If you live in our part of New Jersey, you probably know our house. It's the old house next to the high school, raised up off the road by an old stone wall, its clapboard siding painted yellow, with a big columned front porch and dark green shutters, and a newer glassed-in conservatory on the side.... and by now you are saying, "Oh! You live in that old house!"
Yes, yes we do. And have since May of 2008.
Howard and I are empty-nesters -- both daughters away at college and grad school -- and because we wanted a larger nest to host guests when our chickens do come home to roost, and also because I wanted a change from the house we'd raised our girls in, we decided to move.
In the fall of 2007 I saw an old farmhouse in an online realty listing... and decided to take a look.
When I did, I was a goner.
It was MY house. It was the house I wished I lived in when I was a little girl. It had its drawbacks -- but hey, nothing is perfect!
That was the end of October. We bought the house in March, although our other house was still on the market with no buyers in sight. But miracles do happen, even in slumping real estate markets -- we got two offers on our own house, and accepted a solid full price contract. (Thank you, St. Joseph.)
We hired plumbers, electricians, painters, an air conditioning installer (God bless central air!), handymen, an iron fabricator, and a contractor to shore up a few saggy floors and spongy joists.
The original section of this house is built without any nails. The timbers are hand-cut, and fit together like a giant puzzle, an enormous hand wrought Erector set of timbers. It's beautiful to see, and clearly visible in the attic and cellar.
We also hired a landscaper, my husband having finally abandoned the fiction of his enjoying yard work. However, the pro and I don't see eye to eye about the importance of a perfect green lawn. Our 3/4 acre was mostly wet muddy ruts back in March, and now, on this first day of October, I look out my windows and I see green. I am happy. Landscape guy is not.
"It's all crab grass," says he.
"So?" says I. "It's green!"
He thinks I'm nuts. He may be right, but I'm happy. . . .
We are holding off on more big projects until the spring. They will include exterior painting, maybe roofing, replacing missing shutters, and some fencing so our dogs can run around and sniff out squirrels and chipmunks without the annoyance of always being on lead.
The house is still very much a work in progress, but then ... so are we all.