Sunday, March 24, 2013

Week of Doom

Sometimes the way things work in life you take the test first and study later. This last week was a bit like that in some respects.

I had been putting off some routine maintenance and a power steering pump replacement for a while, but the time had come to pull out the brass tacks and get to work. In the end, this relatively straight-forward but absolute PIA procedure took a week of on-and-off work on the van. There were many Lenten hurdles along the way, with the following list just being the most prominent highlights (good and bad) that come to mind:

  • repeated trips to the auto parts store for expensive rent-a-tools (you place a deposit to cover the tool if you don't return it)
  • losing a part of a $100.00 "free" rented tool in the ivy/grass near my house while the wind is howling. I swore up and down, breaking my Lenten promises as I searched in vain for over an hour for this black metal thing that still remains at large.
  • the nice person at the autoparts store not charging me 100.00 for a damaged tool
  • snapping a pulley
  • snapping the tensioner on the engine
  • swearing profusely
  • fantastic scenic "test drives" on the literal back roads (one road is called "Back Rd.")
  • obtaining a delicate part (plastic hose) for free from the junkyard, whereas the nice fellas at Chrysler wanted to charge me $40.00 and wait 4 days to get it and hope they ordered the right thing.
In any event, the van is now done...for now. Everything is working ok that I replaced, but now I believe I need to clean the injectors, or rather, have them cleaned. Another 100 down the rabbit hole.

However, I should not complain. Today, while at mass, the Gospel passage covered how Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service to help Jesus carry his cross. And it pretty much hit me hard how this relatively small hardship during Lent (fixing the van), while it sucked, was a special cross sent my way on the march toward Calvary.

You see, while fixing my car, I was sometimes pretty frustrated and pissed. When that little black thing flung off my 3-prong puller and I couldn't find it, searching for an hour,, it just felt like a BS situation. I knew it was BS. I was like "C'mon God. C'mon! Why me?!" I prayed to St. Anthony to find it, but my heart wasn't in it. I just wanted to swear. So I did. A lot. It didn't help, especially since I gave up swearing, even privately, for Lent. I know that sounds horrible, but it is the truth. I needed to do it. It's a hard thing to do, but with God's grace I've had some success.

But I blew it on the test. I flippin' blew it. I shook off the dust, went into the house warmed up, feasted on the lunch my lovely wife made for me, and had some coffee. I was still mad, but I was renewed. I made a bunch of progress on the project and finished it in several days.

Like Simon of Cyrene was innocently making his way into Jerusalem, so, too, did I try to make my way to Good Friday. I have failed at my other penances. Perhaps I was trying to do too much, but I was hoping that if I just did a good enough job this time around at any rate, I could get to Good Friday unscathed. Not so. With the van projects and all the ensuing hurdles and obstacles, God pressed me into service on the road to Calvary, even though I was trying to mind my own business, so to speak.

What did Simon of Cyrene think when they yanked his formidable self from the crowd to help Jesus? We don't know. On the one hand, it was supremely unjust. On the other, Simon was supremely privileged. This incident shows us in life that even though we may not deserve to be saddled with some BS situation, God saddles us with it, because ultimately, we are needed to carry through for some higher purpose. Our attitude, in some respect, determines how much merit comes from our sufferings and shows us our weakness in the crucible of conflict.

So the next time something happens to one of us that sucks and is unfair for no particular reason, I recommend not swearing, looking at things with a calm, determined mind, resigned to our fate perhaps, but set on victory. And if God wills it, to offer up the small cup of our suffering to Him for our benefit and that of our loved ones.

Over & Out,


Saturday, March 16, 2013


I needed to get this one out of my system before I continue with my other tasks.

Yesterday, was in some sense, the fulfillment and completion of a daily dream I've had...for years.

So what might that be, you ask?

Driving in my full-size pick-up on a beautiful Virginia day into the sunset (ok, into the late afternoon) with a bed full of gorgeous, hand-picked reclaimed lumber, that is to say, Southern Yellow Pine, for step 2 of my house/kitchen renovation.

I took my time out at the barn, picking the best wood I could find. Satisfied I grabbed some more, anything that might be considered a target of opportunity. All of the wood came from the ceiling a downed chicken coop addition to our barn. It had probably been baking for 5 decades or so, and so the resins in the wood come to the surface, coloring its knots and distinctions and create a rich color and character.

It feels good to bring all this stuff back home, and de-nail and stack a large quantity of wood, look at it in satisfaction and begin to see it, in my minds eye, being installed in the heart of our living quarters. As funny as it may sound, I felt as if the ground in my property shook with anticipation and excitement, happy to welcome my revered softwood from elsewhere in the valley, sensing the happy changes that are to come in our home.

Clare and I have a running bet that I will/will not finish by May 1. While I don't think I will have everything done by then, I am going to be close, I think, and then I can rest somewhat and focus my energies elsewhere on the property and house.

Right now, we are aiming for an addition from Actually, it will be another smaller house, tacked on to the back of our existing home. However, I have to pass this through the county first, and, of course, find the funds. If I were going to buy land to build, I think I would go with a First Day cottage for aesthetic, comfort, space, and economic considerations. It's worth checking out, at any rate.

Ok, that's it for now. More Later.

Over and Out,