A Dime A Dozen

Simple math tells us that at the rate of a dime a dozen, one (of anything)  is equivalent to a value of $0.0083.  Cheap!

So, what can we buy at a rate like that? You can’t even get penny candy anymore. Shocking, huh? Time to visit Goodwill or go dumpster diving. Everything is expensive these days. Guess I’ll drift off to visit my memories…they’re still free.

My first brand new three-bedroom house in Des Moines, Iowa cost $12,000, including upgrades of a cedar shake roof and plush red bedroom carpeting.

When I dro8203 Leisure Laneeve by the house on Leisure Lane (actual street name) in May of this year, I saw changes. It had a fence that wasn’t there back in 1966, the elm tree was mature and the lot had shrunk. I wish I had a dime for the dozens of times I remember those days in that house.

A black-and-white family photo was taken there: Mom, Dad, my three brothers and one sister with me. I had a lace tablecloth on the dining room table and a tiny table with two fold-down leaves in the kitchen. My daughter helped her younger brother escape the crib, and my son later learned to ride the tricycle in cowboy boots on the front sidewalk. Memories.

My late husband, Roland, received Jesus as his Savior in that house. I rededicated my life to the Lord there. We sold all of our earthly possessions and the house we loved to move our two pre-school children to Greenville, SC. There, Roland and I attended Bob Jones University. We had left Leisure Lane for good.

At my age (which I refuse to reveal), almost any topic at any given moment can generate a memory. They’re a dime a dozen…worth a million!

What is it that triggers your fondest memories? Bubble gum, marbles, losing the first tooth, lightning bugs, snow, the smell of apple pie, the touch of corduroy, the taste of lemonade, or making mud pies? I’d love to hear about your memories…a house, maybe?

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to visit http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com.

Posted in Childhood, God, Houses, Iowa, Life Chages, Memories, Moving, Prices, Real Estate, Travel, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Keeping Up Appearances

Several years ago, my son Kendahl introduced me to what is now one of my favorite television shows. The British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances, was written by Roy Clarke and ran from 1990 – 1995. However, today, the programs are repeated worldwide on PBS and entire series are sold on Ebay and Amazon.

In trying to analyze why I’m so drawn to this silliness, I look at the characters and their behaviors. Patricia Routledge is cast as Hyacinth Bucket, insisting that her name is pronounced “bouquet.” Her two sisters are Rose and Daisy, so maybe she would have valid claim, except for Hyacinth’s consistent snobbish ways.

She is an eccentric middle-class social climber. Hyacinth is married to Richard who patiently endures her escapades. She brags about her candlelight suppers and tries to impress everyone by flaunting her material possessions, like her “Royal Doulton china.” All the while, Hyacinth says, “I don’t have a snobbish bone in my body.”

Her superiority in climbing the social ladder to the upper class is usually dashed by the reality of her lower-class extended family. Rose is a “loose” woman; Daisy is a complacent dreamer, married to a likeable, but poor slob, Onslow.

Maybe I like Keeping Up Appearances because I see my prideful self in this program. It’s much more acceptable to see a similar behavior in another and then laugh about it.

Once I was too proud to go to an event with a small run in my panty hose. I ended up buying a new pair at the drug store and getting into the back seat of my Honda to change. Soon, I discovered that the child safety locks were on. I was trapped. I twisted and turned and forced my body into a tiny crawl space between bucket seats to eventually plop into the driver’s seat. Someone must have recognized me in the Walgreen’s parking lot, “On the corner of Healthy and Happy.” I live in a small town.

Silly, the situations we get ourselves into. All due to pride. “Pride goeth before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). It happened to the brightest angel in heaven: Lucifer.

How can you look and laugh at your own silliness when it comes to pride? Are you struggling with “Keeping Up Appearances” in an area of your life? Sometimes it’s just not funny. I know. Tell me your story.


Visit my website: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com





Posted in 1990s television, Appearances, British television, Hyacinth Bucket, materialism, Sitcoms, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Persons of Influence

Back when I was a teenager living in Iowa, I read Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. It was first published in 1937. Today, I know that I needed that book, since I was so shy and quiet. (Those who know me now can stop laughing!)

I feel as though I have a lot of friends, but as far as influencing anyone, I guess I’ll never know this side of heaven. However, countless persons have influenced me. Most for the good, I’m happy to report.

So, my next writing project is developing in my mind. Write letters to the major men, women, and children in my life who have influenced me in one way or another. Some of the letters I plan to write will be to those who have departed for a far better place, but never forgotten.

Revival Meeting with Grandpa and Grandma Smith on their property.

Revival Meeting with Grandpa and Grandma Smith on their property.

The task before me is so massive. I don’t know where to begin, but I do know that I will include my late husband, both of my parents, all of my grandparents, my sister and three brothers, my three children, my grandchildren and my in-laws. There will be teachers, pastors, neighbors, friends, students, and a few strangers. If this collection of  epistles is ever published, that would be one of the most influential things I’ve ever done. It doesn’t matter to me if any more of my work is published, except for the fact that if it be for the glory of my Lord, so be it.

Who has influenced me the most? Jesus! Maybe someday I’ll write about what my life, if I would even still be alive today,  would be like without Him. That will be a very dark story…yet, the story of a life redeemed.

If you could write one paragraph about one person that has influenced you, what would you write? Can you share that paragraph now? Will you encourage me in my letter writing project?

Thank you for following this post. Also visit http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com


Posted in family, Family History, friends, God, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Life Chages, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Confession Beyond the Car Wash

As a realtor, I feel that keeping my car clean is a necessity. The 2004 Honda Accord that I drove home from the dealership in that same year is still rolling along…sometimes a little dusty, but not rusty like the salt erosion on some icy Iowa vehicles.


A few days ago, I took my car to the local car wash where an attendant takes your order for basic or VIP service. Every time I take my car there, a man asks if he can buff out my head lights, sell me detailing or a package deal of one sort or another. “Really?” I say. “I just want the basic wash.”

He, like most sales people, doesn’t take “no” for an easy answer. “You know, we have a special today….” Please. I’m waiting for him to write up my order. He is holding the ticket hostage as he tries to up-sell me something else. I try to tune him out.

“Just give me my ticket,” I say and snatch the thing from his hand as soon as he rips it from his pad. Finally I was in control of the white slip, and I turned my back to him to stomp off in a huff. When I got inside the building, I asked for the manager and complained that every time I go there, I am hassle. He assured me that he’d take the man aside and speak to him.

I felt better, until the next day. I began thinking of how I felt wronged, but then I realized that I had mistreated another individual myself. How was I any better than he? How could I love people the way God loves people if I couldn’t be kind to a stranger…one trying to do his job and make a living to boot.

The second day after the car wash, I felt really bad. I’m made of the same dirt that the salesman is made of and I’m not above him. I needed to show the love of God, not the anger of Effie. So, I returned to the car wash, found the man named, “Tom,” and apologized. He said, “I’m not mad at you. I accept your apology.” He understood.

“The reason I came is because I’m a Christian and I shouldn’t have treated you that way,” I said.

“I’m a Christian, too,’ Tom said. “It’s okay. We’re not perfect.” During our brief visit we shook hands three or four times and laughed a lot. I left thinking about how Tom demonstrated the love of God in his ready forgiveness.

That’s my confession. I’d love to hear of your experience in asking for or in giving forgiveness. Forgiveness…loving others like God does. He makes us truly clean beyond the daily dirt. Unlike my car, I am forever clean by Messiah Jesus’ blood that washes whiter than snow.

Posted in Ethics and Morals, family, God, God's Voice, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Life Chages, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Christmas Star~~Take A Bow!

Today, proper protocol when addressing royalty requires a bow to show respect and honor. I’ve never stood before the British queen, prince or princess, but in 2003 I came close while visiting St. Andrews University in Scotland. Prince William was a student then, and I was told that he sometimes dropped in the gift shop where I was buying  a souvenir. If a “royal” occasion had happened, I would have bowed…while dreaming of a kiss from the prince, of course.

International Nativity Scene in Pella, Iowa

International Nativity Scene in Pella, Iowa

At Christmas, I think of angels bowing at Jesus’ crib formerly used for livestock. With no room in the inn, the long-awaited Messiah, the King of kings came to earth in humble fashion. A star led to his nativity, but the true Star was nestled in a bed of hay. Over 2,000 years ago, the magi traveled from afar to bow before the infant Son of God.

“Bowing” and “Christmas” reminds me of when my daughter, “Angel,” (called by one of her middle names) was in second grade in Des Moines, Iowa.  Her teacher told her to draw a Christmas picture with crayons. That afternoon she brought home a picture of Santa Claus  in his bright red suit kneeling at Jesus’ manger. I’ve seen this image a lot in the commercial marketplace since that day, but the first time I saw any Santa bowing on his knees was in the late 1960s…my Angel’s artistic creation.

On Christmas morning 2014, wouldn’t it be wonderful to kneel for the one and only Christmas Star…Messiah Jesus…the Star of Bethlehem? Then, arise and celebrate Him!

How will your Christmas begin? What traditions do you practice? What memories do you hold in your heart? I’d love to hear your stories. Please give me the gift of sharing your experience. I can’t wait to unwrap your comments.

Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2015!

PS~~Visit my other websites: http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com and http://www.EffieGross.com.



