Sunday, February 28, 2010

"This Old House"

Before we were married the Big Guy promised me that we'd be wealthy one day....and we were!  I think it was October 27, 1995!
(such wit!) 

The point I was (ever so slyly) trying to make, is that we are not now, nor have we ever been financially solid.   We don't have creditors beating at the door, but we haven't won the lottery either (not for lack of trying!)  Unfortunately, the problem arises from the fact that both of us have expensive tastes in almost everything; which leads to a lot of frustration, deep sighs, and wishful thinking!!  Especially when it comes to houses. 

I absolutely adore looking at houses, going to open houses, searching for interesting local homes for sale, and driving around neighborhoods with interesting older homes.   I can't do it very often because I can get kind of depressed by all those places with so much potential and none of them are mine! 

My dream would be to find a hidden gem of a house, a house we could afford without selling off our firstborn child, an older house loaded with nooks and crannies and unusual details and a big wrap-around front porch just right for a swing.  If it were kind of neglected and in need of renovation or restoration and some TLC, but not a total dump, I would fall in love with it and get everything into mint condition and live in "this old house" for the rest of my days.

It's not going to ever happen again I know.  And, yes, it did happen once, at least partially.  We were still living in Chicago in our first home, the one my father-in-law said was a "nice little starter house".   After we had lived in our nice little starter house for about 20 years (!), I got the itch to move into a bigger, nicer house....not because we needed more room exactly, but just because I wanted  a house that was closer to that dream house. 

We did find one, not exactly like my dream house, but close enough that I think it would have suited us for a very long time.  Wonder of wonders, I talked the Big Guy into it and because he loved me, we moved about 3 miles from where we had been.

I may not have been blessed with wealth and riches, but I really won the office pool when it came to getting a guy that could do-it-himself!  Just as a little aside, in over 40 years of marriage, we have needed to call in a repair man no more that 10 times or so!  Seriously!! 

The Big Guy has repaired just about every major appliance we've ever had, he has installed wood floors, carpeting, lighting fixtures, cabinets, plumbing, created closets where none existed, built window seats, painted (repeatedly),  wall-papered,  torn out walls, put up walls, built kitchen islands,  turned closets into work spaces, put up and taken down doors, and lots and lots of shelving.  If we had those things "installed" or done by professionals, we never could have afforded half of it!  But let me tell you, if you can do it yourself well enough, you can do it for a LOT LESS MONEY!  The Big Guy isn't fast, mind you, (I was once without a functional kitchen sink or stove for four months!!), but once he finishes, its gorgeous and just what I wanted.

So when we moved into our second house, there was a lot we wanted to do to make it right.  So the Big Guy started on all the projects as soon as we signed the papers.  First he completely redid the kitchen and dining room.  He completely redid the first floor powder room, painted and carpeted the family room, completely redid the 2nd floor bathroom, painted and carpeted the third bedroom, tore out wall-paper and sports posters (which were glued to the wall) in the second bedroom, and recarpeted and wall-papered the stairway. 

That put him more than half-way through the "to-do" list.  Still to do was the master bedroom, the living room and the basement.  Well, you know how they say, that life is what happens while you're making other plans??  Well, all of those jobs that he finished were over a time period of about three or four years.  And that was when big changes came our way.  We moved to CA for really great job opportunities, leaving that old house behind!

In CA it took us a year to find a house we liked and could afford, but ultimately we did find one.  It was a beautiful house in great condition, we loved it.  And it didn't need any work!  We spent ten years in that house. 

When we moved from CA to Texas to be close to Ratchlet and her new family, we again found a newer home rather than a fixer upper that I had been thinking about.  This house is a nice house with a lot of great features, but it isn't my dream home.  Over the ten years we've lived in Austin, the Big Guy hasn't done any big do-it-youself projects here at all.  None were really needed and other than some painting, there aren't plans to do any in the future.

So were does that leave me in my desire to live in an older home, with lots of nooks and crannies, interesting details, charm and character?  It has gotten more and more unlikely that it will ever happen.  The Big Guy is not interested in moving again, nor does he share my love of old houses anymore, and we really can't afford finding a new house. 

I'll more than likely live out my days here in this not perfect but acceptable house.  In my heart of hearts I know that our second house was as close to "this old house" as I'll ever get. 

About the only thing that could change that, is if Ratchlet moved to another city, because we would most likely go too.  Or if we won the lottery!!  Then it would be off to the races all over again!! 


  1. I think it's so great that your hubby likes to do those projects. Neither my husband nor I like to do home renovation, which meant our first home--built in the 70s--was not the best choice! You would have loved it though! :)

  2. My dream house has a big wrap-around porch, and a great room. But my guess is I'll never have it because if anything we'll downsize rather than buy a bigger house. I love where we live right now. And look forward to REALLY retiring and buying a home in Tucson. Not many wrap-around porches there!


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