The house where Pride’s Children was written


If God gives me life and brain, I will finish my epic love story, Pride’s Children, in a couple of years.

Sometimes place is important. One thinks of the Brontës writing in the rectory on the moors, and wonders if it was a cold and dismal place, or a warm and cheery one. Did they have one room they kept cozy and tended to congregate in? I could find some of my answers if I took the time to look.

Sometimes I think that Kary’s house, Sanctuary, is more real than my own. I have put more thought into how it should be.

We have lived in this house, only the second one we’ve ever owned, since March 5, 1981, which is a very long time in these moving times. We have been its only owners.

My children have known no other childhood home.

As I have become more home-bound, I have spent almost all my life in the south bedroom, with a window that opens to a quiet court ended by a cul-de-sac, where the kids all rode their tricycles and bicycles and drew in chalk on the pavement.

I insisted on this house – because the neighborhood had – and has – mature trees everywhere I look. With so many developments built on cornfields, and so many owners who don’t bother to plant a tree when they move in, the new developments have a raw look to them.

I dislike the American house which often shows its concrete foundation, stained by water and rust, like a dirty petticoat peeking out from under a lady’s skirt, long after it is built. As if we should all politely ignore all underwear hanging out. Bushes are planted – which never cover that bottom foot of dirty grey.

Ours has bushes to the ground.

Abandoning a home deliberately is something new for me. I love this one in some way, for its memories, but I’m still here, and the memories are all I have. Already. I don’t want to go start clearing the debris of the winter so the bulbs can come out – I’ve done that too many times; now it’s accompanied by the pain of sitting low, and the sleepless nights that come with the pain.

The kids come very rarely, and are not into dance lessons and Scouts any more, so there is nothing for them to do. They often take the train to NY, and spend the day having fun. Without me. One wanders up to Princeton for a good walk and a bunch of Pokemon Go sites. Without me. Or walks to a local park, ditto.

I face the stairs every day. Sometimes I have to go up in an undignified way. I don’t understand why that doesn’t bother other people a whole lot more than it does. If it were them, and me watching, I would have gotten us out of here years ago. No, I have no desire to stay here – with my sewing machine sitting unused in the little attic closet I turned into a sewing room. Because I have no reason to sew. No costume for Halloween, no dress for a prom. My own clothes, which I started making when I was 14, now come in the mail.

I want to make a new home

While I still can. While I can adjust to a new community. While I can meet new people and do new things with enjoyment.

I don’t even want most of our furniture. The dining room table takes a beating when you’re homeschooling three kids at it. Much of the kid furniture was IKEA, assembled on the spot and not really capable of being disassembled successfully. The nice bedroom set, with the light bridge, is too big. The solid oak kitchen table, carefully hand-finished, and in perfect shape, is too big. Somehow or other, over the last two years, it seems every dining room chair needs re-caning and refinishing (I TOLD them not to lean so hard), and the wheels on the kitchen chairs we’ve enjoyed rolling around are destroying both the chairs and the floor.

This house needs a healthy woman in charge. And people who like to do things at the workbench in the basement. I’m not that woman: I did my time.

But somewhere I need to leave a plaque:

In this house, between 2000 and 2018, Pride’s Children was written.

The beginning of it, anyway, because NETHERWORLD won’t be finished here.

There are places I could leave such a plaque, places I know, places behind – where a new owner won’t even know there is a place.

The written record

If you’re a writer, and have a thought – a blog is the perfect home to let it run free. Who knows – some day you may gather your thoughts in words, clean them up and organize them about a theme, and publish them.

I look at this blog, with over five hundred posts since I started in 2012, and I know some of those posts would make a different kind of book on writing, and others would document the production of my own epic – and marvel that the format allows them to still be there when I’ve moved on. I really ought to go see what is there. Might make for some interesting archaeology.

I’m finishing this at six a.m. because the ice dancing at the Olympics put an earworm into my brain, and then I got hungry… You know the drill. It’s a good time for humans to get nostalgic.

