Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Funny Little House

I must have driven past the funny little house a dozen times, which did nothing to improve its appearance. It had been on the market for a long time. The photos online gave nothing away. I kept thinking I should call the agent and book an inspection, but I didn't ever get around to it. A friend who had seen it described it as 'awful', so I let myself let it go. And then one day I felt compelled to look online again, and there was a date and a time. So I went.

It was dirty, dull, uninspiring. It smelled dusty, and of stale cigarettes. Every wall was a different shade of grotty beige, but for the glossy pink in the main bedroom. The shower screen was cracked, the grout in the tiles black.

And then I stepped outside, avoiding the monstrosity of the falling-down garage, averting my eyes from the cobwebs on the eaves, the lichen on the deck, the curious angle of the rickety fence. And my eyes fell on a tree in the middle of the yard. Surrounded by unkempt lawn, a few other straggly shrubs, there it was - a beautiful healthy lemon tree, bursting with ripe fruit.

I wandered some more, trying to see past the grime and imagine it all with fresh paint, furniture, laughter and good cooking smells. I imagined chickens poking about between the raised vegetable beds, an apple tree, rambling roses and creeping jasmine. I saw friends sharing delicious food on the back deck, enjoying the rare warm evenings of late summer. I saw my girls deep in the throes of another tightly choreographed musical performance, fighting over who's turn it was to sing. Could it even be possible?

I pocketed a lemon and went home to my rental.

The next day was Sunday. I cut the lemon in half and, with a handful of garlic cloves, shoved it into the cavity of a free-range chook. Before I whacked the pan in the oven, I just might have said a little prayer over the bird, or as much a prayer as a non-Christian girl can accomplish with raw poultry on the kitchen bench before her.

I closed the oven door, stood up and I wrote a single word and a question mark in the dusty grease on the rangehood above the stove. "Yes?" 

Over the following several weeks, I went looking for why it should be yes, when so much about it cried, "No!" It was tiny. It was ugly. The timing was all wrong. Other property wasn't yet sold. It was ugly. Things were entirely up in the air financially. Oh, the work it would require. A wombat lived under it. It was...ugly.

But there was the lemon tree.

I thought of the lemon tree in the backyard of my childhood home. Lemons remind me of my mum, who didn't mind a gin and tonic with a fresh slice. I thought about the funny little house, talked about it with family and friends. I made lists of pros and cons. I listened out for the signs. I did the research into money and legalities and potential termite invasions. I even pondered the street number and tried to determine if it was auspicious.

And every time I walked past the dusty rangehood, which I couldn't bring myself to wipe clean, I saw that question - "Yes?" And the universe, or whatever it was, kept throwing me positives. Without a huge amount of effort - as though it was meant to be - it became possible, and then it became real.

The day I paid the deposit, I finally cleaned the greasy rangehood in my rental. The question had been answered. 

I'd found us a home.


  1. Congratulations! How wonderfully exciting, you write about it so beautifully, that I can't even imagine it as ugly. I'm sure you'll have many adventures there.

    Ps my parents once bought a terribly ugly house, simply because it had the most magnificent mulberry tree in the backyard. We had many wonderful adventures there.

  2. I love this post Greer. I think houses find us. xo

  3. Everything about this post (especially that you've found a new home) is lovely.

  4. Sounds like this home was meant to be yours :) Cobwebs and all. Congratulations Greer! I have no doubt you'll whip your house into a home.

    Sophie xo

  5. So pleased for your Greer. Both our first house and our current house called to me via their trees. Mango tree 10 years ago, poinciana tree this time. You can never go wrong with a house with a tree that calls to you. mel x

  6. Yayyyyyyyy!!!!!!!! A home is the best news ever.
    I'm thrilled for you.

  7. What a beautiful story.
    I am so happy for your new adventure!

  8. Congrats on your new home!
    I hope you and the girls are so, so happy there :)

  9. Congratulations! Such a great story and such an exciting new beginning!

  10. Such a lovely story…when we were looking for a house I always told myself that the right house would find us at the right time…and I think it did!
    I can't wait to see what you make with all those lemons!

