reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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


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me and lucy and ethel. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i would not call myself a whirling dervish. though there are moments we all must succumb to that. any time i have spent whirling and dervishing i have felt like i was in the middle of an “i love lucy” episode, all eyes on my fumbling and klutz. i truly don’t know anyone who can stake claim to getting all tied up in the vacuum cord, but maybe it’s just that no one else will admit to it. it is one of my nemeses. yes, you read that right. the vacuum cord.

my sweet momma had a maroon electrolux. it was the kind where there was a long hose and the canister tank was on metal sled slides and you pulled it around behind you. for some reason, it seemed easier to operate. i suspect this is solely my problem.

in recent developments of technology i see that there is a vacuum operated on battery. the dyson v15 detect has been getting a lot of attention. i’m wondering if there is any merit to this machine. i mean, we have an aussie. and aussies shed twice a year. the first half and the second half. dogga has an unbelievable amount of doghair and it is a constant battle with tufts gathering en masse in corners of the old wood floors everywhere. my continued war-with-the-cord challenges me at every turn – even if i hold up the cord that would tangle my feet – while dogga tries to stay away from the monster whose cord he chewed the very first day we got it. someday, it may be time for a new purchase. i’m hoping that they improve the battery-operated variety by then.

in the meanwhile, cleaning and chores will continue to be somewhat circular, spinning and twirling from room to room…thinking broom, dustrag, oh-what-about-that-pile, wait-i-need-a-drink-of-water, sheesh-throw-on-a-load-of-laundry, yikes-did-i-pay-that-bill-due-online-today, don’t-forget-to-take-something-out-for-dinner, oh-these-dishes-need-to-be-washed, what-about-THIS-pile, where-are-my-favorite-jeans, maybe-i-should-take-out-our-gloves-from-the-winter-bin, maybe-i’ll-go-work-on-smack-dab, does-this-still-fit, write-down-that-thought, make-a-grocery-list, the-bathroom-needs-cleaning, let-the-dog-out, let-the-dog-in, make-that-call, page-through-a-catalog, i-should-darn-these-socks and …….. vacuum.

in my spare time – the time that no woman i know has – i’ll be hanging out with lucy and ethel, honing my handy dandy vacuum skills.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the fat seagull. [k.s. friday]

“you must begin by knowing you have already arrived. your true nature lives as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time.” (richard bach – jonathan livingston seagull)

i followed the seagulls on my ten-speed. to the beach, always the beach. later, i followed them in my little blue volkswagen, their screeches out my open window, their soaring showing me the way. and i felt kin to richard bach, his writings about freedom and passion and dreaming and the meaning of life. we met at the beach – crab meadow – and talked telepathically. well, i talked. i don’t know if he was listening. he was on the west coast and i was on the east, though i suppose jonathan livingston may have been able to deliver any message of gratitude i had.

and so we arrived at the fat seagull. it is beyond me why we had never discovered this bar and grill tucked into the downtown of manitowoc. it’s a cheers! kind of place, people who know each other gathered at the bar and around tables, eating, drinking pints, playing games, talking. in the way of wisconsin pubs, there is a vast menu and we order a thursday special to split. the bartender tells us that the two wine glasses they had were broken so he gives us diminutive stemware and charges us less. we choose the bottle still corked, wondering who last drank out of the open bottle and how long ago that might have been. we are kind of strangers in a strange land…17 draft beers and traditional old-fashioneds surround us and our tiny wines.

we listen to live music and gaze around – at people, at the bar, the old wood floor, the ceiling. it is a study in perfection. we feel alive – out and about – a two hour drive each way – food we didn’t prepare – wine we didn’t pour. we talk about how it feels. we laugh and dance. we don’t realize it’s raining out; it had been a beautifully sunny day. we are glad to be there.

we end this week in uncertainty. we reach backwards, examining all we have done – so far – in life and work, what we have accomplished, what we have not. sixty-something is not youth, nor is it aged. it is somewhere in-between, located wherever we are. we bring all we know – and all we do not know – with us. we try to trust that we have arrived, that we are on the tarmac – or – in the terminal, that we – too – despite our lack of certainty – have flown, screeching and soaring.

“instead of being enfeebled by age, the elder had been empowered by it; he could outfly any gull in the flock, and he had learned skills that the others were only gradually coming to know.”

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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fluff and pine and raynor winn. [d.r. thursday]

and we will give thanks over costco rotisserie chicken and homemade mashed potatoes.

and we will play favorite cds in the happy-lit sunroom as we set a table, thoughtfully choosing cloth napkins, deciding which place, which memories we want to evoke.

and we will speak of others gathered around tables and tv trays, spilling into family rooms from dining rooms and kitchens filled with light and food and conversation.

and we will call and have chit-chat, maybe even a facetime visit.

and, if the rain holds off, we will take a hike in the woods. it will be slightly warmer and there are few dishes to wash.

and, maybe, we will read poetry or the new raynor winn book, if our copy arrives soon enough.

and it’s possible we will watch a movie or two, with a duraflame log burning but not stressing the fireplace and chimney.

and we will dessert on brownie bites, perhaps a dollop of whipped cream, perhaps a few raspberries. or ice cream from our yonana, still a dollop, still a few berries.

and we will miss those not here…those gathered with others, those too far away, those on other planes. we will speak of them in our gratitudes and hold them all close.

and we will sit – and stand – and maybe even dance – in the day, even in its liminal space.

and we will begin to decorate with fluff and pine to welcome the season, earlier than usual.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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just over. just beyond. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

just over the horizon, a midwest-calendar-worthy farm. the photograph could be black and white save for the old barn and an outbuilding, red boards peeking at us, just over the horizon.

