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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, May 28, 2011

From and Arm's Length...

I was going to plant tomatoes this morning and do yard work for the "wedding weekend" all day, but it was raining--just enough to postpone those tasks for a few hours. So I spent some time putting together a video that has been simmering on the back burner since 2008.

A few years back, before we sold the family homestead, I took some random video shots of the inside of Dad's barn. We always called it "the barn," but it was really more of a huge tool shed that Dad built the second year we owned the property. The story of how we settled the land and made it our home is told in many chapters beginning here. That first year we cleared parts of the heavily wooded land, and Dad set aside the straightest logs to build the barn, which was finished just before the first snow of '69. That winter, we sometimes spent the night "roughin' it" in the barn as Dad used to call it...just for fun.

The barn (which years later was deemed a work of art by the building inspector) became home to more and more stuff over time. Through the decades, it housed three different tractors, and though at first glance it looks a mess, in many respects (along with Mom's attic) it was the most familiar time capsule of my life for forty years.

When Dad died in '95, we continued using the work space in the barn, but many of the corners and overhead areas and the countless things that hung here and there remained untouched for fifteen years. Barns are like that.

As we anticipated selling the house and property, I knew that this familiar space with its smell of rope and creosote and sawdust and chainsaw oil would soon be a place for someone else to use as they saw fit, so I shot some footage, which remained untouched in my video files for three years. I knew at the time that I wanted to use this Newman piece from The Natural called, "A Father Makes a Difference." It has no lyrics, but its title gives meaning to every measure. The poem is something I wrote, framed, and gave to Dad on Father's Day 1994 (not knowing it would be our last). I first posted the lines six years ago.



Sometimes…
I see my father’s hands in mine—
not in my clasp
but in the flesh and form and line
of span and grasp.
It’s not the look that came with age.
I see that when
my lamp-lit fingers press a page
or hold a pen.
But when my grip takes on a task
or holds a tool,
my palms and fingers seem to ask
if as a rule,
hard work alone gives hands their worth—
not just their pain.
If so, then sweat must mix with earth
as well as rain
to dampen new-sown dreams and seep
...into the soil
where hope takes root in things that keep
and call for toil.

But who am I to talk of such…
hard work I mean…
I’ve not attempted half as much
as what I’ve seen,
and what I’ve done is only more
or less child’s play
(like completing a morning’s chore
that takes all day).
Occasionally, however,
I’ve had to rise
to the call of some endeavor
that otherwise
I’d never do…or even try.
And when It’s done,
I stretch my arms toward the sky
and setting sun,
and in the glow I almost see
my father’s strength—
his hands are there (or seem to be)
from an arm’s length.
 Tom Kapanka
(8/4 count) © Copyright 1994, Patterns of Ink

By the way, I did get the yard work done and the tomatoes planted, but I must admit it was a case of "completing a morning's chore that takes all day."

For more pictures of the barn and its former suroundings, click this link to the November 2008 Archives.
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Natalie's "Clair de Lune" by Debussy

I mentioned that these are busy weeks--especially busy weekends, one after the other until the wedding. And I told you I’d try to have Natalie’s recital piece posted this week. Well, I’m late by an hour and 23 minutes (as this is technically very early Monday morning).

I had filmed Natalie as she rehearsed the piece an hour before the recital and then I recorded the recital itself, but from where I was seated, I could not see her hands, so I decided to practice with some video-editing software to see if I could blend the actual recital footage with some of the other angles I took during the rehearsal. It’s a little rough, but it’ll do. I have been fond of Debussy’s "Clair de Lune.” since first hearing a friend play it in college.

I wanted to blend a few different camera angles to help capture the various moods of the piece. The trick was synchronizing the finger movement from the various takes to match one track of music. I should probably have just uploaded the recital version itself, which was nearly flawless, but I had to use the take with the most actual footage of hands. I am really not as experienced with this editing software as Nat is with the song itself.

Good job, Natalie! Thank you, Mrs. Strattan, for helping Nat foster a love of music and true joy in keeping company with a piano.

Natalie, I can’t wait to get our piano back from the shop this Friday so I can pull back the lever on the recliner and listen to you play this again. The piano has been out of the house for over two months. I went by the refinishing shop three days ago to see how it was coming. Once I get an adapter for the mini-memory card in my cell phone, I’ll upload some pictures of the refinished but still disassembled Acrosonic below this video clip. In the meantime, enjoy this rendition of “Clair de Lune.”


