Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Splinter Group

I will be going to another Old-House get together tomorrow. This will be at a house I’ve never been in before, so it should be fun. Jim and Margaret are new comers to the group but already seem more a part of the group than I do. They are both retired and very out-going. Very nice people. They moved up here only in the last few years. They have bought about 10 properties in the city it seems. This is mostly good because they are, for the most part, restoration minded. Jim does come-off some times seeming a little like a developer, which makes me a little nervous at times. I like them both, though, as I said they are very nice.

The group I attend is called The Splinter Group because they used to be a part of a much larger group that became too big and sort of lost focus. The original intention was for a group of people who were actively restoring old homes to get together on a regular basis and share stories and ideas, not unlike what happens at HouseBlogs. It grew and grew to the point that a lot of people were attending that owned older homes but weren’t really engaged in the restoration aspect, so the “meetings” became little more than social events.

Eventually what happened was a group of the more hard-core enthusiasts broke off from the main group and became known as The Splinter Group. This all happened before my time. I went to a few meetings of the remaining members (the non-splinter group) a few years ago. A neighbor of mine at my former house invited me to the group. I attended a few meetings but quickly became disillusioned. I’m not terribly social to start with, so it is not really in my nature to meet monthly with a group of 20 or 30 people. The people were all nice, but they didn’t really talk about houses that much.

Usually, when there is a meeting there is a social aspect were people mingle and talk, but then there is an actually meeting. The person whose house the meeting is at talks about their house and it’s history, and what projects they are working on, and gives a tour. Stories are swapped and it is largly old-house related. The first meeting I attended of the non-splinter group none of that ever happened. I left not really even knowing whose house I was at. It was kind of like just any other party. I only went to 2 or 3 and stopped going. The final straw was when I had had a gentleman from the group at my house and he was blown away by all the projects I was doing. At the next meeting his wife sort of gave me a hard time because they didn’t have the time to do the work I was doing. Fine with me, but don’t try and make me feel guilty at an old-house meeting because I’m working on my old house.

About a year and a half ago I was at a local antique store and got in to a great conversation with the owner about restoration and old houses. I told her about the group and she said she was familiar with them and she was part of The Splinter Group. She told me the whole story. We talked some more and she asked more about the work I was doing. Eventually her husband showed up and the shop was closing so I invited them over for a tour of the house and they reciprocated the next evening. They only live a few blocks from me. Little did I know at the time that I was being evaluated to become a charter member of The Splinter Group. Long story long – I made the cut. It seems I only attend about 8 meetings a year.

I’ve only had the meeting once at my house. That was 19 months ago in January just after I started attending. I will be having the meeting at my house next month, which means I have a little more than 4 weeks to get the kitchen presentable. Not finished – presentable. I think it is doable but I have a lot of work ahead of me. So why I’m I sitting here typing?

Jim & Margaret's House

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