Saturday, August 21, 2010

I have a new perspective on the house I live in which seems to me after this afternoon to be in better shape than I was giving it credit for, despite two cartoned bathtubs having sat in the so-called "dining room" for the last five years. Things could be worse, much worse. D scoped out a job this afternoon across the river, in an unfinished new house in the mountains (I went along for the ride). What a mess. From what I gather the house has been in construction for three years, and it's unliveable. Plus it's stuck in a very remote spot - I don't really understand how anyone would have thought it would be a good idea to build a house in this remote spot. I mean, people do, but it just doesn't seem to be happening with this one. By comparison, I felt as if D & I were geniuses buying this fixer-upper on the "right" side of the river. Sorry, the other side looks really scruffy to me, and what a very, very odd demographic mix - Orthodox Jews, toothless hillbillies, and weekending yuppies. I probably sound unkind, I don't mean to. I don't know the people at all, D's client. I just don't understand it.

Anyway, when I saw the poured concrete floor and no baseboards and no stairs (only a ladder) to the second floor on which will be sited the kitchen (who wants to lug groceries upstairs?) and no yard for young children to kick a ball around and bears in the woods and situated on a dead end road that's closed after November 30 and reopens - who knows? missed that part - Memorial Day? - and they like to ski? How are they going to access the house, by airlift? Plus it was cheap new construction - looked like it was made of Lego's. I wasn't that into the Lego's aesthetic even as a toddler.

Our house still has issues, for sure, but now I'm appreciating the hard, meticulous work D did, even if it's not completed. Like this house today - some contractor who cut and ran installed a tile floor but with less than (as we could judge) 1/16th of an inch spacing in which to grout. The tile wasn't laid properly at all. D's going to have to recommend to the homeowner, whom he senses to be perfectionist, that the floor be ripped up, started over, done right. There's no way to grout, I don't think - and even if D tries - no perfectionist will be happy.

I glanced around the downstairs, wasn't about to climb a ladder to look at the unfinished upstairs, took a stroll down the driveway, sat in the car, read a few more pages of Benfey, and went back into the house to read the exact quote that I read yesterday and amused me very much. Benfey starts his chapter on Henry Ward Beecher by tantalizingly alluding to the "biggest sex scandal in the history of American religion." Wow - that's saying a lot. Me - I know nothing. I try to follow the crumbs on the trail (don't make me Wiki H.W.B. - already had to google him to get an image - oh so that's what he looked like?) - the scandal occurred "a decade later" than 1862, the contents of Beecher's pockets - as ever for him - "the occasion of great trouble". So Benfey drops this bombshell - and then proceeds to talk about everything BUT the scandale - all fascinating stuff, but come on, you introduced that gun in Act 1 - I'm impatient for it now! So a few fascinating but beside-the-point pages ensue, about Beecher's sensibility and oratorical skills
In a typical sermon, Beecher would suddenly turn to the congregation and pose an unsettling question: "Have you ever, as a part of your obedience to Christ, taken time to sit down and think what birds and flowers mean?" To the surprised relief of many of his auditors and the chagrin of his rivals, he raised doubts about the existence of hell. An electric presence in the pulpit and the leading figure in the liberalization of the Congregational Church, Beecher conferred on his eager parishioners his own florid and luxurious tastes. Instead of the stark, dark pews of the western churches, Beecher filled his church with sunlight and music, palm fronds and cascading flowers.
and abolitionist feelings and use of gemstones to self-soothe and something about Abraham Lincoln and an impending civil war -- and then I arrive at the line that if the lovely Laura Linney were playing me - her eyes would pop to expressive effect.

I got out of the car, went into the hull of the house and yelled up the ladder to D so that I could read aloud to him the line that I had mentioned on the slalom course drive up the mountain pass.
His organ was said to be the largest in any American church.
Torture, torture, torture - everywhere.

Kisses, darling.

Over the river and through the woods...

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