The Cross House
I have been lying to all of you.
Well, not lying really, but…holding back the full truth.
In a previous post I exalted about the Cross House being awarded a $90,000 Kansas Heritage Grant.
But…but…in the fine print of the grant, page 476, subsection Q, line 48, there was a clause.
The clause stated that even if awarded a grant, no monies would be distributed until after the Kansas legislature approved the state budget in early 2015.
The grant is funded by a small tax collected on every mortgage filed in Kansas. This money piles up in an account (about $830,000 last year), and then is distributed to historic properties across the state. I cannot think of a better use of tax dollars, and hundreds of historic structures have been restored with help from the Heritage Fund. Every state in the union should have such a program.
However, even though the collected funds are specific for the above purpose, the funds cannot be disbursed until the state budget is approved. And the Kansas legislature could seize the Heritage funds.
We were told not to worry much about this clause because, in all the decades the Heritage Grant has been in existence, the funds were approved for disbursement.
But, to anybody paying attention to the Kansas budget of late, all hell broke loose this year.
When we received approval on February 15, we were told that we would know in a few weeks about the money being approved for disbursement. So me and thirteen other recipients just had to wait a bit before commencing with roofing, new gutters, foundation issues, leaky windows, missing siding, and termites.
February ended and we were told to wait just a bit longer.
Then we were told to wait a bit longer.
I was planning a party to celebrate the grant, and so scheduled it for May 1, because surely we would have confirmation by then. Surely.
But we did not. I could not push the party back, so went ahead. While my guests seemed to have a grand time, I did not. I felt like fraud, for I knew the grant might not happen. As the harpist played, as splendid hors d’oeuvres were passed around, and as wine was consumed, I wandered around with a sick feeling in my stomach the whole time.
Then another week passed. And no word. Then another week. Then another.
The Kansas legislature is supposed to confirm the budget within 90 days as required by law. But 90 days passed…and still no approval. This is unprecedented. “Next year will be my 40th year in the Legislature, and I have never seen a session like this one,” stated Anthony Hensley (D).
As I read all that was happening online, and at the truly sorry state the state was in, I grew increasingly pessimistic. (NOTE: I am naturally an optimist.)
Last year I wrote a post about improving my diet. After writing the post I lost an amazing 17 pounds.
However, the stress of the last months has caused me to add half of the lost weight back on. That is how I react to stress. COMFORT FOOD! And COMFORT DRINK!
After the party on May 1, not much has been going on at the Cross House. I have been paying down the titanic-sized invoice to have the radiator system fully restored to working order, and until that bill is paid I cannot be hiring out any new work. So, I have been working on the house alone, and mostly on the library. It is now painted, and I have built walls and walls of shelving, and miraculously moved thousands of books into the house (no easy feat for a fifty-eight-year-old).
I should be feeling joy over progress on the library, but with each passing week and Still No News, my anxiety level has increased to extraordinary levels, suppressing all other emotions. After reading online about the legislators trying to find every penny to close the massive budget deficit, I grew highly pessimistic about ever receiving a penny of Heritage funds.
With this awareness, I began walking around the Cross House, and gently touching its walls, caressing trim, resting against its many mantles, and…feeling a deep pain that I had betrayed the house. I’m sorry, I kept whispering to the house as I touched it, I’m sorry.
If the funds did not come through, there is NO WAY I could do much of anything about the roof and built-in gutters which are causing terrifying havoc (a $32,000 scope of work). And there is NO WAY I could begin the restoration of the 40 stained-glass windows (about $47,000). And there is NO WAY I could do the other projects (like replacing the sill of the house) without the grant.
I could have done these projects last year when I had a construction loan, but spent the loan on other things, knowing that the roof and gutters and stained-glass windows and sill stood a good chance of being funded by the Heritage Grant. And this is why I have been apologizing to the house of late. All that I did with the construction loan was vital. But had I known there would be no Heritage Grant, I would have first fixed the roof and gutters and stained-glass and the sill. But now? I do not have the money for these important projects.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Each time it rained this year I felt a kick in my stomach, for each deluge brings new damage to my beloved house, and with each passing month I have despaired of being able to do anything about this.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
I have also felt bad for the people who administer the grant. This is something they deeply believe in. I had the sense that they, too, must be reeling. As well as the thirteen other recipients. All reeling, across the entire state.
Today, Mi’Chielle came by my office. Mi’Chielle did most of the work on the grant, and without her help it could never have happened. So, she, too, has been reeling. As she stepped into my office, we sat down. Just then I saw that an email had come in.
I stared at the email, my eyes wide, with my heart in what must have been a dead stop, and with time suspended.
It read: The grant funds can now be disbursed.
I just kept rereading the email. I also kept asking Mi’Chielle: “We got it? Right? Right?”
Mi’Chielle beamed, and replied: “Yes. YES!” I gave her a big hug.
Tomorrow I will be at my beloved house. I am going to give it a big big big hug. And a kiss.