really got to live in one of them, and I crave the architecture. However, I worked long enough in homeowners’ claims to know the downside: cast iron plumbing, knob and tube wiring, post and beam foundation, etc. It means an emotional tug-of-war between the practical side and the emotional side of me. And then, in a seaside town, in the Pacific Northwest, you add the maintenance problems you mention above…and yet, and yet…

    • sydney

      My feelings precisely! I’m just not quite as practical as I ought to be!

  3. Stephanie Frieze

    My dream for our 131 year old house in Ilwaco is to replace the stupid plastic fencing I let myself be talked into with an unpainted wood picket fence. Believe it or not, the plastic pickets fall off if looked at too hard, never mind hitting them with a lawn mower or weed-wacker. Any advantage that plastic was supposed to have over having to repaint wood has been lost in what has become a shabby, shabby fence. Our costal climate is not conducive to paint. There is too much chance of a nick allowing rain to get under the paint and you end up with something marginally better than our shabby plastic fence. I totally believe that unpainted wood is the only way to go at the beach and seriously regret doing something different.

    • sydney

      I hope you can manage to replace it. I’m glad to hear the “down side” of the plastic fencing. I always think it looks just too perfect, but lately I’ve been thinking that too perfect might be better than falling down.

  4. Erik Blumenthal

    The worst part of replacing our 30 year old rural fencing is removing the old fence. Every post harbours an ant’s nest. Ants of both the red and black variety swarm out, equally angry. We had to kill them first then we just patched the old fence instead of taking it down.


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