Of Retirement and Cottages

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

~J. Lubbock

So we went to look at cottages on Saturday. The husband wanted to. His average work week is 70 hours, and I think he needs a retirement dream to hold on to.

We couldn’t get in to the one we had seen on the net, but we did look around the outside. It was bigger than the picture showed it to be, and it looks really cottagey, which is nice. I liked it. However, as the hubby pointed out, it had a lot of stairs to its different levels. The driveway pointed down, and and it looked like you had to go down stairs and then up some to get inside. Sadly, that is not practical for someone with rheumatoid arthritis who is looking forward to the future.

We talked to the woman who lives next door to this cottage for quite a while. My husband was surprised that the diving board he remembered was gone and that the lake looked so…brown. The deepest part he knew of had been twenty-five feet. The woman said that you could pretty much walk across the lake because it had not been dredged in several years. She said that the association that runs the lake didn’t do very much, in her opinion. That was also good to know, although it disappointed my husband since he had such fond memories.

We noticed that a cottage near was for sale also. This was more along the lines of what we want since it has two bedrooms and is all on the same floor. Still, there would be mowing on an incline, and we wondered if it was worth it to spend the money when we would own the building and not the land on a lake that was not well maintained.

That brings us to the run-down cottage on the other side that was for sale by owner, or so it said. It is VERY small (a little over 500 square feet), but it has as an advantage that it is all on level land. We thought its door were oddly placed until we figured out that perhaps its original orientation had been toward the road, not the lake. In peering through the windows, we saw that one room had hardwood floors. And the landscaping, as overgrown as it was, showed that someone had once loved it.

When we had seen this cottage at night, we were disappointed that the phone number on the for sale by owner sign had washed out, but in the daytime we saw that there was another sign on the porch. We called, and the owner said that he could meet us later in the afternoon. So we killed some time in an adjoining town. My husband showed me where there is an abandoned railroad roundhouse. That was interesting, as all I have seen previously is the foundation for a roundhouse, which really didn’t give me an accurate mental picture.

Back to the cottage. The man who said he was the owner drove up in a Porsche. Hmmm. Not ready to deal. He had said over the phone what he wanted for the cottage, which was half the price of the white one across the lake. OK. But when we started to go through the cottage, which had been completely gutted, we saw a LOT of problems. The guy said he had had it for a year, but he didn’t know what kind of heat it had had. Currently, no utilities were turned on. He didn’t know the status of the well and septic, and my husband noticed that the pressure gage on the well was stuck. He didn’t know where the attic access was. “I don’t know” was his answer to pretty much every question that we asked. Finally, he said that the cottage came “as is.” I had asked about an inspection, and I guess that was his way of saying that I could have it, but he wasn’t going to change the price, bless his little Porsche-driving self.

Well, we thought he was being untruthful, mostly because, if you market a property it seems that you should know the answer to the questions that we asked. So, when we got home, we looked up information on the property on the net. Turns out, the guy who showed it to us is NOT the owner of record. Did he buy it for back taxes? Hard to tell, but he portrayed himself to us as the owner. He wanted $29,200 for it, and it is valued at $9100. Now I know that a home’s valuation doesn’t necessarily reflect its sale price, but the last sale, a little over a year ago, was for $16,000. Since the guy didn’t DO anything to it, how could he figure that it had doubled in price? And what gave him the right to sell it anyway?

My husband told me to throw the man’s card away, and I thought that was the end of it, but maybe not. He is still talking about it. He tells me what he could do with that cottage. How he would remodel. (As if he has the time.) How really, it wouldn’t be hard for us to live in a little over 500 square feet. (But where would the kids and grandkids sleep when they visit?) The hubby tells me that it would be easy to get rid of our stuff, but he offers no insight as to which stuff to get rid of. Probably my books. Certainly not the glassware with the family crest. But I have decided not to get too upset about it all.

See, we have been married twenty-eight years. We started our married life in a 10×50 trailer and really, it was big enough. A year and a half later, we moved into the house the hubby built, 1288 square feet, and I thought I was in heaven. I used to lie in bed and, in my mind, trace the dimensions of the bedroom in the trailer, and thank God for where I was.

But I was happy in the trailer. When we didn’t have a lot of stuff. When we didn’t have a lot of room.

When we just had us. If that’s the way it ends up again…I will be happy.

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