Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'The Man' Tales - I Find The Barn

Together, my nephew and I proved the rest of the family wrong. He was mostly an A student and won awards in high school. When he realized how much I was struggling to support the both of us, he got a job after school to help with the finances. We are the best of friends.

Living in the big city proved beneficial to the store and to my parents. When the alarm was triggered at the store – I was only 10 minutes away. Here, the police make the contact person go into the business first when there is an alarm ringing. They follow bravely behind with their guns and their handcuffs. Our store was highly sensored because of the fur coats and sometimes anyone walking in the mall would set it off. I hated those calls.

One day I got the call that we had been robbed. When I arrived I found a trail of fur coats that went from inside our store and out into the mall and then through the store next to us. I had noticed two suspicious looking males in the store during the previous week and had asked them point-blank what they wanted. 32 fur coats later – I knew. While I was at the police station giving them a description – my mother was having a heart attack. I kept calling her to see how she was doing and became suspicious of her actions. After leaving the police station, I raced out to the farm with my cousin and nephew and found her collapsed. My father was angry with her at the time and hadn’t spoken to her in three months, so he was ignoring her and had gone out to the fields. We took her into the hospital where she remained for a week. My father was angry with me for living with my cousin and he wasn’t talking to me either – but I called him from the hospital and let him know what I thought of his actions. It didn’t help our situation but he didn’t leave my mother’s side while she was in the hospital.

When the end of my first year’s rent was approaching, I decided I had had enough of paying a stranger’s mortgage. Working for a family business often means you do it out of love instead of financial gain. My wages were the just above the bare minimum and I was putting my growing nephew through high school. The cousin had gone off to live with a girlfriend and I was scraping by paying the last couple months of rent. However, I was determined to find something to call my own again. I paid a visit to the real estate agent located in the mall and gave them an outline of what I was looking for. In a couple of days they came back with a stack of listings and I eagerly went through them with my Mom. At the end of the work day, my mother and I would grab my nephew and off we would go to drive around and look at the houses. I had narrowed it down to what I could afford and it took us outside the big city. I just couldn’t afford to pay the asking price and the taxes that went with big city living.

We drove north and looked in the next town at some lovely old houses and then south to look at what I considered being typical prairie homes. Then I went looking for an agent to take us through the homes I wanted to look at. When I presented him with the listing for the barn he laughed and told me I didn’t want to see in it – it was for hippies or druggies. I went looking for another agent. This turned out to be one of our regular customers and we hit it off right away. We looked through the home in the town to the north and it just didn’t do it for me. Then we headed south and looked through some incredibly small and ratty houses and I was getting discouraged. But when we pulled into the driveway of the barn – I heaved a big sigh.

The picture I show here on the blog is the picture that was on the real estate listing. My agent had done some research and found the barn had sat empty for four years as it needed an enormous amount of work and it scared everyone off. With that in mind, the four of us entered with a fair amount of trepidation. What we found would have scared off anyone in their normal state of mind. What my mother said was ‘You can do this – I know you can.’ Every wall inside the house was covered in cedar shingle. The ceiling was falling down in the main living room and there wasn’t a kitchen. The appliances sat in the middle of the bare pressboard floor and there was not a cupboard to be found. Shag carpeting covered every floor except for the dining room. There was a sign on the patio doors that led out onto the second floor deck that said – Do not open – deck unsafe. It was dirty and smelled.

I stood and looked out through the patio doors at the giant pine trees and thought of our fishing lodge in northern Ontario. I looked past the enormous amount of work and saw the uniqueness of the building – and I knew I had to have it. What I was going to do with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms was beyond me. I didn’t have furniture to fill 3,000 sq. ft. But I didn’t care. I wanted to live here.

15 comments:

Sweet Irene said...

It was a courageous moment for you to make that decision. Apparently you could see it as it was going to be and not as it was. It takes guts to do something like that.

Amy said...

That's quite a project. Sounds like something my brother would get himself into and drag the rest of us along. It's fun renovating. The planning is exciting and the satisfaction of getting something worthwhile accomplished is second to none.

I'm continually astonished at your ability to forgive.

MZUNGU CHICK said...

That barn sounds awesome. I once found a house like that here that everyone said was awful as it damp and stank of bats but I absolutely loved it - although sadly it was only a rental, but it was the best house I've ever lived in - Shame it was a previous life, but your stories always give me hope for much better round the corner! Thank you :-)

I Beatrice said...

Ahh...hhh.....hh.. Now that's what I call a happy ending! It's not the end I know: it's only what Winston Churchill so memorably called the end of the beginning. But it gladdens this reader's heart anyway.

And how bravely and well you have got there, slaying rotten ghosts all over the place, and picking up faithful readers as you go along. You must be feeling very relieved and (justifiably) very very proud of what you have managed to achieve. You should be anyway -WELL DONE!

I'd have felt just as you did about that dear old place though. And it occurs to me that you should have been featured on a TV series we have over here called Grand Designs; in which people take on what seems the impossible in restoring, or building their dream houses. I watch it with joy and amazement every time - now I shall be able to watch you do it too!

Many thanks.X

softinthehead said...

Ah Aims now I can relate -a project ( and probably a money pit) but I am sure you now feel a great sense of achievement. I too am amazed at the way you forgive your family such crimes against you and continue forward. Good for you.

Potty Mummy said...

I would have fallen in love with that photo too. But not sure I would have taken on such a mammoth task - well done!

aims said...

Irene - or stupidity - not sure which some days...:)

Amy - Your comment hit me hard. I have never put my life in that context - as a forgiver. But maybe I am...thank you.

MC - there's always someone who will love an old house..

Dearest B - how I would have loved to have some help from some of those tv fellows who know everything about renovating! I'm sure if those programs had been around when I first started that I would have dropped them a line. They would have jumped at the opportunities available in this renovation.

SITH - a money pit - hmmm - yup!!
Again the forgiveness thing - it does rock me.

Potty Mum - I've seen many winters when the view from the driveway looks just like the pic...and I love it!

Breezy said...

Aims you got there! The Barn. Oh and well done for helping out your nephew like that you really walked your talk

aims said...

Breezy - if I had left him in that group home he would have ended up on the streets - or dead. I didn't see anybody else offering a hand either.

Marla said...

Wow. I am proud of you for taking the leap and living where you want to be despite the enormous work you had in store for you.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

At last Aims, a positive glow coming from your finding of the barn - and how wonderfully you looked after your nephew.
Great stuff! Margot xx

aims said...

Marla - I have sometimes wondered if my leap was one of stupidity - then I look around and know it wasn't.

Margot - He's a wonderful guy - I'm very proud of all his good points - I attribute them to my upbringing - anything else was his birth mother's.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Oh my goodness. That sounds like an absolutely enormous undertaking. Perhaps you needed to be immersed in something that big?

I love stories about people who know as soon as they walk into a place that it's "home". It's almost like the house itself has summoned you there.

laurie said...

jeez louise, in that condition they should have given you a bargain rate.

that picture, though, is lovely. i have admired it every time i've clicked over here, even before i started reading.

aims said...

RC - I think you are right. I did seem to call me.

Laurie - I did get if for a good deal. I'm astounded at what it is worth today!