Sunday, June 29, 2008

You Just Never Know Where the Truth Lies (with update below)

What a difference a day makes.

Three weeks ago, I said goodbye to my grandmother's house. It was emotionally charged, a bit disappointing even though it was our only option - none of us could have afforded to keep the house or even live in it. And frankly, none of us really wanted to. The house itself was it's own entity filled with memories that will last me a lifetime and beyond.

And then yesterday morning - that all changed.

When the house was sold we were told several times that the new family was in a hurry to get in there, start doing renovations and was hoping to be setting up their home in time for a grand Labor Day party. Good for them. A new family would bring new life into our home. In hindsight we should have known they weren't speaking the truth. The first indication was when my grandmother's next door neighbor called to tell me she met "one of the owners" and that it was three men. Odd, I told her that couldn't be because we were told it was a family, a hockey family from a neighboring town so taken by the fact when they looked at the house a second time they saw children playing street hockey in the street and that sold them. Boy was I wrong.

They lied. They lied about what their plan was, they lied about what they were doing. I have no problem with anyone buying the house - it was up for sale for someone else to call home, but why weave an intricate wave of lies when, at the end of the day, it simply wasn't their intention at all? I'll never know. It's not like we were only going to sell it to someone whose plans we approved of. We were happy it sold as quickly as it did. I'm stunned.

Basically yesterday morning I found out from the neighbors that all that work they were screeching through at the house over the course of the past two weeks was for one thing and one thing only - they were flipping. it. And last night, it was official. A "For Sale" sign went up on the lawn and I got an email in my inbox from the real estate website I watch informing me there was a new listing for a house on my grandmother's old street. It was her house. I'm stunned.

There were photos to go with the listing too, and while they didn't do a thing to the outside. They did rip up all the rugs, refinish the hardwood floors which had been hiding beneath them for decades and painted - and man it's beautiful.

Here's the question - there is an open house this afternoon. My folks can't make it -so therefore I'm going over there this afternoon to walk through the house. I have two reasons for doing this. The first is I want to see what they did in 14 days, the second is because it appears from the listing they may be subdividing the lot on which it stands and selling them both separately - which would make sense because the asking price on the house is only 30K more than what they paid for it a few weeks ago. C is concerned it's going to totally freak me out to walk back into a house that on the inside will be unrecognizable when the last time I was there I left in tears overwhelmed with the emotion it's no longer in the family. Either way I'm going. But don't worry, I'm bringing support. But am I doing the right thing?


So I went to the open house yesterday. Turns out they are actually selling the house and the side yard lot separately with plans to build a house on the lot that has, since the house has been in existence, been the yard. Or, as the realtor told me, I could purchase that lot for $300K because it's buildable. (We've always been told it was not) Which means the house literally won’t have any yard at all. It’s a real shame – I think between that and the shoddy, quick paint they slapped on a few walls really devalues and frankly destroyed a beautiful house that simply needs some fixing and new decorative touches. That’s all I have to say on the subject.

Friday, June 20, 2008

(Long Overdue) House Update

It’s been a while since I’ve had a house update with everything else going on. Three months after we moved in, here’s the latest:

My two new flower gardens at the front of the house are doing fabulously and make me smile every time I pull in or walk out the front door.

I have a design plan in place for the main area in the front of the house under the windows. C and I have discussed what we want and will be making a trip to the nursery soon.

On the inside of the house – while most has remained the same - we are ready to begin the rest of the work. C finished decking the attic last week so we can finally get all the boxes out of our lives and put up there whether it’s indefinitely, for the holidays, summer/winter clothing or simply the stuff that will be there temporarily until we finish our dining and living rooms (need to be painted).

This weekend my goal is to get all those boxes staged and lined up in the two other bedrooms for (near) future attic placement. Then we can set up both bedrooms and the upstairs (sans curtains) will be complete! (oh and we have to paint the upstairs bathroom).

So we’re getting there. Slowly but surely. And now that the only house we have to worry about is our own, it should be a no-brainer. And yes, of course, I found myself driving by Nana’s house the other day just to see what was going on and it was a lot of work taking place inside (they had the doors open so I could see in).

That’s that. Tomorrow I’m spending the day at my mom’s and Sunday I have a jewelry party (thank goodness I haven’t had any jewelry business in two months being so busy and all).

But now I’m back in the groove and ready to take it all on!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happiness Is ...

My new Coach bag!!!

Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Goodbye Nana's House

Tonight I went to Nana's for the last time on my way home from work to pick up a few remaining things and take out the garbage for the very last time. It was very bittersweet. By this time tomorrow a new family will be calling this house "home."

Goodbye Nana's house and all the wonderful memories that will live on in a place that as a child I considered nothing but magical and as an adult, majestic. You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nearing the End of an Era

Tomorrow is the last day I will ever go to my grandmother’s house. C and I are heading over there after work to pick up the last few things still there and take one more final load of garbage to the curb. I’m feeling better about it than I did last week, but sometimes still, when I’m not thinking about it, the memories start creeping in and I start thinking about all the wonderful times we had there through my life and throughout my grandparents’ lives. I have boxes of photos from the 1940s to present day of huge parties in a house built for just that.

My dad grew up in that house – having moved there when he was a little boy. My grandfather was a contractor and bought the house from a prominent businessman and spent a significant amount of time renovating it. My grandmother can still tell you exactly how it looked and how small the rooms were before the renovation. The house itself is absolutely amazing. A grand foyer with a circular staircase, a living room so large it easily fit a 10 ft Christmas tree and comfortably could hold 75 for cocktails. A master suite I would do anything for with a dressing room with windows overlooking the lake at the bottom of the hill and a sunken tub in it’s private bathroom, even a maid’s room with private bath. It’s a house many have dreamed to live in, including me.

My mom got dressed for and had photos taken before her wedding at Nana’s back in the late 1960s. And was married at the church down the street (the same church where both my brother and I were baptized). My cousin Nancy who was just a little girl and a flower girl at my mom’s wedding was so taken with the experience that in 1991 she had her wedding at Nana’s. Both my brother and I had Christenings at the house that, in photos, would remind you of the wedding scene in “The Godfather.” We also had a beautiful cocktail party for Nana's 95th four years ago at the house. It was absolutely lovely with nearly 100 in attendance.

As a child and through my college years, we had family Christmas’ with easily 25 to 30 people at a time with my grandmother cooking the entire five course meal for all. It was all so good but took a number of years before I could sit through the entire meal. You see dinner always began with homemade ravioli as the first course and since ravioli was (and still is) my favorite, I’d eat too much of that and leave the table only to come back hours later for Nana’s homemade cheesecake – which this year I finally mastered myself. Thanksgivings and Easters were the same. While the menu would change slightly for every holiday, it always began with ravioli. And then there was what we laughingly referred to as “the annex” – the overflow table in the foyer just next to the dining room. The same folks ate there each holiday, but we always found ourselves by that table taking in the fun of a small group – oh the memories! I can still picture Marguerite, Auntie Maria and Auntie Helen having a grand old time. (Incidentally, Auntie Helen and her husband Uncle Jimmy survived the Coconut Grove Fire in Boston back in November, 1942) 492 people perished in that fire. Helen and Jimmy were the only couple at their table that night who survived. In fact, as Nana told the story, Helen was thought to be dead and was among the dead when she was found alive. It was a miracle.

Back to the holidays. All holidays – heck, all get togethers at Nana’s, always began with one key element. Champagne. And to this day that tradition continues. We’re the only family I know that can kill a case of champagne in less than two hours flat and everyone can still walk. I remember how special it was to me when I was finally allowed my first sip. C and I have what’s left of the last case of champagne that was at the house. I’m waiting for my next family get together to open a bottle. Or maybe I’ll open one tomorrow night in honor of the house changing hands.

As a child I would visit my grandmother often and spend a lot of the time also visiting with my Auntie Eva. Eva was my favorite of all the aunts, of everyone. She gave me my first perm (even though it blew out in the wind on the ride home), taught me to make a mean homemade apple pie and how to appreciate old movies. Eva lived right next door to Nana which made a trip to visit Nana even more fun.

While Eva taught me to bake, Nana made sure I knew how to make her sauce. She was always on me to learn how to cook – because “no man would marry an Italian girl who couldn’t cook,” she’d say. It took a lot of lessons, but eventually I caught on. Unfortunately I’m still only good at cooking anything Italian, nothing else. And while Nana wasn’t the baker in the family, she did pass down to me her Pizzelle and Biscotti recipes – even giving me my own Pizzelle maker – this fall I hope to start making those – hopefully as good as hers were.

Nana’s house had a sad side to it, too. My Uncle Michael died a few years ago. He had Down’s Syndrome and unfortunately his body gave out just before his 60th birthday. But the one thing he always asked for every day at the hospital was to go home. After his death he got just that. He was waked in front of the fireplace in Nana’s grand living room thanks to some help from the local funeral home. It was a wonderful way to honor his wishes and to bring him home one last time. We kept our word.

With summer here I can’t help but remember how much Nana LOVED to sit out in the sun in the yard. When I was a kid she’d be out there all day with Eva – toasting themselves and soaking their feet in a kiddie pool purchased just for that purpose. In her later years, I’d join her out there to sit and talk and drink her favorite summer aperitif – gin and tonic.

And there’s so much more but the more I type, the more I remember, the more I drift off into those memories and feel a sadness in my chest and the more you’ll all be forced to read.

200th Post!

Wow I just realized that last post was my 200th this year. Feels pretty darn nice!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

When Did He Become A Little Boy?

I must have blinked too long because it seems all of a sudden my baby nephew is now a little boy! (or maybe it's the little boy haircut?)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Nearing the End of the Journey

The past two months has been, to say the least, very stressful. In the past 60 days, C and I moved into our new house. My family has sold and finally finished cleaning out my grandmother’s house. And my cat – well Molly is still having some issues. (actually just put a call into the vet this morning)

Needless to say with everything going on at the home front, along with some really stressful situations at work, I haven’t felt like myself in a long, long time. But I’m trying. I really am.

I’m still not settled in our new home. Still have boxes everywhere – although now that the attic is almost finished (C had to deck it) we will, in the very near future, be able to get all the boxes currently residing in our two spare bedrooms up there and out of sight. We also plan to “temporarily” store anything we have taking up space in the living room (also full of boxes) until we get it painted and furnished.

I have met my neighbor across the street finally. She’s very nice and shared some Day Lillies with me last week that her girlfriend gave her. (who doesn’t love free plants!) I was very happy. And as I mentioned a week or two ago, I’ve been gardening like a madwoman every weekend trying to make the outside of our house as attractive as possible since I’m at a standstill on the inside.

Like I said, we finally finished cleaning out my grandmother’s house. My mom, dad and I have been at it for months now and once a week C and I handle getting it all out to the curb for the garbagemen. We’ve even enlisted the neighbor who lets us add our trash to hers as the piles are so large. It also helps the house is on the corner of two roads, so we’ve been piling it up on both sides every week. And today, finally, after everything, at this moment the house is empty. The estate guy came to take the remainder of the furniture and all that remains is boxes of trash to be put out tomorrow night, along with the contents of the garage.

Now I can focus more on my own house and trying to finally after two months of living there get the rest of it unpacked and organized. I also intend to get myself organized again. If you know me you know how organized I am when it comes to work, etc.. but in my personal life right now everything’s a mess. I need to pull it together and get everything, EVERYTHING, back on track.

I’ve been very emotional lately. Not sure if it’s from being overwhelmed at the many tasks at hand I’ve been juggling for a while now or because at the end of the day it’s also the end of an era. In a week a new family will begin putting their mark on a house my family spent many a holiday at over the decades. I plan a more memorable post on my grandmother’s house in the future, but I don’t have it in me right now. I think it’s also hard because I did live there for a number of years myself.

It’s just a place full of memories and now I can’t imagine what it will be like to go in there tomorrow afternoon and see it completely empty as it was when they bought it in the ‘40s. But tomorrow I’ll find out. I wonder if I should bring a box of tissues.