It may be "a long, long time from May to December" when you sing "September Song," but the time from May to September has been a blur for me this year.

The reason? My husband, Grit, and I have been building a house.

The decisions that must be made one after the other on things that we will look at every day — or at least until we sell the house — and they have sometimes come in rapid-fire succession.

The result has caused me, once a willing shopper, to balk at even picking up toothpaste at the grocery store.

It is just one too many decisions.

Family and friends warned us that this was not an endeavor for sissies, especially sissies who had only been involved in remodeling.

Now before I go further, let me say that I am well aware of how fortunate we are to have an opportunity to build a new house. I grouse not about the opportunity but the daunting building process.

As I look back at the beginning — when we first started working with our architect — I laugh at my naivete.

I purchased a few of those house-plan books and searched through them.

What a waste.

Those homes are designed to fit on an evenly shaped lot; ours is shaped like a kite.

But ya gotta start somewhere, because eventually you'll be responsible for choosing every detail.

Friends and family advised hiring a designer.

I didn't.

And that caused family and friends to avoid my house, because I would feed them or visit for a while and then make them look at my house stuff.

I must thank two of those long suffering friends, Anne Marie Barton and Heidi Skidmore, both of whom are designers who kindly offered advice whenever I asked.

Another plus is our builder, Tom Schmitt, who shows up daily to oversee the details. Was it providence — or luck — in finding someone so diligent?

Doesn't matter, I'll take either.

What Grit and I have learned from the process is no matter what answer was needed, the buck really did stop with us.

In that way it has been a good experience working together because, up to this point, we have led parallel lives.

He made the business decisions and I made the house decisions — very Cleaver-like.

During this project, Grit has patiently gone from model house to model house looking for ideas when it was the next to last thing he wanted to do. (The last is clothes shopping.)

Watching the house being framed was such a rush.

The crane operator would lift the already assembled rafters and place them like a puzzle on top of the walls to form the roof. The framers would jump from wall to wall, swinging the pieces around to fit in the proper place.

One day there was a slab and the next day there was a framed house.

It was quite amazing.

Another thing we learned was the value of skilled craftsmen, especially honest, hard-working ones.

The copper wires on the long runs from the junction box up to the rafters were cut and stolen. That was disheartening — and expensive — and it made us feel somewhat violated, dampening our excitement for a time.

We watched as the young electricians returned and tirelessly ferreted out which wires had been stripped, making certain there would be no surprises when it came time to turn on the lights.

And we watched with new appreciation the expertise of the plumbers, the drywallers and all the other people that it takes to turn cement and wood into a house.

An unknown author once said, "It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home."

Now comes the hard part — turning it from a house to a home.

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