Sunday, November 7, 2010

Porter was helping me staple up some insulation in the basement, and the neighbor kid, Jake, was hanging out with us.  I'd promised to take them bowling after lunch.

The man who built the house in 1950, Vernon Kendall, hadn't been a stickler for measuring so no two studs are spaced the same.

While I carved pink insulation with a hunting knife Jake and Porter surveyed the ceiling, trying to interpret the overlapping networks of plumbing, electric, heating pipes, phone cable and pvc that 60 years had laid in.

It's not an easy map to read, the circulatory system of an old house.  Conduits are added with none ever taken away.  There's some kind of elaborate alarm system that I still don't understand and a sewer pipe to nowhere.

They searched for treasure atop the beams and on the foundation wall between the joists.  Mostly they found old tubes of sealant or lubricant, decrepit fan belts, tin boxes, pipe connectors, the odd pressure gauge or clamp.  A bumper sticker for a tent revival.  Stuff like that.  I had to explain to them how the blade-butted spout for an old oilcan worked.

Jake dismantled my broken telescope.  Then they found real treasure, my uncle George's old archery gear from the sixties.  They quietly put the stuff away, but I know that unless I remember to forbid it, it will all eventually disappear into the woods, like the last generation of arrows and bows, just like my ducktape, nails, bungee cords, tarps . . . .