just ponderin'

… on a screaming pillow and inn renovation

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the screaming pillow

“Mom?”

“Ya, Sam.”

“Why is your pillow screaming?”

I looked over to my newly hung L.L. Bean hammock, complete with custom embroidered pillow, and smiled.

While I had intended a sigh, Sam had read a scream.

I started laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

So there we stood, in 2009, in the front yard of my newly renovated dream home on the coast of Maine.  I was nearly snorting, and Sam had let loose with one of his totally infectious laughs. The one he saves for really funny things.

Actually, Sam doesn’t just laugh.

Sam chortles.

Selectively.

He is a selective chortler.

So there we were, laughing at the screaming pillow and it hit me all of a sudden that the house was renovated. And the gardens were designed and partially planted. And the place where I felt more at home than I’ve ever felt at home was at the point where we were done restoring.

And yet, for me, it is an incredibly creative place. So I know we will always create there, whether with gardens or the house or writing or cooking or friendships…who knows.

And clearly, one can be creative and happy in any place, because creativity and happiness radiate out from the heart and mind, but I felt something…”it”… as soon as I walked through the door of The Inn.

My Nearly Perfect Husband felt it too.

And I know this because two people who can talk an awful lot to each other were completely silent, for nearly 25 minutes, after we walked out of that house for the first time.

There is something magical about The Inn.

And to think, we almost never walked into it in the first place.

I’ve mentioned or described The Inn in quite a few posts, and I’ve gotten a lot of requests to talk about the renovation process (fun and funny and exhausting and frustrating and, at times, homicidal, so I will warn you that there may be a lot of “Freakin’ Things”).  I thought I’d start with some photos of the outside as we found it and as it is now.

Note: The ‘technical’ part of buying something is often totally divorced from the romance of it. Case in point: Me saying, “Oh honey! We are realizing our dream of buying a house on the coast of Maine!” vs. A banks lawyer saying, “Please sign here, and here, and here, and  here, and here, and in these other 257 places so that you can buy this nearly 200-year-old house that was much-loved but then purchased by house flippers from Texas who wallpapered everything in florals and cut at least one very large chestnut beam in the basement in half so they could bring the new oil tank in.”

Okay. The bank lawyer didn’t mention the wallpaper.

And didn’t tell him about the carousel horse in the dining room.

So what looked okay, were things like the new granite countertops.

What did not turn out to be okay were the paper-thin kitchen walls that I sunk my hammer straight through when I hung my first picture (absolutely happened), and that same kitchen “sagging” precisely in the spot where the aforementioned large chestnut beam would have been holding it up from the basement.

So restoring and renovating, while maintaining the charm of the house was the balance.

But we didn’t set out to do either.

We simply set out to remove one wall, between the living room and dining room, so that we could fit the whole family in one room and chill without being on top of each other.

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The wall that started it all. The one with the fireplace that wasn’t really a fireplace (with the wood stove that didn’t work either).

But then, when we were talking about the wall, we started talking about making sure the house was not a fire hazard. And that led to the electrical. Then a leak happened in a closet and that was plumbing.

And pretty soon every Home Depot department was checked off and we had to call in the professionals.

Who did things like this:

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The Nearly Perfect Husband…on the other side of the foundation..

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Yep. It’s really him… from about 50 feet away.

Here is the house on the day we first drove up to it:

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Things you can’t see. The aluminum siding over the original clapboard, the sinking foundations of both porches. Ya. We didn’t see all that either. And, c’mon, the electrical is hidden in walls and stuff. How were we even supposed to know if it was broken…

Here is some more photographic proof of what happened to the outside so that The Inn could, you know, not sink entirely into the earth (or, if you are a Monty Python fan, you would have been flashing to the same scene, over and over again, for the whole three years of the renovation. The one where the King is talking to his son, who doesn’t really want the kingdom because all he wants to do is sing and dance.

 “Listen, lad. I built this kingdom up from nothing. When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show ’em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp, but the fourth one… stayed up! And that’s what you’re gonna get, lad: the strongest castle in these islands.”

I was really hoping that this wasn’t going to be the iteration that burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. I was determined that, instead, it would be the strongest castle – er, former inn – in these islands.

Or at least have a non-lethal electrical system.

So here is the during. You go ahead and look. I can’t. I’m still a bit raw.

And, oh. We had an old barn…

Ready for the big reveal?

Okay, hold on to your hats….

And that’s just the outside of the house and barn. The stories and mysteries that accompanied the inside spaces were pretty cool. I’ve shared some, but will share more.

Maybe the next time we chat about The Inn, I can show you some pics of the gardens.

I know! I absolutely need a jolt of spring right now.

Anyway, I’ve got to head over to the kitchen counter because Dingle Diner is now open. It looks like the Nearly Perfect Husband is making eggs.

He probably had to go to the store to buy them.

Wouldn’t have had to do that if I had, you know…

Freakin’ chickens.

But that’s a tale for another time (there is so room for chickens at the Inn…)

Thanks for readin’.

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