reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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dish rack with orange cup. [two artists tuesday]

whoa. if the simplest sh*t does not interest you, you will not likely want to read this.

we bought a new dish rack.

we also bought a new dish drain.

we are ridiculously happy with our new dish rack and our new dish drain. we dance the dance of thing1 and thing2 in the kitchen and are most pleased with ourselves and our two new purchases (total at target: $21.10).

at a time – still – when pandemic limits in part – at least our – movements and choices, we are choosing to celebrate the littlest things. granted, there are no monumental purchases or excursions TO celebrate, but we are not terribly high-barred in our experience of happy-happy-joy-joy. for two people who have no working dishwasher, a new dish rack and dish drain – sans the yuckiness and the forming-rust of the old ones – make all the difference.

in like story, we painted the main floor bathroom. as you know, we purchased a big jug of vinegar, a big can of zinsser, an expensive can of benjamin moore aura bath and spa, and a can of ben’s slightly-less-expensive eggshell paint. chantilly lace white – “a classic go-to white that elicits images of fresh cotton and pure silk.” and we purchased a new faucet. it’s matte black. now, that – the faucet – i must say – was a big deal. and frankly, that – as is often the story – was what started the whole rigamarole. we re-decorated the bathroom, simply moving things from other parts of the house into the bath and giving ourselves permission to actually use the guest towels we had in the guest bath upstairs, bath towels reserved only for guests. a big deal, we both find ourselves standing and gleefully staring at “the new bathroom”.

and we’re dancing in the kitchen.

yup. it doesn’t take much.

our still life – dish rack with orange cup – signed – is available for purchase, should you want to be reminded of the simple stuff in life. we are choosing to go with christopher wool print and poster pricing – it’s only $40,000 for the original print and we will generously throw in the new dish rack, the new dish drain and, even more generously since it is part of a pair, the vintage metal orange cup we use for espresso. just use our contact form and we’ll call. trust us. we will.

the simple stuff. every day is a day to celebrate it.

*****

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dish rack with orange cup ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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there. [two artists tuesday]

maybe one of the reasons i love brochures so much is the chance they give you of picturing yourself there. a good glossy pages-long-fold-out brochure can transport you, make you dream, put you there.

this morning we were talking about bus tours. not a fan of buses, i am not likely to participate in many long bus tours in upcoming days and years. i know that a bus tour will take a group of people to the highlights, the places-you-don’t-wanna-miss, the photo-ops. but i rail against experiencing those things at the same time as everyone else, in the same way, taking photo turns in front of the cliff edge, the monument, the cathedral. i realized that i would rather miss a few things along the way just so that we could do it ourselves, take our sweet time, breathe it in, immerse in our surroundings, really feel a place before moving on to the next. there may be times that a bus – for a jaunt here or there – might be necessary, but i don’t really want to see everything-on-a-big-trip out the window of a coach line.

my sweet momma and poppo, thinking ahead – and also not bus people (so now you know where i get this) – ordered a vw bug to pick up in germany back in 1971 when they went on an extended roadtrip (clearly genetic) in europe. they tooled around small towns and backroads all over, my mom in her glory with maps, my dad relying on her sense of direction. they sometimes slept at relatives’ homes, sometimes at inns, sometimes at small hostels, and even sometimes in their little bug in a field, once waking up next to a gigantic pile of dung covered with plastic tarps and tires. they adventured and missed stuff, but they immersed themselves and the stories from that time were delicious tales. the missed-stuff didn’t matter. the stuff and people they saw did.

i imagine us – as we watch pct hikers and john muir trail hikers – someday – hopefully – on these trails. i imagine us in all the national parks in utah. i imagine more time hiking our favorite trail in breck. i imagine us chatting with the owners of the general store in putney, vermont. i imagine us walking a bit of the salt path. i imagine us on the cliffs of ireland and the amalfi coast and maybe in the brilliant blue and white of santorini someday. like mr rogers’ “picture picture” i can see the video in my mind’s eye. it satisfies the yearning for now and gives me photos of dreamy quality, viewmaster brochures in my heart.

we spent an evening at the botanic garden, wandering. we didn’t sit down on this particular bench, but i can see us there, feel us there, surrounded by green.

we missed a few of the plant collections that evening, we missed the greenhouse. but we immersed in the paths winding around the garden and breathed differently upon our leave than we had upon our arrival. and that made all the difference.

*****

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paintclothes. [two artists tuesday]

we are painting the bathroom. this is no small task. first of all, the trim – including both sides of the closet door – is barn red. barn red. that is not an easy color to cover. i loved it back in the day. now…somewhere i guess 20 years later…it is time to paint it. (the painting aces among you are shaking your heads, horrified at the time-inbetween paint jobs, but time has a way of flying by and old houses demand your attention in ways other than paint.)

we went to ace hardware, the neighborhood store, happily singing, “ace is the place of the helpful hardware folks” as we drove. we had picked up samples and had spoken to a helpful paint guy last weekend and so all the decisions were made and it was merely time to go have the paint mixed and buy all the necessary supplies. i have to say – we really loved our neighborhood experience. we know we might have spent a tad bit more on our benjamin moore paint and the new brushes, but we had real help and lovely conversations with real people, like the gal mixing our paint, who were interested in what we were doing and the questions we had. kind of old-timey.

the problem came yesterday morning.

during the work week, while david was toiling upstairs in his office, i was in the bathroom washing down all the walls and trim and then vinegaring the walls. now, this is not-quite-as-advertised. i had read numerous articles about this – including one by the ever-trusted bob vila of “this old house” fame. the first thing they don’t mention is that when you “saturate the wall” it immediately starts dripping long long driplines…there is no recommendation on how to handle this without wiping, which is un-saturating the wall, if you ask me. just sayin. then they tell you to wait an hour while the vinegar dries and then you can go back and “brush off the mold” (in our case, less of a mold, more of a mildew.) this.is.not.true. you cannot simply “brush” it off. goodness, no. instead, you get one of those rough green sponge thingies and grab your spray bottle of vinegar and you spray and scrub, spray and scrub. hopefully you are wearing glasses or goggles and a mask and rubber gloves because the vinegar (and the mold spores apparently) get everywhere. it’s all part of the fun. 😉

but i digress.

once all that was done, it was time to start painting. two coats of zinsser and two coats of bath and spa awaited us.

we got back from “the ace” and headed to change into painting clothes. herein lies the problem…i had just taken the first giant load of clothing and such from the going-through-every-single-thing-in-the-house-effort to goodwill. i had given away clothing that didn’t quiiiiite fit or that i wasn’t as fond of anymore or that i would never wear again. as a really messy painter, what on earth was i going to wear to paint? drama ensued.

i finally found a pair of the local high school sweatpants and an old long-sleeve t-shirt (i’m sure you are relieved to read that) so that i could mosey into the bathroom slightly later than d, who, unsurprisingly, had no problem picking out paintclothes, and start cutting in.

yikes. what else have i given away, i wonder. it’s too late. the second set of goodwill boxes are piling up. i refuse to go look at them once again. it has taken days to try everything on or look at everything and decide what to do with it.

i will load them up and move them out.

and return to start a few more.

*****

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layer upon layer. [two artists tuesday]

peeled back from the tree trunk, the bark first reminded me of the colosseum in rome…that one tall section rising above the rest. it is also sadly reminiscent of one of the devastating iconic images of 9/11, a piece of building at ground zero, standing through absolute destruction.

at a different time, in different circumstances, in a small forest in northern illinois, this gorgeous bark in the woods has remained steadfastly in place for several weeks, holding on to the tree at its base and, yet, yielding to nature bending back, back.

i wondered about the peeling. if this is a sycamore tree, this exfoliating is natural, even a charming characteristic. if this is an oak, it can be a sign of an unhealthy tree, unless there is new bark underneath, waiting.