there was snow. way more snow than we realized. at home the lake effect had kept the snow at bay – this time. but up there, snow lay on the evergreens, drifted along fences and there were even those piles in parking lots. just over the horizon.

we drive and wonder. we take the back roads to milwaukee, choosing to stay off the interstate. we wish to see the horizon as we pass it. we wish to wonder. who are these people – these hardworking farmers in these days? we pause to talk about what life must be like, the challenges, the rewards, what the horizon will bring them as the years click by.

it makes me think of a song –

i look once more
just around the riverbend
beyond the shore
where the gulls fly free
don’t know what for
what i dream, the day might send
just around the riverbend
for me
coming for me

(alan menken/stephen schwartz)

it’s in looking back we realize how far we have come. from where we stand – still – we can’t see how the horizon changes. we cannot see what is beyond the horizon. were we to live life like a leica drone – or a gull – we might be able to catch a glimpse. but maybe all that would do is fill in the gaps – color in the rest of the old barn, show where the silo meets the ground, capture the next bend in the river, the next rise of the land.

it wouldn’t show the snow that might fall. it wouldn’t show new dreams dreamed nor the future coming.

it would simply give us the architecture of what’s out there. but not the heart.

that’s the stuff to wonder about.

*****

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


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crinkles and shoestrings. [two artists tuesday]

they aren’t even my favorite. shoestrings are my favorite. but it didn’t matter. we pulled into the culvers drive-thru, rolled down the window and ordered “the biggest french fry order you have”. sometimes you feel like a nut. so…crinkles.

in really-more-news-than-you-need-to-know, we ate them all. the entire contents of the family-size-fries-in-the-heavy-plastic-hinged-take-out-container. all of it. well, except for like ten fries. we left those to be all virtuous.

i could instantly feel a zit forming on my chin, somehow lurking there since early teenagehood, waiting for me to indulge in toomanyfries. i vowed not to go out anywhere until it was gone. all-the-way-gone. errgggh. you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. we neeeeeded those fries. but they were not without peril.

you might think that was a bit of an extravagance for two artists onastricterbudgetagain. but receipt 186 for “kari” reveals it was merely $5.55 and we ultimately figured that “1 fry fam” was a lower level vice than other things might be. we think about these things way more than you might think.

the fries helped, actually. well, like vices, at least for the moment. we devoured them, along with dogdog, who was in littlebabyscion with us.

and then we went to the rv dealer for continued escapism. astounded by the interior of both you-drive-them-rvs and you-pull-them-campers, we moseyed for a few hours, in the gigantic domed building, out onto the multiple parking lots full of options and back inside.

the fact that one of the lowest-priced campers had a kitchen nicer than our own was disconcerting. i mean, it had an island and a dreamy butler pantry with a wine fridge. and an oven. it had an oven.

good thing. something in which to make those ore-ida shoestrings.

i’m guessing we’ll need them. and you can’t find a culvers everywhere.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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teeters and totters. [merely-a-thought monday]

there are days that i find it stunning – the number of wisdoms quoted on memes on social media. goodness-gurus like maya angelou, dalai lama, buddha, mr. rogers, gandhi…as facebook profile pictures, cover photos, posts, instas, sage snaps. so many of these are about kindness – basic, the foundation for living in and amongst others.

the center of gravity on a seesaw is in the center of mass. two people on a beam, fulcrum pivot point in the middle, there is a place negotiated where the seesaw will balance. maybe this is the secret of interactions with others.

in too many instances it would seem that our interactions with others are out-of-balance, that they are a study in power struggle, in a quest for control. the seesaw slams into the ground as the heavyweight force succeeds in out-maneuvering the lightweight with no attempt at level. you cannot hide the heavyweight forces and think they don’t exist. the choice to let someone’s else’s side of the seesaw slam into the ground or to let them fly off the high side is conscious and real. and the goodness-gurus frown.

yet the teeters totter on and quote and proclaim and tout and proselytize and do not choose to lead by guruwisdom, ever righteous. it’s astonishing hypocrisy.

sue aikens lives alone in the most northern regions of alaska. she spends most of the year in frigid darkness, with an airstrip and a camp for those willing to brave the remote arctic. her wisdom is seemingly honed by years of introspection and sorting. she has no seesaw at her camp, but she lives everyday on the slim board that is life in those parts, always balancing with nature, with wildlife, with her own abilities and limitations. i imagine there are days that she spends on the low side of the metaphoric seesaw, trying to control her surroundings, the rises and falls, as much as possible. but i would also imagine that most of her days are spent trying to find the pivot point, equilibrium – the place where she interacts with the good earth and its inhabitants with grace and generosity and keeps the seesaw in balance. she has teetertottered in kavik over twenty years. she is clearly doing something right.

as she says, “your interactions are always your choice.”

*****

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

BE KIND BUTTONS


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we know. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

“and their eyes get all wet.”

yes, they do.

because babycat, well, he rescued me. this black and white hulking tuxedo cat was not merely a cat. he was always an angel in disguise, just like all our pets are intended.

we – truly – miss him every day. and so does dogga. the alpha-in-the-house, babycat’s presence was part of the most basic of maslow’s hierarchy. he was as necessary to a sense of rightness-in-the-world as any of the physiological and safety needs.

i suppose as time continues to go on, the lump in our throats will ease a bit.

but as the hierarchy presses, rears its pointy head and pokes at us in these times, we gather dogdog and that babycat-angel around us and tuck in.

we do know, b-cat.

*****

read DAVID’s thought this SATURDAY MORNING

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