Sunday, November 14, 2010

Linda's Wood Stove

We met Linda as a result of answering a Craigslist advertisement for a minivan.  It was July and we were in the market for an old van, one that was running, but was cheap....we were going to use it to schlep boxes from the pond house to the old farmhouse, getting the pond house cleaned out so we could list it for sale.  The van Linda had was just the ticket, and we cut the deal with her.  Joe, the negotiator, in typical style, asked what else she had for sale.

It was then that Linda shared with us that she was actually going to be losing the house soon, to foreclosure, and that she would then have much that she'd be ready to part with.  Before we left that day, we had bartered to exchange a door she had in her shed, for a small refrigerator we had.  We also agreed that when the time came for her and her sons to leave the house, we'd buy their wood stove.  She speculated she'd need to be out of the house in September.

Wednesday the phone rang.  It was Linda.  She asked me first how the van was doing and I assured her it was doing exactly what we'd purchased it for... we were completely satisfied.  That seemed to make her happy.  She then told me that the time had come for them.  The house will be auctioned off next week and she needed to be out of it this weekend.  She knew we were interested in the wood stove, and so she wanted to offer it to us first.  We agreed on the price and we showed up on Friday to pick it up.

Much of the furnishings of the house had been removed by the time we arrived.  Thankfully, Linda had found a place to rent nearby, and seemed very happy with the place.  She asked us if there was anything in the two sheds out back that we could use.  Her contention was that they'd taken everything they intended to take and everything else would just be left behind.  She'd like it if we'd take a look and take anything we saw and thought we could use.  No charge... just would make her happy someone was getting some use out of it.

Well, there are very few things that Joe cannot envision a use for, so he went on a search and rescue mission into these two sheds, stuffed with old, forgotten "things."  By the time we left with the wood stove on the trailer behind the van, the trailer had been filled with firewood and odds and ends, and the van was packed with items from screen doors to some curious looking black mesh sleeves... items we could not call by name, but which Joe envisioned using to protect tree trunks from hungry woodchucks.  I asked Linda's son what these sleeves were used for, and he said they were something Linda used when she was raising clams... seeding clams... Interesting.

It was a little weird digging through the belongings of people we do not really know, understanding they are losing their home and feeling that we must be adding to their sense of loss... and yet Linda and her son constantly encouraged us to take the stuff.  Joe did convince them to keep some of the precious items, but we certainly came home with items that will be treasures on this old farm.  We were loaded down, and actually had to drive home with the van doors open to accommodate the 28 foot extension ladder she insisted we take.
Joe Securing the Load
Van Full of Treasures

When we left, we agreed we'd return today to consider taking other treasures from the attic... she'd not yet had a chance to go through those items, but thought there might be more stuff for us.

This afternoon, we started out, our intention to return to Linda's.  We stopped for lunch at the little Chinese restaurant and while we were eating, Linda called.  It turns out she cannot fit the very old piano into her new place.  She wanted us to have the piano.  We'd love to have it, of course, but the old farmhouse is in no condition to take furnishings yet and we really cannot take it.  She is going to try again to figure a way to get that piano into the new place, but otherwise, I suppose it will be left behind.  We decided to wait until tomorrow to go back for a final look, and we headed back to home.

On the way, we swung by the place we often pick up old pallets, to see whether they had any to give away.... sure enough, by the time we were heading toward our house, we had 14 pallets on the trailer and another half dozen in the van.  We were well loaded down, and happy with our haul!
Pallet Load Outside Back of eBay Trailer

Once back at the farmhouse, with the pallets unloaded, we decided to use the last hour of daylight to move the eleven bookcases we'd purchased (yes, off Craigslist) back in July, into the "eBay trailer"  which we'd bought in April and which has taken a back seat to other projects in the last seven months.  Before we left for our work/vacation/drive back across the country in for the month of October, Joe finished wiring the trailer, building a back wall with an "interior" back door, building a deck and steps from the garage-style back door, and gutting, cleaning and painting the back room.  The "office" part of the trailer will be the next focus, but this afternoon it was time to move the bookcases in.... they will become the "merchandise shelves."  It was well dark, with the half moon shining bright by the time we finished, but the transformation is taking shape.

Interior of Trailer, April, 2010, Taken from Back Door
Moving Bookcases Into eBay Trailer Using the Linda Van
Ready for Merchandise
Trailer, November 2010, Taken From Back Door
Tomorrow, after church will find us doing some yard maintenance at the pond house, and then returning to Linda's for a final load. I know it must feel awful to lose a house that has been your family's home for more than 10 years.  That there are so many going through the same thing can hardly make it easier.  I'm very happy she has found a place that she believes is going to be wonderful, and I am also happy we can help her ensure at least some of her collected treasures will continue to be well used.

I imagine this old farmhouse will be a collection of memories by the time we finish. We already refer to the windows used in the remodel of the garage apartment and the back door installed in the eBay trailer as the "Hallieford" windows and door, as these are items we extracted last January from an 1825 home in Hallieford, VA that was to be demolished, before we even bought this old farmhouse.  And the large Kodiak wood stove insert we have in the old farmhouse, will always be "the Rick wood stove," as it was Rick who sold it to us.  So too, I am sure, the wood stove we bought from Linda this week will be known as "the Linda wood stove"... it will keep the garage warm in the winter and will minimize our reliance on the electric heat in the apartment above.  I dunno... I like giving new life to other folks' old stuff.  Each item just seems to bring so much history with it.

Flower Blooming on Tree in Linda's Back Yard
Beautiful Fall Leaves, Linda's Front Yard


Sharon said...

Linda's story is happening all across the U.S. It's such a shame. I'm a bit angry with the banks that encouraged people to over extend, and I blame the economy and blah, blah. Stuff happens and it's just sad. Enjoy the Linda stove and keep warm with it's fires, thinking of her - keeping you warm.

mixednut555 said...

Wow, this posting came at just the right time for me. Today (or yesterday, it was Saturday), I gave the last of David's stuff away, donated his wheelchairs, hospital bed, clothes, shower bench, etc. Everything went out the door. It was so hard, seeing the last remants go, but was also good to know everything was going to people who really needed it. Maybe the guy getting his power wheelchair will call it Dave's wheelchair. It comforts me to think that..thanks, Judy.
WV: rearion

Canyon Girl said...

I can see you guys in your old age, sitting there in front of the wood stove, remembering who gave it too you and looking around your place, remembering friends and strangers who helped you furnish it and make it yours.--Inger

Nekkid Chicken said...

Awe, Judy perhaps she can visit her stove someday. Nice place to hang with you; I am sure. It is a shame all the fore-closures happening. I fear these passed two years are just a taste of what is yet to come. SIGH

Good thing you were in a position to continue to love those items.

Judy's Corner said...

Yes, Linda is one of so very many in this situation. It is a shame. I'm glad Linda was able to help us with some items we need and we were able to help her feel that all of her stuff didn't just get left behind to end up in a dumpster somewhere. Linda's stove will definitely keep us warm!

Judy's Corner said...


I just finished reading your post. I'm happy my post was timely. Just happened that way, but I'm glad it did. I am sure David's worldly items will give those you donated them to many years of service. Even if they never knew David, they know they were helped by him, and by your kindness. I'm glad you did it the way you did... donating them to those who need them... I'm sure it is what David would have appreciated.

And on looking toward the future, hope you are in the new house soon.

Judy's Corner said...


Me too... I see us enjoying this lovely collage of memories for years to come. It just makes it that much nicer that the items are "hand-me-downs."

Judy's Corner said...


I think you are right... I don't think we've come close to the end of this yet..