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We Committed to What?


May 5 , 2005


Dear Families and Friends,


Well, we did it. We signed up for a "new" home. Frankly, we have struggled about the wisdom of making such a commitment, in a country where only one of us speaks well enough to talk to neighbors, where we may or may not have jobs, where we may retire or not, where we are many miles from most of you.

But, it seems right.

Below you can see our diamond-in-the-rough. We'll keep you informed as we polish it face by face.




John and Marianne

The first picture, taken in early January, shows us checking the "Zu Verkaufen" (For Sale) sign in the window. Over the next four months, we looked, planned, gave up, restarted, and, in the end, bought.

Our land is a generous 1400 square meters, 14,000 square feet or a third of an acre.

The two-story building in front was built in about 1765 and the one-story addition in back is newer by about one-hundred years. All together, there are about 140 square meters (1,400 square feet) of living space.

The barn dates from who-knows-when and we don't care when the pigsty, the small shed on the right, was built.

An architectural student had made all these drawings as part of his graduation requirements. The color coding indicated damage: water, crumbling, cracking, rot. It's a colorful set of drawings.

And here's the welcoming entrance. The front yard is just about that big - one yard (as in, about a meter).

Marianne opens the door with our key, a huge old thing.

Inside, the foyer is ... simple. The hall runs past four doors to the staircase. On the left are doors to the office and wash room and on the right are doors to the living room and the library. We have plans for a much more open approach, as long as the history police let us make interior changes.

The living room is cozy and charming. That's real-estate-speak for small and falling apart. Floorboards are laid out on top of dirt, just dirt.

The library has two of the oddest doors in the house, as well as a good view of the central heating system.

Believe me, major changes are planned here!

Across from the living room, the office just needs a little tender loving care. (Real-estate for oh-my-god-it's-a-mess.) We're not sure why there is a wood-burning range in the office, but I think it will go, as will the fine chandelier.
Next to the office is the wash room, complete with an original wood-burning washing machine. I'll bet you didn't know there were such things. There is also a sink that drains through the wall. Of course there is no plumbing other than this.

The "new building", where we will make the kitchen, is reached by going down the hall and under the staricase. Next year at this time, the door in will be stylish, the ceiling soaring, and the table near the window pleasant and inviting.


From the kitchen we can walk into the mud room and out a back door. "Mud room" in this case refers to the floor of the little back vestibule - little more than dried mud.

This area does hold a charming powder room and wash basin.

Speaking of charm, the old house treacherous stairs leading down to a cellar where we can store our potatoes. Since I almost have to crawl to get in there, I'm not sure we'll be spending a lot of time down in our German Keller, certainly not just for some spuds.

Upstairs, like downstairs, is four rooms, two big and two small, all opening out to a landing. The big ones will be bedrooms and one small one a closet and the other a bathroom.

Currently, the two bedrooms are connected by yet another door, but it's not clear if this should stay. Neither room has been used for several decades. The last resident passed on a few years ago, after staying for 30 years, sleeping in one of the small upstairs rooms. Proof that the bedrooms had not been occupied, the newspapers on the floor are almost fifty years old!

By the way, the electric power distribution center is also on the second floor landing. We'll do something about this.


Last, but not least, there is an unfinished attic. This is actually a pretty nice space, but the stairs up are almost impossible and there is just a single small window. If allowed, we may convert this area to an atelier for the artist in the family (hint: it's not John).

Outside, on the front, we unfortunately have the major highway connecting Pommersfelden and Steppach. Here it is at rush hour.

From our bedroom, we can barely peek over the wall, into our neighbor's backyard. This backyard belongs to Baron Schoenborn and his Italian Countess, but they are there only in the summer, when they leave the heat of Italy.

On a German farm, the space between the house, barn, and other buildings is called the Hof. This is ours, complete with a hand-pump for watering the cows, a stone wall for keeping them off the highway, and a pigsty for making sure the farm's meat supply is varied.

It will be some time before we work up enough courage, money, and interest in restoring these farm buildings, especially if we would be expected to restore a farm life along with them.

The barn is well equipped: crooked doors, another root celler, a sturdy stall, and a not-so-sturdy ladder reaching up to the loft.

Finally, out back is a place for a garden: a big garden; a VERY BIG garden.

We're city folks. Can some one tell us just what we're supposed to DO out here?

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