Monday, November 8, 2010

House Dreams

Side noteMy attempt to write a post every single day got side-tracked on Saturday with the mom angst.  I had written a post, but I accidentally forgot to hit the "publish post" button, so it actually didn't get posted until after midnight.  I was so bummed.  I really wanted to be in the running for some of the nifty prizes that were donated.  :(  Boo-hoo-wah.

Today's prompt is:  What would your dream home/apartment/condo/yurt look like? Where would it be? Who'd live in it with you?

Oooh, this is fun.  Fun, but lengthy.

Long ago in our early days of marriage, Jim and I hoped to buy an old home to fix up.  As I've said before, we were poor as church mice.  Add to that the fact that at that time pastors and their families tended to live in parsonages provided by the church, so we didn't know if owning our own home would ever happen.  It actually happened much sooner that we ever expected.  

Jim finished seminary in December, just six months after our wedding.  The church hunt began earnestly and he was interviewed by several churches in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.  Sometimes I accompanied him on the interviews, sometimes I stayed at home while I completed my student teaching experience.  After one particular interview in Ware, MA, I had great suspicion we'd just found the right fit.  What was the indicator, you ask?  Easy.  He came out of the local 7-11 store with a Diet Coke in his hand and a smile on his face.  "What?", I asked.  He gave a crazy big grin and said, "They get cable here".  Call me crazy, but I was right.  One of the draws to this particular church was the fact that they would lend us a sum of money for a down payment on a house.  It seems the church, against their better judgment, had sold the parsonage right next to the church a few years before.  Perhaps a mistake for them, but a bonus for us.  

The first few months in Ware, we lived in an apartment on a dairy farm owned by a member of the church.  It was great fun for me, an in-town girl, not a country girl (Heck, I thought they dyed beets that color and to my knowledge vegetables only came in cans. True story).  I had a blast helping to deliver calves, riding in the manure truck with Farmer Ed and chasing escaped piglets.  Oh, how much fun we had there.  All that is a story for another day.  

Soon enough, we drafted our wish list  and started the house hunt.  We eventually found a 150 yr old house in town, priced right because it needed work that included every single item on our list.  We found that we had wonderful neighbors who, despite being 90% Catholic, welcomed the new pastor and his young bride to the neighborhood with open arms.  It was a wonderful place to raise the baby girl who eventually arrived and became a therapeutic tool for the neighbors and members of the church.  We bought the house from a family with two teenagers.  The father and the son were both named Richard Nixon.  The father grew up in Louisiana and had planted peach and pear trees in the side yard because he missed the ones from home.  Our first summer, those trees bore their very first-ever crop of the most wonderful treasure.  The peaches were GIGANTIC and oozed and dripped so much delectable juice that we had to eat it leaning forward so as not to get the mess on ourselves.  Poor Mr. Nixon, he never once got to taste those peaches after five years of nurturing them to health.

Five years later, we moved to another church in Massachusetts which had a large manse with old servants' quarters on the third floor.  One week after moving in, we celebrated our sixth anniversary.  Two weeks after moving in, we welcomed a baby boy to our family.  Yes, it was a crazy time.  This move was a huge mistake on our part and, after a year and a half, we left under less than pleasant circumstances.

Jim accepted a part-time position in  a church in mid-coast Maine.  With the move being as crazy and unexpected as it was, we were scrambling to find a new home.  One very snowy February day, we found it.  It was another beautiful 150 yr old home in need of a lot of work.  Two wedding maples graced the path leading up to the front door.  Mrs. Payson, the 83 yr old woman who'd lived in the house for fifty years was shoveling the driveway when we drove in.  She was typical hardy Maine stock.  We really loved her strength and her character and her stories.  Rumor had it that her husband, a local pharmacist, was a bootlegger during the days of prohibition.  A few years after moving in, my dad was doing some repair work in the cellar.  He had to pull down some old lathing on the cellar ceiling.  After just a few tugs, there was a mighty crash of glass and suspicious smelling amber liquid splattered and spread across the dirty cellar floor.  I guess there was some truth to the rumors.  There had never been a washer/dryer hook-up installed in that house, so we just used what Mrs. Payson left us---a very old wringer washing machine.  Let me tell you this---you must never ever put rubber pants through that wringer.  Cloth diapers, yes, but those rubber pants will just make a big popping sound before blowing a hole in the rubber pants. Trust me, I speak from experience.  Just a stone's throw from the house was an old working grist mill---Morgan's Mills, which had the most wonderful grist pond in front in which a steady flow of water passed through with each moment.  It was a truly idyllic spot and the local swimming hole for all the kids (and big kids) in the neighborhood.  When our dug well went dry early one rainless fall, it also became our family bathing hole.  For an entire month, I traipsed down to the mill pond to bathe before going to work as a school counselor.  It was an adventure for this girl.  My kids loved this place and were sad to see us leave.  We were sad, too, but God was calling us to new adventures.

Who knew that adventure would be in Indiana?  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever live beyond a three hour drive from my parents home, let alone eighteen hours and half a country away. Seventeen years after arriving in this flat corn and soybean-heavy land, we are still here.  God brought us here, but not for the church we thought was meant for us.  After five years, we planted a new church start in the former American Legion.  Almost twelve years later, here we be.  After yet another stretch of uncertainty which brought us back to being poor church mice once again, we are settled in what is, most likely, our last home.  I think we are here for the duration, although God sure does have a funny sense of humor and there really is just no telling.  With little in the way of homes to choose from at the time (count 'em---five), we bought a small, and I mean small, three bedroom ranch with a fully open basement.  After nine years, the house is how we want it, with the exception of a few projects like new furniture and wall decor.  BUT...

BUT, if I were to have my true dream home it would consist of a walkway graced by two fifty year old wedding maple trees, peach and pear trees in the backyard, a grist mill and pond down the road,  friendly neighbors with their dairy farm next door and friends and family nearby.  The appearance of the house wouldn't matter just as long as the door regularly opened to find those loved ones on our doorstep, bringing and receiving love.

Oh, and I just might have an old wringer washing machine, too, but this time it would be in my garden planted with flowers gracefully cascading down to the ground.



Todd said...

Janides, this is beautiful. I love the second to the last paragraph. I can just about picture meandering down to the pond on a Sunday morning, mug of coffee in hand. The dairy farmer is out taking care of the cows and we exchanges waves. After church, family and friend come to a meal and spend a relaxing afternoon playing croquet. (Oh, maybe some home-made ice cream and chocolate chip cookies :)

The Japanese Redneck said...

What a wonderful story. I've never heard of wedding maples before....

I've been telling my husband about a blogger that I just started reading. I think I have him fired up to get a cow when we retire and learn to make cheese.

jdm said...

Ramona, I hope you get that cow!

Toddito, you are already a member of my "country club". Sending you a long-distance wave!

Jullie said...

diapers wrapped around the wringer,Its you're already happened ?