Random Blog Clay Feet: 2009-08
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Making Sweet Memories

For the sake of the one or two who are interested in what is going on in our lives here, I am posting a few pictures from our last weekend. I didn't get very many pictures and didn't take any when we went to the lake for a little while after we finished this job. But we had a good time with four families getting together and processing between 55 and 60 dozen ears of sweet corn for freezing. We ended up with almost 120 quart bags of corn to freeze and still had over a couple dozen left in the shucks for any of us to use in the coming days at home.

The people we bought the corn from were very nice and not only threw in one to three extra ears per dozen but also gave me several bags extra just because we bought so much. I thought that was very generous of them especially since they also rounded the price down several dollars as well.

As you can see we had a good time together that day. Late in the afternoon some of us hurried off to the lake so that one of my friends here could try out some skiing. He had not tried to ski since he was a young boy around nine or ten years old so I wanted him to have a chance before the weather turns less warm soon.

He did very well and got up on the second try after the support pole on the back of the boat broke on the first try. He skied very well for never having done it before and took two trips around the lake for a good time before we had to get the boat out of the water for a quickly approaching storm hit. We hope to get a chance to do it at least one more time before the summer is too far gone if we can get our schedules to match up and the weather to line up at the same time.

This is the second year that we have frozen this sweet corn. We just finished up all the corn we froze last year and it has been very good. This year we decided to do a little more than last time but also wanted to get other people involved this time partly for the fun and to get the work done quicker. Of course certain people also had to indulge in a number of “corny” remarks throughout the day which kept some in stitches and others rolling their eyes. But hopefully everyone will look back on this as a good memory to repeat again sometime in the future.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Cleaning the Garage

Last weekend I launched into a project that I have been procrastinating for a number of years – cleaning the garage. Now that may not sound so profound to most people, but then they haven't seen the ghosts or know the history lurking in my garage. This is a very complicated place filled with relics of old memories from many years and leftover tools of various trades I have been involved in for a very long time. It also contains much of my Dad's leftover tools and items that I have never dealt with since his passing.

A number of problems have inhibited me from tackling this project for a long time. It began when we first moved here in a big hurry a number of years ago. My step-mother was killed in a car accident suddenly while my Dad was in a nursing home and I rushed down here from Michigan with my sister to deal with the situation. A week later we were forced to move here very quickly and since the house was already full of my parent's things much of our stuff ended up filling the garage rather tightly as well as some of the bedrooms.

Over the years we have whittled down much of the pressure and reduced the height of the stacks of boxes and furniture stored there, but I have never really taken the time to sort through everything thoroughly. Part of the reason for this was that I have always felt a mental block against doing this. I simply couldn't get myself to make so many decisions about things from every area of my life since childhood. The clutter was quite representative of the way I felt inside emotionally and I felt stuck for many years.

But events over the past few months have brought me to a major crisis and turning point internally and seem to have had the unexpected effect of breaking loose the log-jam emotionally preventing me from tackling this enormous undertaking.

The first thing I felt I needed to do was to fix the garage door header. Whoever built the garage originally had undersized the header and it had sagged dangerously over the years. When I replaced the shingles on the roof a few years ago before Dad died, I jacked up the header to its proper height and installed a temporary post in the center of the doorway until I could deal with the problem correctly. I had already purchased a ten inch wide steel plate the full length of the header to fasten to its face but I had never taken the time to install it. Now I finally got the initiative to do it.

Part of my initiative came from the fact that I had something else very pressing that I needed to do that I really did not want to face. Ironically it is those situations that have sometimes given me the most motivation to do other things I have been putting off for years. It seems that one unpleasant job can suddenly become very appealing to me when something even more unpleasant becomes urgent. While I am stalling against dealing with the most unpleasant job I suddenly become very motivated to accomplish all sorts of other unpleasant tasks that I could not bring myself to do before.

So I extracted the steel plate from the floor of the garage from under the clutter and began to drill holes for the bolts to hold it tight to the header. Then I cleaned and painted it to keep it from further rusting and took the garage door supports loose so I could insert it behind them. A friend generously came over to help me lift it into place and we were able to secure it enough to allow me to finish it without him. After I released the supporting post in the center it still sagged around ½ to ¾ inch even with 50 strong lag bolts holding it in place. But that is just going to have to be good enough.

With the door opening now cleared I felt one less obstruction to really getting serious about cleaning the garage properly and facing all my ghosts from the past lurking in there. Since I was between jobs right then I also didn't have the distraction of needing to spend time away and could focus all my energies and attention making the difficult decisions required to deal with all the things I would uncover. For two days straight I sorted and cleaned and tossed and agonized and moved things around. At that point I had filled 8-9 large construction garbage bags full of items to throw away and still have much more to go. Many things had simply deteriorated over the years or had been damaged by mice and rust.

All through this time I could feel my emotions going through some similar and parallel sorting processes. I feel like internally I am also sorting through many things from my own past and being forced to toss out some things I have clung to for years as being very important in my life. That too is a very difficult and painful process that does not happen easily or very quickly. But I know God is in charge of that process and is likely even using this external occupation to facilitate part of that internal cleaning operation.

In my sorting and cleaning and tossing I was keen to find some things that have been missing ever since we moved here. One of them is some journals that I was writing from my first days studying the Bible inductively, but unfortunately they still have not appeared. Another was a large number of CD's that contained music that I realized was missing a few months ago that I wanted to share with my quartet. That was discovered in the furtherest drawer in a desk in the far corner of the garage including a good number of much valued cassette tapes from many years ago.

In that discovery I also came across a recording of the very last time the Praise Team I sang with years ago ever sang together. We had gotten together for one last program all the way up in Canada and presented a whole service in a church pastored by the former leader of our team. As I sat down and listened to the songs that I had not sung in many years I couldn't help but begin to feel very emotional and nostalgic. I have deeply missed the opportunities to worship God collectively with others through praise music ever since that last day we were together and this recording only reminded me of this deep emptiness inside as I once again sang along with the team and thought about those times of joy long ago.

I have still not finished this project. I have quite a ways to go and I hope to make more progress this week as I don't have any work lined up right now. I think that God intends for me to deal with this issue because it really is connected to things that need to be resolved internally as well. It has certainly stirred up many old memories as I have gone through old boxes and drawers. We even came across my wife's wedding dress which we have not seen for quite some time.

There is much more going on in my life that I cannot talk about publicly right now but that is creating a great deal of opportunity for me to trust in God very intently and consistently. Yesterday I found myself slipping into some old emotional habit patterns that alarmed me. They are not easy to shake off and I had to pay extra special attention to my own spirit for quite awhile to keep me from launching off in the wrong direction and possibly loosing some divine protection inadvertently.

So pray for my project, both internally and externally, that I can become free and open and more usable for greater things than just storage. I hope to have the garage actually usable to put a car in there this winter for the first time since my parents used it for that years ago. I also hope to have my own heart cleaned up enough soon so that God can park His possessions in there and have free access to do more with it besides just house-cleaning.