Stories from the lady, renovations from the inside out

dilapidated front porch, before picture, victorian chester vermontGiving the lady back her dignity

The lady was neglected for years. To be honest, even though I walked by her a few times a week on the “loop”, and even though she was painted teal, pink & yellow, I really stopped noticing her. Mostly I think I averted my eyes because I didn’t want to embarrass her. She was all dressed up, albeit for a Miami dance club, but sadly devoid of life. Her porch was dropping inches every year and after this years heavy wet snows, without some major renovations, I doubt it would have hung on much longer. Even aside from her physical neglect, there’s an invisible energy that emanates from a house with life in it, and these windows were dark. No cars moving, no trucks plowing, no lights moving from the kitchen to the bedrooms in the evenings. She became invisible.

Renovations from the inside out

When we first purchased the lady in March 2016, I spent most of my waking hours moving about from room to room, scraping, repairing walls & demolishing rooms that needed to be updated – before we became tired and justified the weird shower with no standing room. I worked alone, as Doug was at his full time design job, and within a few weeks I noticed that I didn’t even want to listen to my beloved podcasts, because the sounds of this house so clearly whispered stories of her past. I couldn’t get enough of the way the light moved through each room and the pops that cracked around the same time every day. Filtered through my own egoic psyche, I felt she was strong, feminine, but oddly not maternal. Quiet and self-assured, but vulnerable at the same time. Exactly what I needed in my life at the time. I gave thanks daily, and felt honored to be in her presence.

At the time, I was sorting out some powerful relationships in my life, mainly with my mama and my oldest daughter. Neither one could be what I thought I needed them to be for me, although it wasn’t by choice or neglect, but by the necessity of change and the forces of evolution. It was a time, maybe like the month of March, where the seeds endured that last key frozen cycle of freezing and thawing that caused them to become soft enough to crack open to newness in the spring. A brutal and seemingly unrelenting piece of any drop down deeper into the heart, and the only way surrender truly occurs. Through it all, the lady held my shaky heart.

summer front porch chester vermontI know, I sound like a nutball. I was all business and numbers until the day we signed the papers, and here I was “sensing” what color she wanted to be. Whatever. The jobs got done, in a gloriously guilt-free 5 months of productivity and relative seclusion, and I re-emerged a little more whole for the wear.

The lady is back

From day 1 of opening up the house to house guests, it has been filled. I always thought we would have some play time to host gatherings of our own, but I’m not complaining about the positive response she got from renters. And let me tell you- the lady LOVES the attention! Every single crew of guests adds a little something to the overall feel of this house. If I wasn’t feeling so exposed about my prior woo-woo ramblings, I would go on a bit about the shift in her overall posture every in the past year. I swear she gets taller and more playful every time I clean. Someone left a few extra toy animals on the shelf in the “twins” room next to the bear I put there months ago. A few extra books have filled out the bookshelves. One kind guest added a safety mat to the upstairs shower. Its hard to explain how this collaborative effort is shaping this property, and hence, the whole town of Chester.

These things, they are connected. These stories weave sense into our days, and most certainly, into my heart.


Stories from the lady, renovations from the inside out