At some point tonight -- between the time I got off work to the time I got home -- I was suddenly stricken with a little bout of immediate and intense depression. Where it came from, I do not know. But it's here. Maybe it's the realization that I'll never have that for which I long so desperately. Someone to share Friday night with. Someone to share life with. As much as I want to have a really good cry, to really break down and sob my heart out, I can't. You see, we're out of Kleenex. And toilet paper, too. So, I've got to hold it together. I still love Friday nights. It's just that this Friday night seems just like so many other blah nights.
Maybe it's time to change the name of this project. Instead of "Journal," perhaps it should be named, "Whatever." That's the apathy I've been feeling lately. Whatever.
The Rock. What a cool guy.
That's the ceiling above the staircase in my office. She's an old Queen Anne house. She was constructed in about 1890. Sometime after that, someone made some adjustments to the outside of the building. It's like they countrified it. So, it's now this old Queen Anne countrified house. For instance, atop the highest point of the roof is huge shiny brass weather cock. That picture above is the inside of the building where the weather cock stands. This makes it so the occupants of the building don't have to go outside to see which way the wind is blowing -- one of the few modern conveniences of this building. There are a few other notable things that add to the country look. One thing, someone has slapped up some boards to the exterior vaguely reminiscent of split rail. It's hard to explain, but it's like they were trying to get a lattice-work effect on the facade. They failed. Who knows what they were thinking when they did that.
In all probability, she was originally a single family dwelling. The Head describes her as looking like the Addams Family House. But, I just call her the painted lady.
She's couple shades of gray with magenta trim. Actually, the magenta is very faded, so it's more like dusty maroon. With a little diligent care, she might have aged a little more gracefully. Her paint is chipped and peeling. Raw weathered wood is exposed in many places. At least one of her outer window sills has been yanked from the wall. The front threshold is in dire need of being replaced. The front side screen door hangs on hinges that cause it to bang against it's frame in a slight breeze. Most of the corner moldings have buckled away from the outer walls. Some of the buckling has been caused by weather and some was caused by the now removed "Prehistoric California River Vines." All in all, she's quite a sight.
The Head, along with a buddy of his, and their wives, owns the building. Well, them and the bank.
One summer day, when I first started working for the Head, we were standing in the front yard admiring the recent removal of the "Prehistoric California River Vines," he resignedly commented that he would probably have to have her sided with vinyl siding. To which I replied, in my best Jamaican psychic lady accent, "oh, no! You don't want to cover up the painted lady." He looked at me as if he was suddenly struck with a new and total understanding of the universe and responded that yes, I was right. I advised him simply that she just needs some fresh make-up. Of course, he has yet to get her some new make-up.
As with any old dwelling, she comes with many stories.
The story behind the so-called "Prehistoric California River Vines" was related to me by the carpenter who removed them. And I can only surmise that he surmised this on his own without any valid research. But, who knows?
Anyway, the front of the building was nearly covered with these massive woody vines. The vines were somewhat pretty, providing an extra layer of color, with green leaves and white flowers. But for however pretty they were, they were just as destructive. The vines were making their way into nearly every crack and crevice of the building. In some places, it was so bad that the vines had entered the inside of the building and were growing in the offices, wrapping themselves around anything in sight, including the Head's treadmill.
Maybe because they were wood, I'm not sure, but the Head hires a carpenter to remove them. Personally, my first instinct would have been to hire a gardener of some sort. But hey, what do I know. Okay, well, I guess it makes some sense in that the vines were damaging the structure.
The story behind the vines goes like this: During the 1920's, 30's and 40's, when Los Angeles, California, was booming with new growth and construction, the city was running out of places to put new subdivisions. So, they came up with the brilliant idea that they could drain some rivers and creeks, which they did, and build homes where the rivers and creeks once were, which they did. When they drained those rivers and creeks, they discovered these vines lying dormant along the bottoms of the rivers and creeks. The then owner of the painted lady was visiting in California when this draining was going on. When he learned that the developers were going to just throw the vines away, he was so enamored of the vines, he decided to bring one back to Springfield, Illinois, for planting at his house. The quantity of vine he brought back was small enough to fit in a small paper sack. Upon his return to Springfield, he planted the vine in the front yard near the foundation of house. Needless to say, that vine grew and spread like wild fire. Apparently, these vines resided in the bottoms of those rivers and creeks for hundreds, and possibly thousands, and maybe even millions, of years. The cold water of the rivers and creeks kept the growth of the vines stunted. Once they were exposed to the air, and apparently the climate of the Midwest, they came out of their dormant state and became green monsters of mass destruction. And that's the story of the Prehistoric California River Vines.
