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like it was. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i honestly don’t think i can – or need to – add much to this. this is not uncommon.

wistful. melancholy. reminiscent. lonely. overwhelmed by a lack of the busy and social holiday celebrations portrayed nearly everywhere. drowning in comparisons.

life changes and, it appears (yes, yes) we need to change with it. the holidays are a tough reminder.

in the middle of the trail we hiked on thanksgiving we talked about this. we had decided a big pot of pasta sauce would be our thanksgiving meal. comfort food. i, especially, needed that. the day was overcast with snow flurries and a mist gently coming down around a few bends on the path. damp and cold but familiar and reassuring. three deer were startled by our arrival. we watched them as they gracefully bounded away.

we came home and lit all the happy lights in the house. poured a glass of wine and got to the sauce. lit candles, took out thanksgiving napkins, set the table simply. our pumpkin pie was vegan, plant-based, amazing.

yesterday someone ordered 40 “be kind” buttons. it prompted me to suggest that we take a hundred – or a couple hundred – of our buttons and go somewhere and just give them out. sometime in the holiday season. plant a new tradition. start a new ritual. we’ll see.

demographics have spread families out across the globe, work responsibilities make time off a challenge and the pandemic makes travel questionable. we age and lose grandparents and then parents and loved ones. the holidays take on more blue than iridescent tinsel-silver. so many reasons why people find themselves awake in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, wishing it was like it used to be. visions of large meals and preparation and trees and grand shopping and piles of presents and family-all-around and parties and fancy dress-up clothes all dance like sugar plums in our heads. things that used-to-be.

finding things to assuage the used-to-be’s might help, might fill in the gaps. gathering with others in like circumstances, empathizing, might be reassuring. having a little visit with dear next-door neighbors later in the night is a bit of fondant on a layer-cake day. planning an adventure or two for coming days brings sweet anticipation.

holding space for the wistful is truth.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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the quiet. [k.s. friday]

the woods behind my growing-up house were an invitation. i spent hours in that little forest, planning routes and solving mysteries. at the other end of the woods, near clay pitts road, was a small goat farm, so if you traipsed through all the way – which, in retrospect, wasn’t really far – you would get to the fence where you could watch the goats. my next-door neighbors – there were eight kids in the family – and my across-the-street neighbors and i would devise all manner of woods-play. mostly, i loved the quiet.

the maple tree – my poetry tree – was right outside my bedroom window and provided safe limbs for writing in notebooks, reading, reflecting. long hours, my back against the strong trunk, sun filtered through thick leaves or branches ready to withstand winter. so many lessons with so little. mostly, i loved the quiet.

our river trail is not out in the wilderness. it takes us through woods and past meadows along the river, but is just a hop, skip and a jump from our home. it is restorative. last saturday, a white-tailed deer jumped across our path, bounded through the waning underbrush. hawks flew over us, chipmunks scampered, squirrels chattered from trees, admonishing us not to interrupt their work. there’s that the smell of pine and decaying leaves that even the best scented candles cannot capture. mostly, i love the quiet.

and those trails up in the mountains. for days i am breathless, adjusting to altitude, me: sea-level-raised with a mostly almost-sea-level-adulthood. i hike anyway, stopping often, sipping water. though i am a big lover of deserted beach walking and have logged plenty of time especially on long island and beaches of the east coast, the dirt under my feet through forested mountain is a salve. i agree with john muir: “and into the forest i go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

as i write, the neighbors behind us are installing conduit all along the chain link fence, preparing to provide electricity to yet more spotlights high in the trees, a big yard full of stuff-to-do like a full-size batting cage, swingset and fort, soccer nets, battery-driven atvs, bikes, large plastic-ware toys, trampoline, zipline, loud outdoor speakers, and – i suspect – a revisit of the ice rink. the tallest trees have been wired with the brightest lights and i know that will mean later evenings where quiet at the end of the day is not valued. no longer the “sanctuary” others used to call the yard beyond ours, it makes me kind of sad thinking that so very much is required for this young family to be happily entertained. it makes me sad thinking that it is possible – these days – for people to forget that they live in community with others. we are not islands upon ourselves. what we do impacts those around us…even in our very own backyards.

fred rogers said, “i wonder what some people are afraid might happen in the silence. some of us must have forgotten how nourishing silence can be. that kind of solitude goes by many names. it may be called “meditation” or “deep relaxation,” “quiet time” or “downtime.” in some circles, it may even be criticized as “daydreaming.” whatever it’s called, it’s a time away from outside stimulation, during which inner turbulence can settle, and we have a chance to become more familiar with ourselves.”

so much to learn in the quiet. so much imagination, exploration. so much searching and so much finding. so much growth, no matter the age.

i’m grateful for the tree that was outside my window. i’m grateful for the tiny woods behind my house. i’m grateful for the beaches of my years. i’m grateful for the river trail and the hush it grants me. i’m grateful for the mountains and the pine forests and stands of quaking aspen, moments by running streams and tiny lakes tucked into the corners of beauty. i’m grateful for the symphony of quiet.

