reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our living room. [two artists tuesday]

on a cold and cloudy day, the colors are muted. it is stunning. the trees have reached out and caught the snow as it flew by. the branches have held onto it, inches of white topping a narrow spectrum of greys and taupe, some tree trunks black in the dim. it’s quiet. we are – on most of the trail – first there, save for the deer and squirrels and rabbits who have left behind evidence of their passing. gorgeous. i am not cold, though the temperatures have plummeted. i feel wrapped by the woods, embraced. the paradise of winter is not on some beach somewhere. it is right here, in the middle of fallow.

it occurs to me that the colors there – in the woods – are the colors in our living room. i see now why – both – they are the colors we have chosen and why they feel so peaceful. the woods is in our living room.

i turn out all the lights – each lamp – the standing lamp, the side-table lamp, the lamp in the window nook, the lamp on the secretary – but leave on the twinkling white lights on the tall branches. they light the room just enough. they are the outside, brought in, a branch from the cherished tree in the front yard, a branch from the woods. they rise high above the old wood floors and bathe this room with starry light. they do not hold the snow as it falls any longer, but they hold memories and profound reminders of the rhythm of nature.

this is, yes, i suddenly see, why this is the palette from which our living room has evolved. it is muted, a quiescent slate from which anything can grow, in which any burst of new color blossoming is celebrated, a serene woods any time we need it.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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spotter. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“my do!!!!” he insisted. there is nothing like a two-year old insisting – with all his might – that he will do it himself. he is extremely capable – strong, smart, wily. somehow you forget how much energy a tiny child has…it just goes on and on and on until it suddenly stops and sweet sleep takes over. amazing stuff. my little great-nephew’s curiosity is divine and his giggle contagious. his stubbornness makes me laugh, but mostly because i can stand back and watch his momma and daddy handle it. their turn. and i am thrilled for them.

even though he was figuring out how to climb the jungle gym in the playground, we were there to spot him. as he learned, our hands were firm, guiding him. as he figured it out, our hands were lighter, still there, but just poised and ready. much like all of parenthood, i’m figuring out. you hold on tightly, then just firmly, then lightly, then you let go, but you are poised and ready. and, just like j, they don’t turn around to see if you are there. they just keep climbing the jungle gym steps, anxious to get to the slide, anxious to explore the rest, anxious to play with the other kids. you are simply the spotter. somewhat invisible but always there.

at the end of the days there – with this marvelous two year old – we were really tired. his spurty focus of energy staccatoed our day as well and, now that my own children are grown-up adults, was something not as familiar to us. our days are more linear with less punctuation, if you will.

but i laid awake at night anyway. i rambled through thoughts of the days when my daughter and my son were little ones with “i do” on their lips. it brought me to places i remembered clearly and places that had slipped into corners of my memory. i missed them and wished that thirty years ago cellphones had had cameras and the ability to make videos. carrying around the 35mm camera and the vhs/8mm videocameras was cumbersome; today’s parents have so many ways to remember every single thing that happens.

my niece and i talked about how motherhood has changed everything. and i told her that will never change.

she will always – now – wake thinking about this little person. and she will always – now – go to sleep with him on the blink of her eyes. she will hold tightly and then firmly and then lightly and then – in achingly beautiful and hard moments – she will let go.

but she will always be his spotter, visible or invisible, noticed or not. he may not turn around to see her there, but she’ll be there.

*****

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


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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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flannel people. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“…eat bread and understand comfort….” (mary oliver – to begin with, the sweet grass)

flannel is like that. flannel shirts, flannel sheets, flannel pjs. the touch of flannel on our skin and we become swaddled babies, small children held in the arms of a loved one, cozied, reassured, comforted.

though there are expensive flannel sheets ‘out there,’ our flannel sheets are from target. two sets of them now. both soothing, serene, bread-like.

we sat in paris – on park benches, cathedral steps, in the grass – with baguettes and cheese, bottles of wine, olives. when i think of paris now, i think of this…comfort – sinking in to the place, like sinking in to flannel sheets on a cold winter’s night, gordon lightfoot’s webs of snow drifting outside our window. i wonder how we could have had a better time – i know…the butter, the starred eateries, the crepes, the cuisine. but we are flannel people, i suppose, and we learned – for us – the way to really feel paris was to sit on its steps, in its parks, in the grass. it was to shop its markets, its boulangeries, its tiny groceries. it was to simplify and to feel the flannel.

because we ate bread and understood.

