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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Little Home, Someone's Looking for You

My little Quail Creek home has been on the market for only three short weeks. Thanks to the help of our one-in-a-million seller’s agent, Virginia,  it was emptied, cleaned, repainted, given a new bedroom carpet, and nicely staged with a potted plant, a table and two chairs. Oh, yes, my plain comfy rocking chair, hand-crafted by an Amish farmer was there too. It looked so inviting! Last Sunday there was an Open House.

“Now you have an assignment,” Virginia said to me and my family. “Pray!”

How did I pray? At first I asked just that question, how should I pray? Immediately the thought came, “Turn away from your own need and pray for the one who is looking for just this particular home. Now, that was a switch. I knew where the idea had first come to my mind. Back in 1953 my husband, myself, our two young sons, about seven and five, and our little shaggy dog found ourselves near Chicago in Glenview, Illinois where Wally had been sent to be the Commander of the Naval Air Station for the next two years.

Every time we’d moved, and that had been often, the problem of finding a home had seemed challenging, but this time it seemed impossible. First, it was wintertime, cold, wet, dark and totally inhospitable! The only motel in town was run down, untidy and gloomy. Around Glenview people owned their homes. There was nothing to rent except one country house that literally leaned to one side on its foundation. Inside the floors were covered with chipped and stained linoleum, the windows grimey and the woodwork,,,well, I could go on, but won’t. The place was the only one in our price range, $125. a month. (Remember, this was 1953.) 

Sunday came along and we managed to get ourselves presentable enough to attend church and Sunday school. After the service a host of young people our age welcomed us. That was one plus. Another plus was that the sun had come out, the wind died down, and we could visit with our new friends outside without shivering.

Then a petite elderly white haired woman was introduced to us. “Where do you live,” she asked. I told her, “Well, actually, we’re still looking for a place to live.”

With merry blue eyes and a big smile her response was a cheery, “Oh, it’s looking for you!” She was so positive I thought her next words would give us an address, or at least a lead. But then I realized she was just stating the truth. Someone else soon caught her attention and we went to a local eatery and then back to the motel carrying a fat weekend Chicago newspaper. The comics would entertain the boys for a while.

As we passed by the office the attendant said, “You had a call while you were away. Here’s the number.”

Wally thanked him and then asked to borrow the phone. After hanging up he said, “That was the real estate man. He has something for us, but I warn you, it’s another country house.” Well, it would beat spending all day in the motel.

Again, the realtor did not accompany us but gave us the address. When we found the number on the mailbox I said, “This can’t be it. This place is beautiful, and it’s huge! It was, indeed, a large white house set far back from the road on a super wide lawn. A curving tree-lined driveway led up to it. 

The next house was not quite so big. “Let’s stop here and see if these people can tell us anything,” I said. It turned out that this house was the home of the owner of the first and yes, the big house next door was for rent. 

(I can see this blog is getting too long so here I’ll abbreviate and get to the end of my story.) The owner had built the big house by putting three houses together back during the war when building materials were hard to get. His wife had refused to live in it and he was willing to rent it to us and, without any bargaining on our part said, "$150. a month is the rent, but I don’t want to hear from you if anything goes wrong, You just treat the place as if it’s yours. There's a gang mower out in the garage you can use, but you mow the lawn, call the plumber, fix the furnace if it quits or whatever. Just pay me the rent.”

We lived there two years. Our baby girl was born in that house, and I have many fond memories of it. The real estate man, I suspect, had finagled the rent with the owner and we had only a few minor fix-it jobs. The little white haired lady became a good friend, and I’ve never forgotten what she said that day. 

So, as I started to pray about my condo I didn’t start with a prayer that it would sell and my own needs would be met. I said, “Father, I know there must be someone looking for just such a place as this. They need a home and they’re looking for it, even now. You are guiding them, and they will be happy to find it. Thank You!”

So, last Sunday when we had the open house this couple walked in. “We’ve been looking for just a place like this for our daughter,” they said. "And we can pay you the full price with cash.” 

My real estate friend and I went over the papers yesterday. The escrow is due to close on Valentine’s day. “I can’t thank you enough for all your work,” I told her. She said, “You’re welcome, but remember, you prayed, God answered, and we can all thank Him.” My mind went back to the little white-haired lady who knew just what to say so long ago. Home looks for us as we look for it, and prayer gets the looker and the looked-for together. Now isn't that neat?   


Monday, January 27, 2014

A Lesson Hard to Learn

“Don’t worry about it. Things will turn out all right in the end.” These words can be comforting or they can be an irritation. I looked up the word “worry” and it means to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. Knowing that I’m allowing my mind to do this calls for another way to tackle the problem. A problem won’t go away by worrying over it, so what will make it go away? 

I have a friend who talks to God as if He were her servant. “Now God, I need you to watch over my grandchild. He’s in trouble and I can’t help but You can.” She has great faith in God which I admire but the idea of telling God to do His work, like ordering a servant, seems odd to me. Still, because of her faith she gets results.

The only way I can take the words “Don’t worry...” seriously is to also take the other words, “Things will turn out all right in the end” seriously. Then I need to bring the “end” right into the now. The way I do that is by acknowledging that God’s work is done, His kingdom is come. Then I find the faith to let the problem go and open my mind to the solution.

Someone has said, “It’s God’s business to take care of us and it’s our business to let Him.” This doesn’t mean to do nothing, but it does mean to allow God to guide in thinking and doing the right thing at the right time. Allowing worry to blind us to right thought and action is certainly not the right thing at any time!

Sometimes I feel helpless in helping someone I love. Worry makes me feel in need of help. Then I find encouragement in looking back at times I’ve been helped when things looked terribly worrisome. Faith, (not blind faith but the kind of faith that is “the substance of things hoped for,”) can work wonders if I allow faith to occupy my thoughts instead of worry.

You see, when things seem to be working out so well for me it almost shames me to see others in dire need of the very things I’m enjoying for myself. So that’s when I need to let God help them even if I can’t and not allow myself to worry and dwell on difficulties or troubles. 

God’s goodness can reach every one on the whole wide earth. I’ll do what I can to share in what’s been given to me, but I need to remember that the only dependence that is unfailing is dependence on God.

In our advancing years we can’t just sit around and twiddle our thumbs! I’m reminded of a story I once read. An elderly fellow was working in his garden and was called out to his gate by a neighbor. After chatting a while the neighbor said, “Say, Joe, every time I pass your place I see you out working. You’ve worked all your life. Don’t you think you deserve to just sit on your porch now and take it easy?”

Joe’s answer came out in a slow drawl something like this: “Well, I do see your point, my friend, but then again I don’t see any point in dying before my time's come!”

I woke up this morning about four o’clock worrying about someone I love. Funny, isn’t it, how we tend to let love haul a bag of worries? It just isn’t fitting! I had to get up and set my mind straight. Blogging does it, every time!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

About Retirement

I’ve been thinking about the advantages of old age and retirement lately, and here is a sample of what's turning up.

1. Retirement should never become decline-ment. 
Oh, yes, I know we often scoff at the idea of retirement. Retirement can have its negative side, but look at the positive. If we’re not still eager to preserve our youthful activities too much we might find that there’s a whole new world of mental and spiritual activity to discover. Many of us oldsters are happily spending more time seeking out answers to life. I call this kind of retirement exercise, tough work and a great occupation! 

2. Retirement can be a growing time.
Growing old need not be seen as growing worse if we can see it as a time of discovery. How many of us have trapped ourselves in brick walls of personal opinion and common belief? Well, there’s a real pleasure in getting out a mallet and slamming those walls down! The first Beatitude lauds those who are “poor in spirit.” The reward for this is the kingdom of heaven!

3. Retirement can be a time of restoring our faith.
Why give up and give in to the so-called inevitable accompaniments to old age? If we see life as heaven on earth we can explore it "through the valley of of the shadow of death," not as an end called death.

4. Retirement can be a time of putting our good intentions to work.
Somewhere we’ve heard that “the road to hell is paved with the bones of good intentions.” That need not be our fate!

5. Retirement can be joyous and invigorating. 
Knowing the omnipresence of good instead of engaging in unkind criticism, and idle observation of the oddities and infirmities of ourselves and others, gives us ample work.  Someone has said, “Negative criticism is the public acknowledgment of one’s inability to see the Christ in man.” A friend of mine used to say, “What you see is what you be.”

6. Retirement is a time of working to end evil. 
So, I think that’s not possible? So I don’t even try? Well, then. at least I can acknowledge that that’s what God is doing and follow suit. It’s work that invigorates us spiritually and mentally.

7. Retirement is a time to accept Eternity.
We may think what we like about this but I choose to believe that, having accepted the gift of life, it cannot be taken away, not even by our consent. So, we’d better make the best of it,  For this we need divine help. In all our years we can choose to be ageless. An astronomer once told me that we’ve all been alive as long as life began. He said. “We’re made out of star dust, literally.” I say we’re made out of God, Spirit. By the way, how old is God? How does God keep from aging? It says in the Bible that God rests. He/She must know how to rest in action. It doesn’t say that God quits! We oldsters should not be quitters! 

Note to my readers: Please forgive me when I get on my soap box. You who know me know I’m mainly preaching to myself. Something in the morning air is to blame for it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Keep On Rowing Your Boat!

Who doesn’t remember singing a “round” in school? If you started school way back when I did, you no doubt know the old one that goes: 
"Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream."

Aside from the catchy tune and the fun of singing the round, the words may be truer than any of us know. Dreams are mortal. In our dreams we rarely think we’re dreaming. Yet about one-third of our 24 day and night most of us are asleep and that’s when we dream.

I wonder if the person who wrote this little ditty glimpsed a solemn fact? Is life itself merely a dream? If so, I can’t help wondering when and how we’ll wake up. David, the shepherd boy who grew up to be king of Israel, must have glimpsed this idea when he wrote and sang, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness.” 

As pleasant as dreams sometimes are, they never give us total satisfaction. A thing can’t be satisfying when it ends. Only when, and if, we awake to a reality of life, a totally good life without beginning or end, can we be truly satisfied. If such a life exists, then it must be that it will never end and never began. Life, that real life, must be whole, perfect, satisfying and eternal. Then what must this earthly thing we call life be? A dream? 

At this stage of my life I occasionally think of the ending. What will it be like? Like a dream that ends, an awakening to another more real sense of life? Many believe that death is the waking up time. In death it is supposed that we are no longer fooled into believing the dream. And if, as we hope, this awakening brings us back to a better, more harmonious sense of life, a permanent one, then death must be something to welcome. But what if it turns out to be just another dream? It could then be better or worse than the one we entertain now. 

Can’t you see how such reasoning is like a round we sing? Over and over and over. This morning I’m thinking, as I’ve often thought before, that I’d like this round of dreams to end. I’m thinking, too, that it is not enough to wish for a better dream-sense of life. I want the real thing. And I believe that the real, and only life there is, is the divine Life we call God. Therefore, to know God better is to lay claim to a better sense of Life. Life without beginning or end.

Of all the things I like here in this dream none can equal this desire for not just a better life but the one divine Life, the only real Life. Why? Because that Life includes all good. It has no room, not the tiniest space, for evil or error. It is totally trustworthy, satisfying, wonderful and fun. It must be more fun than imagination can dream up. Glimpsing this divine Life, my human life, the dream I’m in, has to reflect more of the totally good Life that is God. 

We so-called senior citizens should not despair if the dream we’re in gets hazy, ceases to satisfy, or causes us to wish for an end. As with our night dreams, this temporal sense of life we’ve been educated to believe is real, will end. Nights will become shorter until “there is no night there,” as the Bible predicts. 

This time of the mortal dream is not bringing us closer to death but to Life divine. That, I believe, is what my human experience has been and continues to be, - a trip to Understanding. So, we should not be struggling to enhance our dream but rather to wake up. Here’s another song I like. It is not sung as a round but when I start singing it it’s hard to quit:

“When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along, 
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song. 
‘Wake up! wake up, you sleepy head! 
Get up, get up, get out of bed! 
Cheer up, cheer up, the sun is red. 
Live, love, laugh and be happy!”