i don’t suppose that is much unlike all of us. peeling back the layers…as we lose each layer, we are vulnerable to the elements, unprepared peeling exposing us to harm. we can more easily share – layer by layer – if we know we are out of harm’s way to do so. we can more readily divulge – layer by layer – if we know that we will not be pummeled. we can more assertively process – layer by layer – if we know we are not at risk of stress, infection, infestation. we can, if we trust we are safe.

decades of life have a way of peeling the outer bark. time may soften the edges; time may bring cycles of raw learning…those moments we speak truth, we take chances, we jump…moments of transition.

the colosseum is over 1900 years old. sycamores live somewhere between 200 and 300 years. oak trees can live from 80 to 500 years, though there are varieties with a much longer life span.

we humans have less time on this good earth, less time to grow to maturity, less time for our structure to weather the storms, less time to lose our bark, less time to peel back to our essence. it would seem prudent to offer each other the room, the space, the shelter to exfoliate.

oak trees develop from the inside out, as do pine and maple. the older bark chips away on the outside making room for new bark. it take some trees till the time of their full maturity to exfoliate their outer skin.

obviously, trees are people too.

*****

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selenite satin spar spur. [two artists tuesday]

it found a perfect spot – on the target tiered-wooden-shelf-lamp in front of the peace sign that was created with an old fence post and bridle leather. the light shines in from the window behind it and, depending on the time of day, it glows, an opalescent crystal, this selenite satin spar.

we came upon it at the little shop, peacetree, as we were browsing. both of us cannot walk past the rocks and stones and crystals there without feeling them. it is as if they are inviting us to touch them, to wonder, to pick them up. they are warm to the touch, alive with gifts.

selenite has qualities worthy of attention…healing qualities promoting peace and calm and clarity, elevating the spirit, cleansing the space and enhancing connectivity and the shedding of blocked energy. it vibrates at a very high frequency, higher even than the ringing in my ears. we cannot hear it. or can we?

we stopped by the basket on the bench near the door. a pile of long narrow shards of crystal, fibrous and satiny, begging attention. we reached out to hold a spar. the decision was immediate – to take it home. no stranger to collecting rocks and such, i wasn’t surprised. this was just the first time i was purchasing one. it felt like peacetree was offering a little piece of goodness and, when someone or something reaches out to touch you and perhaps make the world a better place, it seems incumbent upon you to listen and to act. we took it home.

we pass by it every day. the selenite really does lay in the perfect spot, in a room that invites us into calmness. our sitting room, now, after cleansing the space and clearing it of excess, serene with a comfy couch and soft fuzzy pillows, paintings inspiring meditation, and many books shelved on the built-in.

there is a tiny spar on the windowsill in the kitchen and one on top of david’s stand-up work desk. i’m thinking it wouldn’t hurt to have one at the front door and the back door and one in the studio and one in the car. selenite is said to attract the change you need and absorbs divine light. sharing the space of your aura, it can create flow of energy and restore balance.

believing that this warm crystal reached out to us teeters on questionable for most. but choosing it, with its purported properties of goodness in its beautiful wand-like-shell, is serendipitous and fortuitous for us. we bring it home and, with it, the intentions we have, that which we wish to surround ourselves with.

“be the change you wish to see in the world.” (gandhi)

maybe that sometimes starts with answering the call of a simple iridescent crystal, investing in bringing its properties into your own world. a symbol. allowing for goodness. setting an intention for goodness.

maybe a little selenite satin spar is just the right spur.

*****

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we can sit together. [two artists tuesday]

and in the hours of late evening we discovered it. a song that spoke to us in every way.

it wasn’t intentional. we were intentionally watching an everest youtube, the highest of mountains, vicarious adventure.

but there was this song. we stopped the video and moved the cursor backward, to hear the song again.

you and me.

we’re meant to be.

in the great outdoors.

forever free.”

it’s been nine years since we met face to face now. nine years since baggage claim at o’hare. nine years. it doesn’t sound like an eternity; it just feels like an eternity. and yet, not long enough.

because the moments i glance across the room and catch his gaze – well, it still takes my breath away. he drives me crazier than probably anybody else on earth, but he can make me well up in the turn of a second.

and the times we are inside, sitting and writing together, cooking in our old kitchen, happy-houring at the table in the sunroom, loving on our dogdog, mutually missing our babycat, planning trips…those times…are times that create a little bit of wonder.

and the times we are outside, on a mountain, on a trail, on the sidewalk in the ‘hood, by the side of the lake in the shadow of an aspen stand, in the new black adirondack chairs…those times…are times that create more than a little bit of wonder.

the wonder of finding, the wonder of reaching, the wonder of meeting, the wonder of walking this walk together.

we feel lucky.

eldar kedem got it right.

“we can sit together.

it’s so beautiful.”

*****

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black ‘dack stack. [two artists tuesday]

i was a doubter. i doubted the plastic lumbar support. but i had done my research and, with the budget we were allowing for new chairs – which didn’t include traditional wood, composite or cool new resin – and the fact that we wanted black chairs – these were what i had come up with.

so we went to the ace hardware store not holding out a lot of hope, thinking that we would have to nix this plan and move on to target or menards and get some other color.

the adirondack stacks were outside on the sidewalk. every color you could think of, stacked high against the front windows. a rainbow of adirondacks. we pulled one of the black ones down and drew in our breath to try it out.

in a surprise moment of don’t-expect-too-much-this-is-plastic-after-all it was actually quite comfortable. we bought two, loaded them into littlebabyscion, drove them home and placed them on the back patio to see if we would like them or if they would need to be returned. not shockingly, we quickly decided that we wanted a few more and, as luck would have it in our plastic-chair-budget-world, the ace was having their grand opening the next day and had given us coupons for $20 off purchases.

we went there in the rain. early. we didn’t want the black stack to be gone. you know…a lack of black in the ‘dack stack.

the dj was pumping out music, there were hamburgers and facepainters; it was quite the festival of celebration for a hardware store.

we grabbed four black adirondacks, whipped out our coupons and moseyed off into the wild grey yonder, happy as clams to have six new adirondack chairs in which to sip wine, gather ’round the bonfire, soak up the sun, ponder life and all its mysteries and support our lumbars.

*****

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how unprecedented you are. [two artists tuesday]

we don’t really know. we rise each day, bold coffee at our lips, with curiosity. truly, what the day will bring is a mystery. the best-laid plans, well, they are only that – plans. things change and the kaleidoscope swirls around us in mere moments.

“this being human is a guest house. each morning a new arrival…” (rumi – the guest house)

and we rise again the next day…

…the day lilies and the grass blades are rising as well. through the upheaval of their dirt, the excavation of their home, the burying of their fallowed stems, the netting and straw post-waterline-replacement, they are rising anyway.

my thoughts of pulling everything up and starting fresh in the front yard came to a screeching halt when i saw them. if they are resilient enough to bright-green their way into this upheaved spring, i think i would be somewhat dishonoring to remove them. in doing so, i would miss their profound message of fortitude, of courageous no-matter-what-ishness, of their coy laughter reaching for the sun.

“you are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” (john green – the fault in our stars)

we miss it. in the middle of our don’t-really-know days, we miss seeing the absolute stalwart root in clay we each bring. we miss the credit of finagling another chaotic day. we miss our embrace of the new arrival of mystery. we miss our own unprecedentedness.

yet there it is. rising through the netting and the straw and the mud and the excavated rocks and cement.

“on the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you…”

(john o’donohue – beaanacht)

*****

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marcel. in the woods. [two artists tuesday]

in these times, we often hike the same trail. there is not enough time for long-distance travel right now. but we are comforted, nevertheless, by this same place, again and again. it has become an old friend and there is nothing better than someone or something you know really well and love in all its moods and through all its seasons.

it was easter sunday and, for only the second time in decades, i had no obligations. it was cold – almost miracle-mitten cold – and we were trying to choose between meandering through the early spring flowers at the botanic garden or hiking “our” trail. we suspected that the botanic garden would be crowded; we believed the trail would be almost empty. we chose the trail.

you might think we would tire of this trail. you might think we would choose something else, somewhere else. you might think there would be nothing new to see. on the contrary.

