It has been below freezing in Puget Sound this week, in the teens and twenties, so I have been inside culling books, videos, clothes, vases, and coffee mugs, because we're swinging back into remodeling mode at our house after an unanticipated delay of six to eight weeks on our project house.
My mantra as each delay and additional expense has come: It's only time. It's only money.
Which is completely expected with remodeling.
This setback however is different, and disappointing. We were given bad advice by an architect we hired early on in the process that has lost us months and cost us thousands of dollars. It's not insurmountable, and we're certainly learning just about everything we'll need to know for future projects. Waterfront homes are highly regulated, and the regulations for remodels on existing waterfront properties keep changing. We were caught in the changes.
My husband was bummed and a little angry for a few minutes. I felt like crying for half an hour, but I started downsizing instead. We simply had to let go of our timeline and our plans, while still holding to our intentions and vision, our good will and each other.
I think there's wisdom in the Wicked Witch of the West's sky-scrawled message Surrender Dorothy.
At least for me and my expectations.
I know our project house will be beautiful. And more than the result, the process is already a blessing. Each landscaper, laborer, electrician, excavator, and estimator who sets foot on the property comments on its beauty and unique features, and these are folks who've lived and worked in the area for years. On their lunch breaks they sit in plastic chairs overlooking the Sound, eating sandwiches while seagulls and cormorants and the occasional eagle circle overhead.
The gift encircles all of us who give our time and skills to improving the land and the house, regardless of delays. It's a privilege to offer this stunning and peaceful work environment to others, a rare opportunity appreciated by my husband and me and so many others contributing to our welfare.
Love it and/or leave it isn't such bad advice either.
My days of hosting writers on retreat are numbered. I have four more guests between now and the beginning of March, and I've stopped taking reservations. We will put our house on the market before Spring arrives. Then we will find another place to live in the West Sound region. We will finish our project house, sell it, find and renovate and sell another after it and...
I'm looking forward to all of it. It took me nearly fifty years to stop avoiding change and shed my fear of the unknown, and I like the freedom and happiness that's taken root in its place. Why not continue to stay open to new experience after new experience after new experience? Why not lean into the unknown and see if we stand or fall?
So this Advent I embrace abundance where I find it: in giving away my possessions to appreciative Islanders, in clicking through Redfin listings and picturing myself in tiny waterfront cabins or manufactured homes on acreage, wondering if there will be eagles or whales in my next view.
There are times when the past is best left unexhumed. In that vein, I invite you to my website to listen to "Zeke and the Dry Bones" the second poem from my upcoming book Burnt Offerings that I've recorded for my Metaphor Monday series.