Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can It Be??

Oh! Can it be?

Can it be that Tom and Debra have finally found the near-perfect house? 

Gasp!

Ooooo.... it's darling. Small--860 sq. feet, not counting the cleanest, driest basement you ever saw. And although built in 1930, it's like brand new inside, all redone beautifully (with the' burnished' fixtures I love).

But hey, it doesn't resemble at all that Anne of Windy Poplars house (as Judy F. called it) I showed you Tuesday. So please don't expect anything blow-you-over fancy, ok?

But it does look like our original vision and I think it's sweet and what a blank canvas!;


There's a picture window, even, and a perfect-sized newish concrete front patio. See that 6 ' tall hedge on two sides? Cher and I think it's honeysuckle--made the whole neighborhood smell incredibly sweet!


And when you walk inside you see this sunny area--living room, dining room, kitchen. (Love that chandelier and all the other burnished-style lights and doorknobs, also). The dining room window has two which crank outward and one stationery one in the center.



As with the rest of the house, everything in the kitchen is brand new and there's a window over the sink! (I almost never get one of those.) The lovely top cupboards have spaces above them for decorative ceramic items, etc. (have always wanted that, too). On the opposite side there's another cabinet below and two above and space for the refrigerator. I would use my 100-year-old pie cabinet in the basement as winter pantry storage.


And this would be Tom's office at the base of the very cool-looking replacement pine stairs which lead upward to:

.... the guest room/Debra's room which has a large-ish closet and a tiny sitting area beside what you see here.

And well, add a first-floor bedroom, a bathroom (again, brand new), the basement, a one-car garage, a tall, tall flagpole--and all at under $55,000, well, there you have it.

Happy sigh.

I want this house. It's exactly like our original plan--something small, simple, doesn't need much work so that we can put our financial affairs in order then go out and play until the time to move out-of-state arrives. Even Cher said it certainly fits that bill perfectly!

And uh-oh..... We've not even put a bid in yet (and Tom is just 95% sure about it), but I've already named it:

Hobbit Cottage.

Do you love that? Walk around in that top room awhile and you'll agree it's the perfect house for Hobbits like us. ...heh... (We're already planning a short dormer on one side up there.)

And it's even just down the street from my favorite everything-shopping spot of the last 18 years. Really. A place I know like the proverbial back of my hand. (Though, no--it's not in our former town.) In fact, my oft-mentioned 1940's style movie theater is there, too!

So ok............it's not a 100% sure deal, but I did at least want to cheer-up this sad, sorry blog as of late!

Oh happy, happy day... Something pretty darn perfect does exist for us out there after all.



***********


Finding it odd that I would prefer a house with an all-new interior? So am I! But after walking through many houses needing tons of paint and repairs, this one made me feel so very relaxed. Un-pressured. Took all my stress away and hey--you gotta love that.


************

The Hobbits, themselves....




*********

P.S.  There was a question regarding the stairs in my comment box so I'll reiterate--there's a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor for Tom. He will not be going upstairs to our guestroom/Debra's room. For me, I love stairs and have greatly (greatly!) missed the exercise they used to give me before Naomi moved back home. (I can hardly wait to do stairs again...yay!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update From a Near-Zombie

Sob story for the day... We spent an hour-and-a-half walking through our favorite pretty house, loved it to pieces, then Cher called the agent representing the house to ask a question and discovered that, good grief! The guy had failed to mention in the listing that the house was yet one more "short sale." (If you don't know what that means, you can look it up online.) Gah! We've run across many short sale houses due to Today's economy and they usually require whole months to straighten-out their details--and even then--you're gambling on getting in within 6 months, or so.

And oh my, we have 6 days and certainly not 6 months!

So you should have heard Cher give that guy 'the what for' over the phone. Which he totally deserved, actually (I was proud of her). We're talking Real Estate 101 here.--you always make a note for everyone to see that it's a short sale. Always.

For Pete's Sake.

As for the other house I showed you--it was adorable. A real-life 'Blondie House' as I've wished for for, well, forever. But for reasons too lengthy to go into here, we're saving it for an In-A-Pinch-Down-To-The-Wire possiblity.

Why? Long story. Maybe I'll share it with you someday.

But basically? We realized later today we've deviated from our original plan which was to downsize to a simple little house with a sane yard so we could put our financial affairs in order and well, have some fun out and about since we'd not be chained to a huge yard or a house needing tons of work. And then move out-of-state when the right time arrived.

Oh, but my, my, my....  we keep wandering from that simple plan!

So it's back to the drawing board. The story continues. And Tom and Debra hope they'll someday get off the farm where they no longer belong.

They also hope that God will not do the ol' Swoop In At The Last Minute thing for which He is so very well-known.

Alas.


************

Oh, Elizabeth's comment reminded me that I need to clarify something. We have six days in which to find a house before our contract with our buyers expires. Although, I have a feeling they'd extend it one week if we needed them to (they want our house so badly!). But whatever, we will have two full months afterward  in which to still live here and get ready to move. The escrow process in New York always takes that long when you're dealing with a home loan (as our buyers are). Though Cher said when there's only cash involved, it can be half as long.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Okay, cross your fingers, but we may have found a house. Perhaps two! We're waiting to hear about the second one, whether it's still for sale. It enchanted us both today when we drove past and if I can show you photos someday you will be enchanted, too! Well, maybe. If you like that sort of house.

Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that yesterday afternoon and evening Tom and I became two stressed-out maniacs. Oh my goodness--you would have been sorry you'd ever, ever met us. Not only was it because of all this extreme house-hunting, but when I went to gather McCartney The Cat into my arms for comfort from the insanity, I felt what is obviously some kind of tumor/huge cyst/something very bad around her abdomen.

We so did not need this right now. McCartney doesn't need this, ever.

She'd been losing weight, but eating and acting fine, all things considered, after the death of her dearest friend, Lennon, in February. Since that time she's been clingy, a real baby, even though she's 14.

