Old houses that are new to us offer mysteries.  When I was readying to move in I wondered at the number of high hooks on the doors.  Closet doors, bedroom doors, the door to the attic, all secured from the outside.  I don’t think the previous owner had children, so after my initial alarm I dismissed the idea that she was locking someone in.  I unscrewed them carefully, placed them in a box in case I need them though I can’t imagine why I would, and began to fill the holes.

Later, when I wanted to close doors that wouldn’t quite shut, I wondered if she had latched them to keep her cat from pulling them open with his inky paw.  Wondered further if his nocturnal roaming, the soft creak of a door, might have been unsettling to someone living alone. And if that were the case, wouldn’t it have been better to fix the door rather than take this sloppy short cut?

I puzzled, too, over the hook in the bathroom cabinet.  What in the world had she hung there? Was I missing an opportunity?  Did I need something that should be hanging there that I didn’t have?

And then there is her obvious replacement of the original single hook inside my bedroom closet for two newer hooks. I hang my robe there.  Did she? Did she make room for someone else in her closet, in her house, in her bed?
I’ve been here over a month and now I realize that these things are not my concern.  Knowing them would not help me know the house better.  Knowing them would certainly not help me know myself better.  Originally intrigued by her life, her hooks, her robe, I realized this speculation and my accompanying judgements only keep me from getting my own house in order, which is the task at hand.

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17 thoughts on “Speculation

  1. You can't completely avoid it though. Until I get my closet systems installed in this new place I'll be trying to figure out what could possibly have hung on the rods spaced too closely for pants or shirts of either sex.

  2. I often am baffled or disgusted by someone else has lived (after I've purchased their home).
    I realized, like you have, that it does me no good to be upset about what they haven't done nicely. I just have to focus on how I am going to make it wonderful, and try not to anguish too badly about how much it will cost to have made it perfect the way it should have been from the get-go!

  3. An old house junky myself, I have often wondered "why" myself. In a previous home, the owners had taken out a vanity in the only bathroom replacing it with another which was much too large for the space. i think they must have gotten it from someone else who was throwing it out. Because it was too big, the door would no longer swing into the room. So they made it swing out to the hallway. But it blocked two other doors on either side of the hall. So they decided it would be a good idea to saw the recessed panel door original to the 1920 era house, complete with a crystal doorknob, in half, adding hinges to make it a bi-fold door. Then they added a lock to the top of the door so half the door would stay in the door jam while the other half could swing open. You had to be pretty skinny to fit through. So….just wondering what they were thinking……

  4. yes – easy to forget it's your house now (some people do!) and change it accordingly FOR YOU! So cute that you thought maybe you were missing something wonderful though in the bathroom because you didn't know what the hook could be for -haha. Maybe it was the magic wrinkle remover or under-eye bag magic wand! 😉 I need those.

  5. I've had many of the same thoughts about the older homes I have lived in, and then realized you find the same quirks in newer construction. Did the architect/builder forget that we need a utility closet, and why are the outlets placed so inconveniently, etc!

    The Arts by Karena

  6. You're a writer, so your imagination can't help but wonder. We all have a hard time with the judgement part, but you are almost there just be acknowledging it. Hope you are taking care of yourself during this transition. I so enjoy your posts.

  7. One thing you don't want to speculate about is who might have a key to your new home. Never occurred to me until, as a pet sitter of 20 years, I had many clients sell their home and tell me not to bother to return their keys. In some cases, I coincidentally later met the new occupants, and my key still worked! So, pet sitters, domestic help, contractors, neighbors, relatives and lord-knows-who may have the key to your house. If you haven't already, change all your locks. Wishing you peace and happiness in your new digs.

  8. The Roman Catholic concept of mystery: just accept it. Or my version, 'don't waste any brain power trying to figure it out because we'll never know'. You are absolutely right, just move on.

  9. Patricia, I am happy to see that I am not the only one who spends countless pointless minutes–hours–noticing, speculating about and judging about the idiosyncracies of others. Is it just human nature? Does everyone do this? For me, seeing the flaws in others makes me feel so much better about my own flaws. As you realized, we can waist untold hours/days/our lifetimes propping ourselves up or beating ourselves down based on how we measure up to others. It just kills me to realize how much of my life I have wasted in this futile scorecard existence. My goal in life is to one day be able to gaze upon the hooks and cupboards of life with the peace that comes from self-acceptance, love and a quiet mind.

  10. When I bought my 1930's house, it had scotch tape everywhere. I would go to paint a wall or some woodwork and find tape. I bought this house from an elderly couple who had spent 50 years here so perhaps they had a tape party! Anyway, I would wonder about all those hooks too. At least I didn't have to cover up the wholes!

  11. Oh, but the speculating is so much fun! My children and I make up fantastic stories to explain all the oddities and quirks. Thanks for taking us along your journey!

  12. You'd be puzzled by the hook I put on the inside of a lower kitchen cabinet door – but I use it to hold a plastic shopping bag, into which I place more of them, for recycling. They are out of sight, but handy when I want them.

  13. Previous owner had an amputee arm. She found it easier to push up on a gate hook than use a doorknob. Hook in the bathroom to rest the device whilst showering.

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