Friday, May 16, 2008

Rehabing a 160 year old farmhouse, just the beginning

The kitchen after the wall is down, all insulation gone.
I never want to see cellulose insulation again!

Air mattresses never felt so comfortable.

Alex in our new kitchen in the dining room
The cows, outside looking in.

We arrived in June 07 and immediately started ripping out walls. The kitchen was too small and the cabinets were inadequate to say the least. It's not like we were destroying something that was antique. These cabinets were recently made by a very incompetent carpenter. They were varying sizes and shapes, nothing we wanted to keep. They were taken out and placed into the dining room to serve as our temporary kitchen. Alex and I went to work on tearing the wall out between the kitchen and adjoining room. We could not find any reason for it to exist. The wall stood no chance against two women armed with a sawsall. It bowed with grace and dignity then fell like a mighty giant. Ok, now the wall was down, why is the ceiling sagging with sewing thread hanging down? Hmmm..... Ok, being the person that I am I had to find out why. So we began pulling on the thread. Remember when you were a kid and there was a thread hanging on your sweater and your mom said to leave it alone? Well, I never listened. So the thread pulled and pulled and all kinds of sewing notions came down upon our heads. We took a hammer and commenced to remove the ceiling. It was actually a false ceiling that had been installed for blown in insulation. Imagine us covered with sweat from the July heat and then heavily dusted with cellulose insulation. Tar and feather really comes to mind. The wall was down, the ceiling ripped out and cellulose everywhere. What to do with it? Stuff it into contractor bags of course and put it in the dumpster. When this day was over we were totally exhausted. No running water to shower. The hose outside was really looking attractive. The neighbors across the street came to our rescue. Kevin and Cheeta have turned out to be great neighbors. They had the wonderful idea of inviting us to a shower (in an actual working bathroom) the use of their laundry for clean clothes and a burger on the grill complete with cold beer. We were in heaven. It felt so wonderful to crawl clean into our air mattress beds and go comatose. In Maine the air cools off at sunset drastically. The next morning we were up early, hot coffee from our New Hampshire water that we brought with us, bacon, eggs all cooked on the two burner camping stove we brought with us. It tasted so good. As we are eating breakfast Alex and I look at the window in the dining room and there are 4-5 cows looking in at us. I could just imagine what was going through their minds. Kevin is a wonderful neighbor but not the best fence layer. As we found out later there were always escaping cows. Even with all the work facing us we could envision the beauty of the land and see it as a farm one day. There is so much satisfaction with hard work. This Post written by Kelly.

Friday, May 9, 2008

How we got here-Maine

Hello everyone. This is my first attempt at blogging. I even had to read a few to understand what a "blog" was. I'm from the age of write a letter and wait for a reply. They now call that snail mail. Hmmmm..... I am originally from Florida, Jacksonville to be exact. One of the few who were actually born there. I lived there for 36 years and felt like I needed a change. I had just been through a amicable divorce and wanted to live somewhere else. My son had just gotten married and would be staying in Florida, my daughter and I found a wonderful, quaint, however expensive town in New England, Portsmouth, in which to relocate. I had always dreamt of the cool fall days with leaves changing, snow on the ground for Christmas, summers not so hot that I melted by noon. Ok, now you know that I'm a dreamer. The closer the day for the move came, the more homesick my best friend Alexandra (Alex) became. She had originally lived in a nearby town named Newington and had moved to Florida after her not so amicable divorce with her two teenage sons in tow. Jacksonville had left her disappointed with the crime and general nasty temperament of much of the population. She was ready for a change. I had just met a gentleman who had decided that Florida didn't hold anything for him and would love to add himself and his two kids to my caravan north. So, all three families loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly, hills that is.... oh wait that was the Beverly Hillbillies. Sorry, we all loaded up Ryder trucks and moved to Portsmouth, NH the land of no income tax but property taxes to choke the average income earner. This is where we remained or near there for about 10 years. We did love the cool falls with changing leaves, the winter with snowy surprises and the manageable summers. Hey, the first time in my life that I didn't have the ac on from March-December. How nice. I can always add a coat when it's cold but society really frowns on running around in your birthday suit. Alex found a lovely house in Epping, NH and I found one big enough for my expanded family in Raymond, NH. Everyone was happy. Alex's oldest son got married and had a beautiful daughter. Her youngest son is working and still looking for the right woman. My longtime boyfriend we will call T and I combined families well. The kids really seamed to get along well. We even had two of his other children move up from Florida to live with us. We went through graduations, marriages, births of two beautiful granddaughters and one grandson. My oldest daughter went on to start a pipe and tobacco shop in Dover, NH. Our next to oldest had a daughter and is still in college, our youngest son is graduating high school this fall and will attend college. Our youngest daughter had a beautiful daughter and is living with us now. Ok, I really got off track...Maine, how we got here. Well, Alex and I remained best friends and it seemed that our families were always at the others house. We often talked of living in a rural area and starting a sheep farm. Now please keep in mind that neither of us have ever raised sheep. That didn't seem to be an issue to either one of us. We both have been nurses for many years so getting employment wasn't an issue. We had two homes with duplicate bills, taxes that made us cringe. We had a moment of inspiration! Why not sell both houses and find a big farmhouse that would be great for holidays when all the kids could gather around. Well, I know that most of our friends thought we had lost our minds. T is a long distance trucker and was often on the road. He didn't mind relocating. It seemed like a sure thing. Now for the reality check. No where in New Hampshire is there enough property and reasonable taxes to allow for our farm. We had to look elsewhere. Viola, we found Maine. We came across a 55 acre farm with a one hundred sixty year old house, three story barn on the Internet. Well, we just drove up one winter day in December 2006 and took a look. Please understand that when they take pictures for the Internet they take them from the best angle possible. The house was in great condition if you don't need running water, heat (Maine remember), electricity and of course plumbing. The barn looked big. That is the best I can say. The bones are good but it sure could use a face lift. There was a dead calf by the door. Yes, and the door was a garage door someone had poorly installed on the front of the barn. There were pigs in two stalls knee deep in some foul smelling liquid, cows in the pasture who frequently left their enclosed area for neighbors homes, yards, etc...
Oh, I must not forget, the back door of the house was just about one foot shy of reaching the frame. Do you get the picture I'm painting? To be fair there had been work done on the house. The floors were stripped to bare wood, wallboard had been installed in the rooms and one of three bathrooms had been completed. No running water but it looked good. Remember when I said earlier that I am a dreamer? Well so is Alex. Not a good combination. We thought, we can do this. It would be fun. We are women, hear us roar. T thought I had lost my mind. That was until he came out and sat on the back porch with millions and millions of stars overhead, quiet, quiet, quiet. It was beautiful to us. So Alex and I both put our houses on the market at Christmas with the slump in housing sales just starting with a vengeance. And we waited and waited and waited. My house sold in July of 07. I can honestly say that I would rather be stoned to near death than sell and buy a house. It is painful. People are just not nice. The woman who signed the contract on my house decided the day before closing that she really didn't want the house after all. She thought that she would just loose her deposit. No, my wonderful real estate agent said. She has packed all of her belongings and moved to Maine. You will loose much more than that measly deposit. All said and done we had to get an attorney to push her into closing. We actually signed the papers in separate rooms. I wanted to perform a lobotomy on the #&%#%. Alex's house sold and she was able to pack everything and move to Maine too. So here is where our saga begins. Maine, the last frontier. No running water, no electricity in most of the house, a furnace in the basement but no duct work and winter on its way in three months. What were we thinking? So here we start with the "blog". If you are so inclined to return and follow our misadventures both Alex and I will be blogging. You will get to know our families for better and worse. Nice to meet ya'll. After all we are southerners and from away. This Post written by Kelly.