I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Mona's Musings

May 14th, 2010

The Quest for a New Home in the Old World

Rose: We came down the Ulanga — the Bora, you call it down here.
(All three officers look at each other — and back at Rose.)
Officers (together): But that is impossible!
Rose: Nevertheless!

Our cell phones meet at a pinpoint in orbit. House-hunting in London is tough when the Columbia is closer than the Thames. Romantic they may be, both rivers are full of unexpected twists and sudden currents. And right now, as we negotiate our way through a sticky situation while on opposite sides of the globe, it feels like we are plummeting down the rapids toward a three-hundred foot drop off.

For two weeks, he’s been stoking the boiler like mad, keeping our hopes afloat and the engine running. He’s determined to find us a new home in the old world but “available” properties are either unacceptable or unavailable.  Meanwhile, I’ve been clinging to the rudder for dear life—straining through the spray to see what’s coming round the bend.

Charlie: How’d you like it?
Rose: Like it?
Charlie: White water rapids!
Rose: I never dreamed…
Charlie: I don’t blame you for being scared – not one bit. Nobody with good sense ain’t scared of white water…

Not only can we not find a place in greater London, we can’t agree on priorities.  Though we are verbally self-sacrificing we know each other’s hearts too well: he wants covered parking and a stand-alone shower and I’ve got to have windows and light. Oh, what does it really matter since there is no place to let in Surrey? Disappointment upon disappointment…frustration after frustration…we are caught in a landlord’s market; an eddy with no escape.

Rose: The whole thing is like a fever dream, isn’t it?
Charlie: All the channels we’ve lost—an’ the the twistin’ we’ve done—we may come back where we started—if  we come out at all.
Rose: We’ve always followed the current, dear—what little there is.

Meanwhile, Dale’s time in London is running out and the precipice is approaching. We make a desperate offer on a property that represents a major compromise for us both. The deal falls apart. It is 2:30 a.m. for me and he is at the airport about to board. This is it. Like the scene in African Queen when Rose and Charlie have exhausted themselves navigating the the Ulanga and have no other option but to lie down and die in the Belgian Congo, we hang up and cry.

Rose: Dear Lord, We’ve come to the end of our journey, and in a little while we’ll stand before you. I pray for you to be merciful. Judge us not for our weaknesses, but for our love and open the doors of heaven for Charlie and me.

Minutes after our sad conversation, the screenplay of the African Queen begins inexplicably to run through my head. I come upon the scene of the little steamer, entangled in a jungle marsh; the bodies of Charlie and Rose prostrate on the deck, as motionless as their boat. The camera sails higher and higher until we can we see what they cannot: the lake—the big, open lake that has been their destination all along—is just yards away.  Overnight, clouds gather and explode, swelling the river and setting the African Queen on her way.

I bolt out of bed and dive back into the on-line real estate market. And there it is: our miracle. An exquisite flat in the very complex and location we’d dared not hope for—posted only minutes before. In the spirit of “snatch and grab it” and with the help of friends I’ve never even met, the place was basically ours by the time Dale landed in Chicago.

Charlie: What happened?
Rose: We did it, Charlie, we did it!..
Charlie: Well I’ll be… Are you all right, Rosie?
Rose: Never better. And you, dear?
Charlie: All right!
Rose: I’m all turned round, Charlie. Which way is the south shore?
Charlie: The one we’re swimming towards, old girl!…

CLICK ON ANY OF THE PHOTOS FROM THE MOVIE in this post to see short,
wonderful videos of–or about–the film. (Two have brief commercials at the start.) BELOW: Trailer for John Huston’s The African Queen (1951)



May 10, 2008


Official London Forecast: Biometrics (fingerprints, etc.) tomorrow, then the whole pile of papers, which has been accumulating for weeks, goes to the attorney, then onto the Los Angeles Consulate. What happens after that, I’m not sure…my movie-brain visualizes the last shot in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Come to think of it, my dining room looks something like that shot…everything ready for the shippers.

Don’t miss>Somewhere Else

Hint of Romance

Real romances with happy endings are always underwritten by Faith and Optimism. Keep them alive no matter what.

What did you think of this musing?

