reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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newton’s cradle pendulum. [d.r. thursday]

it’s some time after sundown – the time we have declared happy hour. we aren’t at a bar or a lounge or a restaurant or a pub. if we are lucky, we are outside somewhere – in the woods, on a trail, even in our backyard sitting by the pond in the last wee bit of waning sunlight.

these days – when cold gets through our fleece quarter-zips and vests – we are likely to be found at the happy-lit table in front of the window in our sunroom, dogga by our feet. we will put a christmas tree out there on the deck and it will add festivity to the string of lights out back.

in these last days we have encountered major stress. i mean, what couple hasn’t? we have returned to a place of unemployment. there is a big sense of loss, there is anger, there is tremendous angst. though no fault of ours – the company closed its doors entirely – there is also some embarrassment…to be back here. all of this – loss, anger, angst, embarrassment – adds up to shorter tempers than usual and some listing on the side of hopeless, incredulous. all of that – i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say it – adds up to some ugly moments. we are struggling to stay balanced, to stay even. this is our story. we know everyone has one.

so we instituted a new rule. a survival rule. during happy hour – regardless of beverage – spirits or not – we will list the gratitudes of the day. from the tiniest morsel to bigger wins, we are taking turns remembering the day and all it brought and we are choosing to speak to the kindnesses, the beauty, the accomplishments, the striving, even the bite of flax-4-life brownie. anything. nothing is measured. nothing is off the table. it all counts.

so as the sun goes down on the trail and we haul to the finish as quickly as possible, we express gratitude for the palette in the sky, for the leaves crunching under our feet, for being able to get outside, for each other. we choose to let go the hard-hard moments, knowing that being human is a pendulum. there will be surprises of good and surprises of not-good. and, like newton’s cradle pendulum with its perpetual-motion swinging kinetic balls, it will just keep going. back and forth. back and forth.

sunset, sunrise.

we are lucky to be here.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

PAX (peace) 24″ x 24″


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section-hike to chicago. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

over here, by one of the great great lakes, it is mostly flat. when you drive a bit south – toward chicago – particularly on the back roads – you will find ravines punctuating the landscape, gorgeous woods with deep cuts, gullies likely carved by streams into glacial moraines with bluffs high above the lake. i can’t imagine choosing the interstate over these roads and, if time allows, we are avid believers in the back ways.

most of the places we hike in our area do not present elevation gain as a challenge. instead, we have to do distance to make up the exercise gap. i’ve been a sea-level-girl pretty much my whole life – from a where-i’ve-lived standpoint – so when we are faced with elevation gain i have to do a bit of acclimatizing to get any kind of mountain legs or lungs. long island, florida, wisconsin – clearly, none of these are known for their mountain peaks.

we hadn’t ever walked the bike trail on the south side of the illinois border. we parked littlebabyscion near the entrance of the bike trail in some neighborhood – much to the chagrin of a woman walking her dog who – clearly – immediately had her suspicions about these two people exiting their vehicle – having parked their good-grief-it’s-a-2006-vehicle-ewww on the end of the road in this upscale ‘hood – for the trail. i started to walk to the trail and went back, wrote a cheery note “hi. we are just walking on the bike path,” finished it with a happy face and placed it in full view in the windshield. for the first hour or so of hiking i worried if we would get back to an empty space where our sweet littlebabyscion had been and a note to call the tow company. (it was with relief we later returned to find our little vehicle and another parked there as well.)

we crossed the wisconsin-illinois border and found the straight and narrow. illinois does a remarkable job of trail upkeep, no matter where we have found one, no matter the terrain. we kept walking. and walking. and walking. it was a beautiful day and easy to lose sight of the time or distance. we had water and halos and lemon lärabars. we were set.

we looked at the bike trail maps. though there are sections that are harder to define – one must find one’s way from one defined trail to another – you can pretty much walk or bike all the way to chicago.

we giggled and decided we would section-hike to chicago. it will be practice for the possibility of section-hiking or thru-hiking the john muir trail or the PCT. uh-huh. because walking on a bike trail – near civilization, without elevation gain, without 30 pounds on our backs, with littlebabyscion patiently waiting for us and our kitchen and comfy bed at the end of the day – is definitely good practice for say 211 miles or 2650. oh ye of little faith. whatever.

we turned around after checking time and the mileage and the forecasted hour of sunset. the way back – like the previous day on the des plaines river trail – i thought about how many miles we would complete that day, in a few hours. i doubled it and tripled the time and pondered doing that day after day for weeks or – in the case of the PCT – months.

it has a magical dreamy lure. there is no straight and narrow out there. there is hard work and perseverance. and we – watchers of more youtube video accounts than most – ponder if we could do it. we are fueled by people like the remarkable (!) wander women and, really, anyone, say, over 60 we watch successfully navigate the challenges. we think aloud – “maybe someday.”

in the meanwhile there is work to do, a plan to piece back together again post-implosion, and section-hikes to chicago.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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warmth wins. [two artists tuesday]

the tiny fallen branch must be radiating enough absorbed heat to melt the icy snow-pack just around it. the perfectly custom-shaped frame of snow reveals gorgeous long-needled pine laying on the ground atop a small clump of clover. the green in a field of frozen crunchy white was a beautiful glimpse underneath, a reveal.

things aren’t necessarily what they seem. and – though we sometimes remember we also sometimes forget – we find that there is more going on – beneath the visible surface – than we can imagine. i suppose it’s mr. rogers’ endings-beginnings, it’s george eliot’s “don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s the cinderella song “it’s what’s inside that counts”… i suppose you just never know.

it served as a reminder on the trail. though fallow seemed to be starting and early winter was beginning to take its toll, a little bit of green busted through the ice, peeking out, asking us to notice. it seemed it was stored-up warmth that mattered.

reading and research bring up many physics and scientific theories postulated about this phenomenon, about the albedo effect, about dunes and wind, about snow and pine needles. they are all fascinating, but for me – it was mostly all about the disparity between what it looked like on the outside and what was on the inside. because we don’t always know what’s just below the surface – in circumstance, in the environment, in people.

but a little warmth (or albedo or a breeze) reveals a smidge. just a little grace, a little forgiveness, a little compassion, a little generosity, a little love.

it doesn’t take much – this tiny pine bough is proof, indeed.

warmth wins, every time.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the same old tool with a whole buncha history. [merely-a-thought monday]

it charmed me to think that the tool that was used on our sidewalk when the latest iteration of it was poured – decades ago – probably in the 1960s – was the same tool that they used last week.

he said, “i think i still have the tool my dad used. i was a little kid, but i remember this house. i remember the sidewalk and how he scribed in the concrete. i think i know exactly where it is!” a full circle story.

there was one sidewalk square left after the world’s longest water line get-the-lead-out replacement project, which literally started in november 2021. nevertheless, it is now completed, merely a year later. these things take time, i have learned. and nothing moves fast when the city is involved. and no one wanted to pour this last square. until them.

we loved the sidewalk-square-concrete-contractors. full of stories and some parallel experiences, david shared how his dad was also a concrete guy – in colorado – and g, one of the two gentlemen pouring and shaping and scribing and finessing our front walk, knew his company. d and fb, the owner of the company and just the nicest guy dedicated to good work, chatted together about – well – cement and stuff and fb clearly was eager to scribe the lines his dad had scribed way back when. the torch had passed and it was easy to see that his dad would be proud.

now, these guys clearly live by my own sweet poppo’s rule: don’t get rid of anything; you might need it later. my poppo always wanted a big ole barn to be out back so that he could put everything in it till it came ’round again.

maybe the concrete guys have one. a big ole barn or workshop. someplace where this tool sat on a shelf or in a toolbox – unused for decades – until one day when it made all the difference on our front walk. a piece of history coming back to be used for our home – again. something about that is truly heartwarming.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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hard questions. simple answers. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i don’t know about you, but i – most definitely – talk to my dog. not just the sit, stay, come, paw sort of talk-talk. no, i am talking about laying bare my thoughts and questions and deep despairs and utter joys.

dogga usually looks as though he is paying attention; he is a really gifted eye-contact dog – better than many people i know. he doesn’t act like it’s unusual that i am divulging my innermost fears or existential ponderings. instead, he keeps eye contact and listens, his ears moving forward and back as he recognizes words…or maybe it’s because he thinks i am drawing to a close. either way, he is a really good audience and, though he never answers in words, his presence is comforting and steady and sometimes that is all i need.

i do believe, however, that somewhere deep inside of him is all the knowledge. somewhere in there he is all-knowing and all that is divine can be found in our dogs (or cats) and we are fortunate to share any tidbits of life with them.

somehow dogdog knows that steadfast and quiet are the real answers. he knows that letting me lay my head on his side is reassuring. he knows that his job is simply to love me back.

he does that without any hesitation. his gentle snoring, the rise and fall of his body breathing in sleep, his eyes closed in trust – he models how to do life. one moment at a time.

and we find the simplest answers to our hardest questions.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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stuff happens. [k.s. friday]

“step confidently,” the stio catalog reads. there is an ad for boots – winter boots – and gorgeous pictures of snowfall and mountains and terrain where confidence could be challenged. we were just talking with 20 about those yaktrax you strap on your shoes to instill a bit of chutzpah as you walk on icy trails. anything to keep us outside. cause stuff happens.

yes. stuff happens.

and it happens fast. without warning.

a couple days ago i was walking from the kitchen to the sunroom – sans yaktrax – to let the dog inside. holiday music was playing and i was busy thinking about my next task as i approached the step down to the tile floor by the back door. i did a little math. i’ve successfully navigated this step – only one – at the very least – one-hundred-twenty-two-thousand times. but, somehow, and i have no idea how, i missed the step and fell flat – kerplunk-kind-of-flat-like-in-cartoons – on my knee. the one time i didn’t reach out my hands to stop myself – i guess those two other falls taught me something – but my knee took the entire brunt of the trip-fall.

i’m not sure the first thing out of my mouth was pretty or anything i’d be proud to mention here. my reaction – as i laid on the cold floor – was incredulous, thinking i was running out of appendages, wondering what vortex in the universe we had fallen into or if mercury was in retrograde or just what was happening here.

the xray technician told me that’s why it’s called an accident – because there is no real reason, but i was about as amused by that as other people to whom i have said those words. no real reason. she said, “stuff just happens!” uh-huh.

the nurse practitioner at the urgent care told me she concurred with the radiologist and – thank goodness – there was no fracture. geesh. she said a few days and we’ll see how it goes.

patience is now in order. time to spend with my knee horizontal doesn’t fall under “my favorite things” column. i’ll be hobbling around and sitting and trying to get things done, in a slew of time i can only label as “fraught”.

and i’ll be trying to figure it all out.

*****

FIGURE IT OUT ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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which is why we walk in the woods. [d.r. thursday]

when i am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. i would almost say that they save me, and daily.(mary oliver *when i am among the trees)

which is why we walk in the woods.

“i am so distant from the hope of myself, in which i have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often.” (mary oliver *)

which is why we walk in the woods.

around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out,“stay awhile.” the light flows from their branches. and they call again,“it’s simple,”they say,“and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”(mary oliver *)

which is why we walk in the woods.

and this day – the day of this trail – we hiked the familiar, listening to the greetings of trees who knew us, remembered us. it was comforting and, though they were silent but for the rustling high above us, they rained down the last of their leaves on us, like a ticket-tape parade.

which is why we walk in the woods.

“trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!” (john muir)

we leave a bit of worry behind in each step. we will retrieve them later, all the bits. we dream and wonder and walk under the canopy of these giants that stay with us, tuck us in, give us pause. we shuffle our feet through fallen fall and draw in long breaths of musky leaves piling around the underbrush.

which is why we walk in the woods.

“between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” (john muir)

and between every two oaks and every two maples and every two hickories and every two ash and every two cottonwoods and every two elms and every two willows…doorways. “it’s simple,” they say.

which is why we walk in the woods.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

HELPING HANDS


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the old deck. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the old boards creak. and, at night – when it is bitter cold out – they pop, like the sound ice makes under your feet on a frozen lake, only not as treacherous.

in the summer he replaces the deck screws that have risen, stubbed-toe-tripping-hazards, worry about dogga’s paws. in the winter it is clear of all summer amenities. with just the old wooden glider and chair left, it is sans wrought iron, sans outdoor rugs that define its space, sans umbrella shielding our eyes from the sun while we dine, sans old door and happy-hour two-step ladders that hold wine glasses, sans fire column, sans record player, sans lavender and lemongrass. to look outside at the deck – even without snow – it is obvious that winter is approaching, the starkness is blatant and a little sad. we speak of a tree for out there and, if we go to the forest to cut one down we may cut down two and place one outside so that we can see it – lit – from the window.

the old deck has gone through many iterations, first built – by a dad and a grandpa – to help keep tiny toddlers safely playing – a railing all around and gates. a bright plastic little tikes picnic table anchored one end, with a round wrought iron table and chairs on the other end. back then, it was a place for snacks and bubbles, matchbox cars and babydolls, a turtle sandbox, and children dancing to a fisher-price cassette player.

the toddlers, past toddling, grew fast and, eventually, the railing and the gates were removed and the deck, still with the same wrought iron table, was open to the backyard, easy access to the swingset and the fort and, then, the basketball hoop.

years later, with the addition of the stone patio, it would be the place people would gather – for fourth of july barbecues, for the-big-dig day of the pond, for slow dance parties, for pre-wedding gatherings, gatherings for any reason. the old wrought iron table, another coat of rustoleum black paint, still holding vigil for food and gaiety.

and then, since it had no railings, it became the perfect place for ukulele band. folding metal music stands and bag-chairs, edge-of-deck-sitting, clothespins and laughter, there was no stopping the fun, the music-making and community, and, after, all would gather around the old wrought iron table and gnosh on schnibbles everyone brought along, to prolong time together.

during covid the deck became a place of comfort, a necessity for peace of mind. we slowly researched and watched for sales and added pillows and rugs and an umbrella-that-made-all-the-difference for dinners around that old wrought iron table, a little decor and some clay pots and plants for our outside sanctuary. we took refuge there, from cold days to the return of cold days – outside as much as possible.

and now, the deck is blank again, save for the snowflakes. the old wrought iron table and chairs are carefully stored in the garage and we can hear the boards pop and crackle from inside the sunroom and from here, sitting on the bed, writing this – the grey day outside begging for sun, the old deck waiting to see just how we might holiday-it-up.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the window of magic. [two artists tuesday]

the stairs in our home go straight up a few steps, turn 90 degrees to the left and then another 90 degrees to the left before the last few to the landing. if you turn left again you will see straight into the treetops through the office window, will pass the bathroom, and will head down a short hall to our daughter’s room. if you turn right at the landing you walk into our son’s room.

there’s a big window in his room ahead of you and it faces north. it is the window of magic. for if the circumstances are just right and the frost gathers and holds hands with the sun, this is where the crystals are found. and they are divine.

that day, in every corner, from every angle, the ice shimmered, an evanescent presence that would disappear as the window warmed. the ephemeral tiny expressions of frozen wouldn’t last. not yet. it is still fall and there will be warmer days still.

but for right then, to stand and gaze at the strands and shards and bubbly droplets is to take part in the very moment, that very moment of cold. it was to acknowledge it. and to recognize its transient beauty.

a long while ago i was gifted a necklace with a silver snowflake charm. in the tiny box was printed a brief message, “every snowflake is unique; it’s true. each one’s special, just like you.” not the thought-provoking words of mary oliver or john o’donohue, but a simple reminder of unrepeatable gorgeousness, in words anyone can grok.

these last days have been harder, a holiday with empty chairs. we are adults now and we know that this is the way of life. john pavlovitz writes, “in this season each of us learns to have fellowship with sadness, to celebrate accompanied by sorrow. this is the paradox of loving and being wounded simultaneously.”

we walked on the trail and spoke of each member of our family. we each spoke a gratitude for each person, each step on the trail punctuated by a story or some enlightenment. we laughed and i wondered what gratitude would be uttered for us, hoping that words would not be difficult for the utterer to find. our thanksgiving was bookended with early morning pumpkin pie and full bellies of mashed potatoes at day’s end. in the middle was appreciation for the people we love.

it is easy to see the cold, the long winter ahead, the empty chairs. they are apparent and they can be brutal.

it is harder to walk, peer through the window, and see the crystals and their exquisite – even if brief – magical uniqueness.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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fred rogers and sam sifton. [merely-a-thought monday]

i suppose the line is blurry.

before-after. end-beginning. horizon-sky. chrysalis-butterfly.

the pragmatic side of my brain says, “of course. this is logical,” while the other side is grasping onto the silky threads of hopeful and wishing to call mr. rogers – does the other side have cell service, i wonder.

it’s in looking back that it is easier to see the gradient shading of end and beginning, one into the other. it is easier to recognize the softer side of transition or, at the very least, the survivability of it all.

sam sifton wrote, “everything is going to be all right.” i believe he was talking about food and preparation for the thanksgiving meal. that is his wheelhouse. i prefer to generalize his words – they were sent to me by a dear friend and i am going to apply them to life and hold him to it.

and so we walk. and we look for signs. the smallest of goodnesses. tiny reminders of value. the way the sun punctuates our walk, the way blue sky makes us feel.

and we look up. the tops of the trees look different than the trunks. not stalwart and thick and steady, those branches much more fragile. yet there they are, existing in the wind and storm and warm days, rooted, all the way down.

but this is redundant. and i have spoken of the tide washing out and then back in before. the tide turning. i have metaphorized change and loss, in efforts to – maybe – temper them. but, in truth, they are raw and lay on the beach of our hearts in all the elements of our lives.

i wrote – a while back – to one of my nieces the words of my sweet momma “growing old is not for wimps”. she wrote back, “living is not for wimps.” so true. just when you think you have a little bit of it figured out…whammo! it seems that the universe may think that arrogant.

and so, we will try not to be assuming. either way. not assuming good, not assuming bad. no assumptions. just walking.

relying on fred rogers and sam sifton.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY