Friday, April 3, 2015

Chapter 10

Okay. Tom and I are on the brink of being certifiable. 

Today we talked about buying another house--something here in this Eternal Winter town! Maybe we could find something super-cheap, we mused. We could pay cash for nearly all of it (cheapo houses still do exist here) with the money we got from the sale of our last house. It's burning a hole in our pocket, after all.

I'm blaming it on Spring.

Sigh. We are impatient, I know. Tired of waiting and wondering now--after a year-and-a-half of considering a move out-of state--whether perhaps God just wants us to stay here. And well, Buffalo Winters can make anyone dream of new adventures and become impatient (I know. I know.).

But Tom and I have nearly always been sensible (said with a sarcastic voice). I think we will get to Heaven and God will shake His head and say, "Well, one thing for sure. You kids sure did play it safe."

The only wild thing we've ever done? We moved from Nevada all the way over here to New York. And even that turned out to be the best thing, ever.

So have you ever wanted to break out of your own sensible ways and just leap and do something wild, something you're not sure is right but you just wanted to do it anyway? How did it turn out? (she asks with fear and trembling). Well, that's kinda where we are now--wanting to leap, instead of sitting here on the couch, waiting. But like I said--maybe it's just cabin fever, Spring fever and the fever of impatience.

And I'd just bet it's because I have another birthday coming this weekend--the big 4-9. Veering that close to 50 is enough to get anyone a tad antsy. :)


P.S. Do not take this post too seriously. I'm just rambling to any of you who still read here. (And a big thank-you goes to any of you who are listening.)


So it's another birthday for good ol' Debra on this auspicious Sunday.

These days, I love what's going on inside of my body and head and heart.

But I am shocked with what's happening on the outside.


While the morning was still dark and before Tom was awake, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and stared at my face with its fringe of grey hair. I sighed. Got my hair wet, scrunched its curls and made them curlier, then trimmed the whole shaggy affair.

And called it good.

I put on some make-up, pulled on a knitted sweater-top in my best blue shade (third change in an hour). And smiled. I still looked 49, but a better 49. And I guess that's what matters--that I make the most of this aging face and accept its lines, creases and spots with grace (with the help of magical foundation, but of course.)...

...and then move on to the myriad things in Life which matter much, much more.


Tomorrow we'll go visit a farmhouse for sale that we found online.

For nearly thirty years, Tom and I have mused that we'd enjoy living in the country, that we'd love a barn, an orchard and some land. 

Of course, it's easy to speak such bold words and now? I'm a bit nervous that we may just get what we have wished for--and perhaps find it not to our liking or more work than we'd enjoy. And that it was all a pipe dream rather than a God-inspired one.

Yet making bold moves usually feels that way and I realize that when God has a new project/ministry/plan in mind, He always makes it more than what we, ourselves, could handle on our own. Why? Because if we could do it all easily, then we'd be doing it all in our own strength (not His) and He would get none of the glory.

So I do know better than to look for something I-could-do-with-one-arm-tied-behind-my-back-no-problem. And gazing at this farmhouse I know it's more like a this-is-gonna-fail-big-time-if-God's-not-in-it project.


We're back! From seeing the above farmhouse, that is. 

Oh, the barn and the peaceful 3.8 acres. I could envision myself strolling the valley-like land on summer mornings. The current owners even have chickens in the barn and two Angora sheep (we believe they were. Huge ol' hairy things on tiny, skinny legs--it's surprising they don't topple over).

And the house? Did I tell you it was built in 1880? Lots of ancient stuff in there--original doors, even pocket doors and a butlers' type pantry--a tiny one. Old metal doorknobs, tall ceilings and three huge windows in the dining room--nearly all the downstairs windows are almost floor-to-ceiling, making for a sunny, cheerful house.

But, as with any old house, it comes with problems. The floors in three rooms downstairs need to be refinished big-time, "Before we move in," I told Tom. We never did refinish our floors at Autumn Cottage because we hated considering hiring movers, first. 

And I told Tom I'd not even consider the house if I can't paint the natural woodwork, white. For 14 years I lived with woodwork he wouldn't let me paint and it nearly made me and my paint-happy hands. He said, "Ok. I promise you can paint it. It's only yellow pine, anyway. Not like it's oak--that would be different." I said I'd take that in writing, thank-you. :)

And the stairs are only the enclosed kind and they're off the kitchen. Now, I've always wanted stairs off of a kitchen, but only in addition to a stairway you can actually see from an entryway. But oh well. And there's no window over the kitchen sink--oh dear. Yet the window in the work area is tall and looks over the meadow.

Overall, it's a very livable house as it is and any work would only improve upon it. A sturdy, good bones house.

We adore the tiny country town where this house stands. Just 15 miles from where we live, yet it felt and appeared like a whole different state. We ate lunch at the only restaurant there and everybody was friendly beyond belief. Genuine country folk. We'd not even seen the house yet, but after that meal, we were ready to move there.

All those countryside drives we've taken over the years! Instead of always driving back home, someday we hope to drive out there and stay. 

Stay tuned.


Oh wow.

Have you seen the new Kohl's department store commercial? I seldom love tv ads but that one is special. 

While the Horse With No Name song plays, it shows four young women traveling in a convertible (convertibles. Tom and I always drool over them) through the desert and one girl lifts her scarf and lets the wind catch it and tear it away. It floats to the road so they stop the car and then they (in beautiful, trendy clothes) run down sandy dunes where they come upon a gorgeous carousel (in the middle of just sand for miles... so cool) which lights up, after which they jump up on it and twirl around. Then they frolic back through the sand to their car and drive away, leaving a yellow hat lying on the road.

And then comes the reason I'm even writing about this. A slogan pops up. It reads:

"Kohl's: Expect great things."

Oh my goodness--encouragement in spades.

"Yes! Expect great things," I reminded myself. "God would want you to believe for the best in people, in circumstances and Life, in general."

But how easy it is to slip into a lazy sort of expectation apathy. You know, expecting that Spring will never really get here, that the skies will always be as grey as they were today or expecting that I'll always be in this state of mid-life adjustment, always having to adapt to this my-fate-is-up-in-the-air feeling.

You know... that kind of thing

It is good to pause, sometimes, and ask, "Just what am I expecting, anyway?"

Always God wants me to believe for better. He is all about faith and hope and love, too--and everyday I'm given opportunities to believe for all that. And even more.

And so Kohl's--even though the one time I visited your store I nearly bounded out the doors, screaming because of your high prices--I do thank you for your tv commercial and your reminder and I'll be taking your advice to expect great things. I promise.


So guess who arose at 4 o'clock this morning to take her hubby to the airport for a business trip? Yawn..... yes, Debra. What a lovely drive home, though, (the long, non-thruway way, of course) classical music adding mystery to the dark streets--and almost no traffic out there at 5:30!

I love knowing my way around parts of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and their suburbs, knowing I can easily escape the airport and find my way home from most areas of Buffalo and all areas of Niagara Falls. For this rather chicken driver, that's HUGE.

And though I've done my share of complaining about our weather, well, there's just something about surviving another Buffalo winter--a sort of pioneer kind of pride about it. I remember one winter in Nevada when we had almost no snow and scant freezing weather and well, it's like--for the year's remainder--my world slanted on its axis. Inside of me, something felt all wrong because we'd experienced no winter harshness.

You never worry about that happening when you live in Buffalo. :)


April! I always breathe easier and more deeply when April arrives and snow storms are less likely.

If I had nothing else to celebrate, April would be enough. But I thank God that I--and all the rest of us--have so much more to sing and laugh and skip around about.


Oh! I appreciate all your congrats so much. Thank-you!

Our offer on the farmhouse is contingent upon the results of the inspection so we won't know for absolute certain about all this for ten days, or so. But everything looks and feels, well, amazing.

In fact, within my head, I'm already living inside that farmhouse. Already I've painted every wall soft Easter shades of blue or green and nearly all the furniture and knick-knacks are variances of white. I take my walks outside and, instead of glimpsing these houses too-close-together, I'm decorating and double-checking all the light, airy details in my soon-to-be Victorian-like 1880's farmhouse, gazing out the back windows to a happily-rescued dog and some contented chickens and playing Laura Ingalls Wilder.

(Insert Twilight Zone music here.)

That, and making all sorts of lists with Tom about stuff we'll need to buy or do before this next winter (rather complicated, it appears, to live a simple country life!) and reminding him (the family worry-wart) that if this truly is God's idea, then He will work out all the myriad details. All that remains is for us to cooperate with Him each slow step--and not to run ahead in impatience or cower in corners of worry.

If this truly is God's plan, then it will be a good one. If it's not, then He'll let us know before it's too late. Of that, I'm certain.


  I was thinking last week how often I avoid my controversial side in this blog. And believe me, I've got some ultra-controversial thoughts inside me. Sometimes I think, "Shouldn't I share that side of me in my blog,too?" Other times I already know what could happen--half of you could shake your head with pity then click away, never to return.

I know how Christians can be. I've been one for 37 years. And well, like I said, I know how we all can be.

But today I will be bold and tell you a controversial thing which will lead up to a very simple story which will ruffle no feathers. So don't click away too early, all right?

Back when I was 22, Tom and I were attending a charismatic church, one very different than the kind I'd grown up in. And at 22, I was a mother of a baby, a happy wife and all excited about God and Life. And in the midst of all that, one day it was as though I heard God clearly say (but not out loud), "Debra, always stay ready to raise the dead."

Really. I truly think that's what He told me in that special non-verbal, just-in-your-gut way. And I've never forgotten it. In fact (now this is where you might just run away, screaming), sometimes when I hear on the news that someone young has passed away, my first thought will be, "Well, why didn't someone just raise her from the dead?" Then I think, "Oh yeah. Probably nobody thought about it."

