Month: November 2017

Rewriting Ecclesiastes just a bit

…a time to buy, and a time to sell
…a time to say hello, and a time to say goodbye

For 30 years we have loved living on one of the most beautiful streets in Dearing Downs, our “race horse name” Secretariat Drive, which is a picturesque pocket on Helena’s east side. The streets are wide, the lots large, the trees tall, and the neighbors top-notch.

Behind our backyard patch of woods once stood a cow pasture. A stray wandered a bit close to the property line one day! But, with the development of Heather Ridge in Pelham, we eventually gained needed access to US 31 (not to mention houses, including some to whose Christmas lights we look forward every year and at least one owned by dear, newer friends – PLUS, a means of bypassing one of two railroad crossings, a flatter terrain whereupon to ride bicycles occasionally, and – last, but definitely not least – an amazing vantage point on the daily sunrise:

Some folks who relocated to our street from their garden home in Pelham asked us very seriously, before they moved, about the train tracks—in terms of traffic delay and noise. So we gave them a wooden train whistle as a gag gift when they moved in. Yes, we have had our moments waiting out slow or stopped trains (often behind Food World with newly-purchased ice cream in our grocery bags 😑), but I have never minded the late-night train whistles. There is something so essentially and comfortingly “Americana” about that sound.

Train whistle cropped
I’m pretty sure my parents got this whistle for me at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer when they lived nearby in Salisbury.

We met neighbors early on, diagonally across the street from us, when we young mothers were out strolling our same-aged children. Next door to them, another neighbor a few years older gave me one of the best blonde brownie recipes in the world (I’ll share it if you comment and ask!) and provided a teenaged babysitter. Next to them, another older couple became known to us primarily for two things: having a very beautiful house and yard, and giving some of the better-quality chocolate candy bars every Halloween. Snickers. Milky Way. Nestlé Crunch. Butterfinger. And so forth. #yum

How the years have flown! (And what’s that fellow doing out there in the street without any shoes on? Stereotyping our state?!)

A little farther down, back on our side of the street, were and continue to be some of the most beautiful yards on our street – not the least of which is owned and maintained by the guy in the dark blue Auburn sweats, shown above. Bless you and your green thumbs. You make our area beautiful and you inspire those of us who possess a little less talent in that department.

When the house next door changed hands more than 20 years ago, we discovered we were living beside a high school classmate of Jeff’s. Rock-solid friends for life who help in a crisis, ask the same of you if they need to, and never let football fanship disparity mean anything but good-natured rivalry. On the other side of us for 29 of these 30 years, friends in a different life stage who have been such encouragers and quiet prayer supporters of us and our girls.

This is getting to be like an award acceptance speech where you are bound to leave somebody important out. Down the street and around the corner are more neighbors who have become virtually like extended family in everything from running out to eat together at The Depot or at El Patron, to carpooling, to tailgating, to helping move furniture, and on and on. The kind of folks who will come over and install a different kind of shower nozzle in anticipation of your husband’s convalescence after he’s fallen and fractured his pelvis. Hypothetically speaking, of course. 😉

Another “claim to fame” for us on Secretariat was the number of families with middle school and high school, and even Auburn University, dance team members. That helped with carpooling to practices and made team parent stuff a lot of fun.

dancers on Secretariat - Copy
Secretariat Drive sort of cornered the market there for a few years with our talented daughters.

Some other neighbors, now living elsewhere, kidded us for a long time after observing the infamous Saturday morning “squirrel and BB gun” incident from their vantage point up on the corner of Man-o-War and Keeneland. About that, I will say two things: 1)We no longer have the wood board siding…so take THAT, you squirrels; 2)I would love to get in more target practice with my air rifle if that weren’t illegal around here.

Other, newer friends have lived a hop, skip and a jump from us. We passed their house day in and day out on our way to and from work. But we never met them until we started attending church at Dawson in Homewood and discovered in our very friendly life group class that we lived virtually in the same neighborhood, 26 miles south of there! More folks who enrich our lives in fun and practical and spiritual ways. Thank you for being here for us; we’re glad we will stay connected at church! Also that we now have the added connection of being “Auburn parents.”

All that said, where are we going now?


Let us regale you sometime with the story of how and when we found this real estate listing (on my birthday) and managed to get our offer in and accepted within 24 hours (while out of town and unable to take a tour).

We are returning to some deep roots in Hoover, to the neighborhood and almost the very street where Jeff spent most of his formative years. Many of these homes are still occupied by the families who settled there in the mid-1960s, and we are excited about the opportunity to get to know them all over again. We are also tremendously thankful and ECSTATIC at the prospect of a much-reduced daily commute.

I didn’t appear on this scene until 1985, but with Jeff and our girls I’ve spent many Sundays and other days at his parents’ home, near the spot where Jeff and I first met and later married, Green Valley Baptist Church.

A more recent memory

That home was still in the family just a few years ago during the notable “Snowmageddon” or “snowpocalypse” of January 28, 2014, described by others as “the winter storm that brought Birmingham to its knees.” Jeff picked me up from work in Vestavia Hills that day and we made our way precariously south on 31 for several hours covering no more than 7 or 8 miles. We inched and skidded finally down Deo Dara Drive and to the house. Jeff carried the door keys with him all the time at that point, and though we had begun to empty the house of contents including most of the food, we found enough unexpired items to keep us from going hungry, sheets on the beds and even some T-shirts, socks and flannel pajama pants to keep us comfortable. We had lights, heat, and water. We were very, very fortunate to make it to such a refuge during a crisis that found others faring much worse. We didn’t have television, but we had radio and we listened to those who were talking stranded motorists through the overnight ordeal.

Wrapping it up

We are so thankful for God‘s discernible hand in the timing of our arduous climb toward being ready to list our home for sale, and for finding one to buy—on which we agreed—after several months of looking and of exiting one early contract we’d placed. Now, after envisioning scenarios of buying without being able to sell, and of selling without having found what we wanted to buy, we have closed on both homes within the space of a few days.

This process has taught us things about patience and trust. It has taught us that a lot of intangible factors figure into what attracts a particular buyer to a particular house at a particular time. And posting about it already on Facebook has reminded us how blessed we are with so many precious friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. A final shout-out to our diligent, responsive, and thorough realtor, Frances Knox.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Original siding and shutters on our 1987 purchase, before the naturally-occuring dogwood “appeared” (!!) and before we planted the sugar maple we expected to turn fiery red-orange in autumn but got yellow instead. See…we DO have much to learn about landscaping, and we DO plan to attend to that in the years upcoming.
We won’t be able to entertain trick-or-treaters this year, as Halloween falls on our “moving eve”, but kudos to a great Dad who’s always enjoyed being the chief pumpkin carver.
You see, Alabama snows just don’t often provide the wherewithal for building those really LARGE, IMPRESSIVE snowmen. (Unless it was just our willingness to stay out in the cold long enough that was lacking.) And we won’t even talk about the improvised snow boots.

More recently at Secretariat, but still before the 2016 blessing of new vinyl siding. Somebody grew up since the days of her Little Mermaid dress from KMart. And she made the autumn wreath on the front door.