How I Got Here

Warning: Rants Ahead

My mother with our cat Lucy

My mother with our cat Lucy

I moved into this house at the end of October 2008. There was a lot of trauma involved in the move – not least because it was the result of my mother’s death in December 2007. I had been living with her for almost 11 years while she went from a healthy, vibrant and happy-go-lucky oldster of 74 to an increasingly frail victim of multiple health issues and Alzheimer’s. She died in December 2007.

After her death, it was necessary to sell her house, as it was part of her estate. The property was worth $950,000, but this was at the time when the housing market had gone completely to hell, and the only offer we got, after starting out at just $749,000 and dropping the price twice, was for $600,000 –from a woman who planned to tear the house down and put up a McMansion.

My parents lived here from 1961 to 2008

My parents lived here from 1961 to 2008

As soon as the offer was made, I could go house-hunting. Now I was ready to fulfill my lifelong dream of living in a house on a lake!

Rant #1: But that was a mostly black summer. The woman who had offered for Mom’s house was a prize bitch. She knew we really wanted to sell, and took every advantage of it. She demanded that my realtor and lawyer do work that legally, because she had signed the offer, her own people were obligated to do. Why? Because if we didn’t do it, she’d walk away leaving her $25K earnest money behind. She had money to burn, obviously. Sometimes I wish we had taken the earnest money and told her to go suck rocks…

So on the days I went house-hunting I was glowingly happy, but the rest of the time I was darkly, deeply depressed.

That summer of 2008 saw a lot of flooding in the area where I wanted to live, which made it easy to rule out many possible homes. There was one, at the edge of my budget, that really caught my fancy, but I wasn’t sure, so we kept looking. This house, where I live now, looks like nothing special at all from the outside, but when my realtor and I walked in through the front door, I just caught my breath, and she exclaimed, “Oh, Marcia!”

As you saw in my blog House Painting, Before and After, the place looked like a 1-story ranch – or even a trailer – from outside. But here’s what we found inside:

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The house had just about everything I wanted (and I had a long list), except for a luxury bath. The first house had that. Then and there we went back to look at that other house, and started to find all sorts of things wrong with it. The kitchen was poky and isolated. Some cracks in plaster. Nah.

I made an offer for this house. It was accepted.

Rant #2: Accepted but – would I be able to buy it? Was that damnable woman going to buy Mom’s house or not? She played games with us on and on. I had to get an extension on my offer to buy. I couldn’t make any plans to move because I had no idea when or even if I’d be moving that year. And oh, how I wanted this house. I didn’t want to lose it.

Finally the bitch set a closing date – but even then there was a catch, one more issue to be cleared up before she’d commit to the purchase. I literally did not know until 4:00 the day before the scheduled closing whether she was going to go through with it or not. Well, to be honest, I didn’t really know until she and her realtor walked in the door at the closing office the next afternoon. I cannot begin to tell you what a strain it was not to scream at her when she made a joking remark about how fussy my lawyer was. It was a good thing that Wilma had warned me not to say anything.

Finally, finally, closing was complete. Now the problem was, it was late Friday afternoon, so I could not do my closing until Monday, and then would have to move Tuesday. So little time to pack the rest or plan! While lot of stuff had been packed away when we staged Mom’s house, and I busted my ass over the weekend, I still had to pay the movers extra to pack almost everything that was left.

Worse yet, I had no time to dig and pot plants to take with me to the new house, and my yard crew couldn’t come until Tuesday – moving day. All I could do was tell them what I wanted to bring along – a tiny fraction of what I would have liked to take with me if I had had the time, especially knowing that my gardens at Mom and Dad’s house would be destroyed. I left behind literally hundreds of plants – thousands of dollars’ worth of plants.

And all my yard crew could do at my new house was to stick perennials in the ground where there appeared to be room, then dig up a narrow strip of ground along a chain-link fence to plant the shrubs we’d brought. Many plants wound up in entirely inappropriate places. This was October 29th, mind you, and the gardens had been all cleaned up, so I had no idea what might turn out to be next to some of the things I was planting.

I must have made the 70-minute-long round trip journey from old house to new 5 times that Tuesday, and at the end of it, I hadn’t been able to get everything out. Because I couldn’t be there when the movers were ready to leave, they left things behind that they should have taken (why would they leave my ironing board behind?), plus there were some very delicate items I wanted to move myself. By the end of the Tuesday, too, I was absolutely unable to catch my cat Lucy to take her with me. She’d hidden under one of the beds that was staying behind, and I had to leave her there. (My other cat, Cricket, made it to the new house that day.)

First thing on Wednesday I drove the 35 minutes back south and this time was able to get Lucy into the carrier – she came out because she was hungry. (I hoped she had peed and shit all over the place, too. I was that angry at the buyer.) I loaded my car again and went back north. I thought I’d have a little time to rest – after all, the bitch wasn’t going to have the old house knocked down tomorrow – but (Rant #3) late in the afternoon Wilma, my realtor (who was also Mom’s and my next-door neighbor, and a good friend), phoned to tell me the wretched woman had called screaming about the mess left behind and saying if it wasn’t all out of the house by that evening, she’d have the sheriff there first thing Thursday.

I couldn’t do it all. Not with a 70-minute round trip for each load (plus loading and unloading). I think I managed two or three trips, but then, in the deepening darkness of a late October evening, I loaded as much as I could into my car once more and then begged Wilma and her husband Ron to let me store the rest in their garage. It seemed like I lugged stuff from Mom’s house to the Ron and Wilma’s garage forever, and it probably was at least 2½ hours. I carried things weighing so much my chiropractor would’ve had a fit.

The next day, Ron and Wilma, bless them, loaded everything into their two cars and brought it up to me. The move was complete. I had my dream home – but I was a wreck.

These pictures tell some of the story: they were taken three months after I moved in, and many, many boxes were still unpacked. I wasn’t able to get my car into the garage, which was FULL of boxes, until January.

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Nonetheless, I’d fulfilled the dream that began when I was 8 years old, when my family first rented a vacation cabin on a lake. I had a lakeside home, and I love it. I never intend to move again.

For a more detailed description of these months:

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