Just sometimes I think that, ok? Not always.

Anyway, here's the simple story part. Today the two young boys who live in the apartment behind us came home from school to discover their mom not home. I could hear them trying to open their door and after awhile, they knocked at our door. One boy asked if he could use our phone and I said sure, then invited him in and handed the phone to him. He called his mom and right away asked her, "Mom, where are you?"

Basically, that tore my heart out. He didn't sound scared, exactly, but rather tired and sad about being forgotten.

I've said a lot of prayers for that family. I know it's incredibly hard to be a single mom, but when she yells horrid things at her three kids, things I would rather die than say to a child, well, I pray harder and keep my eyes open to ways to ease her stress.

But I'm so not good at that. It comes so easily to some people, but I'm just rather hopeless in that 'helps area' unless God gives me a specific idea (usually with a little shove, too, what with the occasional leftover Curse of Shyness I lived under for years).

So the young boy (he's around 11) left and I just felt sad and tried not to think unkind thoughts about his mom, since unkind thoughts help no one. And then I thought oh! I wish I had some cookies or cake to offer those boys. But as usual there were none because I have no will power, especially when I'm alone as I have been this week, so I don't keep them in the cupboards as a temptation (because I always give-in).

But I glanced around and saw that I had two oranges in the fruit bowl and so--after pushing aside some shyness and ridiculous reasoning, I grabbed the oranges and a bag and took the oranges and gave them to the boys, saying they could eat them while they wait for their mom and that I wished I had cookies or cake to offer them.

They thanked me then I came inside and all these 27 years later, this is what I heard God say, "Debra, always stay ready to help the neighbor children."

And I smiled and thought, "Yes, I can do that. But only with Your help, because it will require a miracle for me to keep desserts in the cupboard. :)


I've mentioned here before that after beholding abandoned cafes, the sad collapses of people's dreams and livelihoods, we felt strong conviction to do something about such tragedies. And so, instead of always driving straight to the cheapest (being recovering penny-pinchers), fastest place to eat, we began seeking out the few remaining Mom and Pop diners in our area. 

And that has made all the difference.

Because of this directive, we've discovered the quaintest diners and shops, places which whisk us back seventy or eighty years, giving us chances to experience what we missed in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. 

People say time travel is impossible, but Tom and I have discovered a loophole. 

And it was through our adventure of searching out--and rescuing-- the quaint, privately-owned places that we found our favorite outdoor diner along a little river with ducks and trees. It's a 1950-ish tucked-away place that only locals, mostly, know about.

I think sometimes we all forget that when we seek to help others, God has a million ways He blesses us in even greater ways afterward.

He's like that. And He leads us to places He knows we'll love only when we walk by faith, not by sight.


Driving home from the supermarket last week, I wondered about certain color details of our new future rooms--pondered which choices I should make. A tiny voice said, "You should certainly know by now--at age 49--what you like and do not like."

And at first, I agreed.

But right away another thought piped up, "No, technically, that's not true. Always you are changing, evolving and morphing into a better, wiser, more mature you. In order for that to happen, you will have changed your tastes and desires many times along the way."
How true. And how freeing to, without regrets, willingly leave behind all the decor ideas I found marvelous years ago, allowing just the few which I still treasure to rise to the surface and grace a whole new house and a whole new life. 

After all, one cannot advance on the journey while struggling with all the unpacked baggage of previous trips. At least not comfortably, nor freely.


"There is no growth without change." ... copied


There is such grace on this whole farmhouse thing.

We met with the inspector yesterday (and the current owner) and at the end of the inspection he said it was a good, solid house, one which would be standing long after each of us were gone. Oh, there were tiny problems here and there, but overall Our House (as we've begun calling it) passed all its important tests. Whew.

After those two hours, Tom and I drove around our tiny new town then stopped for lunch at the niftiest place called ____ 's Malt Shoppe. Oh my goodness. Inside an old 1800's building, the wooden floors were ancient, the decor was in red and white and 1950's music played the whole time. Could this farming town in the middle of nowhere be more perfect? I don't think so.

Your eyes would pop at the many 1800's farm houses scattered all around the quiet farmland surrounding the town. Gorgeous, huge places standing alone or within groves of trees. I'm beyond grateful that we missed this corner of the countryside these 15 years during our drives--the discovery of it all feels so new, fresh and unexplored...

... and as though we have years of adventures before us. In fact, if I choose to write my autobiography, this portion of the book would be titled, The Middle Years...The Country Years.

Has a pleasant ring to it, I think.

Tom and I will be living a whole different way.  I'll need to be better organized about my grocery shopping, for this town has only a tiny general store type thing and with gas costing what it does--oh dear. Tom and I want to become more self-sufficient--the huge garden space appears ready to be seeded (the owner said it does so well, and the loam is so deep and rockless, that she has a hard time keeping-up) and I want to freeze and can what I grow. We want a dog, maybe two. We're considering a couple goats. We want to accommodate guests easily.

Oh my! This life change can't come soon enough.


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