The house next door

It’s for sale. Sheriff’s sale. Since the owners up and abandoned it last spring, Mike and I have been alternately rejoicing they took their smelly dog enclosure with them (nothing like the scent of dog doo wafting over the shade garden) and worrying what would become of the place.

According to our neighbor, the house was nothing to look at 40 years ago when she was a kid and occasionally played with the kids who lived there then. Surely it’s gone downhill after a series of negligent owners. We fought mosquitoes all last summer because they left their above-ground pool full and water collected in the cover and was a nasty West Nile soup.

It’s an odd little house — yellow stucco — and may have been charming at one time. (Although more appropriate for the neighborhood known as “Spanish Villa” across the highway from us.) Now it’s just scary, complete with dangling icicle lights from Christmases past, plastic wrap on the windows, mold and branches on the roof (surely it leaks), and giant, poison ivy-infested evergreens all around. Not to mention a tumbledown shed, and that pool, wrapped in a large lattice-y deck/fence thing.

Even before it was abandoned, Mike and I made several forays across the property line to clean up fallen branches and prune overgrown trees and shrubs that were spoiling our view. I ruthlessly sprayed heavy-duty Round-Up on all the poison ivy I saw — which was considerable. We never interacted with (or really even saw) the owners, save for a couple encounters with their kids, whom I always felt sorry for. It was from one of the boys that I learned “We might be moving…” and crossed my fingers.

It’s been nice not having such negligent neighbors, but we’re worried about what might happen now that it’s up for sheriff’s sale in a few weeks. We’d love to have the property — our 50-foot-wide lot is so confining — but certainly don’t have the cash to blow on buying it and then having to worry about tearing down the house (I can’t imagine it could/should be saved). Plus the grounds are a disaster — even mowing the giant, sloping front yard (the house sits far back from ours) would be a challenge. Plus there’s no garage, which would have been a real selling point since ours is so inadequate, and only a LONG gravel driveway that washes down on the road all the time.

But, that frivolous right brain of mine can’t help but imagine what could be if we had the money and weren’t totally consumed with all the half-finished DIY projects on this side of the property line. How nice it would be to double the size of our lot — plant trees, fence it in, build a combination potting shed/garage with a studio above (hey, a girl can dream), design our own “secret garden.” A very Western PA version of A Year in Provence or Under the Tuscan Sun. (Yeah, we’d probably fly a Steeler flag somewhere, too.)

I long ago picked out the perfect spot to “connect” the two yards — a grand arbor or something right between these two trees…


Instead, we have to wait and see. Hope some good people buy the place and not gypsies, tramps, or thieves. Hope we don’t rue the day we didn’t take out a second mortgage to buy it ourselves. 

Oh, did I mention scenario #173? The one in which she opens a charming B&B that becomes a smashing success and pays for itself and lets her stop having to hack for hire and instead hack write purely for fun?

Right brain is nothing if not imaginative…


There’s a long, long trail a-winding into the land of my dreams. 
                                                                ~ Stoddard King, Jr.


  1. jewels said,

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    My mother has a home like this across the street from her and some nice young men (don’t I sound like my mother?!) bought it and are fixing it up to sell. Of course they probably bought it before the financial world as we know has turned upside down, but I was amazed when I was home for Christmas how much better it looked when they just cleaned up the yard and started sprucing it up. Maybe there is hope for your neighbor’s house?!

    I love the B&B idea. I’ve always wanted to do that, but that would mean getting up early to serve breakfast. I’m more cocktails and light dinner! 🙂

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Jewels you are brilliant. You have invented the C&B! It’s perfect! I want one — come help me! (And yes, I fantasized about nice young men buying the place as well…shades of Will & Grace when Will & Jack bought a place…the locals wouldn’t let them leave!)

  3. Facie said,

    Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Our next-door neighbor, a seemingly young (somewhere between mid 20s and 30s), able-bodied man is apparently too lazy or too clueless to keep up with his house and yard. The few times I have gone to their front door, I have to turn sideways, b/c it is impossible to fit between the two overgrown shrubs. My husband trims the hedges between our two yards, but if you look at it from the street, you can see how the neighbor’s side is higher and in disarray. And shovel snow? Forget it. He must think the snow fairy is going to float him up his driveway.

    Some people say that parents should have to take a class; I say homeowners need to, or at least sign some oath, saying they will take care of the place.

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Monday, February 16, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Yes, not only does it spoil the look of the street, we’re worried about it devaluing our house (even more), especially if some losers try to buy it for a song. And then there are people like our other neighbor, who single-handedly painted the trim on her entire house and keeps the yard looking like a park. At least we are lucky to have her!

Leave a Reply to jewels Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: