And yes, I managed it. I did the impossible and now I am like one of the millions out there that have partially achieved the American dream: home ownership. But what was wrong with the little one-bedroom money pit I used to live in? A lot! And it needed the attention of a contractor most of all, something of which I couldn’t swing or even know how to do properly. The bright side is that my parents got their money back from that little investment property. As for me and my kit-cat, we moved on and my beautiful rose bushes went too. Whether or not my roses survive is highly unlikely though I did my best. I tackled all this while working full-time too so time management was something all new to me and I couldn’t pack everything in in one day like I would have wanted.
I simply had to move on, plain and simple. It was time to put my first short-term goal of finding a better roof over my head for me and my kit-cat into action. I took a sabbatical from my volunteerism during the remainder of the summer so I could devote my time to gardening and water-bath canning my produce. I knew the times ahead for me were going to get off to be rough and groceries in the beginning not so plentiful.
So, my large garden didn’t yield the massive quantities of veggies I was hoping for. I managed to dry some herbs and spices before I moved enough to last me four months. At most I was able to squeeze out a meager 23 canned goods from my garden. I was hoping for at least 50 canning jars full of dill pickles, Sauer kraut, jelly, etc., but that never came to pass like I had planned on.
So, what’s a full-time employed housekeeper to do? Get their short-term and long-term goals figured out and I did that as luck would have it and landed into the good graces of my recent place of full-time work. I still clean elsewhere as a second job, but I don’t get paid overtime at either job but that’s something I don’t mind as long I can pay my bills, make my house payment and buy groceries that’s all I care about.
Being a housekeeper is physically demanding and its not as easy as it appears. Sometimes though the dumpster trash weighs more than I do. (hah!) I also learned some transferable skills while on my new job. I can operate a floor squeegee machine which is a first for me since I’d never had to learn how to drive one of those before. What else do I do? I also porter. That’s where I go around and clean up any spills, paper waste, etc. And I like to engage with the public.
At first I wasn’t getting my hopes up of ever moving away. I did look at several houses when I was still very new in my full-time job, and all the homes I was looking at in my price range were very deplorable. I mean, the little money pit given all its flaws looked like a palace compared to the interiors of these dumpy houses that really needed to be knocked to the ground. One house I looked at was built around the time era I simply adore from the Roaring Twenties, however, don’t let the lilac/ lavender exterior paint fool you. Step in and the place had been ransacked by previous not-so-great tenants. There was evidence of rodents and their droppings littered the tattered brown carpets in two bedrooms and elsewhere. I got a sense of gloom and despair as I absorbed the house’s past. And then it grew to unease and I was feeling like I needed to leave– like immediately.
Teetering on the top shelf of the bizarre closet with two different doors, I noticed a window box AC. I envisioned at any given moment it would fall down and strike me dead. I headed for the bathroom portion of this house where the basement door was located. (Think in terms of a trap door on a stage), yeah, very interesting place to build an inset basement access. It took my dad to lift up the heavy wooden door. I shined my flashlight beam to the rickety staircase, the overpowering smell of mildew assaulted my nostrils with almost a wretched, nausea-inducing reaction. The windows had been all filled in with concrete, I kid the reader not on that. I received a very bad feeling, many of them, about this particular house, but the creep factor of the window-less basement really turned me away as a first-time homebuyer.
I quickly stood and let my dad shut the basement door. Oh, yeah, and it didn’t help that the floors in the back part of the house felt ‘spongy’ and very unstable below my feet and I’m at the very most about 95 lbs. Now, if these floors can’t even support my stick-figure self, what chance would they have that my 100 lbs. antiques wouldn’t just serve as a wrecking ball and bring down the whole darn house the first day of moving in? Well, moving into this particular house wasn’t even a remote possibility. Oh, and this house has severe spider infestations and the foundation was sloped so standing water in the yard would settle around it causing more erosion over time. Okay, this tour is over. I’m ready to head off to work. And mind you, I was getting up extremely early to tour all of these homes on my list before work. On any given day I was running on two or three hours of sleep, and being a full-time employed housekeeper puts my body through a physical workout which is why I’ve lost weight. I still eat as Vegetarian as always, but it was combined with lack of enough sleep that took a toll on my mental stamina as well. However, I was extremely determined to buy a house and get the heck out of the money pit that’s what drove me to push on.
And I didn’t buy the first house that met all my criteria, either. I had to do some major homework before I ever met with an awesome Mortgage lender. I knew that time on the job is vital to the first time home-buying process and so is having the earnest money ready, having a savings set aside for any and future home repairs, etc.
During this whirlwind journey of home-buying, I ran into some unexpected ‘life’ valleys. The vehicle that I drove religiously that was great on gas was finally breaking down and my worst nightmare was becoming a reality; the transmission is ready to fail. The cost to repair it on a vehicle pushing 23 years? $3,000 off the bat. Well, money doesn’t grow on trees for me. It was like a receiving a sucker-punch to the gut when I heard that. I knew that someday down the road my vehicle was destined for the junkyard, but I am thankful that it barely held up enough to get me to work and back. It also transported the final loads from the old house to the new one over the Thanksgiving holiday. But the old vehicle’s days were numbered after that and it was becoming more of a safety-hazard than trying to hold onto it for sentimental sake. I cried over parting with my vehicle, you bet. I went through ‘first vehicle-ever owned’ depression for a few days afterwards. My parents (bless them) came through for me and landed me in the driver’s seat of a 2010 vehicle that I will be purchasing from them. It’s all updated with seat warmers, and the only problem is the gas pedal. I’m short and have to scrunch myself up into the steering wheel just to drive it.
A shaky transition:
Unlike learning how to confidentially drive the squeegee machine at work, I was given a brief one-night practice run in the 2010 vehicle that belonged to my parents. My eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be in my younger days. In fact, driving at night is tough for anybody. I managed to do well my first time out. And it took me about three weeks to get the hang of the new vehicle and how it handled on the road. I pack my MP3 that’s already downloaded with nearly my entire collection of Victrola 78s plus Edison Diamond Discs and Edison wax cylinder music as well. I’m set. The only thing missing? Being in the driver seat of a Model T. I say a Model T even though those are more of a Baby Boomer’s classic plaything, not for some young-ish person that was born long after that antique automobile.
My next antique goal will be something that can’t go in my house. And yes, I’ve had plans of eventually buying (or restoring) for that matter a Model T Ford. Okay, I will accept a Model A, but nothing beyond 1929 since that’s my cut-off year as far as antiques go and don’t ask me why. Sure as the years went on the Art-Deco era (1929-1933) had some fascinating designs, but I keep going back to the Roaring Twenties and the Teens for old-fashions, automobiles, and oh yeah, antique advertisements for women’s dresses. I recently bought a print for women’s Wooltex dresses from a 1907 Ladies Home Journal print (original not a reprint) that displayed on my bookcase.
And I must have bought more than just a pretty picture. Shortly after getting used to the new antique house, I placed a few battery-operated candles around the house and use those often when I don’t feel like plugging in a nightlight. I worked into the wee-hours and my poor kit-cat was still reeling from the move and me not being around as much to wait on her hand and foot like I often once did. I finally opened up my bedroom to my cat and she’ll only sleep at the foot of my bed when I call her. Otherwise, she prefers her Eastlake rocking chair or the Eastlake couch. My antique dolls dominate the entire house lovingly and I’m sure that’s going to creep out company when they stop by. One battery candle I purchased either came with a malfunction or it’s haunted. I say that because whenever I turned the candle off and left the room, I’d return and it would be flickering. It’s one of those screw-on battery candles and very difficult to turn on and off. At first I dismissed it as a malfunction until I returned home from work in the wee hours to find it turned flickering on my bookshelf where I display the antique Ladies Home Journal advertisement. Either that or the antique print came with a friendly ghost that likes to turn on that battery operated candle for me.
