I was awakened this morning at about 4:45 to the sound of the house rattling. Now, I have to say this is perhaps the most solid house I have ever lived in. Solid. However, after our beautiful day yesterday of 75 degrees and total sun, apparently a front moved in, and even through the temps are nice, the wind gusting – or just straight blowing, I can’t tell – of just shy of 50mph meant that things start to rattle a bit. Not a good day for kite flying, unless you had steel cables and a kite made out of rock.
The combination of high winds, and very yellow leaves on the trees meant that most of the day so far there has been a leaf storm, with leaf whirlwinds and the lawn has been transformed from green to yellow/brown. I checked out the forecast, which is what you do up north, at least, where it changes from moment to moment, and the lovely warm sunny week forecasted yesterday has turned into cloudy, highs in the 40 and lows in the low 20s and chances of rain all week. The jobs are changing a bit when all this happens. It’s time to unhook the hoses, and to get ready at least to cover the new small plants that we positioned this spring. We won’t cover the rose and the lilacs so much to keep them from freezing, since at minus 30 everything freezes, but rather to deny the rabbits a buffet all winter. It’s taken us four years for the big lilacs in the back to get tall enough that I think they will survive. The little lilac variety that we planted on the corner of the house will get chewed down to the roots if we aren’t diligent. Not yet, but soon.
That left us with the job most dreaded at the seasons’ changes. The storm doors on the front and back of the house are original to the 1990s, and twice yearly, it’s necessary to exchange the screen of summer for the huge plate glass of winter. We did kind of jump ahead of things this year – probably because of CoVid and retirement – because usually we manage to wait until there is about 3 inches of snow on the ground and it’s a high of 20 degrees before we change things out. Actually, they reported today that last year on this date, we ended up with a little more than 20 inches of snow. And it kept coming. At least this year, all we had to contend with was the wind.
One of the things about living up north is that someone long ago invented basements. Basements serve only three purposes. One, if you have teenagers, you can simply turn over the basement to them for seven years or so, and then remodel/repaint/repair. It’s sort of like an indoor corral. Two, if you have reports of tornados on their way, it’s nice to kind of watch tv from underground. Three, and this is most questionable – the basement can become a wonderful storage area, after you put in two bedrooms, a bath and a family room. You are left with a huge unfinished space where the furnace and water heater and sump pumps and circuit breaker live, but where you can also store all the “stuff” that, if left upstairs, would make you look like hoarders. The storage room makes you neat hoarders, I guess.
When I take on a project, even one that is repeated each year, in my mind, I go through the steps of what is needed to get us from start to completion. The second worst part of changing out the inserts in the doors is that for some crazy reason, just as we put all the Christmas stuff down 15 steps, so they get hauled up and then later hauled back down, we also store the screens or glass from the doors in same said storage area. The screens are ok. The glass panels are horrible. They are as tall as the door and wide as the door, but when they are removed from the door, all they have are thin strips of metal to separate you from a massive heavy piece of glass. You then get to walk up the stairs with your arms outstretched, high above your head as you try to walk the glass up the steps without tripping or slipping or having the glass hit either the steps or the piece of wood and sheetrock that they put above steps that are just low enough to crack your head – or the glass. It’s a lovely fun trick.
Did I tell you that once you get the glass upstairs, there is still mischief afoot? You see, the glass/screen is set into the frame of the storm door, and then held in place by long strips of plastic that are supposed to snap into place on either side and at the top and bottom of the panel. The operative word is “supposed,” meaning ought to, but probably won’t. Our doors, although very nice, are 24 years old. Think of how brittle that 24 year old Tupperware item you have in your drawer is, and how, if you dropped it just right, would probably shatter. Same with the strips.
I use a screwdriver to get them pulled out, then pull out one panel and put in the other, and then hammer the strips carefully back into the groove, trying not to hit at just the wrong angle and put the hammer through the glass. So far, so good. I do have to mention that pulling out the screen with the wind howling is not difficult, but the air pressure is far different when you are trying to set the glass in place!
But, God is good, and now for the fifth year, we had a successful transfer. Now it’s just a matter of carrying the screens downstairs, and calling today’s work completed. I’m retired, for crying out loud.
The truth is, transitions always take effort. If we are blessed enough, there is also enough time to plan and map out the process for the change, like when a baby is going to be born, or a college son or daughter heads off to school. Or even when we know it’s time to change the doors. Of course, it’s way more difficult when the transition comes to us, like a pandemic, and we have to change suddenly, and make sense of it later.
The items we all need to carry in our toolbox in order to deal with change are first of all, Grace, which allows us to consider life as a gift, and all that comes as blessings of one sort or another. We need Patience, as our plans either take a wrong turn, or the change happens too slowly for our plans. We need Forgiveness, both the ability to forgive when others disappoint us, or are absent when we need them most, and the ability to ask for and receive forgiveness when, frankly, we have acted poorly or without excuse been stinkers. I think if the Apostle Paul were creating the list, he would say that we need to cap it off with a big helping of Love, which holds all things together – even a storm door.
We have a limited time, friends, to live intentionally on this earth. Within that time, let’s plan as we can to live fully, let’s allow for the surprises that come, let’s do the hard work in its time, and let’s be sure to celebrate when even the little things are accomplished. There is always room for a hug or another cup of coffee. Be blessed today, and watch out for the wind…
Word for the Day: obsequies. Pronounced AHB-si-kwees. I picked this word today because of how easily we can mix up words. It’s Latin, but it is NOT the word, or close to it, that is “obsequious.” That comes from the Latin obsequi, which looks close, but that word means “complacent, or compliant.” An obsequious person is obedient without question.
Obsequies, however, got changed in the Middle Ages, and the spelling changed to be “ob” instead of “ex.” Both can mean “out of, or from” but our word today comes from the Latin exquia, not obsquia. The Latin squia, means “funeral.” Exsquia means to follow out after the funeral rites are completed, to the cemetery where the very last part of the ritual is completed. The graveside commendation to God. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” where we commend one’s body to the ground, but we commend the soul to God. Those last words, as we have accompanied the dearly departed out of the church to the graveyard, means that we have “followed to the end.” We have performed the necessary obsequies, even if we have not truly been obsequious.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.