Monday, October 10, 2022


 On a short walk this morning through the neighborhood, I couldn’t help but notice a guy in a robe walking around his house after conferring with folks from a plumbing company truck parked in his driveway.  He stopped & called out to me, “If you’re a homeowner, it’s always something!”  I called back my agreement and we both had a little chuckle.  Not a bad way to start the day, even if you have a plumbing headache. 

Which, of course, Cindy & I do here at Wild Grace.  While on a two week summer break at our condo on Hilton Head Island, daughter Jennifer, the designated house checker in our absence, called in a panic demanding, “DAD! HOW DO YOU TURN THE WATER OFF AT YOUR HOUSE?!” 

Oh, my.  It was the cold water supply line in an upstairs bathroom that burst.  We figured at least thirty hours of water poured through the house, taking the basement bathroom ceiling with it.  As you can imagine, things were a mess.  Water dripped down through my office ceiling, too, causing all of it plus lots of wall board, to be deemed too wet to save.  Books made it okay, though everything felt damp.  Fans and dehumidifiers dried things out while a clean-up crew hauled away everything we couldn’t save.  

And that’s where we are right now: Dried out with junk hauled away but no rebuild started yet.  It’s been longer than we thought, having the toilet the only receptacle left in a bathroom void of all drywall.  Sitting there is a rather unique experience, I might add.

But truth is what the flood took away from the basement living spaces has in an odd way enhanced my living experience.  Water didn’t soak into my television watching area, so when I still sit there in my easy chair, the carpet that didn’t get wet looks just like it always did, as does the tv.  

When I get up for a potty break, however, I am reminded how things are still so different.  I walk on cold concrete floors with patterns of old tile long ago removed; wall board missing half-way up from the floor in a few places; shower stall gone along with wall and ceiling insulation; lighting fixtures hanging by electrical wires waiting for wall board to set them properly again.  Yes, it’s a mess, but

I have found that in my office stripped of all books with only my desk & computer re-set, I have space around me like I haven’t felt before.  It feels open and uncluttered, which is a good thing.  But most important, unquestionably, are the new windows.  

Long before this flood, Cindy & I replaced decades-old windows upstairs.  Pretty expensive, so we opted not to replace those on the lower.  Even though the basement casements were lovely wood in their day, over time they have either been painted or warped shut.  In the twenty-plus years I’ve worked in my office I’ve wrestled with them, never able to open them easily.  So we figured as a real treat to me, with my book finally ready for publication, it was time to replace those seven troublesome windows.  Ordered months before the flood, they were, in fact, scheduled to be installed the same week wet stuff was getting hauled out of the basement.  

So here I am this morning plugging away at my computer looking out a window space I’ve never spent all that much time looking out of.  The old windows had wood blinds that were pretty cumbersome, so they never got raised.  Now, however, no blinds.  No nothin’.  Just three amazing windows looking out into our backyard arboretum.  Yellow leaves dominate in the sunshine this season with the occasional bird flying by.

It is a window into a world I so love, that has been there for as long as I have been, that I somehow missed.  

Now the view beyond these computer words is filled with new and life-affirming light to complement the stuff I so want to ponder and write about.  It is good to be aware of change and seeking ways to find change meaningful.  

Today’s elder idea:   From Kentucky poet Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey. 

The mind that is not baffled is not employed. 

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

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