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Claudia Myers column: How 'the rock' sold us

Every house we have bought, every car, every piece of furniture or puppy, when I see the right one, I know it. You probably do, too. Was this going to be “The One?” I doubted it.

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Claudia Myers
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There we were in the middle of a snowy, freezing winter, out looking for a house. Were we forced to move? No. Was our log house condemned? No. Did we win the lottery jackpot? No way. Then, why were we doing this? Were we finding anything? Uh, uh! So, we did the sensible thing. We gave up.

Then came the phone call from our daughter: “House for sale down around the corner from us. Just saw the sign go out. You need to go look!” Oh, all right. I’ll call our Realtor. I guess.

Every house we have bought, every car, every piece of furniture or puppy, when I see the right one, I know it. You probably do, too. Was this going to be “The One?” I doubted it.

We didn’t think we were looking for anything outrageous. Yes, something all on one floor, so we could stay there “for the duration."

We met our Realtor in the driveway of this house. It was late March and everything was still covered by piles of snow. Dirty snow. We had a little difficulty finding it because the house is built facing one street, but the front door with its little porch faces a street that never went through. Confusing? Yes. It turned out to be a long, low, 1950s-ranch style in a neighborhood of stylish English Tudors and imposing Colonials. But, its wide, flat eaves and graceful roof line immediately made me think “ prairie rambler .” Is there such a thing?

We went in the back door next to the garage, past the laundry room and stood there, facing the basement door. Not the best introduction. But looking to the right, we saw a room full of light. Big windows, light-colored woodwork and cupboards in an uncluttered, modern-style kitchen. “Well, this is nice,” I thought, looking at the walls painted my favorite color: a warm, mellow red.

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The doorway to the left opened up to a spacious dining/living room open area, with a floor-to-ceiling wall of beautiful wood cabinets at one end and double-sided, light-brick fireplace wall at the other. Very nice. On the other side of the fireplace was a family room with a large master bedroom, small bedroom and two baths across the hall. Closets everywhere you looked. Much larger than it seemed from outside. And all on one floor. Really nice.

“Wait! Didn’t we see a basement door?” “Oh, yes,” says our Realtor, “Let’s go take a look.” Downstairs, there is a largish bedroom, full bath, even larger recreation room, but all carpeted, meaning no “cellar” space for Tom’s pottery studio. No walk-out access for clay delivery. It’s beginning to look like another no-go.

It could make a great sewing studio, but only if I can get up and down the stairs. I know those electric stairway chairs are available; maybe one of those would work. I started to laugh and Tom said, “What?” In between snorts I reminded him of friends who installed one, then heard it turn on late one evening. They rushed to look and found that Ralph the cat had figured out how to turn it on and was riding up and down!

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Upstairs again, we take another look at the kitchen. Oh, look at this great “secret cupboard” built into the side of the stove for oil and cooking wine. “Isn’t that clever?” “Well,” says our Realtor, “I wasn’t going to bring it up, but this is actually my husband’s uncle’s house and there are several ‘secret places.’ He wants me to check and see if the bottle of Chivas Regal is still in the hidden cupboard by the fireplace. Of course, we all tore in there to look. Oh, no, someone’s taken the door off and re-plastered the inside. Probably drank the Chivas Regal, too!

As we were getting ready to leave, Tom said, “Wait just one minute. There’s something really strange about the downstairs. It seems unusually long and narrow.” “Oh, yeah, right” our Realtor admits. “That would be the rock.”

Rock? What rock?

“Uh, the one that takes up the whole length and half the width of the house,” the Realtor said. “It’s in the walled-off part of the basement. You can see it through two trap doors in the walls, down there.”

Whoa! We have to go back and check that out! Sure enough, there it was, all hunkered down like a sleeping giant, holding on to this prairie rambler so it didn’t blow away or slide into the lake. Gabbro or granite, we didn’t know, but you could almost hear it snoring.

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“Y’know, Tom, this is a really nice house. Everything’s been updated and redone. We could live on just one level if we had to. Close to downtown. Around the corner from family. Only thing is, no studio space for your pottery, but maybe the attached garage? There’s another lot with it. We could maybe build another garage? We’d have to sell our Victorian furniture, but I’ve always liked midcentury modern and we haven’t lived in a rambler yet.”

Tom was quiet for a minute, then said: “First thing to do would be fence in the backyard for the dogs. Rudy and Gus have never lived in the city.”

With a big smile, I said: “I think this is the one.”

Our Realtor said: “Uncle Harry’s house?!”

Yes, indeed, and I’m pretty sure the rock was the deciding factor.

Next time: “Back to the ‘50s.”

Read more from Claudia Myers
First of all, it's impossible to organize your entire life all at once. It's too enormous an undertaking for anybody. You’ll just give up.

Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at the College of St. Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.

Related Topics: FAMILY
Claudia Myers is a former costume designer for The Baltimore Opera, Minnesota Ballet and has taught design and construction at the College of St. Scholastica. She is a national award-winning quilter, author and a local antique dealer, specializing in Persian rugs.
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