02 August 2011

Oh, this is not fair! I am awake at 3:44 a.m. but I cannot connect to the internet and so cannot check if the new Harry Potter site (Pottermore.com) has put up a new clue to qualify to enter the sight before the general public. I admit that this is a silly pursuit but I had thought to get into the site and then introduce Julia to it, hoping that she too would catch Harry Potter fever -- What fun I had reading and sharing the books with Cheshire as they came out. With Julia’s new found love of words and reading, and the website’s stated goal to encourage reading, and also the tantalizing preview of great graphics, I thought this was a match made in heaven. Well, and the challenge of Potter trivia for seven days with the prize of entrance to the site before October when it opens for general use. But the last two days, I checked just after midnight but the clues had not been published, and then on waking around 7 a.m. to find that all the entrant spaces have been filled. 3:44 seems like a promising time to check for clue and entrance, but no internet.

Work on the house goes well. My contractor has called me each week I’ve been gone to report. The best news has been that it all goes smoothly with no major surprised. Renovation on an old house can always bring surprises -- expensive, time consuming, and necessary add-ons that must be done. There is one -- removal of a grease well -- that will have to be tackled this fall. It is a necessary, moderately expensive fix because of a water leak that was badly patched by previous owners. I have been mildly concerned that we would find more of this sort of repair, and utterly thrilled that this is not the case. Is there a saint of home renovation? A small pagan deity? I household shrine may be in order.

I took some “before” pictures at home before dismantling the house. I looked at them last night. Two things struck me. First, that the furnishings and decorations did not look permanent. Pictures were on the walls and books in cases and furniture in every room, but nothing quite fit. Nothing had really changed since David’s death and at that time we had been in the house for 3 years. I don’t remember how long it took David and I to make our Indianapolis house a home, but it was longer than that. I don’t know how long it will take in Madison, or if it will happen at all. I am still so new to doing it on my own.

Second, I hope to resist the impulse to just put everything back where it was before, especially art and photos. I don’t know how long I want to leave the walls bare -- I usually rush to hang art and put books on shelves as soon as I move into a new home. New bookcases will encourage the later but I’d like to hang pictures slowly. I did really like the gallery feel to the stairway and upstair’s hall -- this house does not have the wall space to hang as much art as I like on the walls. But I am looking for calm, for peace, and then for right-placement. I don’t even know what I mean by this.

Chautauqua is all that Lisa promised -- she has been trying to get me here for years. Years and years. To admit right off to its weaknesses -- it is WASPy, probably too geeky for many palates, and really expensive. Also, the guest “star” of this week is Dan Brown, the author -- whose writing I do not like and whose lecture confirmed my opinion. I was slightly disappointed that he was received here like a celebrity, a literary hero. But putting all that aside, it is wonderful! And we have not yet explored the entire enclave or played on the beach! I am going to three lectures a day while Julia is at day camp! We are meeting interesting people, and because of Lisa’s work and invitation to preach, socializing with at least as few long time vacationers. There is the charm of a near carless community, a casual friendliness and acceptance, facilities for classes and lectures and worship, many of which are open on three or four sides, live music being performed or rehearsed almost constantly. Tomorrow evening, there is dance!

How I would love to be able to spend a week or two here each year! What an environment to claim as a family tradition. The biggest pause to such a plan and/or wish is economic. There seems to be a few ways to make this a more affordable vacation, the most promising for me is to offer to teach something for the week. Lisa is teaching this week and peaching next week. Each gig -- the teaching and the preaching -- comes with one free gate pass and one free parking pass. And so, I have to wonder if I can come up with anything to propose by the October deadline.

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