An Explanation

If you’ve joined the show in progress: Marsh and I sold our townhouse in Fairfax County, VA, and bought a foreclosed property in Troy, Maine, for approximately the fair cost of the 5.1 acres. But as they say, you never get something for nothing (that wasn’t our goal, but anyway), and the house turns out to have been worth approximately what we paid for it: $0.

I’m exaggerating. But the point is that we’ve been through the process — February through April — while living with Marsh’s sister’s family and making 2.5-hour commutes each way to work on the property, of uncovering all the house’s deficiencies. We adapted along the way to the dawning realization that we would not be able to “move in” — however much we were willing to “rough it” — anytime soon. The house is fully gutted, with no interior walls, virtually no electric wiring, and virtually no plumbing.

The next weeks mark the transition to putting it all back together again: new hemlock plank sheathing, recovered with salvaged Tyvek and vinyl siding, rehabbed load-bearing beams, moved doors, reinforced porch and stairway, and more…. But in between these two phases comes another transition: from our guest quarters with family, to a rented camper “on site.” For we realized that with an extended (and open-ended) completion date, we couldn’t impose indefinitely.

Saturday (or Sunday) we are to pick up the camper in Kennebunk and park it next to the house in Troy, during the week get the rest of the hookups working, and next Wednesday or Thursday “move” there officially.

This “just the facts, Ma’am” account covers a multitude of emotions, of course. Last night the chief feeling was utter exhaustion. It appears when you’re “doing it yourself,” you can only actually “do” for a certain amount of time; then you must lie fallow, if you will — or at the very least plan the next practical steps. Fools rush in, and all that.


When today dawned with a downpour, we stayed in and fiddled with kitchen floorplans. Then we went out for coffee and fiddled with garden layouts:


On our outing I ganked some pics of commercial rabbit hutches, to guide me in making our own:


After that, I experimented with alternate ways of converting our rough survey into working diagrams:


We took a walk to realign our muscles and spines, and our spirits:


We (mostly Marsh) checked on sister Gloria’s 20-hour-old lambs, multiple times:


The respite we derive from Marsh’s family’s home does not come easily to them — it is a raucous, creative, scattered household with disparate personalities, multiple dogs, and a working farm that produces fleece for spinning and eggs and poultry meat for eating. We brought dogs of our own and a need for an oasis of calm which almost never materialized. But we received bed, board, space, physical assistance, sounding boards, and that thing that rarely happens with families, whether they are friends or not: encouragement, acceptance, and love.

The week Tim had to dig up his own septic, he was helping me dig up mine in Troy. No matter what fracases were going on with Gloria’s dogs, she never failed to consider ours — who had effectively introduced a 3rd or 4th “pack” into an already highly orchestrated kennel (in terms of which dogs can safely be put with which). All four children — full of their own competing agendas — have been unfailingly considerate of the aunt and uncle in their midst.

So it’s a new phase, but not without its regrets, and not without adjustments of its own. I don’t know yet all my feelings. The camper is scary; leaving here is sad; our house is a mere shell with many, many hours of work left to make it a home, in some cases work that I don’t yet know how to do.

Tonight there was a sliver of a crescent moon which was covered by clouds as it set. Now there is thunder and lightning, the first of this early spring.

It seems appropriate.