Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to dismantle a mobile home—DIY Rule 1b:Beware the time-lapsed video

Marcia Moston

After we spent several thousand more than anticipated in clearing our newly purchased land, we discovered the old mobile home on it wasn’t so mobile after all. The person who wanted it for his own fixer-upper project abandoned the idea because he couldn’t get the permits to haul it down the road. So there we were with this big old doublewide parked right where we wanted to build. The man we hired to find the septic system offered to take it down. “$5,000,” he said. “You pick up the Dumpster fees.”

Ka-ching. Again. And we hadn’t even started to build. That’s the way it is, isn’t it? There’s always a high price to pay to get rid of the old before you can begin the new.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Downsizing: Letting go of all that Precious Stuff

Marcia Moston

The thing about my childhood home was that even though it was small—with every closet and cupboard packed—to a child there was a potential for the discovery of unexpected treasures.  

I remember the pantry, long and deep, with a wall of upper cabinets and huge heavy bottom drawers I could hardly joggle back into place. Nevertheless, I loved to explore and organize the shelves. I marveled over the ruby-colored dessert cups that caught shafts of light and the stacks of Grandma’s green embossed dishes crammed alongside rougher items like waffle irons, hammers and a gun or two lodged up against the water heater in the far corner.

Why did no one care that these treasures were relegated to such an ignominious fate? Hidden away. Unused. Unappreciated.

I think it was the discovery of my sister’s coconut that shed some light on the matter for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Year of Nest Building

My intention when I walked into Pier 1 that day was to pick up the chairs I’d ordered. It was the picture of the bird with a beak full of miscellany that stopped me. I turned to my ever-agreeable Bob. “Building a nest. That sums up my life this past year. I’ve got to have it.”

This was before I remembered birds build nests mainly to raise their babies. They live (roost) elsewhere. Clearly not my situation. My nest is post–birdlings. It’s an empty-nester’s nest, one that this time around I expect to live in until I die.

 Nevertheless, I bought the picture and hung it on the naked wall of my newly erected house.

That was in August—six months after my post about buying land with a vacant mobile home overflowing with someone else’s boxed-up,cast-off life. Six months of learning how to dismantle a trailer, sell a house, live out of a suitcase, design a new house and build it. Six months of feathering the last nest I ever intend to live in.

Which is a novel idea for me. I keep turning it around, examining how it feels to live in a place long enough to plant a tree and actually eat its fruit. (If I don’t end up being buried under it.) The previous eight houses of my married life all had a sense of impermanence—just settling there for the moment to do a particular thing.

Being true blue DIYers, Bob and I don’t get scared about fixer-uppers, although I should have been more concerned about what we were getting into with the last house we bought when the owner sobbed at the closing. “Thank you for buying it,” she said. We discovered she had every reason to cry. In fact, even after about $70,000 in renovations and several years of our hard labor, when we sold it, I wanted to thank the buyers and cry too.

Actually, it was the fear of having to live out the rest of my life in that big old rambling southern belle set down in a low spot that got me going. After months of searching for a new place, we had finally put an offer on a lovely property, but during the inspection discovered it had multiple problems. I was adamant we back out of the offer. Bob was frustrated and tired of house hunting. He threatened to build the garage he’d been wanting and just stay put.

I knew I’d have to come up with something fast. With the updated Realtor.com in hand and desperate prayer on lips, I headed out in search of That Perfect Place one more time. 

I stood on the hill of the overgrown property—so overgrown that you could hardly see the mobile home enshrouded under the brush. Oh Lord, this is on a hill (one of my requirements) and it does have the utilities in place (another on the checklist). It’s private yet close to all I would need as I age, and the price is right. But it certainly had passed beyond any hope of being a fixer-upper.

 I wanted a place of light, efficiency and beauty where I could see the sky and marvel at the Creator. This was a cave—dark, depressed.

Did we have the vision, the strength, the resources to tackle it?