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out that window. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

first glance would suggest this is a black and white photograph. an image taken through the window over our kitchen sink, a view i have seen first thing in the morning about 12,000 times and the last minutes at night just before turning out the kitchen light and moving into a time for sleep, about 12,000 times. and any time inbetween, in the day as morning marched into noon and noon glimmered into midday and midday waned into evening. each time, gazing out, about 12,000 times.

that is likely paralleling how well ansel adams knew the american west, images of wild and rugged yosemite etched into his heart. how many times this maestro of his art must have studied those vistas, photographing morsels and overviews, contrast and shading in all seasons. striking focus, his work inspires adventure-out-there-juju and, more importantly, an environmental awareness in these times of climate crisis. without color, the attention of the aperture pivots to grandeur, is not distracted, but is challenged by shape and line and form and composition.

taking a photograph through a window is different than taking it without some kind of membrane between photographer and subject. it gives space for other kinds of interaction. the play of reflection, the underside of raindrops, never-minding the swipe of window-cleaner-rags. opportunity to see, a unique peek into the familiar, wherever you might be.

this is not a black and white photograph. it is the stuff of october days heading full-steam toward november. it is the drear of rainy and damp and cold. it’s wishing 65 degrees was not vanishing into the calendar.

and yet, having looked out of that window maybe over 100,000 times all told, i know that the view, framed by a painted cornice, kitchen cabinets and our old porcelain sink, is different each day, that the days are not identical and never really the same, that change is always a constant. and that some days, when i point the camera out the window it will capture intense color, vibrant sun, blue sky, leaves the colors of fire and rust and squirrels running on the wire.

*****

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


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creaks and clunks. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

one of the things i love about our old house are the sounds it makes. it’s like the house is talking to us, saying hi, greeting us, reassuring us. i know that i, more than most, animate inanimate things, including our house. yesterday, i got a little weepy just talking about the possibility of a different vehicle beyond littlebabyscion – ahhh…connection is both joyful and painful in all things. our house is among those, sweet connection to its every square inch.

between our old wood floors creaking, the radiators clunking, the vinyl lap siding expanding in the sun, the rain dripping off the roof onto the window, the gutters’ last licks after a storm, and just general sounds of 1928 settling into 2021, we have a symphony in this home. when you aren’t familiar with a place, these are all passive sounds that could keep you up at night, and i remember when david was first here, questioning the sounds i no longer really heard, the ones that simply faded into the blanket of “home”.

it’s one thing to hear the click of the deadbolt on the front door or the screen door slam or the wooden step-step-step thunks or the whoosh of clothing streaking down the laundry chute – these are all active sounds caused by another person…explainable. it’s the other ones – especially in the wee hours – especially with an empty nest – the ones that take you by surprise, make your adrenaline race, make you wonder and imagine and maybe get a littlebitscared. those are the ones that made him sit up and take notice.

the funniest moment was when our beloved babycat – quite the large cat – was upstairs and decided to come down in the middle of the night. his descending the steps – thud-thud-thud-thud – made david sit straight up in bed, whispering, “there’s someone in the house!”. as he looked around, unsuccessfully, for a weapon (perhaps a bedside book or an iphone plugged in?), i couldn’t stop laughing.

it doesn’t take decades of living somewhere to intimately know a place, to intimately love a place. but, decades of living somewhere makes that place love you back.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SMACK-DAB SATURDAY MORNING

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old house symphony. [k.s. friday]

thwwwwwwwwwwunk. a distinctive sound. shhhhhhhhhhhhunk. another distinctive sound. the timbre of laundry in the laundry chute.

our old house has a two-story laundry chute: from the bathroom on the second floor through the bathroom on the first floor to the basement wooden trap door. for over three decades i have listened to laundry as it sings its way down the chute. it is likely i can identify – to a pretty close degree – what is traveling down to the land of the washer-dryer. i can tell if it is jeans. i can tell if it is socks. i can tell if it is a wet washcloth or a wet towel. i can tell it in the dark. i can tell it as a lark. oops…got carried away. but that is the truth – i can tell by the sound of the item as it brushes against the metal chute-frame and lands on the little wooden door. having had this highly-technical cutting-edge advantage for the better part of my adult life, i’m not sure what i would do without a laundry chute.

the radiator, in the middle of the night, often makes a thunking sound. it emanates from the sitting room, right off the bedroom and, were you to be easily freaked out by unfamiliar noises, you would sit up in bed, frozen and silent, wondering what critter was in the next room thunking. having heard this sound for thirty-something years, coming from radiators a third again old than i am, i am comforted by it, the single metallic-sounding drum-thump a piece of my audio history.

in the early days of owning this house, the wood-floor-guy asked if i wanted the spaces between the planks filled in or if i wanted him to place screws or shims into the wood from below so as not to hear the floor creaking. i was horrified at both ideas. the patina of the old floor, its stories, its life, and the sound of the old floor are all part of what i love about this house. i can’t imagine not hearing the wood floors creak. i never even wished that even in the middle of the night, what feels like a million years ago, just after my baby girl or my baby boy fell fast asleep, just after i laid her or him back in the crib, as i tiptoed out of the nursery hoping to not wake them, trying to avoid the floorboards that made the most noise. i just memorized the boards that were the greatest offenders and long-jumped them. they are the house speaking, the stories it holds dear.

d says i hear better than he does. the gutter’s funny dripping sound, the click of the ceiling fan, the sound the swinging door in the dining room makes, a little water in the pipes, the back screen door squeak, the vinyl siding expanding in the sunlight, the front door lock latching, the pantry closet closing, the boiler kicking on, the old oven opening, the chain on the basement door, the glass knob from the french door falling off.

i just say that i am listening to the symphony of this old house and i’m just a little more tuned in.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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everyone else. [two artists tuesday]

rustic bread

everyone else baked artisan breads in march or april.  we baked it in june.  well, specifically, david baked bread in june.  i merely had to watch the process, savor the wafting of baking-bread through the house, tear off a chunk and devour it.

he’d been talking about it for a while, that he wanted to bake bread.  this loaf is gluten free – he adapted it from a rustic bread recipe of bill’s.  bill baked bread in april and then moved on to homemade gnocchi.  a bit trend-resistant, we picked up the dangling carrot at the tail end of bread baking so posting this picture feels somewhat passe.

we aren’t so much everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-we-have-to-do-it people.  we are artists so that’s our first excuse.  our second excuse is that we are often not pop-culture-informed.  that was much easier for me when my children were right here, keeping me in the loop.  if cnn or aarp aren’t talking about it, if it’s not in our itunes or the stacks of cds and records we own, we are swimming upstream.  third, we tend to make do.  as a child of the infamous soap-sock beaky-beaky, who had a mantra of saving new things “for good” and turned bottles of shampoo upside down for weeks draining the last vestiges out, making do is an inbred way of life.

baking bread was no exception.  until june.  when we wholeheartedly jumped on the well-vetted train, rice-flour-research in hand.  voila.  heaven-in-a-loaf-of-bread, we wondered why we hadn’t done it sooner.

everyone else had an iphone.  i was one of the last dedicated razor-phone fans.  i could text with my eyes closed, even using the phone keypad without an a-z keyboard.  and then my children bought me an iphone.  a convert, i wondered why i didn’t get one sooner.

everyone else has granite countertops.  ok, or marble.  our kitchen is old but i’ve made over 11,300 breakfasts and 11,300 dinners in it and this sweet old kitchen has had over 33,000 days nurturing its families.  we chop and saute and mix and fry and bake and roast and pour – all successfully – in this old kitchen every day.  maybe someday we’ll have different counters.  and we’ll wonder why we didn’t change them sooner.

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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doorknobs and doors. [two artists tuesday]

doorknobs

it doesn’t matter that they aren’t now attached to doors.  a display of doorknobs, all lined up at an antique shoppe, beg you to wonder what doors they opened.  what old house was it that had all its doorknobs changed?  are the doors still there?  these knobs removed; knobs that likely welcomed sticky toddler fingers, trembling arthritic hands, dutifully, solidly a part of history.  what new hardware has replaced these knobs that had countless hands turning, opening, passing through?

the joy of having an old house is just that – the history of what has gone before you.  how many times was this closet door opened?  how many people passed through the front door?  how many times did someone come home and walk in, close the back door and sigh?

we cannot think of doorknobs without thinking of doors.  we have 22 doors in our old house, a few less than when we bought it, and not counting cabinetry.  we have extra doors in the basement.  beautiful solid six panel doors, some sporting their knobs, some knob-naked.

i think about the rooms of this home that they all have led to, these doors, the conversations that took place in those rooms.  the babies, the plans, the family elders.  the hugs and cherished moments, the arguments, the worry, the celebrations, each room a time capsule of lives lived in this very place.  doors in, doors out.  how much did a hand hesitate to open or close the door?

the metaphor is obvious – doorknobs and doors.  the old and wise adage – “when one door closes, another opens.”  the words sometimes seem like hollow reassurance.  and i look up the adage and realize that there is more to this and is quoted by alexander graham bell, “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

the patina of the knobs shows wear.  hands, hands, grasping and turning, opening.  each door an invitation to the next moment, whatever that moment might be.  choosing a door, choosing to walk in.  standing.  waiting.  hesitating.  we often wonder about the doors.  maybe paralyzed with indecision, with grief, with confusion, we often pine after a door.  we are often blind.

those doorknobs.  if only they could speak.  the stories they could tell, the lessons we could learn.

read DAVID’S THOUGHTS this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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