And the only other weird incident I encountered was when I was heading up to the porch, I noticed what appeared to be a dim light extinguish in my bedroom. I tried on many occasions to figure out if it was another outside light source casting a bend of light on my bedroom window to no avail. And the only time I witnessed that happen was a day or two after my Edison C-19 oak phonograph broke. Maybe Thomas Edison was inspecting his phonograph to see how it got broke? Who knows. If that’s the case, he invented it, then he can fix it. As far as anything ominous or spooky inside my new house I haven’t felt anything. In fact, my mom had to have a talk with the house when she came over to do some minor repair work when I was at work. The house resisted her efforts to hang curtains, install a brace to the basement landing, etc. And after she said, “You know, you’re (to the house) not going to find any other person that loves you more than my daughter does. She’s even bought antiques from the same time period to fill you with, so please don’t resist my efforts. “
And the talk worked. My mother’s work went smoothly after that. Shortly after I took possession of my new house, I go over there take a small load with me, switch on my old-time music and worked on peeling off the chef boarder in the kitchen. Behind it, I noticed some beautiful fruit-wreath-themed boarder in almost good condition. There’s still some paper residue that I need to gently peel off, but as I was doing that I had a moment of déjà-vu. My mind cast back to the time I was four years old and had a vivid dream of seeing boarder being removed from the kitchen to reveal the fruit-wreath-themed underneath.
In my four-year old glee I said, “Gee, that sure is pretty!” In my dream I didn’t see myself standing on the ladder though nor did I see myself as an adult, either. I just saw history being uncovered and preserved. I saw the interior of my new house back [then] in fragments in my dream.
During the second walk-thru with my parents before I bought my new house…
My mom couldn’t resist opening a suitcase in the basement. We weren’t expecting much and knew we shouldn’t be messing with the suitcase, but the house sat empty for 80 days on the market. And what we laid eyes on was a modern kitchen rug, but the scent transported us back to another time. The rug didn’t have a bad smell to it. It had an old-time nice kitchen smell to it and one that was familiar to my mom and I. My mom and I looked at each other and we remembered where we had smelled that same kitchen scent. Sadly, it was an old Victorian we lived in when I was about four years old and the old Victorian was knocked to the ground to make way for another parking lot expansion behind a public library. The Victorian (when we lived in it) couldn’t pass city codes. In fact, the electrical wiring was original to the 1920s and by the early 1980s standards, that was a fire hazard waiting to happen. The house wasn’t insulated to my mom’s memory, but the house still had all the antique fixtures and an old claw foot bath tub and pedestal sink in the bathroom. Out of all the homes we lived in over the years, nothing quite topped that Victorian and it had a good vibe, like, “welcome home” every time we stepped in and that same familiar kitchen scent lingered in that Victorian. The one me and my mom detected was likened to that one. I haven’t removed the rug from the suitcase since that day and just keep it put up. Also, my new house came with two original antique doors that I plan to replace and remove the hollow core doors that are there now when time and my schedule permits. I believe these doors go to the bedroom and bathroom, but we’ll see if I’m right about that. And I do have a set of skeleton keys that fit the locks as well.
When time wasn’t all digital, electric, or battery-operated…
And that’s what I wanted in my new antique house, key-wound clocks and pocket watches. I have several of each. The pocket watches are more suited for a man rather than a woman, but eh, we all can’t find a woman’s antique pocket watch. Now for the clocks nothing beats hearing them chime out of sync.
The mantel clocks were surprisingly the first antiques to acclimate in the new old house long before I brought over anymore of my clutter– I mean, ‘stuff.’
The Ansonia mantel clock (circa 1899 or 1900 for the history buffs) with the broken striker coil that needs to be re-soldered works perfect. Does the fact that striker coil is broke bother me any? None at all. Since all antique clocks have a loud chime, this clock fits beautifully into my bedroom and doesn’t wake me up. My other two clocks one of them an Eastlake kitchen clock stays on my Hosier in another part of the house. The Eastlake clock can chime all it wants to, and although pleasant, will be loud enough to wake the dead. My Seth Thomas mantel clock… grrr. I’ve tried to get this beautiful clock to remain ticking, but there’s something off-balance about it and it must never be moved an inch since I’ve owned it. But it will keep perfect time and it chimes very loud when level. So for now, it sits silent on the bookcase with the dolls.
My new antique home is 96 years young. I don’t like using the term ‘old’ since I associate it with something used up. The house I settled on retains a lot of its old-fashioned interior including the old knob and cloth-bound wiring. Now before anybody on here has a freak out moment of mammoth proportions, keep in mind, that yes, I did have an inspection preformed prior to my closing date, and the inspector checked out the electricity and it passed inspection. Also, in other areas of the house, there’s been newer wiring installed. And me? It brought back vivid happy childhood memories when my eyes saw that antique wiring that I hadn’t seen in years. The porcelain insulators remained with their white shiny glare from the gaudy curly-Q eco-‘depressing’ light bulbs. Oh, that’s on my ‘to-do’ list. Those eco-unfriendly light bulbs from China were removed the day I took possession of my house. I placed incandescent bulbs in the basement. There’s a lot I disagree with regarding the eco-curly Q light bulbs that I find frankly, annoying and too dim. I could prattle on about the eco light bulbs contain mercury, etc. But this blog is about my experiences as a first-time home buyer: the joys and upsets of a long butt-kicker of a move.
The only antique to get broke during the move was…
Not great, great grandmother’s bed doll. And it wasn’t any of my antique furniture, either. The two standing pole lamps made it in excellent condition. The Victrolas (or as my relative told me after moving the last one into the house exclaimed; “These coffins on wheels that play music, and if you ever will these to me make sure you have an antique moving company written in your will to deliver them to my house!”). The relative stepped away from the Victrolas and Edisons and sat down elsewhere to take a breather.
My heart sank and I thought to myself as a listened and watched the Edison C-19 hit the last porch step with a violent bang, “And that’s the nail in the Edison C-19 phonograph’s coffin” as the horn lift rod completely came un-soldered in two places and rattled in the cabinet. My worst fears were revealed later on that late night when I inspected all the Victrolas and Edisons. The oak one (my very first antique phonograph) was out of order.
I didn’t panic and I wasn’t seething mad with my family. Yes, the machine was strapped to a two-wheeler that can support the weight of a refrigerator. But it still broke likely due to the fatigue it was already under plus playing it after the repair wasn’t such a wise idea. “The horns are impossible to repair.” My repair guy once told me. But rather than accept that advice, I tackled the horn repair and made the impossible possible, or at least, do-able.
What I once thought was a bur inside the horn lift knob turned out to be the horn and the solder that began to fail due to constant temperature changes during the transition phase of moving.
What kind of solder was used? Lead. It’s what they used in the old days when those antique phonographs were new. Also, my ex-boyfriend and I used fluxing compound, the old kind that plumbers used to use back in the day. And I all I have is the lead solder. I don’t have the hand-held propane torch nor the extra helping hand anymore. So I had to wait, save up a couple paychecks and bought a replacement horn for the machine.
I installed it myself, and boy howdy, I suffered for it the following day. I’m not strong like I once was and after everything was back in the cabinet a washer decides to drop out of the old horn…. arrg! That means I inspect my two other identical Edisons to figure out where the washer goes and I visually can’t find one that matches. I don’t know if it supports the horn lift rod inside the cabinet or if it just decided to fall off from another part of the mainboard assembly. Collecting and servicing these antique phonographs can be a frustration at times, but it’s the love of them that outweighs the guesswork.
Interchangeable, my foot! I spent two and half hours take parts off the old horn and installed them on the other horn that I could have spent getting caught up on my sleep and still had to work the next day. I’ll tackle it some other time and I still need to email my repair guy and see what I’m doing wrong with the replacement. Anywho– I’ll get that problem tackled in my spare time. The original repair job lasted for more than 11 years and finally failed completely on Thanksgiving Day, 2016. The last song played on the Edison C-19 before it broke: “You’re the Cream in my Coffee”-Fox Trot and “He ain’t Never Been to College”. The last Edison Diamond disc to be played on the Edison C-19 oak machine was “Invitation to the Waltz”.
