Saturday, August 15, 2009

In Which our Heroine Tells us More Than we Wanted to Know about Her New Old House

So. As previously hinted, I do have more to say about New England Yearly Meeting. However, my ability to say it has been temporarily compromised by two issues: technical difficulties, and finally moving into that new/old house I've mentioned here before.

Unless my personal life and Peter's holds interest for you, you might want to skip this one.

The technical difficulties I mentioned are entirely the normal thing in this technological age; when we arranged to transfer our current telephone and Internet service from our old house to our new one, across town, the telephone company gladly accepted the commission, without mentioning that they don't actually provide Internet service in our new part of town. At all. Three weeks and six or seven phone calls later, we learned exactly why the carefully scheduled transfer of services was so unsuccessful when it came to our Web access.

While I realize that it would be unusual for a service to refer customers to their competition, I think admitting up front that they didn't provide the service at all would have been the thing to do, rather than canceling it without admitting to us that's what they were doing. Once we figured out what had gone wrong, it did make the decision to switch to their competitor an easy one! Unfortunately, since we do in fact want to keep our old phone number, there's going to be about a two week delay. Since we made the initial set of arrangements more than three weeks ago, I find that annoying. We will have no Internet service here until the 22nd.

Whenever I get warmed up to whine about it, however, Peter points out how smoothly this move has gone so far. And he's right. With so much to be grateful for, I have a nerve kvetching over the small stuff!

Under the header of what has gone right I'd have to put being here at all. Oh, it's not the fact of getting the loan I mean. Peter and I have known for some time that the bank was going to be willing to loan us more money than we would be comfortable owing. Our credit history is reasonably good... and the bank does not have the same priorities we do about our daughter finishing college. Their standards for our money and ours are not the same. So even in the midst of a credit crisis, we were pretty sure of qualifying for the mortgage.

The difficulty has been trying to finance the house while juggling so many midlife financial matters: that daughter in college, saving for retirement, concerns about how an illness might affect our ability to keep working (and working hard enough that fatigue is a daily problem as it is) in addition to paying for a mortgage. It took us a long while to figure out whether or not we dared take on a major new debt at this point in our lives. Over a year, in fact. And for that whole year, this house, which we fell in love with at first sight, has been on the market.

It made it as far as offer and acceptance four or five months ago, but the offer was withdrawn before the deal went through.

Our house waited for us! That's the feeling of it. I've been hesitant to put it into words before, because there is hubris as well as gratitude in the Quaker idea of "way opens," at least in a personal matter. But way has been opening for us like crazy in this move, in big ways (like the house waiting for us) and smaller ones (like the extreme generosity our friends have shown us in helping us with the move, from lifting boxes and toting furniture, to the donation of a big TV we can all watch videos on when they come to visit). Even finding a new tenant for the unit we used to occupy ourselves happened through community, and within two weeks of our offer and acceptance on this house. Truly, it has been remarkable how much has fallen into our laps.

Don't get me wrong: we've been working hard ourselves, too. I have personally scrubbed every single wall, baseboard, and molding in the rental unit. Peter is there now, prepping and painting the last two rooms. We're still hauling boxes, repairing fixtures, sash-cords, and latches all over that old apartment. We've figured out, too, that we're not going to make the deadline on handing it off to our new tenants without a little outside help, and a connection of Peter's through two of his best students at school (there's that community piece again!) is going to come in and help with the last of the carpentry.

Work. It's been plenty of work.

But also gratitude. I'm still in love with the woods--today was the first time we brought the dogs out in them for a walk--but I'm also delighted at how much the house itself really does feel like home. From the first night we slept here, it has felt like we belong here. Oh, part of the delight is the new-house pleasure of playing house: the first meal I cooked in the kitchen, the first load of laundry. All of it feels a bit like being a little girl playing with a dollhouse.

But it's more than that. The house just fits, just feels like a pair of broken-in hiking boots or a favorite sweater. Both of us have had the experience of just looking up from whatever it is we've been doing, sighing happily, and announcing to the universe, "I love this house!"

I love this house.

It has room for us. It has sun that streams in the windows, and grass outside that's thicker than velvet, and enough cupboards in the kitchen, and a laundry that's not down two flights of twisty dark stairs and a cozy room for my office and a spacious one for Peter's and a fireplace and a front porch and slate steps and a Rose of Sharon and a flowering quince and such a pretty view from the big front windows. And best of all, it really feels like home.

I cannot convince myself that we have earned this, or that we deserve it. But I can feel grateful for it. And my gratitude moves me to look for ways to perhaps live as lightly on the land as we can.

So many dreams. My friend Beth may be willing to give us a chest freezer she has. And while running a second freezer is not without environmental cost, it would allow us to buy things like local produce and chicken in bulk, and to freeze them: to eat like locavores, with less packaging and shipping to get our food to our plates.

Our new house's furnace is on its last legs. We're looking into getting a pellet furnace: a bit more work--OK, quite a bit more work, with hauling the pellet fuel by hand into the cellar--but to burn locally grown wood pellets would be kinder to the earth than burning Middle-Eastern oil. Not just the reduced shipping and refining costs, but also the fact that fossil fuels release new carbon into the atmosphere. Burning wood, provided one lives in a region (like New England) where new growth exceeds the harvesting of trees, means releasing some carbon into the atmosphere... but carbon from a source that has actually fixed more carbon into the soil (in the form of fallen leaves, twigs, and needles) over its lifetime than is released when it is burned.

(And its cheaper, at least around here, and for now.)

We talk about where the indoor clothes drying lines will go, and what sort of clothesline to put up outside. We dream about solar panels--and that is a dream, given our finances, but, with our southern exposure, I suspect it will be a recurring one. And we dream about planting trees, and a garden, and where the compost heap can go.

I'm liking these dreams.

Though they, as well as our technical difficulties, may keep me from writing about other things, or even any things, for a while. Still. It's good to be home.

6 comments:

Clare said...

Really enjoy your blog, Cat. Just a thought to check out regarding the pellet stove in the basement and hauling the pellets down. Since it's an old houe, check to see if there's a closed up coal shute that would be accessible from outside. If so, you may be able to have a delivery made directly to the basement. I will enjoy reading more about you settling into your new-old home, as it relates to your life ideals.
I too live in an old house, and feel like a care-taker of a precious piece of land with old growth trees. You will too.

Mama Kelly of 2 Witches Blog said...

Congratulations and many blessings in the years to come on your new home!!

Magaly Guerrero said...

Personal posts are always the best, so I'm quite interested. I'm happy your move went well, aside from the sneakiness of the phone company. Oh, and the dreams about trees and a garden are shared by yours truly, although I have to get the house first *sigh*

Good luck getting everything in order and do enjoy your home!

Nate said...

I wanna know more!

Bright Crow said...

Bless this house.

Michael

Liz Opp said...

Friends of mine in the worship group I attend had a tough time discerning whether to buy a farm south of the city or not. They let the moment pass and an offer was put in and accepted.

They were crushed and recognized they had let an Opportunity go by.

A few weeks later, they learned that the sale of the farm had fallen through, and they quickly made an offer.

The family moved to the farm in late June. They've bought chickens, planted vegetables, planted hundreds of saplings, and repaired the house.

They feel great there.

So it's nice to read of your own journey and the gift that you've been Given. I trust you and Peter will be good stewards and will return the gift in multiple ways.

As to solar, never say never. Some states have large rebates, and there is the federal tax credit. Plus my family pitched in with a significant financial gift, meaning that in the end, we could afford TWICE as many panels as we could have otherwise, so who knows...?

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Share it