reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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clear as day. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it’s a little foggy. childbirth is like that. cloudy memories.

in the stunning way of time – and how it flies – it has now been thirty years. today.

my baby boy was placed in my arms thirty years ago. it’s astonishing. i remember everything and i remember practically none of it – it is all blurry.

what i do know – just as i knew in 2020 on the thirtieth birthday of my daughter and the thing that i knew in 1990 my very first day of motherhood – is that it changed my life.

both times.

and every day since.

there is little that can color all your days, for most things are fluid and we roll with it all, hoping there is a next day – to right things, to stand back up, to move on. but motherhood doesn’t play by these rules. if you are worried about your child – regardless of their age or stage – it stays with you. it is – for me – one of the first things i think about when i wake and one of the last things i think about before sleep. it is that which will keep me pondering in the night. it is that which will find me deep in thought in the day. there is really no stopping it.

so, my sweet momma, now i get it.

all that worrying you did, all that championing, all that abiding silently by and waiting, all those pompoms – i get it.

the last time i saw my own sweet momma she was sitting on the edge of her bed, a little later in the morning than usual, still in her nightgown, going slowly, but – mostly – concerned we were not yet on the road, driving I75 and I65 and I94 back home. i don’t know if she knew that 18 days later she would be on a different plane of existence. she just worried about me…all grown up and, yet, her little girl.

i get it.

these amazing children – now both in their thirties – are still the same people about whom i have always wondered – about everything – from the tiny to the gigantic – if they need snacks, if they are healthy, if they are happy, if they are feeling valued, if their work feeds them, if they feel reciprocal love and care in their relationships. they are forging their way in the world – making a difference that only they could make – shining their own stars – with their own brilliance and their own wit and creativity and humor. life is fluid clay in their hands, fresh silly putty out of the container, playdoh with the most extraordinary cutters and fun factory presses. they are right close to the ages i was when i became their mother. in a foggy blur of time. how does that happen?

the tree seemed to be alone in the field, nothing beyond it. but because we pass that field and that tree often, we know that is not the case. it is just very, very foggy and so we cannot see.

i look back and back and back. i can’t see it all; it is foggy and very foggy and very, very foggy.

but i can feel it.

all of it.

clear as day.

*****

happy birthday, my beloved son.

*****

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


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millinery musings. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

littlebabyscion wore the lighted tree like a sparkling bejeweled crown. the tree was the guide back to our little xb in a very crowded parking lot. littlebabyscion wore it proudly.

i’m not much of a hat-wearer. i have those 180-earmuffs and wear those mostly. i think that my face looks like a smushed pear if i wear a hat and – the other day when i tried to describe to david what my hair does when i pull on a hat – i could only verbalize it with sounds – like mwuhhh! – the sound that might demonstrate the smushing down of long hair around my long face pulled over my long forehead. goodness! so.much.long. not enough round.

i gaze around at how very delightful other gals look in hats. i mean, some women wear hats like there’s no tomorrow. stunning, adorable, beguiling, you-name-it…they can really carry off a hat. me? i have a nordic face and my thank-you-poppo-dad’s forehead and the non-thick blonde hair of someone in my ancestry. not to mention these jowls that appeared a year or so ago. don’t worry…i won’t go on and on about those again. i am vowing to go on and on less. to me. to others. to the universe. my jowls are teaching me a lesson. “be less jowlish,” they say. i will leave it to you to decide what that means. for i do not want to go on and on.

so, suffice it to say, a crown would not be my best accessory. an adornment such as that sort of requires thick hair that doesn’t really tousle easily. i fail on both accounts. i do not wake like women waking in movies. (nor do they, i suspect.) instead, i wake and look like i have pretty much slept on my head or have sleep-wandered outside and found myself in a windstorm before moseying back under the covers. clearly i am a peaceful sleeper.

i do love the idea of a hat, though. and back in the day – during the forehead-bangs of the 1990s – i wore many a fine hat. a flat-brimmed black felt hat, a kelly green felt upturned-brim bucket hat, a paddy cap, a cowboy hat…once on, they were my companions for the whole entire day as hat-hair is a thing to which one does not want to expose others. it was my millinery period of time and i still have the hats in hatboxes in my studio closet. one never knows when hat-juju might strike.

and so, the two winter hats i have call my name every now and then.

we got out of littlebabyscion to go hike the trail. it was cold and really damp, a deep chill. i pulled the hat-with-the-biggest-pompom-you’ve-ever-seen over my head and reveled in the instant warmth. there is definitely something to be said about this whole-head-hat-thing as opposed to the 180s.

i pulled on my miracle mittens, looked at my reflection in the car window and began to walk away from the parking lot.

but not before i could hear littlebabyscion stifling a guffaw, trying hard not to laugh.

