Monday, March 30, 2009

The Next Olympic Sport?

Whodathunk idle office desktop mindless nervous energy releasers would become an art form?
I think the Japanese have the corner of the "Gold"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mr. Panos Explains

For those who are inextricably tangled up in the Ortho-web-blogosphere lately and are having difficulty understanding the relationship of the Greek culture to the Church (you know who you are and what I'm talking about...), I've found a couple of Youtube videos in which Mr. Panos explains "all things Greek". I hope these help.

Mr. Panos Explains The Greek Culture

Mr. Panos Explains Greek Easter

Friday, March 27, 2009

Steve the Builder Begins

He builds churches and monasteries. He frames stuff, he does finish carpentry , hangs sheetrock
and builds outrageously expensive birthday presents. How does a minister with theology and counseling degrees end up doing this? And what happens when a former minister takes the Gospel seriously and runs a business according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? The latest episode of "Steve the Builder" tells the story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Necessary and the Frills

We're down to the "necessities"... things we have to do to get a "certificate of occupancy". Like the handicap access ramp and forms for the wheelchair accessible sidewalk dimensions.

And the 24 inch deep trench for the underground wire to get power to the building from the other side of this house. Fr. Damian wrestled a trencher for two days and only hit one water line.

But we're also continuing on the "gingerbread". We finished painting the interior lower walls and I installed the corbles on the arches.
Since they are concrete they need something to dress them up, so here is my first experiment with antiquing one of them.
If all goes well and we get the wiring, sidewalks, ramp, and doors installed this week we should be able to start worshipping in the building in about ten days. It won't be finished but it will be functional.

Seballius Meets ZZ Top

Cadillacs and Moral Relativism

What do 1959 Cadillacs, dog houses, rabbits and Congress have to do with the philosophical spirit of the age? Find out on part two of "Philosophical Ketchup" on "Steve the Builder" where I talk about ten things you cannot say as a moral relativist... but wait! THIS podcast goes to ELEVEN!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Painting the Church

We started the painting yesterday. We needed to return the scaffolding so we decided we would finish the high ceilings and dome then work the bottom part of the Church after the scaffolding was out of the way. I have a commercial airless spray paint rig and an extention pole. I sprayed the dome first with primer so it could be drying while we painted the rest of the ceiling.
The "two man" trick to painting the 14 foot ceilings is I sprayed them with a heavy coat of paint, then Javier comes behind me after a few minutes and "backrolls" the still wet sprayed paint. That lets the paint soak into the drywall surface and the roller evens out the paint and puts a stipple on the surface so if there is touch up later the touch up won't "flash". (The difference between a sprayed surface and a rolled or brushed touch up is the texture of the paint...that's what you usually see when a touch up shows).
After we finished the ceilings, I sprayed the dome with a lighter white finish coat then cut in the bottom edge with a brush.

The test of a drywall and paint job: Let there be light. It looks a little streaky because the paint is still wet. (The Christian joke is "Drywallers and painters hate the light because their finish jobs are evil.)
The light shines and it looks good. We took the scaffold down and now have an unobstructed view of the whole building. It looks a lot bigger without the scaffold in it. This is the view from the altar. The door will be the entry to the Church at the back of the nave.
This is a view of one side of the nave from across the room. The choir will be on one side and the chanter's stand will be across it under the arch to the right.
This is a view of the altar from the doorway. The iconostasis will be just to "this side" of the door you see on the left. It will be about 9 feet tall and you will be able to see the 4 by 6 foot Panagia icon that will be mounted on the high wall between the windows.
One of the amazing things about this whole project is the cost so far is under 5,000.00. Father Damian returned the scaffold and they charged us one fourth of the price of a one week rental and we had it for 3 weeks. That is typical of how people (who are not members of the Church) have helped us. We've had to buy lumber and some supplies, but Fr. Damian is not shy about just asking people if they'd be willing to give us things. An A/C contractor donated the air conditioner unit, an electrician donated all the electrical supplies, we got 1,500.00 of insulation for 200.00, a drywall supplier donated 70 sheets of drywall, we got the paint on Craig's list for 40.00, and we've bought quite a bit of stuff from Starlight, the Habitat for Humanity construction thrift store. We've gotten help from the Homeless Shelter, a tech school teacher who brought his class over and wired the building, and our Church members (not to mention Javier, my helper who has put in hours and hours on our days off without asking to be paid.)

I told my wife last night, this has gone so well it is almost too good to be true... we are either being REALLY blessed, or we're being set up for a huge delusion. But, all of this has basically "fallen into our laps" and we've stepped up, gone out on a limb and taken some big risks. I can only pray that if we stay faithful in the small things and don't bury our talents God will continue to open the doors to greater service.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mudding the Church

We passed our "nailing inspection" that makes sure the drywall was installed properly. Now we begin "mudding". This is the finishing of the drywall. I've been a drywall finisher for 26 years so this is my main skill. I'm running the "bazooka", putting the tape in the corners (angles, if you are in the trade), while Javier and Elijah put fiberglass tape on the joints. I'll coat those with that rectangular box you see leaning against the window. With the drywall taping tools I can do literally in a couple hours what would take two people all day to do.

Four hours later we've put about three hundred pounds of joint compound on the walls and have the lower half of the building taped and mudded.
Tomorrow we put a second coat on everything and we'll be ready for painting.
This is Father Damian in his "civvies" taking a break from cleaning the building out in preparation for painting the dome and ceilings tomorrow so we can move the scaffold out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Almost Lenten

With a little tweaking, this could become a Cheesefare Sunday Troparia in an American Orthodox tone. (I like the icon of Elvis in the background.)


From my sixteen year old daughter's blog HERE

Monday, March 09, 2009

Redgrass Music

My dad is from Arkansas, my mother is Chinese. This is perfect.

Not Lenten, but...

What passion, what a voice and who knows what pain that drives someone like this in the path she took.

Friday, March 06, 2009

It Finally Looks Like a Church!

Last night about ten men from the Homeless Shelter came to the Great Canon of St. Andrew instead of Fr. Damian and me going there for the weekly service and Bible study. This morning they came and helped us take down the deck that we've left up until the dome was far enough along that I can finish it from scaffolding. We took it down in four sections. Javier is cutting it away from the staircase.

A section of the deck weighs a few hundred pounds, so the more the merrier.

The deck is gone and all that is left is the "stairway to heaven". This is my helper, Javier, getting ready to cut the landing.
The deck is gone and the entire nave is open area now. Our priest, Fr. Damian is standing on a ladder where the Iconostasis will be.

We now begin finishing the bottom of the dome and the rest of the ceilings. The stripes in the dome are streaks of wet plaster and drywall joint compound.

This is a view of one side of the nave from the altar area and from on top of the scaffold I'm working on in the previous picture. With the deck gone we were able to finish the arches. The other side of the nave mirrors this, so we actually have a cruciform Church. The choir will be on one side and the Kliros will be opposite on the other side. The door you see will be the entry into the Church. There is a covered patio that we will eventually enclose for a narthex.
This is me. Sitting. Finally. Whew. What a day.
After Presanctified Liturgy we all processed from our temporary meeting area over to the Church so the Mission members could see what had been done today. We had a single light bulb to light the space and we sang the Troparia of St. John the Theologian and "O Lord of Hosts Be With Us" from Great Compline. In all of my years it was one of the most moving moments of my life. Glory to God.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


This is one of the finest Lenten meditations I have ever read.
I won't even try to do better. Just read it HERE

Details, Details

One of the structural issues was holding up the high part of the building when we remove the loft area below the dome. We have four structural columns in the middle of the nave area holding up some beams that are holding up the building. Necessary, but ugly.

Just wrapping them with drywall seemed pretty boring. Last night before The Great Canon of St. Andrew I had an idea. This morning we drove around looking for what I had imagined and found it. We went to the Church and started cutting and nailing leftover plywood and lumber from the dome

...and made some arches to go between the columns and under the beams... the wood ceiling behind Javier is the deck that will be removed that will open the ceiling up to the dome.
This is the quarter inch Sheetrock (bender board) being installed on the radius.
This is the cornerbead and flexible arch bead installed
...and then mudded with the coup de grace installed: Precast concrete corbles I found for only 20 bucks each!

I've used carved wooden ones before on this same detail and they run about 150.00 each. When these are painted you won't know the difference.
This is the view of the left side of the nave from the altar area. Each column will have a corble/arch detail.