A year ago, November 2011 the big news was raising the beautiful South entrance.  An astounding feat.  We can all appreciate how far we’ve come.  Here are photos to illustrate the extensive change that a year of hard, hard work by construction and landscape crews can make:
nov27 first truss-timg_2251_2



It is past time for me to step down from writing this blog, so this note is my swan song.

The building project has slowed down but has not stopped. Our volunteer contractor-carpenter is on site and working every day, for a couple weeks longer. Cabinets, sinks, doors, all sorts of finishing items are being installed. Although the project seems unbalanced with only one pillar, that one pillar is still around from time to time working with inspectors and trying to trap the elusive occupancy permit. The Raisin of Drains found numerous volunteers at church on Sunday to keep an eye on the landscape while she is away. Norma Landy bravely stepped up to coordinate. If you weren’t there and didn’t get a chance to volunteer to help for the next three months please get in touch with Norma (uuwoman@comcast.net) and let her know that you could be available as a backup. It would be lovely to have half a dozen more people who would be willing to spend as much as six hours over the next several months to check on a section of the landscape and as needed to pull a weed, replenish the mulch, etc. Note that Norma’s email address is new; the one in the directory is not current.

The Building Task Force continues to work on transition issues, some that I have mentioned over the past few months and others. Wanda Kuenzli chairs that group both ably and nobly; comments to the BTTF can be placed in their file holder on the wall outside the office. They welcome thoughts about priorities and the transition, requests for what needs to be done to make the building more useable and liveable, and volunteer help to get it done. Who would like to organize work on a playground?

(shameless self promotion follows)

This kind of email could go on indefinitely, as the jobs of finishing the building and growing into our new situation as a larger downtown church will go on for quite a while. However, as many of you may know, Sarah and I are going to be in Guatemala for two weeks in December teaching English to Mayan scholarship students, and we are leaving right away to drive to Antigua. We expect to be back after the first of the year sometime. As we find internet access, I’ll be writing about our trip at: sarahandgretchen.wordpress.com. That title is short for the actual title of the blog: “Sarah and Gretchen drive to the end of the world, to be in Maya Country on December 21, 2012, at the end of the calendar, and live to tell about it.” I couldn’t fit the whole title in the little bitty title block space provided.

I’ll also check email as I have a chance, so please write and let us know what is going on here.

Writing this blog for the last five months or so has been just about the most fun a person could have. I have enjoyed writing it more than any of you could possibly have enjoyed reading it, although I have had kind comments that suggest that some of you have liked the reading. Judy Sawyer has agreed to pick it up from here so information about the building and the transition project will still be available. It seems to me that Judy is doing almost everything around the building these days. Give her all the help and encouragement you can.

Gretchen Miller

Former Interim Blogster


Quotes for the day:

“This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It is, instead, the end of the beginning” – Winston Churchill.

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch” – Garrison Keillor.

OCTOBER 11, 2012
She’s going up….. ….. to sand the beams…..

oct11 going up-t

oct11 sanding beams-t
…..must finish before it rains!

oct11 finish before rain-t

She was up there All Day!

oct11 she up there all day-t
….. in the meantime, good morning

Glory Buddha!

oct11 good morn glory buddha-t

Spreading compost. And spreading mulch.

oct11 spreading mulch-t

oct11 mulch shoveling-t
Lots of digging….. It took 6 people all day…..

oct11 lots of digging-t

oct11 6 people all day-t
….to plant all of the plants!

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OCTOBER 10, 2012

Compost delivery today….. A sink ready to be sunk……

oct10 compost delivery-t

oct10 sink




….and, still working on it.

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Do you know the point in a job when you are close to done, can see “done” from where you stand, but you can’t seem to get there? Like walking up a sand dune, every step forward is also a slide back? It feels a little like that some days. However, lots of progress is happening.

This is a long post. Near the bottom I include the call for volunteers on Thursday. Don’t miss it. Skip right to it now, in fact, and then come back.

The security company did a decibel test which was alarmingly successful. Because yesterday was a holiday no inspections occurred, but electrical inspectors should be in the building today and mechanical and fire later in the week. The plumbing in the kitchen is done and our contractor volunteer expects to finish the last bits of plumbing in the classrooms this week. The air balancing is not quite done; the crew doing the balancing found a little work the HVAC contractor needs to come back and finish but we haven’t yet heard when the latter will come in to do it.

Plywood was put up in the south entry on the inside walls that frame the interior doors. The door company won’t come and measure for the doors until the framing is in, which makes sense, and of course they won’t order the glass until they have measured. In order to move the door project along the rough framing was finished; we look forward to seeing those doors eventually.

Our volunteer carpenter has been installing cabinets and counter tops in the classrooms and will be installing sinks this week. This also means that more of our clinic salvage material is coming out of storage and going into the building. Eventually we will be able to identify excess pieces and again reduce the amount we are storing. He also adjusted the door closers for all the restrooms and we hope the doors are easier to open. Please let us know if bathroom access is still a problem.

An intrepid volunteer has ordered side rails for the choir risers. The rest of the Chalice Lighter grant is being used for these rails, and the volunteer is chipping in enough to make up the balance. Give him a big hand!

The purchase of entry mats is in process. These mats will fill the little rectangular holes in the cement floors in the two main entry ways (the south and east atria) so you will have a place to wipe your shoes. It feels so good to be writing about “finishing touches” such as door mats, instead of narrating demolition or framing!

We are also making progress moving into the building. Security is a concern. The building is to be locked at the “close of business day,” and only the north (kitchen) door used thereafter. Questions abound. When is “close of business day”? We do not have staff in the building until 5 pm every day. Anyone who plans to use the building when staff will not be present needs to have a key and access instructions. We will be arming the security system quite soon so everyone with a key has to know how to enter the building and turn off the alarm, how to turn it on again, and what to do in case of error. Big learning opportunities here. Should groups lock the door after all persons attending their meeting (rehearsal, etc.) are inside? What provision can be made for latecomers? These are wonderful puzzles (and there are more; I will spare you) and I applaud the hard working people who are coming up with the answers.

The Transition Task Force is talking about priorities after occupancy. As we move into the next phase, which of our multitudinous opportunities should first claim our attention? Please note carefully: I am about to list some of the possible priority tasks. This list is not exhaustive. If your favorite project is not on it you can certainly let me know, but absence from my list is not the same as absence from the Task Force list. I edit their work drastically to make this note shorter, readable and even sometimes interesting.

We need to do something with the West End play area, soon we fear to be known as the West End Mud Pit. The immediate response is to grade the area flat (it is actually pretty flat now) and dump playground-quality wood chips. That will be low cost. For that we need volunteers to move the stuff that is there now and to spread the wood chips and contributions (for the chips). We also need to install the fences and gates at the north and south ends of that area, and the fence along the Chambers Street side. In the short term perhaps adults can watch the kids to keep them in the appropriate space, but we want those fences soon. The fences have been designed to go with the building and other outside structures, so we know what we will need. It involves more volunteers and appreciably more money.

We need the door mats, which we think are coming pretty soon.

We need to dig out the cement in the bottoms of, and then get dirt dumped into, the dangerous landscaping holes at the east end of the building. We could just spread clover seed for cover crop, or just let the dirt sit and grow weeds, but the holes are a problem. This will also require appreciable volunteer effort (to dig out the cement that was dumped more or less everywhere during construction) and money for the dirt.

We need to finish all unsealed wood, inside and especially out. This means the beams inside, and the porch-like structures (the Ponderosa) outside the entryways. This will require significant volunteer labor, the use of the scissor lift, the use of scaffolding in some places, and some relatively small expenditure for sanders, polyurethane sealant, and other supplies.

We need to finish the sound booth so that it can be locked when it is not in use. This is probably a three digit (less than $1,000) expense which is critical for the security of the equipment that we want to store there.

We need closet doors: on the closets in the south hall, in the social hall closets, and in the west hallway (classroom area) closets. We have some doors but not all, so first someone has to install what we have, and then we need to buy what’s still missing.

We would love to put siding on the new addition. The Tyvek housewrap is not actually an attractive finish for a building, although I think we could call it traditional. This is not required to be done before the rains come, but is a “the sooner the better” project. It will take money.

Everyone agrees we need better, consistent and attractive signage. If only the north door is open, we need signs that direct people to use that door. The parking lot needs signage (yes, the Task Force has heard that we need the handicap parking signs and paint in place. It is a slightly more complex issue than one might think), the building needs signage, the sign on the corner needs work. Although we have agreed to keep the walls in the sanctuary, social hall and hallways as plain as possible while we settle into the building to give us time to see what we want to do, signs are needed and keep popping up. Those need to be curated.

There is quite a bit of touch up texturing and painting to do inside the building. Nearly every room has unpainted trim and unpainted high areas inside the skylight.

We have downspout issues.

We would love to have electric door openers on the east entry and elsewhere.

We would love to finish the outside landscaping, both the hardscape (the pergolas outside the minister and music offices, for example) and the remaining swale, parking lot, and foundation planting.

We want to extend irrigation and electric to the “wedding/lasagna” garden and install the lights in the east parking lot (the bases are there).

The inside of the south atrium needs to be finished: there are interior soffits, an interior decorative wood wall, and other touches.

The plenum covers and other finishing touches need to go in in the sanctuary and around the big doors that separate social hall and sanctuary.

The kitchen needs some finish work: window sills, paint, and so on. The pass through from the social hall could be framed and finished.

You get the idea. Let me repeat that this list is not exhaustive. The Task Force is trying to set priorities based on what is needed for safety, for the physical preservation of the building (like paint), for comfort and ease of use, and for what will add aesthetic value. Be assured they are working hard.


The Raisin of Drains needs people who like to plant and people who don’t mind getting a little dirty to show up any time Thursday, especially starting about noon. She is rototilling and working the corner area today and maybe tomorrow, preparing for a plant delivery Thursday morning. There will be planting, mulching, and other fun activities the rest of Thursday after the plants are unloaded from the truck. You don’t want to miss this once-in-a-very-short-lifetime opportunity. (If you were a mayfly, you would only get this one chance. Look at it that way.) The Raisin will also be accepting applications to take care of small portions of the landscaping for the next three months while she is away.

Rental Report:

Our volunteer rental manager is very busy. Interest in using the building just keeps growing. She’s been accepting rentals only for about six weeks and she already has about $7,000 in bookings. (This covers the period through next June.) Word about the building is just getting out into the events planning community, to the wedding planners, and among the nonprofits, and actually we are not quite finished to the point that we can accommodate all kinds of rentals yet. The trajectory is fabulous!
Today’s quotes come from our more athletic friends:

“I hope to gain 1,500 or 2,000 yards, whichever comes first.” George Rogers

“I’ve had to overcome a lot of diversity around here.” – Drew Gooden of the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I’m really happy for Coach Cooper and the guys who’ve been around here for six or seven years, especially our seniors.” -Ohio State quarterback Bob Hoying, after winning a Big Ten title.

Red Sox Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd on a fogged out game in Cleveland, “That’s what happens when you put a ballpark next to the ocean.”

“Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter, I’m amphibious” -Charles Shackleford

“I guess I’m gonna fade into bolivian” Mikey T

Tonya Harding: “Im not gonna make a skeptical of my boxing career”

“I have two secret weapons: My legs, my arms, and my brain.” -Mike Vick

Jason Kidd: “We’re gonna turn this team around 360 degrees.”

OCTOBER 8, 2012

Little Irish boy has thumb in dishwasher drain that is leaking.

oct8 dishwasher-t

Superb 70’s style footstool for installing bulletin boards.

oct5 footstool-t


oct5 beer frig-t

The beer frig is out of the Chapel

and back in the kitchen.

Excess cabinets find new homes.

The clinic is a pile of rubble and only these few items remain, beacons in the post apocalyptic wilderness.

oct5 excess furniture-t
oct5 more cabinets-t











Salvaged furniture was union-made.
oct5 union made-t






Jake and the cabinets.

oct5 jake cabinets-t



Shedhe finished the third sea… the Indian Ocean is now rocked.
oct5 indian ocean rocked-t






Soffits and Cabinets and More, Oh My.

The soffits are going up above the outside walkways, on the east and north sides of the building. It gives the building a much more finished look, and moves us closer to the occupancy permit. Cabinets are being installed in classrooms, which are looking more finished every day. More plywood is being installed in the attic, making catwalks for ease of maintenance access. Work continued on labeling switches and outlets with the i.d. of the appropriate circuit breaker. In case of any problem, one will know right where to go. Landscape work was accomplished this morning, including sprinkler repair and continued weeding and whacking.

Save the date! Planting and pizza party Thursday October 11. Plants are to be delivered next Thursday morning, thanks to our landscape architect and capital campaign working together, to beautify the area around the sign on the corner of 13th and Chambers. Thursday afternoon will be planting time. All who like to get their hands dirty are encouraged to come.

Quote of the Day:

“There’s no way this could possibly go wrong.” –Alexi Miller

Installing soffits

oct4 soffitts-t


Does this view make the soffits look longer?

oct4 soffitts2-t



Our ash trees are turning purple!

oct2 ash trees purple-t





I have been back long enough to walk around and appreciate more of the work that was done while I was away. I am impressed how much changes if one isn’t there for a week.

Tools have been removed, and carts of lumber and doors removed, and entire hallways have been cleared. The closets in the back hall are still full of RE stuff, but some day that will also be sorted. Some day also, doors will be installed. Meanwhile, we can rejoice in how good the hallways all look without building material storage.

The kitchen looks great. The back kitchen area with the dishwasher and three-compartment sink, has plastic board walls that can easily be wiped down, and a floor drain. The range hood is in and can be turned on. The plumbers should be back any day now to finish installation. The electricians are supposed to have an inspection at the end of this week, and inspections from the fire marshal, and mechanical and structural will be soon. Each visit will probably result in a short list of corrections, but the occupancy permit is looking closer every day. The air balancing has not been finished, but the company should send the crew back in a few days to finish.

oct2 outside lights-t


The Pillar has had the electricians install some lights on the outside wall of the building, in locations where it is relatively easy and inexpensive to do so (see photo above). The lights may not be as attractive as you would like but they were inexpensive and will brighten the area. When the soffits go in around the east and north sides (think “ceiling of the outside hallway), lights will be installed there. The lights are here but the manufacturer sent some wrong parts, so we are awaiting the correct ones. In any case, more outside light is coming, and you don’t have to wait for the sun to return in the spring.

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Our contractor volunteer has been working on installing track lighting fixtures in the sanctuary, staying ahead of the electricians (see photo above). He has also installed some cabinets in classrooms and has rebuilt the west storage area.

The BEST team had a building tour this afternoon to learn about building systems. They learned where the circuit breakers are and what each controls, how the thermostats and lights work, how the louver system in the skylights works, how to turn off the fire sprinklers in an emergency, where to find irrigation system shutoff valves, and many many more such critical details. The process of taking over running the building is mammoth.

The Building Transition Task Force is trying to coordinate the several “after occupancy” punch lists and wish lists and task lists, and then set priorities. Mostly we will be trying to resolve safety issues, provide for the children, and do whatever we can to make the building functional and beautiful with volunteers and without money.

A volunteer created a sign up sheet for the providing of food for volunteers. As long as volunteers are working on the building, we plan to have some kind of food for lunch. So far, people have signed up to provide fruit, sandwich makings, and snacks for the next two weeks. Check the clipboard on the windowsill in the kitchen.

The usual volunteers keep showing up. There is trim painting in numerous places. The sanctuary and social hall and classroom beams need to be lightly sanded and then have a clear finish painted on. There is still some high touch-up painting around the skylights here and there. As we have just one lift, and other things often get priority (such as getting the track lighting ready for the electricians), some of the high work is going to have to wait.

Quote of the Day:

When one has finished building one’s house, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know in the worst way – before one began.

–Friedrich Nietzsche

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