Sigh. We all have difficult seasons in our lives and I do thank each of you for helping me though mine which is at month number 4 (or number 10 if you wish to add Naomi's moving back home and Tom's job loss. But those 2 things, actually, have s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d us into some good, growing places, so I can't really complain about them, even though they were, at times, hard to bear). Your encouragement means more than you know.



**************


Hopefully tomorrow I'll have pictures of the two houses we're considering. Or maybe even tonight if you wish to come back later. :)


*******************

Oh, and we're fine about losing that double I mentioned last post. Tom drove through that neighborhood yesterday and said it was Scary. What upset me most was that we didn't even get a chance to discover that for ourselves, first. Instead, it was yet one more house purchased without our getting a fair shake at it.

But again, it doesn't even matter, since the neighborhood was the kind where you'd never sit in your backyard lest some unsavory person, uh, 'bother' you. heh.

So, alas! God knows what He's doing.

Imagine that.



******************


Okay... Cher just now told us our favorite house is still for sale! (You should have heard us squeal after I hung up):


Of course, it looks much better now in summertime. Greenery and fairy-like touches everywhere.

And see on the left that 'garden doorway' off of the garage? Oh, that was so charming! (You really need to see this place in-person. The photos do nothing for it, actually.) Oh, and it's less than $60,000 lest you think otherwise. :)

And here's our second choice--not as picturesque, but the photos from the inside have intrigued me (rather like a 'Blondie House' which I've wanted for years):


(I believe they called it a Dutch Colonial.) And as with the previous one, it's much better looking in real life. A tiny, tiny yard though, which doesn't bother me at all, but which could be a hindrance for future buyers. This one costs even less than the other and is in a so-cool area.

Anyway............ we have appointments to view both houses tomorrow and we are excited! Wish us luck (or blessings as I prefer to say). Thanks!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Progress Report (Of a Different Type)

On Saturday, Tom and I walked through two houses with Cher, though technically, it's Cher and I who tour all these houses together, sharing fun decorating ideas, while Tom lags behind, taking pictures of rusted, broken stuff for documentation to show the sellers (I guess) that their house ain't so great and our offer will reflect that.

Or something.

So anyway, Cher and I had much creative fun in these two houses, completely decorating them inside our heads before we left. But when I--excitedly--got back inside the car with Tom each time, he said, "I hated it."

Good thing we have a strong marriage. And a God who shares His strength.

Then Sunday we decided, "Yes! M______ is the town for us. Let's go there today and do some 'drive-by's' of these houses we've seen online. M_____ is crammed with cheap houses. This should be a cinch."

So we drove there. Finally spied the perfect house we've been looking for all along--and at a do-able price, too. We parked across the street from it while I imagined room sizes and colors and Tom said things like, "Look at those new gutters! And the roof is amazing." (See why I have a bit more fun with Cher on these adventures?)

Well, pretty darn quick we called Cher about that house and left a message.

She called back. Already sold. And after just three days.

"Oh, for Pete's sake! How could our chosen town do that to us?," we asked each other. And tried to keep it together while we drove around and saw bad houses in bad neighborhoods or terrific houses in neighborhoods too expensive for us.

So because we've got just a week-and-a-half left to search, Tom and I haven't been sleeping well and if you'd been at our house this morning at 4:30 you'd have seen him at his computer and me at mine feverishly emailing possible houses to each other.

And then we came across this one, a double, just minutes from Naomi's jobs so we could rent the upstairs apartment to her:

Love at first sight! And it was cheap, so even if it was all wrecked inside, we'd have money leftover to pour into it. We could drive by there today to see if the neighborhood looked at least a tiny bit safe. We made plans. I emailed Cher with the MLS# to see if it was still for sale then I went back to bed. Got up later, then Tom went returned to bed.

Cher called. There's already an offer in on that house.

Gah! After I hung up, that's when, for the first time in all this insanity, I cried.

But then I got good and mad--and determined! "We are gonna get a double in _______ if it's the last thing we do," I said with Scarlett O'Hara fervor. "We're gonna win this game and come in first for a change!"

So I returned to the computer and found three more nice doubles in that area and emailed them to Tom to inspect.

So that's where we are. All fired-up and determined! No more whining, no more wimpy, sarcastic, defeatist attitudes allowed around our house, just faith and believing we're being led by all the no's only to find the one yes we need.

We are going to win this game!

(Right???)

(heh)



*************************

And yes, I know-- previously I didn't want a large house. Well, I changed my mind. I've changed my mind probably three hundred times so far as to what I really want, so please bear with me, ok?


********************

Finding a house to buy within a time-limit is either for the very young and strong or the very stupid.

(And you may quote me.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wondering How The House-Hunting Is Going?

... No comment.

Just, well, no comment.

Sigh.





**************

Our farmhouse did pass its inspection, so that's wonderful news.

So there is that. Alas.



**************

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh Well! And Oh Dear...

First, the oh well part...

Two other parties bid on that little cottage house (as I'd begun calling it) after we did. We countered, and oh well... the owners accepted another offer.

And you know? We both feel ok about it. As I told Cher (who told me over the phone that she hoped I wouldn't cry or else she'd have to cry with me...heh...), earlier this afternoon I got a second wind for house-searching. Found some homes I liked better, even.

So alas. That cottage house chapter is closed. But that's ok.

Now here's the oh dear part: I fell in love with another house. Already.

I am so bad.

But this latest one needs work. Uh-oh.

Oh, but I simply must tell you about it and show you pictures. It was built in 1809 (gracious!) and has a secret door to the Underground Railroad(!)

And oh my... When Tom and I visited Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House ten years ago, I came away longing for a glass-fronted cupboard like the one in Louisa's bedroom. Now, oh my, this house has a nearly identical one!


Love, love, love that little thing!

And this part of the kitchen, to me, screams, "The Waltons live here!":

This other part says, "I was updated in the 1920's." ...heh...

