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damning ice-damming. [two artists tuesday]

there is a price to pay for having an adored old house. ours is 93 years old. sturdy, charming, with wood floors and crown molding, built-in cabinets and solid doors, details that wouldn’t necessarily be affordable in new construction. but then there’s that thing that many of these sweet old houses don’t have enough of — called insulation.

many’s the time i have been on a ladder in the winter with a hose that is stretched to the basement laundry tub spigot. just me and hot water tending to the ice in the gutters. one year, when it was a particularly big problem, big jim came over and performed magic. i remember driving to illinois to purchase the proper tools: heating cables (they were out in wisconsin stores) and one of those really long telescoping snow rakes. and now d has had the distinct pleasure of dealing with this as well. each fall now we check the gutter cables – i’m always holding my breath to make sure they are still working lest the winter comes and they cease being warm in the middle of ice-damming weather.

and ice-damming weather it is.

it’s not like i’m happy that other people are dealing with it, although there is a little bit of content that we aren’t alone in this. as we walk around the neighborhood or drive around town we point at houses and icicles, inches of solid ice clearly stoked up in the gutter, snow falling off roofs like icing sliding from a cupcake on a hot summer’s day. even newer houses and brand-new construction have ice-laden soffits and fascia. and i listen and just keep hoping i don’t hear the telltale drip-drip-drip sound somewhere inside the house; that is never a good thing.

my first experience was memorable. i was alone when i walked in the front door and could hear water literally pouring somewhere. thinking someone had left a faucet on, i immediately went to check the bathrooms, but the sound lured me directly to the sunroom where i stared at the scene that ice-damming had created. my dad and a friend, neither in town, provided some pretty healthy support over the phone for my first adventure on the perilous ladder perched on the icy deck with an unwieldy and uncooperative long garden hose that i had to first thaw from its frozen coiled state as i tried to win against mother nature and too little insulation. eventually, i did win, but not until i was solidly drenched in 20-degree temperatures and i had earned the nickname ‘hoser’ over my moral-support-suggestion-laden-phone-calls and their quest to keep me laughing.

another time, my son can attest to walking into the sitting room one day to find water coming in from above the windows. we both stared at the phenomenon (staring is a requirement as a first reaction in ice-damming). then we got to work with every spare towel we could find. so, yeah, it’s not like i’m happy other people are dealing with it (isn’t that something like schadenfreude?) but i am happy for company in misery. and i know that in the summer, when we are calmly sitting outside in adirondack chairs in the warm sun having an iced tea, these will be funny stories.

but now? this year? yes, i am still holding my breath. the ice is particularly stubborn and the temperatures are lingering in ice-damming territory. facebook posts are abounding with pictures of dammed ice (or “damned” ice, depending on your level of zen) and people’s comments are empathetic and knowing. i don’t remember this from long island at all. i blame wisconsin. nevertheless, in the words of my momma, “this too shall pass.”

i seem to be thinking about those words a lot these days.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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trees and angels. [merely a thought monday]

merely words framed copy

“how was your week?” jonathan asked.  we rolled our eyes.  he was unpacking his bass while i uncovered the piano and d adjusted the mic stands.  he said, “tell me about it.  you guys always have great stories!”  eh.  great stories.  more like mini soap operas, you might think schadenfreude applies here (where he might derive some pleasure from our angst) but on the total other side of the spectrum, we have agreed that jonathan is an angel.  i wonder if, as he drives away in his subaru outback, he turns the corner and POOF! he disappears.

“it’s ok,” he says.  “trees must split their bark to grow.  there is pain.”

i can’t remember ever truly thinking about this.  but…i immediately pictured a beautiful sapling, our own “breck”.  a baby aspen we brought back from colorado, we have been nurturing it for over a year now, watching it carefully -and proudly, like parents- through the seasons.  the smooth bark on its adolescent trunk glows in the sunlight and we worry as we see this summer take its toll on the young tree’s leaves.  we notice little scions near its base, our aspen sending out roots to perpetuate itself.

i think of all the walks in the woods, the trails in the forest, the old trees in our yard and neighborhood and i can picture the rough bark, the puzzle pieces up and down the trunk of each tree.  somewhere along time, these trees, too, had smooth skins.  and then, in growing, the cambium layer’s cells, just under the bark, divided and grew, adding girth to the tree’s diameter in the process.  the outer bark continued to protect this inner layer of growth.  the job of that outer bark is forefront, keeping the inner tree healthy, as it experiences pain from the environment.  and the tree grows.

the bark.  the cambium.  the heart of growth.  and angels.

thank you for the perspective-arranging, jonathan.  again.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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