Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Wonderful, Wintry Wedding

Thursday the 24th I rode the Ultra Classic over to Volga to work on the project. The sun was shining and our temperatures were in the 70s. Then came Friday with a vengeance! Winds howled as snow descended on the Great American Desert. I had a 6 pm wedding rehearsal scheduled but by that time of the day roads were becoming impassable. Late arrivals due to the weather held up our starting time for 45 minutes. It was a perfect day for four wheel drive. We got through the rehearsal by eight only to find that most of the roads were closed or in the process of being closed. North from here the interstate was off limits as were highways 12 & 212(probably all of them). Schools had closed early in the day so most folks were safe except for the ones in the ditches and stuck on the streets.
I took a couple pictures of Saturday. At our house the depth of the snow was between eight and 10 inches. The Harley was not buried, but a few more hours and it might have been. We persevered and the sun came out to begin the process of eradicating the snow. Temperatures bumped up over 45 for awhile, and the wedding party and guests all had a wonderful time discovering they could get out and about again. The wedding was at 7 pm last evening and I must admit it was a treat to look out the windows occasionally at the sunshine as I shared the reading of scripture and a brief message before Corey and Heather completed their vows. Sometimes being the "Preacher" has a real upside. The young lady pictured above is the daughter of the bride. She played a very special role in the ceremony. The picture was shot before the service began.
Whoosh! What a rush this weekend turned out to be and we still have all of Sunday to enjoy. It is now 3:26 am and I should probably close my eyes for awhile before the alarm goes off. I pray it is another sunny day here on the prairie.
In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Access Granted

Last evening I watched the sunset with regret. Body tired and aching I mounted my faithful Ultra Classic and rode the highway home from Volga. Tomorrow I would begin the process of building the stairway leading to the new basement from the kitchen, utility and bathroom area of the addition. My most challenging task to date. If I could have gotten just a few more hours of daylight I might have been closer to my goal of being able to walk down a flight of stairs instead of climbing down a ladder into what has now gained the nickname of the "pit."
The "pit" is ten feet deep, five feet wide and runs under the southern wall of our victorian home and down a fifteen foot hall to the new basement. Out here on the Great American Desert we are never quite certain what the storm clouds may bring us so I decided when we were pouring the concrete and laying block that the new home would have adequate protection for residents. Steel plate 1\2" thick caps the end of the stairwell, and the whole of the construction is geared to providing a comfortable area to sit out even the worst of storms(excluding another cataclysmic flood, of course)on the prairie. Each of the ten steps is 7 1\4" high and 11 1\2" deep by 5' wide. I know that sounds like a really wide stairway, but if we ever have need of being down there for a protracted period of time there should be plenty of room even if all of the bedrooms are in use. I tell folks jokingly that I wanted the stairway and hall wide enough to get the big HD under the house for wrenching in the winter. It also had to be built big enough to allow the passage of my theater organ, a vintage 1953, and accompanying speakers. I look forward in the next few weeks of setting up that organ and playing hymns to the house. I'm certain that there will be some blues and jazz not far behind as time allows. God has truly blessed Cheryl and I with a home we pray will be a blessing to others. A call came in on my cell phone just as I was preparing to leave to pick up more lumber 7 miles away. The call was from the lead guitar player(I have not had much opportunity to get together with anyone lately). He was in town getting lights repaired on the band trailer and wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help. I may not have gotten back to work today if it were not for his offer and the timely delivery of the needed supplies. When my number was dialed Gordon was only a few blocks from the lumber yard with the perfect means for conveying my 2 X 12s on his way home. There is a promise in the Bible which states that God is busy about the task of filling our every need before we are even aware of the need. Quite often I have been a recipient of this blessing and today was one more for the long list of unanticipated answers to prayers before they were uttered. Tonight I give thanks for all of my friends, and especially for my helpmate, Cheryl, who keeps a positive spin going on everything. In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sound on Sound

Whoosh, what an array of speakers and amps! I can only imagine the massive sound they must produce. One of my "sound systems" is a 25 year old monitor setup that I built for doing outdoor concerts. It consists of a pair of Bose design(I borrowed cabinet dimensions from the 501 speakers)and put in 15 inch woofers(JBL), 12 inch midrange speakers by Gibson(they carry that sweet sound of screaming lead guitars quite nicely) and ribbon tweeters for all drum sounds that usually get lost in live performance unless you're sitting less than ten feet from the drummer. It's stereo running 600 watts per side. I don't think I ever missed a lick. When we finally get moved my "boom box" will be placed back in service for the office above the garage. It's more of a loft, but I'm looking forward to it becoming a haven for space and sound. We are continuing to work on the new home. Cheryl is painting bedrooms and I'm doing the little stuff. We were blessed this week by two of our friends. Terry loaned us a four wheel drive pickup, and Brian gave us a tandem axle trailer. Praise the Lord, what a combination. Today I loaded landscaping blocks, pressure treated timber, and an assortment of other materials and got everything onsite without a hitch. That is tongue in cheek, of course there was a hitch, on the trailer. The truck is a sweet 1994 GMC with lots of oomph under the hood. It has 94,000 miles on it but they don't seem to have hurt the beast other than the usual signs of wear. For some reason the person who originally purchased the truck got it without FM. The radio brings in AM just fine, but I do think it's a little weird to not have FM in the vehicle. I noticed that AM radio hasn't really changed much in the past 45 years or so.
God has truly blessed us in so many ways that I couldn't list them here without taking many pages of type. My body continues to argue about the work it is performing. Ah, the plague of pains. I keep telling myself that the more work I accomplish the better shape I will be in and the more I will be able to do. That works in theory, I pray it works in actuality. The day began at 4:45 AM, and by the time I returned home for the evening it was 8:30 PM. It was a productive day, although I could have used some help with the landscaping blocks. They are very pretty, and I got them for an excellent price, but it would be nice if they were made out of something lighter than concrete. Oh, well, I'll be getting in shape soon and my body will not complain. Bet me! Tonight I will once again sleep hard and fast. Perhaps we were created this way for a purpose. I'd still rather be playing music somewhere, anywhere, but for awhile I'll just be listening out here on the Great American Desert where God has planted us and we will be blooming.
That's another thing about the new place. It is quiet. I mean really quiet out in the country! I think I had forgotten that element of country living. I welcome the peace. I've got more time to focus on the projects, and more time to express my faith while working. All I am in need of now is more time, and more energy. Another prayer is in order. In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Winds

We didn't get the worst of the weekend blizzard. Only about 2.4 inches of the thick heavy flakes fell on our portion of the Great American Desert. Further north and west of our location folks had to contend with upwards of 16 inches. Then there is the story of the thirty inches that fell on the US\Canadian border country in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I was out driving between our old place and our new place in the midst of the 35-40 mile an hour winds and driving snow. The little car above did not stand a chance. On that section of highway 14 you have protection in the form of a winrow every mile or so. The thing is the winrow causes snow to build up on the highway and accumulate in sufficient enough quantities to cause a great deal of slippage. Then when you get to where the winrow no longer is blocking the wind it comes across the road full force. I assume that is what happened to this little blue car. I went around to check and make certain that there was nobody in it(that is just South Dakota courtesy when things are not good)and there wasn't anyone around so I headed home. How often do we see folks in trouble somewhere in our lives and never bother to give them a second thought? I can't say as I blame the ladies for not stopping to help someone, but when it comes to us guys making the difference between someone's well being and not so well being we need to make the effort. Maybe because we are a sparsely populated state(less than 3\4 of a million souls out here)that we tend to be a bit more likely to help even the stranger. Times have changed in America. We live in populated areas with more fear than I can imagine. Cheryl worries about locked doors and staying safe. I don't blame her for that, women are targets everywhere it seems. There is a part of me that truly feels sorry for those who must live in fear. And, if we think it isn't good here, we can always look to a country where just going to the market in the morning can get you killed by one of those fanatics without reason. Our world has changed so much in the past few thousand years, and yet one thing remains constant. God is with us today. He was with us yesterday. He will be with us tomorrow, also, if we are willing to open the door of our heart and invite Him in. Then we won't have to worry so much about the weekend winds, snow, sleet, and freezing rain because God will be there to answer our every prayer in accordance with His will. I love that part, His will, because no matter how much I would like things to be my way the only path that can bring me to my goal is through the One who created all of us. I pray you are staying out of the wind and that the snow is not too deep. Here we are watching the weekend's weather melt away rapidly. That's a good thing. Now if we can just get past the mud that accompanies spring(the mini van is covered in speckles from me almost getting stuck on site today)and the hurdle of monsoon season on the plains, life will improve. God bless, Preacher.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Steps In Life This Week