i am reminded, as ever – again – now that i am, finally, just the tiniest bit wiser – of marcel proust’s words, “the real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

there was lots of trailside vegetation coming alive, tiny buds, green sprouts. the familiar turns in the path led us past busy squirrels, chipmunks we could hear but not see scurrying in the underbrush, birds and geese and ducks.

after a couple hours, we set up our pop-up bistro table and chairs in the middle of the woods. surrounded by tall pines in a spot that would be underbrush-inaccessible in the summer, we sat, in the cold, snacking on cheese and crackers, quinoa tabouli and a few sips of wine in small yeti tumblers with lids, springtime napkins reminding us of the season. we took our gloves off, had a few schnibbles, put our gloves on, chatted and repeated. we pulled up our hoods and turned our backs to the wind picking up. mostly, we sat in the quiet.

and we looked up.

and there, that which we could have easily missed, was this magnificent view of the blue sky and the towering tops of pine trees that had endured the same forest for a very long time.

there is nothing ordinary about a view like that.

an idiosyncrasy, a quirk, a hallmark, a side you hadn’t yet noticed. such is the complexity of an old friend. such is the charm of discovery.

*****

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the view. [two artists tuesday]

in an effort to grab the moments and store them away so they will be retrievable, i take photographs. i want to remember the physical surroundings, the way it feels, the way it tastes, the way it smells. pictures help me recall the visceral. they are prompts in a memory script. the “remember …” cue.

i didn’t take a picture, but, because there is nothing like an unexpected call from your adult child, when the phone rang in the middle of costco and i glanced at it to see that it was our daughter calling, the moment is indelibly ingrained in my mind. walking toward the exit, standing and chatting near the tires-for-sale, shielding the phone’s microphone from the wind as we walked to littlebabyscion, sitting in the parking lot, dogga in the back wondering what errand adventure was next…these are all part of this wonderful rambling conversation, a joy that topped off my week – a perfect friday early evening – in a way that nothing else can.

the neighborhood eatery was not far from his apartment and as we drove over, our son was in the front, directing me, nagging me about going too slowly, instructing me how to properly drive over the humps in the residential streets of chicago and getting out to check the damage when we were rear-ended at a traffic light (luckily, no injuries and no apparent damage). we discovered the joy of lobster deviled eggs, had the skinniest delectable french fries, sipped mimosas and laughed over brunch. we went to his new place, took measurements, talked about decor. i took many, many photos, my iphone always at the ready. the best belated birthday gift – this time together. nothing else can top it.

i don’t take these moments for granted. our children are adults, with busy, consuming professional lives and significant people to share time with. there’s not a lot of spare time and i get that. they don’t live in town and i don’t get to see them as often as many of my friends see their grown children. “the moment they are born the separation begins followed by a life-long balancing act,” a dear and sage friend wrote about children and motherhood. the perils of parenting.

it is often the people with children in their own town who remind me that we raise children to be independent, wingèd and free. though well-intended, these are easier words, these wisdoms, and less painful when one does not have to tamp down the embers of longing that missing beloveds creates.

i try to “think of life…in all its small component parts.” (anna quindlen) it is, truly and after all, about balance.

so i save every one i can. every moment and conversation, all eye contact and every hug. i take lots of pictures – of them, of me with them, of us with them, of the surroundings, of what is right around me when i am with them. it is a storehouse of riches that i may go to in a self-absorbed minute of feeling scarcity, a reminder that, indeed, life is full, nevertheless. a springboard of deep appreciation.

“exhaust the little moment. soon it dies. and be it gash or gold it will not come again in this identical disguise.” (gwendolyn brooks) glory in either, for we learn the lesson over and over: you can feel it. and they all count.

i “try to look at the view.” (anna quindlen)

the view – that must be why i have twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight photos on my phone. twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight views of twenty-four-thousand-seven-hundred-eighty-eight moments.

and this one – the open-beamed ceiling of cherished brunch with my son.

gorgeous, in my view.

*****

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