Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Old House...Part V

As I said before, we excitedly opened the door to our first house, with our first house key. I'm not sure we even walked in, I honestly can't remember. I do remember promptly leaving, getting in the car, and driving back up the hill to the neighbors that we'd bought the house from.

Why did we leave, you ask?

My Kitchen Upon Arrival (minus cleaning supplies)

It appeared the previous tenant hadn't moved out! Furniture was still in the house. Everything was still in the house....except for the mask. I forgot to tell you about the mask didn't I? When we'd come to look at the house a couple months prior, hanging on the wall, way high up (another pet peeve of mine, please don't hang your pictures really high, it just really irks me) was this mask. It was leather. It had a couple of eye holes and a zipper mouth. Talk about 'freak you out'. Talk about chain saw massacre. Lord have mercy. That mask cost me about 450 hours of sound sleep when we first bought this place.

The neighbors assured us that the previous tenant had in fact moved out.

We came back 'home'.

Oh dear, what we found. I'm not sure the pictures do it justice. This is just how we found it for the most part. We found cut off deer legs in the kitchen cabinets with large quantities of peanuts in the shell. Bags upon bags of trash on the front porch. Furniture, old car seats, chicken incubators. Some of the photos in this post show the rooms a little cleaned out and the carpets being torn up.

We also found a whole lotta smell. We found SO much smell. Urine mainly.

My Front Porch Upon Arrival
After assessing our new home (I mean, really, where do you start?) we began opening windows and pitching things out. Furniture and carpet went flying out of the upstairs windows! There was an old playpen that was left here, and we would fill it with little stuff that we found around the house, and then drag it to the fire. After all the furniture and 'stuff' was removed, we set out to tear up all the carpets. We had a fire that lasted nearly two weeks. (I know now that we shouldn't have burned it all, but what to do? It was 1988 and we didn't know better).

At this time, we were still living in Chicago and driving out for a few days at a time to work on the house. It wasn't livable. We'd sleep in sleeping bags upstairs. I insisted that we sleep with the bags up against the closed bedroom door, that way, if someone broke in to commit some devilment of some sort, it would wake us up. I also slept with a hatchet. Smart cookie I am! I would always hear the neighbors dog barking in the distance and wonder what it was barking at. "It couldn't be barking at nothing", I'd wonder.

I always though it was the former owner, standing out in the that mask. "shudders"
I was pretty much freaked out for months here. Bugs. Darkness. Barking dogs a half a mile away that echoed in the night. Creatures moving about outside. That mask. The dark. Oh, I said that already didn't I? It was blinding, all consuming darkness.

I happened to be here one day alone, working around the house. A run down van pulled into the driveway and out comes a vaguely familiar looking man. As he approached, that infernal mask kept flashing in my mind.

"Oh my gosh", I thought. "It's him".

He casually states, "I'm here to get all my stuff".

I, pointing to the incinerator, say "It's all right there".

Here's a peek at the porch now....I'll be sharing more after pictures with you soon.

(If you're a new reader, you might want to click on 'This Old House" under labels to read the previous blogs)


  1. Jayme, had I not just sat in your lovely home a few weeks ago I would never imagine the hours of toil you've put into home. Holding those same picture's shared here, absolutely amazes me. I so enjoyed the post from the one poster who compared what you've done to what the Lord does with us. That brought tears to my eyes because she was so right. You are definitely a visionary. There's something to be said about someone who can look at such dismay and ugliness and then turn it into beauty as you have. Plus you can do all the other things you do. The Lord has certainly heaped talent on you.
    BTW, I eat mustard on beets right out of the ya

  2. Jayme, I can't imagine moving into such a mess left by humans. Our old house was merely inhabited by messy raccoons and possums, and a few rodents. That pales in comparison to masked creepy people (shudder... indeed!). I adore your porch too. What a transformation!! -Tammy

  3. You are brave, dear lady. I'm not freaked out by the thought of that mask too and just positive that that guy had to be wanted somewhere for some thing.

  4. Ok, the mask would have stopped me dead in my tracks! The house is now a home and a very pretty one!
    joy c. at grannymountain

  5. Jayme, first let me say; this story would make a great book! Your writing is fabulous! You had my attention completly! I did go back and read it all! What a wonderful story of hope, love and dedication!! Thank you for sharing! I'm sure enough was left out to "fill that book" !! :)

  6. WOW, you're a much better woman than I am. This mess would have had me curled up in the fetal position and then screaming and running for the hills. LOVE your porch!!

  7. I was biting my nails just reading about it. YIKES, who would have such a disgusting mask? You're "Bravesmart" (hatchet indeed)! Thanks for sharing. FAB front porch now.

  8. Jayme,What happened when you told the guy his stuff was in the incinerator? Deer legs in the cabinets? Someone actually had a baby living in those horrible conditions? Geez,I can't wait to find out the rest of the story. I agree with the woman who said you are a true visionary to take a house in that condition and turn it into the beautiful home you have now is incredible. Not to mention you would have to have the patience of Job. Looking forward to reading more. Blessings to you.

  9. Oh, lordy~~~~you are one brave lady! Those pictures are out of the world gross! Now, that porch is one precious room. I want to walk into that picture and sit for a spell.

    Thanks...for sharing the wonders you have done to you home.

  10. You are so much a better woman than me because I would have marched right back up to the previous owners house and threw one more fit. It would have not been pretty let me tell you

    I am absolutey amazed at the transformation. What did the man say when you said you had burned all his stuff?

  11. Wow you must have seen the treasure beneath, because look at that wonderful porch.

  12. I love your porch-it looks like a wonderful place to read a good book. I'm on pins and needles waiting for you to tell more of your fantastic story.......

  13. Hello dear readers! I wish I had the time to comment on each and every one of your comments! They are all so precious to me. You should see how often I check for's getting to be a problem! Love reading them all, it's just so fun, and such a blessing. Gonna be extra busy the next few days.....

  14. Oh my, what a transformation! The porch looks so beautiful now, you'd never know it was in that horrible condition. You have done an amazing job! ; ) Trina


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