Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are We There Yet?

I was awakened at one o’clock this morning to the sound of my four year old daughter vomiting onto the wood floor of the little nook at the top of the Einsel House stairs. In an instant I was out of bed, into the hall, turn on the light, and oh no – she’s obviously not finished. Scanning my environment, I shoved aside two cardboard boxes of still packed clothes and dashed into her unfinished room. I got the five gallon bucket (half full of sawdust and various scraps of wood) to her just in time for round two.

Cecilia, bless her heart, was a trooper as I fumbled through yet unpacked boxes looking for cleaning supplies, fresh blankets and pajamas. Charles got home from practice for his latest theater role (Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls) just in time to help by getting Celia settled on a sleeping bag on the living room floor (we don’t have couches yet) while I took a bucket of hot soapy water up to address the wood floor at the top of the stairs. Cecilia, her brother and her father all slept soundly through the rest of the night. Their mother and wife, however, was back up from about 4am to 6am due to a classic summertime thunderstorm. The lightning show through the living room's uncurtained windows was quite impressive, at times almost beautiful. At one point the power went out. I had just enough time to realize that I have no idea where our flashlights are before the lamp beside me blinked back on.

The night just past was in many ways a microcosm of the days preceding it. Within the last two weeks we've dealt with the somewhat predictable exhaustion and overwhelmed-ness of being nearly 9 months into a renovation, coupled with a refinance closing and moving into a house that is still about 20% under construction. All while passing a stomach bug from one family member to another.

Thus the lack of posts here.

It's not that the past few weeks have been all that bad, just that they've been tiring. But in the midst of it all we closed on the Einsel House's refinance, dropping our monthly payment to just under 40% of what it was on the HELOC (and locking in a fixed interest rate of 4.875%). We also spent Father's Day moving into the house. It will take awhile to get all the boxes empty, but it gives me a little thrill to get reacquainted with all the things we haven't seen in over a year - the quilt from our bed, all my kitchen dishes and baking supplies, Neil's antique dresser that I bought at auction just before we sold our previous home.

I can't promise I'll be back up to speed here at the blog immediately. At the moment I'm still rather tired (happy, but a tired happy), and it appears we are not finished with that stomach bug quite yet, either. Finally there's the small complication of not having any internet connection (or even a computer for that matter) at the Einsel House. Charles is working on getting internet at the house, and I'm sure the passage of time will restore health and energy. So please be patient and trust that I will be back when I'm able. Because I do look forward to sharing pictures of a lived-in Einsel House. : )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Few Pictures

No great theme for this post - I've just got a few pictures that I hadn't posted yet and figured I'd put them up before they're completely outdated.

First, a couple pictures from the south side of the house taken after the masons left for the day on Monday:

At left above shows the joints ground out and at right shows repointed.

And a quick shot of the kitchen island, with three coats of finish but still sans top:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunday Visitors

Just before noon on Sunday I was working on the final coat of finish in the office at the Einsel House when I noticed an unfamiliar van pulling up the drive. The woman who got out was studying the house intently as she came up the walk to the kitchen door. We must have made quite a contrasting pair when I opened the door - she neatly dressed and arranged (think "retired schoolteacher" - which she would later tell me she was), and me in my paint-splattered work clothes with unkept hair. But when she introduced herself I was immediately too excited to worry about how I looked. Although she had never lived in the house, this was a previous owner of the Einsel House. The property had been in her family since the early 1900's, and although the family sold the house in 1997, our Sunday visitor still owns the fields to the north and east of the house. She now lives several counties away and a local farmer rents the fields, but she had stopped by to check on her land and she noticed that the house showed signs of recent work. So she drove up the drive and then followed a wonderful hour, showing her through the house and grounds, soaking up the memories she shared of this place and the people who called it home.

Later in the afternoon (when the office woodwork was safely under its second coat of finish) I again looked up to an unfamiliar car coming up the drive. It took me a minute this time to realize that I had indeed already met the couple who got out of the car. Laughing, they introduced me to their youngest son - who was seven years old when they moved out of the Einsel House. This was the last family to rent the property from our first Sunday visitor, having lived here from 1995-1997. And then followed another wonderful time, with a different memory bubbling up every few steps. It was fun to watch their son as he walked around. Being so young when his family left, his memories of the house were fuzzier than his parents', but as we went from room to room he became more and more animated. It was clear that being in the house (and listening to his parents' stories) helped bring his own memories back in focus.

Charles and I owe the H family a special thank you. As I mentioned above, we had met them before, but that meeting had been more than a year prior to their Sunday visit. As this blog has chronicled, the story of how we wound up with the Einsel House is a bit unconventional. Typically, when you buy a house at sheriff sale you are buying "as is", without any knowledge or any chance to inspect the property. Thanks to my job, we found out in January of 2009 that the Einsel House would probably wind up at sheriff sale, but we also knew that the process would be a lengthy one. Just by driving by we knew we were very interested in the property, but without a chance to see the home's interior we weren't sure how interested we were. Charles in particular thought it was crazy to twiddle our thumbs for months - in a buyer's market - waiting for a house that we could only view from end of the (quite long) driveway. And I must admit, although 'a few months' doesn't sound that long in the grand scheme of things, it sure feels long when you are actually living it.

Enter the H family. A friend from church lives just across the field from the Einsel House, so one night I called her to find out if she had by chance ever been in the house and could answer any of my questions about the home's interior. She told me to call the H's. So I did. And they gushed about the property. Told us they had pictures and video and they would be happy to share them with us. So early on a spring evening we went to the H's house and they put in a home video taken in the mid 1990's at the Einsel House. And oh. my. OH. MY. In my wildest dreams I had never imagined that the the woodwork could have looked like that. And those original doors. And the springhouse. And the stone bridge. And the creek. And I was in love. In love. Head over heels in love.

Eventually I hand delivered a letter to the house's owners explaining our interest in the property and asking if we could see the property in person. (At that point I was probably willing to buy it regardless, but Charles was still understandably hesitant to buy a house based only on some 12 year old photos and video.) Oh, we did still look at other houses. But as that long summer came to an end we still had not bought anything, and just before the sheriff sale on this house the owners called us and most graciously allowed us into their home. It was a selfless act for which we remain most grateful.

The rest, as they say, is history. : )

Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting There

The camera and I have been a bit under the weather, but with a bit of coaxing we're working together to get a short post up tonight. The house is looking nice. Here's a picture of the kitchen taken a week ago:

Almost looks good enough to move in. : )

The "under construction" look returned a bit when we moved the new island in. Here's the island, sanded down to bare wood, minus the top:

And stained to match the walnut in the rest of the house:

More attention for the island is in the plans for this weekend. And to close this post out, here's a few more pictures showing how the house is coming together.

The dining room:

South bedroom:

Back bedroom:

And the south side of the house's exterior: