Sunday, May 09, 2010

Getting it done

I hear about them: the honey-do lists; the hunts for a contractor for that addition or repair; little problems that wake you up in the middle of the night when they become BIG problems; all the joys of the homeowner.

Well, I am spoiled in having a maintenance staff here at the Soubirous Ranch, and Anthony Dao, my go-to guy on everything from light bulbs to plumbing, is excellent and resourceful. He can be a little hard to find sometimes, but that’s only natural since I write the honey-do lists for him. He showed up in minutes this Monday morning when I awoke to no hot water (pilot light was out).

But there are some things that even he can’t reasonably be expected to tackle. And I spend a lot of time wandering this beautiful property, noticing things that need attention or improvement. You don’t have to be too observant to notice one of them, that is finally getting done.

The work outside the church door will repair and expand the sidewalk by that door, and add a railing to make it safer for all our smaller members who are so attracted to that brick wall with its drop-off on one side. It’s a small thing, but important.

I have been trying to get this done for almost three years. The first contractor I asked never got back to me. The second one accepted the job and even (sort of) started, but I gave up after nine months of inactivity. Finally, I found two more bidders, and one of them has brought it to reality. He is also repairing the wall outside the Stricker Room and behind the convent.

He showed me again what I already knew: this place was built to last. The quality of construction and materials used on our parish buildings is very high. That makes it very hard work to demolish anything – thank goodness – but also makes me confident that they will continue to last. The parishioners who built this place did not cut corners!

They will last, that is, with maintenance. So I am constantly juggling resources for those needs, and trying to keep tabs on capital improvements or maintenance before they become problems. We had a full campus study of our physical plant two years ago to help us with this planning. Even then, sometimes things sneak up on you.

Another project I have been nurturing for years is the Convent Chapel. I friend of mine agreed to do what no contractor seemed willing to do – put down a new wood floor. Now I have new paint lined up and decorative windows ordered (along with a few regular ones to begin replacing all those 60-year-old originals). I look forward to showing off to you when it’s done – or sooner, if you’re eager.

Our big summer project will be phase two (of four) in replacing the heat and adding air conditioning in our school building. But there are always little projects going on around here, too, just trying to keep the place in the condition it deserves – and you deserve.

Maybe this is one of the things Fr. DeRosa has in mind when he says his (our?) spouse is 2000 years old, and never wrong. It makes for a one heck of a honey-do list. But thanks be to God for the home that we have here in Four Corners, and the faithful and generous people who make it possible to take care of it.

Monsignor Smith

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