Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tender, Loving Wear

Last night was St. Patrick’s Day eve. By chance, I was introduced to Pat Davis at a meeting of the Plainwell Arts Council. She was well-acquainted with all the members of the O’Leary family, the clan from whom we bought our home. If O’Leary isn’t Irish, what is?

We like what Mrs. Davis called "the O’Leary house.” Everyone around here refers to it that way. For us, it’s the right space in the right place. Sandy has a special area where she can stamp and craft things to her heart’s content, and I have my very own private place to create new tales that are electronically dispatched almost instantly to bore large segments of the populace. We can look through a multi-aged miniature oak forest onto a handsome golf course fairway and green, and have a deck big enough to share the view with a hundred or so guests should we choose to throw a really big summer shindig.

The only problem is that the house has been occupied by various O’Learys and several different renters for brief periods of time over the past five years. It has not had the quality of care that can be provided only by a single set of dedicated owner-occupants. The list of things large and small to be shaped up is lengthy.

When we first moved in, it seemed as though a new intriguing problem lurked in every corner. The large number of phone jacks and television connections was impressive, but about half connected to nothing. The second day, a high-powered garage door opener opened nothing. In some places less-than-wonderful amateur wiring posed potential hazards, and a small opening allowed raindrops to fall unimpeded into the attic. And, etc., etc., etc.

The most important things were fixed fairly quickly. Our handy son, Lee, did yeoman work, even sacrificing his vacation days to perform repair tasks ranging from plastering to rewiring. His fiancee, Karen, solved electronic mysteries that baffled everyone else. They worked so hard we are thinking of increasing their “Klade pay” from “free sheets on Sunday” to the old Army standard, “three hots and a cot.”

When temperatures soared the other day, we thought it was time to haul screens up from the basement. Five cover two windows and three double doors opening to the deck. The screens were in a downstairs storage area where lighting is adequate, but fairly dim.

We checked the screens out and decided finally we had found elements of the house that could be put into service without any repairs or adjustments. Surprise! When we hauled the screens to daylight, it was plain to see that the mesh in three of the five was not going to keep out mosquitoes or other pesty wonders of nature. The next stop for the screens will be the repair shop behind the local hardware store.

When we met Mary O’Leary Knecht at our sale closing, she said, “There’s a lot of love in that house.” She described how her brother had taken time out from his construction business in Texas to custom-build it for their parents. She talked about many good times in the home and neighborhood. She was gracious and helpful.

The sellers were honorable in every respect. We knew an 18-year-old house was not going to be perfect in every detail. We made a fair deal with the O’Learys. All will be well, but it will take a bit of time to get it there.

Now, if we can just figure out how to replace that bronze leprechaun holding a shamrock on the front door with a guy wearing lederhosen and an alpine hat . . . .

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