That summer when Motherlode didn’t sell her house

I knew the exact moment I had had enough.

I was on my hands and knees beside my house carefully clipping the grass around my air conditioner unit with scissors.

With my house on the market, I had an open house scheduled for two hours later. I was doing the last minute runaround, fluffing pillows, arranging a ridiculous basket of 40 lemons and limes just so and eradicating any signs that I own pets. Or that I even existed.

If you’ve sold a house, you know the drill. The past two weeks (was it really only two weeks?) have turned me into someone who curses her spectacular red maple for daring to throw down its keys. As for the grass, I’d owned an edger at some point, but when I last took it in for repair they said it had seized up hard from lack of use. So, scissors.

The decision to sell had been made a couple of years ago. I knew when Ari and Taryn moved out, I’d move on. Too much house, too much yard, I explained to a family who already knew. Every corner I’d look at would overwhelm me, and the thought of tackling any of it seemed pointless, and silly. Know when to go, I told myself.

The first day after Ari moved out, I forgot to put out the recycling. If you can’t remember to put out your own blue bins, how are you going to patch drywall, finish deck rails or install bathroom hardware? I’ve spent so many years pretending I’m 10 people, I forgot the very real fact that I am only one — and some days barely that.

The real estate market lurches around like a Mardi Gras drunk, and every headline makes you question what you’re about to do, whether you’re a buyer or a seller.

The recent feeding frenzy (and cooling) was a consideration, but the crossroads I’m parked at was a far bigger one. As the kids pulled out of the driveway with their final load, I called Jeff, my newly discovered miracle worker, and he spent seven weeks making the place over. He kept fussing over details as I yelled “good enough!” in his ear. Someone else’s problem.

A funny thing happened on the way to beige. Every problem area of the house has been fixed. All the outlets work, every closet has a door, windows slide, the basement is immaculate and the garage soon will be. People warned me that you finally fix up your house and wish you’d done it sooner, wish you’d done it for yourself. As I clipped that grass around the air conditioner, I decided I’d done it for myself.

The kids were home on the weekend for a barbecue. We sat on the perfect deck after I’d served dinner from an immaculate kitchen onto an uncluttered table. The dogs ran around the yard they’d both once called home, and I told everyone I was going to plant my garden this year even if I might miss the bounty.

It felt wrong to leave the patch of earth raw. If somebody new wanted to bulldoze it over, I’d never know.

Pammy asked again why I was moving.

The yard is a mess and the shed needs to come down. I’m itching to borrow my neighbour’s rototiller and have to keep refraining. Someone else’s problem, I remind myself.


I had nowhere I was running to, only things I was running from.

Now with Jeff’s help, I’ve righted much of the chaos. And he ignored me and did it well, not merely good enough.

I’m staying put.

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14 responses to That summer when Motherlode didn’t sell her house

  1. J says:

    Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  2. Padraig says:

    Well, OK. Good for you. But you still have that garage to civilize. I have an idea – it’s time for a garage sale. I don’t mean a driveway sale – but a true garage sale, where people can come right into the maelstrom and buy stuff in situ. Like that scene in Adventures in Babysitting, nobody leaves without buying something. I notice you have a chopsaw. I’d drive all the way to Burlington for that, except that I don’t need a chopsaw and I’d probably sever something vital if I had one. But you have my moral support.

    • Lorraine Lorraine says:

      Ari would kill me if I sold the power tools. Has home on the weekend making planter boxes for his new balcony…. :)

  3. Sandy says:

    Good for you.
    Does that mean the beige goes and painting begins again?

  4. louise piotrowicz says:

    YAH You inspired me – I am staying where I am (and love) now that I too got my home ready to sell. I get to enjoy the improvements/fixes that we made, not someone else. Thank you.

    Why do the changes for someone else – do them for YOU!!!! That way you get to enjoy what you have done!

    • Lorraine Lorraine says:

      It was the right call. The deck alone looks awesome. I bought plants! And, I’m putting in my veggie garden! I also rototilled the yard on the weekend. Who needs their arms in their sockets, anyway?!

      Good for you! Here’s to new beginnings in old places!

      • Sandy says:

        You rototilled it again? Wasn’t that what we picked up in my truck a few years ago?

        Enjoy the gardening. I love getting the gardens cleaned up and planted and then watching it all grow. (my back begs to differ but its worth it)

        Moving is very over rated.

  5. Zena says:

    This makes me happy.

    • Pat says:

      Good for you Lorraine! Unless you have somewhere to go that you love, you are better off with home.
      Lemonade anyone?

  6. Sharon says:

    Glad you decided to stay. From reading your column over last several weeks kinda thought that might happen. Did your very own “love it or list it” Seems to me there is still a lot to love in that house. Enjoy your garden !

  7. Mitch says:

    One of your best decisions. Your Mum and Dad are smiling. As Dorothy said there’s no place like home. And the cats will be happy.

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