(Love it when I see sinks like that in my 1920's decorating books.)

And these rooms just look plain ol' family cozy, don't you think?





Oh, I am hopeless. Fickle. My heart can absolutely melt inside a 1930's or 40's Cape Cod-style house, then melt all over again five days later in one more than a hundred years older.

My, my, my.............

(Anybody else out there the same way?)


*********


Oh, and thought I'd add that the house is less than $50,000, the roof looks terrific as does the electrical box. It's near a (busy) area I know extremely well, one which often wins Safest Suburb of Its Size national titles (though I don't know this specific 'hood) and is practically just around the block from Tom's doctor, which he's got to love (he hasn't seen the photos yet).


**********

And ok, you guys in the comment box...... I know, I know, already. :) We've bought 6 houses in 3 different states. We've been around. (And I've never heard of anyone in New York buying a home without first having it inspected!)

But don't worry. We won't get this house because never in  my life have we bought a house I adored. Never. And after all these years I've, frankly, lost the faith that we ever will. (Sounds sad, but some things just are the way they are.)

Just dream along with me instead, ok? I need that more than advice and I just wanted to pull out some of you house-loving kindred spirits. Thanks.

Strong, But In a Different Way

I've noticed when I'm unhappy it's usually because I'm living the wrong life. A different life than the one God planned for me way back thousands of years ago**.

The unhappiness rolls in when I nag Tom. When I've aimed my nose toward other peoples' business or ignored balance with being online, reading books, eating, gardening, decorating or resting. Or playing on a farm when God actually made me a suburb kind of girl.

When I tweak God's custom-made plans for the nature He created within me, I falter, flounder and sit around on couches wondering, "What went wrong?"

Well, duh.

Somewhere the connection becomes unhooked--and the connection means everything. Make or break. Joy or a certain unsettled discomfort that you just can't explain.

But oh, how good to be reconnected! In the right place at the right time, Grace dancing in circles all around you, even at the supermarket in rush hour. And a new acceptance that--just because you can't leap the same tall buildings others can--still you are strong. Just in different ways, realms. Still God gives you incredible strength to do what He calls you to do--good, special, fun stuff meant to change others' lives and yours, as well.

And how sweet is that?

(Pretty sweet.)


*************


** Jeremiah 1:5


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."


***************

Made an offer on the house yesterday. We'll see how things go today. Thanks for following our story!


***************

Here's a fun summer song for old times' sake. And for you.


***************

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Knowing When to Say When

I forgot to tell you something.

The very first time I glimpsed this house online:



.... my heart began pounding. Really. And never once during the previous hundreds of houses nor the ones afterward, did that happen again.

So the pounding was rather like a sign, though let me stress this: I didn't seek after a sign. It just happened.

And when we actually stepped inside the house, I felt as though I'd come home. Everything felt right about it, except well, that beyond-tiny second bedroom. But after we decided, later, we could add a wall and a French door to the Florida room to use as (what would amount to) a third bedroom, everything felt ok. Especially after we also discussed creating a retro gameroom up in the huge barn loft. What fun!

Except Tom wanted to keep looking at listings. He'd not yet searched through hundreds of available houses as I had, and too, he needed convincing that I could not mentally and emotionally survive in a city, even though he believed he'd survive just fine.

Through much whining, I convinced him.

And although (I told myself) it's true that real love thinks of the other person (and I should be thinking of Tom's wanting city life), there's also knowing oneself and knowing you'd literally shrivel-up in an environment God never gave you the Grace to live within.

Oh, the things I've learned on this farm. Oh, the mistakes they will help me avoid in the future.

So anyway, Tom kept house-searching even after we shared exciting plans about the dear little grey house. But yesterday evening? He became officially Sick Of Looking Beyond The Obvious and said, "Let's just call Cher right now to put in an offer on that (grey) house." I told him, "No, I want you to sleep on it. After all, just one hour ago you wanted to buy a mansion."

So that is where we are. It's morning and I've not yet asked Tom if he still wishes to make an offer on The Sweet Grey House, but I've a feeling he does.

Those of you who wanted us to buy the mansion, well, you crack me up. Only if *you* lived in that neighborhood would I go for it. Why? Because I'd make you work and paint alongside me. :) 

No way could I handle a project like that at this time in my life. Oh, I'm much better suited to decorating than running a farm--yes! But I'm also certain I plain no longer desire to give myself to a house. I used to want nothing more, but that season passed away. Now I want something else.

I'd rather give myself to you. And to prove that point, this morning I awoke at 4:30, opened my Facebook page and saw that a young friend of mine (someone I've not seen since just before her marriage 12 years ago) asked me to call her because of a family emergency. And you know? At first I thought, "Oh dear. After this past week I'm feeling so depleted and as if I'm in recovery." (I didn't even get out of my pajamas yesterday. Good grief.) "I feel like I have so little to give her right now."

And that, dear friends--for me-- is pathetic. A danger sign. Totally opposite of where I want to be and the big reason why I cannot even consider buying a huge house.

My greatest desire is to live ready to encourage people. At any moment, morning, noon or evening, any week, any month, any year.

It's all about living true to God's calling for you, personally.  And, well, if He's called you to decorate a huge house, you are blessed! (Yes!) But I feel blessed, too. I love what He's called me to do--and if we get that sweet little house--I'll be freer to carry out that calling to the best of my and Grace's ability.

I can hardly wait.




*****************

Something else very important that I forgot to tell you? That little grey house is on a quiet, dead-end street and guess what lies at the end, just five houses away?

Give up?

The Erie Canal.

Yes! And our potential neighbor said there are trails on both sides and you can even walk to the next country town if you wish. There's even a tiny park a short distance away at the canal's edge. In fact, as we stood speaking with him, three people walked past, dragging a small boat behind them. He said they take their boat down to the canal often.

Oh happy day! Places to walk again. Sidewalks, even. I so need that.


