The Cross House
When I was, say, twenty, I had a built-in assumption: I was Superman.
This was never a conscious thought. It was, rather, just somehow understood.
I felt I could do anything. I could pick up heavy loads. I could climb ladders all day with impunity. I could work long, hard hours to no ill effect.
This approach to my body, the Superman Assumption, continued into my early forties. Then one day I lifted an incredibly heavy dresser into the back of my pick-up. And gave myself a hernia. Which I later spent $6,000 to have surgically repaired.
That was an expensive realization: I was not Superman. I was very human. I was also a human…getting older.
In 2014, I purchased the Cross House. I was fifty-seven.Today, at sixty-one, that sounds so…youthful! Ahhh, to be a mere fifty-seven again!
Since my hernia twenty years ago, I have recognized the limits to my body. In addition, about every five years I have to downgrade What I Can Do. I really hate this.
The big focus today on the house was to buy and install a temporary door between the second-floor sewing room and sleeping porch. The door was to replace a big piece of plywood installed two years ago which offered little protection against wind. With the house now heated, I am highly interested in keeping the heat inside the house. So, the plywood had to go.
The new door came fully framed. It was heavy, too. At forty, I would not have hesitated to pick up the door, place it atop my mini-van, drive to the house, haul the door off the minivan, take it up the front steps, and the main staircase, and into the sewing room.
But sixty-one-year-old me?
There was no way I was going to do that.
Since buying the house, I have relied on Justin for such tasks. Justin though is on a cruise. And Ross really wanted the door now. So, while ordering the door at the nearby lumber yard, I asked something I had never in my life asked: “Could you deliver the door, and could a young person help bring it into the house and upstairs?”
Home Depot would have scoffed. The local lumberyard said: “Of course.”
I felt instantly better.
Fifteen minutes later, as I stood in the parlor of the house, the Mark II truck arrived. I stepped out to greet it and young Collin. We hauled the door up to the sewing room and then I asked: “Have you ever seen the house?” Collin said no. He also said he was a history student and was fascinated by the house.
Oh. Oh! So I gave Collin a quick tour. Just as he departed, I asked his age. “Twenty-two.” Overcoming my instantaneous surge of extreme jealously, I replied: “Wow! And you love old houses?” He nodded yes. “That makes me so happy! I often worry that young people don’t care about history and old houses, so I wonder who will protect our architectural heritage after us old people are gone!”
Collin smiled. As he walked to the truck, I felt an upsurge of hope for the future.
The opening where I installed the door originally looked just like the adjacent window to the right. In about a year, if all goes well, it will again look as it did in 1894. The lost stained-glass window is being recreated as these words are written, and I plan to have a steel “window” made which will look just like the original sashes but will open like door. I know, clever! (The new “window” will need to be steel in order to be used as a door.)
In 1894, one had to crawl through the open lower sash to access the sunporch. Really! The steel door, while looking just like a pair of window sashes, will allow easy access to the sun porch.
Thus, old Ross with the help of young Collin, managed to make things just a little better.