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Monday, February 27, 2012

My Lenten Exile Home

Llangollen, our wee cottage on the marshes of Rehoboth Bay, is getting a face lift.

It's been a long time coming. We've dreamed of - and planned, and scrimped and saved for - this moment for about 10 years. Ever since we first bought the house as a summer place and eventual home, we've wanted to make it "our own".

So, new roof, windows, doors, siding (aspen white), trim (cedar green), gutters, and downspouts. The former sun room - an addition that was never really properly constructed - is going today. That's a picture of it above. It will be replaced by a Very Large deck.

Next year, new kitchen. The year after that, the bathrooms get an update.

Slowly, slowly, slowly it goes. We're trying to be gentle to our budget.

"The Crew" arrived today for the first phase. The crew chief is a Very Large man named "Mr. Big Bunny". Well, his Christian name is "William" but his Momma named him "Bunny" and that's what everyone calls him.

Well, his crew calls him "Big Bunny" - I suppose it's a bit more, um...'masculine' well as being more descriptive.

The man has to weigh in excess of 400 pounds if he weighs an ounce. I think his heart might be just as big. I can't believe he's charged me so little to do this work.

Nice man. Not a lot of schoolin', but clearly knows what he's doing. And, he knows how to run a crew.

That's them in the picture above. James is on the ladder. Marvin is near the trash bin on the roof along with Andre and Willie. I'll let you figure out which one is Big Bunny. Hint: He's not on the roof.  (Note: Thanks be to God).

Because my grandmother's motto was, "Hey, ya gotta eat," I just made them some pumpkin bread and a big pot of coffee and took it out to them for their break. They were so grateful it made my heart sing.  I love to cook and bake but, you know, cooking and baking for an appreciative audience has to be something close to heaven.

And, because we do not live by pumpkin bread alone, I told them that I was going back inside the house to pray for them. I asked Big Bunny if there were any special petitions he wanted me to make.

He said, ""I just pray every morning when I get outta bed that the work is done well, there ain't no property damage and my boys don't get hurt". I told him I would ask y'all to join me in that prayer. He said, "Much obliged, Rev."

I think we got us a little church right here at Llangollen.

My friend Ann commented on FaceBook that I was, "becoming an exile while living in one's own home - just right for Lent."

You know, she's right. And, she isn't.

This Thursday, March 1, I leave for Thailand. I'll be there for three weeks. Well, I'm leaving here on February 29th and traveling to a hotel about six miles outside of Dulles Airport so I can catch the plane at my leisure the next day.

I'm going to visit one of my dearest friends who turns 70 on the 20th of March. He was the Chair of the Commission on Ministry when I went through the ordination process.

He was, initially, opposed to the ordination of women. He became an enthusiastic supporter of my process and has become committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.

He is one of my dearest friends.

No matter where he's lived, we've always been together on a birthday of his that ends in a "0".

When he turned 40, we were in Maine. We celebrated his 50th when he was in Vermont. At 60, he was in Hawai'i. And now, in his 70th year, he's retired and living in Thailand.

So, what's to be done? I have to go, right? I mean, what are friends for?

So, Phase I of the work is that the sun room comes down today. In two weeks, our dear friend Bill comes to put the railing and the finishing touches on the new deck.

Phase II - the new roof - begins when I return at the end of March. That way, Ms. Conroy and our pups and I won't have to go through any of it alone.

Phase III is the instillation of the new windows and doors. That should be done by Palm Sunday.

Holy Week is the tentative schedule for Phase IV: the new siding, gutters, downspouts, etc. 

After Easter, we'll begin Phase V: The yard work.  New stones for the yard. Down comes the 'fish cleaning' station at the dock and up goes a outside shower by the back door to the laundry room. We'll put up some planter boxes by the north side of the house and, I'm hoping a trellis at the walkway as you come into the living room entrance.

Bill has already put up a solar powered, motion-detection light on the shed by the car port. He'll be installing a new yard lamp post, too.

All that will be after I come home from Thailand. While I'm there, I plan to spend my mornings and early afternoons visiting lots and lots of Buddhist temples and, as my friend Dasch likes to hear me say, "chanting anything that isn't nailed down".

My afternoons and early evenings will be spent poolside at my friend's apartment complex where he has rented me a place for the month. Not to worry. I'll be taking lots of pictures for FaceBook and blogging from there.

My nights are promised to my friend and his band of merry men who have plans for lots of frolic and fun, including visits to more 'girly-man' shows than is absolutely necessary.

The contrasts promise to hold the most interesting - if not flat-out exotic - Lent I think I've ever spent.

We do plan to take a few trips to Bangkok and trek to Cambodia and Viet Nam. You know, because as long as we're there, we might as well. I suspect we'll have lots of very interesting conversations about the economy and human trafficking and things most tourists to that area don't talk about.

There's lots of beauty in Thailand, but there's a whole lotta ugly, too.

It promises to be quite an adventure.

I'm going to take the puppies out for a walk soon. Mr. Theo, Mr. Lenny and The Divine Ms. CoCo have been in the master bedroom all morning. They are not pleased with all the noise. They have no vote in the matter, but lots of voice, which they have been exercising liberally all morning.

They will love it when the work is done and they have a big old deck to run around on and sun themselves to their heart's content. Mr. Theo is already the "harbor master" and checks out the boats as they go by. Ms. CoCo, of course, barks and sasses them while Mr. Lenny - who, poor dear, 'takes the short bus to school' - usually watches quietly when he's not flat-out bewildered.

A few of my neighbors are getting their boats ready to go back in the water. The deck should be all finished by the time they start rolling by. The pups will thank me, then. Or, not. Either way, it will be alright. Llangollen will really begin to look like "ours".

As I write this, the sun room/new deck project is just about half done.

They have removed the roof, the door and all the windows and will begin to take down the frame.

Then, the carpet comes up and they will sand the deck and clean everything up before they leave.

If you're on FaceBook, I'll have the finished pictures up by dinner time, I'm sure.  I can't wait to see Ms. Conory's face when she walks through the door tonight.

An exile in my own home, preceded by an exile in another country, and then home again, home again, jiggidy jig to finish up the rest of Lent.

Just in time for the Resurrection, without which I think, the Ashes don't mean much at all. It's the good news I'm after. The life after death. Eternal life. It's worth the price of the Wilderness.

I heard the preacher on Sunday say that the thing about the wilderness of Lent is that we don't choose it; the wilderness chooses you.

I'd say this particular wilderness will be a bit of both for me. 

It's okay. Either way, as an exile in the wilderness of my own home or of a far away country, I know I'm right where I need to be.

Home is not so much a place as it is a place in the heart.

As Robert Frost once said, "“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”


suzanne said...

WOW!! They made short order of that structure.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

They most certainly did. They are still out there, tapping and hammering and cleaning up.

JCF said...

Bright blessings and Godspeed on your home improvements/away-from-home journeys!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, JCF.

Karen said...

Have a wonderful trip. I was able to spend several days in Bangkok several years ago. Gee, now that I think about it-- it has been awhile. Had an 8 month old baby with us. He turns 29 in just over a week. . . I have 2 vivid memories. Being totally overwhelmed with the amazing temples and when checking with a friend about getting child care for a couple of hours one evening being told to just check with our hotel. He was sure they would have a girl who would be delighted to take care of a baby instead of a middle aged tourist for the evening. . . she was very, very happy.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Karen. My friend continues to caution me that my eyes will be opened to a whole new way of thinking about life and love and sex and marriage. I'm ready for the adventure.