Heather and Jerry

The other day, JF and I were puttering when he said “I hope when we get older we can afford to leave a bunch of nice stuff for the people who buy our house.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about. He was installing the last doorknob and lock left to us by Heather and Jerry, the kindest couple you could ever buy a home from.

Cast your mind way back to a time before slush and sleet (that’s another story, winter has already hit Elmvale): late summer. At about 9 p.m. on a Friday night, after many hours spent moving my sister Alicia’s stuff, we finally pulled a giant truck filled with our junk into our new, Elmvale driveway.

We were exhausted, but when JF put the key in the back door lock we practically fell into the mudroom, we were so excited. Well, at least I almost fell in. I guess the rest of them were pretty graceful about the whole thing.

Anyway, a great many gifts were waiting for us a little further inside, in the kitchen: spare keys, a fresh loaf of bread from the Elmvale bakery, some new smoke detectors, fly swatters, and several brand new locks. I figure that last one was H&J’s way of saying “this is your home now.” Either that or “There is a lot of crime in Elmvale, we changed our locks a lot.” So far all signs point to option A.

Heather had hired a cleaner to scrub the house from top to bottom.  It was beautiful. The kitchen cupboards were immaculate, which meant my organized (read: anal retentive) soul got the satisfaction of putting things away as quickly as they could be unpacked.

But the best thing they left was a great big note, with phone numbers for local services, information on where to find things in the house, their email address with an invitation to “contact us any time with questions!” and and a suggestion to keep David.

I kept a piece of the note and pinned it to my kitchen bulletin board

I kept a piece of the note and pinned it to my kitchen bulletin board

David lives in the garden, along with other treasures from Heather: birdhouses, dragonflies and angels. He is not a gnome. Some people say he’s creepy, but I love him.

Admittedly this photo is slightly creepy. David is far lovelier in the daytime.

Admittedly this photo is slightly creepy. David is far lovelier in the daytime.

And that’s not all they did. They finished the back deck, gave us a free fridge, left us a few pieces of furniture, and kindly donated basic gardening implements. I’ve been using the shears daily.

Much as I see work to do in this home, it really is in stellar condition. A brand new roof and furnace, fantastic appliances, updated (mostly) electrical and good plumbing. And as cheesy as it sounds, a wonderful feeling about it. This is a friendly house because good, happy people lived here.

So to Heather and Jerry, thank you. Hopefully we can pass along the good karma.

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Settling in?

It’s been 2.5 weeks and our house is starting to feel like home. Sort of. We’ve finished de-wallpapering, painting and unpacking two out of 13 rooms. Two important rooms — the kitchen and living room — but that is still a measly 15% of the spaces in our house.

The good news is, we’re really enjoying that 15%. Tonight we sat on the couch and surfed the internet for several hours. That was great.

Living room before and after.

Living room before and after.

 

The bad news is, the rest of the house is in shambles. Pockmarked walls, smelly grey carpet, and a few sticks of furniture. I generally pretend those parts don’t exist. Or I attack them with spackle in the hope that they can soon be painted and prettied up.

Dining area before and after.

Dining area (in the kitchen) before and after. I need a bigger area rug.

 

I don’t think I’ll ever claim the main bathroom and damp basement as ours. They might be lost causes.

Kitchen before and after.

Kitchen before and after.

Neither JF nor I have fully absorbed the implications of home ownership. I still treat my mom’s like a grocery store. And JF still refers to the Toronto apartment as “home.”

I say THE Toronto apartment because, as of August 31, it is no longer OUR Toronto apartment. Aside from the baby squirrels that currently live on its dining room windowsill, it’s vacant. And soon, someone new will take over the lease.

Generally, we haven’t had any time to ponder the deep, existential, seismic change that empty apartments represents. We haven’t even cut our lawn yet. I’m waiting for that “holy crap this is real” moment.

In the meantime, we will keep trying to enjoy our new life while chipping away at the monstrous project we started when our mortgage went through.