Swapping House Stories

Do you love old houses?

They certainly give one lots of stories to talk about when strained for a conversation starter!

We’ve lived in a 100+ year old house for 15 years. And do I have stories!

 Signed WallOur house was the inspiration for the house Becki Graw inherits from her grandparents in Fatal Inheritance. Except I didn’t have enough space to include all the fun little tidbits I could have.

From the first night we moved into our house, we knew we were in for an adventure. My daughter, then nine, discovered a deer mouse in her room after bedtime. She caught it and showed us her new pet in the morning.

 imagine image of mouse here

I didn’t want to make anyone squirm 😉

We were a little freaked, because this was not long after a farmer out east had died from a disease carried by such mice, soooo we explained that deer mice belonged outside.

And then adopted a cat. 🙄

Of course that meant by spring—Easter day to be exact—we had kittens! We even got to see them being born. My children were thrilled.

kittensOther wonderful surprises came with spring. The former owner had been an avid gardener, so the property soon bloomed with crocuses and tulips and hyacinths and daffodils and forsythia and honeysuckle and lilacs and fruit tree blossoms. Every week it seemed we were treated to the beauty of a different flowering tree or shrub.

tulips2Being an avid gardener myself (at that time), I set to work preparing a front flowerbed for annuals and had a not-so-nice surprise!

Our basement walls are constructed of farm stones, which means lots of little holes. As I’m on my hands and knees in my flowerbed, snakes coming out of hibernation began to drop from the wall into the bed. Picture the snake scene in Indiana Jones here.

You don’t need a picture, right?


I’m not fond of snakes so let’s just say I waited a few days before finishing that flowerbed. 😕

Of course, having snakes in the wall meant that occasionally they’d find their way inside, too. One spring I went downstairs to find a three-foot, 1 ½ inch diameter, black snake lying in my path. I’d never seen such a big one outside of a zoo. Luckily hubby was home. So he donned leather gloves and carried the guy out to the woods…after admiring it for awhile. <shiver>

Our wildlife adventures weren’t limited to mice and snakes either. We had the requisite bat in the belfry, but we also had bees—wasps to be precise.

They apparently hibernated in our attic and would invade the rest of the house through light fixtures in the spring. They tormented us for several years, until one year I opened the door to my daughter’s bedroom and found a three-foot long swarm of them covering half her window.

Whoa, talk about freaked out!

If they’d been honeybees, I would probably have called a local honey guy to come smoke them out and save them, but wasps are downright vicious. We’d been stung enough times to know!

Thankfully, I had a can of wasp spray in the house that could shoot ten feet across the room. I shut the door, ran downstairs for the can, then quietly reopened the door, and using it as cover, like a cop facing down a bad guy, I blasted the swarm. It worked. Best of all, it also took care of our wasp problem.

In the years since, we’ve only seen the odd wasp in the house.

I won’t even visit the construction issues we’ve faced over the years. From the first rainstorm, when I found myself literally taping heavy-duty vapor barrier over an entire window and half the wall to keep out rain and wind, we’ve affectionately (and sometimes, not so affectionately) called the place the money pit.

Did I mention it had no insulation?

And that I live in Canada? …you know, land of igloos.

Wow, now that I’ve shared these stories, I wish I’d gotten some of them into my book. The swarming wasps would have been fun to make my heroine face.

Your Turn: How about you? Have you ever lived in an old house? I’d love to hear your favorite old house story! In fact, I won’t post a new blog next Monday, but hope you’ll stop by to read the stories that others share throughout the week.

P.S. Guess what I just learned this past weekend?! RT Book Reviews gave Fatal Inheritance a 4 1/2 star review. Yee!

She said, “The suspense is laced with the right amount of romance to keep readers thoroughly engaged throughout this fantastic novel.” 


  • Shudder. Snakes. Shudder some more. There have been too many snakes on the news lately I didn’t need to read about them here too. Shudder.Shudder. Shudder. You have just cured me of the yen to live in an old country house. I think I’ll move to the 10th floor of a condo in the heart of downtown! Snakes…bah!!!!!!!

    And congrats on the RT review. It’s well deserved!

    • So glad I didn’t include a pic! Thankfully, I haven’t seen a snake inside in years…and hopefully haven’t jinxed myself by saying that! Thanks for the congrats!

  • Oh boy…LOL There are a lot of reasons I could never live in an old house–I told my hubby that even before we were married, in case he wanted to change his mind about me. LOL The charm of an old home is marvelous and I love looking at them and touring them.
    Also congrats on your review from RT!!

    • Thanks Amber. I actually really enjoyed renovating the old place until I blew my back. Best thing about renovating–you have a ready excuse for the mess and dust. 🙂

  • Oh, no. No, no, no. I do not do mice or snakes. LOL

    We rented in an old house when we were waiting on the house we were buying. The worse we got were crickets and moths. 🙂

    • Oh, were they pantry moths? That reminds me of the year we got those! They came in in a giant bag of dog biscuits, but before we realized, they’d laid eggs and all these little caterpillars started inching along my kitchen ceiling. Thankfully somebody told me about a trap (with a pheromone that attracts the moths) and we haven’t been bothered by them since. But we NEVER buy dog biscuits anymore, either. Poor pup. 😉

  • We lived in a really old house when I was six. One crispy fall day my nilne-year-old brother and I looked out the window and saw several black and white kittens frisking in a pile of leaves. We called Mom and she called the exterminator–what we thought were kittens were baby skunks!

    • LOL, love it, Jeanette. So glad you didn’t run out to play with them!

      Our first dog HATED skunks. It started in the city, so I can’t blame it on old houses. But not a summer went by that he didn’t get sprayed at least once. And every time we tried a different potion for trying to get rid of the smell! About the time we finally landed on one that worked really well, he decided he was too old to chase skunks. 😉

  • We live in a new house and I still came out one morning and found a baby rat snake in our hallway. Fortunately our cats had beat the snot out of it all night, but that sucker was still en route to our bedroom.

    I grew up in an old Oregon farmhouse. We had a cat and a dog, so not many animals got inside and lived. We did have ghosts though.

  • This story came in from Lisa of http://www.twobearsfarm.com who posted on an old barn today. 🙂 (WordPress blipped her comment before it posted.)

    I love old houses! Yours sounds amazing.
    I had to send my husband over to the neighbor’s last week – their husband was working, and the boys had gotten a black snake in their bedroom! My husband had to go catch it.

  • Fun post, Sandra. 🙂 I do love old houses, but…. without snakes, mice, wasps, bats, etc.etc. ~ You definitely have lots of adventures to add into future books! 😉

    CONGRATS on the 4 1/2 star review – – YAY SANDRA!!!! 🙂

    And thanks for sharing that ADORABLE photo of the kittens ~ Seeing them makes the mental image of those *creatures* you mentioned more bearable. 😉

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.