The Day I Set the Porch on Fire (and Other Disasters)
Last December, in his letter to readers announcing this special issue, This Old House editor Scott Omelianuk recounted the string of misfortunes that had befallen him since he'd bought his 120-year-old fixer-upper, including basement floods, roof leaks, ­electrical fires, termite damage, and invasion by flying ants. Then there was the bodily injury: a cracked rib, a shattered wrist, a ­concussion, and—his worst nightmare—weight gain from one too many Little ­Debbie chocolate marshmallow pies. The inescapable conclusion? The place was cursed, ­possibly haunted. But before he could make good on his threat to end his misery by ­hurling himself into the fireplace (and because he was afraid he'd just roll back out and light up the rug), he received the following words of ­encouragement from reader Mary Kayaselcuk of Newport News, Virginia. We liked what she had to say so much that we decided to share her letter with you.

Dear Scott,

In late 2004, I acquired a humble, 6,100-square-foot ­fixer-upper in Virginia that dates to 1900. The former owner had torn off the two-story front porch and demolished the two-story carriage house. In the previous 10 years, boarders had wrecked what was once a showplace. But my boyfriend, Bernie Bishop, and I thought we could rehabilitate it ­in a year or so and make it livable. Since then, we've spent all our spare moments—and cash—on its restoration.

Yet we still don't live there.
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