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January, 2005



Dear Families and Friends,


We were facing a move in the Summer of 2005, because Marianne's school was closing and I really needed to move to our company office in Erlangen, Bavaria. We started out hoping she would also find something in Bavaria, so we looked for villages mid-way between where she might work and where I would work.

January 9

We spent our first weekend after the Christmas holidays going different directions from Erlangen, where I will work. North, on the way to Bamberg where Marianne might have worked, we were driving through the small village of Pommersfelden when Marianne shouted: "Stop the car! That old house is for sale!" Sure enough, there was a sign and a phone number in the window.

The house looked rough, but we thought it had potential.

On the drive home, the thinking started. In her mind, Marianne saw the house finished and furnished. In my mind, I saw an interesting challenge.

January 11

As things turned out, it was up to Marianne to take the next steps. I was out of town (in Erlangen actually) so, on Monday, she called the number and talked to Mr. Werner, the house owner. The house had been in his family for eight generations. Marianne agreed to meet him the next day, even though she had to call in sick to do it, sort of home-sick I guess.

This first examination was "interesting". The main part of the house was built in about 1765, and there had not been a lot of improvements since then; no running water, no sewage, very little electricity, no heat. It did have the original clothes washing machine: a wood-fired kettle boiler.

The house had considerable damage from rot and moisture. A local student-architect had surveyed the house as part of a project and Mr. Werner showed Marianne his drawings, which indicated each type of damage in a different color. A colorful house!

Mr. Werner's uncle had lived here alone for 30-some years but had passed away a few years ago, leaving the house empty.

Over the next months, we would examine the house over and over again. Some days we could see a future dream but other days just a nightmare.


But, like real estate anywhere, it's location, location, location. This is the nice home across the street. The village has about 600 people and the whole valley of a half-dozen villages only about 3,000 - about the same as a couple blocks of our current Frankfurt neighborhood. Somehow, a quiet location sounded good, but not before many more examinations.



January 29 and 30

While I was off working in France, Marianne scheduled another inspection with Mr. Werner. She drove down Friday after work, normally a two-hour hop but on this day she spent over five hours stuck in one of Germany's infamous "staus" (traffic jams). She actually called me by mobile phone a few times, telling me how many meters she had gone while I was being careful not to tell her how nice my Parisian dinner was going. We certainly don't want all the trips to take this long!

The entrance is charming, if a bit worn.
The living room was .... simple. The floorboards were installed on top of dirt. Later, we would find out that even the walls were not as "good" as they seemed, but for now it was possible, just barely, to have confidence.
The kitchen was a disaster. It's a new addition, maybe 150 years old. The floor and ceiling were both decayed and rotted. The widows were broken. The walls were crumbling. I wonder what this will look like next year.
One nice thing is that our lot is almost one-third of an acre. (1,400 square meters). After the house is finished, we'll have plenty of planting, weeding, cutting, and trimming to keep us busy.
And, in late January, the streets of the nearby villages were peaceful.

In the end, Marianne came away more enthusiastic than ever and the memory of a five-hour drive had been banished by dreams of a new village life.


Diaries - Travel

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The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects