Decorating a-go-go

I may have mentioned this more than once, but we’ve been living here in this house for almost 20 years.  We moved in the first day of November, 2000 and were renting the house at that time.  About a year later the people that owned the house made us an offer well below what they had the place listed for.  My wife and I at that time were still both working (she retired in 2006) and getting a mortgage from a ‘brick and mortar’ bank was proving elusive.  Online banking was in its infancy, and we decided to go that route instead.  We inputted our combined earnings with one of the fledgling startup mortgage companies and wonder of wonder, we got approved.  They sent us the requisite paperwork, our percentage rate wasn’t too bad, and it was agreed to be a 30 year note.

Before we finished purchasing, we had a company called ‘Pillar to Post’ go over the house and property, so as to give us an idea of what exactly we were getting into.  Granted we knew the house was built in the 1830s, so it was bound to have certain quirks, and we already had been living here for a little over a year, so some of those quirks were already known to us (sadly, the bats were discovered about a month after the sale was finalized.  Would have been better to know about them beforehand) though the inspector gave us some other things to consider and discuss with the sellers before everything was signed and monies were paid.

One of the things we thought was a little weird was, before we were able to occupy the house, the owners decided to paint just about every room in the house white.  The only rooms they left alone were ones that either had paneling, wallpaper, or a combination of the two.  Consequently, as we were never able to decide what color to paint any room of the house, we’ve pretty much lived with mostly white walls.  Over the course of our time too, we’ve not hung too many pictures, and what ones we have, have been a bit haphazard to say the least.  In the hallway there’s a piece of signed artwork from Berkeley Breathed.  It’s a print of the comic strip Bloom County, from 2015 when he decided to start drawing the comic again after a hiatus of about 25 years.  He’s continuing to draw them, but he’s relegated his postings to Facebook, and not newspapers.  So he doesn’t have to be required to ‘toe the line’ of publishers, in essence he’s self-publishing his work.  It seems to be working out the better for him.

Getting back to the topic at hand, we really haven’t had much time or money to do anything with the interior of the house, most of our time and expense has been with the exterior.  Getting a new vehicle put a dent in our money set aside of repairs and upgrades for the house, so perhaps this year we may not get the new furnace we were thinking about, perhaps just a coat of paint for the outside parts that aren’t brick.  A lot of the fascias and soffetts could use a coat of paint, the garage needs some work inside and out, and the bathrooms could use a major upgrade.

Lots of work to be done here.  Just have to set aside the money and time to get it all done.

Invasive Species

We’ve lived in this neighborhood for the past 19 years.  When we first moved in, we’d not yet purchased the house, it was a ‘way-station’ (or so we thought) because our previous rental house had been sold out from under us.  Consequently we needed to find a new place to live fairly quickly, and pickings in our area were rather slim.  As it happened, we looked a bit on our own for an apartment, but quickly discovered that any apartment that we thought about renting was going to be too small for our needs.  Between my wife and myself we have a LOT of stuff, so it’s always been better to either rent or buy a house to live in (though for the early years of our marriage, we rented houses exclusively).

My wife hit on the idea of contacting real estate agencies and telling them that we weren’t looking to purchase a property, that we were looking for one to rent, or maybe even rent to own (rent the property for a time, allow it to be shown when needed, and maybe over time purchase it ourselves if it continued to appeal to us).  We found one nearby that was receptive to the idea (most weren’t) and had the agent looking locally for one that fit the bill.  We got a call from her about a week later, and she showed us a 2-story federal architecture house that was built in the late 1830s.  It had a very small piece of property (0.17 A/0.068 ha) but it was in a nice neighborhood.  After looking over the house from top to bottom (didn’t take long) we walked the grounds a bit and noticed an overgrowth in the backyard that was seriously almost taking over completely one corner of what might have been a flower bed at one point.  I asked the realtor if she knew the species, but she didn’t.  The homeowners didn’t live in the area, they were semi-retired and living in Tennessee in one of their other two homes.  I then asked the realtor if we rented the property, would the homeowners mind if we did some landscaping on our own, and she said that she would ask.  We didn’t make a decision at that point, but soon after we did, and ended up renting the property (the realtor had come back with an answer on landscaping, and the response was yes, provided we didn’t do anything major like cutting down trees)

We decided to rent it, since it was the best of the bunch of the rentals we’d either found ourselves or the agent had brought us to.  We moved in November of 2000 and in the spring set to work on getting some control of the land and the respective gardens.  The species that had concerned me the previous fall looked like bamboo, and after a little investigation, it turned out the owner of the property had planted something called ‘japanese knotweed’ and it’s considered an invasive species.  Over the last nearly 20 years, we’ve been trying to get rid of this menace.  The major problem is, while I’m seriously attempting to get rid of the knotweed on my side of the fence, of my two neighbors, one is doing nothing but letting it grow, (and renting the property to people who don’t do anything with it) and the other one is cultivating his, because it grows to 8-10 feet tall by late summer and makes a nice visual blocking agent between my property and his.  When he moved in, I called over the fence and mentioned to him about the stuff and what it was, that it wasn’t a good idea to let it grow unattended and I thought he listened to me, but apparently he didn’t care or figured it was ok to allow it to flourish.

Consequently, every spring I end up with shoots that are coming through the ground in the one corner of the property, and a forest of old growth on the property line nearby that I can’t do anything with.  So as not to kill everything in the former bed we’ve been using natural remedies rather than something like Roundup™,  which the jury is still out whether or not it’s a carcinogen.  Better safe than sorry in the long run, we’re thinking.

Even so, unless we can get the neighbors on board, it’s a losing battle.  If I eventually succeeded in getting rid of it on my side of the fence, the fact that it’s growing unabated on the other two sides, means that there’s still a root forest under the ground that’s waiting to come up on my side.  So, the battle continues.  I’m fairly convinced by the time we move on, it’ll still be here.