reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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more barn-red and grey after the black and white. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we are beginning to see more of this: the basement floor. more clear space.

as you know, it is a slow process, tedious, actually. and it is not something he can do with me. this is mine to do. for most of what is down there – in the recesses and the corners, tucked into old built-in cupboards and in, yes, bins and boxes and even bags, precedes him. he is happy to help, but it is somewhat a moot point, as the decisions are mine and he respects that.

it’s not just a little bit of pressure, not just a little bit of work. black and white decisions that aren’t really black and white.

you are weary of reading about this, i suspect. skip today, i would suggest. the basement clean-out is not a short story – it’s an epic tale, really – and, if you find any form of redundancy abhorrent, you will be tallymarking-in-your-mind the number of times i am talking about this. this will be a tallymark mess, cross-hash upon cross-hash, the slashes accumulate.

a few days ago i turned the inner cardboard tube of a roll of wrapping paper upside down. more birdseed than i am comfortable with fell out. i suppose you are wondering how much birdseed-saved-in-the-wrapping-paper-roll i find acceptable. well…really…none…as we are not the ones saving birdseed in that manner and it brings to mind the question of a city of dwellers below us about whom we know nothing. they live in the barn-red-grey zone in silence and anonymity, leaving tiny clues behind in their stash. i wonder what they think of the rest of the stash down there, most of which they are not likely to be able to get to – the bins of barbies and matchbox cars, the mementos and art projects my children created in elementary school, every story they ever wrote or note they penned me or the overalls that were ever-so-adorable on my son, the pink dress so sweet on my daughter. maybe they are intrigued with the antiques, the tools, the not-oft-used kitchen appliances. they are hoping to be invited to the next cornhole bags game, the next bocci ball tournament, the next badminton skirmish, the next time the pingpong table is set up and ready-to-go. they are gazing at the collection of pingpong balls, golf balls, tennis balls, baseballs, soccer balls, thinking the upstairs-dwellers have a pension for round things. surely they are impressed with the stacks of boxes of shrink-wrapped cds, though they are more likely mp3 critters and, being 2022-born, roll their beady little eyes at the mere mention of cds and cassettes. i’m guessing our tiny visitors actually have no opinions about all this and clearly no interest whatsoever in the 8-track player or the record albums. they are not thready nor are they sentimental. they were simply seeking places to stash their seed-findings.

yes, i will need a new broom…one of those angle ones that gets into the corners. there is much to be swept.

in time, there will be more floor. barn-red and grey. i have to get past the black-and-white of it all first.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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not so ruthless. [two artists tuesday]

i dare not hang them inside (or even on the actual front of the house, for that matter). but they will find their place. my mom and dad’s old christmas lights were in the bottom christmas bin in the storage room in the front of the basement. all bins had to be moved for the water utility folks to replace our water line so it seemed a decided task to go through the bins and, maybe – if i could find any ruthlessness – pare it all down a bit.

this is not a task for the nostalgic.

my digging and sorting and organizing and paring-notparing-paring-notparing down was like listening to all the old christmas record albums at once. it was frank sinatra and the carpenters and jim nabors and the firestone orchestra and chorus and herb alpert and the tijuana brass and dean martin and john denver and bing crosby and julie andrews and burl ives and doris day. it was old glass ornaments sprinkled liberally with glitter and felt cut into homemade trees with elmer’s-glue-laden-decorations. it was golden angels and hardened flour-water wreaths and crocheted bells and plastic poinsettia corsages and thick red yarn for stringing. it was cloves and pomegranate seeds and macaroni and tinsel and sugar-coating and silver sleighbells and styrofoam snowmen. it was crayon-printed “kirsten” and “craig” signatures, old red stockings-to-hang and fuzzy santa hats. tree skirts and tablecloths. rogers’ christmas house treasures and andrea’s christmas candle bubble nightlights. gift tags with long stories in a simple “from”.

as i was standing over those bins on thursday and friday, half my body buried deep into the bottom of the piles, i came upon a snowman ornament. “to kerie, from patrick” read the gift tag i had saved in the box from circa 1982, a gift from a piano student to me, his teacher. i took a picture and sent it to patrick, now my friend across the country on instagram. instantly, i had one of those heart rushes you get when you stumble across something tiny yet just simply precious. reaching out and letting him know seemed obvious. (not to mention a distraction when i needed one.)

i pulled my sweet parent’s vintage lights out and, because of that way that wires entangle even in the best of circumstances, i took my time detangling. i plugged each strand in, tightening the bulbs and removing the ones that had burned out. on the dining room table, i put together one long strand with working bulbs and made a decision. this year – as opposed to most all other years – i would wrap our front porch rail with memories. i would carefully place each old bulb so everyone passing could revisit a time long ago, decades in fact, a simpler time. i would succumb to the multi-colored-lights this year. on purpose. and after the new year, i will gently place them back in one of the bins, next to the painted-glass ornaments and the trees made of construction paper and paste.

and though next year we’ll likely go back to white twinkling happy lights out front, i will always remember the multi-colored lights and the enormity of love-filled stories and i will – just-as-always – know they will be a treasured part of my heart.

there were three overstuffed bins when i started. with a few things to donate and much in bags to dispose of, there are neater, tidier, more organized bins now. but there are still three.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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their slippers. [two artists tuesday]

slippersbw

linda and jim were doing the swedish death cleanse.  linda was determined to de-clutter their home of anything that could potentially burden their children one day.  once on a mission there is no stopping her, so they were diligent about going through every corner, nook and cranny of their home, eliminating anything that was not needed, anything that hadn’t been used in ages or was just simply extraneous.

now, we all talked about that around the table.  with the sun setting on lake michigan and wine in our glasses, our little neighborhood group discussed how hard it is to let go of things,  especially things that have some meaning or are mementos of some sort.  add to that the fact that many of us were raised by parents who had experienced the great depression and you have people who are pre-destined to keep stuff, repurpose it, re-use it, save it for sometime you might need it, save it for when it comes back into fashion so you don’t have to buy it again, etc etc etc.  (that’s definitely my experience and my excuse.)

many times i have entered the basement storage room and gazed at the bins.  in years past, we have eliminated most of the boxes and traded them for these bins, throwing out some things, giving away some things, donating items that are useful, so we have made some progress.  now there are bins with christmas ornaments, bins with artwork and stories and projects created by The Girl or The Boy, bins of things my sweet momma felt too guilty to give away, bins of sewing paraphernalia, bins of art supplies, bins of old music (for everyone gives the musician they know all the old sheet music they come across in their own basement and then that musician, who feels like it’s a mortal sin to throw music out, is compelled to keep it all in file cabinets or, yes, bins.)

from time to time i get a wild hair and go through a bin or random remaining box or pile in the basement workroom.  sometimes i am pretty successful at eliminating clutter.  trust me – i have been in peoples’ homes who have been hoarders and just seeing that makes me want to get rid of everything and live in a tiny house (well, one that would fit my piano.)

this winter perhaps we will tackle this once again.  one more layer of cleaning out.  it is possible.  it’s just tough for me to be ruthless.  i am too thready to be ruthless.  touching memories or seeing them around me is reassuring and fills my heart.

one day in more recent days i went upstairs to look for something in the closet in the hallway.  on the top shelf sat these slippers.  stored here, they are my sweet momma’s and my poppo’s.  they kept them here for when they would visit.

i know that they won’t visit our home again.  noticing the slippers stopped me in my pursuit of whatever-it-was-i-was-looking-for.  all the moments of having my parents present in my home swirled around me, the finality once again a reality.  i struggled with what to do.  i took them out of the closet and brought them downstairs to show d.

laying them carefully on the floor, i took this picture so that i could look at it and remember.  and then, i placed them in a bag so that someone else – a woman with smaller feet than mine and a man with bigger feet than d’s –  could have slippers.  slippers with a bank of memories.  slippers worn hugging my children as they grew.  slippers worn around the christmas tree.  slippers worn in the cold winter sitting by the fire or in the summer drinking morning coffee on the deck.  slippers that lived here, just waiting for their owners, my beloved parents, to put them on.  slippers with big heart.  slippers with profoundly good juju.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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