The Weather Outside is Frightful…

January 4th, 2018 Sears Homes 8 comments

Last night, the Hampton Roads area (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) had an unusual event: A major snowstorm. It was accurately forecast, so we were all well prepared. However, this was a “special” snowstorm for me, as it was my first winter in my new house. Enjoy the pictures below.

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The view from inside wasnt too bad, thanks to the big windows.

The view from inside wasn't too bad, thanks to the big windows.

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Initially, Teddy had mixed feelings about leaving the back porch.

Initially, Teddy had mixed feelings about leaving the back porch.

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However, she changed her mind quickly.

However, she changed her mind quickly.

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Less than eight weeks ago, I had a new Bosch 18-SEER heat pump installed. It doesnt seem to keen on the cold weather, either.

Less than eight weeks ago, I had a new Bosch 18-SEER heat pump installed. It doesn't seem too keen on this cold weather, either. Every now and then, it burps and a lot of steam arises from the unit. I've read that this is part of its normal defrost cycle. Unfortunately, there's no gas available in this area.

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I have a lovely view of a creek from the back yard.

I have a lovely view of a marsh and creek from the back yard.

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My little photo bomber was pleased to see that the

My little photo bomber was pleased to see that the oak firewood is well protected from the snowy weather. If we lose electricity, there's always the wood stove. :)

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A view of the firepit, built by the homes original (and only) owner.

A view of the firepit, built by the home's original (and only) owner.

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Yoshino

Hopefully, this lovely old Yoshino Cherry tree will survive this bitter weather.

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Street

If "location, location, location" is true, then I've got a real peach. This is the view of the street where I live. It's peaceful and beautiful, and a lovely place to heal my broken heart.

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Teddy the Dog pauses to

Teddy the Dog pauses to make sure that I'm close behind.

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Teddy is not ready to go back into the warm house. She definitely likes the snow and loves to be the first one frolicking about in the fresh fallen frozen stuff!

Teddy is not ready to go back into the warm house, but pauses at the top of the driveway. She definitely likes the snow and loves to be the first one frolicking about.

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This house

This house sure looks good in the snow!

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p

When I was house shopping, I yearned to find a house that was unique and quirky and fun. This house is THAT place. And I *like* it!

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And you know whats quite intriguing? More than a year ago, I found this house listed on Zillow, and printed out its picture because it really spoke to my heart. I put that color picture in one of my many journals and would see it from time to time. About four weeks after I purchased my current house, I stumbled across that photo in my journal, and realized, I had purchased my dream house - but in a better location.

And you know what's quite intriguing? More than a year ago, I found this house (shown above) listed on Zillow. It was already sold, but I printed out its picture because it really spoke to my heart. I put that color picture in one of my many journals and would stumble across it from time to time. About four weeks after I purchased my current house, I stumbled across that photo in an older journal, and realized, I had purchased that same "type" of house - but in a more convenient location. Although it's not visible from this image, the house has a side-loading basement garage.

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And that house also has a partial basement, as does my current home. This may seem inconsequential, but its helped me to see that maybe - just maybe - trusting God with our dreams is a safe thing to do. As

And that house also has a partial basement, as does my current home. This may seem inconsequential, but finding a picture of this house in my journal has helped me to see that maybe - just maybe - God can be trusted with those quiet yearnings in our heart.

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Teddy thanks you for keeping us in your prayers.

Teddy thanks you for keeping us in your prayers.

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To learn about Sears kit homes, click here.

Do you loathe “open floor plans” as much as I do? Click here.

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Two Months Since My Last Blog…

December 27th, 2017 Sears Homes 13 comments

This Christmas, my second as a widow, was a vast improvement over my first (last year). This year, my three daughters made the long trek to my recently acquired home in Suffolk, Virginia and we had a lovely time together on Christmas morning.

This morning (Wednesday), everyone went back home and that was tough. For three glorious days, I was not the widow of a man who took his own life, but a mother to three beautiful girls, and with their good energy and happy enthusiasm, we created some lovely new memories.

And yet, this morning, the tears returned. Two of the girls (and their significant others) live more than 600 miles away. I miss them so very much, and yet they’re in their 30s. I raised them to be independent, strong-willed, self-supporting, capable adults, ready and able to “fly the coop.”

They’re back home now, far away, and I realize that I need a strong distraction for the hours and the days and the weeks and the months.

I’m wondering if it’s time for me to move into the next phase, which is finding a job or volunteer work. My writing days are behind me. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever write another book. I never did like writing. It’s misery and it’s solitude and as far as income goes, it’s barely more than a hobby. The Penniman book (which represented six years of research) is being polished and prepared for a second printing.

What’s a former writer and historian to do?

I just don’t know.

I do know that sitting in my lovely house and sobbing every morning and every evening isn’t a good plan.

As always, please keep me in your prayers and please leave a comment below.

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For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home.

For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home. If I remember correctly, my mother purchased a tin much like this in the 1960s, and she would "bake" that small glass plug in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The idea was that those absorbent crystals would keep things crisp.

Some Days, The Heartache Won’t Leave You Alone…

October 30th, 2017 Sears Homes 7 comments

For several days, I was euphoric about the new house. It was good. It was freeing. It was beautiful. It was PROGRESS!

And then a few sidewinders hit me.

On Tuesday, October 17, a local moving company moved many of my worldly possessions from the old rental in Portsmouth to my new home in Suffolk. On Wednesday (the very next day), the same company delivered about 50 large boxes from storage (from my old house in Norfolk) to the garage of my new home. Fortunately, it’s a very spacious garage. Unfortunately, October 18th was the 18 month anniversary of Wayne’s decision to commit suicide.

Opening up those boxes and revisiting my old life ripped a massive scab off my soul that is still trying to re-heal. Pawing through each and every item in those boxes - things that I’ve lived without for 18 months - was excruciating. Due to my emotional state, I did not participate much in the packing up of the old house in Norfolk, so every box was a surprise.

Several items caused me to abandon the garage and run to my bedroom where I collapsed and wept for a time. There were a few boxes that left me unable to return to the garage for the rest of the day.

As one small example: As I looked at the number of dusty old books I owned, I thought to myself, “No wonder he killed himself. Look at all these stupid used books. Who would want to live with someone who buys so many old books?”

To the unenlightened, that may seem like nonsense, but to my tired, terrified and grieving brain, it made perfect sense, and it was devastating.

And what’s worse is that the nightmares have returned. With a vengeance.

I’m so very tired of this struggle. I’ve read repeatedly that “second-year grief” can be worse than the first.

I do know this: Suicide really is a “death like no other.”

Yesterday, I had a short visit with a 76-year-old widow. Her husband died from a combination of old age and a few ancillary ailments. She talked a lot about the many shared, happy memories. She talked about his last words. She talked about how his death was, in some ways, a relief due to his advancing years and declining health.

I found myself absolutely envious. That was supposed to be my story. But it’s not.

Here’s the very best article I’ve ever seen on what it’s like to lose a spouse to suicide.

It has ten bullet points, and they’re all spot-on, but #6 described my life the best:Six (6) :

Your friends and family will find it difficult to believe that you (the man who committed suicide) did this without provocation. They will search for someone to blame. And that person will be your wife. They will whisper that she drove you to it. They will find it hard to be around her. She will have to survive this thing on her own.

People like to talk about the “new normal.” There is no new normal. What’s normal about having the man you love go insane and end his life? What’s normal about losing your spouse, your social standing, your income and your home - all in one moment?

I know that several people have told me that they’re glad “I’m better now” thanks to this lovely home of mine. It’s true, I’m better and I have some stability now, but not an hour goes by that I don’t struggle to keep moving forward.

There is no new normal. There’s just plodding along and hoping that eventually, the days will get easier and that my heart and my soul might one day find true and lasting peace.

The old “friends” are mostly gone, but a handful have remained and have shown their true mettle, and for that handful, I’m supremely grateful. And I’ve learned a lot about those folks: I’ve learned that they’re strong enough to stick around when the going gets tough.

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Author

Mark Madoff was the son of Bernie Madoff. In 2010, he hung himself at the apartment that he shared with his wife, Stpehanie. I'm in the process of reading this book - a little bit at a time. I've had to skip over parts of it, because it's just too painful. Nonetheless, the title says it all.

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Thank You For Your Prayers…

October 10th, 2017 Sears Homes 25 comments

My new life began today, at the age of 58. In fact, I’d say that this is easily one of the happiest days of my life.

Given the events of the last 18 months, that’s saying a lot.

Last Saturday, I toured a house for sale in Suffolk, Virginia. Today, 10 days later, we closed.

This house is beyond anything I could have hoped for and dreamt of, and it is the house that I have waited for my entire life. It’s in perfect condition and has a new roof, new carpet, new paint and a tiny kitchen. If I were to sit down and design a house today, it’d probably look much like this house. It’s perfect for me and my new life.

It’s small enough to be manageable and large enough for my furniture. It’s extremely well-built, and I’m told that the home’s first (and only ) owner was a military man who kept everything in perfect order. And it shows. In every way - it shows.

This house is a peach.

It was built by a Vietnam-war veteran in 1976, and designed by his bride, a native of Japan. The 1/2-acre lot is filled with exotic and extraordinary plantings. And it’s surrounded with a chain-link fence, perfect for Teddy the Dog.

After closing, after I entered my new home for the first time, I stood in the living room and wept. They were tears of joy.

After my much-loved husband committed suicide, I spent several months asking anyone and everyone, “Will I ever be happy again?”

Today, I can answer that question: Yes. I now remember how it feels to experience happiness.

Took me 18 months to get here, but I feel those glimmers of joy stirring in my soul.

I’ll never be the same person. My life was forever changed by Wayne’s very poor choices. But today, I am happy, and it feels so good.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for staying with me. And thanks for helping me remember that I am someone other than the widow of a man who ended his life.

With a heart full of gratitude,

Rosemary Thornton

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Here in Hampton Roads, its almost impossible to find a house with a basement/garage and yet its a feature that I love.

Here in Hampton Roads, it's almost impossible to find a house with a basement/garage and yet it's a feature that I love. The garage is more than 600 square feet.

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The house is near an estuary of the Elizabeth River, and yet it sits high on the lot.

The house is near an estuary of the Elizabeth River, and yet it sits high on the lot. One of my frequent complaints about brick ranches is that they sit so low to the ground. This feels like a treehouse!

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The front door is reflective of a Mid-Century house, and yet this house was built in 1976. Everything about this house is in perfect order.

The front door is reflective of a Mid-Century house, and yet this house was built in 1976. Everything about this house is in perfect order.

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Inside,

Inside, there's a small foyer and access to the basement/garage and also living area. It's a design that I've never seen before, and yet it's delightful and compelling. Simplistic, but elegant!

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Inside

Inside, the massive fireplace dominates the living room, which is one of my favorite features. To the right are the three (small) bedrooms, separated with a sliding door. Ideal for someone who craves quiet!

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A large den at the far right of the house is filled with large windows, which is another delightful feature. Because theres no attached garage, the house has no blank (windowless) exterior walls.

A large den at the far right of the house is filled with large windows, which is another delightful feature. Because there's no attached garage, the house has no blank (windowless) exterior walls.

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Another delightful feature: A Japanese tub in the master bathroom.

Another delightful feature: A Japanese tub in the master bathroom.

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Ive owned this house for four hours (as of October 10th) and I can hardly wait to give this massive tub a test drive. It looks purely delightful.

I've owned this house for four hours (as of October 10th) and I can hardly wait to give this massive tub a test drive. It looks purely delightful.

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Update: My daughter came for a visit today (October 15, 2017) and sat right down in the tub, to give a sense of proportion and scale.

Update: My daughter came for a visit today (October 15, 2017) and sat right down in the tub, to give a sense of proportion and scale. Made by Kohler, this tub is original to the house.

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The kitchen is small, which is just right for my needs.

The kitchen is small, which is just right for my needs. The house is old enough to be sturdy and well-built, and yet is filled with modern conveniences and clean shiny surfaces.

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Another fine feature: The basement.

Another fine feature: The basement. As someone who loves old houses, it's very important to me that I have access to the mechanical systems. Here in Southeastern Virginia, so many houses are built on miserable crawlspaces and are barely navigable. This house is built up high enough that you walk under the house - from front to back.

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From front to back, the house is perfect in every way.

From front to back, the house is perfect in every way.

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Thanks to Kathy Worthen for making this happen.

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Prayers for Rosemary - please and thank you!

September 28th, 2017 Sears Homes 8 comments

I’m writing this from my rental home in Southeastern Virginia. I’ve encountered a myriad of new problems, and am taking a “spiritual retreat” from the world of real estate, old houses and kit homes.

In short, I’d be very grateful for your prayers.

As the Quakers say, please “hold me in the light of God’s love.”

With much gratitude,

Rosemary

“This Old House Has Good Bones” - Please DON’T.

September 17th, 2017 Sears Homes 1 comment

If you want to have a meaningful conversation with an architectural historian, never ever never let this phrase pass your lips: “This house has good bones.”

It’s nonsensical, and frankly, I’m not sure what it’s even intended to express.

Sometimes, when I’m trapped in a doctor’s office, and I’m forced to watch a whole lot of HGTV (Houses Getting Totally Vandalized), I hear this dreaded phrase.

If we’re going forward with the “houses as living creatures” analogy, houses are probably more exoskeletal. In other words, they wear their skeletons on the outside, like roaches and ants and bedbugs, and I really don’t like comparing houses to roaches and ants and bedbugs.

Houses might be “structurally sound” and they might be “exceptionally well built” and they might have “dimensional framing lumber” or perhaps they’re “solid and strong” and maybe the framing members are of exceptionally good quality, but houses do not have good bones.

Next time you feel compelled to tell someone, “That house has good bones,” please bite your tongue, take a deep breath and instead say, “This house has an astonishingly sturdy exoskeletal structure.”

Or maybe, best of all, just say, “This is a fine old solid house.”

All of us old house lovers will thank you.

Read about the “open floor plan” and the downfall of society here.

If you enjoy this blog and want to make Rosemary smile, please leave a comment below!
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Good bones

If we're going to drag this analogy on down the road, it would have to be said that houses are exoskeletal, which means that they can not possibly have "good bones."

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meaning

Here is a student with "good bones" but will he excel in class? Probably not.

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Good

This house probably has "a good exoskeletal structure" but I would highly recommend against its purchase, because it's got a bit of a tilt.

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This

Although a classic example of balloon framing, this house does not have "good bones." It has vertical framing members that appear to be sturdy and strong. And it's going to need some stainless steel appliances. And ceiling fans. And other stuff.

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Read about the “open floor plan” and the downfall of society here.

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To The Woman at the Veterinarian’s Office…

August 29th, 2017 Sears Homes 16 comments

Yesterday, suddenly, Teddy the Dog became ill. We dashed off the the vet, and while we waited to get “worked in,” I started getting “worked up.” Sitting beside the stainless steel table in the exam room, looking at my old dog, I started to cry. In my troubled mind, I knew this was the end for my little Sheltie.

“Old dogs really are the best, aren’t they?” I asked Teddy as I gently stroked her gray-tipped Sheltie ears. She looked at me with those big brown eyes, as if to say, “I may go first, but it is love that has bonded us together, and that bond will endure forever.” (She is a writer’s dog, after all. She’s quite pithy.)

I cried a few more tears and then sobered up.

When the doctor appeared, he asked what was going on, and I explained that she’d had diarrhea and now the soft skin on her pink tummy was sloughing off.

With much gravitas, I told him, “It’s either a skin malady, or she’s dying. I need to know which.”

And then I stifled another crying jag.

He examined her thoroughly and said, “She’s not dying. She’s got a bacterial skin infection. We can get this cleared up with proper medication. She’s going to be fine.”

I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but he was a patient soul. When he said she was going to be fine, I started to cry again.

I can’t lose Teddy. Not yet. She’s the last remnant of my once-normal life. I asked my buddy Milton if she’d aged precipitously in the last 16 months. He replied quietly, “We all have. This has changed us forever.”

Teddy was there when Wayne ended his life. She heard it, saw it, and apparently tried to “wake him up” by licking him and circling the chair repeatedly.

Teddy lost both of her “people” that day. Wayne died. I lost my mind. For a time.

Both Teddy and Mother are doing better these days, but we still are struggling. We’re in rental housing and that’s not ideal, but it was the best we could do with the mess that we were left. In the first four months, Teddy had two surgeries, both of which involved life-threatening emergencies. In that same time, I had a minor outpatient surgery - the first in my life.

Before The Bad Thing™, Teddy was the most laid-back dog you’d ever meet. Thunder storms, loud noises, fireworks did not faze her one bit. Now, she’s a different dog. Loud noises cause her much anxiety. Both Teddy and I put some effort into avoiding loud noises. And when she’s on leash, she’s showing some aggression to other dogs, big or small.

Because of this, I try to keep a tight handle on her around other dogs, but yesterday in the vet’s office, some woman with her little Yorkie thought it’d be cute to let her dog sniff my dog. I was at the counter paying the bill and didn’t see her approach. Teddy snarled and her hackles went up and she bared her teeth. She was poised and ready to strike.

As I reined in Teddy, I saw the look of disgust on the woman’s face and saw her whisper something to her husband as she walked away. I’ve seen this same face when Teddy and I are out for our evening constitutionals.

I would love to grab these people by the lapels and say, “This is not my little dog’s fault. This is not my fault. This is just a result of some really ugly trauma and we’re all doing our best.”

One of my “dog people” friends told me that in Teddy’s world - Teddy probably feels like she is protecting me. She’s fine at Doggy Day Care (which we visit a couple times a month), but the trouble starts when she’s on leash with me, out in the world.

That comment helped a lot, and gave me much peace. Dear little Teddy sees me as someone that needs protecting. Endears her to me ever more, if that’s possible.

Someone else said, “She’s just reacting to your anxiety. If you calm down, she’ll be fine.”

That was not helpful. In fact, it hurt like hell.

In the meantime, Teddy and I move through the days and we are both striving to stay healthy. And the good news is, 24 hours later, Teddy’s skin infection is already on the mend.

To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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Teddy

On a rainy Tuesday in Southeastern Virginia, Teddy watches the world go by. The tips of those precious little prick ears turned white in the days following Wayne's suicide.

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To read more about Teddy, click here.

To learn about the big fancy Sears House - the Magnolia - click here.

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When Real Estate Photos Make Me Laugh Out Loud…

August 24th, 2017 Sears Homes 19 comments

As someone who spends a fair amount of time looking online at real estate listings and photos, I can tell you, some of these photos are real doozies. My favorite site, for ease of use, is Zillow. There are other websites that I frequent, but many of them are so heavy laden with graphics and ads that it bogs down the computer.

The collection below comes from the Hampton Roads area (Southeastern Virginia). Only one of the photos is from outside of this area.

Enjoy the photos below, and if you enjoy this particular blog, PLEASE:

1) Share the link on your Facebook page

2) Leave a comment below!

To learn more about how to identify Sears kit homes, click here.

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This agent - apparently - couldnt be bothered to drive to the site to get interior photos OR exterior photos. This image appears to be a PHOTOGRAPH of a google street view, taken at his computer. At the very least, maybe someone can teach him how to do a screenshot?en from his computer

This image - the only picture available of this house - appears to be a PHOTOGRAPH of a Google street view, taken at a computer screen. At the very least, maybe someone can teach this agent how to do a screenshot?

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And it would seem that this agent was so concerned about all the signs that he/she took this picture (the lone image) from the safety of her car and kept the doors locked.

And it would seem that this agent was so concerned about the "private property" signs that he/she took this picture (the lone image) from the safety of her car. Perhaps someone could teach her how to blot out the car door frame using Photoshop.

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It appears that ET has posed

ET is living in a small house in Southeastern Virginia. And it's for sale. (The house.)

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This is my own photo, taken while I was looking at a house in the Suffolk area.

What's a sunporch without full plumbing?

