2017 is coming to a close. The end of a year provides a good marker to stop for a few minutes to reflect and record what has happened over the past twelve months.
The last month of 2016 was really the first chapter of 2017. It set us on a course that we would follow for the year. Set the theme really.
In early December I received a call to serve as the part-time interim pastor of the Fruitland Christian Reformed Church. That job began on the first of February and has been a good experience. The congregation is a faithful one that is really trying hard to figure out who they are as they move into the future. It’s been good to be with them, to get to know them, and the serve them as their pastor.
Just a week after receiving the call from Fruitland we moved from Huron County to Prince Edward County. If you went back to my year-end post for 2015, there would be no hint that a move across the province would be in our plans, because it wasn’t. But sometimes life changes and direction changes as well. The move to “The County” was part of 2016’s story, as was the purchase of a condo in Stoney Creek as our second home. This year’s story is the making of this new place our own.
To say we have been under construction for most of this year would not be an understatement. The home we bought in the county is a beautiful one, on a wonderfully treed lot, close enough to the town of Picton to be convenient, yet far enough outside to be rural. We’ve made friends here and actually meet people we know in the grocery store quite regularly. We are happy with our move…..can you hear the “but” coming….the house we bought was less finished than we had anticipated.
We knew we would be finishing the two-thirds of the basement that had been left unfinished, we knew we were going to build a garage to house J’s shop, the trailer, and my woodworking. We did not expect to have to rewire the master bathroom, rehang doors that were upside down, repaint the entire house, replace trim and doors, rebuild stairs, reroute heating ducts, rebuild bathroom vanities, replace the entire kitchen. The house is new and showed quite well, but once we moved in we started to notice the shortcuts that had been taken and the overuse of the Sawzall as a primary tool.
Right now there are piles of paving bricks outside our kitchen window, covered with snow, which is part of a project the landscapers tried to squeeze in at the end of the season. We’re not quite finished, but most of the projects left on the list are ones that aren’t so much about inadequacies as they are about making the house our own.
Fortunately, our Stoney Creek place didn’t take as much time in construction. It did get a full coat of paint in early February when we moved in (the colours are the same as our house) and we did have some furniture store visits to get it furnished. The condo gives us a comfortable if small, space to live and work out of about half of our time.
Besides construction, we have travelled again this year. In September we packed up our bike and spent three weeks riding in Tuscany followed by a short visit to Rome. The biking was challenging with lots of hills to climb, but the scenery, the people, the medieval towns made it all worthwhile. But J refuses to go back, at least on a bicycle.
We’ve also travelled this year to see our kids. In June, our grandson N was baptized in Victoria. We were glad to be there. We visited Victoria again in November on a trip that also took us to Oakland to visit our newest grandson R. Of course, we get to visit with our Belleville grandchildren a lot more. For part of this year, they were here every week as we provided part of a patchwork of childcare so our daughter J could take a job at the local library.
We’ve been making it a habit to return from Stoney Creek to Picton on Wednesday evenings so that we can have as much time here as possible. I build sermons on the kitchen table on Thursdays. J has used that time to paint, to work on dying wool, making pottery, and making new friends through the local newcomer’s group. Our car is racking up kilometres. The trip from Picton to Stoney Creek takes just about three hours on a good day with the uncertainty of Toronto in the centre.
The last couple of weeks of the year, all of my spare time was spent in a corner of J’s heated pottery shop doing another sort of construction. I built a dollhouse for granddaughter I. It was a cool next step after birdhouses and a little library.
We’re thankful for another year of health, another year of challenge, and another year of blessings.