Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lipstick on a Pig?

Our house is on record as having been built in 1916.  It was one of the early homes built along the railway that sliced through the prairies joining the east with the west in the 1870s.*    It tickles me to think that early westward-ho families, well-heeled enough to afford the train, looked out the windows at the Colorado prairies -- and saw this little house.  It would have been a half mile from the nearest neighbor, a hop, skip, and a jump to the little town nearby.  There would have been no trees on the property yet in those days and the house would have been smaller, but solid and sturdy and built for function.  With no protection from hills or trees, it had to be strong to endure the pummeling of our prairie winds, the soaring heat of our high desert summers, and the frigid cold of our snowy winters.  Year in, year out, this sturdy little house has weathered it all in its spot here on a little rise in sight of the railroad tracks.  Bless its little heart.  And God bless the men who built it. 

But, dangit, I wish those guys had had a level or a plumbob with them when they broke sod and started building.  There's not a straight line on the place.  If you drop a marble anywhere in the living room, it rolls with unerring accuracy, every time, to the northeast corner, next to the computer where I'm sitting right now.  If you need to replace drywall, you need to be a mathmetician to figure out the proper geometry necessary to fit into all the weird angles of the rooms.  All the right angles in this house are wrong.  Makes for a challenge, let me tell you.  The men in this family have gotten very good at problem solving.

 But, to be perfectly fair, the topsy-turvy-ness may not have been all the builders' fault.  This little house has been through a lot in its ninety-odd years: it's supported the addition under its armpit of a cock-eyed living room; it's crouched under the weight of an entirely new second story; and it's lifted its skirts for the digging of a partial basement. It's been pinched and squeezed by the growth of the cottonwood and elm trees some kind soul planted many years ago; it's been buffeted by the wind and pitched by the inevitible, almost imperceptible but significant rising and settling of the earth beneath it.  So, the old girl is technically sound (we even had an engineer check to be sure), but gawky.  Cock-eyed and slightly dissheveled-looking, our old house is more of an Apple Annie than a Grand Dame.

But, she's a sweet old girl, and we're working hard to give her a bit of a makeover in the hopes of wooing a new family to love and care for her, so we can move back over to the Western Slope.  But, it's a tricky thing, this house-showing business.  First of all, we don't have a lot of money to spend on projects.  But, we want to do what we can to play up the good features of the house and distract from the not-so-good ones.  We want to make her look sound and welcoming and pretty, but we don't want to make her  look like an old woman trying to be a young woman.  We don't want to make an old Mae West of her.

We're hoping more for a dignified, aged-gracefully look, like Olivia de Haviland.

So, we've painted and painted and painted.  And painted. (I can't tell you how sick we are of painting around here...)  And we've repaired and spackled and decluttered, inside and out.

But it's still a work in progress.  We're not quite ready to put the sale in the hands of a realtor, but are hoping to get some cluttered corners cleaned, and officially put it on the market in the next couple of weeks.  And, who knows?  This time around it may actually sell. 

We've put the whole endeavor into God's hands and pray that His Will is done, regardless.  If we don't sell it, we'll at least have a new and improved house to live in!  And we'll be racking up points for all the cross-bearing a family has to do to keep a house always ready to show to prospective buyers.  =sigh=  (I blanche at the thought...)  But, it'll all be worthwhile if we can sell this place, pay off our debt, and live within a smaller footprint -- preferably in our old hometown, where we'll have daily Mass and teaching Sisters. 
Fiat voluntas Dei.

I'll post some pictures of our finished projects as they're photo-ready. 

* Interesting fact about the western railroad: The "golden spike" that joined the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific in Promontory, Utah in 1869 is reputed to have linked the east with the west -- but Coloradans know better.  On the "Golden Spike" line, trains had to be ferried across the Missouri River to complete the journey. The year after the celebrated linking in Promontory, Utah in August of 1870, the Kansas Pacific Railroad, crossed over the Missouri on the newly completed Hannibal Bridge in Kansas City, connecting to the Denver Pacific line at Strasburg, Colorado.  It was in Strasburg, on of our neighbor towns, that the first true Atlantic to Pacific railroad was completed.


Diana said...

I feel for you Lisa, all of the painting and fixing up. At least you have quite a bit of help! Thank God! Could you imagine trying to do it all yourself? I hope all of the hard work pays off but I somehow get the feeling their may be a tear or two shed when she sells! Love Di ♥

Blessings each day said...

What a loving challenge and the love put into fixing it up will surely show.

You certainly have a way with words, Lisa for I just love how you described the house moving and shifting to accomodate all the changes over the years.

blessings, prayers and hugs,


MightyMom said...

uh, didn't I read this same post about 2 years ago?? then you decided to you're trying to sell again?

life is an interesting journey!

Lisa said...

Thanx, Marcy and Di -- It is pain-in-the-neck hard work, but worth it, one way or another. We need all the encouragement we can get, though. :)

Sarah -- You're right. What a memory! :) We were ramping up to try to move to a different house in the same neighborhood, but decided it was not a prudent move, in the long run, and the market was dead, dead, dead last year. It's picking up a bit around here right now, though, and we have better incentive to get back to our old stomping grounds. We'll see, though... No telling what God has in mind.