Doing some housecleaning today in the kitchen and the room next to it. The room next to our kitchen is kind of a warming room, at least that is how I look at it, but we also call it the library annex since it is next to the library and will, most likely, contain a number of bookshelves and lots of books.
The room’s most distinguishing feature is the mantle and fireplace. It is gorgeous. They literally do not make them like this anymore.
I can’t wait until the day I am able to make a small fire in there, and enjoy the space by sitting with Kelly while having a glass of port or Madeira and maybe some of the furkids warm themselves in front of it too.
As we had mentioned earlier, we had been looking for a house in Vermont for some time. We had been looking for months, and then a few days before Christmas last year, we put in an offer on this house. That offer was not accepted for a good while. That’s a long story.
Well. It has been a long, long time since either of us posted here. But to be honest, we really had a lot going on. After all, we packed up all our stuff, put it in storage, moved to a long-term hotel, found someone who could board both of our cats, cleaned out and fixed up the house in Winthrop, sold that house, looked endlessly for another house in Vermont, finally found it, put in an offer, waited for it to be accepted while we struggled to find others, got our offer accepted, then had to threaten to take the seller to court after he had signed the purchase and sale agreement and then changed his mind, moved to another hotel, finally closed on the house six months after our initial offer, found contractors, struggled to get them scheduled in a timely fashion, looked for new jobs, changed hotels again, found new jobs, started new jobs, moved into the basement of the house, got Vermont identification and car registration, and waited for all the contractors to finish their work so we could figure out when we could actually move into the actual house and not have to sleep on Army cots in the basement anymore.
And if you think that’s a lot, that’s really just the abridged version. We also lost our beloved Scratch Fury, who suddenly threw a clot, became paralyzed while boarding, and then rapidly deteriorated, so we had to quickly go see him while we still could.
Oh yeah, and I also had my left knee replaced, and had to undergo the surgery, recovery, and physical therapy while all this other crap was going on. Like I said, busy.
So anyway. We finally found the sort of house we wanted, in the village of Bellows Falls in the town of Rockingham in Windham County, nestled in the southeast corner of the state. This beautiful old Victorian was built in 1904, and came with a first-generation garage that was built sometime in the 1920’s. Both the house and the garage are part of the Bellows Falls Historic District.
So there have been a LOT of projects here since we closed on the house in June. The first was replacing the roof on both the house and the garage. We also repaired (inside) and replaced (above the roof) the chimney.
We also had the entire electrical system rewired, as it was largely still knob and tube, and while the electricians did that they also wired parts of the house for ethernet and for speakers. They even replaced some of the fixtures with pretty ones that Kelly and I had found on craigslist.org. Some were cheap, and some were free. Much shopping Kung fu on Kelly’s part.
Also also wik, we had all the wallpaper taken down and we picked some lovely (and historically appropriate) colors for the walls. They really turned out beautifully.
There were also some other improvements made to the house, such as improving the half bathroom next to the kitchen and making some other adjustments and improvements to the plumbing in the basement. We also got a brand-new dryer (the old one died a sudden death, after popping the breaker a few times) and as of this weekend, we will also have a new kitchen refrigerator. The old basement fridge died within 48 hours of the dryer dying, and so we had the contractors move the old kitchen fridge to the basement to take its place. We also added a security system, which is nice for seeing when packages get dropped off. Seriously, it works GREAT for that. And we had gutters added to the house, because it didn’t have any for some reason. We also had to make some adjustments to the fence in the back yard, after Nymeria proved she was more than a match for it on several occasions.
So I will make a point of doing some follow-up posts to show you our progress.
Well, another tough year has gone by, thanks to Covid 19 (again).
This year has been particularly eventful, as Kelly started grad school in January of 2021, we sold our house in Winthrop, and are both currently looking to change jobs so we can buy a house in southeast Vermont, preferably in Windham County and specifically in Brattleboro. We are also considering Bellows Falls, as it is nearby and also is on Amtrak. It also happens to be where Kelly’s dad was born.
