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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving weekend. We were on the other side of the state for a few days.

I was able to visit with my siblings about the sequence of some these house-building details. I was pleased to know that I got most of them right.

There are limitations in writing an account from only one of the character’s recollections. For instance, I said that we poured the floor of the basement and put the main floor of the house on in the spring of ’74, but my brother-in-law told me that the first time he met my father was late December 1973 when he came from New Jersey to visit my sister. Dad was out at the property working on the main floor of the house. “It was snowing, and he had to keep sweeping the snow off the part of the floor that was done, sweeping off the joists and stacks of floor boards, but he just kept working away.”

As I wrote two chapters back, for some reason Paul and I weren’t there during that phase of construction. I assumed that Dad would not have wanted the floor exposed to the weather that winter, but I forgot that the diagonal floorboards were laid that winter and covered it with Visqueen weighted down with bricks. Likewise, I said that we poured the cement basement floor in spring. I did not recall it, but I assumed that we had to pour the floor before we built the upstairs. However, my brother Paul pointed out that the reason I didn't remember the details was because I was gone for my freshman year of college when the basement floor was poured. He and Jack and some of my uncles were there to help, and the cement truck operator put his trough right through the window openings. They had to wheelbarrow cement to the back basement bedroom (which has only low, narrow windows).

I may go back and correct those details, but I wanted to include these thoughts because sequential blips may be true of other portions of this story. I’ve done my best to be accurate in writing this account, but memory is a funny thing—especially after 35 years. The other reason I’ve added these thoughts is they underscore the narrative nature of family history. It is through the collective and connective retelling of family stories that the yarns of life remain knit when all else is unraveling.

My daughter Kim was home from Chicago until yesterday. That was great. She told us about one of her students who has a thing for ceiling fans. He is four years old and talks out the side of his mouth. “I don’t know why I love ceiling fans, Miss Kim, but I do.” He often pulls her all around their school building by the hand, showing her the rooms that have ceiling fans, pointing them out with delight. "Let's not go down that hall... no ceiling fans down there." But the funniest thing was the day in late October when he ran up to her and said, “Hey. Guess what I’m going to be for Halloween? … A ceiling fan! My dad made me a ceiling fan costume!” It was so funny to hear Kim tell it, imitating the little kid's voice.

One other thing happened over Thanksgiving weekend: As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, we were able to visit my Grandma Spencer in Port Huron. This is my mother’s mom. She will be 99 this July, and she is still sharp as a tack at current events, playing cards, and carrying on meaningful conversation. I was able to ask her questions about her father, my Grandpa Collinge, and his career as a plumber. I told her that while I was writing about plumbing the house, I found the 1896 census on line and it listed Wesley Collinge as a printer. “When did he become a plumber?” I asked. Her answer was funny:

“People did whatever work they could find back then. I never heard him talk about being a printer, but I suppose he got out of printing once plumbing came in. You got to remember: plumbin’ was new—I mean house plumbin’. Most folks had a privy out back, even in town. So that was the job to have--steady work. Everyone wanted plumbing put in. He put the plumbin' in that house on Forest. [I nodded.] The company he landed his job with come down from the U.P. once all the work started. It was a regular gold rush. No, he never talked of being a printer, but you said the 1896 census? [I nodded.] That was fifteen years before me. All I know's he was a plumber by the time I was born—and stayed one right up ‘til he retired. I remember him giving your dad those tools. Figured he’d need ‘em for the house. They were no use to him any more. Why let ‘em go to waste? Turns out he needed 'em.”
She paused in thought, and in her eyes I could see the brief bewilderment that comes not so much with age but from the compression of time that makes decades seem like days.

It was good to talk with her. We spent about three hours there in the entertainment room of her nursing home. She was the only resident still up when we went back to her room at 10:30 PM. The nurses there have come to expect that of my Grandma. “She’s our night owl,” one of the nurses said as we helped her get ready for bed.

Chapter 38-B “The Penny in the Wall” really is coming later this week.


Blogger Terry VanderHeiden said...


I'm a professional Photographer and stumbled on a photo on your web site. I wanted to copy one and show it on my instructional blog about taking better images at Christmas.

Can I get your permission?

You can email me at terry@imagelight.com

3/12/09 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/12/09 12:19 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Welcome to POI. I did reply via email. Happy to be of help.

I deleted the Chinese comment. Mark told me what these spam ads are about.

The next chapter should be up in the early morning.

4/12/09 10:19 PM  

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