Thursday, August 25, 2011

Houses v. Homes

***Pictures to be added as I find them. Check back later if you are interest.***

I got up early today. Well, not early for me…just early for the rest of my friends. I sat at the computer and decided to check out Google Earth to see where my Polish Uncle Kenny would be moving in CA. He’s going to live on Lawrence Welk Blvd. It’s always fun to see Google Earth fly me from one place to another. So then I decided to check out my current home and it was a happy shock to discover that someone has actually taken a picture of our home…just after we moved it, with the handcart under the light post by the front window, before the fenceline was changed to enlarge our enclosed back yard, before the hail storm that brought us new roof and siding. It was fun to check this out so I felt the need to check out my 5 children’s homes. But alas, only Marissa/Hank/Henry’s home has an actual photograph. I can see Dawn/Ken’s lovely home only as on a map, same with Cara/Jacob’s, prepool install, Jocelyn/Steve’s home isn’t even built yet, and Jordan/Hillary’s is also there. But Google Earth is fun…if only I could fly as fast to each of my children’s home.

I’ve had homes and houses on my mind all night…not sure exactly why. Perhaps it’s because Linda Stafford is teaching the RS lesson on Sunday and she asked me to make a poster for her with the David O. McKay quote: It’s possible to make a bit of heaven. Indeed, I picture heaven as a continuation of the ideal home.

When I was born, I came home to a 3 story house on Orville Avenue in Cleveland. I lived with my parents on the 3rd floor. My grandparents and Aunt Carol lived on the middle floor, and my grandmother’s sister, Florrie (Florida, named for a mine her father worked I seem to recall) and Patsy. I have heard it was a happy place until my father dropped dead at my mom’s feet when I was 4 months old. I have only “seen” the home once…and that was when I was at BYU, had a wisdom tooth removed by hypnotism and the dentist (a stake president) ‘took’ me back to my first step. I was an early walker but I saw the legs of the chairs around the dining room table, the bay windows, the blanket I was on and a couple of toys around it. Needless to say, my mom was skeptical about this hypnotism business until I related what I had viewed and she said I had nailed the room, the surroundings and the moment. And from this experience I learned that all the things we do and we see/watch stay within our heads and that’s why it is so important to surround yourselves with only good things…as much as possible…to garnish your days/thoughts (and for you wordsmith, garnish didn’t always mean a sprig of parsley on every plate at BYU cafeteria….garnish c.1300, from O.Fr. garniss-, stem of garnir "provide, furnish, defend," from P.Gmc. *warnejan "be cautious, guard, provide for" (cf. O.E. warnian "to take warning, beware;" see warn). Sense evolution is from "arm oneself" to "fit out" to "embellish," which was the earliest…..

My mom took part of the insurance money and paid the down payment on a house in Parma for us and for her parents/sister, 6510 Morningside Drive. I loved that house and even after mom remarried and we moved up Dartworth (which was a dirt sidestreet at the time), I would spend weekends on Morningside Drive. I loved my grandparents and their home was filled with good smells and always my concert pianist Grandfather playing classical music. But he would sit after work, while we watched American Bandstand and allow me to put pincurls in his hair. I have a clear memory of this in my mind, it’s like a little YouTube video.

But remarry my mom did and 5806 Belmere Drive in Parma was a safe place, a safe home despite a variety of unhappy moments, more for my mom than for me or Debi. This is where I learned from my mom how to enjoy life and to keep a clean house (although mine will never be as clean as hers was on the worst of days). How to store food and preserve food in its season to be enjoyed later. This is where I saw her testimony in action. And it was from here that I learned to love Robert and to love our homes together.

And I do think that it was in these various homes that I learned to love each home I have had. Never large homes. Never overly endowed with money homes. But I learned that when you love the house you are in, when you treasure it, when you speak highly of it despite its flaws, that the house becomes a home and the spirit that resides therein is great and enables you to become better than you ever thought. Yes, I do endow my inanimate objects with human characteristics and names. And it’s OK although we are still struggling to find a name or phrase for this current home…probably because we are still settling in.

