Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Houses, the People, the Place

This past week has been a roller coaster ride. My last blog post, in my opinion, dripped with complaint. However, it is my blog which I’m obviously using as a diary for the world to read, so what you see is what you get.

Part I: The Houses

Monday, I looked a house listed as a mortgage assumption with the mortgage being $635 monthly—right in my budget. When they gave me directions, they said, “After the blue house, there is a cement driveway that turns to stone—that’s us.” As I passed the “blue house,” next house I saw, with a cement drive that turned to stone, was one of those million dollar mountain homes that I wanted nothing to do with, so I drove passed. On second thought though, I turned around because, after all, it was a mortgage assumption. I drove up to the house and no one was home, so it couldn’t be the one. I came out and found another drive that fit the description. Not only did the drive turn to stone, it actually turned to an overgrown trail—I’ve been on these a lot lately—so I slowed and wondered. Two people were strolling on the path, so I asked them about a house up there. They didn’t know for sure but, “there very well could be another house back there somewhere.” Uh-oh, I was on another round-the-mountain road, but I kept going. Thankfully, I did.

The house is in the Wolf Creek area of Murphy, NC and it’s a gorgeous cabin with a Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi is not the selling point, the spring fed water system is, and the wood burning fireplace, and the ready-built fire-pit in the backyard circled by green wrought-iron furniture (that will stay), and the secluded but not isolated location. These are the selling points, and the current owners.

They had a dream much like mine. They wanted a place for their grandchildren to visit and learn a simpler way of life; grow a small, self-sufficient farm with chickens, and goats for milk. She is an artist who painted murals on the walls and makes jewelry. They were dropping off the grid but unfortunately, the financial crisis is dumping them off instead. He became disabled and she lost her job after only 4 years in their dream home. I want this home for them. I want to continue to pursue my dream in the atmosphere of theirs, so something will come to pass. We finally found the person I need to talk to for the assumption and I will fax over paperwork this Monday with hopes and prayers for dreams.

Tuesday, I went to look at a house that was left to the organization Feed Fannin. Again, this was a perfectly quaint little house with a full screened-in front porch, complete with rockers. There were four 2x10 raised garden beds that the previous owner harvested enough to feed himself through the winter and donate to the organization which feeds Fannin County families. My offer, for a land contract with no down-payment, was that I would create two more raised beds and donate both to Feed Fannin. I would also donate all of my services—website design, educator services, grant writing services, grant research services—everything and anything I could do. My hope was that since the previous owner had been a close friend of the organizers, that who got the property and what they did with it would be as important as the dollar. The house has been on the market for 4 years with the price going from $120K to $68K. I offered $80 with my conditions. If the house doesn’t sell them hoping I come into some money.

Thursday, I looked at a rental. A horse farm with a stone front porch, also complete with two white rockers. Plenty of room for a good sized garden, chickens, a barn for the cow and pasture for it to graze. Additionally, it came pretty furnished, which I’m not exactly thrilled with, except for the washer and dryer. They house is wood heated only, but the owners are planning to put in a furnace this winter. As I walked around, I spotted perfect places for peonies and lilacs, a willow out by the pasture fences, with some cherry and apple trees along the drive. But, what if the owners didn’t want or like peonies, lilacs, and cherry and apples trees? And, just think of moving again, only this time needing to find a place that takes chickens and cows. Ah, rentals but if push comes to shove—if the assumption falls through, and the non-profit doesn’t have a change of heart in the next few days—then rental it is. The good thing is that it is a 3-5 year lease. Anything could happen in that time.

Part II: The People

Elaine, the owner of the Fannin Sentinel, sent me an email Wednesday night asking if they could use the truck to move furniture donations she’d received for the Alzheimer’s Yard Sale Fundraiser and of course I agreed. After I met with the realtor on the rental Thursday morning I met Elaine and Lisa at the office. She bought us lunch and I had a delicious walnut salad. Mm-good. Then I tried to hand Elaine the keys to the truck. Five hours and two trips later we were almost done. Yes, we, her-a 68 yr old, and me, 54, moved 2 TVs, 3 microwaves, 2 dining room tables, 6 dining room chairs, a toddler bed mattress, and a carpet. The last trip, for whatever reason, the tailgate wouldn’t go down, so everything was lifted up and over, in and out. Elaine is an excellent taskmaster. She works you, drives you, and works you some more with nothing but a smile and soft words. She’s good—real good!!

After it was over she handed me a small wad of money and when I asked her what it was for, she said, “I told you.” I’ve found that Elaine says that a lot. Sometimes she has told you, and then sometimes she hasn’t, but according to her, she always has. This time she had. Originally I told her I didn’t want to work full-time (ever again), and that I would sell ads for the paper on commission only, and write articles on spec. Monday, she came into my office and said, “I can’t let you work for commission only. You can work part time but I’m going to give you $100 week plus the commission.” Then she turned around and walked out. Well, after five hours of manual labor, this little lady treated herself to a hotel room with a large tub and cable TV, potato chips and dip. That was my Friday night.

Saturday morning, I slept in, lounged around, picked up the complimentary breakfast and came back to lounge some more. Check out time was 11, and I left at 11:05. When I pulled up at the Alzheimer’s yard sale I was promptly informed that Elaine was looking for me. No one knew for what and no one had her cell #, so I headed downtown to the Corvette show I knew she was covering. I met her as she was leaving and asked if I’d forgotten something. She informed me we needed to get the rest of the donations and when I said I thought her and her husband had planned to do it last night, she said, “I told you…” You can’t say no to this woman. Two hours later we had moved a wooden seating bench, a painting, the full toddler bed, and a blue floral print winged armchair that again “is yours.” This is why you can’t say no—she’s a taskmaster with an oversized heart.

Part III: The Place

So after a restful rise, a labor-full morning, and a fruitful hour at the farmer’s market, I headed over to the Corvette show. Blue Ridge does more fundraisers than I’ve ever seen. From what I can tell, there are very few government programs here, but the people give and give and give. The Corvette show was a fundraiser for the town Arts Center, which is highly functional. There’s a community theatre, a children’s theatre, as well as painting, sculpting, music and writing programs. All of this in a “city” with a population of 1,210; inside a county of 23,000.  

The week has been a rollercoaster. I’m technically still ‘homeless’ but that should be completely changed no later than July 1, which is really right down the road a piece. If someone would’ve said last week, it would be July 1, I might have choked, but this week, it’s all good. I sat on the deck writing this until a strong wind brewed up a mighty storm. Now, I’m inside finishing while the big ole red disk sets in the distance and the trees are draped in blue mist. Life is good.

And nothing like a good stroll down memory lane. I once drove off from Addison rocks at Chicago's lakefront with a big, long-haired, bronzed-body blonde in a 'Vette just like this. Mm-good!!


  1. Hello, and Happy Sunday, Donna.
    I suppose that what most strikes me in reading blogs from over the pond is just how much room you folks have over there compared with our ever-so-narrow living cramped up we are here in the UK. Very glad you have found somewhere it will feel comfy settling into - good fortune with sorting all of it out, and thanks for the interesting read.

  2. And every picture I see of your side of the pond makes me think the same thing. It always seems so lovely and rolling greenery.

    Someday soon, I hope to visit to see for myself.

    Thanks for reading.