Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's 5PM. Do You Know Where Your Mother Is?

When I told my husband this story he just grinned and started humming a song from The Fantastics:

"And children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute that you say no.
Why did the kids pour jam on the cat?
Raspberry jam all over the cat?
Why should the kids do something like that,
When all that we said was no?"

Well, that's close I suppose, but there's one important difference in this story:

"And my mother, I guess, will get her own way
The minute that you say no."

Yep. That version of the song would fit my reality. And like a typical kid, she makes no attempt to act repentant. She's quite proud of herself in fact. And the honest truth is, now that the deed is done I can't deny that (as usual) I'm grateful. But I know you'll be reading this, mom, so I'm going to repeat - PLEASE DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!

It was Tuesday afternoon. The kids and I were at the house but my mom had not arrived yet. I had suggested she take an afternoon off, so I was a bit surpised when she pulled in the drive around six o'clock. I could tell immediately she was in a good mood. She could only stand it for about two minutes before she said, "So, aren't you going to ask where I've been?".

"Alright," I played along, "Where have you been?".

"I was getting Cecilia a dresser," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

"Okay," I said, "Where did you get a dresser?" (I'm thinking the words auction or garage sale will feature somewhere in her answer.)

Her eyes danced some more as she looked at me and replied, "More like, what house did I get the dresser from?".

That was the only clue I needed. I put down my paint brush and looked at her, "You told me you weren't going to go back in that house."

She grinned back at me and said, "I know. But I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I promised you that." Oy. Of course. "Don't you want to see it?" she continued. And of course I did. So we went out to her van and unloaded the booty. Along with the dresser was a folding step stool and a bed. Here's a picture of the goods (minus the bed's headboard and sideboards, which mom was still unloading from the van):

Celia's definate favorite was the little step stool:

The dresser is adorable. It will fit perfectly along the low knee walls in the back bedroom, and the crackled paint gives it a patina that should feel quite at home in the Einsel House. It needs a good washing, and the bottom drawer sticks a bit, but all in all it is in remarkable condition.

So, why was I so horrified that we were being gifted with such wonderful pieces of furniture? Because to get them, my mother went into this house:

Don't tilt your head. It's the house that is crooked. This picture shows the north and east sides of the house. The entire west wall of the foundation has collapsed, and the house is falling into the hole. It is difficult to get a picture that shows how dramatic the house's tilt is. The chimney that was on the west side of the house collapsed several years ago. The first floor windowsills on the west side of the house are now under ground.

The house first began to lean at least five years ago, although its descent has been noticably picking up in speed over the past winter. It has become semi-famous locally as "The Leaning House". What is remarkable is that despite its pronounced tilt, the house itself has remained remarkably square.

My dad knows the home's owner and about six months ago he arranged for my mom to go through the house with it's owner. This gentleman grew up in the house, but has left it sit empty since his parents' deaths. And as my mom discovered on her first tour, the owner has literally left the place untouched since his parents' deaths. He left all of the furniture untouched. There are clothes in the closets; pictures still hanging on the walls; pots, pans, plates and silverware still in the kitchen cupboards and drawers. All circa 1960's or older.

At the time of her first tour, my mom said the house still felt safe. Once inside, she claimed, you became unaware that the entire building was leaning to the west. However, when she went back this Tuesday (again with the owner present) she said it was immediately obvious that the house is much worse. She even admitted that she no longer felt safe while inside the home. Although the home still appears to be holding mostly square, my mom noted that the windows are showing the strain. Six months ago they were all intact, but several are now broken and most of the remainder are cracked. The place has put up a valiant fight, but gravity is going to win this battle.

So mom, I'll say again (for however little good it will do) - the dresser is adorable, and it will be a wonderful addition to your granddaughter's bedroom, but please don't go back into that house.

And put your hands where I can see them. Please.

1 comment:

  1. What a shame to waste all that stuff, though, esp. as the owner apparently doesn't want it. I bet there's a lot of interesting stuff in there.