Be they good or bad, I suppose dreams have some purpose. Maybe to help us learn how to get out of them? Like a chick, I’ll keep pecking at my shell until I make it. Now, that’s something to look forward to and be glad about! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What's Worth Writing About?

To an inveterate writer almost anything is worth writing about. Here’s a sample:
When I lifted the tiny silverfish I found in the bathroom sink onto a piece of paper and took him (her?) out the front door this morning I stopped a minute to wish the little creature a happy life and a good day. To me, that's worth writing about.Then I noticed again that something was notably different here. What was it? The sounds. At Quail Creek the little waterfalls that gurgle and shout dominate the audible surroundings. Here there’s a hush that accentuates the skitter of leaves on the sidewalks and streets when a breeze blows by. And I can hear the wild birds. I, obviously, have thought it worth writing about.

I like differences. I like changes too. Changes are worth writing about. They freshen the senses and lead you on to new chapters in life. I suppose I’m more aware of this now because of the many changes I’m experiencing in my everyday rounds. I had my hair washed last Friday in the little beauty shop that’s been here since forever. Thuviet (sp?) still manages it as she did when I worked here as the receptionist twenty some years ago. She remembered me, as do most of the workers here, and made me feel right at home although I haven’t patronized a beauty shop for a hair-do for something like fifty years. Hair is easy to let grow, cut the edges, keep clean and rolled up. If I counted all the money I’ve saved by doing it myself I’d not feel guilty about splurging on a huge featherbed and down pillows as I did the other night by calling in to Macy’s last day of the sale. 

Well, now I’ve decided to let Thuviet wash my hair every other week. With Robin’s agreement to have time with me at least once a week to drive me shopping or whatever, I can take other outings on the buses the Willows provide. I call it a luxury to give up driving myself. Today will be one of our days together. Time with my dear daughter is a precious luxury.

Wally K, my elder son, has become my accountant and watches over the payment of bills, the bank balance, and other business affairs. That, too, is a luxury! David still works full time in Simi Valley, but he would come at the drop of a hat if I needed him. So, children are my greatest luxury, and that's worth writing about!

Have I mentioned that I’ve been having housekeeping service once a week here? It is a perk for visitors but I’ll be a paying patron and Maria says she will come and clean for me as often as I need her (maybe every other week) when I move into my own place. I learned yesterday that there will be special help provided at moving time too. What a luxury is that!

Naturally a writer writes about whatever he or she wishes. Sometimes I’ve wondered if the title to my blog isn’t a bit deceiving. Some writers might think it more honest to elaborate on the trials, the ooches and owies of old age. It's not that I don't experience these at times but when I get through them I say to myself, “Why would you want to write about that? Look at all you have to be grateful for! Sister, you’re advancing years are the frosting on the cake! Good company, helping hands, intellectual stimuli, spiritual growth, little luxuries, family, and sunshine in the seventies in January!” What is this writer going to do about all that? Write about it, of course! 

Goodbye, little silverfish, wherever you are now. I'm glad I didn't squish you just because I'm bigger than you. After all, there's some question as to whose territory is being invaded here. When Abraham Lincoln was walking with a friend one day he saw a snake on the path. "Kill it!" said his companion. Lincoln replied, "Naw, his life is as precious to him as mine is to me." That, too, I think, is worth writing about.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Children, Keep Things Simple!

Have you ever wished you could go back to being a little child? I have, but with this caveat, that I take with me all the knowledge I’ve earned. What’s the point of re-learning lessons like the alphabet or basic arithmetic? What I’m trying to say is this: old age need not be a return to infancy but a keener receptivity to good. Children learn this early and before long their tears and discomforts give way to simple wonder, smiles, inquisitiveness, color, construction, loving relationships. Pleasures that children enjoy should not become lost in the maze of worries we elders are often inclined to entertain. 

Jesus said we should become as a little child. That implies that the childlike attitude to life is not a going back process but a leap into reality. Life should not be complicated or burdensome. Complications and burdens come from the failure to keep our progress simple, from wandering off track and attempting to haul baggage that is not useful to us. 

