For almost 10 years, I’ve kept a “Home Journal,” writing about the major discoveries or changes we’ve made to the property we moved into in February of 2013.
The reason: Every home we’ve lived in, we’ve wondered about its peculiarities. What were the surprises that the real estate agent didn’t know about? Why or when did the previous owners make certain changes?
We decided that when we pass this home on to our children, there will be no mysteries for them to solve. I will simply hand off the Home Journal to them. They won’t waste a moment wondering why or when.
The journal also has given me a focus, or what teachers call a “writing prompt.” Normal diaries wander about at random. I needed something to zoom in on. The journal does get sidetracked from time to time, but mostly it stays on task.
On Easter Sunday, 2013, I discovered a small, hidden piece of our property behind the potting shed. I wrote that it would make a great place to grow dope – if we ever became so inclined. So, we renamed it the “pot shed.” (We should call it the weed hut – no pot, just tall weeds).
Then there was our feral cat community. One cat, whom we called “Mama Cat with the Hat” because of the markings on her head, had four kittens underneath our shed. Over the course of a year, we would trap, neuter, and release them.
But Mama Cat always managed to elude us. Our research told us to hang a Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick from the top of our trap. She just flipped the cage onto its side and enjoyed the feast.
I wrote about the Flood of August 2016, when water from the city storm sewer started gushing from a standpipe in the basement floor. We didn’t own a pump, so we carried buckets up the steps and out the back door from 1 to 4:30 am. I now know what it feels like to work out at one of those 24-hour fitness places.
We tried to get the city to reimburse us for two large area rugs, plus paint for the steps we wore out, but its attorneys said no way. We’ve spent a couple thousand dollars since, moving the washer and dryer up to the main floor and eliminating the standpipe. We hope the city’s Smart Sewers won’t strike again.
I wrote about the rental house across the street where we’ve seen many occupants come and go. My favorites were some Notre Dame engineering students, who were super fastidious. They raised the cleanliness bar in our ‘hood for a couple of years. We were shamed into cleaning and organizing our garage once in a great while.
Readers of the Home Journal will know that we painted our fireplace on Christmas Day in 2018. Dover white. And that the next Christmas Day, we painted the master bedroom. Blue. The next year, the front door. Navy.
They’re going to wonder why we did these projects on one of the busiest and holiest days of the Christian calendar. It’s because we were a couple with grown children, and Christmas just isn’t what it used to be. The home improvement project on Christmas has now become our holiday tradition.
There are entries about the morel mushrooms, which mysteriously began appearing a few years ago without any effort on our part. We could make a fortune if we sold them, but we just eat them ourselves or give them away. I won’t tell you, but I’ve told future homeowners where to look for them.
As of a month ago, we have a new mystery: Somewhere in this house is half of a dead mouse.
I had let the cat in the back door one evening without knowing he had a live mouse in his mouth. I shrieked, which scared the cat, who let go of the mouse. The mouse took off and we don’t know where he went.
One night when we were watching TV in our basement, I saw something that looked like a wadded piece of yarn. I didn’t have my glasses on. I picked it up and, after examining it closer, realized it was a tail, two legs and the bottom half of a mouse, all dried up. So at least the cat followed up and finished off his prey.
We still haven’t found the front half of the mouse yet. That may be a mystery we’ll let our kids solve.