Monday, October 25, 2010

Old House Hunting; or Re-living a Life in Three Hours or Less.

Note: This post is made mostly for my own children, so I won't be offended if you skip it!

Charming and I were able to get away for a three-day to celebrate our thirty-fifth anniversary. Our daughter Violet, who works at Notre Dame, was able to secure a guest apartment for us to use. What a blessing! A place to be alone when we wanted, to eat "in" if we desired. Because we met at Notre Dame, we planned to stroll the campus on Saturday. When we woke, Charming had a different idea. He thought it would be fun to go find all of the houses we lived in when we lived in South Bend (which happened in three different spans of time).

Here is our first crummy little apartment, upstairs at 2428 West Monroe. It was partially furnished, and we paid $95 a month. The Polish landlady lived downstairs:
And yes, this house has been torn down. But you can see the entrance to the driveway!

A year or so later, Charming was promoted at his job, making a big $230 a week, which meant that I could quit my job and be a homemaker. We found this little house, 214 Riley Place, for $135 a month. It is the first of three little houses-in-a-row. Riley "Place" is really an alley with four houses on it:
This house is a really important house. Here the Enemy tried to steal our marriage, and Here the Lord prevailed, healing it to a better-than-before state (the only way He does things, don't you know?). One of the big Ebenezers in our life.

Just a bit of fun trivia. During the Blizzard of '78, Charming braved the chest-high snow to walk to this neighborhood market to buy milk and Pepsi.

Now we have a little break in the action. We moved to Lebanon, Indiana, then to Decatur, Indiana, Fort Wayne, and two houses in Noblesville, Indiana. Five houses, five moves in the next eighteen months. At the end of that time, Charming once again got a job in South Bend.

He went ahead of me, in order to secure a place to live for us. He found a house that was actually less than ten years old, that was for sale, but empty. The owner was in Texas, and told Charming he wanted six hundred a month. Charming told him he could pay $325. The owner declined, but called him back four hours later to accept. Thus, we lived in a really-cool-newish house for the first time in our lives. It is at 1215 Priscilla Drive:
Eventually the owner sold the house. A lady knocked on the door one Sunday night and told us we had to be out by Wednesday at midnight. (now we know that this is not legal, but back then we didn't know so much...) Charming had the next two days off, so we thought we would be Just Fine.

Those two days went by, and Nothing happened. So here we find ourselves at Wednesday morning, Charming heading off to work, no telephone (another story), and we (us, three kids and one-on-the-way) had till midnight to get-out-of-Dodge. No home, no husband to help pack, and not enough boxes, either.

This was going to be a walk of faith, of trust that, not only "could" God do it, but that He "would!"

I walked to the Seven-Eleven to make a phone call, and on the way home, I passed the home of somebody who drove a potato-chip truck. He was throwing a number of boxes out of his truck, so I walked up and asked him for them. That little thing helped me carry on with my "you can do it, God!" thing.

I worked all day, still trying to trust, and, sure enough, at seven p.m. Charming drove into the driveway with a U-haul, followed by two or three guys to help. The Lord had provided a little house at 1134 Rose Street:
We unloaded the last box, Charming drove the truck back, and we shut the front door at 11:45 pm.

I loved this little house. It had asphalt linoleum that you had to wet-mop every day or it got really dusty. It had a lot of built-in dressers and other cool things. AND a big-honkin' air conditioner that cooled the whole house.

Then we have another break again. We left South Bend for Louisville, and lived there for three years (and two more babies).

When we came again to South Bend, we found a little house at 626 East Fairview:
I don't know how we got eight of us into this little house, but I liken it to birth: when we moved out, we never could go back in!

In this house, Violet turned twelve, so she was finally old enough to leave our other kids with. Charming and I developed a habit of long walks in the morning. We had never owned a home, and decided on one of our walks to just start the process. We found a really lovely home in an older neighborhood, at 1037 North Brookfield:

We lived here for almost four years, and then moved to our present home in Fort Wayne.

We lived in twelve houses in sixteen years, and next month, we will have lived in our present home for nineteen years.

Maybe we've finally settled down?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I saw that commercial for chocolate. You know the one--or maybe I'm morphing all the chocolate commercials into one. Rippling brown satin in the background. Beautiful women with brownish lipstick. Or the one with the Everywoman getting a piece of chocolate "just because she deserves it."

Then they use the word: Decadence.

Or maybe the commercial is for a luxury car, hidden in the driveway at Christmastime with a big red bow. Or that fabulous four-course dinner, with the decades-old wine. Or the show on the Discovery Channel--World's Largest Mansions. Did you see the one with the World's Biggest Yachts?

We can use the word Decadence again. Or maybe Ultimate. Or Over the Top. Or Extreme. Whatever it is, we deserve it. Maybe we can't afford it, but We Deserve It.

When did the word "decadent" become something desirable? Looking it up in my dictionary, I find it means

perverse, deteriorating, decaying.

Yep. The root word for decadence is DECAY.

Now you remember, don't you? They used that word when describing the Fall of Rome. Or Henry the VIII. Or Marie Antoinette: "So there's no bread? Let them eat cake." Decadence indicated a deterioration of moral standards.

Oops. Does that phrase remind you of...America? We complain that our children have no work ethic, and in extreme cases, no conscience. "what's in it for me?" is the new creed. We deny ourselves nothing.


And of course that description is not just for our children. We are getting too far away from the time when the actual value of anything matters. I don't even use ten dollar bills. I use ones and fives and twenties. I complain that "once I break a twenty it just disappears," and I really don't do anything about that. That's just one example. Let's get into something that really matters.

Charming and I were talking about this a few days ago, and he said something I've been trying to process: Are we living in the full integrity of the Holy Spirit? First of all, what does that mean? And what does it say, that I don't have an answer for that? I have heard people say (and if I am truly honest, I'm sure I've said this, as well), "Oh, well, I know that is a sin (or whatever euphemism they might use, like "mistake" or "poor judgment") but God will understand. What is that?

We talk the talk really well. When are we going to walk the walk? We use excuses: we're too busy, too distracted, not enough money, not enough time. Yeah, I'm right there with you. And if you have a quick and easy answer, let me know.

Or maybe not. Because I don't think this one is going to be either quick or easy.

Yet another update.

This is really pathetic. I have been blogging so sporadically in the past months. And most of them are "updates." I used to "think" once in awhile, and really enjoyed putting those thoughts down here in Blogville. And, Jen, I did get your message about another Fresh Starts. Workin' on it, girl.

Yesterday, Charming and I celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. That is a really long time, folks. Until I think of my parents' sixty-four years. Then I realize that we have "not yet achieved", but it is a beautiful road on which to travel. At once it seems like we have been together a long time, and that it has just flown by. What? Six children grown, and the last two in high school? Impossible!

Charming has a rare three-day weekend, and we are traveling to the Beginning Place. Violet, who works at Notre Dame (where Charming and I met), will get us a "guest apartment" on campus. The weekend looks perfect for strolling the campus and remembering--70 degrees and sunny. We will also see family for pizza, and best-friends for a steak-dinner-for-four. Alone time *and* Family time--perfect.

I returned last Wednesday from a trip to Phoenix to see my sister. It is the first time I have been in her [very gracious and lovely] home, and the trip was more special as she has recently lost her husband. In fact, he was the one who suggested the trip, and "upgraded" my plane tix to first-class! The trip is not the same one we planned in July, but we spent precious time together, which is better than anything else, you know? Lots of time in her backyard swing, and lots of Scrabble!

[First-class is the BOMB. I will probably never be satisfied with Coach again.]

This week I am making not one, but two bridesmaid dresses. For a wedding THIS SATURDAY. The fabric did not arrive before my trip. So I'm scramblin'.

I probably have much more to say, but no time now! I am chained to the sewing machine!!

by the way, remember the pumpkin shortage I talked about a couple of posts ago? Walmart has pumpkin again, and it's not in the grocery section. It is on an endcap, right by the registers. PUMPKIN! it shouts. 'way cool.