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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kim and Nate Graduated from College Saturday

This was Moody's 125th Graduating Class, the largest in the school's history.



Nate and Kim marched together in May 2011. Her sister Emily and her husband Keith marched together in May 2008. And Julie and I marched together back in 1980 (me with my Masters and Julie with her Bachelor's).  Kim was basically done with her TESOL degree [Teaching English to Students of Other Languages] in December, when she was hired by an organization called World Relief there in Chicago. She spends her days with adults from all over the world, helping them adjust to life in the United States.



They don't call it the windy city for nothing. When we left West Michigan Friday afternoon, it was in the mid-seventies and all sunshine. I put on some shorts and we hit the road. Julie and I didn't even take jackets. Big mistake! The temperature dropped twenty degrees in three hours. And not long after these pictures were taken, it began to rain. We did have an umbrella in the car, but it didn't do much to keep us warm as we walked the streets of Chicago.

Kim is a pretty spontaneous girl. After taking the second picture above, we ran across the street from the historic Moody church in downtown Chicago where commencement was held, and she says, "Dad, how 'bout takin' a picture of Nate sweeping me off my feet!"

You may remember this couple from their engagement post last August.

The next pictures I post of this couple will likely be from their wedding, which is only twenty-five days away!

Besides this wonderful graduation celebration, the coolest thing about this trip was meeting Nates parents who are missionaries to Guatemala. We had met his mother, Brenda, back in the fall, but met his father, Randy, just Friday night as we were unpacking things from the car. It was fun visiting with them, sharing a few meals together, and getting to know each other better before the wedding. After just a couple days with his folks, I can see why Nate is such a great guy. Looking forward to the big day!

Lot's going on between now and then, though. One big event after another every weekend right up until the wedding on June 10th. 

I hope to post a Youtube video from Natalie's piano recital later this week.
Stay tuned....
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Crescent Noon

When I was fifteen, in ninth grade, my two older brothers, Paul and Dave moved out of the bedroom the three of us had shared for nearly ten years. My little brother Jim and I began sharing a room, and Dave and Paul set up their twin beds at the far end of the basement. There was no room really, just the bend around the corner by the furnace room door with the dart board. Beside the door was the hanging punching bag we boxed through the years until the leather was rough and spotted from bloody knuckles.

In the corner of the "bedroom," my brother Paul had a stereo on a rickety stand that held his growing collection of albums.

In the fall of 1972, all three of my older siblings left for college on the same day. Paul left his collection of albums in that corner of the basement, and though my room was upstairs, I often found myself in that downstairs "bedroom" lying on my back on the bed beside the stereo, listening over and over to Paul's albums. It was in these months that my fondness for Simon and Garfunkel, the Letterman, and the Carpenters grew--all pretty tame and mellow stuff really, but scores of those songs embedded in my mind the interplay of melody and the rhythm of words.

One little-known song that got in my head forty years ago was "Crescent Noon" from the 1970 Close to You album.  That melancholy song seemed to summarize the months of that first fall and winter with Dave and Paul and Kathy all being so far away. 

Out of nowhere, those haunting words came to my mind yesterday, and hearing them in the clip below took me back to that lonely feeling in a quiet basement in the company of pleasantly-woven words...



Green September
Burned to October brown
Bare November
Led to December's frozen ground
The seasons stumbled round
Our drifting lives are bound
To a falling crescent noon
Feather clouds cry
A vale of tears to earth
Morning breaks and
No one sees the quiet mountain birth
Dressed in a brand new day
The sun is on it's way
To a falling crescent noon
Somewhere in
A fairytale forest lies one
Answer that is waiting to be heard
You and I were
Born like the breaking day
All our seasons
All our green September's burn away
Slowly we'll fade into
A sea of midnight blue
And a falling crescent noon
by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis

The song's simple melody and added harmonies add meaning to the words. The lyrics may seem to lack hope for some listeners in that, on the surface, it simply states...we're born;we live; we die. But in its non-sectarian way it actually speaks of an answer waiting to be heard. Like Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy," I think the answer is to a question about being loved. That song ends with: "The greastest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." That kind of love is what brings meaning and purpose to the passing of time depicted in "Crescent Noon"... being loved--by God and those He brings into our lives.
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