Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In the House of Stone and Light

To everything there is a season.

This is the season to work on our house. The house of stone and light.

I thought I was making ground. . . the leaves and branches from the storm keep falling but I'm keeping up. The basement is coming along--we have cabinets and one coat of paint and the doors got hung yesterday--more trim today.  All that is left is the tile, toilet and sink, and the carpet and last coat of paint.

Then. . . yesterday we had the second visit from the insurance company regarding the hail damage.  This time we got the A team. The national hail team. Tim was just in from two months of figuring claims in Amarillo. I said I'm sorry about that. Two months in a hotel in Amarillo. Lord have mercy. I was about to write him a check.

They spent an hour an a half around the house and on the roof. So. . . looks like we will be needing a new roof and most of the house will need to be re-stained. Perhaps the thought of the roof leaking onto the two grand pianos put the fear of God into them. Maybe it was the private roof contractor I had there and Kathy our builder happened to stop by about then too. . . funny how that all came down.

I felt a little guilty. The roof is only 12 years old. But Tim told me they have to substantiate every claim and if the roof wasn't compromised they wouldn't replace it.  They have strict guidelines. And the old shingles get recycled. I felt a little better then.

Bring it on.

I've already had contractors here everyday since June. The ferns are already wrecked for the year. No better time to make an even bigger mess. But this time--I'm getting my own guy to do the stain. I'm becoming partial to 30 something guys who own there own business. It's not what you think. They just do a good job. They have shiny clean trucks that they are proud of. Matt goes around with his brush free handing it and you never see a drip drop anywhere. They don't smoke--they are from our generation. They listen to descent music on their jam boxes. Okay, they are a little cute.  

I'm so hoping to get all this done and move back into the basement and get on with the next ten years of raising my children and teaching piano and serving God. I know there will always be something. But this is really the last big push in this house. We could have moved to Atlanta or Chicago or Denver. . . but we stayed here. So I'm digging in my heals.  In the house of stone and light.

I love this Martin Page song on many levels. I want my house to be strong and filled with light. But the song is not about a structure--it's about the dwelling place of our mind. To me this song is about making my Christian faith the stone foundation and joy the light of the the house of my spirit. Hopefully I'm getting that house a little in order this summer as well. Stone and light. To everything there is a season.

Link to Martin Page's Song


In The House Of Stone And Light lyrics

O Mount Kailas uncover me
Come my restoration
Wash my body clean

I've been walking
Along a crooked path
Where the walls have fallen
Broken me in half

I'm telling you
I will not rest till I lay down my head
I'm gonna go
In the house of stone and light

I shall not cry
For the blind man I leave behind
When I go
In the house of stone and light, yeah
In the house of stone and light

Holy lady
Show me my soul
Tell me of the place
Where I must surely go

Old man waiting
At the gates for me
Give me the wisdom
Give me the key

I'm telling you
I will not rest till I lay down my head
In the house of stone and light

I make my way
Oh, gonna be such a beautiful day
In the house of stone and light
In the house of stone and light

Let me in beneath my skin
In the house of stone and light

It's been too long
My spirit's been at war
Havasupai Shaman
Let me be reborn

And I will embrace
The sun upon my face
Come the day
I awake the child inside
In the house of stone and light

And when I go
I will op', op', open my eyes
In the house of stone and light
I will see you
In the house of stone and light

Looking in beneath my skin
In the house of stone and light

Going inside
In the house of stone and light
(Stone and light)
Looking for the child
In the house of stone and light
(See myself got such a good shelter)
In the house of stone and light

In the house of stone and light
(I'm gonna let this child come washing of water)
In the house of stone and light
(He's speakin' softly to me)
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

In the house of stone and light
(I can see so clearly now)
(I will go there, to find my soul, yeah)
In the house of stone and light
(Well keep on knocking on my door)
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

In the house of stone and light
(I will go there, to find my soul, yeah)
In the house of stone and light
(I must go there, to find my soul, yeah)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sabbatical Off the Rails

The basement fireplace--I love it!
I'm stalled out. Off the rails. I did email the studio folks and set up lessons for September. But that email took me all day to write. Slightly pathetic efficiency. It's not healthy to run at this pace. My heart rate is dangerously low. I can't get a dang thing done. Yesterday I washed and made the bed. The clutter of everyday life takes up the space that is allotted. Does that make sense? This morning I have to drop Mary at church. Better not plan anything else. . .

It's not ground breaking news that I do better with a routine. I'm starting to panic that I won't be able to take back my studio in the next month. At least not at this rate.  

I couldn't have taught this summer with people here working on the back yard and the basement. It would have been too crazy. Everyday there is a fire to put out. For example: the sink faucet is too high and the medicine cabinet door won't open. Cut the legs of the base cabinet?  Raise the medicine cabinet?  Pick a shorter faucet?  They needed to know ten minutes ago.  

Yesterday the insurance adjuster was here. He was a swarthy little man who started picking a fight with me from the driveway. I'm not easy to fight with. I pretty much try to be a peace maker. When he started talking about sanding and painting the rough sawn cedar of our house I knew I was in trouble.  STOP! STOP! STOP!   STOP using the word paint. There is no paint on the house. . . it's called stain. Then he tried to convince me that a good power washing would take that "stain" right off and the wood would be back to "normal."  It's not my job to educate the insurance adjustor. While the man on the roof said everything looked fine. . . he did leave several pieces of broken off siding lying on the dormer. I asked him to go back up there and at least put the siding puzzle back together for the time being. . . seeing as there was no damage.  Bill. . . tag you are it. . . you call the little man back.  

I don't want to unnecessarily fill up the landfill with shingles.  But. . . I think we need a second opinion. Shingles?  They are those things you put on the roof that keep the water out of your bedroom. 

Am I rested?  I don't know?  Resting is a difficult thing to achieve. I put it on my to-do list. That should take care of it. It's right below type up the minutes from the June SPTG board meeting and print out the senior photos for the wall of fame. Also on the list? Get teacher trainer application from the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Work on it. Yawn. . . that's going to take a little more effort than I have in me today. 

One can spend the whole day deciding what kind of sandwich to make for dinner. Might have to stop and pick up a better avocado.  

So there you have it. I'm happy enough. But I think I'll do better with a little more pressure again. Deadlines spark creativity. My laundry room has not been clear for ten weeks since Mary Lynn helped me while I was in California. Everyone has clean underwear and that might just be good enough. 

Speaking of Mary Lynn, I'm going to wander outside and check to see if the baby fish she gave me are making an appearance yet.  I hope they are hiding under the rocks. 

Very difficult to keep the train of thought on the rails. Maybe a different kind of fish food would lure them out. 

What was I writing about?

Sabbatical is off the rails. Remind me to take a break next summer, but maybe not so long as to slip into a coma again. It's just not me. But there are a few weeks left and I'll try to get resting checked off the list.   

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blue is Just the Minnesota Sky

I'm not afraid of storms.
This is why: I spent approximately 13% of my Iowa childhood summers in the storm cellar. At my grandparents in northern Iowa it was more like 21%. During these times my grandma would scuttle me to the basement and shove me under the bureau. . . whilst my grandfather stood chest to the wind on the sidewalk between the house and the barn. Scanning the horizon. A human barrier to any hot spinning air that might approach his precious crops and livestock and family. He was not afraid. I was not afraid. Still. . . mysteriously I was under the bureau. . .sending the clear message that my life must be more important than his. My grandmother went up and down the stairs between us trying in vain to coerce him down and reminding me to duck my head.

I'm still not afraid. But. . when that sound of wind and lightning and hail and that green tinge of the sky bears down upon us. . . it can creep up on you.

Mary cried as we scuttled her to the basement. By some miracle of God her "dada" that is her security blanket appeared in her grasp. Go figure. . . children have their ways. Mary?  Where did that come from?  I don't know.

All night the sound of firetrucks up and down Blackhawk Road--clearing the street of downed trees and all day the sound of chain saws and backing up trucks and the outline of cranes lifting 100 years old trees from the backyards of the unlucky ones. I counted more than 50 big trees just on our road. One blue spruce went through the garage two doors down. Some uprooted and some snapped in the middle. Uprooting actually feels more dignified to me.  Four pines in a row, fifty-footers, at the park.

All day long the melody of John Denver's song Matthew rang in my ears. Had an uncle named Matthew. . . if you know the song. . . it will be in your head too now.  Ultimately the song is about a boy who lives on in joy even after a storm destroys everything else.

Our storm did not destroy everything else. We will probably only need some roof repair, siding repair and Bill's folks' car will need some substantial work, as they were here visiting. Bill's Dad had to choose between the hail and the tree falling and he choose wisely as the huge limb of the maple fell where the car was moments before he moved it.

My garden is a loss for the year. Ferns and hostas and hydrangeas aren't as strong as my grandpa's chest.

So. I held back the tears last night to put on the brave face. And this morning. And this afternoon.

People. Today was about people. Good people. Kathy our builder stopped by shortly after 8:00 a.m. just to check on us. She choked up. Sara, I'm sorry. She got it. Bill stayed home an extra hour this morning to help me with the big branches. He got it. My landscape hero sent over two of his best guys and they helped me for an hour and took all the thrash away in their superhero trailer. It would have taken me a week. He got it. Mary Lynn stopped by to see how we faired. We all fought back tears. Well, not the yard guys, but even they had compassion in their eyes. They had, after all, just put the finishing touches on the new backyard project yesterday afternoon, one and a half hours before the storm. Is that irony?

Why? Why the guilt? Why can't we openly cry over ferns and flowers and trees? Yes. . . yes. . . everyone is okay. . . we are so thankful.  No. . . no. . .we are not farmers who lost a crop. But something that was beautiful is now wrecked. I think that matters.  Well, it matters to me.

If tending a garden can feed our soul, then I think it's only fair that when it gets wrecked our soul can and will bleed at least a little.

I don't have that many hobbies. My garden is my creativity and my exercise and my vice. I spent twelve hours today cleaning up. It will all be okay. Next year. The little fern fronds will pop their little heads through the damp leaves. The hostas will be just as temping to the deer next year as they were yesterday. The hydrangeas will be better for the pruning.

I'm thankful. A walk down the street to the park reminds me that we were lucky. Very lucky.
I don't know why my blue spruce is standing and the neighbors to the north is through their screen porch.

But I'm still blue. For them. For me. For the ancient trees uprooted and the smallest trampled frond.

Joy was just the thing that he was raised on
Love was just the way to live and die
Gold was just the windy Kansas wheat field
Blue was just the Kansas summer sky

Link to John Denver's song. . . that will stay in your head too if you listen.