Robert and I lived at 3902 W. Clearwater Apt 1, Kennewick,WA when we first married. Robert’s parents owned this apartment complex and for the most part it’s where he grew up and he had great memories of nearly setting the place on fire, of crossing the field to a friend in a trailer part, or seeing a baseball game. Then we lived in this very lovely apartment in Provo, UT…and when I say lovely, I mean lovely. Not one of the squalid basement hellholes that were rented for a pittance and were often fire hazards. It was a subterranean apartment underneath a dentist’s office…L.K… Life was rich and full here. Dawn was conceived here. It was a super happy home. When Robert graduated and got a management job at USSteel, my mom found us a sweet little (and I do mean tiny) home on Grantwood Avenue in Parma. Our wall telephone cord could reach to all 4 corners of the house. The owners allowed us to paint the rooms whatever colors we wanted. So we closed off the house, posted a sign on the door that we weren’t receiving guests yet and began to change this shack into the most enjoyable of homes. And then opened the doors and had friends over often. And Dawn was brought home here from the hospital.

But this home was quite a trek for Robert to drive to work so we opted to move to N. Olmsted and an apartment on Clareshire Blvd. 2nd floor…and it was huge. Cara came to us while we lived in this great home. We had fun birthday parties here, grew vegetables in laundry baskets lined with plastic garbage bags on the balcony. Dawn bravely walked down the stairs to the garbage room and threw away all her bottles one day (and when she wasn’t looking I went back down and retrieved them just in case she wasn’t really ready to be done with them) and never needed another bottle. It was so hard to leave this apartment but it was time to buy our first home.

809 Warwick Drive, Sheffield Lake, became “The Little House That Could” and when we left it 32 years later it became “The Little House That Did”. Jocelyn, Marissa and Jordan were all born when we lived in this house. It was ideal for us. As any of my kids can tell you, it was a small house and we lived on top of each other in so many ways. But I think it’s what kept us all on the straight and narrow. This was a home that had previously housed a family that took in over 30 foster children and the spirit of those voices, being loved carried over to my family. Over the years we made changes. Robert added bedrooms and a bathroom to the basement, we changed the flow of the rooms, finally taking out the bathroom door that opened into the family room from the master bedroom (what were the Warman’s thinking when they did that, we wondered…but Cara, Jocelyn and Marissa potty trained in that bathroom, sitting on that toilet and watching TV in the family room at the same time. Then we eventually glued it shut and it stayed that way until we revamped the family room.)

Right away we were able to move my grandfather’s grand piano to 809 from my mom’s 5806 basement. It really commandeered the front room (aka the music room, especially when Jordan had 2 complete drumsets in there as well one summer…oh how I love the drums!). Originally this Bush and Lane piano (built in 1925 …snicker…I loved finding out that bit of trivia and teasing my mom that it was one year younger than she was) was black. My grandfather was an amazing pianist and vocalist…having sung opera in Akron and actually lived at Stan Hyuet Hall, training there as well. But when he died in 1960 and the piano was gifted to me, my mom had it refinished in some Italian Modern … and I always hated it. One day, I kept saying, it would be restored to black. My mom kept telling be black would really overpower the room. But a piano is not a piece of furniture. It’s an instrument. Fast forwarded to when my mom died…she left me some money and the first thing I did was have the piano restored to black…and I love it…so does it!

This was the home that worked for us. I could never live in a white house, with all the walls painted white/neutral. Good heavens…is there anything more boring? White is the combination of all colors…and when I sit in a white room I think, could these people not make up their minds? Do they think that a white room makes them pure and holy? Weird! And knowing that white is the combination of all colors makes my eyes seem to get all bleary and fuzzy and I want to run out screaming…pick a color! Any color! Just pick one. ONE! Can you guess, 809 was always filled with colors and noise and bodies, friends, and food. It was the best place ever. When we had to sell it, we were grateful that someone stepped up to buy it and we hadn’t even listed it. We had hoped the young couple who bought it would love it the same way but alas, that has not been the case. But I promised the woman that once it was her house, it was no longer mine. And that is true. She worried about changing the colors. Would it upset me? Not a bit. I think that colors (tho perhaps not my choices) are individual and are the things that make us happy…one color or another. I stayed away from the house, even though it’s just down the street for a long time. Not because I was sad..I wasn’t. I just felt to give the new owners space. Now I can go down the street, or to the side street and remember with joy of how the yard used to look, how Robert kept the lawn trimmed, or the wild colors in the flowers we planted (I spent a fortune every year on annuals to support the high school band plant sales…got wiser later and switched to perennials). I can remember the joy of seeing Robert develop his bog garden, the super chair the kids bought his so he could in the quiet of the evening and hear the sounds of nature…away from the stress of the sounds of the still mill that filled his days.

