An essay on neglected quilts and houses

Everyone has heard a tale or two about a quilt that was found at a garage sale. The owners just didn’t appreciate the quilt or know how to properly care for it. So the quilt spent a few decades neglected in the attic or being used to keep the garage floor clean when it was time to change the oil or – and I actually saw this happen – to rake a pile of leaves onto so they could be carried to a truck bed.

But then a quilter spotted it among the bargain bins, picked it up for a ridiculously low price, gave it some much needed TLC and cherished it.

My house is kind of like a garage sale quilt. It was built in 1953 and – judging by the very pink bathroom that is still holding up – it was a state of the art home at the time. Then the homeowners before us bought it in the 1980s and the house sat there, frozen in time until my husband and I purchased it almost two years ago.

We’ve painted inside and out, completely revamped the kitchen, waterproofed the basement, replaced the A/C, attempted to tame the landscaping (that effort is still a work in progress), and now we’ve got to replace the furnace. If that’s your thing, you can check out the home improvement blog I write for my day job at the Quad-City Times.

Kitchen before
Kitchen After

The beast is 29 years old. It’s lasted twice as long as it should have and we hoped to make it through one more winter, but that’s not going to happen. The problem is we’ve got enough in savings to replace it with a new, energy efficient model, but not enough provide an emergency cushion just in case anything else goes wrong.

So for the last few weeks the temperature in the house hasn’t gotten above 65 degrees. That’s about as warm as our furnace can get our little two-bedroom ranch.

The situation is temporary. We’re squirreling away as much cash as possible this month so we can replace the furnace in March. But I wanted to use that money to replace the flooring so the first floor would finally be done. Then we could transfer our funds and energy to finishing the basement to create a sewing studio/man cave so I won’t lose my sewing space when my husband and I have kids and the second bedroom is turned into a nursery.

But hey, that’s life and at least I have a collection of quilts to keep warm under.

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