They were really cute—peeking around the corner of my office door with shy grins. One was wearing a dress with Elsa on it and a tiny tiara in her hair, and the other one had the biggest brown eyes and widest smile! Two adorable girls, about 6 years old, shopping with their moms, and having fun together. As they gazed at my bulletin board display of pictures of my grandchildren, one of them asked if all my grandchildren had the same clothing (we had a professional picture of them all together in matching clothes!). As I chuckled, the other one noticed the collection of stuffed and toy mice on the windowsill above my desk. There is an explanation for that, which I gave to them; Hope House is an old house, falling apart, with many holes and loose siding, etc. we have struggled over the last couple of years with a mouse problem, and I have waged a war on mice! It appears that, for now anyway, I have won, and as I explained all of this to them, they started looking around apprehensively. When I assured them there are no mice here now, the princess murmured “a little creepy” as she left with her mom.
This old house has many problems and we are holding on for our new one, patching and band aiding it as we go. In addition to mice, we have had fly infestations (this was Phil Corrigan’s personal battle, lol!), along with a squirrel issue. When you come in to the empty house early in the morning and walk to the bottom of the stairs and see something furry run across the upper hall, it kind of makes you want to stay downstairs! Luckily, we found the entrances for them and blocked them. The last one we found was by accident, on a busy morning when we were open. The old fireplace in our waiting area was largely ignored for years, then one morning we heard a growling sound from that area. When we approached the fireplace, it grew louder and we could see a squirrel in it. Since it was not leaving, we decided to form a pathway by blocking everything off with chairs, ending at the front door, about 12 feet away. Keep in mind that we had clients in the house helping us! We then used a broom to get him out of the fireplace; with the hope he would follow the path out the door. Well, he had a mind of his own and wasn’t ready to leave, so he jumped over the chairs and headed deeper into Hope House, running past people’s legs and from room to room. Hysteria prevailed, along with tons of laughter. We finally cornered him in the kitchen (after he ran up one side and down the other of a staff member!), and got him out the back door to freedom. Whew! To this day, I have never heard that much laughter at once in Hope House. It is one of my favorite memories.
So while we are looking forward to a new building, the wonderful memories made in this old one will last forever. J