Findin’ a Home & Buyin’ a House

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         Front Yard - before the Hurricane

our 1st view in July

the impetus to get a place
in my mind
came while i was on the Appalachian Trail
wanderin’ thru the woods
& settin’ up a temporary home most nights
as i walked
culminating 50 years of transience
each step reverberated the voice of Her callin’ me home
sayin’ “Be with Me”
at home
i was all about walkin’
She was callin’ me to stop…sit…stay awhile
my trip into The Mother last summer
brought home to me the value of simply actualizing my existence

so the clarity of a move away from the complexities of stackin’ a gob of people up in 1 place drove my baby & me upstate
she had her own set of motivations
that coincided with mine at the point of Quiet care for each other
little did we know how divergent the path of purchaing a property could be from Her Way

so we went fishin’
reeled in a doozy on our first trip up
we’d looked & looked around online for a place close enough to NYC
but far enough away to get past the high dollar homes for commuting execs
we found a few houses in Ulster County & headed up over 4th of July weekend
as soon as we stepped out of the car at the last house on the listall of our search criteria came together…
cute little old farm house sittin’ back off the street with a big barn in a big front yardlots of trees
with…what’s that sound?
a creek runnin’ through it
all of the elements of Her
and our motivations
landed in that 1 place
we were sold

nothin’ in any of the real estate listings mentioned any of the features that sold us
nothin’ about trees or the creek or the barn
nothin’ in there about the unity of the earth in that 1/3 acre
just the stuff inside…# of bedrooms…renovations & appliances
the 1st clue that the process we were entering was bound to be a trip abroad of our intention
as we set about bein’ there
each step affirmed that i was settin’ myself on a road of contradiction
i never really got the joke about property…ownin’ things
nothin’ against the objects themselves usually
it’s just that i don’t see the intrinsic value of any thing beyond its usefullness
and the more stuff you have
and the more value you invest in the objects themselves
then the bigger the pain in the ass it is to keep track of it

the asking price was in our range
we knew we weren’t gonna get very far with the actual deal til the fall
cause summer is our busiest time
but we could start layin’ the ground work
credit reports
mortgage pre-qualification
we read where real estate agents won’t hardly talk to you if you’re not pre- qualified by some financial institution
but once we got that and called for an appointmet to see the place the fella never asked to see assurance
also turns out that unless you owe the Man money he’s reticent to give you any
my baby and me never picked too much from the lending tree
little bit
but we had discovered it’s really a vine that’ll entangle your activity and choke off life pretty quick
if you don’t pay constant attention to it
|more trouble than it’s worth in most cases
til you wanna buy a house
then if you don’t have much credit history
you need
2 years tax returns
12 months rent and utility bills
2 W2s
and a double Jameson’s (for me)
just to keep everybody happy

i’ll tell you what though
a credit union comes in mighty handy

over my 12 years of membership
i’ve found their investment level in people to be unique in the current financial industry…
smaller & therefore able to be more focused on their constituents
it’s reminiscent of when you used to be able to go down to the bank and write a check right there off the counter
they’re willing to know who you are and therefore develop care for the individual

1st week in Sept after Irene & Lee but before the leaves usually fall

by the time our time freed up and we could get back up there to see our spot
The Mother had come callin’
She kicked up a couple of the mightiest storms in Mid-Atlantic history
Irene & Lee had come along and washed away a fair chunk of the hillside between the house & the barn
some out back too
takin’ dirt & rock & trees on down the North Gully
1 industrious beaver’s dam
washed beyond & on down to the Sandburg
wouldn’t be surprised if some of what used to be on our prospective place ended up further on in the Rondout or Hudson
there was evidence that the creek had climbed 10′ or 12′ up the bank
just as we’re preparin’ to make an offer on the place a chunk of it goes awol
so we set about to find out what it’d take to restore the land to the wonder & glory that attracted us there

our hole in the hillside currently. check out the "Projects" page for more details on the renovation

now stop right there
that’s me imposing the will of my perception
on a dynamic far beyond me
which is ok i guess
if i’m gonna to be the steward of this little slice of the pie
i need to make choices about how to proceed
but as much as possible i’d like to act on the natural flow of life in the woods
it’s important to note who’s will we are servin’ at any given moment
cause as much time as we spend talkin’ about “God’s Will”
(all inclusive of the many permutations of god)
we pretty much walk our own will
who was made in who’s image?

after readin’ up on soil stabilization
gabion boxes
and gettin’ a geotech engineer out to look at the aftermath of the event
we figure it’s gonna take about $20K to replace the washout
so we go in that much below what we think the place is worth in the current market…
wow…did i just say that?!…the contradictions are pilin’ up on my psyche
long story short…cause negotiations are tedious at best
it’s important for the seller to achieve a certain level of purchase price
and “he” was in fact a development company
so we settled in back up $20K & he’s gonna restore the hillside
okey doke
i was a bit concerned about what that meant but figured i’d make whatever modifications were necessary once i got in
we go back up to check the house out with our house inspector Kyle (bitchin’ good fella)
by that time there’s mold growin’ in the basement from moisture pourin’ in via a presumably rotten sill
though it’s hard to tell ’cause the sill has been covered up with a new 2×6
it seems like noone has been in there since our last visit in July
it’s a healthy list of fixes
all of which the seller wants to take care of in lieu of concessions
okey doke
but now we’re beginnin’ to wonder if cat is gonna make any money on this deal
turns out
when we go up to sign the contract he proposes we go over to the house & show his contractor the specs of the list
noone had been there since July
he had no idea of the extent of the storm damage
he said so to himself half under his breath when we walked to the fence over- looking the creek
so what had initially been 2 weeks to finish up work while sittin’ at the conference table in the lawyers office
grew into 4…”gonna get a permit from the Dept of Environmental Conservation & start work on Monday”
then 6…”i need another $5K from you to do the work”
and after 8 weeks…”i’ll give you $5K and i’m not gonna do the work because it costs too much”
and all the while i’m realizin’…it is in fact all about the money
there’s 2 strung out trees with ½ their root systems hangin out in the winter cold
and he’s tryin’ to make a buck that we don’t have
swear to god if i had a million bucks a tenth of it would be in his pocket now just to get those roots covered up
and all of this on the back of some poor soul who for whatever reason couldn’t keep up payments on the place and got forclosed on
and i would not even be writin’ this if that were not the case and our guy had not gotten this property for a song

property – n. 2a: something owned or possessed.
b: the exclusive right to possess, enjoy, and dispose of a thing.

and this is how we treat our own Mother
believe what you will…She is where we come from…and where we go

by and by our mortgage commitment is runnin’ out ‘o time
we been sittin’ on needles & pins man
cause to us this is not a property…it’s a life
a way of livin’ not an investment
we’re cut from a cloth woven by honesty & brought up to honor word with deed
not to be too self-righteous
but you discover character on a dark and stormy night
and it’s offensive when the story falls apart due to negligence
ok…i’m self-righteous…so sue me
it matters to me

the bottom of our guts rumble
there’s a convergence of some sort a comin’
either us workin’ together to complete the deal
or a crash of the whole thing”…much like all that earth washin’ into the creek the previous season
so we drew a line in the sand…and hoped
bankin’ on the suckass market…place had been sittin there for at least a year and a half & it might be there for another or more
so we split the difference between the estimated cost of the restoration and the $5K he offered to be put in escrow dedicated for the hillside
he bit on it
a little wipe of the brow here followed by a deep sigh

so now we gotta finish up on our end
get insurance on the place

now…i find the whole idea of insurance about as comprehensible as the concept of property
much as we are blessed with a blue planet that provides all we need
we also have fellow humans to rely on in dire times
except that kinda falls apart when enough of us choose to capitalize on others
(please look forward to a forthcoming post exploring the etymology and actualization of “capitalism” & “communism” & “socialism”)
in addition the more we fear the power of the natural elements
and add complexity in machinations of division from Her
the more stuff we have to lose and the less trust we have in anything or anyone
which heightens our need for security
without the Holy Trinity of trust in
The Mother
The Self
Each Other
and the corresponding responsible love and care for all
our path is a spiral into the deep pockets of Hartford
in order to buy a house you gotta insure it cause technically speaking
it’s not really your house…even though the deed has your name on it
it’s the bank’s house
they’re just letting you pretend as long you keep the $$ flowin’ every month
ya know…
it if you like your financial institution
and they treat you like a human being
it doesn’t hurt too bad

at just the appropriate moment
by the greater grace…
sure enough…
i got an email from the credit union about inexpensive home & auto insurance available for members
and it turned out to be so
when i called the guy i asked him about flood insurance…
for obvious reasons
the interesting feature here
is that only FEMA offers flood insurance so you have to buy a seperate policy
that doesn’t actually cover anything beyond the house itself
and is dependent on your position in relation to flood zones
in the end
while we were deeply affected by Her uprising
a flood insurance policy wouldn’t have helped us out so much

a journal entry from 1/26
6:02 on Thursday morning
closin’ day
set my alarm for 6 but i been up for ½ hour anyway
baby’s asleep on the couch
as the moments pass on this twisted trail
i’ve grown ever more restless
grown cranky pretty easy
turned into the Korean War vet of John’s Pittsburgh childhood memory
tossin’ in my sleep…wakin up frequently
my insides all akimbo expressed in wicked gas
everything inside out
we’ve been walkin’ this precipice so long
thru unfamiliar territory filled with unnatural animals and terrain
and i haven’t been able to stretch so lost that regularity
our small apartment keeps fillin’ up & shiftin’ around
we will have moved our packed boxes 5 times before we get ’em out the door
tryin to balance
space and time
on the road home
planning without assuming
preparing without really knowing
committing to the unknown
and i’ve heard lots of differing stories from different folks
you never know the outcome til you get the keys
funny how waitin’ affects my equilibrium
as the undulating ratio of more presence and less action required
grows to it’s acme:vacuum
uneasiness throughout my psyche expands
the contracts as concepts grow legs and walk abroad into the ether
i believe
that today i get to go home
to simply be
the me we want me to be
and the us of our dreams

as it turned out
our fab lawyer
who had sounded so casual about the ease and brevity of our impending closing
was right
he blew through everything so fast that gettin’ the keys turned out to be easier than gettin’ the new locks at the hardware store

Lookin' at the creek from my Baby's future window seat

and there we sat
that evening in the winter chill
out in the backyard
just before crawling into our Big Agnes doublewide sleeping bag
on the air mattress
in truth knowing just as little about our new path as we had that morning
but filled with the warmth of our commitment
to ourselves and our fresh slice of Her

3 Responses

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  • rkevinbartlett says:

    thanx for the kind words. and have no fear of our floating air mattress…we have a bed now. naw we’re pretty solid now with our gabion baskets in place, although they haven’t been challenged yet. stay tuned for reflections on our latest mid-Atlantic weather wackiness and their impact on our packed in humanity.

  • Henry Atherton says:

    What a grandly clear description of your journey from apartment to house. The only problem is that its clarity about the creek stirred my Builders Fear and now I have dreams of you two awakening on your air mattress, adrift in unknown country!

  • Marguerite says:

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