After two days of no drywall folks who were supposed to show up on Monday, they finally showed up on Wednesday and began work with a vengeance. By Thursday they had the entire house walled in. It is still just rough drywall - the finishing crew will come next week but boy has it made a difference to see walls and ceilings everywhere!! They started on the garage ceiling. Betsy is modeling that for us.
They walled in the entire basement. This was once paneling attached to firring strips on the concrete block. They somehow managed to put up drywall to replace it. I sure won't miss that paneling!!!
Moving upstairs. This is the view into the garage door and across the old kitchen from the new dining room. The large blocky thing in the middle is a 3-sided pillar. It is hollow on the kitchen side of it to accommodate a piece of closet organizer I'm hoping will reduce clutter in our lives.
Here is a better view of the new kitchen. The little door to the left of the picture is the door to the built-in pantry. The fridge will go to the right of that and the double oven next to that. The thing on the wall that resembles a question mark is the wiring for the oven hanging out of the wall.
Here is a view from the dining room addition that looks through the new dining room, into the old and into the living room. The whole downstairs is quite open now.
Going up the steps you can see the ceiling. Where the ceiling fan was is now solid ceiling and you can see the new trapdoor that leads to the upper crawl space to gain access to the new HVAC unit up there.
This is the view standing at the top of the steps and looking all the way down the hallway into what is now our bedroom suite.
Betsy is modeling what was Miriam's room. The room which once sustained the most fire damage now looks just like all the rest. We'll be moving John and David into here. The double closet is behind Betsy so you can glimpse into the next bedroom.
The girls are standing in front of the closet in the common area next to the top of the steps.
This is the door leading into what was John and David's room and will now be the baby's room. You can almost see the remains of the car track I painted on the floor but all the floors upstairs should be covered in wood laminate.
And here the girls are modeling the master suite. They are standing in what was the older boys' room and will now be our bedroom. The passage into the other side will be the library/chapel area.
This week saw the demise of Neil Armstrong. Let me start at the beginning... Meet Paul. He's the unwitting villain in our story. Little did he know when Bill Pilcher Painting hired him to work on our house, he would be the bearer of death to a world-reknown icon. Bill is one of our parishioners and he's hired Paul and Joe (also parishioners) to help with the painting work on our house. Here you see Paul beginning to strip away the hallway wallpaper... Now if you remember the finer details about our house, you'll remember that just down that hallway is the room my husband once shared with his brother. The same room where each were allowed to choose their wallpaper of choice. So for the past 30?! years, Steve's cars have very....interestingly...contrasted with Fr. Joel's choice of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. It was in this very room where Paul and Joe violently stripped away Neil Armstrong from our walls - but not our memories! I can't say I'm quite as saddened as my husband is. In fact, I'm campaigning to do away with the paneling as well...an idea which long ago outlived its stylishness.But the story doesn't end there and if you are Tata (also known as Terry Klopcic, married to one Valerie Klopcic - an important point to remember) you may know what is coming next. To our surprise, Neil Armstrong seemed to be hiding the sentiments of a 30 year younger former resident of our home. Look closely at this picture. For those with less-discerning eyesight I'll let you in on the secret. Written in pencil, and still surviving the stripping away of our brave hero, are the words Terry Loves Valerie:
Dad left a more obvious message under the wallpaper in the room he and Mom once shared. I'm sure these sentiments are still very much alive and well in Ohio!! Unfortunately, within the next two weeks they will be covered over with Sherwin Williams Practical Beige.
I am beginning to understand why my husband wants to name this baby Hope. As I lie awake tonight, waiting for an inkling of movement within my bulging belly, my mind has wandered down the path we've taken since the fire. We are so unhappy here in this temporary dwelling. It is a place which seems almost devoid of hope. The spirits of depression and fear hang heavy over these people and their households.
Our children have been exposed to more in their short months here than in the sum of there lives. Every day they despair over a new cheat, a new lie, a thievery, insults hurled at lightning speed. The children in this neighborhood are insecure with themselves and frightened to be found out and they take it out on one another, lashing out at anyone and anything. We have been encouraged that our children have stood their ground. Occassionally they have faltered when confronted with something so new and confounding as strings of insults or physical blows offered for no apparant reason, but mostly they have learned to state their beliefs, stand their ground and then walk away when the troubles continue.
The children in this neighborhood have contributed a steady flow of material for our daily family devotions. "Mom, why does this one lie? Mom, why does he act like that? Mom, what does *this* word mean? Mom, why do the parents call their children stupid? Mom, they are so mean to Philip, what should we do?" We have had opportunity to discuss prejudice, fear, insecurity, anger, the dangers of the tongue, living as a witness to Jesus Christ in a crying world. We've examined the proverbs and the Gospel. We've traced Satan's desire to squelch the presence of Christ in His children throughout the old and new testaments. JT and Ben have learned how to defend their less witting siblings against verbal attacks which sting them more than they do their unsuspecting brother. I think they've grown a lifetime here through the school of challenges and obstacles.
And woven through the thread of day is the train - constant, loud, a vibrating presence that punctuates the hours. I loved the train when we first moved here. It gave rhythm to our days. Somewhere in the recesses of my soul it reminded me of the trains I had loved as a child - the train by the Old Mill behind Mom's craft shop in PA, the train that ran by the home of my little first grade love whose tracks we would follow to visit his aunt, the train that ran past my grandmother's house and would blow its whistle in the night. But one day Tiffany and Ava got on the train that punctuates our days here and the train did not bring them back. It swallowed them up and spit them on the streets of DC which are now trying to devour them. The train is a symbol now of a lost Hope, a missing link to our little family, a scar of our family's wounding in this place.
And so in all this Hope was conceived. Hope was born into a womb once called barren. Hope was called into being to be loved by us in the midst of a loveless place. And now I sit and wait for Hope to move within me. Honestly, I am a bit concerned that I have not felt what I want to. I will have another sonogram this week which will hopefully dash those fears but if I have learned anything over the past year it is that God does not make promises just because we are good people or devout or devoted. And if, God forbid, we should lose our little Hope before this baby sees the light of this world, people will say all the wrong things. They will say "It was God's will." They will say that we have so much on our plate already and God knew what we could handle. They will say that perhaps this child would have had such serious disabilities that life would have been difficult, if worth living at all. (This one will pierce me the most because it will make me wonder if these same people would have us snuff out life in the womb for the ones we have adopted whose challenges are ugly and difficult.) What they will not see is that God does not kill Hope. There is only one enemy who kills Hope and he is the enemy of all our souls.
Hope is fueled by progress. If only we can see the progress, we can have more hope. This is why I wait to feel this baby move and wonder why I do not have indigestion. Each time we go to our house and see the progress - a wall constructed, a door delivered, a light switch wired - our hope of moving beyond this temporary place grows. There is so much hope in the place we call Home now that we desire to just drag our sleeping bags over there and sleep on the floors just to be in a place where we can feel It, breath It. Were we to go there and see no progress, I am sure our Hope would begin to grow faint and Despair would take its place.
As a family, we have lived our lives on Hope. We are thankful that God has given us vision so that we do not need to perish in despair but can walk in the Hope that His vision will be fulfilled. We can measure progress over a long period of time and see it clearly, rather than looking at each day's challenges individually and wallowing in despair. Vision is the path to Hope for it shows us that Hope is a journey, not a stopping place. It is clear why the scriptures teach us that without vision the people will perish, because without vision there is nothing to Hope for.
And so I carry Hope. I carry Hope like a beacon in body which flashes in the darkness of this time and place and reminds our family of the Vision which always drives us further in and further up. And should the enemy of our souls try to kill this Hope within me, he will not succeed. We are a people of vision, we are a family who Hopes.
Yesterday we acquired some steps into the trap door leading to the upper crawl space. The trap door runs perpendicular to what was once the ceiling fan and drops down directly in front of the attic and bedroom doors. Here's a picture of one of our favorite guys, actually referred to as "Jr" putting in the final screws. The electrical inspector came yesterday as well and it looks like he approved most of the work. As soon as the final approval comes on that, the drywall goes up!! They have also delivered all the doors and trim and deposited it in the two back downstairs bedrooms. Betsy wanted to model one of the new doors (most of these go upstairs although you can see the new pantry pocket door to the left of Betsy). Notice her new Dorothy Hamil hair-do. Aunt Beth took one look at the chop job she did on herself and decided that had to be corrected. It looks really cute but I have to admit I've been having flashbacks of being that age w/the same haircut and having all the old men at church call me a "cute little boy". Hasn't happened to Betsy yet, though, so I guess I can stop worrying about it now.
I wanted to share yesterday's fun project. We made little sculpey statues of the Greek gods - and got a good taste of everyone's artistic....er....expression. Going 'round the pan we have Ruth's artistic expression of the Goddess Aphrodite, then Philip's fine interpretation of Zeus sporting a lightning bolt (although admittedly it does look quite a bit like a hammerhead shark), the lady in pink is Betsy's Persephone (aided somewhat by Ben) and below her in shimmering blue is her mother Demeter, fashioned by Miriam. Next to Demeter is JT's attempt at Apollo who lost his cloak along the way and closely resembles a chicken he once drew. Above Apollo is Mommy's rendition of Poseidon bearing his trident which appears to be stabbing Ben's Hermes in the foot. Now, I have taken a real liking to dear little Hermes. If you look closely you can see the little wings on his feet - how cute is that?! And, last but not least, let's not forget the blue blob by Poseidon's head. John Michael carefully crafted this addition to the showcase of the gods. He titled this work "Apple Pie".