Attic

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Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the attic.

Years ago, my wife and I bought a house in Lawton, OK. A nice little house, and one I was sad to leave. When we first moved in, I climbed into the attic because the inspection said we had some “j-boxes without covers”. Being a good, red-blooded American male, I figured I could fix that.

What I didn’t take into account was that I didn’t know what a “j-box” was. Also, my red-bloodedness showing through, I wasn’t about to ask what a “j-box” was because I figured it was one of those things that every other American male knew and I didn’t want everyone to know that I was the one guy who didn’t. So I climbed the ladder with my flashlight and went into the attic. I guess I was looking for a box of some sort, perhaps one with a “J” on the side, or maybe even one shaped like a “J”.

It will surprise you, then, that I discovered that a “j-box” was a junction box in the electrical system. The only thing that disturbed me was that the inspector’s report clearly said there were “j-boxes” (plural) without covers and, try as I might, I could only find one “j-box” at all, let alone with or without a cover.

What I did find of interest was a nest. No, not a rat’s nest, but the nest of, I would guess, about a 12 year old boy. There were some old boards thrown across the rafters, a beat-up pillow, and some reading material. No, not THAT kind of reading material. There were a couple Archie comic books, an adventure book, and even a math textbook (wonder if he got charged for not bringing that back?).

The people we bought the house from didn’t have kids, so no telling how long ago that nest had been made. Still, as I looked at that stuff, I could see very clearly in my mind what had been going on. I pictured an 11 or 12 year old boy with two or three sisters, who would “sneak” into the garage and climb the ladder to his secret place. There he would lay back with a flashlight and study math or wish he knew girls who were built like Betty and Veronica. Maybe he would even take a can of soda up there with him, which he would keep nestled between the folds of the insulation between sips.

I’m HOPING he had a drink up there, anyway. Did I mention this was in Lawton, Oklahoma?!?! Attics are not cool places in southern Oklahoma, even in winter.

Over the years in that house, I had to go up in the attic a few more times, on one errand or another. At my house here in the Texas panhandle, I have willingly gone into the attic several times. I’ve run my stereo speakers through the ceiling, re-run the cable to our TV antenna, etc. And every time I do it, I come out praying it will be my last time in the attic.

I’m not claustrophobic. And, at the beginning of each of these projects there’s even a bit of youthful anticipation—remembering the days when, as a child, I imagined what wonders might be found in an attic. Maybe lost treasure from a previous owner, or maybe just the fact that it’s a part of the house but not a part I usually got to go in. Like a forbidden land.

Now, though, I’m an adult and it only takes about two minutes in the attic before I’m tired of a] being hunched over, 2] the dust, c] the various nails that stick out—some with no apparent purpose and d] the heat. (I re-did the video cable last winter, thinking it would be cooler in the attic. It was, but it doesn’t take such close quarters long to become stuffy even when cool.)

So imagine my joy when I realized that—in the process of remodeling our church here in Dumas—I was either the only one agile enough to go into the attic or dumb enough. In consequence, for the last two months, as we have remodeled North Plains Christian Church, I have gotten to spend way more time than I would like crawling around in the attic.

There’s something about laying down in a hot attic, your legs cramping up, as you try to grab speaker wire with a home-made harpoon that makes you really appreciate the guys (and, I’m assuming, in some cases, girls) who do attic work on purpose. If any such people would like to come be members of our church and help us out in the attic I, for one, will welc