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Monday, November 9, 2015

Live from Maine... It's You Little Tarte

The Horatio Moody House, Built in 1866,
Kennebunk, Maine

Well, we did it.  We finally did it.

For years we have been talking about buying a house in Maine.  We have looked at dozens of houses over the years when we've been up here visiting camp or college, but mostly we've been looking just to look.  Call it residential sightseeing.  We always talked about eventually retiring to Maine, but I really thought that it was just that: talk.

Well, Ted called my bluff.  We found the perfect "retirement" house.  (Note:  For now this will be our summer and whenever else we can get here house.)  And it's as perfect as a house built in 1866 can be.  Let's just say that we bought the house from  do-it-yourselfers who had only limited DIY skills.  Let's also just say that the house needed more work that we thought, despite having what we thought was an in-depth home inspection.  (For the record, we probably would have bought the house even if we had known that the whole place was held together with thumbtacks and masking tape, but it would have been good information to have.  Also for the record, the thumbtack industry was kept alive by the previous owners of this house -- I kid you not.)

I am excited that we are putting in a new kitchen, and it appears that it is going to be my dream kitchen.  Clearly I will have no excuse not to cook every night.  We are also adding one bathroom and re-doing two others.  Clearly I will have ample choices of where to shower every morning.  There's painting, floor refinishing, carpet, and the rest of the standard stuff going on as well.  There is also far less glamorous stuff going on like septic tie-ins to the city sewer, and a whole lot of electrical updating.  Super fun.  Really.  My organizational skills are being put to good use.  And just a note, there is nothing I cannot accomplish if I have a mini legal pad and a cell phone.  I am locked and loaded and am enjoying my unofficial role as co-general contractor.  (I have not actually established that the actual general contractor will be all that thrilled with this.)

Fun fact: Slate roofs, while really beautiful and really long lasting, need a certain amount of, shall we say, upkeep.  This upkeep is 1) best not performed by a DIYer with only limited roofing skills, and 2) requires not just a roofer but a craftsman to properly do the job.  A slate roof repair also requires scaffolding the entire house.  Yes.  Not only do I now have a slate craftsman listed in the contacts on my phone, I also have the name of a scaffolding company.  I'm going to leave to your imagination what such a repair might cost.  Hint: Double whatever your thinking.
A view of the house from the backyard. Yes, that is a gazebo (people in Maine like gazebos), and yes, that is a vegetable garden.  
I also have an arborist on my contact list.  When meeting with our new gardening service, I was informed that one of my birch trees didn't look good.  Could the owner of the gardening company recommend an arborist?  This is Maine.  I didn't want to be known as "that woman who didn't care about her 150 year old birch tree".  Jump ahead to my meeting with said arborist.  I have abused trees.  Yes, apparently my super handy DIYers liked to get up in the trees and trim them.  Whenever the spirit moved them.  (Fun fact:  tress in Maine are trimmed in December, after all the leaves have fallen and they are bare.  Apparently my DIYers didn't adhere to that wisdom so if the tree looked a little lopsided in say, April, they just chopped off a limb.  I guess trees don't like that and they rebel by getting sick.)  A good tree trimming is a lot like an really good haircut.  It needs to be done properly and with precision.  Again, not so much here.   Now I have abused trees.  They need treatment.  I thought Ted was going to have a coronary when I called with that bit of news.

And on and on.

The good news is that this really is my dream house.  It's a gorgeous Victorian built in 1866.  It even has a name: The Horatio Moody House.  The house is reputed to have two ghosts, though I have not yet "met" them.  So cool.  Kate, but the way, is less than thrilled with this fact, which leads me to think of all the fun scary things I can do when she's in residence.  Okay... maybe not.  The house sits on over 2 acres of beautiful property on a beautiful street in a seriously rigid historical district.  The houses around us are all stunning.  So we need craftsmen and arborists.  I have my dream house.  And someday I will succeed in working through all the repairs the previous owner did himself.

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