Category: Real estate


A strange coincidence prompted me to think about whether or not we should attribute meaning to the experience.  When I shared the story of our strange coincidence with friends, I received numerous letters on either side of a fence dividing those who believe there are no coincidences and those who see coincidence as nothing more than just that: a coincidence.  

When I wrote about diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, published a paper on the topic and then fell ill with the very same form of cancer one year later; we saw the same debate.  In both strange set of circumstances, I’ve noticed a similar pattern in how I interpret these events personally.  

I don’t like to think of the world as so black and white that when two dissimilar events occur at random with some corresponding theme, I dismiss it totally as some random inevitability.  The word coincidence, after-all, is not defined as two events that happen simultaneously without any connection – it is merely defined as two events happening that appear unrelated.  So, I take a little from both camps.  

When yesterday, my youngest child said something out of the blue relating to a house we had put an offer on months earlier and at the exact same time a message appeared in my inbox from the owner of that house offering it to us at our price, some believed this was a sign that we should buy that house.  We certainly like the house.  However, when I look back at a week spent rental-shopping and had just found a place I liked, I wondered whether this was not so much a sign that we should buy a house, but rather another diversion.  Maybe a different kind of sign – one that reminds us we are far from the place where we belong.  Is it possible the universe really does speak to us?

This brings me to “the Secret” – that series claiming we control the universe with our thoughts; the Law of Attraction.  Take away the magic of that statement and what we have is a series of choices that invariably lead us to a presumed outcome.  That’s not so difficult to digest.  It doesn’t even require a quantum physicist explaining it to me with incomplete experimental data.  

So what of coincidence?  Are they really as random a set of acts as some believe or do we have something to do with their “inevitability”?

Advertisements

Today I drove out to Lake Norman to see a house for rent.  The house was beautiful, but moreover, seeing the lake got me thinking about something Erick said about Lake Norman being the largest fresh water lake other than the Great Lakes.  It’s an enormous sprawling lake with roads crossing at various points.  In fact, I believe it’s the only site in the US where a fatality occurred when a boat came out of the water and hit a moving car.  

Erick had to work late, so I drove to the house with the girls and brought Celli in place of him.  He asked me why I like taking the dog whenever he’s not in the car and I explained that while I’m driving, she leans back into the seat sideways and spends half her time concentrating on the road and the other half giving me kisses or puppy-dog eyes.  Who could ask for more?

On the way home, as I pulled onto Moorehead, I saw a man holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road.  In grim economic times, we see a lot of men asking for work, but this man’s sign read simply, “God bless you.”

I’m not religious, but it felt good to know someone believes in something enough to stand on the side of a dirty and dangerous road with such a simple message.  

I thought if I were to dedicate an afternoon to a message, my own sign would read, “You are loved.”

Click here for the last lecture.

For the last several months, we’ve been looking at house after house.  We even made an offer on one house.  After firing our agent for other reasons, we sought out the help of some great agents, but at this point, I was beginning to get the feeling I really didn’t want to commit in the long-term to Charlotte.  With all of the pressure on us to buy in a “buyer’s market,” I was certain this was the way to go for us, but every time we approached a house, I found my stomach did somersaults.  It just didn’t feel right – and no matter how cool the house, it wasn’t home.  

So, now we’re on a rental hunt, but are taking it much less seriously and are committed only to the near-term: one year; maybe 18 months.  At that point we may reassess or buy something up north and continue renting down here.  We’ll save that really good, rock-bottom deal for another family who truly wishes to call the Carolinas “home.”

The house currently under our consideration was built in 1950, though many of the fixtures are remanent of a 1940s style.  I love the door handles and the bathroom tile.  The hardwood floors are in great shape as is much of the original plaster.  There are two fireplaces original to the home and a beautiful, delicate banister descending into a foyer flanked on two sides with two small, inset closets.  

While Erick looks at this house and sees work (I believe he calls it the monstrosity), I (in all my sophistication and love of older homes) recognize the value inherent in preserving a piece of history for future generations to enjoy.  The other day, we were discussing the possibility of getting this home on the historic registry.  Erick scoffed.  After some research this morning into asbestos and lead-paint contamination (oh, the joys of home-ownership), I discovered by chance an article on George W. Bush.  At first I thought someone was trying to uncover the root of his ignorance – perchance caused by exposure to environmental hazards in his youth, but that would only explain Jrs. generation, so I read further.  

Okay that last part is harsh and I owe my discovery to President Bush, or at least his fame or infamy.  You see, Bush’s childhood home was built in 1950 and is now one of the first being considered for a federal history project.  While my own 1950s “monstrosity” may not carry with it the weight of a current president, this declaration of presumed historic relevance sets a precedent for future restoration projects and subsequent tax breaks for home-owners.

We had an offer in on the Poe House, but it was countered and we decided not to counter again.  This was sort of a last ditch effort to find a house in Charlotte.  It’s now time for a break while we collect our thoughts, spend some time back home in Michigan and determine our course.  I wish things were easier right now, but nothing is easy in this economy, so why bother feeling down about it?  I’m going to have to buy another copy of the Grapes of Wrath, since my own copy is buried in some warehouse back home.  We (us, our country) are nowhere near the edge of turmoil experienced by those who survived the Depression or are we?  Is it simply that our poor are better hidden in the shadows cast off corporate buildings?  

I’m researching an ancestor of mine (or piggybacking off the research of my step-father), McDonald Clarke- known by many as “The Mad Poet” and revered for his eccentricities and his innocence.  He often found himself poor and alone, but many, including the best poets of his day, marveled at his uncanny ability to smile in the face of cruelty, to find decency in anyone and to seek out the stars through a large hole in his attic-room roof, rather than suffer the misery of defeat of being poor.  In his poem, Humility, Clarke writes,

“Do you call me poor, you slugger? // Won’t Posterity let me hug her, // And won’t she hug me back again? // Isn’t my pen // The Sceptre of Eternity, to wave //  Over Earth’s grave?”

And we are by no means poor, but we feel the pinch and empathetically are suffering with the worst off for we know these are families not unlike our own.  And because we have had to worry at times in our own lives about from where our next meal might come.  

The beauty in these times is that they are less superficial.  Sincerity seems to flow in all art, music, from the pen.  These are times when we build strong foundations – not of brick and mortar, but of friendships that will lead us through the hard times.  

“By calling me poor, you slugger,

Psho!  Psho!

I’m sure I don’t feel so –

So I should think

From this hurricane of ink.”  -MC

 

The girls are getting creative.  My oldest is blogging, and all of our girls are working on various art projects at the moment.  Yesterday, I set up Popo’s paint set and let them have at it.  Their creation was yummy.  

I’m always finding little things they’ve made like the magnet-flowers that began springing up the other day. Here we are in the center of a concrete jungle and our children have created a mini-garden out of magnets!  Let the sun shine in!

Erick and I are considering condo living, so we took a look at the Arlington, a 25+ story building on the light-rail.  It’s beautiful and the units were very spacious.  The top floor offered a magnificent view as well as a lap pool and fitness facility.  It’s just under 2K/month which isn’t bad considering we never use our car in Uptown, so the added cost would go into housing rather than fuel or vehicle maintenance.  Still, I think it would be best for us all to have some space outdoors in which to play and explore.  And a place where Celli and Lady could run free.  

All this creativity is exhausting!  

In addition to the Carolina house, we’re considering an old farmhouse a little closer to Charlotte (still a 40-min commute).  It’s a neat house with a slate roof and a fireplace in every room along with some of the worst wallpaper of the century (and cats- lots of cats).  The house comes with 2.76 acres and some old out-buildings, nut trees, peach and apple trees and road frontage named for the farmstead.  

Asking price is well below recent appraisal and the house seems very solid, but I didn’t get the same warm-fuzzies I get with the Carolina Ave. house.  I think mostly, it’s the presence of the people and the wallpaper detracting from the original structure. I’d show you additional photos, but the rooms were in a very messy state.  The house has been updated and is “move-in ready,” as they say.  Even our youngest has been spouting real estate lingo:  “Location, location, location,” she repeated over and over again last night. 

For photos, please visit our flickr site


 

Okay, I know it’s escapism, but Erick and I have been going back and forth with the notion of moving to New Zealand, known to the eloquent natives as “The Land of the Long White Cloud.”  It is a country thick with native culture, governed by a woman and governed symbolically by a queen.  NZ is home to several organic farms and was one of the first countries to initiate WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) International programs, which began in New Zealand in 1974 and supplies volunteers with opportunities to live and work on the farm, while traveling to foreign states or countries. I worked on a WWOOF farm and it’s one of the best ways to get to know locals and folks from out of town who share a love of farming and a passion for learning about sustainability.  

Imagine living cradled by a mountain with a view of the sea – NZ seems like a perfect nest perched on the edge of the world with a spectacular view of the sea and heavens.  Yeah, we’d have to visit first and even a visit could be quite a production.  Imagine moving across the world!  How strange, how wonderful, adventurous.  Would it make travel to other countries easier?  Probably not, but it might encourage us, having taken the first step to relocate to a foreign land to investigate further this incredible world around us. 

According to Wiki, NZ is home to plenty of unique flora, birds and wildlife.  And they have sharks.  How can you go wrong with sharks outside of the water?  The climate on the North Island is mild, dry.  The government is extremely protective of its fragile ecosystem, which means it recognizes the value inherent in preserving an ecosystem in the first place.  Go Kiwis!

Anyway, just some thoughts about why I might consider traveling across the US and over an ocean to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud, even if for only a week.

3200 square feet, five bedrooms, three full baths on .65 acres.

               

Totally unrelated to the house, but strange and cool:

 

 

Above is an image of the narrow peninsula uncovered for less than a decade at a time every 75 years, where Erick and I were married in 2000.  I stopped there earlier this month and the water has reclaimed a good half of what was there originally.  In another year, we’ll have to wade into the water to show the girls were Mommy and Daddy were wed. 

 

Yesterday for Popo’s birthday, we took a long walk down past Dilworth, through the historic neighborhood, catching the new old-fashioned trolley into Uptown and back to Tea-Rex for afternoon tea.  The trolley was a great experience; just us and a driver passionate about trolleys.  The driver showed the girls how to operate the trolley and let them ring the bell and even showed them how to switch tracks.  He then took us up to the trolley barn where we saw one of Charlotte’s original trolleys, No. 85, built in 1927 and still in operation today.  (Trolley photos taken with my phone.)

         

Yesterday afternoon was spent celebrating Po-po’s 7th time around.  She received art supplies, tools, and lots of requested clothes.  Her favorite gift was a set of magnets.  She spent hours playing with them.

Also celebrating a birthday was my beloved Poe House; added to the historic register the same day my own Po made her debut into this world.  Also see Poe Stairs.

  

Following our showing of the Poe House on Saturday, we drove farther into the mountains and stopped for lunch at a little bar perched on the edge of the world.  Our view from the restaurant: 

On our way home from the Poe House, I took a self-portrait.  I always glow like that after seeing historic homes and mountains in the same day.  // Erick has been practicing up on guitar and banjo and the girls enjoy dancing to the music. 

  

It was an eventful weekend and we’re about to begin the first of weekdays with Jasmine tea.  May you (may we all!) have a wonder-filled, adventurous week!