While looking through an old picture album the other day (Yes! Picture albums still exist) nestled in the seams of one page…we found this old and weathered list.


As we opened it and began to read…the two of us were thrilled…that old list contained the items for the dream house we would build.


At the top of the list…of course…a bungalow was number one…not too big…but with enough room for our children to play and dream and run.


There was no timeline on our dream house list…no specific when…it was just a list of all the things we dreamed about back then.


As I sat there holding that old list of dreams within my hand…I realized we never built our dream house…life didn’t go quite the way we planned.


After we finished reading the list…that together we’d amassed…I gently folded it back up…then turned to Deborah and asked:


“Are you sad we never built our dream house…sad you may have missed…your chance to live in a house with all the items on our list?”


She closed her eyes and visited her memory for a while…before she returned the list to the album…squeezed my hand and smiled. 


“How can I be sad.” She said. “Though this is not our bungalow…this is the house we’ve raised three children in…and watched four grandchildren grow.”


“This house contains all the joys we’ve shared…all the sorrows we’ve overcome…this is the house that’s influenced who our children and grandchildren have become.”


“Yes, this list was never completed.” She said. “But it’s not as sad as that may seem…This might not be the dream house from our list…but it is our house of dreams.”


And I felt blessed she reminded me of something we both already knew…

that a dream house can be any house…where all your dreams come true.



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I was brought up thinking that our house was where the mailbox had our name…and like everyone in my family…our house and our home…were the same.


It’s where we laughed and cried…where around the dinner table we sat…but as I’ve aged I’ve come to realize…home is much more than that.


A house is just a house…floors, room and walls with a roof above…but what makes a house a home is when it’s filled with love.


Since love is not restricted to one place…it has the ability to roam…I now understand that many of us…live their lives in mobile homes.


Because as long as we are blessed with family…a family whose love is strong…then anywhere we go…we take our home along.


When we’re driving in our car…a car made of metal and rubber and chrome…whether it’s just the two of us or our children or grandchildren in the back seat…our Subaru feels like home.


When we celebrate a birthday at a restaurant…have a picnic under a sky of blue

as we talk and laugh together…it feels like home, too.


When we see a movie together…taking up an entire row in the hippodrome…as I sit there surrounded by family…the theater feels like home.


And when we ring our son who lives across the country…when we talk to him on the phone…even though we’re standing 600 miles apart…it feels like he’s home.


Yes, our house is certainly important to us…but as has been proven to me time and time again…I don’t need walls, a room a roof…for wherever I may roam…

wherever I have family…

wherever I have their love…

then that’s where I call home.



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Once a year it comes in the mail…a kind of annual rebirth

It’s a card…it’s from a realtor…asking…

“What is your house worth?”


This year’s card again got me thinking…and I’m sure Deborah would agree

the value of our house is different for the realtor than it is for Deborah and me.


A realtor might pause in front of that bedroom door and frown

wondering who in their right mind could have hung it upside down.


She could not know I worked on that door for almost an entire day

and though it is a little different we kind of like it hanging that way.


A realtor might want the writing on our closet door erased…

He might not realize it’s part of our family’s lore…

that our children’s and grandchildren’s every changing heights are written on that door.


A realtor might see the lights in the kitchen…she might laugh or scoff

wondering why to turn them on…you actually turn them off.


She’d have no way of knowing…the switch will stay that way forevermore

having been installed by the same person who hung that bedroom door.


A realtor might want that swing in our backyard replaced…its old and shows its wear

He couldn’t know our children and grandchildren grew up swinging out there. 


A realtor might see the cracks in the ceiling and become enraged.

She wouldn’t see them as we do…wrinkles that come with age.


Yes, a realtor might look at out house and see imperfections behind every window and every door

Never comprehending, in our house, 

it’s those imperfections we adore


To a realtor this is just another house as in search of houses to sell they roam 

but a long time ago it became more than that, 

when it became our home.


So back to the question of the moment, how much is our old house worth?

The house that has seen us through sadness and joy; through marriages and births.


The house where for over 30 years our family has laughed and cried and sat...

The answer is quite simple, you can’t put a price on that.


At least that’s what I was thinking as I read on the card the realtor would pay cash!


And why I smiled so contentedly…when I tossed it in the trash.

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His name was Howard Solomon and without a lot of circumstance or pomp

he bought some land near Sarasota and built himself a castle…in a swamp.


Without much schooling and with no plans…it’s hard to understand

how he made something so beautiful with just his imagination and his hands.


But he did and it’s quite magnificent…it’s both whimsical and fun

as the luster of its silver siding shimmers in the sun.


And it was a wonderful place to visit, to walk its halls, to see it shine

but this was his dream…his castle…built with his imagination…not mine.


Which made me glad to return to my home…where my memories are sown.

Glad that, although a little smaller and less shiny, I have a castle of my own.


