reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a coupling with no conscience. [two artists tuesday]

gasket (noun): a shaped piece or ring of rubber or other material sealing the junction between two surfaces in an engine or other device.

what the dictionary doesn’t tell you: gasket (noun): havoc-wreaker.

this small piece of black rubber wields some mighty power. its failure has made us dance for the last three days (and i’m not talking about good-dancing.)

we woke to the sound of water. a pleasant sound, we were suddenly aware that we, indeed, were not camping by a lovely mountain stream. instead, we were inside our home where the sound of unsolicited running water is reason enough for stomach flips and jumping out of bed. we are good at running around looking for the problem. we are not so good at what to do next.

we stared at it. the water on the carpet in the basement was an obvious problem. we quickly traced the dripping, er, flowing stream, to the cold water feed to the shower. and, because the very wise craftsmen who built this old house had the foresight to leave a tiny door in the closet on the main floor behind this feed, we found the culprit. the coupling! one coupling, without a conscience, failing us miserably.

we were wise enough to turn the water feed off – don’t overestimate the reaction of two artists in a plumbing emergency – and the water stopped. and then the fun began.

it takes a village to play plumber. we took pictures and sent panicky texts to innumerable friends who instantly wrote back advice and words of encouragement, channeling my sweet momma’s “you can do this.” we got to work, reading and re-reading the wisdom on our phones.

inside the coupling was this tiny gasket. it was no longer completely round and smooth. its edges were a little torn and battered. here was the problem. this havoc-wreaker had done its havoc-wreaking job and we were faced with the fallout.

the shopvacs whirring, we went after the water. over and over again, until it was possible to actually move the carpet. donning masks and rubber gloves after reading up on google what we artists should do in such a plumbing emergency, we released the carpet from its metal stripping and pulled it back (wet carpet is ridiculously heavy). though we were actually helping the carpet, the padding below was sopped.

using boxcutters like pros, we, garbage-bags-later, had the padding out and were accumulating all the plastic things we could find to lay out the carpet and dry it with fans – any and all fans we had.

we read that baking soda would help so we bought boxes and boxes of baking soda and sprinkled it generously like my mom would sprinkle confectionery sugar on her homemade crumbcakes. and then it was time to wait it out.

meanwhile, we went to see tom at the hardware store. he directed us to a gasket for 99 cents that we brought home and placed in-between the pipes. it’s not quite right – the gasket we had (heaven only knows how old it is) had some shape to it – like an o-ring attached to the gasket, filling in a round moat in the pipe (note the professional terms). this gasket was flat, so we are now looking for one that has this so-called built-in o-ring to fill in the moat. without that (or some other fix we are trying to figure out) there will always be a place for a tiny bit of water to go, squeezing microdrop by microdrop under the gasket and then worming its way out the coupling and then, terrifyingly, down the pipe where – if i even see one drop on the carpet i will freak out – it could land downstairs. anyway, after days of intense and concentrated effort, the crisis has been diverted, knock wood. (there’s been a lot of wood-knocking going on…)

now, the quest for the proper gasket. plumbing supply stores watch out!

*****

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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‘peanuts’ and my big brother.

as i type this on an ipad under a blanket on the couch, i am using a hard-cover book to steady the ipad….it is the charles schulz “peanuts treasury” copyrighted in 1968. now that is a kind of random bit of information, but its randomness makes me think of my big brother. and so whatever i was going to write has now gone by the wayside, getting lost in this ‘peanuts’ treasury of memories. wayne was an avid ‘peanuts’ follower, a lover of all fullsizerender2things charlie brown and snoopy, a wonderful artist and brilliant mathematician, a person who could make or fix all things. he papered his walk-in closet in our basement growing up with ‘peanuts’ cartoons, cut out of the newspaper. what wasn’t covered in cartoons was drawn by hand, and when i inherited this bedroom/closet combo from him at 16, i adored it. the wallboard in our garage had drawings by wayne, making it the only ‘peanuts’ garage-gallery on the block, ok, probably most anywhere.

what was so compelling to him about ‘peanuts’? i’m not sure. i never had a philosophical conversation with him about it. for me, 9 years younger than him, it was just a fact of life…he loved the cartoon. and if he loved it, that was good enough for me. i loved it.

having a cartoon we have been honing for some time, we have studied ‘peanuts’ in more recent days, david and i. looking for clues as to why it was so very successful. it seems obvious now. it was so relate-able, for so many reasons. simply written, predictable, cleanly done, beautifully drawn. ‘peanuts’ has spoken to so many of us through the years. and still does. it holds a certain special place in our hearts, reaching across decades and spanning generations. i recently was given a charlie brown mug from the charles m. schulz museum and research center in california – a gift from h, an older member of our choir who had just visited the museum – and i cherish it. wayne would have loved it.

years ago, a long while of years, i visited long island and went to my old house. as i sat out front in the car, the owners of the house pulled up into the driveway. without much hesitation, i went to them and told them that this was the house i had grown up in; my parents had been the first owners. they were the second owners. we stood out front and we chatted about the house -my-home-now-their-home- and how they had changed some of the interior and yard (but not the hand-placed rock fireplace or the forsythia out front or my poetry tree.)

i must have had a wistful look on my face, because they asked if i wanted to see it, go inside my house, er, their house. of course i did. who doesn’t want to go back to those old touchstones and feel – from the inside – times spent there.

they showed me the kitchen, which they had updated, the backyard deck, which they had added, the laundry room (of course, without the westinghouse dryer that played “how dry i am” upon finishing.) i talked about the basement. about the bedroom i had had there and the coolest closet my big brother had created. they laughed hearing that and said they had seen and loved it but had, indeed, changed it to a cedar closet for storage. i didn’t expect it to still be there, but i guess something inside of me had hoped for that.

once again, the look on my face must have said all.

they looked at each other and then back at me. “but you might want to take a look at the garage,” she said.

we walked out into the garage, just a one-car garage that they hadn’t changed. as i walked in through the door in the den, i looked at the wall behind me. the world war II flying ace snoopy graced the wallboard and charlie brown was there beside him. ‘peanuts’ had done it again. warmed my heart.

i reached out to touch the wall, moved, knowing my big brother’s hand had been there, many many years before.

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LAST I SAW YOU on iTunes: kerri sherwood – track 11 on THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY

 

 

 


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we watch hgtv. yep.

photo-5we watch hgtv. yep. at the end of a long day after rehearsals or writing or computer work, there is nothing like sitting down to watch chip and jojo and their fixer-upper show. as they say, they take the worst house in the best neighborhood and make it a lovely place for people to live. what’s not to like? jojo’s sensibility is much the same as mine – i have found and re-purposed items all over our house. in fact, i love that they are now called “re-purposed”….it makes me feel like the scavenging and saving i do is chic and in style. (even though i know there are people who would roll their eyes at my driftwood, rocks, dry weeds, pieces of desks and old frames, screen doors with mini lights, shutters, and old peeling-paint window frames gracing our walls, not to mention the smallest sneakers and toddler stride-rites from the girl and the boy hanging on doorknobs.) regardless, jojo makes all that stuff cool. so that’s a win for me.

we watch hgtv. yep. after watching any episode of hgtv (fixer-upper, house hunters, love it or list it, all the flipping shows) i walk around our house. every nook and cranny has meaning. i have lived in this house 27 years. that’s longer than i have lived anywhere. it is a great house. it’s old. built in 1929, it has lots of history and character. it’s a strong house. it has weathered lots of storms, both outside and in. its strength gives me strength. it has great light – the old windows in the front let in light from the south and the big window over the sink lets in the light from the north. i can see the sun rise over the lake when i sit on the roof and i can see the sun set over the west from my studio. photo-4when the wood floors were re-done many years ago, when asked if we wanted the cracks filled between the boards, i looked with horror at the workman asking that question. the irregular cracks are the best part of the floor. (which makes me think of the cracks around my eyes….i’m hoping the same rule applies…)

we watch hgtv. yep. we say ‘yikes’ at the prices of homes and the pickiness of the couples purchasing them. we cannot believe the things that they want to gut. it saddens me to think of the sturdy house – a home – that hears couples listing the areas of the house they want to tear out, redo, make better, make new, change. sometimes, the best things are the old things. case in point – our stove/oven is over 35 years old. no, it is not attractive…not stainless steel or gas or a fancy viking, but it has stubbornly cooked meals for me the last 27 years, never challenging me or making me run out to buy a new one. as a matter of fact, i wonder when i actually will get a new stove/oven. it seems wasteful to worry about it while this one continues to work, continues to make yummy food that people will eat, gathered with us around our old table.

we watch hgtv. yep. because we love home. we love to see other people love home too. and we love to see the staff of hgtv sell/build/restore/remodel/make home. it reminds me to walk around this old house and lovingly thank each nook and cranny.

because i love this house – this home.photo-6

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood