we were going to go hiking today…

…but yesterday I got a phone call from Linda, our south neighbor Mr Hill’s sole surviving relative, saying that he had passed away. He went quietly, Friday early afternoon, in good care. He had been having a good day, had even eaten breakfast, and died in his sleep. the service will be on Monday.

So Linda called to ask, are we still interested in the house. She got a resounding YES from us. We are clear on that point. The price is the next step, and that includes finding out how much work the place needs (lots, it appears). She had us come over and tour the as-yet-not-cleaned-out house this morning, to just see the layout and overall condition. We were expecting a jumble of objects, a general lack of air circulation, dust and dirt and disrepair. I mean, a 94-year-old man had been living alone in this house since 1979. We got exactly what we expected in that regard — it’s a mess. It desperately needs a good airing. She’s cleaning today and tomorrow and into next week, finding all his papers to go through and/or shred, setting aside the bits and pieces she wants for memories, sorting things out. Her daughter is down to help her out, and her husband arrives tomorrow, and they are going to make a giant pile and call Goodwill, who will come pick up. They will leave any large furniture that they don’t want, and the appliances (including a serious old classic gas stove that all of us immediately gravitated towards) for us to deal with and/or use.

The plaster is cracked and the place smells mildewy– there is a layer of unappealing, possibly biohazardous, carpet through much of the house (it smells of urine; not overpoweringly, but definitely). That will have to come out, first thing. With any luck, that will be the source and sole location of the mildew and/or mold. I hope it’s not in the walls. We are going to have a home inspection in the next couple weeks to determine all that sort of thing, after the place is cleaned out. The non-carpeted rooms have old-fashioned linoleum flooring, some of which is pretty cool. The subfloor does not seem to be in very good shape, though — buckling, soft spots. I suspect a particle or ply subfloor immediately beneath the carpet/ linoleum, rather than a hardwood floor. So we may be redoing some or much of that, depending on the results of the inspection. The plumbing definitely needs repairs, though how major is hard to determine yet. The kitchen sink is calcified into a barely-moving object (the whole sink needs replaced), and Linda shut the water off in the bathroom because the toilet was leaking. The bathroom is comfortably large, close to twice the size of the one in our cottage. She says that the roof does not leak, which is good news. The exterior stucco is in bad shape and needs to be redone. The interior plaster is actual plaster over either cinderblock or concrete, and much or all of it also needs to be redone; that is going to be a big project. The heater is fairly new (and well-located, in that small central hallway where it can effectively heat everything, hopefully) and she thinks it probably works but she’s not sure. The swamp cooler is not working. The windows are plentiful, but they are all the old-style single pane lattice windows, leaky as a sieve in the wind, and will need replacing. Depending on if they are standard or custom sizes, that could be a real big project, too.

We’re planning to buy the place as-is, and get the repairs done ourselves. We have several ideas for how we want to use the space, but in any case, we would not need to inhabit it immediately, so we have time to futz through a series of major and minor repairs. It’s a three bedroom house, bigger on the inside than on the outside (it totally looks small from the street, but it’s a mary poppins house), with a huge livingroom with an old fireplace we can restore, a really good-size kitchen adjacent to the livingroom (with nice cabinets), two good-size bedrooms that face each other across a small hallway, and a third, smaller, bedroom in back of the north room — probably a good space for a child’s bedroom. The garage opens off that room, and the garage turns out to have an open storage-shed space (jammed full of stuff, like every other room of the house), and then an enclosed concrete-floored back space, usefully. That space has a door to the backyard, which includes a truly magnificent cottonwood tree. (i know you were wondering whether or not we really just wanted even more cottonwood trees). And then the field.

the place is zoned A-1, which is spectacular for our purposes, and the county plat info says it’s a third of an acre, though it feels like more than that. it’ll bring us almost up to 4 acres; our current property is 3.45, and this place is .35. So we’ll have 3.80 acres. We’re planning to take down the front fence between the two properties; Linda even pointed out where a gate used to be in the fence that we could re-open with very little effort.

We are moving forward with purchase agreements and suchlike, including contacting our assorted good-friends-who-are-realtors; she has one and we have one. :)

whooo. just when i could see the end of my insanely high stress level, we buy a house.

when were done backing and forthing, discussing and meeting this morning, i came back into my yurt and did something i’ve been meaning to do all summer: i cleaned the hearth. the hearth is the center of the home — literally, in this circular little space, as well as figuratively. but that figurative meaning is there, too. i have been borrowing bricks from the hearth to use in the wall construction process (they hold barbed wire down while you get the bags filled), so i had a messy stack of bricks, with dirt and dust and cat hair and ash and old nails, going on in the center there. yeah, it’s been like that; untended, messy, aching. so just now i removed all the bricks, vaccuumed them and the space beneath them, got all the everything out, and put them all back very nicely in their pattern.

i’m only missing one brick. that’s my afternoon project today: find and place that one brick. then i’m taking it easy, dang it, for the rest of the day. who would have thought that was possible?

and tomorrow? we’re going hiking.