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From what I can glean, a high-powered rifle and a spray of bullets caused the sink to run away so quickly that it forgot to take the faucet with it.

From what I can glean, a high-powered rifle and a spray of bullets caused the sink to run away so quickly that it forgot to take the faucet with it.

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The ad said two-zone central air.

The ad said two-zone central air.

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Wherever you go in the room, the deers eyes follow you...

Wherever you go in the room, the deer's eyes follow you...

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Seriously.

Seriously.

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Because how better to exhaust a dryer vent.

Because how better to exhaust a dryer vent?

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Yea

Gravity fed gas-pack? Oh wait, that's only going to work for cold air.

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fff

Jiffy-pop ductwork? It's growing so fast, it had to be constrained with a metal band.

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fff

If I was trying to sell a house, and the a/c compressor was in a theft-proof wire cage in the fenced-in yard, I don't think I'd put a picture of that in the listing.

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Speaking of security, this seems like a statement about the neighborhood.

Speaking of safe areas, this seems like a statement about the neighborhood.

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ggg

Doesn't everyone have a water heater in the den (and a washer hook-up)?

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gggg

The sheet-metal ducting on this furnace is very, very busy. The trunk line goes up and over and under the house. Meanwhile, the garage door is shooting laser eyes at the furnace.

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It looks like the appliances and cabinets were in the middle of a wild party when a humanoid opened the door and everyone had to freeze.

It looks like the appliances and cabinets were in the middle of a dance party when a humanoid opened the door and everyone had to freeze.

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8989

Was this used to film a television program? Not sure what to think of the red X.

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If youre going to take a picture of someones undies draped on the sink, you might want to hide from the camera.

If you're going to take a picture of someone's undies draped on the sink, you might want to make sure your image and likeness doesn't show in the mirror.

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Theres a lot happening in this back yard.

This is a very exciting back yard.

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ff

The agent asked the homeowners to step out of the way but forgot about the mirror? Either that, or they're trapped in an inter-dimensional portal and need to be rescued.

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I dont know if this is artistic brilliance or just plain goofy.

Does the hanger convey?

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And they advertised this as a fenced yard...

And they advertised this as a fenced yard...

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And yes, this picture is right-side-up. This is the lone picture that is not in the Hampton Roads area.

Because nothing says "good decorating" like children dangling from the ceiling.

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This is a for sale by owner and its a little unnerving.

It's true that Mom has left for heaven and won't need this house anymore, but can you move the oxygen cannula out of the way before snapping the photos? And please draw a face on the Teddy Bear. Ugh.

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This shot

The elegance of the entry foyer is lost with the potty shot.

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ff

Give me a winning caption on this one, and I'll send you a free book! :D

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To learn more about how to identify Sears kit homes, click here.

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Please Leave a Comment Below…

August 11th, 2017 Sears Homes 44 comments

There’s something known as “second-year grief” and experts suspect it’s occasioned by the fact that in the first year following a sudden and traumatic death, the mind is in shock. By the second year, the protective layer of shock is mostly gone, and what’s left is the ugly, raw reality.

I’m not sure what the issue is, but despite a rigorous daily exercise routine, healthy eating, gratitude lists, daily “to do” lists, and other good habits, I’m struggling to keep my head above the massive waves of despair, regret and hopelessness that keep washing over me.

Every morning, one of the first things I do is to check this website for new comments. When someone leaves a comment, it’s a lovely reminder that I am still alive, and that someone somewhere is still thinking about me. And when someone says that they’re praying for me, that lifts my spirits more than I can easily express.

I return to the “well-commented” blogs (especially the recent ones) and read through every word of every comment again and again.

So if you’re one of the 1,500+ daily readers at this blog, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d take a moment and please leave a comment below.

Thank you so very much.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

When I drove to New Martinsville, WV last week, my Garmin took me through Ohio (and why, I do not know). Whilst there, I saw this perfect Avondale in Matamora (on Grandview Street) and snapped a picture.

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Heres an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Here's an Avondale, from the 1919 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

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Every comment is so precious to me. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears.

