Thursday, November 14, 2013

G1- Gratitude

 “Come on-a my house, my house a come on.”

GRATITUDE: A crone feels gratitude. I’ve always been quick to list my many blessings. However, for some reason lately I’ve begun to feel intense gratitude. Really feeling the gratitude has made a huge difference in my outlook. Sometimes while I am out on my walk, I lift my arms and say, “Eternal Spirit, Mother, Father, God, Thank you.” Then I call out those things that fill my soul with thanksgiving. I mostly do this when there is no one about to hear, but if I am overheard, it won’t matter. It is hard to embarrass a crone.

      When I was a little girl, Rosemary Clooney, aunt of George Clooney, sang a song of invitation about her house. Evidently she felt about her home the same way I feel about mine. I’ve never loved a dwelling as much as I love the one on 9th Street.   

       We bought the property in the fall of 2006 and moved in on our 5th wedding anniversary, September 21, 2013, J. C. having spent every weekend for a year working on improvements. Shortly after the move, he took on a job that kept him in Kansas most of the time for a few months, so I spent quality time alone with the new digs. On one of his visits back, he brought me a gift, a big stone with the words “Heron House,” carved into it. I adore the heron weathervane that sits atop my special room, but I thought naming the house seemed a little pretentious, considering the place’s many scars. The stone stayed, though, and the name has stuck, especially among my writer friends.

      One thing I did during my first days was to give a dinner party for several good friends from college along with some of their spouses. Most came from Oklahoma towns, a couple from Texas, but none of them had seen where I now lived.  Almost every one of the woman said some form of “This house is so you,” upon stepping through the front door.

         They were, of course, exactly right! The people who built the dwelling, nearly two decades before my birth, most certainly would have denied the truth of my belief that this house has been waiting for me, always, but I know what I know. Oh, sure, others have lived here, and people will be here after I am gone. Maybe the house was built for them too. I hope so. I want only people who love these walls to own them.

          It wasn’t love at first sight, not on my part, at least. I do like to think the house had its proverbial cap set for me. I am grateful J.C, who has more of an artist’s eye than I, saw what I couldn’t, how stripping layers of paper from the walls,  pulling down the ceiling –to- floor drapes , getting rid of the carpet that covered righteous, old oak floors would change everything. Very soon, I began to fall in love, and I knew at once the colors I wanted for the walls. I knew, too, that the side porch, once-screened now glassed, should be my writing room. From my desk, I can see the picturesque church we attend, observe comings and goings at the post office, and look out at the world from three directions.  

         Don’t misunderstand, I loved the old farm house where my children grew up, loved it so much, in fact, that I am now unable to drive down that road again. I could never be happier than I was in that house, and also understand I’ve always enjoyed having company. Something, though, about my present home reaches into my soul, and that something also demands people.

         A couple of years ago, I had a bigger version of that 2007 college gathering. That second time,  forty-five senior citizens broke bread together. Even more came to our house for the high school reunion, celebrating 50 years since J.C. and I graduated together a few blocks from here. There are Christmas parties for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a few chili suppers for our church, book-launch parties, and lots of other get-togethers.

Eating Soup

       During the first week of October, Oklahoma SCBWI put on a conference for 100 people in Chandler.  On the night before, around twenty speakers, staff, and key volunteers gathered for dinner at Herron House. Six of those guests spent the night upstairs. On the last Sunday in October, the house hosted a birthday party for writer Patti Bennett’s 85th birthday. In between, there have been lunches for friends, family gatherings, and at least three overnight visitors. All seven of my grandchildren, ages 3-10, love to play upstairs, where they recently created a spook house, bringing up an important question.

         Is Heron House haunted? No, not in the way my grandchildren were trying to replicate. Are there spirits here? Definitely! I especially feel them in the dining room, and they are not necessarily former  residents. When I sit with my writer friends discussing our projects, I sense a connection with others who have loved words before us, others who have thrived on the company of like minds. Using the bowl that belonged first to my grandmother and then to my mother to serve food to my family, I feel the strength in the hands and in the souls of those two women. Sharing a meal with precious friends from other days, I am aware that some bonds last longer than breath lasts in bodies. I never noticed such witnesses before moving here. Old houses, like old people, know things, and neither wants to be lonely.

Patti Bennett, Birthday Girl

         I am grateful to the people who built this house, the husband who saw its possibilities and who worked so hard on it, and, of course, to God for the chance to be part of its history. Undoubtedly, something of me will always be on 9th Street.

The Living Room


  1. When I go to Herron House, it feels like going home--although I never lived in any home like it. Thanks, Anna, for sharing your nest with so many of us.

  2. This is a perfect setting for you, dear Anna. I love the bright colors you've used to decorate, the homey grouping of furniture, and all of the windows! Now I know how to picture you when I visit in my mind. Hugs, Jackie

  3. Love the house. Love you, too. It's a heart-warmy house, as I knew it would be.


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