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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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Daughter Emily Sent This Christmas Eve day...

Updated with photos the next morning...


In the post below, I dared not write about something because it would have made me feel the very way the beautiful song above did.

Emily and Keith and Nora are not with us here in Kansas this year. It was inevitable that such a Christmas Day would come. I completely understand. It just so happens to be the first time in her life that Emily is not with us on Christmas, and the song describes perfectly what Emily knows is going on all over the house even as I type. The movie, White Christmas, is playing on one of the TVs. The sisters are in the kitchen with grandma. Grandpa is trying to get help figuring out some computer glitches. (He always has a bunch of technical questions to ask his young grandsons and they typically know the answers).

Tonight we will be playing a video-taped version of "A Minute to Win It" that Keith and Emily put together. Those two are always in charge of Christmas Eve games, and they are still fulfilling that role even though they are in Michigan. We will be home to see them and Nora on Monday. Meanwhile two house guests are bringing life to our home and enjoying our tree until we return.

Merry Christmas!

Photos added Christmas Day...

We gathered in the great room and watched the video Keith and Emily made for us with games from "Minute to Win it."
That's Emily on the TV to the right, demonstrating how each game is to be played.
That's Emily on the lap top watching us play the games via SKYPE. Keith was there, too, but when this photo was taken he was holding Nora off-camera. It was like they were there with us
 even though they did not make the trip to Kansas this Christmas.
That is me playing the "Snowball" game. I had to put Vaseline on my nose and transer snowballs (cotton balls) from one bowl into the other. I got 13 in one minute--it's harder than you think!
Julie won the "Blockhead" game by stacking five baby blocks on a plate on her head.
A few days before Christmas when Nate (Kim's fiance was still here with us), we did some skeet shooting.
This is Kim firing a shotgun for the first time. Her shoulder survived. She was funny to watch. No, she did not hit her target, but after she saw the blast of smoke come the barrel she said, "I am smokin'!" 

By the way, a week ago the yard was "smokin'" Grandpa McNabb was burning trash out back of the house and something in the trash blew up sending the fire onto the very dry grass. It burned about half an acre and they caught it about 30 feet from the back door. When we looked out the back door this morning, the scorched-earth was basically the opposite of a "White Christmas." Next spring it will all come back greener than ever.
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Familiar Rooms

I knew it would be good to be home. This place is really Julie’s home not mine, but I’ve been coming here since the Christmas Break of 1978, and her folks did such a good job of making me feel at home the first time I visited that it has always been a second home to me. I knew it would feel good to step through the door and see Julie’s folks waiting there as they always do whenever any of their children are on the road toward home.

This year our trip from west Michigan to Waverly, Kansas, seemed extra long. We left our driveway at 4:30 AM and pulled in here thirteen hours later. We can usually make the 700 mile trek in eleven hours if the roads are clear—and they were clear and dry the whole way—but we had to pick up Kim at her campus apartment in Chicago. That was her last night there. After Christmas, she is moving in with three good friends who had a little room to spare. Literally, it is a little room no bigger than a bed, but it will work for a few months.

Kim finished all of her classes last week, and began her new job at World Relief, teaching English to adult refugees. After picking up Kim, we headed north just past Lincoln Park area to pick up Nate, her fiancé, at his apartment, a third floor walk-up on a quaint street of tall row houses so close you could pass salt and pepper from window to window. It will be a nice place for him and two other rent-paying friends between now and the June wedding.

So the detour up to Chicago added a couple hours to our trip, but we still made great time with four drivers.

Typically when we come here, it is closer to Christmas Day and all of Julie’s siblings and their children here. It’s sort of like the film Dan in Real Life. Every one of the seven bedrooms is taken, along with two sleeper-sofas. There are four-and-a-half bathrooms in this large rambling split-foyer ranch house; two kitchens; four “living rooms” (places where five or more can sit and visit or watch TV).

