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kitchenaid, oh, kitchenaid. [k.s. friday]

a good self-actualizing refrigerator and freezer will keep things cold and frozen, respectively, and have no further issues. the job is simple.

now, there are fancy fridges and run-of-the-mill fridges…side-by-sides, french-door-bottom-freezer models, freezer-on-top standards, retro fridges, beverage center fridges, deep built-in fridges…but the one thing they have in common is keeping things cold, keeping things frozen. so, leaking water onto the floor is not in the list-of-things-to-do for a fridge/freezer combo that has any self-respect.

which brings me to the last two years of our kitchenaid.

back in 2013 i spent a literal fortune on a stainless steel french-door-bottom freezer refrigerator because suddenly, after merely 24 years, my fridge had failed. there is limited space in our old kitchen where the fridge goes so i had to choose carefully, measuring tape and measurements in hand.

they installed the new shiny fridge and, i have to tell you, i felt fancy. gleaming stainless steel, sunlight reflecting off its french doors, bottom freezer the coolest-invention-ever, i was pretty darn excited, despite the monthly payment to the temporary credit card issued by the local appliance store. classy fridge and all, i moved on in life.

seven years later, this fridge, that i have babied with stainless steel cleaner and soft cloths, began to weep onto the wood floor.

there was no reason for it to weep. on the contrary, i should have been weeping as i watched rust spots accumulate on its no-longer-gleaming doors. stainless steel that is not stainless. when i asked kitchenaid about the rust spots and streaks, they said, “we’re sorry you’re experiencing rust on your stainless steel fridge. we recommend using stainless steel cleaner.” well, hello. that’s the only thing i have used, frequently enough to have to purchase and re-purchase. somehow i am not feeling their remorse or sympathy.

but, back to the water-on-the-floor. the opening credits of the pandemic on the screen of life, we were not anxious to bring in a service rep, so i googled. there was a gigantic sheet of ice under the drawer of the freezer – and this was leaking onto the floor. apparently, this is a common problem. (which begs the question why this is not addressed.) i defrosted the freezer and fridge, cookie sheet catching the icebergs as i rubber-spatula-ed them off of the freezer floor. cleaned everything, dried it all off, stainless-steel cleaned the doors and body for good measure and turned it back on.

and now? i am doing this every four to six weeks. but i have it down to a science. i use this tiny fan that my sweet poppo made, a rube-goldberg special the rpms i could not guess but the pitch of the whir tells me it’s mighty fast. i only thaw the freezer floor – so i only need one larger cooler for the freezer food and i don’t open the fridge. i wipe it all down (there’s no chance for it to get icky these days) and turn it all back on.

yesterday morning…merely nine days since the last great-thaw…we woke to puddles under the fridge, clearly having a meltdown (no pun intended). we are increasing the defrost-the-freezer-frequency and looking up appliance repairmen.

my conversation with kitchenaid was…interesting and very, very long. they promised to send me a part on the 22nd. a couple days ago i checked on this. they told me the information i provided does not match their records. so i am at ground zero again. no irony there. zero. the degrees the freezer is set at.

i just don’t know. it goes without saying they just don’t make things the way they used to.

kitchenaid is leaving my heart cold.

*****

I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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vintage. [two artists tuesday]

the last time i bought a brand new car – right off the lot – was 2003 or 2004. littlebabyscion was almost brand new – with 250 miles on it and that was in 2006. the new-car-smell and negotiating with salespersons and then, of course, their managers…both memories in the distant past.

littlebabyscion is getting up there. 260somethingthousand miles on it now. wrinkles and groans and a little rust here and there and a few mechanical issues here and there, it’s a workhorse that just refused to start last friday. dashboard lights i don’t think i have seen before appeared right before my eyes. we suspect the alternator.

but – in our one car driveway – there LBS sat…in back of big red, blocking the path out.

the jumpstart hooked up to big red made LBS chortle. starting for a moment and trying to chug the engine alive, it stalled and the handbook and google informed us to “go to the scion dealer” and do not pass go. our truly amazing mechanic steve will be its destination when the tow truck comes.

but – on friday – we were left without any transportation.

saturday we pushed the scion down the driveway toward the apron and managed to thread big red through the space between the old brick wall and the front of LBS. the only way out was across the yard, but the yard – all trenched and mounded up from the water line replacement – has seen better days anyway. we rolled our eyes looking at the tire tracks across the snow in our front yard. david suggested moving the couch out front.

we have some real old stuff. between a 1998 ford f150 and our xb and our vw and our stove and mixing bowls and corningware and this very laptop – not to mention hand-me-downs and never-been-replaceds, we qualify as our own antique shoppe. when seeking a replacement adapter cord, the woman on the apple support line told me that my computer was “vintage” and that they didn’t even carry the cord for it. (she was actually wrong about that part as i directed her attention to the correct cord on the apple store.) see…you can rube goldberg things and keep them going when need be.

and as two artists for the majority of our lives – in between and in conjunction or simultaneously with other positions and career arcs – rube goldberging is of necessity. i’d like to also think of it as having a smaller carbon footprint. admittedly, the efficient energy consumption of a new stove vs the half-life of a decomposing stove in a dump somewhere leaves much room for debate. but we, as artists, don’t always have the luxury of replacing things at whim – or even in a longer term plan – and we try to do our best at being responsible citizens of this beautiful world.

i asked steve once what we were going to do when littlebabyscion reached 300,000 miles. he looked at me, surprised, and said, “keep driving it.”

yes, yes. i suppose we will.

we pushed littlebabyscion back up the driveway so big red could fit.

it may be time to start planning for new grass.

*****

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fragile and crucial. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“and someday the light will shine like a sun through my skin and they will say, what have you done with your life?  and though there are many moments i think i will remember, in the end, i will be proud to say, i was one of us.” (story people)

nature has no pretenses. it isn’t trying to be all-that. no keeping-up-with-the-joneses. it just is. it’s truth at its core. it is color in all spectrums, bold and diffused, opaque and transparent.

this aspen leaf lay at the edge of the lake. no longer vibrant green or golden yellow or even toasted brown, it lay, waiting to be seen. light shining through it; it was exposed. and ever so brilliant. i knelt down and studied the veining, intricate and delicate, fragile and crucial.

my sweet poppo, in his latest years around 90, had delicate skin, seemingly transparent. this man, strong and never afraid of hard work, became more fragile and his arms – that had cut down trees and repaired volkswagens and tiny bulova watch fixings and rube-goldberged nearly anything and made coffee every morning for my momma and drove mopeds in early retirement and whirled me around the ice rink and gently held his grandchildren – turned translucent, telling stories of his life. his eyes, unclouded, spoke those memories – the beloved tales of family, the challenges of being a prisoner of war in world war two, the upstate water hole, the waterfowl games out their back lanai. no pretenses.

i suppose we will all lose our color at some point. we will become more gauzy and our veneer will start to fade. maybe it’s in those moments that we realize that none of it – the veneer and the joneses – really mattered. that all that was important was being. through all the phases – all the color – all that was important was life, clear and true. and that it was fragile and crucial all along.

*****

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she-birds. [merely-a-thought monday]

“old birds have stronger wings.” (aarp magazine)

“but grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” (anne lamott)

resilience. strength. sisu.

we have flown through many storms, we have weathered many droughts and much deluge. we have built nests from scratch and we have re-built them again. we have given birth through birth canals and through love choices. we have sought security and food for our young when security and food were scarce. we have attached wings to ideas and rube-goldberg solutions; we have made do. we have made piss-poor decisions and grandiose ones that have changed everything. we have broken treasures and fixed stuff; we have learned reverse threading. we have been emotional and we have necessarily let go. we have withstood fires of damaging words and we have recuperated from physical blows to our body, our sexuality, our hearts. we have tried to understand, we have been seekers of closure in times of strife. yet, even without understanding or closure, we have kept on keeping on. we are soon old birds and we have stronger wings.

because life, as life, presents gain and loss, winning and losing, achievement and failure, rich and poor, rising and falling, young and old, crepey and supple elasticity, as juxtapositions, as two sides of a pendulum ever-swinging, we have been measured in these competing narratives.

but we are aging birds with wings who have felt the sun of more than twenty-thousand mornings, the moon’s gravitational pull of decades, the grace of time and gardens through fallow and fruit. we are aging birds who have both soared and plummeted. we are aging birds who do not need the measure of others for our definition, for defining ourselves, continuing to learn, takes enough time and is complex enough.

we imagine unicorns in clouds, names in the stars of the galaxy. we catch the scent of sunshine on a wafting breeze and listen to the calls of mourning doves, wondering. we have come a long way. the path we have taken has not been straight. we have been courageous and we have been tenacious. we have flapped our way to here. we proudly wing our way forward, ever-forward. we are ever-stronger.

*****

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bubbles for epic and tiny. [two artists tuesday]

we grew attached to epic and tiny.

each day we would walk to the edge of our pond and look for the two frogs hiding in the rocks or sunning in plants in which they blended.

we’ve had frogs in our pond before. and, at the time that ice starts to form on the top of our tiny waterhole, we have removed the filter and stored it away. we’re not sure where exactly the frogs go, but research shows us that they are intrepid creatures who will burrow underground or under the debris of a pond. some portions of a frog’s body will freeze during the winter, stored glucose preventing vital organs from freezing, the frog waking from its frozen slumber in the warming spring days. wow. research also shows that they need oxygen and the bubbler of the filter system will keep harmful gases from accumulating and, hopefully, will keep the pond from freezing over completely.

we decided that was worth a try.

we dug our pond in 2013 and have had the same equipment ever since. when a tree landed on the pond in the backyard a few years back, monster glue came to the rescue and, each year since, david has rube-goldberg-ed the pond’s fixings back together again to last for one more season.

with everything that 2020 has been, we felt like we really needed to give our frogs, the only houseguests we had all spring, summer and fall, a fighting chance. we decided to leave the filter on and the bubbler bubbling.

and now we cross our fingers.

because every little thing counts this year – a year fraught – – –

there seems no need to even finish that sentence. each of us has our own story of this year’s challenges and disappointments. each of us, hopefully, has at least one success, one victory, one moment of bliss.

but, admittedly, the sighs that have been the soundtrack of 2020 are plenty. we have all been inundated with them.

we are choosing also to remember the bubbling of the pond out the back window and the croaking of two sweet frogs who found their way into our little pond. and we are hoping to see them again, croaking and sunning, when the spring comes.

these bubbles are for you, epic and tiny.

*****

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it’s where i’m from. [k.s. friday]

i come from make-it-work stock. my sweet momma and poppo were children of the great depression and were not wasteful sorts. soap socks, squeezing every last vestige of shampoo from the bottle, re-using boxes, rube-goldberg fixes, not a lot of retail therapy. they made do with what they had and never complained. latest trends were mostly lost on them and competing for the best lawn/decor/car/wardrobe/jewels/stuff was not a thing. as the youngest child, with siblings much older than me who both married by the time i was eleven, i had much time to glean and learn to mimic their ways. making-it-work. it’s where i’m from.

and so now, empowered by these two forces of nature – my mom and my dad – with a new brace on my wrist, i am making do. after breaking both wrists the end of january in a snowboarding accident, i finally had healed fractures. the pandemic had interrupted all my occupational therapy and, thus, i’ve been frustrated by a lack of range of motion in my right wrist, so my old brace was often my companion. but i made it work. it’s where i’m from.

and then i fell.

the floor was wet and, unfortunately, unmarked as such. my feet flew out from underneath me and, in natural reflex action, i fell…on my right wrist. i felt right away something was wrong but waited to contact my dr for 48 hours, hoping for quick residing of the new pain. i’m pretty tough and it takes a lot for pain to get to me. d says i have a high tolerance for pain. i blame my mom and dad. they were tough and endured much in their lives. but this isn’t a post about my wrist – soon an MRI and a hand specialist will tell me what is now going on, post-fall. in the meanwhile, i keep on keeping on, just the same as after i simultaneously broke both wrists. making do. it’s where i’m from.

as we hiked along trails in aspen’s woods of color, we mused on how easily we were, well, amused. simply hiking, sitting alongside a creek, smelling the scent of autumn forest – these things were sheer entertainment for us. no restaurants, no bars, no shops, no shows required. (and, in the middle of a pandemic, not even considered.) i thought of all the times i had spent simply being outside, picking apples with my momma and poppo, taking drives, having picnics in parks at wooden tables carved with initials of people we would never know. as we sat around the table out on the balcony or socially-distanced in the condo, i thought of all the times i just spent simply coffee-sitting with my mom and dad, talking long over dinner, late-night conversations on the phone. as my daughter and i talked about my parents, her beaky and pa, i thought of their sacrifices, of their belief in all peoples regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, religion. i thought of their altruism, their open-mindedness, their embracing of new ideas and their love of learning new things and going new places, and i see their eyes reflected in both my daughter’s and son’s eyes. it’s where i’m from. and it’s where they’re from.

as we approach this very important time of voting, i worry about the narrative others are hearing, but not researching. i worry about the rhetoric coming from this white house, the absolute lies, the warping of truths, the sickening twist of stories, the re-defining of the definition of words, the lack of understanding, the self-serving agenda, the out and out falling prey to gross exaggerations of misinformation. i worry about those people listening to this, believing it, voting with this toxic barrage of falsehoods in their hearts.

and i think about my mom, who always, always, always said, “look it up.” yes. look further. research. find objective, factual resources and immerse in those. look. it. up.

yes. make do. look it up. it’s where i’m from.

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it’s not a problem. [merely-a-thought monday]

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my poppo would likely have agreed with sue aikens.  he was a solution-finder.  i will, right-here-and-now, brag about his ability to fix absolutely anything; he would find a way, even if he had to make it up.  well, mostly because he made it up.

i’m not sure how he learned everything he learned; his knowledge base was incredibly practical.  give him any problem and it became a challenge for him – an undertaking he never-ever thought of as insurmountable…it was simply a solution he hadn’t yet found.  and so, i hear sue aikens (of national geographic’s life below zero fame – living a solitary life out on the arctic, solving problems i will likely never encounter) and i think of my dad, whose list of favorite places on earth included his workbench out in the garage (or in the basement in earlier years when they lived up north.)  he saved every screw and nut and bolt and tool that crossed his path “just in case”.   he was a re-purposer before it was vogue.  and he was an expert at turning cardboard boxes inside out or fashioning a new box from old in order to ship or store any thing.  his rube goldberg fixes were always pretty amusing, but they all worked and i can hear him in my head pondering and strategizing when i look at something-that-needs-fixing.  sue aikens would be proud.  her glass-half-full attitude is pretty amazing, considering the elements she deals with.  she’s pretty black and white about things; a lack of grey is something i can’t really relate to, but maybe that’s why she solves things more easily – she doesn’t get lost in any part of the emotional response to the problem.

i have to say, though, that i wish i could look at problems in the same positive way as sue.  yes, yes, yes, i know how much we all grow from problems and solving problems and blahblahblah.   it’s the stress of problems i’m talking about…the worry.  there was a prayer yesterday in the bulletin that said, “help us resist the reflex to worry constantly about every single detail of our lives…”  wow.  i double that.  mmm.  make that triple.  it is a reflex.  we know that the moments beyond problems will come.  more than likely we will be on the other side sometime soon, sitting in the middle of the solution and looking back,  shaking our heads at how befuddled and stressed we felt.  but in the meantime….

in the meantime, i would like a collection of some straight-up solutions for the problems that lurk…a (metaphoric) closet full of how-to-do-its or at least how-to-make-it-ups.  oh, and a better attitude about problems.  they are just solutions we haven’t found yet.

uh. yeah.  (eye roll)

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the wind never stops [chicken marsala monday]

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there are days i know my poppo is in the wind.  i can feel him there.  somehow he lets me know.  it was six years ago today that he left this earth and, before he said goodbye, i made him promise to hang around.  i told him i had no idea how i was going to adjust the timing on the ’71 bug without him, i wouldn’t be able to call him on the phone to ask him how to rube-goldberg a fix on something, i would be missing his “hi brat!”

with him in the wind and my sweet momma and my big brother and all the others who i miss, i have help from guardians.  with everyone who is by my side on this beautiful planet, close or far away, i have help from champions.  we each do.

we face into the wind, challenged by change and our ever-fluid lives.  we put on our invisible capes, take a deep breath, hold onto each other.  together we are superheroes.

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chicken marsala monday

whenyouarelost WITH EYES jpeg copyevery child’s mom’s nightmare is that instant you realize, even momentarily, that your child is lost, that you cannot see him or her.  in the midst of department store racks, in a playground, on a sidewalk of a city’s busy street…you turn around for the briefest of moments and you turn back and your child is no longer right there.  just the mere thought of it makes my breath uneven and my pulse race.

feeling lost can elicit the same emotions.  lost-ness is disorienting and scary; it makes you want to run; it makes you freeze, your breath shallow.

i remember someone once saying to me that when you are lost to go back to where you were when you got lost.   not so easy when you are out in the country on some back roads, but i don’t think they were talking about being literally lost.  it was more figuratively.

i think that, in general, lost-ness begets action – sometimes any action, just to not feel the displacement.  it’s unnerving.  so you try to ignore it, you try to do anything to distract yourself.

the only way to go back to where you were when you got lost is to get quiet.  to sit still.  to go inward and slowly breathe.  to realize you are human and fallible and vulnerable and that the earth is continuing to spin and, as my sweet momma used to say, “this too shall pass.”  lost is also on the path to something.

when i was little i used to travel with my poppo and my big brother in an old lilco van that they bought, converted to a camper and painted pale pink (the paint must have been on sale.)  her (the pink camper) name was lily, although i can’t remember how they spelled it.  they would travel all over upstate new york with her.  there was this one time i recall vividly.  i was probably somewhere around 6 years old.  i don’t remember the adventures we had after we drove upstate.  what i do remember is that lily was breaking down and i could hear my dad and brother talking about it.  we got off the main road and traveled down some country roads.  she sputtered and died on the side of the road.  not only were we lost (in my opinion) but we were sitting on the side of the road, unable to move.  my dad and brother got out of the van and opened the engine hood.  then they sat quietly on the white-painted-front bumper for a few minutes.  my ingenious poppo got some wire-clippers out of an ever-present toolchest and he and my brother cut a few pieces of a barbed wire fence that ran the perimeter of a farm field alongside the gully next to the shoulder.  using those pieces of barbed wire, with some rube goldberg kind of fix, in what seemed like an eternity but was probably only an hour or two, my dad and brother got that pink camper running again.  soon we were back on the road, heading home.  and – the best part – we actually got there.  home.

lost doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  it doesn’t have to be a six-year-old’s-version of the-end-of-the-world.  it’s an opportunity.  to sit quietly.  to look closely at a situation.  to address it.  and to move on.  home is waiting.  in our hearts, in our minds.  it may look different after a time of lost-ness, but it’s there.

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SOMETIMES WHEN YOU ARE LOST…©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood