The years between

In my neighborhood, for a cool million dollars you can buy a dump.

Of course, it’s not really a dump. It’s just neglected and so old and out of date that whoever bought it will probably tear it down. I walk by this house almost every day and it’s always shrouded in ghostly light.

Like a dwindling number of bungalows in my neighborhood, it was built in 1938 and has two bedrooms and one bath. And a detached garage with a sign that reads “Beware of Dogs.” The other day the power company was on scene detaching the electric wires and cutting off the gas so soon, very soon, it will disappear. Because it’s sitting on a fairly large lot, what arises from its rubble will probably be a monstrosity. A very expensive monstrosity with a view of the freeway. The real estate market is insane.

There’s something tragic about walking past an empty lot where a house once stood and so I have started walking to the other side of town.

Bridge over the freeway on/off ramps. The message made me smile.
Something’s happening to the side of the library. Can you make out the head of an otter? I wonder what’s he’s up to! Perhaps he’s going into outer space … the first otter astronaut from Borinda!

I am slowing down, there’s no doubt. Clearing out closets, taking longer and longer walks. Rewriting and rewriting the same story as though shaving off bits of my life. I just put away the Christmas ornaments that have been hanging from potted plants for over two years. Each one was given to me by someone special … many gone … some just recently, others long ago. But wait. Didn’t Auntie Dottie just pass? I can still hear her laugh. Eventually it doesn’t seem to matter … the years between.

My troll family from Finland.

But there is tomorrow and perhaps the mural on the library wall will start to make sense. Certainly more sense than war and genocide and why anyone would pay over a million dollars to bulldoze a house.

35 thoughts on “The years between

    1. Thanks Charlie – I often think of the love you and Liz have poured into Marilark which is probably close to this house in age (ours was built in 48). It is definitely way past time for that lunch we keep having to put off!

  1. I’ve been known to leave my Christmas decorations up until February and we also have a gnome from IKEA taking up permanent residence in our living room even though he’s really “Christmas-themed.” He’s a felt cutie from IKEA and my husband also fell in love with him and said he should be year-round. 🙂

    When we lived in Naperville, Illinois, the small, original homes in the downtown area were often called “half million dollar tear-downs.” People paid that to buy them, then paid to have them torn down before putting up something costing in the millions…and that was before the insane spike in home prices. Abandoned homes make me sad and abandoned farms even sadder. But war and genocide make these seem like happy events.

    Enough musing for me, it’s time for bed. Thanks for the mind-tickle, JT.


    1. The last few years have been so traumatic that the Christmas ornaments were like comfort food. It was hard to take them down but I’m trying to move on. I agree entirely about abandoned homes and farms. Especially those that look like they were loved at one time.

  2. I’m in a parallel world these days. Take my troll. He’s been a troll for years popping out at Christmas. This year I’m led to understand he’s self identifying as a gonk. How did that happen?

  3. The stories that bungalow could tell. If only it could talk? Do you know who the occupant(s) were?
    There’s a children’s playground near where I live that nature has reclaimed. It’s an eerie sight when walking past it. I sware that I can sometimes hear the faint voices of children playing when walking past it towards the stables that nature has also reclaimed.

    1. I didn’t know the occupants – the house is actually about a half mile from my house. It was built before the highway and before the town was incorporated. It doesn’t look like any improvements were made which probably means it was occupied by the original owners. The voices of children playing in a abandoned playground – wow, that’s chilling Hugh!

  4. I always wonder what happened when I see abandoned homes. Who owns it? If they don’t want it, why didn’t they sell it? Such a shame to let them fall into disrepair when so many need housing.

  5. Hi Jan, I can understand you taking comfort in loved Christmas ornaments. There is something very special about Christmas, even during hard times. I agree that abandoned houses are sad and lost looking. I assume the buyer is after the position of the land.

    1. The house is only about a block from the downtown and the freeway so it’s a good location if you need to commute. But I don’t think it’s a good location for a family. We’ll see what they do!

  6. Hi – beautiful flow to this post and felt like I was waking with you and even sharing the sentiments – like the houses that are getting bigger and bigger –
    On the Netflix Minimalism documentary (not sure if it was the 2016 or 2021 one) but both episodes are powerful and want to watch them again/ anyhow – in one of the episodes they mentioned the monstrous-sized houses and noted a study found that most people still only dwell or live in a small part of those houses. They showed the patterns of movement and out of the 4.000+ square feet / they only congregate or use a small percent.
    can’t wait to see what will be on the library

    1. Thank you. I have a friend who lives in a huge house and after their children all moved out they started living in a small bedroom next to the kitchen and shut down the rest of the house. It’s a shame but the husband doesn’t want to move. We are seeing a lot of ADU construction in our area and so if I were the owner of that property, that’s probably what I would do.

      I hope they’ll do a fun mural on the library but the city council is rather conservative so we’ll see!

      1. I don’t blame him for not wanting to move – a house can be such a part of us….
        But another great example of how someone only uses part of their space

  7. I wasn’t wild about the mural. It was to be in black and white. Friends of Orinda Creeks asked them to include the creek ( which appears they sorta have- in map form) and also the otter.

  8. One million dollars for a tear down property! My late aunt lived in a neighborhood like that. When she sold her house, knowing it’d be torn down, she made a small fortune, but there was a sadness. I’ve only driven by the address once since it was sold and the new monstrosity was built. It seems wrong to me, but times change I suppose.

    1. I’m happy for your aunt. There are neighborhoods in my town where people have gone crazy with remodeling. It definitely takes away from the charm.

    1. It’s sad to see the character of the neighborhood change but many those old houses can’t be renovated. So, we just carry on. Take long walks, meditate in the garden, read and listen to music. Anything to keep our chins up.

  9. I find it so intriguing that life finds a way to remind you to look at the beauty of chaos sometimes 🙂 Thank You for sharing this 🙂

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