On the first evening of owning our Breezeway Cottage, my husband loaded up the car with a box of Dura-flame logs and I packed the wine and cheese. Off we went to celebrate. I was so excited! Why Dura-flame? Even though we had it inspected, the masonry fireplace had not been used for years. I mean like 15 or more years. So I didn’t want to start a roaring Pennsylvania fall fire in the fireplace only to burn the house down. I tested the waters with a single log that first night.
We opened the door to find that the previous owner, Georgia, had left us an entire typed memoir of her 17 years in this home. Georgia had a note on the front that read, “Dear Lettiann…. Recent History of the House, 1996-2014”. This booklet was about ¾” thick and included pictures. My husband, a history buff, and I were tickled. We lit the fire, opened the wine and my husband began to read to me. In one of the first paragraphs Georgia wrote, “It goes without saying that I felt a kinship with this home the moment I stepped inside.” She then indicated how she was already missing the home as she had recently moved to a retirement community. I couldn’t believe it. What she described feeling was exactly how I felt when I stepped foot in the house. Georgia, too, loved this house.
After reading a bit more, we realized that she had a hard time relinquishing this home. She indicated that she could no longer care for it as she once had and knew it was time to start the next chapter of her life in a retirement home. We read in detail about all the plants she had planted around the house and how she cared for them. I wondered if she was a master gardener. Being as detailed as she was in her writing, I’m sure Georgia would have mentioned it if she were.
Jack rounded out the evening taking a seat in the breezeway and lighting a cigar. He told me that he may not have the time to do the remodeling work that we had talked about. Especially since the holidays are just around the corner. So, we decided to get a bid from a contractor.
A trusted builder friend of ours came down to the house a few days later. He was taking notes as my husband told him what we’d like done to the home. Surprisingly, Jack was going all out. Telling the contractor that he’d like the doorways into the kitchen and dining widened, arched with bull nosed corners, complete kitchen and bath remodel, refinish all the hardwoods and new carpet for the bedrooms, and so on. I again was so excited! The bid for all of the work came to over $30,000. Well, that ended that joy ride. We decided to do the work ourselves. Maybe in phases, we thought.