There are a lot of reasons we decided to do this, but perhaps the biggest and most important was we decided we really wanted to get away from the insanity of Boston traffic and the nightmare of a Boston commute. We got to try it out somewhat while we were working from home in Winthrop because of Covid, and we decided we really liked it.
However, we also quickly discovered that no matter what we did, we continued to have internet connectivity problems and that was especially frustrating. No matter what we tried, we could not get a reliable Internet connection. We had people from Comcast at the house multiple times trying to figure out what was wrong. We ended up replacing all of the cable on the outside of the house, going all the way to the utility pole, as well as replacing all the cable inside the house, plus getting a new modem (twice). We tried putting the modem in a more central location (located right next to Kelly’s computer in her “office”, which was the guest bedroom). It didn’t work. We still had connectivity problems of one sort or another and when you are paying almost $300 a month for cable, phone, and Internet, that gets old rather quickly.
Discussions with other people who lived in Winthrop revealed that they too had connectivity problems. It seemed to be a widespread problem there. So we began to think about moving, and eventually we became convinced that we would be better off living somewhere far from Boston traffic and Boston cost of living. We could get a bigger, maybe even a nicer, house and a larger yard for the dogs and for gardening and still come out with a smaller mortgage payment than what we were currently paying. It was a no-brainer. We could also end up in a place with a higher vaccination rate and a higher percentage of mask wearing. Winthrop, and particularly our next door neighbor, was a Covid hotspot from the jump and our next door neighbor was a maskhole.
So where to go, then? We started looking in Western Massachusetts (we are still looking there, at least somewhat) but soon expanded our search into southern Vermont. We quickly began to fall in love with the Brattleboro area, as we had a lovely time every time we went to visit. All the people we met in Brattleboro and its environs were friendly and welcoming. It really is remarkable how consistently and continuously we had positive interactions with people there. Likewise Vermont has the highest vaccination rate in the nation and people are smart about masking.
So we packed up the house, and of course that in itself was quite the adventure as it involved both PODS and U-Haul and some less-than-ideal interactions with both companies that caused delays. Although we packed up in July with the hope of getting the house ready to be put on the market by Labor Day, that didn’t happen. Various delays put it off until almost the end of September. Still, we had the house on the market on a Friday and we had an offer at our full asking price by Monday. We worked with RedFin to sell the house and it was a great experience.
Another problem we had to solve was what to do with our kitties, Scratch and Violet. We couldn’t take them to the long-term hotel with us (we were already bringing Dash and Nymeria) and for a long time we could not find anyone who could board them. Finally we got lucky and some friends said they could put the kitties up for as long as we needed and at a very friendly rate. So the kitties went off to what we are calling “kitty summer camp” although by now it has already lasted into winter. Still, they seem to be doing well and we are very grateful for that. We do miss them and look forward to being reunited with them in 2022.
The hotel has turned out to be ok so far, although we have also had some problems here that needed to be solved. Still, it could be much worse, and at this point we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope to be in our new house, wherever it may be, in 2022 and settle in with our kitties and puppies in what will hopefully be a better space for them as well. Remarkably, living in the hotel has been a good experience for Nymeria, who has gone far in coming out of her shell and learning to trust us. She has even begun to approach other people for pets, which we think is remarkable and fills us with joy every time we see her do it. She and Dash have gotten to spend a lot of time with us and go on regular walks which does all of us some good.
So we hope that everyone else has had, if not a good year, at least not had too traumatic a year. Hopefully Covid 19 will be conquered in the new year, as long as people aren’t too stupid about everything. I know, it’s a lot to ask, frankly, but we can still hope that common sense will win out.
Kelly and I took Dash and Nymeria with us to southeastern Vermont this past weekend. The weather was mostly sunny and actually got quite hot for Vermont. But the dogs generally enjoyed themselves, as did we.
We have become particularly fond of that part of Vermont, basically between Springfield and Brattleboro, and are doing a lot of sightseeing and antique shopping in it. It’s amazing how much greenery there is. I can imagine why so many people come here in autumn.