Friday, October 29, 2010

Mixing Business with Pleasure

As she speaks I'm scolding myself for allowing my eyes to drift around the room.

What will that wall look like in Spanish Moss? Would the TV work where she has hers, or should I get some wiring put in at the other end?

It's surreal that I'm here at all - a moment of bravery/stupidity and suddenly I'm in the door of the "new" house with the "old" owner. What started out as a simple business discussion quickly became a social call, and I wasn't minding in the least.

While it was easy for me to envision what the floor would look like without the shag carpet, it was much more difficult for me to imagine her husband supervising the construction of the house. Mostly because I've never met him. She tells me the stories that made this house her home; how her husband made a statement with a load of poor quality lumber; how he chose a rounded arch to make their entrance unique. He sounds like a man after my own heart. She stops herself to show me a feature of the windows, top of the line in their day - and are still in great condition.

The longer I'm there, the less I feel like positioning my furniture in my mind and more like I'm being given a great opportunity that I should appreciate.

We chat about the auction sale the weekend before and although she's interested to know that some things did go to "good" owners, you can tell it pains her to talk too much about the life she had being sold off. We laugh over the fact that I bought a desk that belonged to her husband.

"Had I known, we could have just left it here for you!" she smiles.

Personal posessions not needed or wanted went to the highest bidder. The accordions her husband treasured hadn't been around as long as I thought. He bought two of them second hand and only one was new. He taught himself how to play at the age of 60. I'm admiring the two of them more and more. He would sit on the front porch and serenade the neighbor, because he actually could play well.

She speaks of her daughters and how helpful they have been. The packing and cleaning and organizing they have done to help her in her transition from their family home to a modest two bedroom apartment. She would move closer to them, if it weren't for the fact that he's still in town and in a nursing home. He counts on her visits and looks forward to seeing her. Their 56-year marriage is tested by Alzheimers but she's willing to be near him as long as she can.

I'm stunned when she tells me her age - turning 82 in December. She doesn't look it, until we stand to seek out another feature of the house. Her hip and knee have tightened up, making walking difficult. In spite of my protests to return to the couch, she insists on showing me all of the thermostats, as well as the quality cleaning job she has done on the Rec room. Was there ever any doubt?

From time to time we talk about what The Big Guy and I plan to do with the house - mostly redecorating. She apologizes for the dated appearance but we agree it would be pointless to go to the expense of painting only to sell and have someone change it to suit their tastes. I gauge her reaction to things and carefully redirect the conversation to her when I see there's a saddness to her. It can only be expected, but after her generosity, I don't want to be thoughtless of her feelings.

She then tells me how the kitchen is one of the warmest rooms of the house, thanks to the oven and the southern exposure with a large window and sliding glass doors. While she is warm blooded, she would often seek refuge in the cooler living room to the north. I find myself daydreaming about baking on a Sunday afternoon, sunlight flooding the kitchen and it's warmth keeping me toasty as well. In my current kitchen, I get sun only late in the day through one window that faces West.

At some point we discussed the business - the purpose of my visit, and while she never offers me a refreshment, it was obvious she was not keen for our time to end, following me down the stairs and out the door. She shared more stories about the house and the flower beds. By now it's dark out and for the first time I see the view of the town with the lights on. My house on the hill has a beautiful view during the day, but it never occurred to me how lovely it would be at night.

Before I leave I extend an invitiation.

"Things are going to be crazy the next couple of weeks, so I'll say this now. If you would ever like to come back to the house, and see what we've done, you are welcome to do so. I know you might not want to, and I would totally understand that."

Her face lights up and while there is still a sadness to it, I can see she is considering it. If she never comes, I wouldn't blame her. You can't ever really go back. I don't know that I would have any great desire to see in our old home again.

The next day, I'm packing with my Mother and she's commenting on the various attributes of the little house we are leaving. How much we've improved the property and put ourselves in to it.

"You'll miss your oak cupboards," she says, removing pots from a lower cupboard.

"No, I don't think I will," I reply, instead thinking of the sunlight kitchen, the house with a history and a home with a view.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Treading water, but just barely....

This one is for Susan - who said "What's going on with the blog?" and to which I responded - "I HAVEN'T HAD TIME!" and for that I'm truly sorry....

The only way to do this right is to catch everyone up on the past two months which honestly seems like the blink of an eye, when I look back on it. Forgive me if break this up, because at some point, you'll want to sleep or eat or at least use the plumbing.

Mid August, the fam goes on holidays. We need to get away from the stress of the house selling and we decide to do something equally stressful - buy hockey equipment. On the way home to another ball game, one of the boys decides we should go camping. Sure, great idea, we can pitch the tent in the back yard...

"NO MOM - we mean REAL camping!" It was like Surround Sound. So, with a game ahead of me, the camping gear packed away and The Big Guy ready to book a site at a nearby campground, I realize, we should maybe let our realtor know we will be away from civilization for 48 hours. Make a mental note to call in the morning - as I will be up to midnight shopping (thank GOD for 24 hour grocery stores)and packing clothes.

Naturally, I forget to call said realtor in the morning, but instead he calls US! There's another offer on the second house we bid on and now we have to fish or cut bait. We know we want this house BAD, so we put the offer in and hope for the best. The Realtor says we should have an answer by the end of the day.

So by 10 a.m. we are off for our camping adventure - all the while laughing about what we might do with the house if we get it.

"You really shouldn't do that you know," pipes up Second Born Son.

"Do what?" I ask

"Get your hopes up, you'll only be disappointed if it doesn't work out." he replies.

I'm gobsmacked. We just got schooled by the 9 year old.

We set up our site, discuss our plan for the day and eat lunch. After some splash time in the river, we head out for a walk about the park. It's a 45 minute hike and we are on the way back to our site when we look across the valley and see a car remarkably familiar heading down the remote lane to our little campsite. It's the realtor's car.

The Big Guy and I look at each other - not a good sign - it's only been two hours and why would he come all the way here unless it was bad news? We are disappointed and the walk seems much longer as we find our way back to the little tent by the river. WRONG - it's GREAT news - we got the house, he brought the paperwork for us to finalize the deal and initial some minor changes. The camping adventure goes from fun to depressing to FREAKIN' AWESOME. The down side is - we won't move until Nov. 12 - and oh ya, we have to sell our house.

Now my sister had a philosophy. She said the offer on the first house didn't go through with our conditional sale because she feels we were buying the wrong house. So within 10 days of putting an offer on the second house, we have not one, but THREE offers on our little house. It's a whirlwind as we sit with offers around us and The Big Guy is in his glory because, yes people, THIS is what a Bidding War is all about.

In the end the deal is done, we are moving and just when we think there is SOOOO much time, it's back to school, hockey tryouts and just dealing with every day life.

...and it's two months later!