***************


Elizabeth asked some good questions in my comment box which I answered (or tried to). You may want to check them out in case you, too, have questions about all this zaniness.  :)


****************

P.S. Carla--welcome back! I'm so glad you found me again. :)

And K.E. --thanks for your advice! It helped us decide some good things.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oh Brother...

...and oh good grief. Tom wants to buy this house, below.It's located in a smallish country town we like (mostly) and is under $70,000 so we could swing it by pulling in money from here, there, everywhere, but sheesh. It has no bedrooms downstairs:

...but it does have a large family room which could be Tom's bedroom and Man Cave. And because of the 12-foot ceilings ($$$ in winter) we'd have to close-up all the rooms upstairs during cold months and I'd have to move my Mom Cave downstairs to one of the two front parlors.

Not to even mention that it seems ridiculous and plain ludicrous for two little 5' 2" Hobbit-type folks to buy such a huge place (2750 sq. feet) and ramble around in it. (But oh, the blog fodder, huh?)

This is the third such house he's tried to talk me into buying.

Oh, my poor aching head....

Make it stop! Please make the insanity stop.  :)

(At one point I told him, "Oh just go ahead and call Cher and tell her we'll take it. I just want this to be over!  ...........But I have a feeling that's not the right reason for buying a house.....hmmmm?)



****************


I'd consider this house (maybe) if Naomi could rent some rooms from us, but alas, it's nowhere near where her jobs are located.


*****************

Don't be confused. If you thought we were supposed to be downsizing, you are right. That was the original plan. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mom And Man Caves Save The Day

Oooooh.... I'm feeling much, much better since writing my last (stressed-out, I'm-gonna-go-crazy) post.

Why? Because now I have a Mom Cave:

Oh, I'm still dancing inside. Only took me 10 months to think of bringing the loveseat into our dining room and carrying my computer away from the tv where Tom watches his war shows (bang, scream! bang, scream!) and that sports guy who goes blab-blab-blab for hours every morning (ever heard that guy? Eegads.).

No more need for Daisy Cottage music blaring on my headphones while writing in my blog or doing other Net stuff and eating and printing-out coupons and feeling like I'm inside an out-of-control circus. And ok, so it's not supposed to be as safe when your laptop is just receiving (radioactive/dangerous/deadly) airwaves, rather than being plugged into the whatever-you-call-it box (which then, supposedly, stops emmitting those Danger Waves. Supposedly.)

Right now I, frankly, just don't care.

No, I'll just live dangerously because it's such an extreme part of my nature to have my own room and lots of peace and being able to listen to what I wish, when I wish and fall asleep on the love seat while watching an old Dick van Dyke Show on Netflix if I so choose.

And today I so chose.

And well, believe you me, Tom is thrilled that now the living room is his Man Cave and today that annoying, nagging woman closed the pocket doors and left his new room. Now he just does what he wants, too. And loves it.

Oh, happy, happy day. Things will continue to improve around here now, I just feel it. Heck, they began the moment I made a special place for Grace and God and myself to hang out.

Oh, the power of paying attention when things feel all wrong inside--and then taking steps to fix them... and not feeling guilty at all for grabbing what you needed to heal your sanity.

After all, how can you help other people after those men in white coats come and haul you away?  :)






************

"In my own little corner, in my own little chair I can be whatever I want to be."

... Rodgers and Hammerstein

The Losing Game

Anyone notice I haven't blogged in a few days?

That's because I've been one cranky middle-aged lady.

Some of you told me it's fun reading my blog right now, that it's very much like reading a book whose ending you cannot guess. But uh-oh! That's the part which is driving me bonkers. The part in which Tom and I are kinda homeless, what with a deadline to find another house lest our contract with the buyers of this farmhouse, expire--and where we've hardly a clue into which town we'll end up.

(I told Tom this weekend that we were only on day 4 of the 21-day-search we're allowed and he asked, "It's only been four days??") But it seems much longer since I began semi-seriously searching in May--and since it's all so brain-numbing.

Remember how I told you months ago that a favorite pasttime of mine is to search for real estate online? Well, that was then. Now? I hate it. Just hate it. As I told Tom last night, it's like playing a game in which you always, always lose.

Sigh. We thought it would be simple. Just find a cheap house with two bedrooms on the first floor, with or without a garage (depending upon the price: we could build a garage onto a cheap house if we had to) on a small-ish lot. Not a lot to ask, right? There are tons of houses like that in Western New York.

Trust me. I've viewed every single one of them online.

But here's the part where I keep spinning the dial and coming-up with the wrong combination for a win:

I'll find the perfect house at the perfect price, but it's in a "look over your shoulder or you may just get murdered" neighborhood.  --or--

The perfect house is on a gorgeous, scenic lot--but sits in a place where they get tons of snow or is on wayyy too much property or is too expensive. --or--

The taxes are outrageous ($3,700 on a $48,000 place). --or--

The house is adorable and has a garage, but its two (or more) bedrooms are all upstairs, along with the soul bathroom. (Major deal breaker since Tom doesn't do stairs.)  --or--

The house is amazing, with a perfect price, but with just one bedroom downstairs (which is what we have now and it's not working)...*** --or--

A nice, doable house is in a safe city block, but that particular city has always stressed-me-out just thinking about running errands there (but doesn't bother Tom at all).  --or--

The perfect house has no garage and is already at the top price we can afford to pay. --or--

A nearly perfect place will be too far from Tom's specialist whom he sees just 8 or fewer times a year.  --or--

I'll love the house and Tom doesn't (fortunately this one is rare, but it does happen) --or--

(And this happened again yesterday): We come upon the true house of my dreams, the one I've decorated inside my head since childhood, one which totally stole my heart, never to give it back, but it needs $40,000 worth of repairs. Which, if we got it cheap enough we could handle (maybe), except I can't do that to Tom (who says he wouldn't mind at all), because of the polio thing and needing to respect what it's done to him at age 54.

Gah! I hate this game. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

(See why I haven't written here in a few days?)

But still? God is good. He was especially good to allow our house to sell so fast as confirmation that truly, He wants us out of here. Without that, well, Naomi would probably have returned home one night and found Tom and I in choke holds upon the floor. ...heh...

So there is that (the divine confirmation thing). But as we've been driving around through the roads of the real world and the online one, too, I've certainly wished He'd throw down some more confirmation upon us about which house to buy! (Come on, God.... a little visit from Grace would be nice right about now.) She went missing again. Oh dear.

And yes.... perhaps He just wants us to rent, instead. We've thought of that and the actual living in an apartment doesn't bother us one bit. But it makes little sense to our heads to rent something (and start that searching game...gah...) when it would drain, over time, a huge chunk of our house-buying money for another place in a different state someday.

But the scary thing is that often God makes little sense to our limited, emotional, often-plain-wrong brains.

There is that, too.

Eegads. Calgon, anyone?  :)



*****************


So.... if you didn't already pick up on this--please pray for us, ok? 



****************

The house of my dreams which we walked through with Cher yesterday? I was going to describe it to you, show you a few pictures, even, but emotionally I just can't go there. My heart made too strong of an emotional attachment to it: it was like the home I always wanted, but never got. Well, minus the huge holes in the ceiling, the bad roof, the 70-year-old windows (some of them, missing), the bowed-out inside walls, the ------------

Nope. Don't ask me to go back there. As it is, I'm now comparing every single house we see online to the design-perfection of that one--and they're all falling short.


*****************

The little house in the post below? It's still a possibility. Its 'wrong combination' is that 1.) it's far from Tom's specialist (30 miles), 2.) We'd have to make the Florida room into a bedroom and 3.) The FMC wants to dig up everyone's yards and haul away all the arsenic (as if that's possible), meaning they'd take down every huge front yard tree on the street. They did that already to one street and our potential-neighbor is on a committee to stop them from doing more senseless destruction. But hey, I need a house, not a tree. I still love that house, though, and sometimes Tom does, too. Sometimes.

**********************


*** Yesterday's perfect house had just one bedroom downstairs--and since I loved the yard and house so much--I did discover a way to make it work. And since the two-bedroom downstairs thing isn't working in our search, we're now adaptable. Just give us one good-sized bedroom and bathroom downstairs, at least one bedroom upstairs and we'll be good.



****************

Sara spoke of our house-hunting adventure today. It surprises me that some of you often think of our quandary during your days. Surprises and blesses me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Today's Adventure

Oh my.

Remember when we drove by this house, then I showed you some photos from the real estate listing?:



Well, we drove all the way out there again (we're talking deep, deep countryside), but this time we met Cher Our Real Estate Agent there and when the three of us stepped inside this tiny house, well, oh dear-- love at first sight. Serious love, even. Though you know? It felt more like a reunion, for through the photos I'd already come to love those rooms.

Some houses just speak to you and as Cher said, this one had really pleasant mojo or vibes or whatever you wish to call it. For me, it had the cottage-y feeling I've longed for twenty years. And while Tom strolled around taking photos of every minor problem (and not saying much of anything positive...sigh...) Cher and I stepped from cute, adorable room to  cute, adorable room, sharing decorating plans and ideas and suggestions.

It's such a delight to visit an old, old house with a kindred spirit who loves them, too.

But uh-oh, when we found the second bedroom (after actually searching for it, but I enjoyed that part), my heart sank. As Tom stated, it's more like half a bedroom. Not even enough room for two twin beds! And since the (plenty large) master bedroom would be Tom's man cave, well, this one 'small detail' could be a deal breaker.

Except that I have solutions galore, of course. Always have a back-up plan, I say.

Yet I walked you too quickly past my favorite part -- the office off of the kitchen. Here was the room Tom and I had talked about creating at our farmhouse, but never did, the sunny little room which would help me survive any winter. Dreamy, dreamy little room with built-in cupboards, even! All right there inside that tiny house.

Speaking of built-ins, this house had closets and cupboards galore, even a canning jar cupboard in the basement. And oh--get this--the barn/garage even had horse troughs on the back wall! That charmed all of us, but of course. Horse troughs in a barn on a city lot...wow.

Then when Cher used the term, "Danger, danger Will Robinson" in a sentence, Tom laughed and I looked at Cher and said, "Oh! I say that all the time and I didn't think anyone else did!" I've always considered Cher a kindred spirit, but that cinched it forever.   (Give yourself ten points if you know which tv show that is referencing.)

Oh, those hours in a whole other land were great fun, but it was hard, too, for Tom isn't certain about that house. He was for awhile, but he goes back and forth, back and forth, and I've given up trying to convince him how much I believe this to be the right place for us. God will have to do that for He does it best. Or He'll have to lead us to another place altogether (which Tom will need to find online because--whereas my favorite pasttime game used to be house-searching, now I cannot stand it. Cannot. Stand. It.

So what will I do in the meantime? I'll keep arranging our furniture within that tiny house inside my head,making a place for everything, tossing away everything unimportant. And believing that if we but listen, we'll hear the right way to go. And all will be well.



***********

Oh, and Tom and I spoke to the neighbor on the right of the house, an older man who seemed as nice as can be. He said the neighbors across the street are fine and the neighborhood, as a whole, is a quiet one. Plus, Cher looked things over for us and said it didn't look bad at all, and too, for being a Saturday and surrounded by so very many houses it was incredibly quiet. (Mostly what I heard from the beginning was tons of birdsong and who doesn't love that?)

Never Lose Your Blogging Confidence

...  that's what I wrote near my computer when my favorite teacher said it. Although, she didn't say 'blogging confidence,' but rather, she spoke of any calling, gifting we may have. (But as I speak of blogging confidence, I want you to substitute your own calling, ok? Whether it be singing, rescuing animals, crafting, teaching, decorating, selling houses, mothering, bookkeeping,babysitting, gardening, building bridges or  500 other abilities.)

Frankly? Perhaps every three weeks (or so), satan taunts me to quit writing in this blog. He mutters, "Probably only 5 people would care if you packed-up your blog and disappeared forever in the mist. They'd yawn and say, 'Oh well! It was pleasant while it lasted,' and then forget you and your posts ever exsisted and move-on with their happy lives."

Hmm. It can be rough hearing that.

So of course, I remind myself that, according to the Bible, I must be doing something right for satan (and my own insecurities) to nag me like that. God has specific plans for each of us so to carry-out His purposes on this Earth, and of course, satan desires that those plans get royally screwed-up and left undone. You know, so that everything remains in a sorry kind of chaos down here and no one feels loved and cherished by God.

So! For you and me, what remains is that we never lose our confidence in God's great love and power within us.

Which brings me back to never losing our gifting/calling confidence. Why not? It becomes a little like that thing of, "Never let them (animals and enemies, namely) smell your fear," because if you do--look out! They will attack and devour you and you'll fall down. And find it hard to rise up again. You'll lack the confidence to walk boldly through scary places as you once did and you won't be around anymore for God to help other people through you.

You'll start doubting that you're obeying God at all and second-guessing every move you make. And frankly, though God can do anything, He finds it difficult, actually, to speak and move and touch others powerfully through a double-minded, cowering, wimpy fraidy cat.

No, really. He does.  :)

So never let fear sneak inside your gifting! Keep your confidence that God is using you in powerful ways to touch and heal this world which is currently hurting like crazy. Let Him use you, your gifts and callings, to change your corner of it and watch the amazing difference a great big God inside a tiny you can make.



************



Jeremiah 1:17


(God told Jeremiah--and us, today):

"Arise and tell them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed and break down at the sight of their faces, lest I confound you before them and permit you to be overcome."


(Oy!)

************

'A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." ... James 1:8


************

Proverbs 31:18
"She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust]."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Magical House

Today we saw a sad thing.

It was the house in this photo:
Now, from this angle, it doesn't look dreadful, does it? (That magical real estate agent camera lense again...). But up close? Oh dear. The front porch roof was caving in, the whole roof needed replacing, the one on the garage, too. Raspberry bushes and holly climbed halfway up the outside walls, a wooden trailer had taken at least ten years to collapse on the lawn to the left and porch posts were rotting, peeling, leaning. Through dusty windows, rooms inside looked as though they breathed under water.

I almost never say a house should be torn down, it's too sad a thing to mutter. But this one? It probably should be laid to rest.

And once again, Tom and I drove away disappointed.

 Yet at one time? That house and yard were enchanted, magical. How do I know? I could feel it and my eyes could see remnants of the magic. Beside the back covered side porch, ivy and iris' still grew, requiring no care, even now, and in their center stood a six-foot pole with a birdseed tray on top. All this just outside the window above the kitchen sink and the stone porch with room for three wicker chairs. A tall black lampost stood at the house's other back corner, very Lion, Witch and Wardrobe-ish and the lawn was divided into three mananageable patches with more iris and other perennials as borders edging little pathways for visiting elves at night, but of course.

For many decades, a sweet old couple lived there (anyone could tell) and they spent years making that yard special for themselves and maybe a few fairies. But that sweet couple grew elderly and their house and yard got away from them. And rather than let go before it all splintered, rather than respect this new elderly season of their lives, they didn't sell their magical house to a young couple who could then have lived within its enchantment until this bright June day in 2011.

No, the house did what houses do when your hands can no longer care for them--it began sinking into the ground from the heaviness of neglect.

And so as Tom and I drove away, I repented for the dream I've sometimes dreamed--that we'd find an old house and live inside it until it fell down around our ears or we died--whichever came first. No, today for the first time I realized how incredibly selfish is that dream. Houses should be loved into standing forever and the seasons of our lives should be cherished so we'll have no regrets and respected so we'll know when it's time to move on to the seasons of our later years. All with acceptance and Grace. All with the knowledge that we left this place better than when we first arrived.



*******************

Recognizing When Grace Walks Away

When we first moved to this farm I would step out the backdoor in the afternoons to my garden and think, "Oh, the huge amount of vegetables I'll grow here!" I'd gaze back toward our old farmhouse and celebrate the blank canvas walls inside which I could paint any color I chose.

Silently I'd stare at those wide, open spaces between our house and our neighbors, feeling gratitude that no longer did mere driveways separate us from houses on either side. Now we had whole green meadows to wander through, wild animals to watch and hundreds of trees everywhere.

It was invigorating. I felt I could do every task with energy to spare. (Mostly. Some tasks always felt like a struggle--and that concerned me, frankly.)

The first two years were pretty great, that is.

But over this past year? I'd step outside the backdoor and think, "Good grief. The weeds in the garden! They're three-feet tall. And we need to buy some more rock salt so to kill the weeds taking over the gravel in front of the barn and I need 500 more bricks to finish my sidewalk out back.  I'm worried about the peach tree that is barely hanging on and may go the way of the apple tree we lost and the whole orchard needs to be fertilized. Gah."

Stepping out farther, behind the barn, all those meadows desperately needed mowing, but the air was too hot for me to mow and Tom's tractors each had mechanical problems. And then I'd nearly step upon another dead bird which reminded me of the time our chipmunk fell out of a tree and died and the day I mowed over my garter snake buddy and a couple frogs, too, and how a hummingbird flew into our window and broke its neck (and how I'd still not recovered from any of that).

So I'd trudge to the house, into the back porch which always screamed, "Paint me! I am dirty and look like something from an abandoned house in the desert." Then into the kitchen with the unfinished floor I'd been working on when Tom was laid-off, but hadn't had the desire to finish since. Then into our bedroom with the color of walls that made me roll my eyes, but which would take way too much effort to paint, what with Tom's guitars stuffed under the bed and the big furniture in there.

So I'd collapse on the bed and take a nap, wander back outside in the cool of the evening to my dreamy patio, one I've always wanted, with cool breezes blowing through the green, green trees and blue skies and I knew I should be overwhelmed by the glory of it all! But instead I just felt, well, overwhelmed. As if I was emotionally unable to appreciate what I'd been given, as though my eyes of appreciation had been plucked right out of my face.

Yet this was what I'd dreamed of for 35 years! So why did I feel as though I'd been dragging Grace around by the neck, asking her to bless me with some joy?

And well, when everything becomes a struggle and you despise what you once loved (even though you're doing all you can to get the love back) and you find yourself dreaming smaller, simpler dreams..... well..... chances are Grace walked out the door long ago, but you were so busy trying to force things, to make things work and good again, that you didn't even notice Grace was gone.

And you got used to living without her. Struggle and that overwhelmed feeling just became your motivation and part of who you are.

That's my story, anyway. And finally two weeks ago I stood out on our acres and said to the sky, " Oh, how I miss Grace! Life was sweet and glorious for lots of years with her. So why keep living in this 'overwhelmed realm' when I have other choices? When I can go out and find Grace in the place I'm supposed to be?"

Why indeed?

So there you have my story. I've given you pieces here and there over the past year, but I've held back much because I didn't want mine to become a Whiner's Blog. And not even Tom knew the depth of overwhelmingness I'd swum out to and was drowning...gulp, gulp, gulp... beneath.

But now he knows and so do you and the weight of pretense dropped from my shoulders. Thus, my anticipation in finding the house where Grace waits for me--and finding my true, God-made self waiting there, also. Oh, what a reunion it will be and you know? The reunion has even begun already, for the struggle is gone and Grace is back.

Hallelujah.


********

This is different than when we just stop trying to make things better in our relationships or daily doings, when we cease caring because someone/something becomes hard to deal with. This is about when we honestly keep trying to improve our situation with our whole hearts, yet nothing gets better, only worse, after a good, fair amount of time has passed. That's how we can tell Grace has left the building.



****************

Oh! I was too, too happy to find these yesterday:

Michael Collings' semi-final performance on Britain's Got Talent.

And Michael's final performance.

What a delight! When he makes a CD, I am sooo buying one. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When You Believe





On Friday, Cher The Real Estate Lady listed our house online. Minutes later a woman called Cher's office wanting to make an appointment to see our little farm. She and her fiance had been looking for such a place to buy.


On Monday, this woman, her fiance and her teenage daughter came with Cher to see our cottonwood-flying, tall-wet-grass, green-green-green piece of property.


On Tuesday, Cher called us and said they'd put in an offer to buy it.


Oh my goodness. We've sold this farm already!


Cartwheel. Cartwheel. Cartwheel!


The timing was right and God was right to nudge us and say, "Now!" And in the two weeks since we decided to sell, I've felt such a return of Grace.


Hello again, my old friend. I'd missed you.






*************


We've included a contigency about needing 3 weeks to locate a house of our own so please pray we'll find just the right (cheap but nice) place, ok? And thanks so much for your encouragement all along while we've lived and laughed and struggled down on the farm. You all made the journey richer.




***********


Oh, and personally, I've already found the house I want. Tom's not as certain, but Cher will be taking us there soon so we can get a better feel for it. Where is it? Uh, er, erhem.... It's in our former town. The one we moved away from. (Oh, stop laughing! ...heh...) I actually feel excited about the possibility of moving back to The Land of Simplicity. Happy sigh.

But again, we shall see what we shall see.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You Talked Me Into It....

All right... for all my fellow house lovers, here's the house we're considering: Isn't it cute? (Though the photo makes the property and the house look much larger than they are in reality. A special realtor camera lense, hmm?) The house has 1020 sq. feet and sits on .19 acre. The red barn/garage is included and has automatic garage doors. It says the house was built in 1860, which seems older than it looks, but the whole town is ancient like that and what with the barn, that could easily be right.

And see? There's a 10 x 12 Florida room on the back. Love that! Now, the house has just two bedrooms but....drum roll... it also has an office which would be mine(!)

Sweet! I would line the walls with bookshelves, but of course. Lest you're wondering what Tom would get, he'd have the largest of the two bedrooms for his man cave.


There's even an entryway/foyer at the house's front...
And look at this sweet dining room. Adorable, huh?
And the kitchen has oak cabinets--plenty of them. All appliances, even the washer and dryer, are included with the house.
There's also a partial basement. And to top it all off, this house is in one of those towns in the midst of rolling farmland and barns and it all zooms you back to the 1930's, with tall brick buildings from the 1800's lining the main street and there's even a drive-in movie theater with an ice cream parlor! We saw many elderly people out working in their pretty yards and to really top it all off, the house is just less than $50,000.

Well, we did a 'drive by' today and although the house seems a bit squeezed-in between the neighbors (and part of the driveway is shared), the yard is still a thousand times better than the one we had in the suburbs and a million times more sane than we currently have here. But alas, we've still not walked through the house and that would be the deciding thing. We've alerted Cher The Real Estate Lady and either she'll take us to see it or send along a referral to someone.

But one thing! You must promise me not to get your heart set on this cute little place, ok? We really, really like what we've seen so far and most of the houses on the block (a dead end street) were well-kept.. But across from the house there were what appeared to be two rentals, one of them was large and nice but another was small and not so nice, with a torn-up car in the driveway. Sooo... we'd like to talk to the very-friendly-looking neighbor who we saw during our drive-by just to see what he says...

So there you go!



*************

Well, folks.... Tom and I are already reconsidering. Gah. The house and yard are about as perfect as it gets and the town is beyond cool, but the neighborhood just didn't feel right. We think it would be too noisy, not only with the renters across the street, but sitting inches beside the white barn there's an above ground pool from behind one house and that's not even counting the house we'd share the driveway with. So, as I said, we're rethinking it. Just thought I'd warn you, but anyway, you now have an idea of what we're looking for house and yard-wise. :)

(This still isn't to say it's completely out of the picture...)

