reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a tall spikelet. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

she was a coloratura soprano. her leaps, her trills, her range were atmospheric. bell-like and of angel quality, rayna sang effortlessly.

i have no idea if she is singing now. the last i heard – after i graduated with a degree in composition – she left and was in med school, seeking a degree outside of the arts. she must have had a wise mentor along the way. someone who told her she could always sing “on the side”. like rice pilaf.

“on the side.”

it’s the ever-present albatross of artists. even those who stand out in a crowd are thrust – by a society that doesn’t place as much value on the arts – into the yin-yang of opposing forces: stay. go. full-time. on the side.

every now and then there is a whitetop sedge spikelet in the field that is strikingly more successful than the rest… the mariah carey, the ariana grande, the beverly sills, the joan sutherland. delivering exquisite bel canto, they do not render the other spikelets any less important, nor should they be. each voice is unique in the meadow and this spikelet is just a little taller.

before i finished my bachelor’s degree i was accepted into the business school at usf. “accounting,” i thought. “i love math, therefore accounting.” the “normal-job” world was taunting me. but i declined the placement and continued on my merry way, writing music. i did not have rayna’s mentor and i believed there was a way to stand out, somehow.

it took some time just to get around to writing. life and its put-the-art-making-on-the-side-and-get-a-real-job-and-make-a-living had me directing and teaching. but not writing. i dabbled a bit relatively early on, did some recording and visited nashville – but didn’t move there. i don’t think i recognized the garden there when i saw it.

it wasn’t until a decade later that the muse caught back up to me. and when it did, it was with some gusto.

and now i’ve seen “the fault in our stars”. and i’ve witnessed mortality. i have loved and lost and changed and learned and made giant messes and have ridden the tide in and out, in and out.

and i’ve written some of my best and some of my worst. and it all counts – whether i – or you – are a tall spikelet or not.

i wonder now if rayna is practicing medicine. i wonder if she is singing.

*****

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


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LBS. [two artists tuesday]

another post paying homage to littlebabyscion.

we were driving south and the real only-way-south when you are trying to get to distant points, is to go through chicagoland, along the garyindiana mess and down i65 through the midwest’s collection of orange barrels. the speed limit varies – anything from 55mph to 70mph, though there are measures of highway in work zones that are 45. you wouldn’t know it. it is a speedway and not for the faint of heart.

littlebabyscion reared its little head and took off. “i got this,” i could hear its heart call to me as i drove. i looked down and, though i was being aggressively passed left and right, LBS was steady at 80mph. a proud momma moment. i said something to david who concurred that this little vehicle was – indeed – amazing. i said – and i have no idea where this came from – “littlebabyscion is hard-tootin’ down the highway!!”

“hard-tootin’.”

where does this stuff come from?

truth be told, however, littlebabyscion WAS hard-tootin’. it easily crested big hills and drove on forest service gravel roads. it hugged the curves in the mountains and glided down the interstates. and, in a moment we both watched, it crossed over to 260,000 miles. a proud parent moment – yup.

we were in kentucky on our way back home when it rolled over to 260. we had laughed – well, sort of laughed – on our way down south, talking about how most people we know don’t have to wonder about their vehicle on a roadtrip. they simply get in and go. we – well – we wonder a little. both littlebabyscion and big red have given us more than a few reasons to wonder. but i quietly talked to LBS before we left and cheerleaded it on, telling it i believe in it and finishing with, “you GO, little baby scion!”

we have animated our vehicle, humanized it. yes, i know. it means that we now have to find someone to address a littlebitta rust under this intrepid little car, the peril of northern living. a welder or a magician. either would work for us. it’s not part-of-the-plan to purchase a new vehicle right now or anytime soon, so if you know a welder or a magician, please let us know. i got wind that littlebabyscion was seeking a patreon account; i reassured our tiny xb that we are working on its concerns.

260,000 miles is a lot. LBS had only 250 miles or so on the odometer when i purchased it. 260k is equal to 87 times across the united states. we are – not surprisingly – bonded. we truly love LBS.

with a definite nod of gratitude to steve, our fantastic mechanic, to jeff’s exhaust system shop, to kenosha tire, we will keep going.

300k is merely 40,000 miles away. i hope to post that picture one of these days.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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two or more. [merely-a-thought monday]

it doesn’t matter to us that it is a vintage windsor wheelback country kitchen chair. it’s just a sweet chair in the dining room of a little house in the north carolina mountain town we are fond of. our favorite part is the stenciled “EAT”.

my next tiny project will be to stencil this onto the old metal framed chair in our dining room. it’s the chair we grab when 20 comes over and we eat inside. we always pull it into the kitchen and sit around the small square table my dad refinished 34 years ago. we could sit in the dining room – there’s plenty of space and more than enough chairs – but it’s cozy in the kitchen and we choose cozy for sitting, sipping wine, eating together, catching up, laughing. the textures in our kitchen are the same as in this mountaintown dining room – old wood floors, thick white trim, light grey walls, black chairs. i tend to select the airbnbs that look like our own sensibility – a home away.

back in the day i had stenciled along the entire kitchen upper wall, just like in our foyer. simple checkerboxes, but that has gone the way of simplicity. one of these days i will need to repaint the foyer – the plaster in there is forcing my hand. and the last of the checkerboxes will disappear. an era. bygone.

i laid awake last night for a long time. my dear friend linda told me that when she is awake for long periods at night she will walk through their bygone houses in her mind. it calms her thoughts and brings her closer to sweet sleep. last night i walked through my growing-up house, in the front door, into the living room and the kitchen, the dining room, the paneled den with the gigantic rock fireplace, down the hall into my bedroom. i took a tour of the basement and the backyard, the woods behind our house. i moved on…to florida and the homes i lived in there. the sheep farm in new hampshire, the littlehouse on washington island. here.

although i could picture the homes and the furnishings – for the most part – the pictures – snapshots from a viewmaster – i could mostly see were the gatherings. people gathered around tables in the kitchen, people gathered for holiday meals in the dining room, people gathered en masse outside or inside, just munching on snacks or burgers or making apple pies or having shrimp boils or big parties or little parties with tables lined with foods everyone brought to contribute to the feast.

it’s been a while since we have hosted any big parties. a couple years now. when i worked at the church we hosted all the time – any excuse for a choir party, all the summertime ukulele rehearsals. we added our big dig, the slow dance party, christmas eve outdoor luminaria bonfire fests. community was built around these gatherings – people coming together to visit and share and eat, to slow down and talk and share where they are at. a community that gathers grows. a community that shares meals grows. a community that authentically cares grows. connection. comfort. contentment.

we miss those times. it came naturally to us to be the spot. job loss and covid, financial strain, caution-in-gathering – they all put constraints on the big – and small – gatherings. little by little we return around the table. literally and figuratively.

in the meanwhile, we gratefully sit in the sunroom surrounded by happy lights or in the kitchen at the table, the legs of which dogdog gnawed on as a puppy or outside on the patio by the fire.

the thing we always knew: “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” (helen keller)

where two or more may gather.

and EAT.

*****

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


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a bottle of rosé instead. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s not true.

he is actually a great chef. he loves sous-cheffing but he is never averse to preparing an entire dinner. give him a recipe and some space – and maybe the promise to clean up later – and he will take on anything. especially if he and 20 are at it together. they practically sing and dance while they cook. ok…they DO sing and dance while they cook. and soon, very soon, fall and winter will have us inside more and they will be making-up-dinners-as-they-go while i sit and sip wine and try to ignore how seventh-grade-ish they are.

not to say that we would not be above having a big mac. though we haven’t had one in literally years and years – diet choices at the forefront of reasons – sometimes “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” sounds dang good.

regardless, billy joel brings me back to luigi’s and gino’s in northport, new york pizza slices folded in half, concerts at the nassau coliseum and my sweet momma’s lasagna.

i might have to settle for a bottle of rosé.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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quilts > duvets. [k.s. friday]

…and i will comfort you…

given a choice, we will stay in airbnbs. they are homes – real people’s places where they laid their heads – and they offer a comfort that hotels just can’t.

