|Here she be, just as we found her: Our $25,000 house|
hov·elnoun \ˈhə-vəl, ˈhä-\
a small, wretched, and often dirty house
OK, OK, we didn't move to a hovel three years ago.
Truth be told, it was much worse than a hovel. We aspired to live in a hovel. We thought we might be able to fashion a hovel out of what we'd purchased. We dreamt of wretchedness, and are still doggedly trying to clear away all the debris just to get to the dirty part, so we can live in it and be happy.
About four years ago, we became Househunters, but the earlier generations of househunters and gatherers, appearing on the far left side of the homeowner's "walking upright" chart, had put out a neglect-and-wreck salt lick and jacklighted our house to death long before we could get to it. I'd make a joke about crawling inside the carcass of our dead house to get warm, like a tauntaun, but they'd ruined the heating system and other assorted plumbing by abandoning the house in the winter and letting all the pipes freeze, so it was usually colder inside than outdoors. The weather's generally balmy two or three days a year around here, but we are unreasonable, and hell-bent on living in the place for more than one long weekend in late June, so stuff was going to have to get done, and I was going to have to do it myself.
Why would we move to such a place, you ask? We had become instantly broke, and the house was free. That's a great combination. OK, not free; but we bought a fairly big, 1901 vintage, Queen Anne house for $24,400. I consider any house for sale for less than a Kia "free."
It wasn't the "Detroit" version of free, either. I know you can buy a crackhouse in the Motor City for a double sawbuck, or trade it for a couple syphilitic chickens or something, but then you've got to try to defend its walls against all comers --the walls where the copper pipes used to live before the crackheads gave your new home its crackhouse soubriquet -- but we moved to what's considered a nice neighborhood in a quiet little town in western Maine. And in addition to a lack of Mogadishu-level crime, the taxes here are comparatively low because there's a huge, stinking paper mill right in the center of town paying half the town's freight, so our free house didn't come with a bent number followed by a vapor trail of zeroes after it for back taxes, or front taxes or sideways taxes. Everyone at the local credit union that was stuck with our White Elephant Victorian, before they stuck us with it, was in their office, more than happy to talk to us, and all our new neighbors greeted us like Americans rolling into Paris in 1944. Actually, Paris isn't too far from here; it's near Norway, which is just a few miles from Poland. Don't try liberating Paris by driving there and asking around, though; the Post Office has called the entire town of Paris "South Paris" for so long now that no one in Paris knows they live there.
newspaper -- the basement was a horror.
It was boarded up like Hannibal Lecter's waiting room. It hadn't had a fire down there. No! Why settle for one fire in your basement when you can have two? The roof above had been neglected so long that you could poke your head right through it (I eventually did, and fixed it) and the rain and snow and rodents had worked their magic throughout the whole back facade, all the way down to the foundation, which wasn't there.
The former occupants had taken everything with them, including all the light bulbs in the fixtures, and had dragged some sort of corroded and oily apparatus they still coveted up the stairs, through all the rooms, leaving a kind of undulating rusty gulley in the maple floors all the way to the front door, but they couldn't take the foundation with them, could they?
(to be continued)
[Update: Thanks to the Instapundit, Ace of Spades, American Digest, Maggie's Farm, Execupundit, and anyone else I've overlooked for sending their readers my way this week. Sooper-dooper thanks to everyone that's hit our assorted tipjars, bought my book, purchased my furniture, supported my children's musical career, and used my Amazon portal. It's enormously appreciated. And thanks, period, for reading and commenting. No man writes for no one]