Fresh Starts

All things come to an end, and more often than not, that end is itself a beginning. Our summer’s adventures in remodeling have finally come to a complete and total end. Well, almost — there are still pictures to hang on the walls, but we’re 99.97% finished now. And so as we prepared our yearbook, we finally took the time to unclutter the kitchen and take some “After” shots to complete our “Before” shots.

Our parish is in a similar situation: a two-year building project came to completion tonight with the dedication of our new Our Lady of the Rosary church. Like with our kitchen, there are still a few things the Father Dwight said we need to do, like completing an enclosure around the whole campus to ensure safety for the parish school — can never be too careful these days.

Father Dwight warned, so to speak, the parish that the liturgy for the dedication of a new church is long. “Really long,” he stressed. We dropped the Boy off at Nana’s and Papa’s as a result, because we really didn’t know what “really long” might mean. K comes from a country where most churches’ age is measured in centuries, and so the idea of attending a Mass to dedicate a new church was completely new to her. But Father did say “really long,” so we decided not to take a chance — the Boy can handle only so much sitting still.

Really long” turned out to be just shy of three hours. Having grown up in a church were every week’s service was at least two hours long, I would say two hours and forty-five minutes make a long service, but not a really long service.

The liturgy was lovely, and it’s fitting that Fr. Dwight be the pastor of the parish: it’s a uniquely Catholic-looking structure, and Fr. Dwight is a uniquely un-common Catholic priest. Raised a Protestant, he converted to Anglicanism and moved to England where he married, started a family, and had a lovely parish. Then trouble struck, so to speak, and he and his family converted to Catholicism, which meant the loss of his vocation. Or so it would seem. It turns out, several dozen married Anglican priests have converted to Catholicism and then been re-ordained as Catholic priests with the discipline of celibacy being waived for them. So he posed with the bishop and his wife and four children after Mass, making it an odd sight in an oddly traditional church.

The real stars of the evening, though, were the members of the choir, including L. She’s been singing in the children’s choir for several months now, and she spent more time in the church today than she’d spent in a month of Masses — over five hours.

The results, though, were stunning. A Catholic church that looked, smelled, and sounded like a Catholic church.

During the entire liturgy, I smiled occasionally as I thought, “This is not just some lovely church we’re visiting while passing through here or there. This is where we will go to Mass every Sunday now.”

Saturday Ritual

Saturday is for the house, and while we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time and money on one part of the house — namely, the kitchen, we’ve neglected other parts of the property. With all the rain of the last few weeks, the yard had gone absolutely crazy, and there was much cleaning and rearranging still to be done in our downstairs.

K started with some final painting — the baseboards in the living room. The Boy, of course, just had to help.

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“Daddy, you can’t touch this paint because it will just hurt you, okay?”

I tackled the yard.

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It was finally not all that hot, but the humidity was stifling. Despite the discomfort, the Boy came out to help mow. This means he walked beside me for a few minutes, pretending to mow the steep section near the ditch.

After a shower, I checked out our oven.

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The burners work, but the oven doesn’t ignite. In the end, the Boy and I decided that we should just call the experts who sold us the equipment and let them decide if it’s something I just didn’t do or there is some defect in the appliance.

 

New and Old

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Slowly, we’re returning to the old within the new. The grandparents were over for lunch yesterday, eating in our new kitchen at our old table a meal that was cooked in our soon-to-be-outdated field kitchen.

Afterward, we had quiet a rain — unlike any we’ve had this summer. The ground was so hard and dry that puddles formed immediately, giving me a chance to walk around the house and see how our filled in trench from our unexpected sewer renovation was draining. A few problems there, but the rain didn’t last quite long enough for those problems to actually materialize (i.e., start to flood the crawl space). Which means we still don’t know how our sump pump works, whether or not it takes care of the problem.

Moving In

Three, maybe three and a half weeks ago, we reached a point in our kitchen remodel project that everything more or less looked like a kitchen. The counters and tops were in, and while the floor wasn’t finished yet, it was installed and looked like a floor. And yet there was so much to do — trim around the windows and doors, baseboard trim, final plumbing (including fixing problems the sewer line in the front yard and with the newly-installed gas line), lights, and the like. So it looked like we were almost there, but we were still so far away. All the changes from that point on were so small in comparison to ripping out a window and door to rebuild the header.

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Finally, we’ve reached a point that we’re almost to the point that we can say, “We’re almost done.” “Almost done” because the under-the-cabinet lighting installation has been put off for some time, as has the final venting of the microwave through the room (right now, it’s just popped into the attic). So even when the back splash gets completed next week, and we finally move in the stove — the final appliance — we still won’t be complete done. And then there’s the new dining room furniture we’ve ordered so that every little thing in the kitchen, except for the coffee maker and toaster oven, will be new.

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So today we made the final little adjustments and started moving in. L and I filled all the trim nail holes with spackling while E and K cleaned all the windows. Then I set out with the caulk gun to caulk the trim before it gets a coat of paint.

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K, in the meantime, prepared all the new shelves with liners and began running all our dishes through the new dishwasher. We quickly discovered the enormous difference between the old dishwasher and the new: the old sometimes cleaned; the new is so powerful that it knocked the finish off a couple of items that we’d put in the bottom.

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Tomorrow, the table migrates back to the dining area, where it will stay for a few weeks until the new furniture arrives, and we begin moving food to the kitchen, reverting our basement to just that. We’ll tear down the field kitchen in the backyard, move the grill back onto the deck, and begin to forget the work of the summer and just live.

Breakfast

We’ve been living without a kitchen for about a month now, and we’ve gotten accustomed to it to a degree. Every day we cook on the grill (including baking biscuits this morning), so every day seems like we’re camping out. If you look at things from a certain perspective, that sense of camping is highlighted even more.

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Details

The kids stayed home today because of the simple reason that we’re doing work that allows them to stay. We don’t have to head out to get anything; we don’t have to do any serious heavy work. Door molding and electrical finishing. So the kids today began playing with the leftovers of the hardwood floor. E had watched the whole process, so he, like the workers Tuesday, began laying out the floor and banging it together with a rubber mallet.

As for the work itself, the room looks like a room. The door molding is in, and we’ve got outlets almost done as well. The range arrived today for fitting the cabinets and counter top next week. Soon it will not just look like a room but like a kitchen.

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New

The day began with a treat for the Boy: the flooring company installed our new hardwood, which has been sitting in the living room for close to a month, acclimating to our house’s moisture levels. E sat at the top of the basement stairs and watched as two men laid out the wood for the main part of the room while another worked on the small area in front of the basement door.

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They took a smoke break after finishing the layout, then came back and finished the rest of the job in less than a couple of hours.

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He of course chatted them up the entire time.

“Sorry about how shy my son is,” I laughed. The gentlemen found him generally amusing, though, and were very patient with his questions and own little explanations.

The afternoon, though, was all about the Girl: we bought her a new bike, a Trek FX, which is in fact a small adult bike. Lots of big changes for her: braking with her hands, shifting gears. Plus the size change — theoretically, this is a bike that can last her for ten years.

When K came home from work, she was happy to see the Girl’s bike (which we took out for an initial ride in the evening of 11 km), but was even more happy to see the floor.

It looks like a room again.