perhaps i have never stayed in a hotel resort that reaches its arms around me, snugged into its chest. it is true. i haven’t ever been to an all-inclusive. when we hotel-it, we stay at the hampton inn, where they offer breakfast and wash the duvet cover daily. they are very clean, mostly updated, the beds are goldilocks-worthy and there is a refrigerator and microwave for the food we are carrying with us.

we arrived in richmond, kentucky on a thursday evening. a fire truck was diagonally across the road, blocking it, and my heart flipped a little, wondering what might have happened. instead, a small town, it was the night of the homecoming parade. we got to the corner by our airbnb, but only to the corner. it was the final approach for the parade route and the police officer at the corner stopped us with a sheepish smile, “just pull over and watch.” he added, “sorry”.

we weren’t sorry. it was a delight to see the parade up close and personal and we cheered and the high school football team threw us candy. after all the convertibles with king and queen candidates drove by and the final police car with lights, the police officer allowed us to turn toward our lodging.

we wrote to andrew, the host of our roomy and perfectly-appointed loft, just to let him know what a joy it was to pull into his town and find such fun. he responded immediately. a real person. a real home. he pays attention. we sat on the tiny balcony and sipped wine while the church carillon rang out post-parade. after more than eight hours on the road, we felt comforted.

the little house in brevard was known to us. we stayed there before. so we knew exactly what we would find…a home with a front porch… our window into the tiny mountain town. we chose to stay there again because it had held us the first time…in comfort. home away from home.

the ukulele band i directed played the van morrison song “comfort you”. “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

comfort, invisibly wrapping us, giving us pause.

i can think of nothing more important in these times – really, any times – but especially these times – than people comforting other people. the capacity for a human to give reassurance and hope to another must surpass all efforts to compete, to one-up, to undermine. surely as the south begins to clean up from hurricane ian, the evidence is obvious.

i will comfort you – words unspoken perhaps – but deeds spell it all out. people loving one another.

quilts > duvets.

*****

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

and the parade greets us as we arrive


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this. a happy swiss cheese plant. [d.r. thursday]

there is a magazine i look at most every day. it is a simple-magazine publication and features container gardens of all sorts. each time i page through it i see something new, get ideas, wonder about unique re-purposing, changing old typewriters or baskets into succulent planters or large-animal feed scoops or galvanized tubs into fence pots. the photography shows beautiful plants in all seasons of growth and it makes creative juju pick up pace.

we walked slowly through the daniel stowe botanical garden with our daughter and her boyfriend, enjoying every second. the greenhouse was steamy and we got misted as we walked. gorgeous orchids punctuated the tropical plants. we stopped to read information, take pictures, admire textures and the colors that looked like dr seuss had taken crayons to everything.

the monstera deliciosa (or aptly-named swiss cheese plant) captured our attention. nature has a way of making sure that rainwater and dew are properly retained yet the leaves are not perpetuating algae or molds, fungus or disease. amazing. instead, waxy fronds or holey swiss-cheesed leaves let the droplets roll off, keeping them open to sunlight. each plant has its own system for balance, all depending on its ever-changing circumstances.

the day at the garden was over too soon; visiting is like that. there were only a few days and it’s hard to fit months and months of not-seeing into bits and pieces of 72 hours.

i now know why my sweet momma always had lists when i called or visited with her. there were things she wanted to know, needed to know, that she didn’t want to forget to ask. there were tiny and big questions about my daily life she wondered about – the extraordinary and the mundane, my feelings about things happening in the world, curiosities she had about my comings and goings and adventures and challenges and transitions. she just simply wished to hear my stories, have a window into my life. without being too invasive, without crossing the ever-changing-invisible-tightrope-line, she wanted to share in it, be a part of it. i get it.

kc, my bonsai gardenia plant, is difficult, “one of the most loved and challenging plants”. i never know if i am watering her enough or too much, if her brown-edged leaves are due to too much attention or too little attention. she has not had a bloom, though she did have two hopeful buds. she is not easy, but she is beautiful and particular and i am determined. charlie, my heart-leaf philodendron, the other plant that was also a lovely gift from my beloved daughter, is easy. she grows no matter what. she is healthy and thriving. she is green and lush and i can practically see her smiling. charlie is the opposite of kc. treasured plants on our garden table in ever-changing light and seasons as they grow, so much like the diversity of real living, i talk to them every day; i appreciate and adore them. they are lessons.

