Stick Miller: Grass isn’t always greener

Published 3:48 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

The grass is always pinker on the other side of the fence
Well, it’s not exactly pink, but our new 169-year-old house comes close. It’s not exactly orange either. Maybe we can just settle on calling it some obscure shade of peach. Color is important, since we are trying to come up with a name befitting its hue. I first thought of “The Pink Pig” owing to the house’s great size, but no, that won’t do. My DW calls it “The Peach Pit” for obvious reasons: the color and the fact that we sometimes feel as though we are throwing money down a well.
So, for grins, let’s just say it’s pink, with a hint of shrimp. Whatever color, there’s a lot of it; probably more than will be painted in my lifetime. Well-wishers who have obviously never owned a wooden house of this size and complexity inevitably ask, “What color are you going to paint it?”
I egg them on. “What color do you suggest?” I ask. We’ve had suggestions from yellow to brown. Some favor the simple white of most of the houses on our street. Others suggest we leave it the color it is —  pink. Those guys are my friends.
Most, I think, have no idea the costs involved in the cleaning and painting of a large house like this. Touch one chip of exterior paint and the Lead Paint Nazis will be all over you like ugly on an ape. I don’t know when the last time this thing was painted. I could probably find out and my suspicion would be that lead paint wouldn’t be a factor, but try proving that to “they-who-want-to-make-your-life-miserable.”
So, between the money and the hassles, the neighbors are just going to have to learn to live with the color. Maybe when everything else is finished and we’re all settled in, in a galaxy far, far away, we’ll consider a new paint job, but for now, pink it is.
We (I should say my DW) bought this house with our eyes wide open. Even so, the costs and challenges are overwhelming. Even though there is very little structural work to do, we feel like we need to touch things up a bit. In a good faith effort, the house was remodeled in the 1970s. Nine hundred acres of wall paper were hung back in the days when we were wearing bell bottoms and Nehru jackets. Things have changed, and our goal is to put things back as they were when the house was first built. Since it was built in stages dating back to 1848, we have our work cut out for us.
It is a big old house — over 5,500 sq. ft. of bigness. With all that room, we have limited funds and even more limited ambition to tackle the upstairs. Ours is the only downstairs bedroom, so if we want company, they will either need to stay in the Bluebird or sleep in very primitive conditions upstairs. We figure we’ll give them a bed roll and a set of towels and show them the stairs.
Have we made a mistake? I don’t know. We are mighty old to be taking on such a project. Good workers are hard to find in Americus. I can give you a long list of bad workers, but the good list is pretty short.
In the meantime, we are living in our venerable old Bluebird Wanderlodge (the greatest motorhome ever conceived in the mind of man) in our back yard. It is good, comfortable, warm living that we’ll probably miss when finally we move into that drafty, old house. Even so, I’d give us a couple of weeks before we can begin our move into “Pink Acres.” It’ll be good sleeping in our own bed again … I hope.
For many years, a very notable lady lived here. Every year, according to a reliable source, her birthday was celebrated with great fanfare. Liveried limousines would line the streets of Taylor Street with the chauffeurs keeping watch over the Cadillacs and Packards and other fine cars of the day. This lady lived to be 105 years old, and through our front door walked many a famous person paying homage to her.
I’ve made a sort of a deal with the spirit of that grand lady and with all the grand ladies and gentlemen who preceded me in residence here: I’ll do my best to fix this place up in a manner befitting its former glory if they will keep the chains and groans and sounds in the night to themselves.
Do that, and we’ll get along just fine.

Stick Miller lives in Americus. Contact him at