Last week we looked at a house to buy. Any thought of purchase here in Portugal is pretty much just that–a thought. The economy is not exactly booming and banks are not excited about extending credit, especially to ex-pats. But you never know. It’s possible to find the right property, an anxious seller, and a lender having a good day. So off we went.

We have seen some unusual places over the years. This one ranked right up there. I had hoped to find a classic Portuguese home, painted white or yellow, with a terracotta roof and window boxes filled with bright red geraniums. Nope.

It was large. At 4,000 square feet, the unfinished structure exceeded the average-sized residence here by a great deal. It sat on a hilltop. It had a view of the ocean. It had a problem.

It looked like a library.

My favorite library is the Athenaeum in Providence, Rhode Island. Stone and pillars outside, hardwood floors and leather armchairs inside, I went there whenever I visited my daughter while she attended Brown University. I love that kind of library.

This was different. Flat, tan, bricks covered any portions of the outside that were not windows or sliding glass doors. I peeked inside expecting to see a security station and metal detector.

There were other problems: the teeny-sized guest bedrooms and baths, an odd floor plan, legal complications about road access. Despite all of this, my husband said he wanted to mull it over.

Mull it over?

Over the years I’ve learned a few things in our movable marriage. I kept quiet, adopting a wait-and-see attitude. The following day my spouse decided not to pursue a purchase.

I haven’t always been so lucky. Here’s an example, in an excerpt from my new book.

“I fought tears when I saw the log cabin on Quebec Road again. The quintessential haunted house, two sinister jack-o’-lantern-shaped eyes squinted eerily at the top. On the next level down, two square “cheeks” of windows on the far sides framed a howling rectangular mouth formed by French doors opening onto what should have been a deck, but which had never been built. Note to self: keep living room patio doors locked at all costs.

On the ground level the main door was a cheap, wooden, windowless affair that opened into the basement. We walked inside and crossed the cement floor, reaching an open-slatted staircase leading upstairs. The main level featured subflooring throughout and a rusted toilet and stained tub in the bathroom. Moving on from House on Haunted Hill to Vertigo, a wobbly wrought-iron spiral staircase led to a tiny landing with no pony wall which opened into a low-ceilinged attic. Additional note to self: do not proceed past main floor.”

In case you think I exaggerate, check out the photo of what came to be known–for good reason–as the Bat House.

The Bat House

We’re staying in our rental, not adding to the tally of our moves. For now.

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