And I couldn’t help but smile once we turned into our driveway knowing we were back

once we opened our door..once we entered…and I hung my hat upon the rack…


Because it reminded me of something I already knew long before this adventure got it’s start:


Home is not only where you hang your hat…it’s where you hang your heart

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He loves to walk inside his old house when everyone’s asleep

When the world around is so quiet you cannot hear a peep.


For in the quietude of slumber when the bats and fireflies thrive

is the time within the walls of his old house when memories come alive.


Memories of laughter and tears echo off the walls

Memories of his children and grandchildren echo down the halls.


Sometimes he stops to listen…sometimes…to different rooms he’s drawn

as he marvels at his old house…where his world has come and gone.


Today as he takes his final walk…

his children are grown…

his wife is gone

He packs up every memory…he knows it’s time for moving on.


He will take his memories with him but he knows some will linger in these walls

which he will gladly share with the new owners when another nighttime falls.


And he hopes as these new owners walk these halls when everyone’s asleep

when the world around is so quiet you cannot hear a peep


That he or she will stop and listen…smile…and be so kind


as to allow the new memories they are making to mix with those he leaves behind.

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When he was a baby he didn’t know what a home was…He didn’t now hat he had

He only knew two faces there…that of Mom…and that of Dad.


When he began to crawl and walk…so many years ago

he noticed as he was getting bigger…his house began to grow.


When he was but a little boy and into every room he crept

he knew his house was where he lived…where he ate…and where he slept.


He knew it kept him safe and dry.  He knew it’s where his family blended.

He knew it’s where his day began and where, at night, it ended.


When he reached his teenage years he noticed less and less the things within it

because as teenagers are wont to do…he was spending less time in it.


He spent less time at home now…for he was nearly fully grown

Less time with his parents and family…more time on his own…


It wasn’t till he moved away…that he was hit with a surprise

when he began to see his house…through a different set of eyes.


His mind began to wander and his thoughts to reminisce

he thought about his house…and all the things that he now missed.


He suddenly remembered moments…so many lessons his house taught

Moments of love and laughter and family…he thought he’d long forgot.


And when he’d call his parents…he’d ask them if they would

say hi to the house he grew up in…and his parents understood.


Now every time he visits…from wherever he may roam…

he pauses outside his house to smile…


knowing he is home.

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Immediately upon entering the house 

she squeezes her husband’s hand and sighs

for she can see so many future memories


unfolding before her eyes.

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A friend is buying the house next door to ours…

and yesterday I was transfixed

as inspectors came to scrutinized that house

an tell her what needed fixed. 


After 50 years of service…

that house proudly stood while they inspected…

they turned in a 60 page report…

of all the things that need corrected.


As I watched them it made me wonder…I was moved to introspection…

if this old house we live in…could pass such close inspection.


After 30 years of living here I am painfully aware

like all of us…this old house shows it’s wear and tear.


The laundry room’s still incomplete…the French doors stick after a rain.

And why some of the light switches work in reverse is difficult to explain…


I’m sure the wiring’s not up to code..and there’s that upside down hanging door,

our plumbing runs through the attic…theirs cracks in the ceiling and the floor.


But when I looked up to count the cracks…I was overcome by a wonderful feeling

of how we raised three children here…despite the cracks in this old ceiling.


And I started thinking how my house inspection is anything but routine…

how I need to consider the laughter…the tears…and the love this house has seen.


When I inspect my house I’m not thinking price…I’m thinking value…because

we’ve come to love this old place in spite of all her flaws.


And herein lies the difference…


What an inspector might see as defects in this old outmoded space

I see more as wrinkles…like the ones upon my face.


Where an inspector sees the flaws in my house as through these halls he roams


I see a house with character…I see family…I see home.

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It’s just a cabin in the mountains Deborah’s parents built years ago

It’s seen it’s share of summer rains, autumn leaves and winter snows.


As we’re about to leave on our next adventure

I like to sit for a moment…to recall

what is it about this cabin…what’s so special about these walls…


I smile…take a deep breath…then right before my eyes

as I look around this cabin…memories come floating by…


How fast the memories come…how quickly they arrive

of when our children were so little…when Deborah’s parents were alive…


The games we played at the table…it really isn’t hard

to see our grandchildren playing where our children once played

running up and down the yard…


The hours spent out on our porch…watching the rain…

rocking in the rocking chairs…

paper airplanes launched from the top deck

slingshots shooting beans high in the air..


All the campfires we have sat around…watching the fire roar…

Telling stories, roasting marshmallows…building our s’mores.


Friends who visited us while we’ve been here…people sleeping on the floor

the cabin filled with laughter…these are memories I adore…


I know what it is about this cabin…why it keeps us so enthralled…

It’s because of all the memories…we’ve painted on its walls…


Memories are such wonderful gifts…once they are formed within our mind

not only do they leave with us…but they also stay behind…


To remind us this is more than just a cabin…

to remind us no matter where we roam….

our memories will be waiting here….


To remind us we are home.

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