The Muse

Friday, October 7, 2016

Wishful Thinking?

I’m sitting off the highway on a gravel road beside a sweet piece of land.

The sun bathes the area that a half hour earlier was washed with rain. There is a humongous oak tree in the center of a cleared, grassy, mowed area of native wetland grass. Behind me, a small river, I didn't know existed, snakes through the farmland. Maybe it’s a drainage ditch, doesn't matter, it's beautiful.  I imagine my house sitting behind that Oak. 

I wonder if I sit here long enough I will imbue my energy into that property and the owner will feel compelled to sell it to me.  No for sale sign. Just wishful thinking.

The road is posted, “No trespassing.” I’m only a car’s length away from the highway.  An hour earlier I drove down the road on the other side of the river, also posted as “No trespassing” but I inched my way along so I could see across the river to this side.  I drove until I could see that a house was situated way back, down the long gravel road ran alongside the river. 

Amazing where Oregonians will plant themselves.

The Oak Tree, that's not mine, but I wish it was.


I know I tend to ignore signs and go where I do not belong. I am very respectful of property, though, and try not to disturb anyone. I suppose I am conditioned from early childhood to go where no child is meant to go. My friends and I rode their horses into areas fenced areas that cut off exquisite destinations children ought to discover.

My hometown of The Dalles Oregon is sitting almost entirely on solid basalt so digging post holes is an arduous task. Farmers would plant a fence post maybe 50 feet apart, and string barbed wire between the planted posts. Between those secure posts, small “floating” posts held the wire strands apart, but the posts dangled above the ground. We kids would find a post that was loose enough to lay on the ground, stand on the wire while someone led the horses over it. Then we would put it back up. Hopefully with none the wiser.

I was lucky to be mentored by a farm girl who let me ride her horse, and who taught me a few things about respecting property, but not fences. I guess it’s like coloring outside the lines.

Earlier in the day on route to another property, this one listed for sale, I drove past a sign that said
“SLOW
CHILDREN
 PETS
 OLD MEN”  with no commas, not telling if the driver ought to go slow, or that the children, pets, and old men were slow. 

I sat in a dry car while rain splattered the windshield and pondered the property. Did I want to live there? 

It was sloping, treed, overgrown with blackberry bushes, shaded, and then the morning sun called me to the valley beyond, and I followed it until I ended up here beside a road dreaming of a house behind a giant oak tree.


I wrote a note for the Oak Tree property’s owner and put it in his mailbox. “I adore your property by the road. Want to sell 1-5 acres—buildable of course?” Name, phone, email."

Wishful thinking?

That night I drove with my husband out to show him the property, and there was a rope across the entrance.

Guess that’s my answer.

P.S. To see my 92-year-old friend June’s exquisite paintings check out www.joyceslandingpage.com. And the story of a painting I loved and lost.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

From Creating Your Own Reality to Creating Your Own House


Worse. Not this house.

It was in shambles. A wreak. Holes were punched in the drywall, exposing the studs, bare cement floor in the living room.  The kitchen was a disaster. All flooring needed to be replaced.

A dumpster, yep that’s what that house needs.

And a complete renovation.

I would be embarrassed to let anyone see that house right now.

But, if you are thinking about a fixer-upper, the before pictures ought to look bad, real bad. For then the renovations will look good, real good.

Someone had broken the lock to a door leading to a crawl space under the house. That “crawl space” was ceiling high and we could see that all pillars, beams, and flooring looked great. Overhead access to plumbing and wiring would help in any changes. needed or wanted. The house is situated on slanted ground. The portion sitting on level ground was built on a cement pad, the portion over the hill was built over wood floor joists.

 A few months ago my daughter found that house in foreclosure, and it was coming up for auction. She saw it as a flip house. I saw it as a money pit. Any possibility for profit seemed unlikely.

But, as our house...

The house did not sell at auction, so now it is back in the Bank’s hands.

I spent the last two weeks processing the idea of that house. I didn’t like it. It was dark, dreary and depressing. My husband liked it which didn’t help matters.

But, motivated by the Reality show Texas Fixer-Upper with Chip and Joanna Gains I began to see that sows ears can be made into silk purses.  

However, since the house was foreclosed, it gives the owner or heirs, a right of redemption. That means they can buy it back. And that first 6 months was reset at the auction. It goes until March.

It is unlikely that they would pay the fees associated, and satisfy the loan to boot. Since they let it foreclose and go through an auction,  it would appear they want out. Also, we believe the owner died, and if he has any heirs I can't find them.  However, to begin renovations, one wants a clear title.

There was a key under the house that opened the front door. We went in happy to see what it was all about, measured rooms, and drew a floor plan. We didn’t touch anything and locked it again. Was that illegal?

Whoops.  I didn’t think about that.

But hey, we have a Real Estate agent daughter, although she was not present at the break-in , so she’s home free.

To be continued…


P.S. Is this déjà vu for some readers?

About 16 years ago I was writing about building a log house.  

I am so jealous of homes in Waco Texas where you can buy a house situated on green lawns the size of a football field, complete with gorgeous mature trees for $50,000, put $150,00 into renovations and have a dream home that in Oregon would cost $500,000.


So, what do you want to talk about?