Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm Looking Over

You may recall the time that the boys found a purse in the lake, and I remarked at how it provided an unusual glimpse into an unknown person's life. Somehow, the objects that a person chooses to carry around with them are strangely intimate and revealing.

I recently got to take an unexpected glimpse into the wallet of someone whom I've never met. Who has been dead for nearly half a century. My paternal grandfather.

I'm not exactly clear on how it came about that my cousin Michael came into possession of a bundle of old papers wrapped in a paper bag and tied up with a rubber band that included the death certificate and wallet contents of our grandfather, but this week he put them on the scanner and sent the images to my sister Becky, who sent them to me.

The death certificate is interesting. It shows that he was born in Iraq in 1898, and died in 1962, an American Citizen. It lists his mother's maiden name as Wadou Cacox, which is a name I have never heard before, possibly a phonetic misspelling, but she would be my great-grandmother.

Even more interesting are the photos that he carried in his wallet.

This one is of my beautiful Aunt Judy, probably from her high school. It is inscribed on the back in her still-familiar handwriting "to my favorite daddy, from his favorite daughter, Judy."

And then there is this lovely lady, oh so fashionable. Who is she? Not my grandma. Possibly a relative. My great aunt? My dad might know. I'll ask him.

And check out these good looking guys drinking beer. I don't know who they are, but they seem like a fun bunch.

Less fun but still a source of fascination is this one, clearly from "The Old Country" but I need to find out the identity of the people. My great grandparents?

And this is just scary:

There are other pictures of people I can't identify, as well as a few that I can, such as a scowling young Uncle Pete, and baby pictures of his three oldest children.

There is also a faded driver's license, made of paper and without a picture. A couple of very old prayer cards (he was Catholic) and his voter's registration, and a card for one year of free service at Golde Clothes Shop on Campus Martius.

But the thing that I like the best is this four-leafed clover, pressed in a piece of plastic. I wonder if he found it himself, or maybe it was given to him by one of his children or grandchildren. I like it that he put it in his wallet, and that it still exists, a once-living thing, to this day. A puff of air could turn it into dust. I remember finding a four-leafed clover when I was a little kid, and putting it in my wallet. I still have it, now in a scrapbook.

Who knows if those clovers ever brought either one of us any luck. All I do know is that it makes me feel like I have something in common with him. Well, that and the genes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cottage in the Woods

A bunch of my neighbors were gathered to visit with someone who has moved, and everyone was talking about the home-for-sale brochure that was mailed to the addresses in our neighborhood. (Everyone, except me, it seemed. Maybe they saw our brown lawn, and knew...) It is for a mansion on a private peninsula, starting bid for the auction $1,100,000. The thing is, this place is less than a half mile away!

I should point out that our sub is filled with similar-sized nice but unpretentious houses. The kind where they are made of siding with some brick in the front, where everyone mows their own lawn and (almost) everyone has an in ground sprinkler system.

Check out the details of the TaMar estate here.

One of the neighbors had the idea that we would all pull our money together to buy the thing, and we could kind of time-share it for a jointly owned "cottage." With 7 bedrooms and 2 kitchens, quite a few people could be in on this. The indoor salt water pool would be nice in the winter, when it's too cold on the private sandy beach. The book club liked the idea of two wet bars, and wanted to know if the 270 bottle wine cellar comes pre-stocked. The 1800 square foot garage would provide handy extra storage space.

But then we started getting realistic:

That driveway would be a pain to shovel.
Eleven bathrooms are a lot to clean, even with a central vacuum.
The elevator probably breaks down a lot.
$32,000 a year in taxes!

The next morning I shuffled through our mail pile and found that I did get the brochure, it was wedged inside the Crate and Barrel catalog. I looked up the address. I know where this place is! I go there on my bike rides. When the lot was unbuilt and for sale I used to kickstand my bike and walk around on the private peninsula, with my helmet on, sipping from my plastic water bottle.

I decided to go and check it out. I got on my bike and rode out of my perfectly pleasant subdivision, marred only by sight of garbage cans lining the street, and the big stinky truck roaring along as I pedaled past.

There were big signs posted, announcing the auction, and the gates were open. I was tempted to go through, but since I'd read about the 12 IT security cameras in the brochure, I didn't risk it. So I just admired the landscaping around the gates, and got back on my bike, and almost collided with...that same garbage truck that was just on my street!

We all have garbage. I rode home imagining all my trash (ie: pop-tart wrappers) co-mingling with whatever the people who live here are throwing out (caviar containers?)

The next Thursday I decided to go to the open house, I could make it there before the Middle School parent's night started. I decided that I should try to look like someone who might be able to buy the house, but that's kind of hard to pull off when most of my clothes are from TARGET. I settled on a sweater blazer that my mom gave me for Christmas (she shops at better stores than me) and a pair of nicer jeans.

