It’s hard to believe, but 30 years ago on Monday, October 19, I signed the closing papers on my mortgage for this house, got the keys, drove here and opened the my front door for the first time.
Above is the photo the realtor had taken for the information package, a real photo print glued onto a piece of paper with the details typed below using a typewriter. It’s funny to see my spruce looking so young and green and barely taller than the house, the rhododendron barely more than a sprout, and even the maple tree before it went into its final spread. I almost couldn’t believe I’d gone and done it, but on that warm and sunny October day I stood on the porch and looked around at “my” trees and was happy I had. You can read more about my choosing this house in this essay on Today.
At that point I’d been visiting the house for several weeks, completing a list of fixups required on my little carpenter’s special by the FHA, which secured my mortgage, repainting peeling paint and a few other things, and in the process also measuring all the rooms, windows, doorways, planning paints and updates and where I’d put my furniture. I brought Kublai over with me so he could explore the house while I worked, and if there was a way a cat could get out, he’d find it before I moved in and could fix that before the other five cats moved in. But I had the feeling he’d be safe because apparently there was no such portal as he walked the floors and sat on the windowsills and rubbed his scent on all the doorways.
I didn’t move in right away so that I could take a couple of weeks to prepare things in the house for me and the cats after work and on the weekends, and also move a carload or two of boxes in my little red Ford Escort so that moving day two weeks after my closing would entail mostly furniture.
The past week as the leaves begin to seriously turn color in my back yard and the temperatures have dropped for the first frosty mornings, I’ve been moving things out of my basement into my tent in the back yard to prepare for the new furnace. It reminds me so much of those early days in the nearly empty basement as a totally different group of cats wandered around played and watched me. As I waterproof the walls it reminds me of working on the first projects, improving my own home instead of a rented space.
I hadn’t intended to stay here this long, but to update and sell it after about 10 years for a bigger place farther away from a tight neighborhood like this. But here I am, and it’s paid for, has been for four years. I’ve spent half my life here, and this house has seen nearly all my years of rescuing cats. So I’ll continue reminiscing as I work on the basement walls.
I think it’s kind of ironic that this year has been my year for such renewal in both physical and emotional space as I’ve spent days on end working on my house and my yard, as well as my business and art and my own rehab from my hip surgery, and on the anniversary of my closing someone is coming to measure for a furnace to replace the 37-year-0ld furnace that I looked at when I moved in and hoped it would last a good long time. It lasted longer than I’d hoped, and even though I need some financial assistance to get it, it’s still a good feeling that this little old house has been able to shelter me and a lot of cats all these years.
I hope to be back to regularly posting this week. I know I’ll still have a few busy times, but the all-day work days on the house this year along with concentrated work projects have come to an end for the time being. I’m glad for the time to slow down a little, sit down and spend my days more creatively again, and enjoy my kitties who are complaining about my activities getting them all tired out. And all of us are more than ready for the furnace!
Below is the first cat photo I took in this house—a year after I’d moved in, can you believe it took that long? Kublai is being the star of a photo shoot. Never mind the subject was my artwork and not him. One of the things that are so reminiscent is the very things and the space in this photo: that’s the back corner of the basement with its newly waterproofed walls, exactly where I’ve been working the past few days. The tabletop is the top from an old 1950’s office desk, one of those solid steel tanks, that I had covered with that particular tattersall check contact paper. I couldn’t fit the desk into the house, and I couldn’t find anyone to take it, so I took it apart for scrap but built a base for the top to use in the corner of the basement. It not only served as a photo area, but later and for decades served as a plant nursery in spring, and a geranium nursery in winter. On Saturday I carried it out to the back yard to a new scrap metal heap. I still have the memories.
Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.
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Feline Artwork from Portraits of Animals
This is the guy who started it all–and nearly the last one to have his portrait done! He fostered every stray kitten and cat I ever brought into my home, and shepherded me through the ups and downs of the fifteen years he was with me. Click here to read more.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!