and it occurs to me that these two beautiful plants, both on the table in our sunroom, are – indeed – the spectrum definition of motherhood, the nature of every single cherished relationship, the easy-hard, the fragile-resilient, the holding-on-letting-go, bursting blooms and foliage or the missing of blooms, the learnings, the balance of unconditional love. perhaps a good addition would be this happy swiss cheese plant, a reminder to let it all roll off and keep on keeping on.

no wonder my momma had so many plants.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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every waterfall counts. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we stood in a quiet forest, the only sounds – birds and running water.

we had taken a sketchy gravel forest service road – a single-car-width-wide – to get to the trailhead up the mountain, encouraging littlebabyscion the whole way and grateful we had gotten new tires before our trip. the brochure directions were not as straight-forward as we would have liked, and we lost signal for most of the time, but eventually the alltrails app helped us find our way.

250 waterfalls. there are more than 250 waterfalls to discover in brevard, north carolina. choosing where to go is overwhelming. but once you start laying feet on the dirt, hiking, it really doesn’t matter. we were surrounded by intensity every which way we looked. we stood by the side of the waterfall, silent.

it wasn’t one of the grand falls; it wasn’t listed on the “top 10”. but it was serene and light dazzled through the trees. millions of droplets captured the sun. a tiny miracle of beauty in the woods. haloed waterfall. stunning. perfect.

“and the moon said to me, my darling daughter, you do not have to be whole in order to shine.” (nichole mcelhaney)

we hiked on up further, a steep climb to a destination unknown.

*****

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


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stumbles and falls. [two artists tuesday]

and in the same way that my palm is a picture of life, so was this trail.

roots everywhere. trippables. this north carolina forest, a temperate rainforest, was a palmistry dream. rhododendron bushes and tree roots criss-crossing, superficially close to the surface, looking unlike the high colorado mountain woods, full of pine and aspen, spruce and juniper.

i must not lift my feet up all the way when i walk. because – every so often – i stumbled and caught myself with my walking stick. shuffling along is not in order. in metaphor-land, that’s much the same as life too. no shuffling. pick your feet up and step…even baby steps.

years and years ago, decades really, i remember being in the car with my former husband. he was driving and there was someone crawling along…shuffling, if you can imagine that in a car with tires. “do something!” he muttered. “even if it’s wrong!” he added. it was the first time i can remember hearing that expression. it made me laugh aloud. the “even if it’s wrong” part. i still think about that when i drive. it’s the you-can-always-turn-around and find the right route. you are not stuck on the road you are on for always. i refuse to cut across lanes of traffic just to make a turn i didn’t realize was coming up quickly. there are other ways of getting there.

we took it slow…my lesson from vacation, the essay i would write were i tasked the proverbial what-did-you-do-on-vacation assignment. we talked about it in littlebabyscion as it crossed to 260,000 miles on the odometer. “slow and steady and we’ll get there,” i said. “there?” d asked. “anywhere we need to be, any decision we need to make, any challenge we need to forge through,” i replied.

somehow, despite the roots and the shadows and the stumbles and falls, we manage to rise up again. the trails all have them. so do the roads and the choices and decisions and relationships. smooth sailing is a myth. it’s all a little bumpy.

we go a little slower.

and there is grace in the air. we need extend it to each other and to ourselves.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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no pizza, but thank you. [merely-a-thought monday]

if my sweet momma had hung tiny signs in trees, she would have hung this one, “be the reason someone smiles today.”

the historic district of plaza midwood in charlotte is a paradise of bungalows and porches. we walked to the harris teeter slowly, admiring each one, imagining the inside. later, we searched on zillow to see interiors and prices of these gems.

the house with the huge peace sign, the word love by the front door, prayer flags hanging on the side…we knew these people could easily be our friends. an inviting neighborhood. and then, this tree, filled with wisdoms and encouragements.

we porch-sat each night in our tiny mountain town, sitting on the steps or in sling camp chairs or at our pop-up table that travels with us. our airbnb is on one of the main arteries of the little city so there is traffic to watch and there are people walking by.

sometimes the conversations would be short and sweet and we would just greet people and cheer them on their way. other times, we’d start chatting. mike and michaela walked by and ended up at the porch several nights. and the feral cat – so sweet and so very shy – stopped by for a quiet visit each night. it easily started to feel really comfortable; we settled in quickly.

there are definitely times we walk or hike and attempt a littlebittaconversation with others when we are dissed. they will say nothing. truly nothing. no reaction, no smile, nothing. but we – nevertheless – try to subscribe to my momma’s unspoken mantra. we keep on trying to make others smile. it doesn’t take a lot of energy to try and momentarily engage with another, to act goofy or silly or self-deprecating, to do something kind, say something positive or enthusiastic or complimentary.

sitting on the steps of the porch one night, we said hi to a guy walking past. he was carrying his hot-out-of-the-pizza-oven pizza from the gas-station-triangle-stop-shop that oddly “offers growler taps and on-premise beer and wine”. he seemed surprised and then called over, “you wanna piece? i can share.” we laughed, tempted, and told him thank you.

we declined a slice of pizza, but my sweet momma’s eyes were sparkling.

*****

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


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blue, red, yellow, blue. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we were on the mountain past the junction where the blue trail met red, in the middle of the red trail, heading to yellow. it was considered “moderate” but i wondered what temperature it was outside when someone deemed it “moderate”. because at 90 degrees and humid, it wasn’t feelin’ too moderate.

the day before we had climbed to see a waterfall and then took the trail up from there. up, up and away it went and with north-carolina-mountain-summerish temperatures, we were lucky to find a cool stream at some elevation. david climbed down and dipped the bandana, which i wrapped around my neck. that helped. we got to a spot where it was purely a scramble up boulders and decided to turn around. frozen shoulder and high heat aside, it wasn’t as inviting as advertised. we hiked back down.

back on red, with a branch-ala-trekking-stick in hand, i tried to decide which way to go. back would mean a trail i already had climbed – and i knew there was a lot of up on the way back as well. forward would be a lot longer, but would also mean completing the trail.

to be clear, we were not flip-flopping it here. we had full-on hiking boots on our feet and carried small backpacks with water and snacks and our alltrails app, a wonder of science and technology. thankfully, we had the bandana and there was a stream punctuating our hike.

i’m pretty stubborn most days. if we are walking around town – our own or this mountain town we are currently in – we love to wear flip-flops. we actually haaave hiked in flip-flops, though i wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. standing on the red, even with my boots, i wasn’t sure which way to go. i was overheated and my knee was screeching a little at me. i drank some water and grabbed my stick.

we kept going.

the hike was about six and a half miles, which doesn’t sound too bad, except for the stats said we had also climbed 47 floors. mind you, those are not like the twelve levels of steps in the parking garage after the ej concert. these floors are indicative of elevation and don’t mention roots and rocks and clay and loose pebbles. and humidity. did i mention it was hot?

it’s usually roots that get me. i mustn’t pick up my feet. i don’t know. what i do know is that david – always the genteel and solicitous husband – reaches out his hand or places his shoulder at arm’s reach. he steadies me so i don’t bounce off the side of the mountain or land – never-too-gracefully – in the middle of the dirt trail. he offered to turn around, reassuring me it didn’t matter which way we finished.

sometimes he talks about my shoe choices. but on the side of the mountain, sopping cool bandana around my neck, more than halfway there, he was only encouraging. our conversation about shoes was only about finding new hikers that will take us to yet more adventures. maybe something even more sensible, even more sensitive to our foot-knee-back-hip-shoulder – full-body – needs.

the red trail met up with yellow. i was grateful. mostly, though, i was really happy when yellow met back up with blue. yeeeeeha!

we made it. the whole hike.

and then we sat on the front porch in bare feet sipping a good red watching the traffic go by.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com