Several of my AA friends talk about their "steps." Since my last blog I've been very busy building steps for the project. First there was a need for a landing and one step from the stairs that go up to my new studio\office. My new space is enormous and it's right over the top of my new cave. Problem was that the garage as it sits on the new foundation is well over a foot higher than where it was on the slab upon which it was constructed. I now have the landing with storage space beneath for a host of jacks and tools. This is good! Then there was the old side door(the guys that bolted this end on the foundation must have been drinking, the whole side is off by several inches. One day I will have to reframe the door to make it fit properly, but for now it will have to do. Here again I ran into the height problem. Easy solution, another step! That's two of the step projects. The third was the steps down from what will become our formal dining room into the new kitchen. These were really fun to build! Did I mention they had to be built sturdy enough to support the weight of my grand piano, and the four fellows who will simultaneously pass through the arch carrying her into her new home in the parlor\sitting room\music room. We are ready for that phase of the move as of today.
Next I will be putting all of the original woodwork back in place. All the bits, parts and pieces of window and door moldings, mopboards, and various other woodwork was removed to facilitate the painting and refurb work. New windows all over the house. I had no idea how many there were until I opened them all up on a warm day two weeks ago. By the time I was knocking off for the day I realized there are a lot more than I suspected. It shouldn't have surprised me since I assisted in picking them out. Maybe it was just all the steps and stairs that seem to lead everywhere. One day I shall count them just to see how many there really are. It seems that no matter where I am headed in the house I am encountering stairs. That's good! I've never really had both feet on the ground except at stoplights and even then it is quite often only one. Today was a restful Sunday. I cleaned the site to prepare for the next set of transitions. Junk was hauled into proper piles and the sawdust, mud, dust and bits and pieces of construction were swept into piles awaiting the return of a garbage can. Cheryl got me a new broom and dust pan for the house. I know, life must be fairly boring when one gets excited about a broom and a dustpan. Quite the contrary, however, I believe we are entering into the most exciting adventure of our lives. God has truly blessed us with an opportunity to build and create. He has given us a vision and a way to work it. Now all I need is a lot more energy, but that will come in time. In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Work In Progress

Snow began falling gently on the Great American Desert about noon today. That is when I began the process of converting the old dining room window that originally faced south into an entrance that will one day take a few steps down into our new kitchen. Time passed rather swiftly as I employed several saws, a variety of hammers and a cornucopia of chisels, pry bars, wrecking bars and assorted tools to demolish the area(with great care, of course)while preserving the integrity of the ancient(100 years)oak flooring and support timbers. Only one of the original studs had to be cut off, all of the rest that went was window framing. Time slipped by and by 5 pm I was seated in a chair almost to the front window that now faces the rising sun, taking a break and looking at the change. I suppose I have pictures of that window before it was removed from that same angle(I must have at least a thousand pics of this project so far)before the arch was cut in place. The thought was originally to match up the arch between the living room and dining room with the opening to the addition. I was absolutely amazed at the accuracy of the measurements I made for the cuts weeks ago, and the manner in which the lines came together on both sides to complete the opening. Just for your information, I'm not that great at this stuff, but my boss is. He has been giving carpenters directions on how to build stuff for thousands of years. Sometimes a bit of my faith perspective may come off as sounding "trite" but believe me it comes from a combination of heart and mind that believe and trust completely that what I am doing is according to God's plans and if I am ever uncertain He will tell me for sure that is not the way it works. Noah had many doubts, but no uncertainties that what he was doing had to be done. God's only Son was raised by a carpenter and then at the age of thirty went into ministry. His only lasted three years but it accomplished more than we can ever thank Him for, or His Father in heaven.
As the light began to fade I headed for home through what had now become a full blown blizzard. Visibility was down to about the length of a football field. I won't go on any further tonight. We are "under the gun" with storms coming through. Power is out at my daughter's house about 6 miles east, and eldest grandson is going to stay in town tonight with "grandpa & grandma." I'm sure he's excited about being here. For me it is a grin, we know for certain that he is safe and sound, well fed, and entertained(Cheryl just mentioned using the remote to order one of those pay for view movies. I wonder if she knows just what is available on this satellite thing?)for the evening. I'm also thankful for the progress of the work and the energy that I have been granted for doing it. Some of this stuff was way easier 20 years ago. In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our Project Today

