Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tending the flock

I took these photos last summer. I used to know a woman who lived a couple doors down. She built her dream home there, specifically designed for "single woman with dogs and occasionally visiting mom."

That house has wide stairs with deep treads, a plunge tub, passive solar heating, and a kitchen cupboard that is really a tunnel with a dog door at the end. And bowling balls for decorations on the garden wall.

This is not a photo of that house. This is a house down the block.
I asked her about this place, which looked much the same back then. "What's up with that?" I asked. An old guy lives there, she said. He's harmless.

I should say that was 10 years ago.

Fast forward to last summer, when I've moved closer to this street, and I see the guy sometimes. He walks to the store, or he works in his yard. He looks like he's in his 80s, with a long white beard. He's tall and stooped. He looks like he should live on a Swiss mountain and have goats.

But he doesn't have goats. He has ideas.

Like goats, his ideas are unruly and a bit scattered. They don't follow the rules. Not the usual rules, anyway.
When I pass him out walking, or go by his yard, he says hello. He asks how I am. He remarks on the weather and my nice dog. He's very pleasant. He doesn't try to tell me anything out of the ordinary.

His house says it for him.
Fast forward again, to a couple of months ago. I walk by the house. There's a dumpster in the yard. A man is there, not the old man, throwing stuff in it.

"What happened to the old man?" "He died." Oh.

This guy doesn't know anything else. He's just doing a job.


  1. Oh how sad. The cleaned up front actually looks really empty and cold. I think I like the clutter of the ideas out front better. Hopefully he has family to take care of things.

  2. I liked the crazy nutty version much better.

  3. :-( The house had so much character when he was there. He had the courage to live the way he wanted and not the way society decreed. Rest in peace.

  4. It's really sad to walk by the place now. I'm sure the neighbors are happier for the sake of their property values, but it really seemed like he was a gentle spirit.

    And I think he must have had family or someone looking out for him, to be able to stay there on his own.

  5. My husband's law firm handles a lot of cases like this. Where the elderly person has eccentricities and usually a suprisingly large savings account, especially if they were a veteran. Being that there is a dumpster and a guy who didn't know him cleaning the house out, I think it's probably more along the lines that he didn't have any family, but didn't need to be under social services because he wasn't causing any trouble.

  6. Yes, sad. But also in a sweet sort of way. He'd lived a long time,

    Mary, that's very interesting to know! I think he must have had someone, though, if only to make sure the bills got paid and he had whatever medications he needed.

    I'll be interested to see if the house goes on the market. I suspect it will be scraped if it does.

  7. That's just tragic. I can't believe someone threw out all those wonderful pieces! I would have been face down in that dumpster, I kid you not.