Betty J. Slade
The talk around Pagosa is the price of lumber: overpriced and going through the roof, but builders still build.
Buyers boast of paying $100,000 over the appraisal price to beat out three or four other bidders. In the frenzy, many old houses are listed as grandfathered in, before inspections and codes. Buyers are in a state of euphoria, happy to win the bid and without concern to pay with a bucket of cash.
The streets flood with out-of-town visitors with their uncontrollable excitement over their discovery of Pagosa. Pagosans wonder what happened and if our little town will ever return to the good old days. Don’t think so.
Many of our old-time friends have taken their $100,000 and left. Can’t blame them. It seems to be the feasible thing to do, but we choose to sit tight. There is no other place on this earth we would rather be.
For the old-timers, we remember taming the wilderness. First stoplight, the hot springs in the middle of the field and builders without licenses or not bonded.
We measured life by the rule of thumb, by approximate and compared methods. Experience was our yardstick. We worked with what we had on hand and could afford.
Many times, I stretched a piece of material from my thumb-on-nose to my outstretched fingers. I knew the length determined a yard, give or take an inch or 2. Even a broom handle computed 4 feet.
Life seemed simpler but harder in those earlier days in Pagosa. Even the mayhem of living in unfinished houses with piles of sheet rock, plumbing supplies, and light fixtures, we all experienced the same hardships and managed.
We navigated around the chaos of saws, ladders, and hammers. When we built on to our home, I told our children, “We don’t have a leveler, but we can make a straight line by tying a rock on the end of a string. We will dangle it from the ceiling and drop it alongside our 2×4.” As the rock fell to its true south, we aligned the board with the string and built our walls.
I asked my Sweet Al if he remembered the tape measure with the end cut off. When we used it, we knew to add another 2 inches. He said, “I do. I used it all the time. Whatever happened to it?”
“It’s probably still in your toolbox after 40 years. You contended it was too good to throw away. There were times I forgot to add 2 inches and I wanted to choke someone, namely you.”
In those years when the people of Pagosa lived on a shoestring and a rock, we moved hammers and saws off the kitchen table to serve a family meal. Admid chaos, there was a rightness that motivated us and kept us in a straight line.
As we built on our homes, we also built family and character, and we trusted Jesus to be the true plumb line. He is still our trustworthy measuring stick because he is the same yesterday, today and forever.
To quote David, “Lord, who fully knows the power of your passion and the intensity of your emotions? Help us to remember that our days are numbered and help us to interpret our lives correctly.” — Psalm 90:1-12 (TPT).
Final brushstroke: We are building together, as individuals and families in a safe community. If we measure our lives by the power of God’s passion and intensity, and use the right yardstick, we will definitely cut against the grain, but we will also have an accurate measurement. We have found by staying true to God’s way, we will align our lives for a sounder house and a better end, no matter who or what comes.