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Muscatine
Saturday, June 25, 2022

If This House Could Talk

Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

The elderly couple had lived in the house for decades. The husband died thirty years ago, and his wife died about two years later. The house stood empty for a long time and became an eyesore in the neighborhood. Long grass, unruly weeds, overgrown shrubbery, a dilapidated fence, dead tree limbs, and peeling paint were daily reminders the house was vacant. The interior of the house was in desperate need of updating and repair. The whole house was a classic “handyman special” in need of skilled labor and liberal doses of tender loving care. The once attractive residence seemed to be desperately crying out to be rescued by someone who could see its potential and bring it back to life.


On an April day, we noticed a sold sign in the front yard. Within days, the grass was mowed, shrubs were trimmed, weeds were pulled, and the old wooden fence was replaced. At night there were interior lights that silhouetted people working with paint brushes, hammers, ladders, and drills. A few weeks later we heard the excited voices of happy children as their swing set, sandbox, and playhouse were being assembled in the back yard. Tricycles, a red wagon, and a doll buggy were in the yard and a minivan was parked in the driveway. The house was again alive and energized, radiating with the laughter and activity of a young family who were proud owners of an attractive home in a desirable neighborhood.


The family lived in the house for about eight years and once again a sign appeared in the front yard. The well-kept home with a nicely landscaped yard sold quickly.


Fast forward twenty years. Sadly, the house has again fallen into major disrepair and become a visual nuisance to the neighborhood. The overgrown shrubs and trees hide the front door, the roof needs replacing, and the fence and garage door are beyond repair. I assume the interior is in similar shape. Once more I hear the dejected, dilapidated house pleading for someone to come to its rescue, and even though it looks abandoned, it’s occupied and not for sale.


What type of preventive maintenance can you do on your house or yard soon? Perhaps a friend or neighbor could also use a helping hand.

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