“…i have become older and, cherishing what i have learned, i have become younger….” (mary oliver)

*****

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


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elated. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

elated to see them.

SHOW that you are elated to see them.

wise words, often attributed to brené brown.

today, i will bow not only to brene, but to dogga and that angel-babycat.

there’s so much to learn from the steady and unbridled, enthusiastic, unconditional love of our pets.

how would everyone feel to be waited for and greeted this way…by our beloveds, by our family and friends, by our colleagues, by people in our community? like we are all elated to see each other?

i suspect the world would be a happy happy place.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2023 kerrianddavid.com


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the pink backpack. [k.s. friday]

“it’s projection,” he wrote. yes. bill penzey is right. it is projection. we project love onto objects and we “really see these objects as love.” he continues, talking about his desire – were there to be a fire in his house – to grab the six-quart stainless kettle he has popped corn in for every movie night he has had with his wife, and his love of the heavy-duty spatula his father gave him, adding, “and in a world where nobody gets too much love anymore, i want to do all i can to hold onto that love.” he is clearly thready. i’ve never met him, but he is on my list – people with whom i’d love to have dinner.

we have a pink backpack. it’s packed from back in the days our town was on fire, days i can feel and hear and smell and taste – viscerally – but would rather not. we’ve kept it packed, realizing that it’s wise to have one thing to grab and one place to go to find that one thing. it has important stuff in it…papers and such. it doesn’t have the tiny cheese knife we use every day, the one that was my sweet momma’s. it doesn’t have the wedding ring my dad wore or the matching flannel shirt of a pair. it doesn’t have the toddler drawings of my children or the small bowl turned trinket-holder that babycat ate from. it doesn’t have zillions of photographs. it doesn’t have masters of all my albums or a collection of jpgs or pngs or printed photos of all of david’s paintings. it doesn’t have the rock i picked up hiking with my daughter or the cork i saved from the first fancy dinner my son made for me. it can’t hold my piano or the vintage typewriter 20 gave me or the bowls we love from ken and loida or the snuggly scarf jen gave me or the old torchiere lamp from my growing-up. it doesn’t have room for the old quilt or our favorite mountain mugs or our ukuleles or my guitars or our dvd favorite-movies-collection or the cardinal towels from my sister or the ‘i-found-you-you-found-me” painting of early k.dot-d.dot days.

the one thing about antique stores is that they give you perspective. lots of it. so many items in the world. so much stuff. you ponder why someone might have held onto a plastic flower arrangement in a plastic flower pot long enough that it became part of an estate that passed into an antique shoppe or how it is possible that there are so so so many 45 rpm records out there, collections of so many long-playing albums, and, someday, so many cds. even mine.

and then you know. it hits you like a spatula upside the head.

though none of that will fit in the pink backpack, were there to be any sort of emergency – and all we could grab is the backpack – we would not lose it all.

it’s love. all love.

*****

IT’S A LONG STORY ©️1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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this, too. [merely-a-thought monday]

in the middle of tempestuous times, you stand firm, dedicated and focused. you fight for what you believe in, you hold fast to what seems important. you are a warrior and you have a mission and you are unparalleled strength.

and the times pass and the seas level out and you slowly allow the storm to dissipate and the roiling foam on the waves to evaporate. you are a survivor and you have grace – for yourself, for others – and you are immeasurable learning.

“the way you look at things is the most powerful force in shaping your life.” (john o’donohue – anam cara)

it is in the tight holding-on, the clenching, the grudge, that the embers burn hot, easily sparked. it is in the loose acceptance, the fluid release, the forgiveness, that the embers are merely for warmth.

i could hear the firetruck getting closer and closer, until suddenly red lights were spinning around our living room. our neighbors had a chimney fire. they were fortunate and the fire department responded quickly and doused the inside of the chimney with chemical to extinguish the fire. we’ve gotten several chimney estimates in recent months, now put aside for a bit of time in order to budget in the pricey work. our neighbors have the stainless steel flues we want to install and so we wondered about how those could allow a fire to start; we thought the reason to install those was to avoid such a danger.

but it seems that even with stainless steel flues, one must chimney sweep them every few years. because the residue builds up. and then it waits. for the perfect moment, so to speak. a spark – uncontrolled – to ignite.

life lessons from a chimney. we hold dear to things we never want to forget. these memories are close to our hearts and cherished. i guess we need be mindful of those other things…the residue…the things best lived through and then forgotten, washed out to sea, chimney-swept from the places in our hearts residue might hide.