We never had a lot of money. Not a lot of money for major rehabs. So we would do one thing at a time and learned to love and enjoy whatever. I also learned that it is best to take on one project at a time. Not to go crazy. And maybe it could only be a part of one project. But never more. That worked.

The family room had this paneling that was aging and drop ceiling which I never cared for. It got to the point that I guess I had remarked on it just enough times that one night, after dinner…before dessert…Robert got up from the table, walked into the family room and started taking down the paneling and ceiling. I gasped! Was he crazy? This was going to be a huge job. Would he stop? Could we afford it? But he continued, my folks came down and helped, then we hired someone to put up the wallboard and voila…the perfect RED family room. No more dropped ceiling. No more glued-shut bathroom door, nor more marred paneling. It was amazing! So filled with light and views into the backyard.

And oh the produce that garden behind the garage! Robert didn’t garden in neat little boxes back then. We just had so many kids and such needs for food. And food stuff is exactly what we got. I have canned, frozen and dehydrated! I wasn’t the out of doors type. So Robert planted and weeded. The kids harvested and I would preserve. Seeing the kids around the large kitchen table snapping beans is a fond memory for me…not for them. They had probably just harvested the beans and now hot and sweaty, had to help me clean them. When our 2 dogs died, they were buried back there…and I am certain it’s what made the raspberries sweeter and bigger. The ground originally was clay. But over the 3 decades Robert made it friable. He would haul in sand from the lake, add the ingredients necessary, and we ended up with great soil . The 2 people who rented it before we sold it didn’t garden it all and so I am sure it became a frenzy of stuff. But oh, how it cared for us.

I think the one thing I really enjoyed was this little playhouse area that was attached to the garage by the former owners. My kids when young held club meetings in there. At some point their bikes were lined up in proper order with their names on the wall, reminding them whose went where. As childhood departed, it stored our various lawn equipments and even some wood for the open hearth. The garage was always in need of being replaced but never was. It safely held all our cars…the ones that ran, the ones that didn’t, the ones that needed to be repaired, the VW bug that Peggy gave us after Don died, which Robert and Jordan stripped down to the base, hoping to restore and never did…We always named our cars and when one would die and need to be hauled off, I’d stand in the back kitchen window and watch with tears flowing as a hauler came and towed it away. See…it’s not always good to name your inanimate objects but it is something we did, and still do.

There was a terrible time in my life about 16 years ago or so…and the only thing that got me through it was my testimony and the faith that I had in what was true vs. those things which were not. Linda Kosco, a friend, called me one day, worried because of a dream she’d had. She said she clearly saw our home, our 809. Every detail. And she could see me in the windows, walking about. But surrounding the home on the outside swirled a darkness of evil, trying to get it. But the house refused to allow anything in. Not in the windows, not in the doors, not through any opening. I knew what she was talking about…but she didn’t. She just commented that though she was worried and hoped I would call on her if I needed help, she was also amazed that the home was rock solid safe for us. And it was. We allowed nothing but kind words to enter. No evil being…spirit or flesh…was invited in. We did not talk harshly about the house nor the situation. We just endured in safety and security. But the fact that she was given this dream for me, made me feel even more safe therein. I will hope that all future owners will not disparage this home, or for you readers…your homes. Love them. Honor them. Do the best you can with the money you have. And your homes will be blessed and you will walk inside them in security and with blessings.

Oh yes, how we love 809. Dawn will still text/Skype me when her clock reads 8:09…am or pm. It’s a fun tradition.

My folks came out to Sheffield Lake one Sunday from Parma. They had been house hunting for a small ranch home with a large yard. Instead they announced the house on the corner was for sale and came back the next day and bought it. It is not a ranch, nor does it have a large yard. They wanted to be closer to us so we could care for them in their old age. Funny thing, they did a lot more caring for us than we did for them…until the end. This is the home that Rebecca Stay brought 'institute' classes to for friends who wanted to hear/learn. And that was the start of another story, Rebecca's story. She'd come with little Heather in tow, the old huge video camera and would record the classes and send them back to her the gospel was always herein. This is the home that hosted parties, Karl Anderson book signing party, was home to the Ohio Mother of the Year...yes, my own mom!

But my mom left us 3830 Lake Road, when Roger died. We had to sell 809 in order to pay my sister half of the value of 3830. At the time, no houses were selling anywhere. 3830 was a larger home, on Lake Road, in view of our wonderful Lake Erie. We could not think of renting it out because we know what most renters are like. So we moved in here.

Slowly we are coming to love this house. But loving a house takes time. My mom had excellent taste in colors and appointments. But it was just not my taste. So bit by bit we are making this home ours. I am sure it will take til we die to get to where we want it but it’s ours and my mom loved me enough to gift it to me.

One year at 809, we HAD to replace the kitchen cabinets. My mom then decided to do hers, too…using the same company AND USING THE SAME STYLE. It drove me nuts. Why couldn’t she pick something else. It grated on my nerves when my godmother came out and having visited with my mom, came down, saw our kitchen and said “Oh you have the same kitchen as your mom!” I was fuming. But my mom had always said that she wanted Robert and me to have this home and one day after moving in here, I realized she had probably replicated my kitchen because one day she knew/hoped I would be living in here and would have my kitchen again. I am grateful.

Ditto the solar panels we had installed at 809. Mom did the same at 3830 and they are still a boon for winter months. For people who crab and complain that there’s no sun in Ohio? Well, let them get some solar panels and find out what could heat your homes in Northern Ohio…the sun that might not be California blistering..but still enough to heat those panels which heat the house, warm and toasty

The nice thing about this home is that it is large. We have bedrooms and beds always ready for our kids/grandkids to arrive and stay the night. My friend Teri Stencil gave us a great trundle bed with drawers and it’s the funnest bed in the whole house.

We’ve removed wallpaper (with more to go), painted, replaced light fixtures with the help of Jordan. We’ve got new modular electrical switches. The basement was waterproofed and the roof/siding replaced. We are poorer than when we started but are drier and safer. There’s a real fireplace that when my folks were alive we’d bring up the kids and make pie iron dinners in it. Now, it’s just Robert and me in the winter but the fires keep the house warm. The memories keep the hearts warmer.

Cara and Jocelyn turned Robert onto square foot gardening and the wonderful Mel’s mix. Our veggies and fruits are growing in abundance (if we could just get rid of that wascally wabbit). Avon Lake provides us with free mulch and compost. As much as we want. So the rock garden areas are being covered with this and plants are now beginning to grace the yard. We had the most amazing crop of Yukon Gold potatoes this and just yesterday I told Robert that he needs to plant more next year.

Who knows how long we will stay in this home or if we will be like Roger and one day, come in from the outside, sit down and before even taking off our shoes and putting on our slippers (for me it would be bare feet), just die within these wonderful walls of love and harmony. But for now, we are alive and grateful for homes. Homes/Houses in scriptures represent families and increases in those families. And so it will be with this house. It may not be the house anyone else likes, not the colors, not the styles. But we will never speak ill of this house nor of any of the past ones. We are grateful for all the blessings that have come our way in the various forms of homes we have lived in and loved. Oh…if only everyone could feel this way about their homes…how much happier they would be.


Lin Floyd said...

don't have time to read all this now as i am in iceyland. good job, now add some photos of the history of your many homes...

LeAnn said...

I loved the thoughts on homes. Through the years I have found that homes have so many memories. One day my husband and I were in Richfield, Utah where I was born and lived until I was 12 years old. My past memory is very good; but as we drove past homes that I had lived in I had many memories flood my mind. I found it also interesting that some of the homes were very small but as a child I thought they were big.
Thanks for the memories and I will visit your blog again.
I think we are probably close in age and have somethings in common.
Check out my blog @ Living Waters by LeAnn

Jocelyn Christensen said...

I am waiting for pictures! Oh and you should buy the house next to mine!!! You'd make some great memories in that house too! With your grandkids!

teamk said...

lovely memories--I am glad you wrote them down.

JP said...

You have such a way with words. What a great piece. Thanks.


Lori said...

Very interesting to think about houses and homes. Enjoyed reading about yours... Thank you for visiting me!

Dawn Mercedes said...


Molly Houx said...

"We never had a lot of money. Not a lot of money for major rehabs. So we would do one thing at a time and learned to love and enjoy whatever. I also learned that it is best to take on one project at a time. Not to go crazy. And maybe it could only be a part of one project. But never more. That worked."

Thanks. I needed to hear that. I've been going crazy trying to figure out how to do it all.

Robin said...

Miss Susan
You are an amazing writer!

Really loved reading this post!


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