Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More Thoughts On The House

So today is the big kitchen floor refinishing day. The preparations actually started yesterday. It’s not unlike the day-before preparations for a feast….getting things organized, lots of anticipation. In this case, Ted was here to remove the refrigerator doors so we could move the fridge into the dining room. Alas, the first hurdle to overcome! We couldn’t find a valve to shut off the water supply line to the icemaker. We looked everywhere, in the house and under it. Then Ted put the fridge doors back on before the chicken started to smell. I told him I'd just call my contractor who has dealt with all the other quirky issues in this house.

Now as I write this, a new valve is secure, the appliances are in the dining room and the workmen are digging old linoleum and tar off the floor. I just heard one of them yell to the other, "Where's a mop? Do you see a mop?" I'm ignoring this. I have already contributed my sage advice such as…"Be sure that plastic you hang on the door doesn't have holes” and “Be careful with that sharp thing”. All the workmen who have been in my home in the last month appreciate my..........er, participation!

I was getting a little anxious last night after Ted and Leah went home. Not sure how the valve thing would be resolved, not sure if the tar would come up off the floor, and the plumbing was acting up again (already had one incident that involved sewage in the tub and an eye-rolling plumber).

Today when the floor guy showed up, I had a chance to process my thoughts in conversation with him. We talked about these old houses and how you just have to go with the flow (although that idiom doesn’t really apply to the plumbing issue. ) If you have fixed expectations, you’re liable to be disappointed. You know there are beautiful secrets lurking, but the uncovering can be laborious and more expensive than you thought. Some things you can do on your own, but other things require professional help. Some things wear out and have to be discarded, some things can be lovingly restored with time and patience, while others heroically withstand the test of time and become almost sacred for their endurance.

You have to be careful that, as you decorate the surface, the interior isn’t collapsing on you. You can’t ignore red flags, although you don’t have to get everything done all at once. You can triage, address what’s urgent, what will shut you down if not dealt with. Then when you’re feeling stronger and more confident, you can take on the rest.

And always you are grateful that you’ve been given this house, that its architect is all-knowing, that it’s yours and yours alone, and such a privilege to bask in its mystery and splendor.

I didn't use those exact same words with the floor guy, but it was the same idea.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Back to Writing

I haven’t posted in several weeks. My devoted blog followers say they have missed reading my updates. My sincere thanks to you, both of you : )

Actually, I have missed reading my updates. There’s something about autobiography that is affirming and encouraging. It’s MY life. I live it. For better or worse, it happens and I negotiate it. I get to celebrate the triumphs and I have to mourn the losses.

I think I need to write it out as much as I have to ride it out. Everything makes more sense to me in print. After Alaska, the everyday here and there isn’t too exciting. No more bush planes, mountain climbing or dog sledding. Just the usual here and now.

And yet……..nothing is usual about my life. Nothing is usual about yours either, because it’s not what we DO in the day to day that creates the drama. It’s how we manipulate it, how we form this raw clay called circumstances into beautiful works of art, or not.

My hands are still mired in the mud up to my elbows. My furniture is in the yellow bungalow. It was a three bedroom/one bath last time I posted. Now it’s a two bedroom/two bath (note the Alaska agates in the shower listello). The contractor has said his final farewell and now it’s up to me to paint, stain, get the kitchen floor refinished and put the final touches on it all.

I love my new old home. But I’m not deliriously happy. Some things about life are not remedied by “things”, even if the things are gifts from God. They are gifts to bring us pleasure, but not to change who we are. That has to come from within, where the Spirit dwells; His residence, not mine.

Mine is made of wood (albeit beautiful heart of pine that has weathered into a gorgeous patina, esp. in the utility room by the dryer where it's been left alone all these years). His is made of flesh, my flesh, that is weathering into something not so impressive, often uneven and too fragile (Can some of you relate?)

He is constantly remodeling His “temple“, restoring the foundations that have stood the test of time and proven strong and unshakable. Then restructuring the additions to make them useful and productive. Mercifully, He has an aesthetic flair that makes it all flow together and beautifully unique. A limitless supply of fresh paint and no wasted space.

I am the appointed caretaker, and keeping it swept and hospitable is sometimes a struggle.

What does it all mean? I turn to my mentor, Solomon, whose cryptic proverb first initiated this blog. Bet he was fun to live with. (No wonder he had so many wives. They were probably leaving him left and right). Imagine the dinner conversation:

“So honey, King of Israel, how was your day ?”
“All is meaningless. As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain?”
“Well……..have some more lamb.”

Somehow I find something meaningful in Solomon. Because he was “wise”, after all. I’m feeling impatient, wondering what this second half of my life is all about, what is the purpose of a great house, spending hard-earned money on rooms, enjoying the “things”. Solomon has a calming effect on me. God has plans!