This is where we are today on our project. Tonight we expect snow, again, so I did all(with Cal's huge assist) the immediately necessary dirt work between the house and garage. While he worked on that I began the carpentry needs on the inside of the garage. It has been awhile since I've been involved in physical labor. This being my second day on the job I gave me a break and only put in 6 hours. Even at that I am bone weary tonight! I praise God for this wonderful machine He has given me in the form of a body. It not only has the power to move large pieces of lumber, but also the intellect to compute how to use the power tools to mold and shape the pieces to a purpose. That is so cool! I've done a lot of this type of labor through the years, but it still amazes me to have the thought, a plan if you will, and then stand back 6 hours later and see in reality what was only a vision. Cheryl and I shared our first repast on site today. It was pizza from George's(her favorite)and I must admit it was great. I shared with her that having an English muffin and coffee for brunch before heading off to the site is not going to do it from now on. by the time 3 pm rolled around(brunch was at 11:30 am)I was ravenous. Thank God for pizza, too! If the snow comes we are ready, and if it means I can't get on site to work tomorrow I shall give thanks for that, as well. Tonight I shall rest with a smile on my face. The best part of work is that I know within a few weeks I shall have begun shedding my winter fat. I can stand to lose about 25 pounds of that! I'll be getting back in shape and perhaps have the energy to go at it 12 hours a day as I did this past summer. Thank you Lord for tasks and the energy to complete them. I've got a sign on the wall behind me that says, "Drink Coffee, Do Stupid Things Faster!" Now there is a thought for one to live by. Just when we get old enough to begin thinking we've made all of the mistakes we're going to make another one comes along to bite us on the behind. Thank God we're forgiven! In Christ's Love, Preacher.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oliphants & Donkeys

What a strange mix of politics we are watching unfold. I know, this is an election year and we can expect some very strange things to happen, but has anyone noticed that things are getting more and more weird? Maybe I'm just old enough to have seen enough years(presidential election)and presidents to take note. I'm not saying anyone is right or anyone is wrong, but I do believe there is only one man in that boat hoping to escape the sharks. We can expect this to escalate into an old fashioned donnybrook before it is all said and done! (Does anyone use that term anymore?)
Riding the crest of the waves would be a good place for our boatsman to be. Right about now it would be wonderful to walk on water! I suppose, to be perfectly honest, I have experienced times in my own life when I felt as though I were being stalked by sharks. Every time, though, I have learned from the experience that faith is the factor that the sharks never understand. Even in pursuit of us they become lost in their own haste. Maybe that's why it is so difficult for some of our folks to distinguish truth from fantasy when running for office. They see the sharks, too, and they don't have the strength of character to close their eyes and simply pray the shark away.
The parting thought on these circumstances is.....There are times when the sharks need to be reminded that God is in charge and that their role is to be the entree, NOT the diner. Just a thought, but I pray you and I have the courage to really understand the issues at risk for our country this year. God is in control, and the sharks may easily wind up dining on one another. God bless, Preacher.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Soaring With Eagles

Today I am listening to sounds of motorcycles roaring down 6th Street while feeling like I've been run over by one. Illness is not becoming for anyone even if they usually look great(which I seldom do)our there on two wheels. Today I couldn't take the chill of the air even though it would feel wonderful to have the health to do it and I would. Fever and chills, bad coughs and aches have accompanied these past few days and nights(nights are the worst). Whine, whine, whine.....I have an appointment with the doctor today at my wife's insistence. She wants me out getting something done on the project. There is much to be done, but I have been blessed with enough wet and mud that it appears as though it will take the better part of a week without rain just to get on site. God is good! I would feel really horrible if conditions were perfect for work and I could not!
We were just out there looking at the future home. It will be great! On the other hand I think it will take me 'til I'm 60 to get even close to finished. That's why I need the doctor and his expertise. Actually I probably only need antibiotics and rest, but he will have to write the prescription and I will have to pay for visiting him in his office. Ya know, when I consult with guys at the lumber yard concerning materials and building codes they don't charge a penny for their time in helping me to sort out solutions. Why is it that if you have a doctor's degree(license to practice)you charge outrageous fees? Maybe it's all of those support team members they have working in the clinic. I don't know. I'm just thankful this day that we have really good insurance and that I may see a glimmer of improvement this weekend in my physical health.
Yes the snow out here on the Great American Desert is about gone. The sun is warming things nicely and the prospects for life are wonderful if there is no rain for a few weeks. All I ask is enough time to get two truckloads of construction stuff on site ready for work and maybe finish up the driveway. Life could be worse, but it can be better as well. God teaches us so many things through His provision for our lives. As always, today the big lesson is patience. That plus giving thanks for what I have not what I have not. I pray that travels are going well for our folks in America. Some things we cannot change, but they can improve(at least our attitude towards them)through prayer. In Christ's Love, Preacher.