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The home as a hobby

October 8, 2011

I wonder, can you fall hopelessly in love with a house?
Looking back over my relationships with men, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most uncomplicated love of my life is the affair I’m having with a very imperfect cottage that sits on a cluttered corner in downtown Starkville.
I fell in love more than 40 years ago when I spotted a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the yard. The cottage wasn’t particularly attractive, but it called my name. Before dark, I had proposed my quirky union with a house, and it was accepted. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t move in for another 20 years. 
In addition to most of the men in my life, that was a big mistake.
The house was rented out, and we moved to The Big Easy instead. When my wandering years ended and I returned to my roots, I finally moved into the home which was considerably more dilapidated than I had realized.
I discovered the entire house didn’t include a single right angle. I figure it was probably ordered from a Sears catalog and whoever put it together had a serious drinking problem. Whenever I put a pen on a table – it rolls south and plummets to the floor.
It also bleeds, and I’m thinking of offering tours at Halloween. No joke. When I hammer a nail in the wall, this sticky reddish brown stuff oozes down the wall to the floor in some rooms. Someone speculated that the heart pine construction might be releasing sap when punctured.  
I prefer to tell folks that it bleeds. It’s a great way to get rid of company that overstays their welcome. 
One of my favorite pastimes is perusing used book stores for volumes on homes and housekeeping published during the turn of the last century. I’m fascinated to learn how our great-grandparents were living during the period when my little abode was still shiny and new.
A Google search popped up Arnold Bennett, a British novelist who penned a little commentary on “How to Live on 24-Hours a day.” I got a copy and was surprised to learn that life at the turn of the last century was just as difficult as it is today.  
Among jewels gleaned from Bennett’s work was a wise recommendation to make the perfection of your home a hobby rather than drudgery. 
Well, for Pete’s sake, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the past 12 years, but perfection eludes me! But that’s okay. I can’t imagine living in a perfect home with a perfect garden in a perfect world. What would I do with my time?
I fear that my home is a reflection of myself. A little shabby in some areas, and way over the top in others. And just like a man, it can infuriate me to the point of madness. 
Each night, when I lie down, I look up at the spider web which has been attached to the ceiling for going on six years. I don’t know why I don’t get a ladder and clean it off, but hey, a spider needs a home too!
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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