This new chapter in my life has forced me to put aside not only things but thoughts that are useless to me. Let’s face it, moving is a cleansing process. Even when I thought I’d stay in my former home I felt the urge to empty it and start over as I had that first week I stayed there before the truckers hauled in all my possessions. It’s amazing how little one needs, really needs, to live from day to day.

Many seniors have taken to writing their memoirs. I did it myself when I wrote my autobiographical novel, Claudia’s Home, Way Stations Along Her Spiritual Path. In fact, it was also a trek from house to house, state to state. In other words finding home in many places, adjusting to new friends, new streets, new jobs. One had to be flexible, especially with children to care for. These writings are useful to us and will be to our children, but we must not let them rob us of present work and pleasures. Too much looking back can do to us like it did to Lot's wife, turn us into a pillar of salt!

Now I’m thinking also that I must not become too comfortable in my elder years. I like to call them my “advancing” years. These are times I can enjoy the qualities of childhood,- wonders, inquisitiveness, a bit of daring, new acquaintances and studious solitudes. They can be a kind of childhood all over again, having my meals prepared for me, informal home-schooling, finding ways to be of service and growing mentally and spiritually. 

At this time of life I am reminded of that old song we used to sing:

“Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, 
where the deer and the antelope play. 
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word 
and skies are not cloudy all day. 
Home, home on the range...”  

THE RANGE. Now wouldn’t that be a neat name for the lives we lead in our advancing years? Yes, “home is where the heart is,” so I say to all of us as we grow older, don’t resist old age, put your heart in it! And seldom, if ever,  find reasons to complain or become discouraged!  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Time to Slow Down

Saturday here at The Willows is the kitchen staff’s day off. The dining room is closed. They deserve a rest after feeding us so well all week. I’m not starving, however. Today’s noon meal was my left-over-fare day. The second slice of prime rib I brought home from Thursday's meal, sauteed in butter,  tasted delicious!

I’ll be getting out soon to enjoy a leisurely stroll to the administration building where my mail is being delivered these days. There are people playing games in the Garden Room and I may play bridge sometimes but today I took time to read about Paul Salopek, the journalist who is tracing the path of humanity from its beginnings by walking from Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley to the farthest tip of South America. He is scheduled to come through southern California in 2019. Easy, he says. You just bend forward and let gravity force you to put out a foot so not to fall. That’s how walking goes and  s -  l - o - w  is the name of the game. For his journey, (sponsored by National Geographic,) his reasons for doing it and all, you just need to go to I am interested but not sure I’ll spend the time reading all about it. I may wait and see the movie if there is one and if I’m still around in 2020. 

I’m busy enough right now learning to slow down in my own way and it is helping me greatly to not have a car to jump into any time I get the notion to go. I’m learning to walk again just to get places, but I doubt I’ll be walking off campus much. It’s enough to smell the flowers along The Willows walkways. I’m not going back in time hundreds of thousands of years as this Paul Salopek is but I find it enjoyable to be walking instead of driving, washing dishes by hand and drying them with a towel and forgetting that we're surrounded by shopping malls here in this secluded garden spot. Brings back my childhood when we used soap flakes in the hot dishwater. Even shaved them off the bar of soap. “Ivory,” no doubt. The advertising slogan on the radio was a spooky haunting voice calling “Ivory Soap. It floats!” It did too.

I bought a supply of new underwear at Macy’s the other day and will try washing it with the special soap they featured at the check-out counter. No rough tumbling machine washing for these silkies! But, so far, that’s about as far back in time I want to trace humanity’s methods. I’ll not be hanging a living room rug out on a clothes line and beating it with a hand held rug beater. I won’t be scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees or even throwing the dishwater out on the rose bushes. I could have a dishwasher if I wanted one but I’ve found that it seems more of a chore loading and unloading it than to swish them around in the sink and dry them with a white sugar sack towel. (Or is it a flour sack? I always manage to find these soft and absorbent gems for sale somewhere, though it’s not easy.)

Well, it’s time to mosey down to the mailbox. I even have time these days to page through the ads that fill the box, but not the ones for cars or groceries. What a joy it is to not have to look for and plan any meals except breakfast and light lunches! And, as for dishwashing, I don’t miss scrubbing pots and pans one little bit!