The week before this past week, we discovered an underground cistern. How did we discover an underground cistern, you ask? Well, every time it rains, water would pour into the basement. Now, before you go thinking that the basement walls are caving in from major water damage, let me put that notion to rest. The water was pouring in from a spigot. A spigot in the wall. Really. The Head's partner called a plumber to find out what was going on with the spigot in the wall. The plumber immediately assessed the problem as an over-full cistern. The cistern is immediately behind the building under the parking deck and partially under the garage. The plumber used a depth finder to estimate the size to be approximately 12 feet deep by about 16 feet in diameter. There is an opening to the cistern by way of a wooden manhole cover under the wooden steps to the wooden back porch.
The plumber brought over a tank truck with a pump on it and pumped out 2,000 gallons of water. He said he could have pumped out at least another 2,000 gallons, but that would have been another $700.00, which the Head didn't want to pay. Unfortunately, I was too busy working to observe this operation. But, it was reported to me that there were thousands of papers floating around inside that cistern. Presumably, those were put there by the previous owner. But, I really have no idea what the story is behind the papers in the cistern. Strange, eh?
So, this week we had a massive downpour. Yep, you guessed it. Water in the basement. Only this time, the water came up through the four sewer holes. So, the Head calls a plumber. Not the plumber with the pumper truck, but a different one. He informs the Head that the sump pump is broken. He further informs the head that the sump pump is not connected to the sewer holes. So, the Head has him replace the sump pump to the tune of $275.00. But, of course, we now know that won't prevent water from coming up through the four sewer holes.
During this whole cistern sump pump flooding basement ordeal, I learned that the basement is not the original basement. Well, it's the original basement, but some years ago it was made deeper by the previous owner. Yeah, he had the basement made deeper because it wasn't deep enough for a project he was doing in the basement. What was the project? He built an airplane in the basement. Where is the airplane now? How did he get it out of the basement? I'm reminded of a story related to me by a young secretary, Stephanie, who was working for the Head when I started there. She told me the previous owner built a plane in the basement. She also told me that when the plane building project was completed, the previous owner discovered it was too big to take out by conventional means -- as in up the steps. So, he had the back of the basement dug out and drove the plane out the back of the basement. How Stephanie knew all this, I never asked. But, it makes me wonder, did he take the plane out through the cistern? Oh man, this is way too complicated to contemplate further.
Stephanie was a source of other stories about the building and its previous occupant. He was a brain surgeon gone mad. She said a woman came to him complaining of severe headaches. He told the woman he could cure her, but he would have to examine her brain to determine the cause. The woman, probably in a state of deep dementia caused by her headaches, agreed. So, without an assistant and without any anesthesia, the mad doctor strapped her down to the operating table in his office, took an electric saw and proceeded to saw off the top of her skull. If this is a true story, I think we can all imagine the horror the woman must have experienced, strapped down to the operating table, as she felt her skull being removed. She died.
Of course, Stephanie told me that the woman haunts the building. But that woman is not alone. She has another ghostly partner. Apparently, and this is also according to Steph, a young man was fleeing from something down the front staircase, tripped, fell, broke his neck, and died. What he was fleeing from or why was never told to me. But, the two of them can make quite a commotion at times.
There might be a hidden staircase somewhere in the back of the building. That's my own personal theory and one which I hope to develop into a story someday. AS of yet, I haven't had time to fully investigate a hidden staircase. Making a mental note to take a tape measure to work next week so I can measure various walls.
Too tired to proof read. As usual. But you've probably already noticed I really don't proof any of these writings. Just thought I'd mention it.
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