The Inspector. If you are the buyer, his job is to strip your dream naked and point out every pimple, wart, and blemish. You have already arranged your furniture and pictured yourself sipping coffee early in the morning on the deck, listening to the birds and watching the sun rise.
If you are the seller, his job is to reduce the financial return you thought you would receive for loving, caring and ultimately giving up this home.
We have all ridden in this particular rodeo before, the dream is painted with all the changes you will make and the bones of the house support your vision despite the small bits of mold and rot.
After 12 years I am closing the chapter on this address. While there were things I knew would raise red flags with the home inspection, there are also hidden sores that break my heart (and checkbook) before I can move on. I suppose if I had a partner in my life, someone to be the voice of reason when I’m ready to pull out the 410 and exercise my right to bear arms, this would be slightly easier. Alice is not the voice of reason and Skeedles disappears with depressing regularity.
On the flip side. As I pursue the next address to put on my Christmas cards, my honed sense of what can go wrong with a house allows me to temper my expectations. I’m still operating on the concept that my next home hasn’t presented itself to me. The options at the moment are
- an antique charmer with a wood stove, a killer view and fun kitchen but lots of years of minimal maintenance.
- the straw bale house, bright and airy with environmental comfort but lacking my creature comforts of closets, a fireplace and a 10 minute commute.
- a lake house with a wood stove and, well, a lake, and a 20 minute commute .
- a tiny “walk through’ house, close to work, within walking distance to shopping, dining but with less privacy and nature.
- a log cabin that doesn’t want pets just 5 miles from our current home.
As a newly minted renter, I am looking for a long-term situation. This is good. I’m ‘mature’ and responsible both fiscally and in my lifestyle. That is good. Now to come to a decision. For the first time in fifteen months I have some feeling of control over my immediate future.
And just like that my Happy disappeared. It walked out the door when my realtor called at 10:00 on Friday morning – my 62nd birthday. The potential buyers ‘walked’ on the sale of my house. I crashed and burned on the steps outside the office as Sean was bringing me a box of decadent cupcakes.
So why does this feel familiar? What part of this emotion seems to taunt me with thoughts I have failed? I go back to my diaries (it was a better alternative to sitting in the middle of the living room with a gas can and a match) and I search for another “Chapter” and how it unfolded.
Though I have no lengthy entries from the period, except brief notes on the threshold of misery and the extreme happiness beyond. I do remember that particular real estate living hell. Jeff and I sold the house in Littleton and had an offer in on a farm in West Swanzey, NH. The speed bumps and road signs were blaring “Danger” but we were blind to them and the NH farm became a disaster of nightmare proportions. Ultimately we had 30 days to find a house/home/barn for two daughters, two dogs, a cat and three horses.
The farm in Lunenburg emerged and for the next 18 years it was the best move I have ever made. Childhoods were lived, milestones were passed and lessons of life were learned.
Indeed, my heart broke and I wept at the set-back this time around. Being unable to see how this would “All turn out for the best!” I chose to ignore the fact that I was now back to the beginning with no house sale. The next day I was scheduled to look at a house way off in the back country that seemed to hit every mark on my list. If you gave me a piece of land, far up atop a hill, and I built exactly half of this house, that was it. Smaller space but perfect in every other way from the walk-out deck off the kitchen and living room, to the spacious loft and cathedral ceilings. This newer rental was in need of a good cleaning but not much else. Due to my sudden loss of a timeline for moving, I let it go.
All this is bringing me closer to finding what is next. All this is a very Therapeutic Misadventure…
Queen of the Stage…
At this point I am the Queen of house showings. After more than 15 months of living with my house on the market, I have it down to a science and a routine.
I’ve reduced the hours it takes to ‘stage’ the house and know exactly what order to execute the items on my list:
- Fresh flowers in not just the obvious but also surprising little places.
- A gentle scent, not overpowering air freshener, but a hint of pine and holidays – picture your Christmas tree here!
- Background music that isn’t “Muzac” but something unobtrusive and simple – piano or classic guitar solo.
- All personal hygiene items removed and any signs of daily life such as the coffee maker stowed. “Imagine making your coffee and strolling out to the deck in your robe as the birds awaken with song.”
- Hide all of Alice’s bones and toys. Put blankets/sheets covering furniture out of sight.
- Lastly, wash the kitchen floor and turn on the lights in every room. Sparkling floors, No dark corners and a slight smell of ‘just cleaned’ prevail.
Now that the inspections have shown the dark underbelly of what needs repair, I am focused on how to hook the next owner into seeing where they will put their own touches on this home. Tomorrow is the first showing since the deal went south and though it pains me to begin all over again, I know how to do this…
In the Pink!
It’s the Pink season for the house. Though the garden looks like a jungle at the moment, I know the next color to explode into the walkway is yellow. Right now, the last of the Peonies are imploding as a deep, burgundy rose takes center stage.
Flat water paddling
I took myself on a solo kayak this morning. The day was warm with a good breeze and high clouds, perfect for flat-water paddling. One of the perks I have working for the Chamber is access to creative projects that not only feed my mind as I work through them but provide invaluable bits of information for feeding my soul later. I’m writing and producing a Relocation magazine for the Contoocook Valley and one of the resource guides/tables I’ve worked on is where to go for outdoor recreation. Golf, hiking, skiing, boating, fishing and other pursuits are listed for those newcomers to the area. The boating category allowed me to tap into my personal experience of kayaking the region while adding new spots to try to my list. One of those was Mountain Brook Reservoir in Jaffrey. Who know there it was there?
Bostonpaddler.com had some interesting notes that helped me find the remote launch site. Though he/she must have traversed a different part of the pond as the spectral views of Mt. Monadnock were not forthcoming on my little journey.
A deeply rutted and narrow dirt road lead to the sandy boat launch with minimal parking to the side. It was an easy put-in though the lake/reservoir was not the crystal clear, granite strewn pond I prefer. Boston kayaker.com provided and excellent map so I set out to circle the island and explore the Northwest corners.
The beauty for me of flat-water paddling is that feeling of sinking into the boat, wearing it like a second skin and playing with the nuances of weight and focus. While these were all critical on the river paddle I took two weekends ago, the river had a steady current and obstacles to be navigated. The river was like riding a cross-country course in equine terms while the flat-water pond held the elegance and subtly of a dressage test.
I envisioned myself as a green dragon-fly slipping over the surface and darting before the wind. A slight dip of one paddle behind would bring me dancing in a circle while a couple of strong pulls propelled me easily across the wide stretches of open water.
Closing out the month
June/Enuj closes out for me with only two days of possible earth-shattering surprises left to shock me. I take comfort in the small victories over things of which I have no control.
- A nice note from the town clerk advising me that I have been voted in for three more years of board membership with the EDA. Perhaps this has replaced Hospice as my heart-felt volunteering?
- The insurance is going to cover at least a part of what it will take to make this house salable. Mold removal will commence soon and the queen of stage will work her magic once again.
- Today my birthday gift from Sean arrived at the Chamber…such a good boss. My business cards, printed on lovely soft brown recycled paper declare me the Director of Membership & Marketing of the Chamber. The other side heralds me as Director & Lead Mentor of AWE.
Identity, security, respect. There is no wage to replace these…
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