Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back to work... again

My neighbor and I finished remodeling our new Pastor's home around the end of March. Here it is, the end of April and I'm finally getting around to mentioning that (good thing there's no deadlines or need to rush).

If you follow golf, the Pro-Am Golf tournament was just held in Aventura, Florida, at Turnberry. I've been working in a 40 story condo on Turnberry Isle that overlooks that golf course (a yearly membership is $250,000, excluding tips). The condo's board of directors, manager, and head of maintenance have all been begging us to come work on their building since January first. They can get other people to do the work, but the others don't ever seem to be able to follow instructions, and usually they take much longer... 3 to 6 weeks to do the same job we do in 6 or 7 days (and they do it poorly).

When my neighbor and I finally finished here on the Pastor's house in March, we went down to the condo and started. They have work enough for us to stay busy for months. It is about 20 miles each way, and with gas creeping ever upward, unless we raise our rates to cover the added expense, we'll be losing money soon. The work is fairly simplistic, but it's tiring. For much of the prep days (the first 4 or 5) I work mostly on 2' high stilts. I've used my stilts as high as they go (4') and even then, it's not overly difficult, but walking for 4 to 8 hours a day on stilts is murderous on the feet, calves, and knees. When not on stilts, much of my time is spent crawling on the floor -- that's hands and knees on marble floors. I'm so ready to be finished.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Dawning of a New Era...

Sunday night we had a special service at our church. We didn't know what else to call it, so we just called it a "Welcome the Pastor" service. He invited friends and family from all over. We, as church members, invited people that normally don't come at all, or normally don't come at night. We had 86 in attendance (if you include the 5 kids in the nursery and the 2 nursery workers). The service consisted of 3 congregational hymns (accompanied by 1 piano, organ, trumpet, flute, & violin), 4 different groups (with member overlap) doing special music, a time of meeting & greeting, and the preaching service.

My first service here was the New Years' Watchnight Service of 1994. From that service until March 2008, the greatest number of people I've seen in attendance for any service has been 75 (for an Easter Sunrise Service back in the late 1990s). Any service that we see 40 to 45 in attendance is a great service for our church. This last Sunday evening approximately 35 people came because they were somehow related to the pastor, or a friend of his family. We as a church had around 50 attend... on a Sunday Evening!

I enjoy meeting visitors and talking to people (and eating, of course) which we do a lot of at the fellowships; hopefully we can schedule similar services more often.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My first REQUESTED book review

I received a copy of Off the DEEP END: The Probably Insane Idea That I Could Swim My Way Through a Midlife Crisis -- and Qualify for the Olympics by W. Hodding Carter on Thursday just before last month ended. It just so happened that the months of February and March (and now April, too) have been some of the busiest weeks I've lived -- my Pastor of 12 years has died (he's been at this church 34 years, but I've only been here the last 12). It fell to me and another guy in the church to keep all the pieces together and make sure nothing was "broken" before our new pastor was voted in. (The church ran fine before, and I realize the probability of me "ruining it" falls between "slim" and "none," but it was still of great concern to me. We did call a new Pastor to step in on Sunday evening, March 30th.) I knew I needed to read this book and review it (that IS, after all, the reason they SENT it to ME), but I wasn't sure when I'd have the time. Late Friday night (March 29th) I decided to see how the first chapter started.

Picking up Off the DEEP END turned out to have been a bad idea (since I still had a lot of work to do that weekend). The first chapter started a bit slowly, but by the time I'd reached the end, then read the title of the second chapter ("Saggy Old-Man Butt"), I was hooked. It was all I could do to put the book down when I finished the second chapter. In fact, all day Saturday (as I was attempting to finish up my work) all I could think about was finishing Carter's story. Late Saturday night (when I should have been getting ready for bed) I picked up his book once again -- and couldn't put it down until I'd finished it.

I find that I can identify quite well with the author: I'm passing my mid-thirties, but (even though they aren't very large) I haven't enjoyed discovering I'm now growing "love bumps" (which I'm told turn into "love handles" very quickly), that I've had to start purchasing my pants 1 to 2 inches larger in the waist (depending on the brand of course -- I could still squeeze into a 31" waist, but I wouldn't do it on the way to an all-you-can-eat-buffet), and that my lack of endurance is getting worse. It seems life, wife, children, and my own lack of commitment tend to erect numerous hurdles and hindrances to my desire of getting back into shape.

Of course, "my" sport was never swimming (I do love the water though), it was cross-country jogging -- and I was never anywhere near world-class competition levels (I was happy when I wasn't running J.V.), but more often I'm noticing lingering thoughts creeping around in the back of my mind: if I would just commit to the effort... my body would respond to the challenge.

Off the DEEP END offered some reassurance that I'm really not crazy, it renewed my hope in myself, and has instilled a fresh desire to quit sitting around wishing I was in better shape and make time to do it.

I know footnotes and parenthetical statements annoy some people to no end, but that is exactly the way I think (and... in case you missed it... the way I write), so I enjoyed Carter's style of writing immensely. The only thing I didn't like about the book was its length: I found myself wanting to know more -- and to be able to follow his monthly progress (or even weekly).

I was initially disappointed that the last chapter wasn't included -- actually, the very first disappointment was finding a card STAPLED TO THE FRONT COVER!! They defaced a book! But now that I've removed the staple, I've come to the point of looking forward to seeing what else is included when this finally goes to press.