“this, too, shall pass.” (my sweet momma)

*****

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


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theme and variations. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s a recurring theme. and variations. sleep. no sleep. partial sleep. disturbed sleep. sleep with snoring. sleep sans snoring.

i don’t remember having this problem earlier in my life. it’s not like i wasn’t worrying about things then, so i don’t know what the difference is. other than menopause. and hormones. and…ummm…aging. a fun trilogy.

we try to have good conversation in the wee hours. we generally have a banana (somewhere we read that bananas are sleep-inducing plus they are easy snacks in the middle of the night.) if we are still starving, we have been known to get up and make pancakes. having mid-night pancakes always sounds better than actually making pancakes in the middle of the night – tired and a little ornery from not sleeping. but once they are made, it’s pretty dreamy to indulge in a few maple-syrup laden pancakes at 3am.

david doesn’t really have trouble sleeping. his troubles come from my trouble. he is a generous sleep-giver-upper on those nights, for which i am grateful. he mustn’t have the trilogy, the whole trilogy and nothing but the trilogy. plus, somehow or other, he places all angsting to the side when he lays his head down. he just goes to sleep.

head down on pillow. go to sleep.

seems easy.

not so much.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2023 kerrianddavid.com


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perils and summits. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i wouldn’t say it’s completely autobiographical. but one has to get one’s idea nuggets from somewhere. and – since our lives together have some really ordinary moments – truly ordinarily-ordinary with a smidge of extra as frosting here and there – they are somewhat easy to pull from.

day-to-day living has enough funny stuff. really. stuff happens. big stuff. little stuff. silly stuff. stupid stuff. hard stuff. poignant stuff. goobery stuff. one just has to notice, to pay attention.

and then – in the case of of a sort-of-autobiographical-sort-of-construed-sort-of-vulnerable-sort-of-stand-up cartoon – one has to be willing to share.

the perils and the summits of middle age. there are plenty.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2023 kerrianddavid.com


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buffalo plaid and stardust. [d.r. thursday]

tucked in my mind’s eye, along with sugar plum fairies and gingerbread houses, twinkling lights and sleigh bells and tiny trees, are matching red buffalo plaid pjs.

old navy made it happen.

for a few days now we have worn our matching red buffalo plaid pj pants. flannel and cozy, we knew better than to purchase long flannel pjs for our kiddos. old navy had already thought this out – they also had flannel red buffalo plaid pj boxers. score! we bought them and wrapped them into stockings. we have no idea if they will wear them or not, but my momma-heart knows we all have them – match-the-family pjs – and just the knowledge makes me happy.

the other day – on christmas evening – they made their first appearance, under a sherpa blanket on the couch watching “love actually”. since then they have appeared under a different sherpa on the couch in the sitting room, dogga curled up on the rug, reading a book together. we are reading aloud the third bestseller by raynor winn, “landlines”, a tale of two long-walkers hiking through scotland, a tale of hope and renewal and restorative juju for them. it’s descriptive and we find ourselves lost in the highlands, step after step in the rain, with them.

our new year’s eve was quiet. we ran a few errands and settled in on the couch to read, had a couple phone calls, prepared a late dinner and settled back on the couch. but our smack-dab cartoon had told a different story. though sometimes-but-not-always a straight-line-to-us-autobiographical middle-age-cartoon, it told the story on new year’s eve of two people who had to get outside and who went walking before midnight so as to be outside – along the lakefront and under the stars – at the turn of the year.

we were having trouble staying awake. it did not seem likely that we would actually see the new year arrive, sleepy eyes and all.

but then – somehow, the two of us, who are now earlier-to-bed-earlier-to-rise, got to the 11 o’clock hour. and we knew – prepare yourself for the double negative – we could not not do it.

hats and gloves and down coats and boots and the night wasn’t as cold as it seemed at 7 or 8 or even 9. the lake is a block away and we walked along it, enjoying the holiday lights still up and lit on our route. we cut in to the path that is right next to the shore and strolled slowly, watching the fireworks in the sky around us.

and, though it was cloudy and we could not see the moon or the stars, we could feel the stardust falling on us, with the promise of a new year.

surely the stuff of sugar plum fairies and twinkling lights, gingerbread and sleigh bells and red buffalo plaid flannel pjs.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY