The Dreaming Girl in Wisconsin
Been here 1 ½ years. Just getting settled in. We moved into a house with a history. That is why the bank was soooo happy to sell it to us. It had stood empty for 3 years after the exodus of a bitter clan.
The plumbing was like a cartoon with pipes everywhere in whimsical arrangements, some of them connected with glue, some apologetically welded, all hanging like a mobile from the basement ceiling, iron, copper and pvc. When Phil first turned the water on, the fountains of Versailles poured out of the kitchen wall.
The downstairs bathroom was haunted. A loud bubbling sound like a chemistry lab, meant that the toilet was about to spontaneously overflow with no one actually in the bathroom.
There were a thousand bugs wandering around, most of them charming, but the wasps had to be relocated. The box elders were pretty, benign and well mannered. Alas, their home planet, a box elder stump was taking over the air conditioner and had to be re-killed with Excalibur, my sacred chainsaw.
Our lawn mower quit working in May and our furnace quit working in January, but eventually got sort of fixed.
Wisconsin is like Uruguay. People live in a small houses, with simple furnishings in order to have a bigger outside life. They do not worship their possessions as much as the quality of their days. A shabby cabin will be surrounded by RV’s, canoes, kayaks, old pickups, tables with umbrellas and 20 flower boxes full of color.
And so we choose our battles. There will never be a lack of projects here, but I get to set up the porch swing and plant zinnias before fixing rotted window frames. Slowly and eternally, we will bring beauty back to this solid old Victorian box on a hill. So far, I have gutted out that haunted bathroom, added some jazzy red shelves to the kitchen, dry walled the laundry nook, power washed and painted the deck, and begun the hay bale garden. My brave Phil has crawled into the guts of plumbing, electrical and furnace mysteries while helping me with these more spiritual projects.
Our move was the craziest undertaking. To get a buyer, we had to rebuild our basement walls. We were so beat up during the 10 months it took us to get through it that I remember lying in bed with my broken arm and my despair talking to God. “I would just like to die right now please. I can’t do this for another day.”
When we finally landed in our dirty old house, a blizzard broke the next day and in order to get homeowners insurance, we had to put a new roof on within 30 days. Our roofers were mad teenage stuntmen, jumping off the roof while we weren’t looking into 2 feet of snow just for laughs. They got that roof on, in 10 below drifting snow, walking like sticky footed spiders on our ice covered peaks, 60 feet above the bottom of the slope we are perched upon. They bent pieces of metal into artful knife edged sculptures sprinkled on our neighbors drifted yards, waiting to be floated into place on Mt Decrepitude.
And yesterday, while standing with my neighbor laughing gleefully about a sapling tree he had secretly replaced making the dead one “come back to life”, the moment of enlightenment came over me.
That was me a year ago, only one leaf and give me up for dead. Now I am tearing down the hill on my neighbors ride-on mower and frosting the steep hillside with a pale green hair cut. Later I will go out to Waynes place and pick up 4 more bales of hay to plant my tomatoes in. I went to Spirit Camp earlier and scraped the old paint off a new friends cabin. I walked my dog and she greeted the queen of her new dog posse, Annie, a dalmatian with soulful eyes.
A guy I never met til yesterday gave me a Danish china cabinet today, delivered it, just because. Last night late, I took my dog for a walk and looked out over the black silhouetted hills. All was quiet if a frog symphony in a thousand trilling voices can be quiet. A gentle breeze played over the awakened night and the stars were crisp and full.
I am going out to play cards now and pick up a check for a successful business sale. I AM HOME. I was never home before like this.