Baby Steps

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I’d had a bit of difficulty as I moved from the writing and into the stitching and gluing tier of The Plain Bible project. After transcribing the 1611 King James Version of the Bible over the past seven years, I had gotten pretty comfortable with simply the process of executing the penmanship. It’s not as if I had never bound a book before. It’s that I needed to revisit the steep learning curve and remind myself to take “baby steps.”

The reminder came in the form of helping my daughter to move back into her Manhattan apartment. There had been a sub-letter who had not cleaned a modicum of dust or tracked-in street dirt for the three years he’d lived there. The hair of multiple cats seemed to also find its way into the oven.

The first thing that had to be done was to call in a cleaning crew to remove the uppermost layers of grime. This required more than one seven-hour visit. There was no way of walking barefoot on the floor until that chore had been completed. The broken fixtures and door locks would have to wait until a completed punch list could be prepared for the building’s handyman, although replacing an electric bulb socket in the extremely high ceiling of the bathroom was deemed a priority. I showered there in the near darkness. I only recommend it for vampires.

My contribution was to help my daughter get her clothes unpacked, folded, and put into dressers that were full of things that had to first be thrown away. Upon filling numerous black garbage bags of the sub-letter’s refuse, it was necessary to employ the hose of a vacuum cleaner to suck out the corners of the drawers of grit and dead moths. (If anyone has a foolproof method for keeping the pesky little creatures at bay, please let me know. Otherwise we intend to resort to mothballs.) After several cycles of heaving and purging had come to an end, the bedroom was almost serene. There is still more work to do in there, but it encourages hope for the living room and the kitchen. At the moment there is a distant vision of a decorating scheme beginning to take shape – distant.

Back at my own desk, I think now of the experience with my daughter’s apartment. I slowly stitch twine onto the holes of elegant paper that I’ve painstakingly driven through with my tiny needles. However, while remembering our wait for cleaning crews, building maintenance, and negotiating with painting contractors, electricians, and the like, it becomes apparent that there needs be an order toward the completion of things.

I’m simultaneously learning that, in the process of hastily preparing The Plain Bible for its final debut, I’ve created an invitation for knots and snags that must be carefully undone. I now know that trying to rush through this task will only create more chaos. (I’m wondering if the hose of my daughter’s vacuum cleaner might be more effective than the employment of my splitting fingernails.) As far as the gluing goes, I may have gotten a little bit ahead of myself. I’ll have to keep my habits of over working a simple solution in check. What do they say? “Less is more?” I’m sure this applies to glue.

Laura and I are already considering how to best decorate the book covers as we slowly approach a nearly unseeable end. I’m coming to realize that there is still a ways to go as I count all the baby steps that still must be taken. It’s almost daunting. But daunting though it may be, it’s how we all finally accomplished the art of walking, to say nothing of the running?

As published in the September 2013 issue of "St. Peter's Press," the monthly newsletter of St. Peter's Presbyterian Church in Spencertown, New York.