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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Rennovation of Lllangollen

For most of this year, we've been living with the renovation of "this old house".

We have completely replaced the siding, roof, insulation and all the windows and doors - including the sliding glass door. We have torn down the "sun room" and now have a deck that extends the entire length of the house facing the water and marsh. We had the deck power-washed and will soon stain it. The windows have now all been "treated" with wide-slat wooden blinds. The sliding glass door has a brand new "wood grain" vertical blind.

We have rebuilt the deck railing so the dogs can't slip through them, put up a gate, and, in the front of the house, added new, wider steps and a proper porch. The yard has been refreshed with stone and we have prepared an area by the two sides of the house which face the street where, in the fall, we will plant some trees and shrubs and, perhaps, some Black-Eyed Susans and Day Lillies.

The last thing we'll do this year is to take down the "fish cleaning station" on the deck and put up an outside shower by the laundry room door. And, maybe enclose the area where we keep the trash and recycling bins near the parking pad, so it looks more aesthetically pleasing.  We'll definitely take down the bench on the dock and replace it with a new one.

Today - and until Wednesday - we are repairing the ceiling in the kitchen. We used to have two sky-lights which leaked and caused some damage. The contractor convinced us not to replace the skylights so we now have two rather large rectangle holes in the ceiling which provide a lovely view of the plywood under the roof.

When the skylights were in place, I would occasionally hear a 'tap-tap-tap' coming from above the center work aisle. When I looked up, I would often find a sea gull looking down at me. I don't miss them. They come and sit on my deck which I can see from the sliding glass door.

The kitchen is bright and sunny anyway. It, too, is due for some renovation and updating the cabinets and appliances - stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and washer and dryer - along with a new, double sink and garbage disposal, but that will have to wait until our savings account has a chance to breathe and build up again. We're hope to do that in the Spring of 2012.

Then, in 2013, we hope to update both bathrooms - putting in a whirlpool tub in the master bathroom (which also has a free standing shower) and update the sinks, cabinets and floor.

And then.....well, when you are a home owner, you just never know.

The house - a 'factory build' or 'pre-fab' or 'manufactured' home - is a little over 20 years old and in pretty good shape by most accounts we get from contractors. The weather here can be unpredictable in the fall and winter and the elements can be brutal on structures without protection from trees.

Because there are no trees, however, the sun and wind are fairly merciless on the roof and siding and deck - which has to be power washed every 2-3 years. Then again, we don't have to worry about anything falling on the house - EXCEPT - if a Nor'easter comes up suddenly in the fall and some of our neighbors haven't yet taken their boats out of the water. My worst fear during a storm is that a boat will get caught up in a strong wind and slam itself though the side of our house.

Ah, the joys of home ownership!

Of course, as the house gets totally messy and we have to take everything down, cover everything up, wash it anyway when the job is done, and then put it all back, I've been reflecting on all the conversations we've been having about "restructuring the church". 

In many ways, I hated losing the sun room but we had to face the fact that it was beyond renovation, much less repair. We had to ask hard questions about whether or not we really, really needed it and if we could afford what we wanted. The answer to that was 'no' and so down it came.

I sometimes miss it - who doesn't want more room, especially a 'sun room'? - but the truth of the matter is that we have learned to enjoy the longer deck. The pups absolutely love to run the length of it and it's great when you have several couples over for dinner.

We've adjusted.

I don't miss the skylights in the kitchen and the gulls tap-tap-tapping on them was amusing but the contractors were pretty clear that, in 5, 10, maybe 15 years, we'd have to worry about leaks again. Meanwhile, the roof has a "double lifetime" guarantee without it - meaning that it is guaranteed for us and the next owners, and, since the guarantee is carried by a major manufacturer, the chances are pretty good that if anything goes wrong, it will be covered.

I wonder what we'll decide, as a church, that we really, really need and what we can afford. I'm sure we'll have to make some difficult decisions - painful decisions - about what parts of our "structure" are not essential to the whole. We'll have to learn from past mistakes - first discovering them and admitting that it's not a particularly good idea.

There are no guarantees in this life - not with our own bodies or the structures we build to house them. We can't predict the future but we can learn from the past. We can take the best of what once was and bring that forward into now, doing the best we can with the information we have available to us at the time.

Llangollen, our wee cottage on the large Bay on the big Ocean, is being renovated from a summer vacation house to a "forever home". At least, that's what we keep telling ourselves as we write another check and furrow our brow at the decreasing numbers in our savings account.

The untold costs are the emotional and spiritual ones - the cost of the discernment of our hearts and souls about what we're tearing down in order to build up, what we're willing to lose in order to gain, what we no longer want or need and what we're willing to work to maintain. 

I wonder: Does the church need renovation or restructuring? Probably a bit of both.

I hope we're ready for the mess. And, the cost - financial, emotional and spiritual.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I sure hope my 18 month and still counting house remodeling didn't get you started. LOL

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Actually no, Kirke. We've had this planned and have been saving up for years

Unknown said...

Having been through a house addition, I understand the construction challenges. Nothing is ever clean! There is dust everywhere. And so with our beloved Church, we will need to be mindful to sweep up the dust as we go through the renovation and reconstruction.
Fasten your seatbelts, it could be a bumpy ride!

Kirkepiscatoid said...

That's good, because I'd feel guilty otherwise! BTW, it's looking good. VERY good.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susan - I have no doubt. It will be interesting to see who is on the Task Force - if there are people of genuinely diverse backgrounds, including blue collar workers and those who live one paycheck away from homelessness.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - Thanks so much. It's a lot of work but I have to admit that it is looking pretty good around here. Feels more and more like "home".