***********

Two of our potential buyers today were the most enthusiastic, funniest people! The kind of people who I wished we could have for friends. Their realtor was late so I was able to show them all over the yard and throughout the barn. Jane really wants to keep a horse and was disappointed when I said you must have 10 acres here in order to do so. So she wants to either hide a horse in the woods or see about leasing another 6 acres behind our property(!) She was a hoot, a very passionate, fun woman and her husband was cool and great at humoring her wildest plans. :) I very much enjoyed spending time with them and even as Tom and I drove away later we noticed them inside their car parked in the street, staring at our place just as we did before we bought it....

Just a Note

So!

Four 'parties' walked through our house and yard yesterday, three seemed very interested(!)

Two more parties are due today (Cher says we're getting so much interest in this house that you'd think we were giving away a free turkey with each viewing).

And.... (drum roll)... After searching through hundreds of houses online, Tom and I think we've found THE house to buy! Online it appears nearly perfect, a miniature version of what we now have (miniature being the pleasant, key word), only better located as far as shopping goes (yay!). But of course, we'll need to see it for ourselves in-person. Alas.

I considered showing you a few photos of THE house, but I know you're so tired of me jerking you around from one possible house to another, in whole varieties of states, even. So I'll wait and show you only what we become super-serious about, that is, unless you enjoy being jerked around like this(?) :)

(A hint: it's only 24 miles away from us.)

So, much excitement around here! I can tell it's time to go: just thinking about driving away forever in a moving van makes my heart all pitter-pattery.

Happy sigh.


**********

(Thanks for your kind comments lately!)

Oh! And Lori reminded me of what I should have reminded everyone earlier-- Tom and I can't move out-of state right now because his medical insurance is only good in New York state. We'll be working out all those details in the future, but right now all we know for certain is that we're supposed to sell this too-big-for-us farm before it kills us. heh. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Best Place To Live

"The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?" ...1 Kings 19:11-13

***

This passage flew to my mind when I read yet another blog post today hinting that the country life is the best life, the one closest to how God meant us all to live.

And well, let me tell ya... The best place to live is where God calls you to live.

If God wants you in the suburbs, well, you can move out to the greenest, most-natural patch of country land--but He won't be out there. At least, not in the way you're hoping to find Him. You can go 'back to the land' and off the grid and drink milk straight from under a cow, yet you won't find any extra-closeness to God out there, no matter how many people tell you that that's where He lives.

No, if God's called you to the suburbs, you'll know Him best and feel His joy while fulfilling His purposes for you there in the 'burbs.

If God has called you to a cabin in the woods, you won't find greater happiness on Rich Peoples' Boulevard. And of course, if He's called you to a big countryside farm, you won't be 100 percent happy on a tiny lot in the city.

Trust me. I know.

Three years ago today I moved to this large countryside lot and--on a scale of 1 to 10-- my Joy Level has averaged a 6. Maybe a 5. But in our suburb house squeezed between two other houses? That level usually ran around a 12.

Uh-oh.

The truth? I have often resented this too-big-for-me farm for zapping my best energy. Too many times I worked harder than I wanted to just to keep up with things that always need doing--when instead--I just wanted to write in this blog. Or rearrange the furniture and paint a wall. Or read a book, make a craft or sit outside and dream in the sun--and come away with more blog fodder.

Lots of bloggers told me the simple life was in the countryside and I've (sadly) resented that, too. The simple life is out here? Ha! Never have I known such extreme complication, such a need to plan everything beforehand and to always be one step ahead of the myriad details out here.

And yet I needed to move out here in order to realize where I truly belong. To learn that I can't run a farm and write my very best in this blog simultaneously. I'd heard before that when you have a gift you must arrange your life so to pursue it and seek to do it better--but I forgot that. Or didn't make the connection in this case.

Believe me, I'll never forget again! This amazing experience has been so huge, so memorable, that from now on I'll arrange to make room for my writing and encouraging gifts-- my strongest giftings. To put them before lesser things, not after.  I'll sacrifice, even,  to devote my best strength to God's purposes for me.

For your sake I'm determined (and excited) to do this.



**********


"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." ... Proverbs 4:23


**********

Only today did I see this so clearly. Took me three years (talk about your slow puppy!), but that's ok--the value of this lesson is priceless.

***********

Julie asked a great question so I thought I'd publish it and my response out here for clarification:

Julie From Texas said:
So, you didn't feel, at the time, that God was calling you to be a country dweller?


Debra said:
Julie--hmm... Well, it's not the countryside that's the problem, really. It's more like the *size* of it we bought! :)

I still prefer this lovely area (and our sweet little town) but as Peter Walsh would say, "It's all too much." Tom and I need to downsize our house, yard and possessions and then I can more easily fulfill God's purposes for me.

Another Blessing


So we needed an extra cabinet in the kitchen. Even Cher, our realtor, agreed and usually she's pretty much, "Oh, it's all just perfect as it can be already!" But no, this time we needed a cabinet so Tom searched Craig's List a few days and then poof! As he drove to an appointment last week he spied this (top) cabinet on the curb. For free. So I painted it yesterday. There's even a pleasant light for the inside.

Happy sigh.


So then we moved this top cabinet over beside the sink. I'm not used to such convenience, you know, being able to put dishes away without walking across the whole room.

Another happy sigh.
Is it all perfect? Nah, not even close. But it is what it is and we're certain God wants us to sell this place. So, well, that's what matters, that, and we're trying to do our best with what we have.

Busy, busy day ahead. This is only our first "showing day" and we've already got two couples coming today and another couple arriving tomorrow evening. Pretty great considering we live in this Little Town In The Middle of Nowhere. There are more floor tiles to lay and more stuff to paint and weeds to--well, you know.

More later... May your Sunday be awesome!