*****

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


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marvel. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i wonder if the tree looked in the mirror and counted rings, pondering the impetus behind each one, the reasons for the wrinkles of years, ever-forming, ever-widening. it is doubtful that the tree gazed, searching the rearview mirror for clues, connective tissue, remembrances of angst or sublime moments. it seems more likely that the tree just accepted each concentric ring, the truth of time. it seems more likely that the tree recognized the steady strength it gained for each ring, the rootedness each ring-wrinkle brought to it.

it would seem that this could be a good lesson from nature for us. the natural, raw, untouched passing of time shown on our faces, each beautiful in aging. we could acknowledge the years and the easy and the hardships. we could bow to the accumulation of moments, time flying by as we gather minutes in our embrace. we could turn toward each other, accepting and without judgment, full of grace and care, measuring only our love for each other, unbiased by wrinkles or rings, color or patina. we could tenderly touch the faces of our beloveds and marvel.

*****

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


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dasher. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the thumb-push-up-puppet collection sits idle in a basket…those characters and animals with a wooden platform and a button underneath the base that you push and they collapse and rebound and dance and, if you practice enough, you can keep the beat with just one appendage without moving the rest – talking from experience, of course. but playing – literally playing – with dasher and blitzen have made me want to unearth the basket and dust those babies off.

there is not much that’s funnier than watching six adults racing wind-up reindeer across a coffee table racetrack. each of us cheered and sneered at our reindeer, watching them spin and go the wrong way, teeter off the table, fall over and race for the finish line. you would think that dasher might have an advantage – with his name and all – but dasher was my reindeer and must not have self-actualized yet. he never won a race. but there’s still time. he will not be limited to holidayseason2022. when it’s time, we will store him away – with blitzen, so he is not lonely – until next year’s festivities. maybe by then he will be ready, his confidence will be restored, his winning juju amped up, his luck turned upside down, like a frown to a smile. oh yes. i still have hope.

more than anything else in this season, my favorite gift has been laughter. the kind of laughter when your ribs begin to hurt and your cheeks are sore from your face in smile-mode. i have loved any play – so generative, so rejuvenating, so rooting, so opening. the reminder to not take yourself so ridiculously seriously. each of these moments of this short and so-fast life count and i’d rather remember laughing with beloveds and family and friends more than much of anything else.

i’m thinking the push-up puppets need to see the light of day.

*****

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


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shooting stars. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we know we are not alone. we know there are many other people who face many other challenges. we are merely two of them. we, like the others, face the challenges somewhat weary, yet stalwart, keep walking, and wish for better times.

the lights – all around us – full of glittering dazzle – are full of hope. shreds of twinkle and candoit. it is no wonder we keep happy lights all year round. these things always happen just when you are relaxing into breathing a little.

when i lost my job in november a couple years ago – right before thanksgiving and just before the start of advent leaning into the holiday season we were shocked. shocked because of the circumstances. shocked because it came out of nowhere. shocked because i had no warning. shocked because it actually felt mean-spirited. shocked because of, well, the hypocrisy. we couldn’t believe the action and we really couldn’t believe the timing.

but now, we both have lost our jobs in late november. and – like the last time, though circumstances are entirely different – it is no less shocking. the fact of the matter is that it – excuse the vernacular – sucks. really any time at all. but in a season of generosity, a time of light and hope and giving, a holiday full of warmth and expectation and love-one-another, this kind of loss is dismal.

our bootstraps are frayed and so are our heartstrings. yet, e.e. stands in the living room, beautiful. the dining room table is laden with packages to wrap and ribbons and tape. the old wrought iron railing outside our front door is adorned with evergreen garland and white lights and the radio is tuned to 93.9, the chicago christmas station. we keep listing gratitudes.

walking in our neighborhood and along the waterfront we are surrounded by lights and walking in the woods by icy displays glinting from the briefest moments of sunlight. there are meaningful symbolic reasons for lights, reasons why people decorate trees and light candles on menorahs, sing carols and recite blessings and festoon their homes.

it is a welcome byproduct of these rituals that “the lights can also trigger dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain”(matt barbour) and that “with these bright experiences with lights, we do have the physiological response from the nervous system that helps make us more alert, more aware, and can bring about these feelings of happiness,” said dr. terry pettijohn.

i don’t remember the shooting stars by the museums on the waterfront from previous years. but you can bet we are wishing on them.