  11. Greer you're a marvel. I'm sure you'll turn that house into the most lovely home for you and the girls. Kellie xx

  12. Ohwa I love the build up... just when I thought you were going to say you had bought it, no you walked away again and I felt disappointed for you but then the lemon tree just didn't let up on you! Gorgeous and congrats. You'll no doubt create a beautiful beautiful home and get rid of those horrid shades of cream walls! Enjoy, its a very rewarding task turning ugly into pretty! x

  13. OH, I just LOVED this post Greer! And I agree with the others, sometimes a house finds us - it's funny how thing turn out. I'm sure you'll turn this 'ugly' house into a beautiful swan. All my friends and family were gobsmacked at my last purchase - but you should see it now. All the very best with your new adventure. xx

  14. Absolutely beautiful!
    We fell in love with a tiny ugly house too, it's home and wonderful.

  15. Enjoy your new home with your girls and make good use of those lemons. I miss my lemon tree which I left behind when I left in Christmas 2007. Last week I bought a dwarf lime for my balcony. Supposedly grows to 1.5 metres.

  16. Greero my new motto (also salvador dali's) Why strive for perfection, you'll never reach it! So I am with you, let us embrace the quirks and bumps because ultimately you never remember the finishings of a home, what stays with you is the life that was in it. Cant wait to meet her next weekend.

  17. I have loved this post so much. We are currently in the process of selling our house, and I dive past another house daily with the same question on my mind. Yes? You couldn't get the lemon tree out of your mind. I can't get the blank canvas garden out of mine.

    Leanne xx

  18. When life gives you lemons ... buy the tree ;)

    Home ... one word that says so much. Some things are just meant to be. Good luck x

  19. Oh Greer I am so thrilled for you. May your home be filled with love and laughter (and perhaps a little work needed too!) but most of all may your heart now start to mend x

  20. Wow how exciting to have found such an interesting house. And what an exciting journey you're about to start, good luck.

  21. Yaaaaaaaaay !!! OMG you have no idea how wonderful and happy and peaceful and Joyful it is to have your own little nest, to do with what you will, so liberating.
    After 30 years of doing everything to suit someone else, I am divorced and have my own home, a rental is fine till you sort things out, but a home of your own is so much more than you ever imagined.
    Congratulations, I am so happy for you and the girls, it might be nice to find a wonderful name for the new life this house will have.
    A building inspection will have disclaimers about not being responsible for all sorts of errors and unfound faults, so be present when it happens, have a good rappor with the inspector and get them to talk you through what they are looking for etc they may have concerns or pick up on things that aren't a major problem but that will need to be addressed, If this has happened allready, try to have a good inspection of the whole place with a builder that you will be using for some future work. Renovate slowly, so you know what the seasons do to various rooms etc.

    Good luck.........can't wait for some pics.

  22. What a beautiful and inspiring post I just came across!! Suddenly I can see things clearer in my own life. Another positive the universe or something thorws at me. Thanks!

  23. I've just found your blog and your post about the little house spoke to me, yelled in fact! You write so beautifully! I just couldn't stop reading! How awesome! My Nan and Pop's farm had an orange tree growing by an old tank stand beside the house. It is something I remember most about their place and it holds special memories.
    We are in the middle of deciding whether to move closer to hubby's work...whether to buy an old house and renovate, relocate an old house or just buy a house that is 'ready' for us.
    Can't wait to read more about your new place and your adventures in it! Best of luck! x Dre

  24. What a beautiful post and as a single mother with 2 kids I could relate to all those things you were feeling. Home, you will be home and a veggie garden, chooks and that beautiful lemon tree. Wash all the walls with sugar soap and get it "clean" and room by room you can paint and/or enlist a weekend working bee and supply sausages for a bbq and home baked goods I'm sure if you put the word out people would help even with a couple of hours. I'm so thrilled for you because your little ugly house has "potential" and you can turn it into anything you want and create a family home for you and your children. I'm so happy for you and writing YES in the dirty rangehood just opened up your mind to "what if" and without jumping in without thinking you carefully made a big decision but one which you just knew in your mind could give your kids an amazing childhood. Congratulations, well done. Regards Kathy

  25. Hey Greer, I hope you're well. I've been enjoying catching up here looking at your beautiful (as always) photographs and I love the way you described your new home. I hope it makes you and your girls incredibly happy. Take care. x

  26. Yay for you and the girls! I can't WAIT to see your home. The Ugly Duckling by the sounds of it and we all know what happened there. I know you'll add your magic and the raucous laughter and joy that always eminates from a Worsley residence. Good On You xx bri


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