Category: architecture

I have another dream

by Andrea Elizabeth

Before he died, every time we went up for a blessing from Archbishop Dmitiri, of blessed memory, he would ask us where we were from, and then tell us we need to start a Church in Weatherford, which is half an hour west of Fort Worth. Notice Archbishop Dmitri would re-ask the same question. He got a little forgetful in his later years, which unfortunately is when we met him. So you could chalk his directives up to not being at his top mental faculties. That is why I’m not going to go around saying, thus saith the Lord. I don’t have the best faculties either. But I can dream.

Friday George and I drove by two properties in Santo, Texas to imagine what they would be like as Orthodox Churches. Santo is  half an hour further west, and is half an hour north of Stephenville, home of Tarleton State (agricultural) University, and half an hour south of Mineral Wells, which is big enough for a super Walmart.

This property catches my fancy the most: http://www.trulia.com/property/3154589743-12913-S-Highway-281-Santo-TX-76472 See link for pictures.

It’s strategically located on the busy hwy 281 which goes directly from Stephenville to Mineral Wells, and is only 1 mile north of very busy I-20. The property is 3.5 acres that encompass a very geologically interesting hill called Castle Rock that is characterized by huge dark brown sandstone boulders. There is a lot of traffic noise, but the rocks offer seclusion, and the view from the back over the Brazos River-carved hills is gorgeous. The property has a kept up house at the summit, which appears to have a nice big living room with a vaulted, maybe domed ceiling, that may be suitable for a Church to start with. The old store that fronts the hwy is in not as good shape. And then the several rock, monastic cell-type outbuildings go downhill from there.

What I envision is a healthy monastic, Brother Sun Sister Moon, Francis of Assisi-type monk to head up simple, creative repairs. Sort of like they did in Whales’ Caerphilly Castle with this wooden figure.

IMG_0011What this monk would also have to do is bond with the locals. West of Fort Worth is cowboy country, and the most popular thing to do right now is to go to a Cowboy Church. There is a pretty large one about a block away from Castle Rock. Here’s Wikipedia’s description:

Cowboy churches are local Christian churches within the cowboy culture that are distinctively Western heritage in character. A typical cowboy church may meet in a rural setting in a barn, metal building, arena, sale barn, or old western building, have its own rodeo arena, and a country gospel bandBaptisms are generally done in a stock tank. The sermons are usually short and simple, in order to better to be understood by the parishioners. Some cowboy churches have covered arenas where rodeo events such as bull riding, team roping, ranch sorting, team penning and equestrian events are held on weeknights. Many cowboy churches have existed throughout the western states for the past forty or fifty years, however just in the past fifteen or so years has there been an explosion of growth within the “movement”. Prior to 1980 there were no less than 5 cowboy churches in Texas, now the number exceeds 200, and there are an estimated 750 nationwide. There has been no definitive group that established the movement; rather it seems to have had a spontaneous beginning in diverse areas of the country at nearly the same time. Some of these cowboy churches are an outgrowth of ministries to professional rodeo or team roping events, while the roots of many can be traced back to ministry events associated with ranch rodeos, ranch horse competitions, chuck wagon cooking competitions, cowboy poetry gatherings and other “cowboy culture” events.”

I hope none of them are offended by the short and simple sermon thing. But let me just say I love cowboy culture. There are worse things than being a quiet horse-person. I believe there is a uniquely spiritual relationship between a horse and gentle rider that quite captures my attention and may be worthy of contemplating at Church. I’ve written about the real horse whisperer, Buck Brennaman, before and want to see this documentary again. He doesn’t believe there is any such thing as a bad horse, but there are bad riders, and that’s what he tries to fix. That’s Orthodox.

A monk living among these outdoorsy people to me would need to adopt qualities similar to the Horse Whisperer. Keep your head low and unthreatening. Tune into them. Stay in sight. Sing softly. And give them a nice place to willingly come to.


A quiet weekend?

by Andrea Elizabeth

We left them behind on the party terrace, serenaded as we walked off by their live salsa dance music and their tipsy laughter. We decided to walk the looped road, we thought, past the residents-only gate to where, so far, about 8 mansions are scattered far apart from each other overlooking the vineyard. The sun was setting over our right shoulders as we headed south of the merry strangers.

The paved road inclined upward about half a mile before looping left. I saw on our map that to our left the road ended in a circle on its way back before picking up again to complete the U terminating back at the FM road by our little villa room. I decided to take the shortcut across the mowed field to the circle instead of going all the way to the middle of the U. But there was a barbed wire fence blocking the way across the field to where the map said the road picked up again on the northbound leg. No way was I going to double back where I’d already been and to where the strangers still were. I thought, it can’t be far to the other road beyond this one that meanders a bit before connecting back on the last leg of the loop. So a little after sunset, we set out up-hill eastward through cactus, wildflowers and brush through what looked on the google map to be a little stretch of the legs. It was a longer scratch of the legs, but thankfully nothing worse, like stepping on a snake would have been.

We made it to the outer road and I saw from the map it curved a little out of the way to the right, then turned sharply left and reconnected to the FM headed road. So we happily walked on smooth concrete as it got steadily darker, and joked about taking another shortcut through the cactus to avoid the right bend coming up. But we made it, and turned left on the reconnecting road in order to join the U. On this undeveloped road a hawk, or was it a bald eagle, or maybe a vulture? swooped in front of us. George thought it knew goners when it saw them. Then a skunk crossed. Cool! I love nature more than parties. George said he was mostly glad we were on this little walk.

Up ahead there was a large house on a hill that was supposed to be where a little dogleg would take us back to that U. It turned out to be a driveway, that was gated. I looked at the windows and didn’t see any lights which would have been on had anyone been home, because it was dark enough for lights now, but not pitch black yet. So I felt comfortable laying down on the gravel to slide under their gate to the little drive that connected to the road that we could see from the house. Practically home free! George saw the gate wasn’t locked and just slipped the chain to let himself out. Ha ha, what an adventure. But the road wasn’t a road. It was a gravel drive through a pasture. And look, horses! I so love nature. Especially horses. George greeted them first as the four of them approached us. He later told me it was in case they weren’t friendly, and he was getting between them and me. Aw! But they were sweet, especially the bay. There was also a yearling darker horse and a younger white one. The dappled one stayed back. They followed us, not too closely almost to the next gate, which thankfully wasn’t locked, so we went through ok. A few steps past we heard thundering hooves coming towards us for some reason, but they stopped at the fence. Then when I headed back to give them a last pet, they stormed off. Well, now who’s talking to the backs?

So we headed down the disappearing road, disappearing because it was getting dark, and because it was barely used, when George noticed fresh cow patties. Wait, that means that maybe there’s cows in here. What are those dark things up there? What if there’s a bull? I think there’s another fence to the right side between us and them. Aw look, it’s mamas with babies. But what if that means they keep the bull in this pasture? “If one charges, head to the fence. Look there’s a boulder by that section, then you can get over.” George said calmly. Into the other cow pasture? Can you get your phone flashlight to work? What’s that dark thing over there? Just a bush, whew. What’s that sound behind us? Probably crickets. Did you hear that? I think it was a coyote. Maybe we should check the tops of the trees for bobcats.

“Here I was thinking we would have a nice, uneventful, sit on the porch sipping wine weekend, but no, you turn it into another Andrea vacation,” he said. It was perfect!

At last we made it to the end of that pasture, but we still had a way to go after we scooted under the locked gate. The 2 lane FM road back to the entrance had no shoulder, and wouldn’t you know two cars coming from opposite directions passed us at the same time where a guardrail would have forced us into the road if we didn’t wait for them. “Will perils never cease?”

It was pitch black by now, and we remembered that we didn’t have the code to open the front gate. You left the sheet with the code on it in the car, right? “So I’ll climb through the gate, walk to the parking lot, get the code, then drive back to pick you up.” Ok. Luckily they hadn’t closed the gate because of the party.

How about you go straight to the wine room to get your beer, and I’ll make it to the villa by myself. What’s our room code again? He gives the 4 digits. Oh, yes, I’ll remember. But there was no porch light. I had to key it in by counting the buttons. I’m such a good survivalist.

Can you stand it?

by Andrea Elizabeth

Plumbing in our new house is going to be further evaluated on Monday. This guy preliminarily says that he doesn’t think there’s a sewer leak because everything seems to be draining properly. If he’s right, then the first foundation estimate is probably correct, and we wont have to wait for the middle of our house to settle down before we can work on it. But jacking up the edges will probably break things, like sheet rock, bricks, plumbing, and windows. This is why we can’t get new flooring or paint until it’s all fixed. I don’t like waiting, but that’s life.

Speaking of life, I said yesterday in our Arena Class that life is purgatory, just some places are hotter than others. Discerning when one should stay in the heat, and when one should back away is the hard part. I don’t think we can help when we are overwhelmed and can’t cope, but we should always try to stand it. There is a limit, and beyond that I believe is more hurtful than helpful. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, sometimes it just doesn’t seem like you do. If it feels like you do have a choice, then you should probably stay. I just thought of that. I bet it’s right.

home sweet home

by Andrea Elizabeth

Once upon a time there was a cute little 1963 house just a mile from a cute little church. A weary family from way out west thought this would be a lovely place to rest their bones, children, friends, and dogs for varying lengths of time each. So they bought the house knowing that the floor was very uneven, with a pretty deep slope in the back which the foundation repair people had said they could shore up. So after buying, and before shoring, the dad of the house got a second opinion. This man said, “you’ve got a leak, probably a drainage leak causing your foundation to heave up in the middle, not so much down at the sides.” Indeed this opinion fits more with the evidence, including how the doors stick more downstream after water fixtures are used.

So the weary family may still rest their bones on air mattresses and folding chairs while waiting for the plumbing estimate, repair, a year for the house to dry out to see how the heave decreases, foundation repair, new flooring, which had to be replaced anyway, painting and furnishing. It’s ok because of how much the house was discounted, and because they have a year till their daughter goes to college near the cute little church.