How think ye?

Thanks again for Stencil‘s images – consider them if you need a source of them for your own blog. The pictures make me think, and then we’re off on another wandering trail through the writer’s brain.

11 thoughts on “The house where Pride’s Children was written

  1. Alice Audrey

    I understand the desire to leave a mark. We have always bought fixer uppers. In our first home I learned plumbing and drywall. When ever we put up a wall or replaced one that could no longer stand against time we would slip a newspaper in with the insulation. Imagine our surprise when taking a wall down one day to discover a twenty year old newspaper inside. I guess we eren’t the only ones who wanted to leave a mark.


  2. joey

    I loved the part about the concrete slabs as dirty underwear. I’d have to go investigate my own house, but I believe the only place she has visible bloomers is in the back, where she has a huge patio, possibly worthy of the word veranda. But my house isn’t fancy, and she’d never use that word. Houses with crawlspaces are humble.
    My husband felt it was extremely important that we get a one-story home for his aging knees, and so we did. I would not like to see him traversing stairs without his dignity. It might make me cry.
    I am fortunate enough to be able to peel back what winter did to fall, and rescue my bulbs. Don’t you think I won’t think of you as I do it. Saw the first pip today, in fact.
    I hope to God you get out of there soon, Alicia.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I feel we’re finally ‘working on’ getting out of here. We hired a mason, the weather cooperated, and we have a new chimney

      I have a ‘stager’ coming to tell me what she does to make a house look pretty for viewing – next Wed. I have the name of a painter and a man who does tile. We’re slowly going through boxes.

      Meanwhile, I try to write a bit every day. Now that the flu is over, I have to also go back to my cardiac rehab exercises (started today) and singing at church (tomorrow). There isn’t much in this house that I want to take with me, it having been a happy haven for three children schooled at home (a little harder on a house). We will be going to a two-bedroom place where I will finally have my OWN bathroom – if I ever catch anyone in there…

      Stuff like that. We have been here since 1981, so everything is well-used, and I won’t miss most of it. But yeah, I’m with you. I want out. Enjoy your gardening!

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. marianallen

    I’m starting to think about the without-me future of this house. It was the childhood home of only one of the children, so I’m inclined to leave it to her, but that’s unfair financially, but…. Wondering if it would be better to dispose of it sooner and go live elsewhere, smaller and easier to maintain, or what. It’s still the two of us — Charlie and myself — so I don’t have to make any decisions now, but it’s well past time to at least START thinking about it.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Two quick points: right now you remember what went right and what didn’t with your mom. Either use that, or make a deliberate effort to get it all down somewhere you can refer to later.

      And it takes far longer from the first thought to the actual action than you think, and Life throws up all kinds of obstacles as we get older. Way too many people don’t act until a crisis hits – and then, of course, they get few of their wishes.

      Best of luck to you and Charlie, but don’t delay very much. And do think it all the way to the end; that part gets easier after you tackle the problem a couple of times.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lgould171784

    Your mention of the Brontës set me thinking. Family was everything to them, as I’m sure it is to you. Their home may have looked cold and dreary to outsiders, but as long as the sisters were together, and were indulging their passion in each other’s company, it must have felt like a warm place.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      So many people died of Concumption (TB) those days that you have to wonder whether they had to survive winters in cold and dreary and draughty houses, and whether that contributed. It doesn’t matter how much love and companionship there is to germs. If they didn’t have the money for fuel, it is sad that we lost so many great writers to disease and poverty. Those were the days when the women in the family spent most of their lives ‘nursing’ others back to health. We don’t have a gut memory of how unusual it was for all your children to survive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lgould171784

        Lack of clean water is believed to have played a part in the deaths of Branwell, Emily, and Anne. Two older sisters also died after becoming ill at boarding school. Charlotte, at least, lived long enough to get married–only to die from complications of pregnancy.



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