Tag Archive | fixer upper

Efforts in Optimism

If you remember, I was recently freaking out about my falling-down fixer-upper old house. I was feeling overwhelmed and annoyed and tired of dealing with it all and wanted to sell it and move like, tomorrow. So we had a realtor come out and look around and give us her insight. It was good, and not so good. The good news is that the main body of the house looks pretty good; refinishing the floors and painting the interior will get us good to sell, and that part supports the selling price we need. The not so good is what I was afraid of: the addition on the back that needs so much work could make it hard to sell as-is. We’d have to find just the right buyer wanting to take on a project, and while it’s certainly possible, it’s more difficult.

That night was rough. I was disappointed and discouraged, and sure that we would either have to stay in that house forever or sell it at a loss, and neither option made me happy. But sleep and a brand new day made a big difference, and the husband and I started making plans to move forward. He made an appointment with a flooring company, and I contacted a landscaping service to clean up the back yard. We cleaned out some big trash that’s been hanging around the basement and the backyard, and that felt good. I cut down some tall weeds that have been bothering me all summer, and that felt good too. (At least until two days later when I got a lovely case of poison ivy…on my CHIN. OMG.)

So we have a plan now: in the next few weeks, we’re going to take out the old radiators downstairs, which will free up some valuable wall space. We’ll move the furniture upstairs, we’ll all move to an AirBnB house for three days, and then we’ll come home to beautiful shiny, freshly stained hardwood floors. We’ve been talking about doing this for TWO years, and I’m so excited that we’re finally doing it. I think that’s made a big difference, just making progress on something. And we’ve agreed to get a couple more bids on dealing with the addition, to see if we can find one that’s more affordable. We’ll do it ourselves if we have to, and that will be okay. I can manage to stay here another four years, I think, if we continue to make forward progress on the repairs. The husband and I just need to stay committed, and force ourselves to take initiative on starting projects. Just do it, right? Right.

And I’ll end on a high note: Duncan no longer has accidents in the house! And we’ve found a way to keep him from chewing up the couches while we’re gone! He might actually grow up to be a pretty good dog.

P.S. he already is a good dog.  

The Joys of a Fixer Upper

Summer in Missouri often means thunderstorms. Spring brings tornadoes; summer brings thunder and lightning, hail and strong winds. You put those against a giant old tree, and sometimes the thunderstorm wins. We had just turned off our lights at 9:30 pm Thursday evening (we’re getting old, we get tired early) and were listening to the wind beat hail against our windows when suddenly we heard a crack and a loud bang. We jumped out of bed and were heading downstairs when we realized the power was out. Thanks to the flashlight on the phone, we could make out a large limb laying across our back yard, and while we couldn’t really see the power lines, obviously the tree had pulled them down. We called the power company and they came out within an hour or so. It was hot and stuffy inside, and too quiet at first, since we sleep with a ceiling fan and white noise. Then as the guys started working, it was too loud. It was a long, mostly sleepless night for me. I was up around 5:30, going out to investigate. This is what I saw:

IMG_3793

Yikes, right? It had pulled down the lines, which in turn pulled down at least one pole, so they had to replace the pole, plus chop away some of the branches to free the lines. At least four of our neighbors were out of power too. I could shower, but not blow-dry or straighten my hair. I could eat cereal, but not make tea. It was an interesting morning. The dogs were quite delighted with their new stick, though.

IMG_3789

So, yeah. That’s fun. Even now, it still surprises me a little when I look out and see it out there. It’s just so … incongruent. We’ve contacted someone to haul away the broken limbs and are going to get an arborist out to see if we can save the tree. It really is a magnificent tree, and I’d hate to lose it. Plus, well, that would be damn expensive and I’d rather avoid it if possible.

Really, this house is doing its best to bring me down. Before this tree incident, we had a smaller tree lose some limbs, we’ve had raccoons in the attic, we’ve had birds and/or squirrels in the soffits, and we found out the addition in the back of the house needs significant work, like possibly even demo and rebuild. I am discouraged. I love the potential this house has; I think it has gorgeous bones. I love its history. Here’s a photo we just got of our house in 1925, when it was a mere five years old.

IMG_3807

How wonderful it would be if we could restore it to its former glory! But there’s just so much. The back of the house needs renovating, the floors ALL need repair/refinishing, the windows need work, the exterior badly needs to be painted, the porch and stairs need to be fixed/replaced. The landscaping needs to be redone. The upstairs bathroom needs to be gutted and redone. And those are just the big jobs; there are tons of little ones that add up and overwhelm me if I think about them. Lately I’ve just been seeing this house as a money pit and wondering how long I can put up with it.

I’ve been told not to worry, told that if I’m overwhelmed, it’s because my depression has crept back into my brain and I just need to deal with that. (Which I am. Better living through drugs. They’re helping quite a bit.) But I disagree. Yes, I have recognized that my anxiety has been stronger/quicker lately, and I’m trying different ways to manage it. And I know the depression/anxiety don’t help me deal with the worries. But the truth is that I would worry nonetheless. I am a worrier. Always have been, always will be. Is it really that unusual, to be overwhelmed by a large number of big/expensive list of projects?

I do agree that being overwhelmed can make one stagnant. It’s hard to tackle that list if you don’t know where to start. So we’ve picked a starting point: the front stairs. They’re cracked, sagging, and peeling, and we see them every day when we come home. Plus they’re not totally stable. We just need to find a good contractor and get a bid, and hope that we have enough money to pay for it once we pay for this darn fallen tree thing. And maybe once we fix one thing, it will motivate us to keep going, and we’ll just slowly go one job at a time. Bird by bird, right? And someday maybe we’ll get the house close to as beautiful as it used to be.

Sorry, this post was a bit more of a downer than I set out to write. I’ll finish with something happier: new socks! Apparently I can make two socks per week, so I have one easy one for travel knitting, and one more complicated one for home.

IMG_3809

This is the easy one, just finished this morning. Pattern is Vanilla Latte Socks, yarn is Plymouth Yarns Stiletto. I love the little metallic glint!

img_3800.jpg

I really love this one! Pattern is Sylphrena Socks, yarn is Done Roving Yarns Frolicking Feet, which is so squishy and marvelous. I’ll definitely take better photos once I get the second sock done.

And speaking of second socks, I have two to make! I better get to casting on!

Craft Show Madness

It’s setting in, the frenzy of an upcoming craft show. I feel the urge to MAKE ALL THE THINGS that I think will sell because I’m convinced the stuff I’ve already made is not good enough. I know I won’t be able to put up an attractive display by myself so I’m crossing my fingers that my knitting SIL will help me out. I’m fretting about how to take essential breaks when I’m working my table by myself. So yeah, normal pre-craft show jitters.

All the broken-rib hats have buttons attached and yesterday I cast on for a new hat. It’s a simple slouch hat in stockinette but I’m doing red and white, a candy cane look for early holiday shoppers. I like it so far, and it’s going quickly. IMG_3523But this morning it hit me: WHY am I not doing blue and white?? My Kansas City Royals are heading into postseason baseball, and KC is baseball crazy this year. I’d be silly to not have some blue in my inventory this weekend, so I’m setting aside the red and white for now. Good thing I have extra circular needles!

The most exciting progress from the weekend comes from the husband. IMG_3507He got 36 of 41 fence posts installed! I am SO excited to see this taking shape. It’s going to look fantastic. Plus we’re all ready to retire these stupid chains for the dogs. The lack of running-around time is making Grace crazy, so that when I take them for a walk in the evening, she’s uncontrollable with energy. It makes walks miserable for both me and Jack, who gets tired of being pulled around when they’re on the double leash. So if the rain holds off, I’m going to see if I can handle taking both pups to the dog park to run off some of the crazy. Wish me luck!

Oh Grace

 This is not what you want to see when you’re out in your unfenced, corner-lot-on-a-busy-street yard. The puppies were playing, running, chasing. They hit the end of the chain, her collar snapped, and Grace kept going. She ran the perimeter of our yard for a few minutes, ignoring me of course, before running into the neighbor’s yard. I followed her into their side yard which is thankfully blocked off with brush and fence, and was able to grab her neck. Then I carried all 65 pounds of her back home. 
I’m still kind of freaked. I mean, aside from the busy street, she didn’t even have her collar with the tags! Ugh. This fence can’t happen soon enough. 

Settling Into the New Groove

4 a.m. comes awfully early. Grace is still thinking she needs to be an early riser, and it’s not too fun. This morning I got up with her so Alex could at least sleep until his alarm, and I didn’t even let them out. I just stretched out on the couch with a blanket, and Grace happily cuddled up with me, and Jack curled up on the floor in front of me, and we all went back to sleep. I guess she’s just lonely? I’d let her sleep in my room, except Alex isn’t a fan. Maybe we need to just put her upstairs with the girl and close the door. I don’t know. We’ll get some curtains for the dining room, and I’m seriously considering a noise machine for them, to block some of the outside noises. There’s got to be a solution, because I can’t get up at 4 a.m. every day for the rest of her life. Until then, forgive me if my posts are few and far between.

We’re all settling in nicely in our new hometown. The boy and I explored our local library recently and were delighted to find a TARDIS! That’s a good sign, for sure! IMG_3177The kids are happy with their new schools and teachers. We had high school open house last night and it was the first time I wished I could go too! The teachers were all so passionate and enthusiastic about their classes, and several were very blunt about saying their class would be hard, and the kids might not get A’s, at least at first. I don’t think that ever happened in our old district. Oh sure, we had some great teachers, but not *all* of them, and I only remember one teacher ever warning us that a class would be hard. I *want* the classes to be hard. This is why we moved; so the kids would be in classes that would challenge them, make them think and grow. The girl is in a Gifted English class that will actually read books! She had one class in either 6th or 7th grade that had her read one novel, and that’s it. That’s disgraceful, in my English-major book-nerd opinion. So yeah, I think this will be a good school year.

I spent another day in the yard over the weekend and cleared out one more side of the fence. Before: IMG_3180

After:IMG_3182And that’s the bulk of it! Now I need the husband’s help to clean out stumps and pull out the old fence, and we’ll do some tree-trimming, and then we can start building our new fence HOORAY! We will all be happy. See that water pump there? (No, it’s not functional.) The puppies are ALWAYS getting their chains wrapped around it. Then they get frustrated and bark. Then we have to go rescue them. It’s not a fun game.

Yesterday I sat outside with them for a while and let them laze in the sunshine while I worked on my newest project, another Hitchhiker. IMG_3187I have other projects on the needles, but none of them are as calming and soothing as this one. I’m in love with garter stitch. But I need to set it aside, because I have another request for a school-colors hat! The first three have been delivered and were quite popular, as I understand, and someone saw one of them and needs her own. How about that? My evil plan is working, bwahahaha! Give me time, and I’ll hat the whole school!