Can A Wreck Of An Old House Actually IMPROVE Your Health?

While I have zero statistical data to back up the following, I am pretty sure it is a known truth:

Old houses can kill.

There have been countless couples and singles who have enthusiastically purchased a wreck of an old home, started with gusto…and then…lost their minds. Marriages are destroyed by old houses. People are crippled financially over old houses. Lead paint makes you crazy (really). And so on.

Yep, all true.

In a previous post I mentioned how I had sprained my ankle. After limping along for awhile, and in some pain, I turned to Justin (a contractor working on the Cross House, an EMT, and a guy with ankle issues) and asked: “Justin? How long will it take for my ankle to heal?”

Justin looked at me earnestly, put a hand on my shoulder, and replied: “It would have healed by now if you were not so…old.”


As I drove home that night (the Cross House is SO not livable), I reflected upon this and a stunning awareness drifted into my consciousness. And the only way I can explain is by the following story.

Have you ever been driving, not been paying a lot of attention, and suddenly found yourself off the road and on the bumpy shoulder? It is scary! You clutch the wheel, and with great, careful effort try and get back, safely, on the road.

This is what, not quite with full consciousness, I have thought about getting older. It is like I slipped of the Road Of Youth, and onto the Shoulder of Age. But, I had this feeling that if I just somehow gripped the wheel hard enough, and was careful enough, and with some effort, I could get back on the Road Of Youth.

I know. An utterly ridiculous belief. And I did not even realize that this belief had been lurking in the shadows of my mind.

Anyway, after Justin’s smack, I woke up.

I know I will never get back on Road of Youth. Never. Ever. Sigh. And the Shoulder of Age I am on will eventually send me flying off the Cliff Of Decrepitude & Death. Sigh.

I know this.

But….but…I can mitigate the inevitable.

How? My diet is terrible. I will NOT reveal how bad bad is but suffice to say it is disturbing.

However, I suddenly knew that if I immediately improved my diet, that in, say, ten years I will certainly be in a lot better shape than if continue with a disturbing diet. And in twenty years, ditto. As I am going to die at ninety-two, I still have thirty-five years left.

I would like these years to be healthy, vital ones.

And you know why? Would you like to know the thought that really stunned me?

I need to be healthy for the Cross House. I need to be able to get up/down the countless stairs in the four-story house. I need to be vital to direct a restoration which will take, well, longer than I could ever predict. Then I need to be vital so I can polish and burnish the house after all the big work is done.

Crazy, right? But that is how I feel.

That night I started the process of improving my diet.

Thank you, Justin.

NOTE: I have given up a lot, but no house is worth the denial of at least one lunch a week at Bobby D’s BBQ.



It is now January 29, 2015. A little over three months since I wrote the above words.

To my utter astonishment, I have lost 17 pounds. Geez. Wow. Cool!

Yes, I am eating way healthier, but I suspect it is the Cross House making such a dramatic difference. I am up/down ladders and up/down a four-story staircase and bending and sitting and stretching to paint hard-to-reach corners. The house is a work-out!

Before buying the house my life was really sedentary. I basically sat ALL day either restoring vintage lights or listing vintage lights for sale online.

I still do that of course, but no longer ALL the time. About half the week I am getting my Cross House Work-Out.

Hey, should I do a video?


  1. Lisa on September 1, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    I just discovered your blog via OHD (woot! woot!), and spent far too much of the last couple days reading it through from the start, enjoying it immensely. I had to come back to this post – how did no one else ever comment?

    “And the Shoulder of Age I am on will eventually send me flying off the Cliff of Decrepitude and Death.”

    That might just be the single best line I have ever read.

    • Ross on September 1, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks, Lisa. You made me smile!!!!

  2. Brandy Mulvaine on September 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    You could start your own fitness plan! Charging people money to come and scrape paint, run up and down the stairs, moving things here or there. I’ve wanted to do a similar fitness program that takes people around to grocery stores and makes them put all the carts back…

  3. Caren Harris on December 8, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    My sister and I are “old house” nuts, she even more than I and owned one, fondly called the “Money Pit” from the old movie of same name. I curse her every day for turning me on to the Old House Dreams site where I started reading your posts there. One thing lead to another, as in 300 pages of old houses and comments with other websites attached, until wonders of all wonders I came upon your blog of Cross House. Now I am a serious addict, perhaps groupie, of the “old partially lame bald guy who has a penchant for climbing up into the stratosphere to restore the sash of a 3rd story window”, sighs…My Hero. I have not read anything more enjoyable and written in such a warm funny fashion since Erma Bombeck. You make me drool over the house I wish I had, you keep me awestruck with the magic you work on things that others would toss to the curb, and most of all you make me laugh with your wonderfully delightful insight. I agree with the lady above on your “And the Shoulder of Age I am on will eventually send me flying off the Cliff of Decrepitude and Death.” I am also very near the edge of the cliff it seems. “Onward,” I just stopped to comment at this point and I still have a year of blogs to catch up on.

    • Ross on December 8, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Caren, you take my breath away.

  4. Caren Harris on December 8, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    PS…I got even with my sister and now she is reading your blog. She will be up for days reading. Paybacks are hell.

    • Sandie Hanks on December 9, 2015 at 1:04 am

      Thanks Sis… Really! Ross is my new best friend!

  5. Deborah on January 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    LOL, I moved into a barn apt a couple of months back. 26 stairs up and 26 stairs back down. The Lord knew I wouldn’t have time for the gym, so he gave me this! He has an awesome sense of humor. At first I wasn’t sure I was up for it, but it’s like having a stair climber built in!

    So you Ross, are also getting a work out. Carry on and continue the work you love and you will reap the rewards physically and mentally. Thanks for your wonderful sense of humor while writing about this old house!

    • Ross on January 7, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you!

      Today (January 2017) I weight 26 pounds less than when I purchased the house!

      • Deborah on January 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm

        Yeah! Congrats,your seeing the fruits of your labor 🙂

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