Sunday, November 30, 2008

And so begins advent

Today in church we celebrated the first Sunday of Advent. The service started with the lighting of the first Advent candle, the candle of Hope.

This is a Holy time of year. As the world focuses on the commercial side of the season, we Christians gear up to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Oddly enough, I don't recall the last time I heard of a church having its doors ripped off and someone trampled to death in the rush to get into a pew. Sad that we had not only this, but also a shootout in the midst of a store shopping rush on Friday. Truly, it was a black Friday for several families.

A year ago, Mrs. Spit and I were blissfully unaware that we were less than two weeks away from having our lives torn asunder, from seeing our dreams evaporate like fog under a noon-day sun. We were joyful about being expectant parents in the midst of the Christmas season.

Today the Rector talked on the "Adventures of Advent"
Adventure coming
Discover the original meaning of Christmas
Vision - seeing God's vision for our world
Expectant about God's plans
New beginning
Travel towards understanding of God's gift to mankind

While I am truly grateful for the basis of this Christmas celebration, I still find my self having difficulty climbing out of thoughts of my son. I hear of the angels speaking to Mary, and I think of my son, named for one of the archangels. I see the lighting of the Hope candle, and think of the hope lost when Gabriel died.

Despite all my efforts to carry on moving forward in life, my grief for my son is still tangible, still present, still real. I know that only my son died that day. I am still alive. If he could talk, he would want me to continue with my life and to remember that by looking back, I can't see the oncoming life ahead of me. I still weep for my son.

Last year Christmas passed in a flash. This year, I just don't know what to do with myself. It's not an adventure, it's an endurance event.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Down wiff dogz

Yo, hoomans!

We are not amused.

Last night, fo the firs time in longs time, we didn't haff to dealz wiff that ha-uge dogz! Liff waz goot.

Now you comez back wiff dat munster and expects us to be happi??

What, are you stoopids?!?

If'n you don' feed dat dogz soon... shes gonna be eatingz US!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's a sad / mad day

Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Spit and I attended an afternoon session to help us deal with grief at Christmas. Or, as I said jokingly afterwards, we paid money to cry in front of strangers.

It was a good session. We learned some things. We shared the story of Gabriel's death with others. We were able to cry about our son, and know that those around us felt for our loss. We were able to feel for those in the room who had lost children, brothers, sisters, and husbands. It was a very tiring afternoon, surprisingly so.

Then this morning I woke up to find that, due to the fact that Mrs. Spit had left a granola bar in her bag yesterday, my mastiff scattered the bag and its contents, along with the contents of her purse, across the floor in the living room.

That was bad enough.

She also broke the glass on the picture of Gabriel that we took to the session. And worse, because we can't replace it, she chewed up the Gund plush bunny that I had gotten for Gabriel long before he was born. The memento that we brought with us to the session on grief is now a wreck. After keeping it away from the dogs for over a year, it's now ruined.

Not how I wanted to start a month from Christmas. I'm at a loss for words.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I can see a light

Well... the bookshelves are almost done.

The project was conceived when we bought the house three and a half years ago. The plans were copied from "The Home Handyman" and stuck in a drawer for a couple of years. The decision to build the shelves was made on a simple premise. Mrs. Spit didn't want to be 7 months pregnant, up the ladder doing the ceiling treatment.

Here's a shot of the old shelves:
We started the project late last August. I'll never forget that the shelf unit was started when my son was a fetus, and will be completed with him as a memory.

The reno was worked around my job, which took me away from home more often than I would have liked. We had a rather optimistic goal of finishing everything in time for American Thanksgiving last year. This fell apart when my work took me away many nights that we didn't expect or schedule.

Then Gabriel flashed into and out of our lives. It would take months before I had motivation to fire up any tools again. 70% of our main floor was given over to storage of materials and construction of the shelves, and we have lived out of our kitchen and entry hallway through the tumultuous times of the last year.

So here I am, hoping that we can get it all done by THIS year's American Thanksgiving. Not a lot of time left, especially when I list everything left to be done and consider that I have to be out of town, again, this week.

Here's the short list of things yet to do in the dining room:
  • wood filler for minor gaps, nail holes on book case
  • sand shelves, including leveling between shelves and trim strips I attached this morning
  • build something to install grate for heating duct on bottom shelf
  • install quarter-round through whole room
  • buy and install crown moulding
  • tint ceiling
  • prime and paint walls and bookshelf
  • install electrical cover plates on new outlets in shelf
  • install trim over windows
  • paint trim
  • install dimmer switch for lights with cover plate
  • install lights
  • come up with better system to mount electrical outlet on wall instead of surface mounting to baseboard (tacky as hell)
  • cleanup
Yeah, it's a huge list. But at least there is nothing more to build for the bookshelves themselves. The rest of the room... oh boy... but the bookshelves are ready for filling, sanding, and painting.

Renos in this olde house often lead to many many more sub-projects before the job is done. Nothing is straight, or level in the house.
The job list in the dining room to date has included the following:
  • clear old bookshelves off
  • move books to huge pile in living room
  • give away old Billy bookshelves to co-worker
  • take down dining room table
  • move other furniture out of dining room
  • take down overhead light
  • tear down tile ceiling
  • tear down plaster and lathe ceiling
  • strip plaster from one wall - leaving lathe behind
  • clean-up awful mess of 90+ year old plaster
  • have a moment when we see what looks like olde knob and tube wiring in the ceiling
  • rewire overhead light with new connection box to center of room
  • install insulation in bay window ceiling
  • install gyprock ceiling
  • install gyprock floor sheets on two walls
  • tape, mud, and sand gyprock
  • apply textured surface to ceiling
  • cut out section of laminate floor for bookshelf location
  • install lower and upper bookshelf frames.
  • adjust lower frame for change in floor slope halfway across dining room
  • install vertical framing
  • install two new outlets for Mrs. Spit's computer drawer (change plans for shelves)
  • install vertical shelf supports, including dado cuts
  • install shelf horizontal pieces
  • figure out how computer drawer is to work - thank you Lee Valley!!!
  • build drawer pull out
  • install facing timber on top, sides, and bottom of shelf unit
  • build shelf columns
  • build face trim and install
  • install quarter round on columns
  • install trim at top of columns
  • decide that the list of what's left is a lot smaller than the list of what has already been done
Inter-spaced throughout have been numerous trips to Rona, Home Depot, and Lee Valley for appropriate tools, hardware, and lumber. Then return trips for more lumber when the lumber that WAS purchased warped after it sat in the living room for too long before being turned into something useful.

Here's where everything stands as of tonight. For reference, the ceiling is roughly 9'-0" above the floor. Shelves range from 8" to 16" tall, and each shelf is roughly 38" wide. The whole unit is 11'-6" wide from the lathe next to the furnace chimney to the wall separating the dining room from the living room.

I really hope that the light I see is the end of the tunnel, and not an on-coming work light!!!