Tuesday, August 13, 2013
We live in a 137 year old house right in the middle of our little town here in Southern Ontario. We bought it two years ago when I was pregnant with Hunter. It has been a source of much angst and stress in our lives as it is pretty run down, and although I was the one that decided it was the place for us, my dear hubby is the one with all the skills to repair it.
There is not a right angle to be found in this place. Actually, there is such a sway in the floor that if you stand in the kitchen at the back of the house, and look towards the front door, you can't see the ceiling at the far end. A lot of the century houses around here are like that; this town is built on sand, and we're sloooooooooooooooooowly sinking in it. Our friends down the street joked that when they moved into their house, they had to decide whether to hang the curtains so they were level with the ceiling or level with the floor.
It's not a heritage home, and I'm grateful for that, because there's no historical hoops to jump through every time we tackle a new project around here. This plain little house isn't worth a tap on the shoulder from the sword of the historical society, apparently, and that's fine with me. It was an everyday working man's house, I imagine. It didn't have plumbing until the 1940's. I can tell where the outhouse was in the backyard, where the earth sinks into a shallow pit by the barbecue.
The backyard is why we bought this place, really. It stretches far back and is lined all around with cedars and gardens. It's private, shady, sunny, and has room enough for sandboxes, veggie gardens, compost piles, lawn furniture, a fire pit, and room to run around. It's a great backyard for a house in the main part of town. It's fenced in so I can let the dog out and not worry about him, and the gardens give me a constant source of meditative work that I love. I often start my days out here lately, with my journal and devotional book, spending some quiet time in the early morning sun before I am drawn in to the work of the day. I started my maternity leave early this time; I am carrying this babe very low and work was becoming very uncomfortable, so I left seven weeks before my due date and now have a few weeks to myself where Hunter is still in daycare full time. It's blessed time where I can rest, nest, and focus on myself a bit.
But back to this house.
It often feels like any money we spend on this place is wasted. We've talked about knocking it down instead of trying to repair it. You wouldn't necessarily see it from looking at pictures, but it needs a lot of work. The foundation is in bad shape, which is the worst part, but there's also no insulation to speak of anywhere, an attached shed that we fondly refer to as "the scab" that looks like a drowning cat clinging to the side of a boat, and speaking of cats- lots of nooks and crannies in the roof and stone foundation for all manner of wildlife to seek refuge in. Our big french mastiff banished the cats long ago, but it's still a constant battle to keep the smaller rascals out, especially come fall. Our first demolition job in the former mud room-turned bathroom/laundry room revealed many a mummified squirrel in the walls. I guess I can't say there's NO insulation. This year the wasps are the worrisome pest, as we've discovered a colony of yellow jackets building a nest behind a loose batten on the back of the house, in the kitchen wall. Ian blasted them with toxic spray a couple of days ago and spray-foamed the crack shut, and now we'll wait and see what happens. Hopefully we caught it early and
won't have to peel the boards off to clean out the nest.
Part of getting rid of our debt means we're not going anywhere anytime soon. We can't save up for a downpayment on a farm until we're in better shape, and that's going to take some time. So we have to make the best of this place. I found personally that once I resigned myself to that fact, I started to like this house a lot better. Once I accepted that this was going to be home for the foreseeable future, I gave up my animosity towards its crooked walls and made peace with it. I started to focus on making it a home instead of making it sellable. I thought less about curb appeal and more about what I wanted things to look like. It's easier for me- I'm not the one cutting baseboard and mudding and sanding- it's much easier for me. But it's a step I needed to take to make myself the grounded Mama this family needs right now.
I spend a lot of time dreaming about the future, and I used to couple that with resentment about the present. Now I still dream, but I dream in contentment and delight with all that I have, now.