Making personal infrastructure great again


By Norman Knight

Back before I met her, Becky bought a piece of property in the quiet countryside, built a house and settled there. The area with its woods and rolling topography is serenely quiet.

The solid, cozy house was built on a hillside that overlooks a creek and meadow. Not too long after the house was finished we met, and soon I became part of what she named The Song of the Trees. It is a good place to be.

As is true about pretty much all things man-made, after many years of use, changes have occurred here at SOTT. Light bulbs burn out, faucets drip, appliances stop working, stairs creak, door frames shift, things slip and what once was tight becomes loose.

Not long ago, because we could see the handwriting on the no-longer-freshly-painted walls, Becky and I took a vote. The results were clear and unambiguous: it was time to Make Our House Great Again.

First, we agreed that our infrastructure is not what it once was. The concrete pad outside the walkout basement was cracked in a couple of places. Also a concern was the wooden deck above the walkout which was clearly sagging. To this layman, it seemed likely that the two issues were related. Consultation with experts confirmed that the concrete was sliding down the hill. Measures would have to be taken to stem the slow decline. To those of us concerned, the message was received: Build a wall.

Unlike some wall-building projects floating around, the issue of who would pay for the project did not come up at our house. We knew making demands on the squirrels and chipmunks who would be frolicking over and around the retaining walls would not be useful. To even ask them would be nuts.

Sure, we knew who would wind up paying for it; the only question was: how would she and I make this happen? Not big fans of deficit spending, Becky and I knew we would have to figure out another way to fund this project. Perhaps we could sell or barter some of our garden produce we will be realizing before too long.

You see, part of the agenda of the Make Our House Great Again project is to grow more of what we eat here at home rather than buy foodstuffs grown and made elsewhere — foreign imports, if you will. We began preparing our garden and already have early spring crops such as spinach, peas and radishes sprouting up.

Soon we will be planting the usual suspects: tomatoes, green beans, squash, peppers and the like. By mid-summer we will enjoy the fruits of our born-and-bred-here at SOTT produce. We truly subscribe to the theory that self-reliance is the key to Making Our Home Great Again.

Is everything working out as planned? Well, not everything but we are plugging away. And speaking of plugging, the administration of this project has been troubled with leaks since it began. The garden hose won’t tighten firmly to the faucet, some windows are not airtight, the waterline to the garage utility sink had to be temporarily shut off until we could replace a washer.

We understand that leaks are to be expected within any organization, but both of us here at the Make Our Home Great Again project are committed to keeping them to a minimum.

The days ahead will be filled with difficult challenges and unexpected roadblocks. We accept them as opportunities to grow and learn. We look into the future and see not a once-great house slowly sliding down a path toward mediocrity, but a bright and shiny structure on a hill. A Great Home once again.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to