Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Muck and the Mire

Sometimes you have to go through the muck and mire to get to a beautiful place.

I bought this 107-year old house (duplex) two years this month on a wing and a prayer. I'd never purchased a home on my own and it was a terrifying experience. If I hadn't had the most amazing, awesome, and encouraging real estate agent in the world on my side, I wouldn't have done it. I know this. Well, with her gentle push, I bought the house and I'm so glad.

My old house is solid and sound and today, everything works! I LOVE old houses, old furniture, old books and it's no surprise to me that I LOVE writing historical fiction.

Yeah, the water pressure isn't great in my old house and I don't have outlets where I'd like them, but all in all, it's a great house for me. Unfortunately, the chimney was closed off, so I don't have a working fireplace, but I have a great mantle. All the floors are Southern Pine and the doors, door knobs, and sash windows are original. I was smitten.

I'm missing sixteen wood shutters that were stolen when the house was in foreclosure years ago and I hate that crappy metal awning, but the house works for me. It's just the right size with three bedrooms and one bathroom. And, room in the utility room for a teeny weeny powder room in the future.

The small yard which runs along the side of the house to a flagstone patio in the back, off the kitchen door is just enough for me to maintain and I can mow the lawn in five minutes. I planted a garden along the front fence which I can see from my dining room window where I write. A special writing place is important to me.

I've decorated the house like I like it with furniture that reminds me of my many postings around the world and my children's photographs surround me. I've had happy times in this house and although my children live in the DC area and I miss them. This is home, our home. They don't visit as often as I'd like them to, but they're allergic to cats and there's Pierre, my cat. So, I visit them.

Life was good before I left for Europe four weeks ago. Then, I received a letter from the city. All the owners on my street (the city planner is making her way to every street in my town) received a letter citing the things we have to do to be in compliance with city ordinance. My letter stated that I had three months to remove the chipping red paint on the red brick...that's my whole house.

I don't know why people paint red brick with red paint. Doesn't make sense to me, but that's what a former owner did. So, as the new owner, it was my problem. I was really upset with this news and tried not to think about it during my vacation, but the idea of a major financial ordeal kept creeping into my mind. I dreaded going home to deal with this.

So, my friend and former owner of the house graciously offered to help me scrape paint off the brick when I returned. We didn't know how we were going to reach the second story and up from there, but we would begin. She and I began scraping paint yesterday morning and after an hour, a man walked by and offered to scrape the paint off my entire house for $130! Thank you, God!! A stranger to me who was looking for quick money. I was a bit hesitant, but after speaking with him and asking him to sign a legal contract that I printed off the laptop, I agreed to the price.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, so he is nearly finished with the largest portion of the house, the side. This morning it's raining, so I doubt I'll see him, but I'm so happy that he walked by when he did, looking for work. The house looks great and I'll deal with the mortar later.

As I looked at this photograph this morning, I had a great idea...I'll have him remove the crappy metal awning! He has to work on the front of the house and that will make it much easier for him and make the front more aesthetically pleasing! The thought makes me so happy! The house is an historic property, BUT the awning isn't original to the house, so I'm good there.

It's said that to move forward to a better place, you have to reach and go through a rough patch. The city is just doing their job and now, I will be able to remove the awning at a great price. In the future, I'll have someone build a wood railing with a Federal style wood awning with two wood pillars. Perfect. That should make the Historical Society or as we jokingly call it, the Hysterical Society, happy :)

My manuscript, A Decent Woman, will have to wait a week for me to get stuck in it again. However, this glitch in my writing routine turned out to be the best thing ever.

I'm happy on this rainy West Virginia morning.

Peace and love,
Ellie




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