Friday, June 13, 2014

Finally . . . That Last Little Thing

Since the day we bought the house, Sara has been complaining about the carpet in the upstairs bathroom. "Why do people put carpets in bathrooms? Don't they know it's just going to get wet?" Having two small children who love to splash during bath time brought the question continually to the forefront of our minds. And we have wondered, since the first time water splashed out of our shower, whether water was soaking into the carpet and corrupting the sheeting beneath our feet.

In September of last year we bit the bullet and decided to change the upstairs bath: new paint on the walls and linoleum on the floor. Here's a glimpse of its original state, complete with Little Splasher #2 and the foreshadowing cordless drill on the left:
 Note the dirty cream walls:
At 14 months, Micah is ready to take on the 14V DeWalt:
As you can see, no expense was spared in the original construction--not quite wall-to-wall carpeting:
 We are big fans of having main colors and accent colors in our rooms. Instead of uniform dirty cream, we went for a light blue main and bright blue accent color. (By the way, I can't recommend strongly enough the yellow pour spout that attaches to the rim of the paint can: saves paint, mess, and is reusable!):
Of course, all home improvement projects are family projects. Here is my lovely partner in decorating:
 Much of this project was done while Monkey See was off at school, which left Monkey Do to help. He's very serious about his role in the painting process:
This renovation happened as Hurricane Dos was entering his Serious Climbing Phase. So he got up on the toilet and reached for some tool on the changing table. I thought this was a good photo op, and grabbed the camera for a couple of shots:
And I was in mid-shutter-click when the changing pad slid and Micah lost his balance. This was my view right before reaching out to catch him:
He was fine.
When the painting was finished, the carpet awaited removal and replacement. Here's the scene with all the trim removed:
To our surprise, twenty-four years of shower spillage had not rotted out the sheeting.
It turns out that the easiest way to cut linoleum flooring for your bathroom is to use the recently removed carpet as a pattern, laid out in the living room. No measuring necessary! It is a testament to the size of our bathrooms that marking and cutting the linoleum flooring had to be done in two phases; the whole cutout of the bathroom floor would not fit in our living room:
When it came time to install the trim, Handyman Deux was ready to swing 22 ounces of nail-driving power. All right: his spirit was ready, but the flesh was a little too young.
So he set himself instead to understanding the tool at rest:
And with new color, new floor, and trim almost completely replaced, we have a new bathroom:

I said that the trim was almost completely replaced. The job was almost done in November of last year. This is June of this year. Even though we plowed through the big parts of this project in good stead, I didn't make time to cut, sand, and seal the one piece of trim that I had to totally replace. (And I needed to replace the leaky sweat valve on the toilet.) I had the wood; I had the tools; I had the polycrylic. I just didn't make the three hours in my schedule to get it done. That's how it often is with my projects: They are not completely finished because of some Last Little Thing that gets put off, as if its small size makes it unworthy of attention before all the Big Things of this world.

Well, two weeks ago I finally got That Last Little Thing done: replacing the sweat valve and trim behind the toilet:
Now the bathroom is done!

~ emrys

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reformation Pilgrim

The church tradition in which I serve traces its roots back to John Calvin, the 16th-century Reformer. I had read bits and pieces of Calvin's life and work over the course of my theological studies. In anticipation of a seminar I'm teaching in July, I have the opportunity to read much more about him.

John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life, by Herman J. Selderhuis (IVP Academic, 2009), is a biography of John Calvin. One of its characteristics (which the author invites us to view as an enticement rather than a liability) is that it tells Calvin's story using only primary source material about his life: such as letters to and from Calvin, introductions to his sermons and books, and documents from the church in Geneva. This selectivity of source material, combined with an informal writing style, makes the book much easier to read than an academic textbook.

Selderhuis invites us to view phases in Calvin's life through the lenses of one-word epithets: he could be viewed as "orphan," "preacher," "widower," and "sailor." Aided by this flexibility of metaphor, Selderhuis attempts to break down some of the stereotypes loaded upon Calvin by later Calvinist traditions.Though Selderhuis does not shy away from judging some of Calvin's (and Geneva's) actions in light of 21st-century worldviews, he confronts the reader with places where the record needs to be set straight. For instance, the caricature of Calvin as the despot of Reformation Geneva is belied by the conflicts between the church and the civil government in that city; and the reputation of Calvin as the strutting champion of "double predestination" requires correction in every generation. For the insights which Selderhuis mines from the source material, I appreciate his work.

The divisions between and within chapters, while always cued by intriguing one- or two-word titles, often left me with a sense of discontinuity. The book's declared aim of walking through Calvin's life according to his own letters may make this sort of zig-zagging unavoidable; a thematic biography of Calvin would make for a work radically different than this collection of vignettes. And at times Selderhuis' writing is so jocular as to seem flip, which felt jarring at times, given the seriousness with which he expects his readers to take the life of this famous Reformer.

These shortcomings did not, however, prevent me from learning much about Calvin's life and how it shaped (and was shaped by) the theological and ecclesiastical movements of his day. A Pilgrim's Life, as the subtitle suggests, takes seriously the fact that John Calvin--like all theologians, no matter how significant their work--was a human being in part guided and defined by his circumstances and relationships. Reforming the Church in our day requires, too, knowing ourselves and our place in God's eternity. Whether we shall be remembered five hundred years after our deaths is not up to us; but we can imitate Calvin's resolve to live as a pilgrim for Christ today.

~ emrys