Join the discussion!


  1. Heidi says:

    How wonderful!!! Congratulations! Was that a picture of it? Because it looks so bright and happy. Perfect!

    • mona says:

      Heidi: YES! That’s IT!

      • mona says:


        SUE SIMPER! (That’s ice cream shop coupons for you and Evan!)

        I numbered all those who commented on last week’s post “Somewhere Else”, in order of the time the comment was received and then used Random.org to “draw” the winning number. Congrats Sue!

  2. Heidi Ashworth says:

    Mona–I am so excited for you! Not only for having the chance to live in Europe (esp. England!) but for the miracles that are happening in your life. Those are the best.

  3. Wendy Scarlett says:

    Happy you have found a home in Surrey, which part?? Hope you make it down to Sussex too?

    • mona says:

      Wendy, We will be in KEW! The complex is called “Kew Riverside” because of course! it is beside the Thames…and of course! we have a date for “ice cream” with you and your honey in Sussex!

  4. Alan LaFleur says:

    You’ve always been my hero (heroine). You never cease to amaze me! Both you and Dale, well, I can’t finish or my computer will “short circuit” from the downpour. We always joked that we shared a brain, I would be eternally blessed to be able to claim a few brain cells! Sorry we missed you a couple of weeks ago. I won’t even begin to explain the circus that is our lives, but know you are loved, cherished and will be sorely missed.

    • mona says:

      Alan! How WONDERFUL to hear from you. I am deeply touched by your expression of REAL friendship. And since we share a brain, I would appreciate it if you wrote half of these Musings for me!

  5. Lindsey says:

    I am so glad that you found something. I know the Lord is watching out for you because you are living right and paying your tithing. It must be quite the adventure and leap of faith to do what you are doing. I am proud of you and grateful for your example. I love your writing style.

    • mona says:

      Lindsey, We DO feel “watched over” — I know we are blessed, and hopefully will be judged — just like Rosie says in the movie – on our love for each other….

  6. Rebecca Webb says:

    Hey, I can kind of relate to that twisting turning stuff. We are looking for a new place to live too–in the area, more or less, but it’s changed so many times it’s hard to keep hoping for something “just right.” Actually, it’s really been about 4 years of looking. Not only does it need to be the right place, it has to be the right time.

    I’m excited to hear more!

  7. Judy Petersen says:

    You have written many excellent pieces, but for some reason this one really grabbed by heart. May the rest of the journey be as successful.

    • mona says:

      Judy: Heart-grabbing! I’ll have to use that in a promo! I love you so — thank you for the support and encouragement — you’ve been there for me since I was 12!

  8. Laura says:

    Hooray for a place to stay! What a relief. Enjoy your adventure!

  9. Susan says:

    Yay for you guys! I am so glad you found your miracle!

  10. Jane says:

    Congratulations on getting a place to live, especially at the last minute. What a great blog you have, such a different and great approach. I will look forward to reading more and your future adventures in London.

    • mona says:

      Susan: Yes. I can’t believe I’ll be living in a “miracle” – that is how I’ll see it everyday!

      And Jane: WOW! Thank you for visiting Musings. Again, I just LOVE your blog — and recommend it to all my readers — Jane is an expat in the U.K. herself.

  11. Joyce says:

    Solving your housing crisis is just the first in a string of European miracles I’m sure you’re going to enjoy! The East End! And just think — Baker Street! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy — and keep blogging, I love your “Musings”.

    • mona says:

      Joyce: I love the idea of a “string of European miracles!” You have no idea how your email and comment have affected me – and in just the right moment. How wonderful to reconnect this way.

  12. Jodi says:

    I am so happy that you and Dale found a place to live. It somehow starts to make it feel real and for me finding an apartment brought so much peace to my anxious heart. We lived in a hotel for a month before we found our apartment. I wish you the best in your big move! Again, please let us know when you are in Munich. We now have two sweet children for you to meet!
    All the best!

  13. Valerie M. says:

    Yay!!! Good ending. So glad you found something great so you can enjoy your time there even more.

  14. It’s always in the last inning when you are about to give up and exhale your last breath when Heavenly Father steps in with a home run!!

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