I am coming down with another bedamned cold. My right ear has been clogged for three weeks now; Sudafed offers temporary relief. Today, when the 70-mph winds blew in with their four inches of rain, my chest started hurting. Now I'm grumphing and blowing like an old man with emphysema.
But I made an offer on a house. And it has been accepted. Verbally only, so hold your applause. Keep your digits crossed that the contract gets signed, the inspection reveals no past craziness with termites, and that I can afford to RamJack the house up level. Provided all that happens, my 1948 end-of-year Sunbeam mixer will finally have a kitchen that matches it.
Living with expansive clay soils means that everything, from a 1200-square foot Home For Heroes to the Capitol building, shifts. Sometimes there's subsidence; sometimes the whole damn thing slides down a hill. Luckily for me and my bank account, the subsidence is more of a problem than sliding downhill, since the land is flat.
Living with enormous thunderstorms means you need storm windows, which this house does not have. Likewise, you need gutters, ditto. Likewise, you need a cistern, especially if you intend to keep the St. Augustine grass in the yard, which requires a weekly dose of an inch of water, more in 100 degree heat.
Living with a pecan tree (the state nut, did you know?) in the back yard means that every time a 70-mph wind blows through town, you fret and agonize over the possibility of pecan limbs landing on Your New House's roof. The first rule of camping in Texas is this: Don't lay your bedroll under a pee-can tree; them's the trees that drop branches fer no reason. Bigguns.
Of course, living with pecan trees and healthy shrubs and plenty of rain (this year, at least) means that when you open the lid to the breaker box, the real estate agent you've hired will stumble backwards with a choked scream as a six-inch-long pink gecko leaves its hiding place. And that a large toad will SCREEE at you when you almost step on it, backwards from the house steps.
The basics: It's a post-WWII (Dad is saying "Dubya dubya eye-eye" in his head) Home for Heroes with two bedrooms and a small bathroom that needs work. It's about 1200 square feet, give or take, sitting on a quarter acre. That's big enough for two large dogs who get along well. Or five greyhounds off the track. The original windows, six-over-six with wood dividers between the glass panes, are still there, as are the original fluted glass doorknobs. The kitchen has a built-in hutch with glass doors, perfect for storing Fiestaware (Beloved Sis is foaming at the mouth just now).
There's a room for working out. There's space for washer and dryer connections. The yard, despite something like seven feet of rain in the last three weeks, is not soggy. The foundation, while sagging, seems sound. The roof is halfway through its expected life. The floors are gorgeous. The cabinetry is all original, the doors all solid-core.
The neighborhood is neither scary nor train-track infested. There is a space just to the right of the front door for a rose bush grown from a clipping from Mom's bush up in Seattle, which originated at The Old House. That variety of rose is one nobody's ever been able to identify.
It's like having a brand-new boyfriend: I can't stop thinking about it, hoping it doesn't come to harm with the storms, wondering when I can see it again.
Dog won. Lack of maintenance lost. If you're ever in central Texas, look for the frazzled woman pushing a Green Mountain reel mower. That'll be me.