The very first song I heard as a demonstration to be played on the Edison C-19 oak using the incorrect steel needle Ken-Tone reproducer, “Wreck of the old Southern 97” by Texas crooner Vernon Dalhart. And that’s the song that had me sold on the antique phonograph.
In retrospect it’s hard for me to believe that I am this phonograph’s second owner. I made a lot of improvements to the machine cosmetically-speaking and made sure the mainsprings were serviced by a professional. And as time went on that was my ‘go-to’ machine to record from. The acoustics were beautiful long before the machine ever got broke. And even after our repair held, the machine sounded good, but not great as they do when left entirely alone. And now, my dear Edison C-19 phonograph remains out of service for the present time.
As for my house, everything’s good. The bathroom still has an original claw foot tub which was a plus for me when I was looking for an antique home because I grew up with such outdated fixtures in those old Victorians that were chopped up into apartments back in the Twenties, so that took me back to a happier time. Oh, and shared garage can’t fit a modern car and I know what that means, the garage itself was original to 1920 when my house was built. That means it might accommodate a Model T or a Model A. The Model A came after the Model T, by the way and it doesn’t have to be a FORD exactly, but I’ll see what I can turn up (and mind you, this is one of my long-term goals that won’t happen overnight it might take my entire lifetime to buy one outright since I don’t believe in going into debt or taking out loans either).
A Happily ever after…
The house came with a washer and a dryer. Thank goodness no ‘smart’ appliances. Yay! But it was my determination that got me to my American dream of home ownership and I had to really sacrifice a lot both physically and budget-wise. Oh, and another good thing to do: create and follow a monthly budget. I was so used to stocking up on groceries at the first of every month before my housekeeping took off that my new house is overstocked and I don’t need to buy anything other than bananas and eggs twice a month. And I made sure to have all of my food provisions for me and my cat in place. The rest like gas for the vehicle, paying bills happen on my days off.
As for my cat, she’s still holds a grudge with my mom who snagged her in the pet taxi and brought her to the new house. And my cat goes through depression whenever she sees me in my work uniform. I believe she and I were so inseparable in the beginning when she adopted me as her person five years ago that now not to have me in her universe 24/7 has really upset her that she’d cry and bellow out this lonesome meow whenever my mom would stop by and work on my new house. And my cat would wander up to the front door, expecting me to enter, and when I wouldn’t she’d run to the basement and hide out under the staircase.
But I do hope my cat understands that I’m working my tail feathers off to provide her a much better life. At least now my cat will never have to worry about abandonment like her previous owners did to her I can only guess this and left her behind to fend for herself and survive all those harsh cold winters, starvation. And now, my cat packed on the weight and gets fed quality wet and dry cat food. As a treat I will give her a mini-moo on occasion when I get off work, but even that I wouldn’t recommend giving a cat all of the time since its half n’ half and probably unhealthy for pets. There’s got to be some kind of kitten formula that’s safe to treat a cat with on occasion. That and my cat still gets a tiny piece of baked potato since that’s the thing she inhaled the first time I encountered her outside five years ago at the old house. She was so rail thin you could see and feel her ribs that it was scary.
She was a pitiful mess when she and I first encountered each other and she wasn’t a friendly feline. She used to hiss and spit at me when I’d come outside with the compost. Over the years she gradually warmed up to me and I let her inside during a severe winter snow storm back in 2013 and she had been an indoor/outdoor cat ever since and we became inseparable.
Nowadays since moving though she’s adjusting to an indoor lifestyle and getting adjusted to my hectic work schedule. She has her toys , free reign of the entire house, which for a cat, that must be like top of the world and she’s got a person that dotes on her constantly and she knows she’s well loved, too. As for the new house, its great. I couldn’t be happier.