The Cross House
Since buying the Cross House it has been the best of times, and the worst of times.
Well, not THE worst. But year #2 was kinda grim.
2014: THE BEST OF TIMES
Work on the Cross House began on March 1st, 2014.
I always knew that 2014 would be the honeymoon period. For two reasons:
1) I was in love with the house. LOVE. Love, baby!
2) All the work for the first year was financed. So, even though the money (a scary amount) had to be paid back over the next thirty years, it felt like Monopoly money — not quite real, and, therefore, not terribly painful to spend.
As it would prove, 2014 was the best year of my life. I had a ball. A ball!!!!!!!! Every day, I could not wait to get to the house. Every day was a new project, a new discovery, and a new accomplishment.
Gosh, it was wonderful. I smile in recollection. SO MUCH FUN!
To learn about the house was as exciting as learning the deep secrets and hidden spaces of a new lover. Is anything quite as intoxicating?
I was also startled and a bit stunned to discover that everything I was doing was on a very public stage. I have done home restorations over the decades but each was, well, a rather back-stage effort.
The Cross House though, as I discovered, occupied center stage and with a big bright spotlight shining on it.
There was so much attention and questions and curiosity and compliments that it occurred to me: I really have to start a blog. Which you are now reading.
The blog itself became a whole other THING in my life, like having a child unexpectedly. It, too, needed to be fed and tended to.
I also fell in love with blogging. HOW did I start blogging so late in life? I could have been doing this years ago!
During 2014, my big old house standing on center stage went from seemingly abandoned, with dirt-streaked windows, and years without light shining through its windows at night, to teaming with life, with gleaming restored windows on the main facade, a new paint job on the main facade (recreating the 1894 colors!), with porch columns restored and recreated, structural shoring in two areas inside, and countless other large and small projects, all of which I detailed in my 2014 year end report.
2015: THE WORST OF TIMES
Year #2 proved a total contrast.
Most of this year I have been tense, worried, and scared. While I knew 2014 would be the honeymoon, I had not expected 2015 to be so…grim.
CAVEAT: I wish to stress that I am still madly insanely crazily in love with the Cross House. There is zero doubt in my mind that buying the Cross House has been the best thing I have ever done. Indeed, I feel like my whole life has been waiting for the Cross House. It is a powerful awareness.
The year began with tension about the big grant I had applied for. A lot hinged on getting the grant. Would it be approved? And for how much?
The days ticked by.
Then, on February 15th, I did a blog post. The grant was approved. And for the full amount.
But life did not work out as expected. Life of course often does this. Ain’t life a minx?
Even though the grant was approved, it wasn’t…really. You see, the state legislature had to approve the annual budget before the funds could be dispersed. And the legislature could, could refuse to allocate the funds.
In short, the Cross House was approved for a grant…which could later be rescinded. Big friggin’ eek.
I was told not to worry about this remote possibility, but as long as it was a possibility, I could not ignore it.
I was also told that approval would be forthcoming by the end of February.
February ended however and with still no approval. My tension level spiked.
Then, as anybody who has paid attention to Kansas this year knows, all hell soon broke loose with the state budget. A veritable perfect financial storm, unprecedented in the history of Kansas. I am not kidding.
I had scheduled a party at the house to celebrate the grant, and picked May 1st as the party date. For, surely, the grant would be approved by then. Right?
It was not. But I could not cancel the party (deposits paid, etc.), which was lovely, even though I was the only one who did not enjoy it as my stomach was in knots.
With each passing day, and still no approval, the knots grew tighter.
The days of May passed. No approval. My stomach now felt filled with concrete.
Then June began. And its days, too, passed. And passed. And passed with no approval.
Now even my lungs started to seize up.
Then, on June 23rd, approval came, and I did a post called Living With Anxiety.
I felt too shell-shocked to really FEEL happiness. Intellectually of course I was doing cart-wheels, but emotionally I just felt numb.
Then I learned that getting approval was a whole other thing than actually getting the funds. Because the grant is a government program, there is, not surprisingly, a ton of paperwork to be done.
More months dragged on. And on.
On November 11th, all the T’s had been crossed and all the I’s dotted, and I received the final final final approval.
By this time I was on life-support at the hospital. Just kidding. Although it felt like that.
While the emotional cost of the grant is nothing I had anticipated, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind as to its importance. The grant will:
- Put new roofs of the towers, porches, and rear extension. The main roof is OK.
- Flashing will also be done around the three towering chimneys (stopping, it is hoped, three long-term leaks).
- All the built-in gutters will be relined.
- About thirty of the forty stained-glass windows will be restored. Oh. My. God!
- Exterior siding, long missing, on the east and south facades will be replaced.
- Numerous clear-glass windows will be restored.
Another HUGE issue with the grant is that only reimburses. So, I have to pay for all the above work first, then the grant will reimburse 80%.
There is no way that I can just write a check for all the roof work, so I had to arrange for a loan from my bank. Big whew.
All the rest will be paid out-of-pocket during 2016. I will have a small chunk of work done, pay for it, get 80% reimbursed, then go ahead with another small chunk, and so on. As long as there is cash flow, all…this…should…work.
The idea of all this financial scrambling is, ah, tension inducing. But it must be done.
In March and April, a massive amount of work was done to restore the fabulous radiator system to full operation, and I did a post on the work. I love my radiators to perhaps an unnatural degree.
Then the invoice arrived. I gasped. I choked. I felt faint. And was altogether pixilated.
Luckily, I was allowed to make payments, and the last 10% should be paid off next month. W H O E E! Of course, until the invoice is fully paid, all other work on the house was necessarily suspended.
So it has just been me working on the house since May.
The quiet has, I will admit, been kinda nice.
In the fall, I did a post on all the work done so far in the year.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all have a crystal ball, to see our futures and then make decisions accordingly?
By the end of the spring, I was itching to get started on painting the north facade of the house. The west facade was completed (whoee!), and I was eager to begin on the highly visible north facade.
Then a person told me they wanted to rent the carriage house, and my eager plans were dashed.
I refocused my attentions to the carriage house, and the Great North Wall Adventure was abandoned.
While a lot has since gotten done on the carriage house, I did not anticipate the emotional response to shifting my attention.
The following is hard to explain.
With all that has gone on in 2015, the #1 issue which affected me was the decision to abandon painting the north facade. Somehow, and this is the part which is hard to explain, not painting the north facade caused a sorta blanket of depression to cover me.
I know, weird.
Painting the west facade in 2014 was incredibly nourishing. Every day I would stand back after many hours of hard work, after climbing up/down three stories of scaffolding, and just smile. Wow! Every day my beloved was looking just a bit better. In time, my beloved was looking gorgeous!!!!!!!!
And this proved deeply, powerfully, intoxicatingly nourishing. My soul felt filled to the brim with joy and pride and satisfaction. While the whole project has this effect, the exterior painting proved to magnify the effect. The results were so visible and evident.
It’s a thrill, for example, rewiring a room. But the effort cannot compare to the aesthetic power of seeing the original 1894 colors return to the west facade of the house.
Because I do not own a crystal ball, I made, in retrospect, a mistake in not scaling the Great North Wall. I belatedly understand that all the stresses in 2015 would have been much easier to bear if I had spent the last six months being deeply and powerfully nourished by the visual drama of the north facade being made gorgeous.
In short, we all have internal batteries. These batteries need to be constantly recharged. While the work on the Cross House this year has been nourishing, and has kept my batteries charged, the batteries have not been charged enough to compensate for all the stress. At the end of the year my batteries feel less charged than they did in January.
I think painting the Great North Wall would have charged my batteries to maximum.
And then some.
The stresses of 2015 have not all been related to the Cross House. My lighting business dipped a bit, which is not surprising considering my extreme focus on the Cross House. The dip has been but 10%, but this nonetheless has had an impact, for 10% less is still less. More would be better!
There has been another matter which has been draining my soul for over two years. This was resolved a few weeks ago, and I thank God.
In the spring, something horrific happened to a creature quite adored by me. No, I will not go into detail. I thought things were getting better, but I lost Herbert this month. Even writing these words makes me cry.
Goodby, Herbert. I loved you.
I have a physical testament to the stresses of 2015.
In February, I had lost an incredible 17 pounds during the previous six months.
As of today, I have gained every pound back. Sigh. Big sigh.
2015: THE GOOD NEWS
There has been good news in 2015.
Although the grant has been unexpectedly stressful, I am deeply, intensely, wondrously grateful to be awarded such an honor. Even now I think: Wow! WOW!
A major thrill in 2015 was the fact that I managed to get my entire library into the house! Wow! Geez! ZOUNDS! Today, not a week goes by when I don’t walk into the library, with three of its walls lined with floor-to-celing shelves and all brimming with beautiful books, and pause for a moment, smile, and gently rake my hands along the many book spines. Ahhhhh, bliss.
A particular additional pleasure has been bringing the house alive for…yikes!…political nights! I am a political FIEND and have been inviting friends over to watch the Republican and Democratic debates. It has been a thrill seeing the house come alive for these brief hours. The house is made for people and events.
After more than two years of work I managed to get my eCommerce store finally online. INCREDIBLE. I am elated; agog even.
There is also a new Facebook page for my business.
The Cross House is a powerful magnet, and I have developed several friendships with people I met because of the house. This has made my life much richer, and I delight in these new relationships.
2016: WHAT TO EXPECT?
In 1994, during my dark years of the early 1990s, a friend gave me a gift to a well-known psychic/astrologer/tarot reader.
The reading proved quite interesting. And vexing.
At the end of the reading the psychic got really excited, and stated that in my fifty-ninth year, I would — she paused, and then breathlessly exclaimed — get everything I ever wanted.
Ahhh…well…uhmm…gee, that sounded great, but that was TWENTY-TWO FRIGGIN’ YEARS IN THE FUTURE!
I had to wait twenty-two years for this great news to manifest?
I felt sick at the news.
Yet, yet, yet, next year IS twenty-two years later. Amazing.
In my life I have been told things by psychics which proved utterly preposterous. But, occasionally, some predicted futures proved eerily correct.
And my own intuition actually saved my life on one dramatic occasion, and proved stupendously useful innumerable times (I will never forget a voice mysteriously telling me: “Ask David for twenty”. The results astonished).
So, I think there is something valid about all this, even though I remain a skeptic.
Thus, I will step into 2016 breathless with a cautious anticipation.
A year from now I hope to report:
All the work funded by the grant has been completed, or soon will be.
My business will have increased.
I managed, somehow, to get the hopeful tenant of the carriage house INTO the carriage house.
And I, yes, I, will be living in the Cross House by the end of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy mother of God zounds!
For most of my adult life I have been single. This has never been troubling to me, but when I read about the adventures of Amy and Doug, I experience a punch in the stomach. This impossibly young couple is restoring a fabulous old house, which they, enlightened souls they be, blog about. When I read the posts I cannot help but wonder how much easier my life would be, and more rich and joyous, if I were sharing the experience of the Cross House with a kindred spirit. Indeed, since buying the house, I have had a subtle intuitive message: You will be sharing all this with a husband. Golly.
Since buying the Cross House a vital concern has been: how to protect its future? I have had many ideas, but one idea is rather powerful. The idea is actually underway, but I cannot reveal it for about six months. The idea makes me breathless with excitement.
A year from now I will weigh 175lbs.
As of this writing, I now know and understand that painting the Great North Wall is of vital importance. Vital!!!!!!! And nothing, not rain nor hail nor finances nor breaking a leg nor being kidnapped by aliens will prevent me from scaling the great north wall and painting it. So, the BIG Adventure in 2016? THE GREAT NORTH WALL, damnit!
2015 has been, well, ok, pretty awful. However, I have had worse years. Like 1985 (which even today strikes terror in my heart). And 1992 through 1995 (three nails-on-a-chalkboard years).
As difficult as 2015 has been though, I am deeply aware of how lucky I am.
The Cross House fills me with an intense, enveloping, and nourishing joy. I wrote this previously, but every time I step into the house I feel good. I should not admit this, but I often hug the house and say: Thank you. Thank you.
I am fifty-eight, and still healthy. I am grateful.
Life fascinates me. As do the people in my life. I am grateful.
My business is successful. I am grateful. My business is kinda cool, too. I am grateful.
My very old cat, Gilda, is still with me. I am grateful. I am praying that she hangs on long enough to enjoy the marble-topped radiators of the Cross House in winter. If so, she will be very happy.