I’ll enjoy reading about Paul Salopek’s slow walk, but seven years without wheels? And I’d surely miss the sofa nap now and then. Going back in memory to my own beginnings is enough for me. Even one lifetime’s changes have covered up most traces of this one old lady’s sojourn on the planet. How can a fellow see what it’s like to be a Neanderthal man by walking his paths today? Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, January 10, 2014

"White Out" Weeks

I’ve used up a whole bottle of it. You know, one of those little vessels with an applicator cap. It’s called “White Out,” a correction fluid used to cover up mistakes on paper. Works great on the grid paper I use to plan where my furniture will go in the new place I’ll be calling home. I can’t count the number of sheets I’ve penned out in detail only to change things with White Out until the changes become too drastic to correct in any way but by starting over on a new page. 

I’m comfy waiting here in the guest house and it’s good to have these weeks to get acquainted with people and the grounds and living in a more tightly knit community. Days are much more active for me now. Lots of interesting activities. Not much TV. Much more walking, and neighbors who have more to say than hi and goodbye. Going places on the bus. Yes, that’s a biggie. The first time in my life since I was fifteen that I haven’t had my own wheels. But I’m getting used to it and my driver’s license is good until 2016 so I could change my mind and buy another car, but right now I see it as an unnecessary expense. Besides, Robin will drive me anywhere and having her company as we go is ever so much more fun.

When I’m alone, as I am in my guest villa, I sometimes listen to Pandora Radio. The music of my choice is from my times. That covers a goodly span. Right now some rich male voice is singing “Smile.” Like much of the music, it wrings the heart, but gently, and reminds me that there’s no one else here in my home. I’m not looking for that now. I’ve been blessed to have had two dear and lovable husbands. Now is the time for what I call single blessedness. A time to know that, as the Bible says, “Thy Maker is thine husband.”

Someone has said that memory is faithful to goodness. For me that is true. I’ve made my share of mistakes in life and have plenty of things to regret but my God is ever patient with me, and with all, so I am forgiving of myself and others. I carry no grudges, entertain no sorrows and, in a sense, I use my mental White Out as I go along. Not to cover up the bad times up but to see them as lessons once learned. With paper and pen and White Out I proceed to re-draw the plan until it becomes more and more satisfying. 

Moving is much easier when there’s a resting and reflective time between moving out and moving in. I’m enjoying it. Right now I need to get dressed for the bus trip to the market. Got to be prompt around here. Where is my list? I wonder if I can find some White Out in one of the stores. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Home is a Kingdom

“Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven. 
Stranger, thou art the guest of God.”

“Look, Wally!” I whispered when I saw these words in the hymnal rack at the little Christian Science church we attended. El Centro, they told us, was not an ideal place to call home in the summer time. Heat, insects, typical of a desert home, but not quite an oasis. Still in the Marine Corps you didn’t get a choice. Orders were orders, and with World War II still raging we were fortunate to be stateside. Wally had been in the South Pacific, a fighter pilot for the better part of the war, and was home with only some shards of shrapnel in one shoulder from a dog fight with a Zero. Along with a host of memories. 

We’d been married in the Flyers’ Chapel at The Mission Inn in Riverside and after a honeymoon in Laguna Beach on his leave of absence we drove to El Centro. Awaiting us there was a room in a small hotel Wally had had the foresight to arrange for when first he got his orders. The little city was not prepared for the influx of service men and women. Some were even living in reconverted chicken coops! We felt fortunate to have the room, but we wanted a real home and right there in the pew rack we saw those words welcoming us. That little church felt like a doorway to our first home. 

And it was. Back at the hotel we picked up the local paper and there was our ad: “Marine captain and wife desire to rent an apartment or small house. No children or pets. Quiet habits. Will be happy to stay while owners are on vacation.” Since there was no telephone in our room we opted to sit in the lobby for a little while before going out to lunch. Someone might just be picking up the paper now.

As if on cue the phone at the desk rang and lo and behold, it was for us! A couple and their young son were getting ready to go to the mountains for a cool summer vacation. Their home was small but lovely, immaculate, and complete in every way. It even had a baby grand piano! 

The next home turned out to be a Quonset hut in the Mojave desert on the Marine base. So different. Government issued furnishings, plain, odd, but our very own when we bought curtains and rag rugs and took out our few wedding gifts.

If you want to read about all the other places I’ve called home you might find a stray copy of the book I wrote called “Claudia’s Home, Way Stations Along Her Spiritual Path.” It’s an autobiographical novel of my life up to the time of my second marriage. There have been any number more homes since.

One common thread has connected all the places I’ve called home. It is those simple words at the beginning of this blog. Heaven is our spiritual and permanent dwelling place and it’s inside us. To know it, appreciate it, and love it is to see it manifested outwardly in practical timbers, stucco, brick, glass and stone. Now I’m on my way to my thirty-eighth (about) home. 

I’ve loved them all, these places that bear memories sweet and sad. They’ve been small and large and in-between but they have one precious quality in common, they are temporal expressions of a heavenly Home where I and all we humans began, are now, and will ever be. 

Here at The Willows I’m finding this out again.   

Saturday, January 4, 2014


It’s been a while since I’ve written in my blog. On top of that several entries got lost, but that’s all right. Those, and the ones I might have written but didn’t can be classified briefly as the dark days on the sun dial, - not worth recording. They were my Red Sea experience. Now I’m on the other side trying to clean up the bits and pieces of my move to The Willows. In the November 17th blog I mentioned this option but thought my creekside cottage had won out. It didn’t. Again I’m staying in one of the guest cottages (called “villas” here) and my future home is being refurbished down the street a short walk away. 

The Willows is a twenty acre plot of land built at the same time as Leisure World by the same builder. The Willows used to be located north of here and at that time it moved into this location. That was forty or fifty years ago, I think. We lived in Laguna Beach then. I had no idea I’d ever live here then, nor did I dream that in the late eighties I’d have my first paying job here. But that’s another story. 

So, how do I describe The Willows? Well, it’s a residential community for seniors who have been and are students of Christian Science. Having this in common means a lot, but we are not exclusive or cliquish. Since Christian Science is a religion still in its beginning phase, its adherents are few enough that we find many people all over that we’ve known before. Here it is like homecoming to me. Not only that, the villas are all one-story, exceptionally well-planned units from studios to three bedroom places, all tiled roofed and nestled in delightful landscapes of lawns, trees, shrubs that are mostly flowering and countless rose bushes, orange trees and walking paths. Everyone has a patio and when I was here before I wondered why it seemed so quiet on the patio. Of course, I missed the water noises from the creek and little waterfall. But here I can hear wild birds galore and that’s because we are not near the freeways or heavily traveled streets. One main meal a day is served in the dining room every day except Saturday and those dinners are not the usual institutional fare. They are prize winning cuisine, served graciously. Many friendships are formed at the tables.

Since it is not far from Robin, my daughter, even in the same city, I have not lost that perk. I have given my car to Robin in exchange for her being my taxi driver to places I cannot go on the Willows’ buses. There are three lovely buses that take us shopping all around the area twice a week, to church services and meetings and to special theater performances, museums and other neat destinations.

My new place will be ready for the move-in on March 1st so I’m again staying in one of the guest units until then. Any of my readers who have moved know what an ordeal that is so I don’t need to elaborate, but I’ve had wonderful help on all sides and now I can recoup before the moving in task. My furnishings and household gear (that’s what we called it in the Marine Corps,) are in storage nearby.I have been measuring rooms and planning where everything will go and changing my mind dozens of times. That’s better than changing my mind after they are moved in! 

Katie and Jeff are on their own now. Good things have opened up for them too, but they are starting from the ground up, finding jobs to pay the rent and food, riding on city buses until they can afford a car, etc. etc. If I were a young person I might well envy my elder self in many ways. Of course, the bloom of youth is no longer on my brow but there’s a beauty in age too. Maybe you have to have lost your youth to see it but it’s there. Most of us oldsters are wiser, more tolerant, more compassionate and loving. Now that can enhance any home! And if you have a family like mine you may feel you’re on heaven’s doorstep. But I’m hoping to have more years to get ready for that. I’m calling my new home Wayside. I may not be ready for the pearly gates but I’d like to think I’m on my way!