Tuesday, June 11, 2019

One more walk

I think this morning's walk will be the last before I go back home: supposed to rain tomorrow, plus I will be running around doing a last load of laundry and packing and making sure I have cash for tips (since I'm on a train and not a bus - or at least that's what it certainly seems - tipping the car attendant and the waiters in the diner is a thing).

I got to thinking today about the "vernacular architecture" in areas. In my parents' housing development, you can kind of guess the age of the neighborhood. My parents' house was built in the late 80s and is kind of a vaguely Colonial style - straight two stories, slight "overhang" of the upper story. (No dormers, though - this isn't really a saltbox, which are the smaller, older, more-modest houses one street over). There are a few genuine (or, I suspect genuine) vintage farmhouses along what USED to be one of the main roads a few streets over from them - much bigger yards, the various different styles (a couple that are I think what you call "Italianate") and I am guessing they date to about 100 years ago.

But over to the west of where my parents live - towards the new high school - there are houses that I suspect are older by a couple decades. Most of them are split-levels; there are a few of those Mansard-roofed places, where there are windows set into "roof" (like the overhang of the roof). I admit I have an irrational dislike of both Mansard roofs (at least on modern suburban houses) and split-levels, though I think my dislike for split-levels has more justification:

1. They are lousy for accessibility. Imagine even being on crutches for six weeks and the minute you open your front door, you're confronted with a short staircase either up or down, but there is nowhere right on the level with where you are. Or for that matter, having a baby in a carseat you're carrying into the house, and now you have to lug the baby up or down a few stairs. Or groceries, whatever.

2. The split-levels I knew as a kid (where some of my friends lived), the kids' bedrooms were in the lower level - so half-underground, and with those tiny little high-up windows that allegedly let light in but that you can't see out of easily (ESPECIALLY if you are a kid). I would find that depressing. I know one of the things that was a "dealbreaker" for me when I was looking for a house to buy were those "energy efficient" windows that were tiny and set high into the wall - because if I can't see out of a space, I start to feel trapped.

But it does seem they were a common thing in the 70s (probably many of them built in the 60s). I suppose the "half underground" rooms had some benefits - MAYBE more safe in a tornado (but probably more prone to flooding, like basements are) and perhaps there's some degree of "it stays cooler in hot weather" (which may have been the motivation for putting bedrooms down there in the 60s, in the era before whole-house airconditioning was something that ordinary middle-class people had).

(Ranch houses were also big, but they seem to be less of a thing here, or at least in the specific neighborhood where my parents live).

There are some older, "farmhouse style" or bungalow-like houses (more similar to my house) over on Grove, which I think is an older neighborhood. (There's also one very, very nice looking sort-of-farmhouse style - but that looks newer - that has the look of one of those houses where you could walk up, knock on the door, and be welcomed in. No, I did not try, because I know that's just a fantasy).

I also had another Dog Encounter. I was walking down Grove and a door opened, a medium sized terrier sort of dog bolted out and ran toward me. I immediately froze, but I am getting better at "reading" dog body language because I almost immediately realized he was playing instead of angry - he was doing that high-stepping run, and his tail was wagging. He circled me, pushed his wet nose against my hand, and then bolted back off as his owner ran out into the yard and started calling for him ("Flapjack"). He stopped in a corner of the yard, squatted and defecated, but ran again before she could get to him....she apologized to me and said "I was trying to leave for the day and he got past me out the door" and I laughed and said "He knew you were leaving and he knew if he did this you'd stay for longer" and she laughed. I guess she eventually caught him but...yeah, that brief moment of fear/concern followed (faster than I could even stop to go "okay, what's the nearest tree with a low enough branch that I could get up it if I had to?") by relief when I realized he was just being mischievous to his owner and the only thing he wanted to do was see who I was....

Also, sometimes you can judge a dog's behavior by its name, because the owner usually bestows the name, and if it's a silly/pleasant name like Flapjack, you can kind of assume* that the dog is very unlikely to be a biter. (And no, you can't judge by breed. I've known very sweet (if gassy) Dobermans in my life, and I also knew a Chihuahua who took off the tip of his owner's pinky finger. German Shepherds I've known have been the most variable - from my uncle's sweet and well-trained dogs who will come huffing up to you and lie down with their head on your knee, to other people's dogs who bark and lunge and seem violent)

(*Usually, of course)

But yeah. Because of barking-and-lunging dogs in my past I always do stop for a moment and wait when I see an unfamiliar dog - especially a loose one, because usually dogs on a leash are at least nominally under control. If an owner is around usually their reaction will tell me if things will be okay (Flapjack's owner's dismay at his escape) or not (someone just standing back and letting the dog run at you, like one of my Terrible Neighbors did once. And that was *on my own property*)

And yes, I admit, in an area where I hear (but don't yet see) a dog, I keep an eye out for trees with low branches because I can STILL swing myself up into a tree if I need to. Luckily, I have not needed to.

1 comment:

purlewe said...

Flapjack is an EXCELLENT name for a dog. :D