The first time I came here to visit Julie, it was a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms. About ten years later, we helped Julie’s dad convert the three-car garage into an apartment for Grandpa Sutton. Then about ten years after that, they converted the walk-out basement into a “Guesthaus,” for assisted living seniors, a business they ran for about twenty years. That explains all the bedrooms and bathrooms we now use whenever the whole family gets together.

But for now, it’s just my family and Julie's folks, and to be honest, it's been great. We needed a few days of “down time” before all the delightful hubbub begins. Every now and then I hear Natalie practicing Christmas music down in the great-room. The old piano is just enough out of tune to sound homey as the music meanders up and down the stairways to familiar rooms.

This morning I woke up Kimberly in the same bedroom that was "mine" whenever I visited here. We were talking a while and then I said out of the blue, “Just think. This is the very room I slept in the night after I proposed to your mother at 1:00 AM January 1, 1980.”
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My kids wonder how and why I constantly connect family history to physical space and otherwise insignificant landmarks, but it happens whenever we visit someplace from our shared past. It has something to do with the way my mind files memories. Maybe all minds work this way, but my filing system is extremely “associative.”  I have no doubt that it affects the way I think, speak, and write. So for you friends who have been reading here through the years, thank you for your patience.

Tonight all the others arrive. Tomorrow we may get snow!
Hoping you and yours have  a wonderful Christmas!
Tom
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Life is Mostly Prose

Looking back on it now, it was perhaps the most profound experience my family and I had ever shared. It began with a vague uneasiness in Julie which progressed to something we never saw coming. But the night before our journey began, our mood and minds were elsewhere, which is typically true the moment before life's storms begin.

Why speak of it now? What brought it to mind? 


I wondered that myself this morning when I woke, and then I remembered. Tonight is the Christmas Program at school. It's always the Thursday before we let out for the holidays. For the past five years, the program has reminded me of that journey my family took six years ago, for what began as a vague uneasiness in Julie progressed to open-heart surgery three days later on this very day, Thursday, December 16, 2004. That night at the school, before the festive songs began, five hundred people paused to pray for the Kapanka's who were not there to join in the celebration.  

In the days ahead (next week), I will try to post the journal entries of days that followed this Sunday post--not to relive the ordeal, but because many of you have faced your own frightening realities, and it is sometimes encouraging to see God's hand at work even when we do not know His plan.

Life is mostly prose, measured by pedantic glances in the mirror, those leaned-in looks we take at waking up or turning in at night. But thank God for the parts of life less focused on ourselves, for relationships that bring meaning and form to our daily function. Thank God that sometimes on some days, between prosaic glances in the mirror, there is just enough poetry to lift our hearts and help us see what waits beyond the glass.

Sunday, December 12, 2004: Prologue “The Winter Storm”

We’d gone together to the shore to see the breakers crash against the pier. Since our first winter here, we’d seen pictures of the red lighthouse coated in a shroud of ice, and we’d heard the sad stories of this pier during high-sea storms, but we’d never seen one for ourselves.

In the far-reaching headlights of cars parked behind us, shadowy swells rose and rolled across the concrete break wall. And there at the far end, the red lighthouse was awash in arching plumes of foam. A cold mist from the spewing surf and howling wind squinted our eyes as we leaned into the gale to hold our ground.

Julie gestured back toward the car, and we turned and let a strong gust push us toward the calm and common sense of shelter. The doors slammed tight behind us, and we just sat there, in awe of the contrast between the stillness and the storm. I rubbed my gloved hands together and started the car.

“Well, we can scratch that off of our list of ‘things worth doing once.’” I joked.

“You can go back out if you want,” she replied with a quick tilt of her head. The tilt meant: she was staying put, but if I wasn’t, she would be happy to watch me blow around from the car.

“No. I’m with you,” I said. Besides… I heard a post-war crooner in the background and turned up the radio to hear “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” It seemed a pleasant bidding to stay warm, so I crooned the male part as best I could, and turned the car toward home. Julie smiled but didn’t sing.

As we crossed the Grand Haven Bridge, the heavy snow began.

Thirty months later, I read this post and tested the prose as "poetry" in quatrameter/enjambment :

Between the Stillness and the Storm

We’d gone together to the shore
to see the breakers crash against the pier.
In postcards, since our first year here,
we’d seen the mystic lighthouse
coated in a shroud of hoary ice.
We’d heard the stories of this site--
souls washed away in high-sea storms--
but never had we'd seen it for
ourselves 'til then, in the headlights
of the dozen cars behind us.
The shadowy swells rose and rolled
across the craggy, concrete wall
half-hidden by the falling snow.
At the far end was the lighthouse
awash in arching plumes of foam.
The cold mist from the spewing surf
stung our cheeks and squinted our eyes
as we leaned against each gust and gale
to hold our ground.  Then turning back t'ward
the car, the wind dragged us by our arms
to the common sense and comfort
found inside two slamming doors
indifferent as the frosty glass
between the stillness and the storm.
I rubbed my gloved hands together
and fumbled with the ring of keys.
“Well, we can scratch that off the list
of ‘things worth doing once.’” I joked.
“You can go back out if you want,”
she said with a tilt of her head.
The tilt meant: she was staying put,
but she would be happy to watch
me blow around some more from there.
“No thanks. I’m gladly here with you,”
I smiled, turning up the radio
just in time to hear persistence
crooned, “but Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
The song was a pleasant omen.
I sang along as best I could
'til the rhythm of the wipers
caught my eyes and ears
at the crest of the bridge to home.
It was then the heavy snow began.
© Copyright 2004 Tom Kapanka/ Patterns of Ink
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

10,600,000 Hits and Counting! (21,800,000)

When I posted the food court Hallelujah Chorus last Wednesday [see post below], that particular clip had already recieved over 3,000,000 hits on Youtube. As of Sunday evening, it had tripled to over 10,600,000 hits. (About 150 of those hits were here at POI.)

I think it's because the latter clip has a more  "market place" commmon man feel to it while the Macy's event had a more of an opera retail-tabernacle feeling. They are both beautiful to watch, but the food court clip has gotten twice as many hits as the Macy's clip in half the time. I wonder if the 10,600,000 hits will double by next week.

Track it yourself by checking here. I just checked it four hours after posting this, and the hits are up to 10,850,000. That's more than a thousand hits a minute. 7696 [Four days later, Thursday, December 9, 7:00AM, the count has increased by FIVE MILLION to 15,586,000. That is a 12,000,000 increase since I first posted last Wednesday. At this rate, maybe the number of hits will double from the 10,600,000 in the title of this update by next Monday. (It hit 21,800,000 seven days after that update.)]7785-7904


And now, as a thank you for stopping by, I'll change the subject to my granddaughter Nora who went on her first "sleigh ride" today. It's a sled her mom found at a church garage sale in Chicago, but it looks worthy of the word sleigh. We got our first "lake effect" snow last night, and it's still coming down pretty heavy at times.  I love it!
[No, students, tomorrow will probably not a "snow day."]



Back in from the cold with Mommy!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

It Happened Again!

Two weeks ago, in a food court somewhere, some talented singers reminded hundreds of unsuspecting shoppers of the true meaning of Christmas.
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 A few weeks prior to this event, even more singers shared the Messiah message in a Philadelphia Macy's. My first response to each event was a glassy-eyed astonishment of this "foretaste of glory divine."

The concept of spontaneous "musicals productions" in odd places has been around for while. Previous clips have been humorous pranks. Here's another one in a similar food court. And here is one in the fruit section of a grocery store. Funny, yes, but those staged events, and the reactions of the onlookers, is quite different than what happens when people hear the Hallelujah Chorus in an otherwise earthly, pedestrian setting.

I've seen Handel's work performed in temples and auditoriums before thousands of believers gathered to worship and enjoy, but never have the words been more powerful to me than in these clips when throngs seem compelled by shear truth, unable to hold their tongues, and begin proclaiming the joy of the Messiah's rightful rule in the world He created. 7550
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever...

Didn't You Think the Rudolph Puppet was Bigger? I did.


Posted Thursday, December 9, but not at the top out. I want to keep that Food Court post up there for a while.

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