reverse threading

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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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a house remembers. [two artists tuesday]

a house

there is a screen door that i am lusting over.  it sits outside an antique shoppe, subject to the rain and snow, sun and wind.  one of these days we will take big red over there and purchase it; the test is that i am still thinking about it.  we have no idea where we will put it.  but there is something about it; it has a story and that story will always be a mystery to us.  giving that door a home again will add to its journey, its history.

last night i had a dream.  it was, as dreams are, fraught with inconsistencies and unlikelinesses, but i remember one thing about it in particular.  in my dream, david handed me a check he had received from someone.  someone, presumably the person who wrote the check, had scratched out the address and, all along the top of the check, had written in a different address:  my growing-up-on-long-island address.  i was delightedly startled and pressed david to tell me about the person who clearly now lived in this cherished house, but, in the way that dreams make both little sense and all the sense in the world, he was unable to give me any more information.  what i know is that it left me with a reassurance of the feeling from that house.  it was a reminder of a time gone by, a time woven deeply into who i am and, for that house, the fabric of about two decades of our family.

houses remember.  and you can feel it.  the moment i walked into our house i knew.  this was the place i wanted to live; this was the place i wanted to have the next part of my life.  this house had all good things to offer; i wanted to sustain its story.   i suspect it would have been easier to have purchased a brand new home way back then, something pristine and customized to our needs.  something that had a sparkling new kitchen or an attached garage, central air conditioning or an open floor plan.

but this house said, “wait.  don’t go.  give me a chance.  i can offer you a lifetime of sturdy foundation.  i can tell you i have been there in the light and in the dark times.  i can be a safe place for you.  i can hold you and celebrate you and listen to the laughter of your children.  you can walk on my old wood floors and keep food in my old pantry.  you can have dogs and cats and they can run circles through my rooms and children can push or ride plastic wheeled toys round and round hall-kitchen-dining room-living room.  you can use my rooms as you need.  a nursery with a singing-to-sleep-rocking-chair can later be a studio with a big piano; i can rejoice in listening.  you can sit in my south-facing living room and delight in the sun streaming in the windows.  i know it will need a little tuck-pointing down the road, but you can burn all the torn-off-the-packages-christmas-wrappings in the old fireplace. you can paint and redecorate and remodel as you wish for it won’t change how i feel.  i can be your house.  and i, even someday when you have moved on to somewhere else, will always remember you.”

we really need to go get that old screen door and add it to the story of our house.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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