The Star-News


Home a hazardous working environment

Sat, Mar 24 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité

Living in an old house has its advantages and disadvantages. The principal advantage is that almost anyone who knows you also knows where you live.  Someone mentions your name and someone else will invariably say, “Oh yeah, that’s the fellow who lives over at Sweetwater Manor.” You are on the radar screen and the only way you can escape it is to move, a rather impractical solution.


The principal disadvantage is that you are living in an old house.  And old houses have a tendency to, well, get old.  Though you limit the place to a select few moving parts those moving parts won’t live forever and the smooth running home one had before is no longer smooth running. The rain storm of last weekend brought this dilemma quickly to my attention.

My work station, that is, the place where I write is in a room that we added on shortly after we moved in.  I had a golf companion at the time, a Chula Vistan named Earl Biggins, who, when he wasn’t on the golf course worked as an architect.  He was rather prominent having designed and built various structures in the area that might not have been Taj Majals but were, nonetheless, acceptable.  Some of the schools in San Diego were of his design.  Knowing I wanted an add on we made some sort of deal and he designed a slumped block structure that became part of our house some forty years ago.

One minor mistake, at the time, was to let a couple of amateurs, me and my son, Dave, build it, the carpentry market being a little out of our reach at that time.  It took us the better part of one summer to erect the walls and roof and then part of the rest of the year to put in the finishing touches.  All in all, it has served us well all these years, a home for those things that a hoarder hates to throw away and, at the same time, enough space for a couple of typewriters in the beginning and about a half dozen computers (one at a time) in the latter years.  It has been satisfactory in doing what it is supposed to be doing as long as it doesn’t rain.  And therein lays the rub.

This past weekend was one of those that we experience, perhaps once or twice in a year.  It is the time when we use the expression, “Day (night) ain’t fit for man or beast.”  Makes one want to cuddle up in front of a warm TV and let everything else slide by.  And this is what I intended to do but all the time knowing that I was going to have to meet a deadline.  And by meeting this deadline I had to sit next to this computer.

It took only a few short minutes sitting on my favorite chair in front of my favorite spot that things were not right.  It would be better to state that thing were not dry.  There were two spots in the entire room where there were leaks and one of them happened to be near the work station.  It reminded me a bit of my growing up years.  Nearly every house in which we lived had leaky roofs.  I remember my mother setting out every pot in the kitchen to catch the water.  We had a virtual symphony going on, each drop giving us its own musical sound.  My water catchers in my work room were plastic containers, no musical sound at all.

We look outside and see some sort of clearing up. There are even some spots where the sun is shining through. It looks like we have seen the last of the rain. And with the drying up those of us who have had adverse conditions have a chance to clean up and make necessary repairs.  In my particular case it would be reroofing my add on room. But when you think about it when are we going to have another such storm. Probably not until the beginning of the next rainy season. Let’s wait and see what happens then.


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