Every comment is so precious to me, and I cherish every word and the love behind the words. This comment made me laugh out loud and also touched me to tears. And I do love that song.

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To read the full blog that Susan is referencing, click here.

Read through some of my favorite comments here.

Interested in learning more about Penniman? Click here.

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Housing Rosemary, Part III

August 9th, 2017 Sears Homes 7 comments

We’re sneaking up on 11 months since I moved into my rental home, and never in a million years did I think that I’d remain in this little rental for this long. I was quite confident that I’d find my new “forever home” lickety split.

It’s been a long and winding road, searching for my “forever home” and in that time, I’ve switched back and forth from old houses (1950s) to new (1990-2010) back to old (1930s) and every place in-between.

I’ve looked at ranches, two-story homes, foursquares, Tudor Revivals, Colonial Revivals, International Style, Cape Cods, classic Mid-Century Modern houses, Log Homes, and plain old farmhouses. There have been many interesting experiences, such as the time I crawled under a house with a licensed home inspector and pointed out a couple things he missed.

When we emerged from the crawlspace, he offered me a job with his company.

Or the time I met another inspector at a house that I was going to write a contract on, and he said, “Rosemary, is that you?” And I said, “Mortimer*, is that you?” And he said, “Why, I can’t believe I’m standing here talking to you! I haven’t seen you in 30+ years!” (The benefits of returning to your home town after a few years.)

We caught up with each other and then after a few minutes of “old home week,” he took me aside and quietly said, “You really need to be cautious if you’re going to buy this house. I was under this house 18 months ago, and it needs a whole lot of work.”

And there was the time I ran into an old high school chum when I was looking at an old house and she said, “Be careful with that one. During the last Nor’easter, there was about 12″ of water in the basement.”

And then there was that “interesting” real estate agent that I met at an open house in Suffolk. She asked me what I did for a living. I responded casually that I wrote books about old houses. She replied with, “I sold the very first Sears and Roebuck kit house ever built in this country, and it was right there in Portsmouth, Virginia” and I laughed and said, “Oh my goodness, there’s so much wrong with that seemingly simple sentence that I can’t begin to explain it, but please do tell me, how old is the roof on this house?”

In my desperate bid to find myself and start a new life, I keep hoping that this housing question will soon be settled. In the meantime, I continue to read, and write, and pray, and hope that there will be a day when my first and last thought of every single day is not “why did he do this to me?”

As always, I’ve deeply grateful for every prayer, every loving word, and every kind comment.

* “Mortimer” was not his real name.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read Part I (”Housing Rosemary”), click here. Part II is here.

And I could always buy a lighthouse for $15,000!

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Houses

Today, I was looking at a neighborhood in Chesapeake, Virginia that was once populated with 1950s houses and vast expanses of farmland. Today, it's awash in these less-than-aesthetically pleasing McMansions, which are priced at $350,000 and up. Not my cup of tea.

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Toilet

In my house-hunting travels, I've seen some goofy things, such as this random toilet on a sunporch.

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In my house-hunting travels, Ive seen some goofy things, such as this random toilet on a sunporch.

Whenever I see a house with a heavy-duty cage around the a/c compressor, I know I'm in the wrong neighborhood. And I think that three deadbolts on the door is another sign. This house is in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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Were running out of room in this 1,500-square-foot rental. The newest addition (the bigun) is Cocoa Puffs.

We're running out of room in this 1,500-square-foot rental. The newest addition (the big'un) is "Cocoa Puffs."

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One of the loveliest gifts I received yesterday came from Clyde Nordan (

I've looked at homes throughout Hampton Roads and points west, but every now and then, I've dreamt of grabbing my passport and fleeing the country. The image above is courtesy Clyde Nordan of Clyde Nordan Photography in Portsmouth, Virginia.

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The First Sears House? Nope.

The First Sears House? Nope. This Sears Westly is at the corner of Winchester and King Street (Westhaven section). This house was featured on WVEC-TV several years ago (about 2004). It's been sold and remodeled and sold and remodeled a few times. Most likely, it was built in the mid-to-late 1910s.

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To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

To read Part I (”Housing Rosemary”), click here. Part II is here.

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