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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Money Pit

It was a blustery, rainy day in April of 1990. But that did nothing to dampen my spirit. A stew pot of potentiality was brewing in my mind and I had high hopes, high in the sky apple pie hopes.

Raised in the rural and always a country girl at heart, city dwelling didn't do me justice. Country was a part of my soul. It held me together and formed a deep spiritual calm beneath the troubled waters of my life.

The tract where I grew up housed my secret place. A placid place I shared with an elusive Guest. I never saw Him but I sensed His presence. He was the One who listened to my childhood dreams and gathered me to Himself when I sobbed, unwanted and alone. To me, He was the form in a full moon glistening on fields of new fallen snow. He winked at me in the twinkle of a dark starry night, and in the marshes I heard Him chuckle as I imagined he held the cattails that tickled my nose. He was present in the country and the country was my spiritual habitat.
So when I saw the 'too good to be true' listing price and open house in the Sunday journal I was happier than a boggle of boiling bubbles. This was my dream come true. After some trivial convincing, my counterpart and I piled the family into the van and headed out of town to the silent solitude of the country.

The directions were clear as glass and soon we arrived at our destination. Monumental maples lined the frontage and a griege gravel driveway bid us to enter. There awaited a farm house, advanced in years, standing lonely and neglected atop a hill.

Covered in white aluminum it belied the hoary wood rotting beneath. Overgrown shrubs and lilac bushes surrounded the dwelling like sentrys with a secret. Beyond the crypt were three acres of rough and tumble. Infant ash trees dotted the landscape, popping up like pimples on a green giant. Residual machinery leaned on feeble outbuildings that housed memories of the better part of a lifetime. The strings of time gone by played on my emotions and while our tires tore into the dashpot drive I gave my pledge to the broken country house.

Piling out of the vehicle the kids were eager to explore the entanglement of overgrowth as I dug out the machetes needed to hack our way through to the back door. We crossed the threshold and I tossed aside the thought that this house was cataloged in the Realtor's list of endangered species. It was a white elephant.


If the kitchen is the heart of the home this must have been a kidney. Yellow flowered oilcloth covered damp musty barn wood that encased the room and emanated a stench that was something akin to soiled wet rags and stagnant water. Walls were absent of cabinets with no hint they ever existed. A sink hung precariously near a corner of the room supported by a bucket and bizarre plumbing. Water would take a trip down the drain, bank to the east and land directly on the ground outside.

On the opposite end of the room lynched from the ceiling hung an old cinder block chimney with its bottom missing. Where there was once a potbellied stove or similar contraption there was now a makeshift platform precariously propped up against the drooping weight of the rectangular flue. With a large grin and a wink I chuckled to my hubby, "Well, there's plenty of eating room."

Propelled by perennial youth the kids found the upstairs to be an adventure in itself. Like an unexplored cave darkened by the lack of electricity it held its own secrets. Shadows from the past were cast by a single bulb hanging by a thread of black wire that had seen better days.

The thought of squeezing through a hole in the floor left by another absent smoke stack was a tantalizing temptation for my son. I laughed out a rebuke while a scene from The Money Pit played through my mind. I could just imagine my one male offspring counting care bears with only feet and legs dangling from the ceiling of the floor below.

Surely somewhere there was an invisible sign that read "condemned" but the hope in my dream's eye overpowered the obvious. It didn't matter that plaster walls had more holes than a sieve in sunshine, that there were no heat ducts to quack a warm impression, or that a toilet stack loomed like a fire pole in the middle of one of the bedrooms. Deep in the money pit I saw a diamond in the rough, a gem worth restoring.

In the pungent, repulsive soul of the dilapidated old house was a kindred spirit. A country calamity that took me back to a secret place where I shared tea and tempest with my elusive Guest. There in my spiritual habitat was the beginning of lessons learned in the thicket. The God of the country creation taught me about life and restoration. If the foundation is good everything else can be fixed.

As we drove away down the road the little house on the hill faded into the landscape. Sprouts of green winter wheat waved goodbye and harrowed ground awaited our return. With a glimmer of hope in my query I asked, "How long do you think it'll take to put this place back together?" In an answer that was unmistakably agreeable came, "Two weeks." I smiled..."The house is gonna' be great."


3 comments:

  1. I love the story, and you and Rick have done such an amazing job restoring this house. It is amazing to see all the hard work you guys have put into this.

    It is similar to the gem God sees in us and all the hardwork He has to put into us in order to restore us to the potential He sees in us.

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  2. You and dad did an amazing job! I still remember looking through the photo album of what was once. It in no way, no longer resembles the home you have now! :c) I love your stories!!!!!!! Love you "Mom"!!!!!

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  3. Carol - I had no idea the lovely home I have visited was once the behemoth you describe herein! What a wonderful story of restoration and redemption, that which awaits us all!
    Thanks for sharing.

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