*****

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


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slowww. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it happened.

one of those.

he was going on and on about – fictitiously – going to steinhafel’s (a big furniture store) or ashley furniture or colder’s and finding a giant twenty-drawer-dresser. and then he would find a hutch to go on top of this enormous dresser. and it would all go in the bedroom – in lieu of most everything else in there, including the bed. he went on about how then i would have a dresser with the vaaaaaaast amount of space i had talked about/pined for/whined over and we would sleep on the rug in the living room on blow-up air mattresses, practicing for our thru-hikes.

he had me in stitches as he described this, in the middle of which i snorted.

now – that is good living – snorting while laughing.

and there – in the fleeting instants of this dresser-fantasy – was one of those moments.

it might be easy to forget – to pass by – the dresser-scheming, the fictitious dresser to fix all my dresser inadequacies, the dresser-to-rise-above-all-dressers – but the belly-laughing and the need to hold my ribs and the participation in the high-brow voice deeming my new fancy dresser worthy – these were not forgettable. and the look on his face – total seriousness, a dedication to making my dresser-dreams come true – was priceless.

you just can’t walk on by without noticing.

the moon was almost full on the way home from milwaukee. we pointed and ooh-ed and ahhh-ed at it. it rarely escapes us, unless behind the curtain of drab clouds that has been hanging around. the stars, the sun, happy lights on fences and porch railings…they make us all dreamy-like.

i’m guessing we notice the little stuff even more when the big stuff is in peril. the way setting sun makes cattails glow. the way pistachio shells still connected but sans nut look like talking heads or pac-man. the way it feels to see a smile on either child. the way his hand feels on the small of my back, steadying me. the way dogdog has started kissing us. a note from someone about an album or a song. the familiar creak on the stairs and the mindless latch-release opening a pantry of food. the eye doctor telling us we “seem pretty good” together. tiny kindnesses and big generosities. going on a little adventure and coming home.

after richard curtis left our dinner together – monday’s post – he wrote us a handwritten note. handwritten…like those notes and all those letters i have saved from my sweet momma or those tiny scraps of paper from my children from when they were little or, really, any time at all.

in his note – ok, not really, but i would surely guess this were there to be a note (and, for that matter, a dinner) – he wrote, “remember…don’t pass by too fast.”

slowww. we will go slow.

*****

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


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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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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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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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dandying me with courage. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it plummeted. this stunningly beautiful day – high 60s and touching the bright happy face of the low 70s – and then…

the highest high this week is 42, with a feels-like of 38. the lowest high this week is 26, with a feels-like of 13, which, incidentally they label “very cold” in parentheses next to the number 13. no duh. the lowest low will be 15 and the app leaves us guessing – right now – on the feels-like of that. so…yes…it plummeted.

but for a few days november teased us and dandy lions rose from the dirt, roaring, “spring! it must be spring!”. i’m betting if we hiked out there – say today – snow showers in the forecast – all the dandies would be gone, all shriveled and sad, tucking their heads down against the wind and elements. but those few days…

they are reminders of things we don’t appreciate while we have them. reminders to stand in gratitude – to look around all bright-eyed and see the amazing things in our own sphere as we encounter them. we linger often on the negatives, the anxieties and angsty worries, the what-we-don’t-haves. but on the day you can feel the sun on your face and are surrounded by the colors of autumn and the dandies are in bloom and the owl hoots in the night, i feel like it would sustain me longer were i to linger just another minute to recognize it all.

this past week. a hotbed mixture of happenings and emotions. loss and sundrenched days, both. the dashing of dreams and dreaming, both. end-of-life and birth, both. i look back and try to stand in each of those places, try to soak it up – like a dandelion in last-licks-sunshine – and i try to appreciate it all. not just appreciate it…reeeeally appreciate it. it all matters. fear is in there too…we are human and we get scared. but gratitude is like a warm blanket and it helps, even a little.

we were lucky to hike, lucky to drive north a few hours to see a friend perform, lucky to have had a time of security, lucky to stand together in an rv dealership and dream “someday”, lucky to prepare soup for dinner with 20, lucky to sit by our pond sipping wine, lucky to light happy lights around our house. we were lucky to see the sun come up through the windows east of our pillows, lucky to see the sun go down through the trees on the trail. i was lucky to hear even a tiny text from both beloved kiddos, lucky to 3-way-hug with d and dogdog, lucky to stand at the kitchen table and miss my sweet momma.

to spend a few more minutes relishing might carry me a little further down the road, a little further away from big worries. each thing a bit of ballast, stabilizing, centering, grounding me, dandying me with courage.

*****

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