This Old House

We have been traveling in the New York area visiting family and friends. Some places I haven’t been in ten years. There are roads I am traveling that I haven’t seen in forty years. The most fascinating part is seeing old houses that were new when I was growing up. The trees planted 50 years ago look like…well, a fifty year old tree now.

I am a sucker for old houses. There is a charm and inherent beauty no matter how run down they may be. My wife, daughter and I have renovated several. There is a certain sense of wellness in making something that was abandoned come back to life. Rejuvenate. I hope it is a product of our optimism.

In real estate it fascinates me that a house that is twenty years old is considered dated. How did we ever get along growing up with five bedrooms and two baths? No den. No family room. What were we thinking? A one or two car garage? What peasants.

There was linoleum. There were tiny TV’s. There was a milk box on the back porch. There was a diaper pail. Yuk! There was a bread man. Soda man. Milk man. Egg man. They were all friends. They were us.

There was a hardware store. There was a butcher. A fish market. A neighborhood pharmacy. The super market was small. There were four or five of them. Everyone knew you by name. There were movies on Saturday for a quarter. Ice cream cones for a dime. In Penn Station you got two hot dogs and a soda for fifty cents. There was this crazy thing called an automat.

I am writing this in a Starbucks on the Village Green in Morristown, New Jersey. There is a fellow selling Sabretts hot dogs from a cart. There are people doing something really stupid. They are just sitting watching the world go by.

I am in an enclave of four leather chairs. There is a young lady working at her computer. Another guy is reading the recap of the yesterday’s games in the Star Ledger. Tranquil and peaceful in this crazy wound up part of the world.

The soft jazz playing has just been shattered by a new entrant into our den of relaxation. He has an earpiece and a Blackberry. He didn’t buy coffee. He just sat down and proceeded to dial an associate or client of some sort.

He speaks louder than me. Can you imagine? We all look up and glare. The man is impervious. At the cessation of his negotiations he gets up and roars out the door and down the street. He was just looking for someplace tranquil to have his phone call.

What a guy.

Church bells are ringing. It is 12 noon. I sure hope he doesn’t need any more serenity. Edith Piaf is singing La Vie En Rose. It could almost be Paris. Well, not exactly. I am back to my train of thought. As a counter to my ravings last week I just want to have fun. Ted’s Head is moving at half speed.

I am so struck by the 9/11 ceremonies. What has faded to a far part of my memory is so poignant and still incredibly raw for so many of these people. It’s hard to equate country lanes and historical homes to shiny towers that disintegrated. Metal and flesh that vaporized. My nephew wrote to a small group of friends about how searing that day was. His cousin died. He was one of his best friends. There is so much to forget. He was eloquent in his still held grief.

Family, friends, tomatoes, corn on the cob. Cherrystone clams. Fresh swordfish. We all have our strengths. We all have our weaknesses. We have traditions and rituals for better and for worse. We want to be critical. We want to think our way is better. We want to be right. Sometimes we are so wrong.

I have finished my coffee and my ramblings. I am going to walk back to the house, a half mile down the road. I am going to take a long walk in the woods later on. I am going to come up with some positive thoughts about myself, my family, our country, our world.

I am going to figure out how to renovate this old house. This place we call home. We can’t scrape and rebuild. We must take out the original set of plans and rework them. She has what we call in the biz, good bones.

We have got to bring out her beauty once again. Even if we have to take her down to the studs. Repaint her. Rework her. There is so much here we have overlooked for so long. Just like old houses we can fix anything with enough imagination and hard work. Let’s dust off our brains and our hope. Let’s put on our tool belts again.

As always

Ted The Great


In the normal NFL game there are actually only 11 minutes of play time during a three hour telecast.

There are 261 births in the world every minute. There are 107 deaths.

There are 8.4 million millionaires in the US.

We now have a poverty rate of 15.1% in the US. That’s 46.2 million people

Americans go to bed hungry every night. There 17 million children in the US without access to nutritious food.

John Kyl (R,AZ), member of the super committee of six to do spending cuts announced after the first meeting that if there were cuts to the military he would resign. Good start.

PS: The phone caller from Starbucks came back. I asked him to go someplace else. He apologized and did.


The world is 8,000 miles wide not 8. Thx to our observant readers. To the others you are bored or don’t read the factoids



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