I drove my needs-a-wash Saturn VUE over and parked it on the street outside of those gates, and walked along the driveway to the house. Very scenic. Closer to the house there were several cars parked. I checked them out, mostly foreign-made sedans.

I made my way across the fantastic entrance courtyard and then knocked and entered through the thick wooden doors. A real-estate lady greeted me, and asked me to sign in on a clipboard. Then she asked to see my driver's license, so she could verify that what I put down was the truth. (It was!) She asked how I'd heard about the property, and I told her "in the mail." Then I added that I was "one of the neighbors." I told her that there was a lot of buzz about the house and I wanted to check it out. She welcomed me to go in and said that there were associates throughout "to answer any questions." (read: "to make sure you don't steal anything.")

Everything about the home was truly beautiful. Right away I knew that I liked the decorator's taste. Somehow they managed to combine the "wow" of such magnificence with an inviting sense of comfort. I could imagine myself living here. Apparently the owners still were. I inspected their family portraits with the same curiosity I had about the house. They were a good-looking white couple, probably around my age or a little younger, with two elementary-aged children, a boy and a girl.

I asked one of those hovering associates why the family was leaving, and he told me that the house was "built to be sold" and that they were moving to South Carolina. I wanted to know more, but didn't ask.

I went around through the different rooms, each more incredible than the last. Upstairs were the bedrooms. The kid's rooms (suites) were done in themes, with the boys being all sporty and the girl's in Disney princess, with a full canopy bed and glamorous crystal chandelier. I loved it.

Every room had a fantastic view of the wrap-around lake. I stood for a while gazing out through one of them, and then I realized that I was in one of the master closets. The two-story study had its own circular staircase. Every room, even each of the eleven bathrooms, was fully decorated with lots of built-in touches, such as painted ceramic bowl sinks.

I went down to the basement, (lower level) which is where it really got to me. I could totally imagine me and the Glenmoor Gals, or the Tri-Deltas, sitting at the liptus wood bar enjoying some wine from the 56 degree walk-in cellar, then going for a swim in the Gunite pool with the Badu and whirlpool jets, and then taking in a favorite movie in the theater room, which when I peeked in was playing one of my favorites: Mamma Mia!

On my way out I strolled around the landscaped yard. I especially liked the four-level tiered waterfall. No brown grass here.

I could have stayed longer (like forever) but since I had to get to the school I hurried on my way. I kind of want to go back. There's another open house on the 16th. You should go. And then buy it. And then invite me over. I won't stay long. Maybe just a few weeks...

Property Features:
2,200+/- feet of Shoreline
6 Bedrooms
7 Bathrooms and 4 Half Bathrooms
5 Fireplaces
4.5 Car Garage
10,800+/- Square Feet
Indoor Pool
Water View from Every Room
Private Gated Entrance
Private Beach for Swimming
Great Fishing off Dock

“I Never Want To Leave”

No man may be an island, but now your home can be. Welcome to Villa TaMar, a stunning Mediterranean Villa located on an elevated peninsula offering fabulous panoramic views. As you drive through the gated entrance, past the tree’s and water and stop in front of the elegant stone Piazza, you will feel the need to “check in” to this private resort. Relaxation becomes the main theme as you try to decide where to spend your time, swimming at the beach or indoor pool, enjoying the landscaped grounds including sounds of the 4 pond waterfall with creek or watching a movie in the theater. With all this home offers, the only regret will be is when you have to leave.

Villa TaMar surrounds you in warmth as you enter into the grand hall, with soaring ceilings, timeless stonework and old world carved woodwork. Every room in the villa offers a beautiful view of the lake, and the sound of a waterfall soothes your day. The master bedroom includes a fireplace, his and hers custom oak walk-in dressing rooms, spa bathroom and kitchenette. Five other bedrooms located throughout the home offer plenty of room for family and friends. Complete with 5 fireplaces, an indoor and outdoor waterfall, and a 1,800+/- square foot in duel garages, professional theater, gourmet kitchen and family room, space and how to relax in it is never an issue. The villa boasts whole house sound and video monitoring, geo thermal heating for inexpensive and green living, and central vacuuming.

An outdoor deck area tops a lower level screened in porch and pathways lead to separate peninsulas of oasis like relaxation. One peninsula is like camping in the woods listening to the wind in the pines, and the other offers a sandy beach and dock for boating, swimming and fishing. Whatever your desire and however you like to relax, resort living can be yours everyday as you watch the sun rise and set on your own fantasy island.

Villa TaMar encompass 10,800+/- square feet of living on over 13+/- acres of land. The cost to duplicate this level of luxury and attention to detail cost over $4.4 million dollars, but can be yours with a price of your choosing with bidding starting at only $1.1 million dollars.