reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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something so delicious. [d.r. thursday]

it was the perfect “welcome home”.

there is something so delicious about going away. we left town and the cold north for florida. it was just for a few days, but the difference in climate is stunning. when you are not – in general – wearing your 32 degrees base layer or your earmuffs on a walk or your furry boots and you have traded it all for cropped jeans and flipflops and no-sleeves, it is a joy. the sun shined down on us as we visited together – our family – a ridiculous and unbelievable four years since we had seen them. we stuffed conversations into nooks and crannies of time and cheered glasses and cooked and took walks and played thomas-the-tank-engine with the tiny two-year-old-miracle who is now in the fam as well. in the middle of it, we suddenly realized how fast it was all going. and then, it was time to board. masks on – two of like four people in the entire tampa airport – we got on the plane and zipped through the air back home.

there is something so delicious about getting home. behind us we had left dogdog in the ever-capable hands of our 20. behind us we had left the worries and angsts of the moment, of this time. behind us we had left our 32 degrees base layers and hats and gloves. behind us we had left all vestiges of our normal schedule and normal routines.

we exited the plane, stopped at the meditation room at milwaukee airport and got into a cold but completely happy-to-see-us littlebabyscion (i may be projecting here) and drove home, getting more excited each minute. 20 had soup and bread ready for us when we got there. he knows how to tend to those basic comforts – those things that reassure when you have left part of your heart behind somewhere else. and then…that deep tiredness – that happens after you have been away and have arrived back home – sunk in.

sleep came early and then we woke early. looking out the window we watched the snow fall. it’s winter in wisconsin and it looks like winter. i like that. i need the seasons to go by…it’s part of my own process as well.

as the flakes get larger and i write this i know that today is a home-day. i just need to stay home, do the laundry, look at the lists i left, process leaving family-i-love behind. tomorrow i will go out. tomorrow is soon enough.

today i just need to absorb the “welcome home” and listen to the quiet snow fall.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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the turtles. [k.s. friday]

i think about the turtles. they are there in the warmer months, sunning on logs and rocks that jut out of the river. but, when it dips below fifty degrees or so – and stays there – they disappear. apparently, they dive down to the muddy bottom, their metabolism slows down, they require less oxygen. their mucky homes keep them safe as they bide time, these wise, long-lived creatures of the water and the land.

from time to time on the trail we look for them. we know where they hang out and have watched for telltale signs of small snouts poking out of the water. but then it got cold and we just missed them.

the river is alive with other wildlife. geese and a few hardy ducks, squirrels, deer – we see them as we hike.

but we always talk about the turtles anyway. just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean we forget about them. we know they are there – somewhere – in hidden spots, places they feel sheltered and secure. i think about what they might be doing. they are silent and the fallow is long. i trust they are sorting what is next, kind of like us.

he can tell you i worry about them, despite the fact that i know they are completely capable, totally self-sufficient, quite brilliant actually. nevertheless, i am more comforted by seeing the turtles every now and then – at least – than by wondering how they are faring. time keeps moving, though, and i keep hope that when it warms up and the turtles have a more secure sense of themselves in the world they will reappear, out of the suspension of presence. i’m hoping for an early spring.

i know that the turtles are aware i am watching for them and waiting. and the river freezes. and then it thaws.

*****

LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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maraschino dreams. [two artists tuesday]

and they dreamed dreams and waited in the woods…winterberries with visions of becoming maraschino cherries in their mind’s eye…actualizing with starring roles in traditional wisconsin brandy old-fashioneds…

no, no. do not put winterberries in your old-fashioned. they are completely toxic. but they are striking and unexpected. and the color in the woods is intoxicating. gorgeous red punctuating a dim brown-grey, save for a few evergreen, they are clustered beautiful.

it had been a while, what with the freezing temperatures and snow. we finally made it out to our favorite trail and it was – truly – a breath of fresh air. there is nothing quite as restorative as hiking, surrounded by stillness and the sound of wind rustling through the tops of trees. we needed to get outside. we slogged through the trails, getting a better workout than usual. the mud splashed up onto the back of our jeans, like when you ride your bike in the rain. we reveled in it.

the deer tracks went across the path. they hadn’t been there the first time we passed through. it was early in the day, early for the deer to be moving around, but we started looking through the brush.

her sweet face was staring right at us, her body blending into the scrub and trees around her. we stood, gazing at each other, none of us moving. i slowly took my phone out to capture what i knew would be hard to discern in a photograph – this deer in the woods, this shared moment of time. she didn’t move, but her tail wagged and her ears pitched forward and back, listening. i was hoping she could hear the words i whispered to her – telepathically, a little dr. doolittle-ish. her continued gaze at us, grace for our presence, her head held high, no obvious fear. unexpected.

she never left the spot while we were standing there. she took a few steps but didn’t flee, as so often happens when you start to move in the forest. we blew her a kiss and continued on, feeling lucky to have seen her and to have spent a few minutes with her.

we passed more winterberry holly as we hiked, laughing about old-fashioneds and marveling at our new deer friend in the woods.

we exited the trail, none too anxious to leave, wanting to just linger.

“sometimes,’ said pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” (a.a. milne)

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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in the questions. [k.s. friday]

i cleaned my studio.

finally.

took everything off every surface. dusted everything. put some things away. moved things around. got rid of excess. hung a favorite print. and – with great care – gently vacuumed the inside of my really beautiful piano, for full-stick is an invitation to dust.

i stood back, stood in the doorway, looking in.

the room was breathing. deep breaths.

i was breathing. immersed.

there is still more to go through. there is more to file away. there is former work-trauma to discard and there are calendars of choir music and ukulele band books and handbell arrangements and contemporary solos to box up. the first pass didn’t get all those and now, two years later, i am still a little paralyzed by all of it. that’s why it all needs to go. this process is taking longer than i would have anticipated. “mind, body, spirit,” she said. “it’s not likely others will understand all the layers. they will expect you to just move on, to get over it. they will not grok the wounds; it is all fraught.”

but there were staff lines in the sky. and the universe prompt is haunting me a little.

it’s always had a purpose – my studio – a direct line from standing or sitting in there to actual work. i’ve not just noodled or played because i was just playing. i’ve stood in there to write – to flesh out an album, to practice, to plan – the arc of music for a concert or for a church calendar, to teach – so many students through the years. it hasn’t been a place i go to without purpose, without an end-product, without a result i could see. as an adult, my studio has represented the potential for income; it has been a professional place. now there are questions. many of them. like living in a blank staff, i live – lost – in the questions.

i played my piano. a few carols.

there is one more day this year. and then 2023.

and i won’t carry carols into the new year. it will be time for something else, something less dusty.

there’s some way to go. it’s not as simple as it sounds.

the staff lines in the sky hold no clues, have no notes.

maybe – instead of reading that as tacet – silent – i might – and “might” is the operative word here – read that as a composition without designated key, without predetermined time signature, without definitive expression markings, sans any direction or boundary.

vacuumed and breathing.

an empty notebook on the stand. pencils.

full-stick.

we’ll see.

*****

lost. in the questions. – kerri sherwood

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waiting past dimly-lit. [d.r. thursday]

in color. it may be a while. winter is upon us. al fresco waits.

we walked past, on a dimly-lit day, as if there was a 40 watt bulb in a really big room. they caught our attention. i could hear the laughter and the clinking of dishes and silverware somewhere in my head, the strung lights turned on, maybe a little music. the picnic tables, the patio space wait.

we have had a string of days. dimly-lit. overcast and drizzly, a few snowflakes here and there, damp. the sun is out there, waiting.

we have had a string of days. dimly-lit. our spirits a little under-the-weather, a little tuckered-out, a little flummoxed. we walk the sidewalks of this small town, having gotten out of our heads a little. we assure each other – opportunity is out there there, waiting.

we pass signs of the holidays approaching…decorated trees, boxes of ornaments, star tchotchkes and packs of menorah candles in shop windows. waiting.

had we waited for dark, i’m pretty sure the little town west of milwaukee would have lit up. but we didn’t wait.

we drove home the backroads, through farmland and tiny towns. and when we got there we lit our own happy lights and sat at the table in our sunroom.

we talked about how lovely it was to just be out and about. a few moments in dimly-lit days with some added technicolor.

we bought our first led bulb. it’s 100 watts. we installed it in the kitchen schoolhouse fixture and made a stockpot of chicken soup by its light. we were surprised. the light was significant. we were going to wait, but the two-pack was on sale. so we didn’t wait.

the silver tree on the windowsill reflected the lights stretched across the open shelf. the star in the sunroom glistened, strung globe lights below it.

a little less dim.

the moon is waning, the stars are absent. but even in night-clouds, we see evidence-bits of them. waiting.

*****

WAITING ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

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CHASING BUBBLES 33.25″ x 48″


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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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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 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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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


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off the trail we know. [k.s. friday]

each time the trail curves, i can imagine it. next.

but as weeks go, this one has been harder. we tried our best to be positive, to believe that the new bend in our road is not so fraught. but, the fact of the matter is that it is. fraught.

we are pretty tough. kind of scrappy. definitely frugal. well, most of the time. we have both been presented with lean times in our lives. even our life together has had its lean times. we always eat leftovers. we always repurpose things. we always turn the shampoo bottle upside down. we always keep the heat low. we haven’t bought a vehicle in sixteen years. in some unknown intuitive move for which we are now grateful, we put off the big chimney-fireplace project, necessary but ridiculously expensive. we haven’t flown in three years. we find sanctuary in a forest we know well. we know where the trail curves.

and each time the trail curves, i can imagine it.

as the sun glimmers on what-looks-like the other end, i think – this is just one day, one week, one time in our lives. tomorrow will dawn and it might be a completely different day, starting a completely different week, a completely different time in our lives. and we just don’t know. again.

we are now in a woods we do not recognize, on a path we can not anticipate. off the trail we know. anxiety hikes with us, as do worry, sadness and disappointment. we worked hard on our plan, but the best laid plans are laid down. and this week, as weeks go, this one has been harder.

the sun quivers through the trees in front of us, setting. we keep walking.

day is done, 
gone the sun, 
from the lake, 
from the hills, 
from the sky; 
all is well, 
safely rest, 
god is nigh.  

fading light 
dims the sight, 
and a star 
gems the sky, 
gleaming bright. 
from afar, 
drawing nigh, 
falls the night.

(taps - d. butterfield/unknown)

*****

IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

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