Old Bricks

When we moved from Kaohsiung to Tainan in 2007, we took up residence on the campus of Tainan Theological College in a house that had been around since the 1960s. Other buildings on campus went back to the early 20th century, and a few were put up as recently as the early 90s. What characterized all the buildings, though, was the presence of loose bricks here and there next to walls and in corners.  It seems that old buildings just sort of collect loose bricks which often come in handy.

When we retired from Taiwan and took up the retired life in Holland, MI in 2018, we purchased an older home… quite a bit older. It was first occupied in 1925.  Having been here so long, and had so many different owners and tenants over the decades, the house, garage and yard came ready-equipped with loose bricks. From time to time in the year or so that we’ve lived here, I’ve found use for a brick here, and a brick there. So I’ve counted myself fortunate to have a supply on hand.

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Photo by Divide By Zero on Unsplash

Being under government (and spousal) ordered lockdown, I’ve recently become tired of using the time to write blog posts. Today I dedicated part of the morning to physical labor, clearing out branches and sticks at the back of the lot, moving random piles of junk that I found there, and getting all loose bricks into a single space. Out in the garage, there were a dozen previously unused bricks stacked 2 or 3 deep along one wall. I could well have left them, because their collection required getting onto my knees and reaching under a shelf. But I concluded that having decided to gather things into a single place, to leave any bricks in another was cheating. This led to a couple of discoveries, and to a new project.

First, the bottom layer of these bricks was not held there by gravity, but by some kind of glue not intended for the purpose (so it crumbled away easily). Second, the glued bricks covered the board that sits atop the garage foundation, to which the wall is attached. Under them, the board has mostly rotted away. I’ll have to learn what to do about that, borrow the tools, and get back down on my knees after the lockdown is over. 

Life can be like an old house. We gather bits and pieces along the way, some are used to build, some are held in reserve, and others cover up the rot underneath. Looking over my life, I’m going to be more careful about moving bricks.

David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.

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