Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Whole Nine Yards and All the Way Around

I love my realtor, Annie Johnson.  Rick and I were dreaming of a single family home and took a walk around the shopping center where we grocery shopped.  We looked in the window at the homes they had posted on the window.  We had only been in our townhouse for less than a year.  When we bought the townhouse we took an FHA loan so we only needed a small down payment.  We managed to wiggle our way into it.  Jack was about eighteen months when we moved in.

I read in the paper that the Feds were raising the ceiling on FHA homes due to the sudden surge in home prices.  First time buyers were being forced out of the market.  When we purchased the townhouse it was at $104,000; our purchase price was $104,000.  I was willing to gamble if we priced our home at $120,000, it would sell.  Rick was not the risk-taker; I was and I was ready to take a chance.

We walked into the office and there at the front desk was a warm, pretty woman of about 45 smiling at us.  This was Anne Johnson, born in Tennessee, y’all.  She talked faster than anyone I had ever met and ended almost every sentence with “the whole nine yards and all the way around.”  Anne was a character, a hard worker and understood our struggle. 

She agreed that my plan might work and came to the townhouse a few days later and made some recommendations for fix-up but it was in really good shape already so they were minor.  Anne had the house on the market in a week.  The MLS listing went in the computer at 8 a.m., the sign went up on the front lawn at 11 a.m. and we had a contract by that evening.  I was amazed and delighted at the same time.

Anne had been an interior decorator; her husband was retired military.  She took up real estate to put her three boys through college.  She had lived in the Sterling Park since her boys were young and knew every nook and cranny worth looking at.  We had two weeks to find a home and we saw plenty.   It was only after one contract wasn’t accepted that we found the house on Poplar Rd.  Rick was the one who saw the potential.  I knew what a coat of paint would do and some hard work.  It was the one and they accepted our contract.

Jack and Michael loved our house.  The backyard had nooks and crannies just right for using their imagination.  They had a fort with swings, a vegetable garden they helped their dad with, a secret hiding place behind they shed and up on the roof where they could stare over the fence.  Rick had a hammock that was hung right between two big maple trees.  We all climbed in and looked up into the trees and listened to a mockingbird that frequented our yard.

The slab of concrete patio was surrounded by a six foot privacy fence when we moved in.  We put up our own fence on the perimeter of the property to keep people from passing through our yard and Jack safe.  I had Rick cut the fence in half and put the top back on.  I kept the side that faced our neighbors up so we had privacy and the rest opened our yard up.  I stained it redwood.  I guess I felt like we did a lot with the little we had.

Rick hung a tire swing in the big maple.  Jack would swing for hours and climb the tree; he loved being outside.  They played baseball in the side yard and would hit wiffle balls over the roof of the house into the street from the backyard.

We had a small dining room.  My aunt had given me a beautiful mahogany table and chair set and I wound a dry sink at a yard sale.  My favorite memories are of having tea parties with my boys when Rick had to work on a day we had off from school.  I would make tea and crumpets and serve the boys tea in fine china cups.  They loved it.

Moving was in our plan and I was ready to move closer to family.  It was the right decision.  I just needed to contact Anne and get the ball rolling. Yep, the whole nine yards and all the way around!


  1. I'm confused. You were in a townhouse and then moved into a house. Did this all happen before I knew you? I thought you were in a townhouse before you moved to the house down the street from Karen and Paul. Am I losing it? Silly question! Of course, I lost it a long time ago.

  2. @Susan, Yes, Rick and I lived in a townhouse for 13 months. We moved in when Jack was just turning two, I think. We moved to the single family on Poplar Rd and a year after Rick died moved into Tamarack down the street from Karen and Paul.
    xx Jane