Posted in Christmas, family, God, Iowa, Judeo-Christian, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Business Ethics 101

Effie Gross kissing the Blarney Stone 2001“The real estate business has a lot of unethical people in it,” I said to my broker recently.

“There’s a lot of unethical people in the world,” he corrected me by expanding on my complaint.

Now I understand why some large corporations offer classes in “Ethics.” Previously, I didn’t think such a topic could be taught. You are either an honest person or a person of lesser character: a liar, a cheat, a thief, or a jerk, in general.

To give the benefit of the doubt, let’s guess that the person in question kissed the Blarney Stone, like I did in 2001. Yet, I’ve never (to my knowledge) used the kissing experience for an excuse to tell some wild tale and expect someone to believe me. Just maybe, I got the gift of gab (refined), but that is as far as I’ll go on that Irish thought.

Here’s what bothers me:   a Seller explained to my Buyer that the water stain on the ceiling came about by a member of the household spraying bug spray up there. He also  decided to cover it up with fresh paint. Yup! I’m sure that could have happened just that way, BUT let’s get real…honestly. Why not just say that after Arizona’s monsoon season there’s a loose roof tile up there, and it will only take a quick and inexpensive fix?

I wish everyone followed the Golden Rule, then we’d all be ethical. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Telling the truth is just good business ethics! In fact, ethical behavior is just plain good…in business or in any other situation.

Have you ever been in a situation where you told a lie, but wished you’d told the truth? Have you ever told the truth and wished you lied? How do ethics play a part in your life?

Knowing that “all men/women are liars,” I try not to be too hard on anyone. I guess dishonesty is a pet peeve for me. Analyze the business of ethics, please, but keep me out of it! I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone. Remember?




Posted in Ethics and Morals, Manners, Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Identity Crisis Over

Over 35 years ago, I wrote a weekly column entitled, “Etcetera, etc.” As a follow up on my last post, “It’s All About Me, Me, Me…Effie,” I’m including it here. This should prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Though I’ve matured in my thinking over the years, I see that my core belief regarding personal identity remains constant.

“Once upon a time I was me: Effie Alean Groves.

Effie Groves, age 12 Des Moines, Iowa

Effie Groves, age 12
Des Moines, Iowa

Then I became my husband’s wife to be followed by our children’s mother. My role in life blended into the needs and desires of others like a malt of ice-cream and milk all shook-up: make meals, wash diapers, go shopping, entertain strangers, & a host of dutiful chores. My own interests were shoved into the corner where they collected dust until I cleaned house during an identity crisis at my 30th birthday (I’ll never reveal how long ago that might be). Suddenly, I saw my life half past. I wondered about a lot of things. Since, I’ve come to some startling conclusions.

Effie & Roland Gross; Grinnell, Iowa

Effie & Roland Gross; Grinnell, Iowa

“Now I know why for years I signed my name Mrs. (substituting my mate’s first name where mine belonged) Gross.  It was a habit formed from becoming a part of someone rather than being a whole person sharing common direction. So you won’t misunderstand, I don’ mind using my married name at all, nor my husband’s name at appropriate times such as forging a check signature. but seriously, to nearly forget my own first name for lack of use was unforgiveable. This light showed me I’d lived in a dark shadow. At high noon there is no shadow. I’m glad I learned in time.

“I learned everyone is born with a separate personality, individual set of genes, and position in life. To deny oneself development in any of these areas is to commit personal growth suicide. Unhappy persons make unhappy partners, parents, and peers.

“Well-meaning ladies (more than gents) frequently say, “I owe my life to my spouse and especially the children.” If the speaker is content, fine; however, a self-sacrificing miserable life isn’t worth handing anyone.

Roland & Effie Gross w/Children & Grandchildren; Fountain Hills, AZ 2002

Roland & Effie Gross w/Children & Grandchildren; Fountain Hills, AZ 2002

“Those who give time to themselves for self-indulgence in expanding an education, joining a bowling league, cultivating a talent, doing community volunteer work, signing up for an exercise class, going to work, and etc. find the quality of their person greatly improved. Others in the home  notice and benefit as well.

“Because my family are dear and important to me…so am I. I am among other things, wife, mother housekeeper, errand girl, bookkeeper, baker, counselor, hobbyist, reader, writer: HAPPY. I’m an individualist. I have an identity. I’m Effie. Who are you?”

In the days ahead, I plan to include other columns from “Etcetera, etc.”  What is your identity crisis story? Gold chains, long hair, or depression? Let me know how our stories are similar or different.

Visit me at http://www.FountainHillsWelcomeHome.com and http://www.EffieGross.com. Thanks for reading!


Posted in Career, Effie, family, Family History, Identity Crisis, Iowa, Life Chages, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments