Dead Squirrels and Crystal Chandeliers

We bought a house. If houses have names, ours should be Bernadette, or Adelaide, because she is so simply old and sweet. She is 100 years old this year, and as far as overall structure goes, not showing her age. But as poorly repaired walls go, and a sloppily finished upstairs attic turned bedrooms goes, and entire kitchens done in plastic tiles goes, she needs some work.

It is difficult to pick one point of where the story of how we met and fell and love with our house began. You could say it was the dream to own a piece of land that has beat inside of my husband's chest for as long as he can remember. Or my lifelong dream to take an old house and make it new again. You could say it was 6 months into our marriage, when we talked about finances and timing and a game plan for when we thought we could afford it. Or maybe it was January of this year when I started crunching numbers and looking at mortgage rates. Or perhaps April, when I stated walking through open houses and getting a feel for neighborhoods and what our budget could buy. And then that fateful night in June, when we met with our landlord and he raised the rent yet again, making a 20% increase in just two years. With our rent being more than a mortgage at that point, we decided we were going to look for a house and not stop until we found it. 

I emailed a Realtor that night, a woman I had been working with since I met her at an open house in April.  She emailed a new listing to me 20 minutes later, a small white bungalow that had gone on the market that afternoon. We planned to meet after work the next day and take a look. As I walked off the train that evening and turned the corner onto what is now our street, my heart sighed. A quiet, almost imperceptible feeling that just felt so right. The house itself smelled like a Grandpa and I knew it needed a lot of work. But somehow I loved her anyway. That night I saw a plaque in the basement that read, "Wally's Retreat." And from that moment the house became, "Grandpa Wally's House." I scheduled a time to return with my husband that weekend and his heart said the same. Friends who have purchased homes assured us, when you find the one, you'll just know. And we agreed. We found the one. We put in our offer and 7 weeks later, we closed. (That is the simplified fairy tale version. If your ever want to buy a house talk to me first! I won't discourage you from it but I will tell you it takes a lot of you. Financially yes, but it takes so much more.)

We left the closing that Monday afternoon and immediately jumped into cleaning out and organizing what had been left behind by Grandpa Wally. I went to the attic to see if a crystal chandelier was there that I had seen when we first walked through the house, on the slim hope that it was left behind. It was not, and to add insult to injury there was a decomposing squirrel laying where the chandelier had been. I was wearing a sports bra so I pulled off my shirt and tied it around my face so I wouldn't gag from the stench. Then I used a piece of metal to scrape up what I could. What was left has been covered with the contents of an entire box of baking soda to soak up the smell. Welcome to home ownership. (And yes, we need a new roof.) I had to laugh as I was going from room to room collecting and sorting, when I realized that as the couch cushions failed, Grandpa Wally added various forms of padding for support. I pulled out two pillows, a cloth pad and a large piece if plywood covered in fake leather that may have once been a headboard.

That all is only the very beginning of our adventure. We have been giving our heart and soul to this house for the last few weeks, and will be for months to come. Right now we are working overtime so we can get space ready for our things and move out of our apartment and into our house (and stop paying both rent and mortgage!) More stories to come...


  1. Wow, congrats on the house! I can't wait to follow along on your journey.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts