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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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Roof's Got a Hole in It, and I Might Drown...

When I do not have time to write recreationally a part of me is missing, but the demands of life sometimes trump all else it seems. Nora is not one of the "demands of life," but last night we did babysit her. I had only seen her once in two weeks, and I am quite sure she "grew up" in the meantime.

Nothing does Julie and I more good than a few hours with Nora. No matter what else is going on. No matter what is waiting at my desk at school or on my laptop at home (from my desk at school). No matter how often I catch myself singing that old song..."Aha, Oh no, Don't let the rain come down...my roof's got a hole in it and I might drown" [I'll explain that after the pictures.] No matter what other pot-holes await me in God's to-and-fro, an evening with Nora puts it all in perspective.

These pictures were not taken at our house last night, but our daughter Emily posted them on Facebook and they were so similar to the playful Nora we enjoyed tonight that I borrowed them for this post. She is 14 months old and talking. Here is what she said:

"I'm gunna go hide. Are you ready?"
"You better be ready 'cuz I'm fast. Here I go..."
"You can't catch me!"
"I know you can't find me. Give up? I'm over here"

Alright... I confess she is not talking yet, but I am sure from her face that she was thinking those very words while she was playing with her mom (who took those pictures). And last night at our house, she was playing the same game. She loves to run in a big circle from the kitchen doorway into the dining room then through the archway into the living room into the entry way and then back in the kitchen. She'll run (it's actually kind of a waddle because of her diaper) in that circle about three times and then stop to catch her breath.

After a few laps last night, she stopped where the piano has been for ten years and looked around with her palms turned up as if to say "Where did the piano go?"

Listen to this old 45 RPM record that my mother used to play when we were kids as I tell you where the piano went.

Several posts back, I wrote about the biggest blizzard of the year. It was a doozy! Our house had about a foot of snow on it BEFORE the storm hit, and that doubled overnight. What I did not know was that on the back side of my roof (the part I couldn't see) a three foot drift formed and it added a ton--literally a ton--of snow to my roof.

Our home is very well insulated so the snow does not melt from the heat of the house...except in one place: the back of the house on the second roof of our tri-level where the heat-stack of the hot-water heater comes through the roof. At that point of the roof, under the big drift of snow, an ice jam formed and eventually on a warm Saturday five weeks ago, water began pooling in our ceiling and dripping below, drenching our piano, the wall behind it, and the carpet below it. The leak was active for hours before we noticed it. Be blotted up the water as best we could and put a huge Rubbermaid tub on top of the piano to catch continuing flow.

Things would have been much worse had we not been home to limit the damage. I learned a trick as a result of working 30 years in schools that had "dropped ceilings" with acoustical tiles which sometimes fell victim to a leaky roof. If you take a pencil and poke a hole through the ceiling at the point of "dripping" it will drain all the water that has pooled above that spot and limit the damage to the ceiling. I did that in the soft, wet sheetrock of our living room ceiling. Our insurance adjuster praised me for doing so because it made his visit to our home much less costly for his company, but I've jumped ahead of myself in this story.

The day after this leak began, I went up on the roof and shoveled most of the drift away. The following Saturday, my friend Steve came over and we finished shoveling the areas of concern and gently broke away the ice jam, ensuring that our roof was again able to do its job.

It wasn't until a few days later, that I called our insurance compay. I was not at all sure this would be coverd. But good news! It is. In fact, they said this is one of the busiest winters on record for this very kind of damage.

I won't tell you the total repair bill was (partly because it is not yet known), but I will say that after nearly thirty years of paying "home owners insurance" it was the first claim we ever filed and our company treated us very well. The piano was picked up Tuesday to be refinished and repaired by a local company that specializes in that process. The room looks and sounds empty without it, and I look forward to its return.

While the piano is gone, the ceiling and wall will be repaired and repainted. After that messy work is done, the new carpet will be installed. New carpet? Yes. As I said, "Auto Owners Insurance [there's my plug for a fine company] considered it the best option. You see, inside our piano are various pieces of deep red felt. When the felt got wet, the water that dripped onto the carpet left red die residue that could not be removed by ServiceMaster (another plug for a fine company). The spots were in plain view. Solution? Replace the living room carpet. There was other related water damage to the bathroom on the other side of the same wall below the drift of snow. That, too, will be fixed.

All of the work should be done by the end of April, leaving about one month before the hoopla of Kim's wedding. Isn't God's timing a beautiful thing. But in the meantime, every time I sit here in the living room, my eye goes to that hole I had to poke through the ceiling and that old 45 of Mom's begins playing in my head.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

To an Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)  [Lines 1 through 20 only]

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields were glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honors out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
[In memory of Wes Leonard]

Wednesday night, at a gymnasium near Kent City, Michigan, my daughter's team won the most exciting game of their season with a buzzer-beater that capped a 52-50 win over our rival Algoma in round one of the District Tournament. In the moments after the swish of the net, dozens of players, students and parents swarmed around our team captain, Sydnie Clark (who made the shot). Our coach lifted her high in the air the way a father lifts a young daughter in playful jubilation. There is nothing like that feeling of shared accomplishment and victory. By now, we've all seen the footage of a very similar moment in another small Michigan town that happend just one night after our girl's victory. Last night, in the same gymnasium, we met for round two of district play and prayed for the Leonard family and that town as they work through this tragic loss. I was pleased that the "moment of silence" suggested by the MHSAA was followed by an actual prayer in that gymnasium.

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