(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Underneath the Surface

For the last several weeks, we’ve had a crew working on our house. Exterior stuff for now, and as they’ve been fixing up our siding, it’s been fascinating to see what’s just underneath it.

It’s solid as a rock, we’ve been told.

Our old house may need a lot of care, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. They just don’t make them like they used to.

Old House Problems

I figure, as long as I’m here, confessing some insecurities (Haven’t read Monday’s post? You should!), I’d talk a little bit about my house.

It’s old.

Like, really old.

If you’ve ever watched anything on HGTV, you’ve probably heard the phrase “old house problems.” It comes up over and over: On renovations shows, when homeowners encounter shoddy updates and outdated pipes and wiring. During house hunts, when starry-eyed first-time buyers see anything built before 1990 and worry about how much work it might need (LOL…).

“You buy an old house, you get old house problems.”

I’ve heard it myself, from my dad, when Graham and I first started searching for a house with a story.

My dad used to build houses, and I trust him, and I know that he knows what he’s talking about. But as children do, I considered his advice carefully, ignored it entirely, and did what I wanted.

I think it’s important to point out that any house will have problems. Our first home was built in 2007, and we poured thousands of dollars into fixing stuff that broke, big stuff and small stuff. We replaced a faulty sump pump that flooded our utility room and an HVAC that died not once but twice. We installed a radon mitigation system, we sanded down doors that stuck as the house settled, fixed nail pops, bought a new refrigerator…

My point is, any house, regardless of its age, is going to require some serious maintenance and upkeep. But I’m willing to admit that it takes a special sort of crazy person to commit to the maintenance and upkeep of a home of…advanced age.

I am that crazy person.

So is Graham. I didn’t pull him into the insanity with me. We met there. And here we are today, in our very old house, happy as can be despite our ever-growing list of “old house problems.”

Why am I sharing this now?

Well, a few reasons. The first is that I wrote a post earlier this week that just got me thinking about it. The second is that Graham replaced our kitchen faucet over the weekend, and it took about two hours longer than it should have because everything was crusty with lime buildup and rusted together. The third is that, as we think about fixing small issues like that faucet, we’re also starting to discuss what larger projects we might want to tackle over the course of the spring and summer.

And believe me, it’s super easy to “find” projects in an old home.

We’ve been sort of laisse faire about things so far. We’ve done some interior and exterior painting, but we have a lot more to do.

We’ve fixed issues as they’ve come up, but we haven’t really sat down and developed a strategy for making improvements, adjustments, and repairs. To be fair, we’ve only lived here since 2016, and it’s taken almost that long to really decide and settle on how we want to use spaces, how we want them to look and feel, and what “home” looks like for us here.

But now, it’s time.

Truly, it’s past time.

We bought this house to make it a home, and to be good stewards of a piece of history. I think it’s about time we made good on that commitment.

So, cheers to old house problems! (I’m holding up my coffee cup.) And may we learn to be patient and enjoy the process…  

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: All Fixed!

Well, mostly.

The wall’s patched, and the wet bar’s back in place, and the plumbing issue hasn’t resurfaced, so, yay! But we’ve got some painting to do, and this whole thing’s made us think about what other changes we’d like to make in the basement, and in the house generally. So, we’ll see where that goes. But for now, I’m relieved that this particular problem has been dealt with.

Old house life, y’all. It’s certainly never boring.

Sunday Supper #6: Podcasting, Plumbing, and a Very Hungry Gatsby Cat

Y’all. You guys. It’s been some kind of weekend. Where do I even start?

Okay.

Let’s start here. After a hiatus of several months, the Better Friendships podcast is finally back and posting episodes! My co-host (and very dear friend) and I are so happy to be back at work on it, researching and writing episodes and planning for a very good second season. And of course a strong finish to our first season. You can find our latest episode – which features a fun interview with my mother-in-law, who was a flight attendant in the 1960s – here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4iTAsxjl7NcAYK1qq3L1pu

So, that’s the good.

The bad? Well, Friday night, we discovered that our upstairs shower was backing up into our basement sink, because that is totally a thing that can actually happen. We called in a plumber yesterday, and he couldn’t fix the issue. So, we called in a different plumber today. He discovered that, just like we anticipated, the pipes in our house are part of a serpentine labyrinth that makes no sense at all. But after moving our basement wet bar and cutting a hole in the wall behind it…

…he found the issue, and thankfully, it looks like it’s fixed. We just need to deal with a hole in the wall and a displaced wet bar. Luckily, this particular plumbing company has people on deck to handle all of that. So now, we wait until they can make it out here to do the work. Which, I mean, things could be so much worse, right?

To top it all off, Gatsby’s favorite food is out of stock. Everywhere. So he’s a very unhappy, grumpy, hangry little big cat right now. Don’t worry – he has food. It’s just not the food he wants, and so he won’t eat it. At least not until he’s good and hungry. Kind of like when your mom cooks you a healthy, nutritious, made-from-scratch dinner but you wanted pizza.

Speaking of dinner…er, supper…and of pizza, what’s on tonight? Leftover pizza. I don’t have the mental energy right now for anything else. And also, ice cream. Because it’s just been the kind of weekend that makes me want ice cream.

Cheers to a hopefully better week!

Found Friday #25: More Fruit Trees, More Pottery Fragments

I mentioned in a previous post that almost every time we plant something new, we find little bits of this house’s story. Well, it’s happened again.

This week, Graham bought three new fruit trees for our mini-orchard (one sweet cherry, one sour cherry, and a Stayman-Winesap apple, if you’re interested). He planted them over the course of a couple of days, and turned up a new shard of pottery.

It’s sort of hard to tell if this one’s new or old, but it’s cool, either way.

I feel a little like a magpie at this point. I have quite the collection of small, shiny objects – little gifts from the universe, I think. We’ll see what we find in the next few weeks, as we work our way through the garden before the summer.

Found Friday #1: Fruit Trees and Fragments

It’s ended up being a rainy day today. Here’s the view out of my back window:

Normally, there’s a mountain back there. Today, just clouds and downpours. I think we’re getting what’s left of Hurricane Laura.

I’ve spent the day procrastinating writing a short story for August. I made cacio e pepe for lunch and banana and oatmeal cookies for breakfast tomorrow. I watched Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and I gave myself a manicure. I’ve already had two Diet Cokes.

All of this not working got me thinking, and I think it would be fun to write some short posts featuring the various odds, ends, and interesting items my husband and I find in and around our 200-year-old farmhouse. Trust me, it’s a lot. Like, right after we moved in, we found a machete hidden above an air duct in our basement. Not sure what that was about, or how long it was there before we found it.

Anyway, I’ll try to make this a weekly thing, and we’ll call it “Found Friday.”

************

Back in the spring, we planted some apple trees in our back garden, to accompany some cherry trees we’d planted the year before. One of these days, I’ll make all the pies, if I can manage to keep the trees alive long enough to produce fruit.

As we were digging, we started to find fragments of pottery and bone china. The bone china seems to have grown legs and walked off, but I’ve still got a pretty sizable chunk of the pottery (which I found, again, when I was doing some cleaning over the weekend).

I wonder what this looked like, when it was whole. And I wonder how old it is. It’s interesting, living in a house that so many people have called home before us. I’m sure we’ll leave something behind, too.