“peace and quiet.
peace, peace, peace.
peace and quiet.
peace, peace, peace.”

(excerpt from mr. rogers’ “peace and quiet”, 1968)

*****

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the used-to-be’s. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

in the land of used-to-be, i used-to-be able to wait entire days before having to find a restroom. back in the day, i could drive in, set up product and play an entire wholesale show, all day, chatting, drinking coffee, playing, selling cds, without having to leave the booth space. thirteen hours after starting the whole process, my body would remind me that the ladies room needed to be a stop before getting back in the car to drive again.

but now…

these days are a tad bit different. i would laugh when my sweet momma would complain about this. i’d reassure her and stop and look for a restroom whenever she needed to stop and find one. i’d lightly toss off, “we’re in nooo hurry! no worries!”.

i have become my mother.

and – in the way that the universe is very, very fair – so has david.

our bladduhs are just not the same as they used-to-be.

and so, it is a given that t-h-i-s a-g-e comes with challenges we didn’t have to deal with when we were younger. it is a given that timing out a roadtrip will need take into account pitstops along the way. it is now a given that walking in the ‘hood will sometimes mean having the key ready-and-aimed for the doorknob.

and it is not a joke. i am NOT kidding.

laughing? yes. kidding? no.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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blame it on target. [two artists tuesday]

despite efforts to stay in the calendar, target has pushed me into the holiday season.

i was there for just a few items, including tissue wrap for a gift basket. thinking the best deal would be in the back left corner of the store – where they were setting up all the holiday displays and multitudes of wrap and bows and fancy-schmancy gifting options – i wandered back that way. as i meandered, stopping at a display of soft pastel body poofs, swinging by the smaller-food-processors-than-my-1982-food-processor-which-has-just-broken aisle, glancing sideways at a big display of dark chocolate truffles, i tried to ignore the tempting tiny trees, happy lights, holiday napkins, plates, cups, mugs, towels, sweaters, hats, a way-cuter-than-it-sounds-tiny stuffed gnome display, and variety packs of trinkets along the way. stay focused, i thought. go directly to the gift tissue, do not pass go, do not collect $200, pick up the gift tissue and deliberately make your way out of the department. resist, resist, resist. save it – that department – for later-later.

i was not successful.

the twinkling rice lights drew me in. tall, skinny trees caught my eye. ornaments in long bins made of boiled wool and snowflakes begged to be touched. i was a goner.

i wandered around december-in-target for probably just shy of an hour. and, though i had been prepared to push back against the urge to decorate early, i was smitten. this from a person who, along with the other half of the decision-team, has left up in our living room – for two whole years now – big branches we painted white planted in galvanized metal containers strewn with white lights. who am i kidding? the instant i headed back into that department, i was committed.

i put tiny white seed lights in my basket.

one of my favorite concerts was lit by the brilliant stage manager keith who, when i released my blueprint-for-my-soul album, set up ladders and lean-tos on stage and spotted soft white light off them. it created indirect-direct shadow, indirect-direct downlight. the perfect combination. it mattered to him.

the strands were zip-tied around the trees at the garden. long, long strands of colors, a rainbow requiring patience and long tedious hours that will ultimately premier as lightscape 2021. designers – brilliant like keith – have put together a show of festive wonder, the perfect combination to embrace all those who walk through. it matters to them.

the real question? it is whether you are a multi-colored-lights person or a white-lights person. what matters is what matters to you. both celebrate. both lift spirits and wrap the season around you. for years and years now i have been a dedicated white-lights person, really loving the dreamy quality of twinkling stars, tethered from the milky way and brought inside. all year round.

this year – in this season we jump into earlier and earlier each year – i just might have a little nod to multi-colored-lights. mm-hmm. just a little one. perhaps i’ll dig out my mom and dad’s vintage outdoor light strings, the ones with big multi-colored bulbs, some with paint flaking off the glass. i may grimace a tiny bit hanging them on our rail out front, but then i’ll think of my sweet poppo, up on the ladder every year, stringing them across the front of our house, winding them around our christmas trees. or maybe i’ll take out the smallest strand of colored lights i have tucked away and gently wrap them around a little tree, a nod to the ever-important-but-not-represented multi-colored lights. i’ll invite a little bit of lightscape to our house. a little bit of multi-colored magic. just because.

i’m guessing it will all happen a little sooner than i originally thought. clearly, it’s target’s fault.

*****

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thunkthunkthunk. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the check-engine light is on. i felt compelled to explain it to my daughter and her boyfriend when i picked them up at the airport, lest they worry i wouldn’t be able to deliver them downtown – in the middle of a snowy, rainy, sleety early afternoon. “we’re waiting for a catalytic converter,” i told them and they nodded. the only saving grace to not picking them up in a horse-drawn carriage (or that ferrari that chris-the-spectrum-guy had promised me) is that i brought snacks with me, making me a “pretty good uber”. ahhh, yes, it puts a momma’s heart on steroids.

we are used to a ride with sounds and not just in littlebabyscion. big red has these running boards that rattle over bumps (for which we are seeking welding help) so it is never quiet in either vehicle. neither has the sound-proofing of vehicles for which we have seen commercials….where the mom stays out in the lincoln suv and peacefully avoids the chaos in her home. no…we bring our chaos with us as part of the travel package. but eh, we don’t mind.

it is usually me who hears the new sound first: the seatbelt in the back thumping against the window, the back seat not fully engaged and squeaking over bounces, the sunglasses on the dashboard jiggling. tiny ambient sounds. the larger ones too. the sound of the hole in the exhaust system, the metallic quaking of a truck with a blown coil. i would mention the things i sniff out first too but it just might be too much here.

regardless, there have been moments when i seem to be channeling my sweet dad as i slough off the sound and keep driving. i know the proof will be in the pudding (that is a really strange saying) and we will see, if we continue on our merry way, what happens.

changing the subject i’ll look over at d and quote my poppo, “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” “not if it’s in cans,” he quips my dad’s standard answer. we both laugh and keep driving.

*****

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polka-dot mantra. [flawed wednesday]

there is really nothing unhappy about polka dots.  it is rare that polka dots are scorned, even more rare that polka dots are looked upon as harbingers of negativity.  polka dots get a bye in the fashion world, seemingly always advancing to the next round.

yesterday we spent about five hours on the phone with spectrum trying to fix our internet.  we unplugged our two-in-one modem-router combo, drove to the store, exchanged our equipment and tried to self-install (underscored in its excitement rating) and then spent another hour on the phone.  it was never fixed and we are hopeful for today, as a tech person will come and “evaluate the problem”.  we were ridiculously weary with internet-failure by the end of the day and solaced ourselves with a favorite holiday dvd movie snuggled around the laptop under the covers before sleep. 

our dear friends texted us a youtube of a spectrum skit on SNL that we could watch on our phone.  it was hilariously accurate and made us laugh.  we had literally spoken to an insane number of reps during this tech-debacle.  chris was one of them.

i liked him immediately.  he promised me a ferrari and a pizza as well as finding us a “package” to fix our internet grief.  i told him to keep the pizza and he thanked me profusely because, on a diet sans pizza, he has been craving it and did not want to think of me, his newest friend, eating pizza.  i told him to maybe have a piece of pizza, that life is too short.  it’s not good to crave things and deny yourself everything.  anyway, after our philosophical discussion, he again said that he would find a plan and he would fix our internet once and for all.  he was basing our success on “my demeanor and clothing choices”.  my ripped jeans and moccasin boots railed in protest but recognized we weren’t on a video call, after all, and gave up the fight.  it sounded like clothing really mattered to him and so i’m imagining that he had a dark blue gingham-checked shirt and jeans with a solid dark-blue skinny-but-not-too-skinny-to-be-out-of-sync-with-his-body tie and very cool rich medium brown tie shoes, since brown shoes seem to be really vogue with blue these days.  though chris was delightful to deal with – since it could have been different and dry and kind of like having a tooth filled at the dentist so I was relieved to be laughing and joking – chris did not fix our internet. neither did any of the other reps, all nice and scripty polka-dot-ish, but unable to address the problem. 

so, no ferrari, no pizza AND no internet.

we are determined, after last night’s movie made us predictably mushy, that today will be a polka-dot kind of day. 

we mantra: the tech will come – dressed in spectrum attire – and voila! fix the internet.  we will suddenly go from 30mbps (an old time warner cable plan no one told us to upgrade) to ultra wifi 400mbps (I will believe this when I see it).  we will have no issues with brand new equipment we just brought home.  we will easily engage wifi on all our devices.  we will carry on, having woefully lost a whole day in spectrumland, but rapidly recuperating back into reality.

we will be in polka-dot happiness with real polka-dots.

*****

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thunks and rattles. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

in the days when i had new vehicles, i don’t remember tuning into sounds with as much trepidation. now’days, ambient sounds that are seemingly happening to the vehicle we are in can be really disturbing. we try to explain them away quickly, pushing the thunk or the creak or the whine or the rattle to the back of our consciousness, but to no avail. invariably, we call steve and i try to mimic the sound that littlebabyscion or big red made. i’m sure he looks forward to these calls – from the middle of kansas or south dakota or our driveway, or, if he’s really lucky, acting it out in his shop.

neither of us have worked on cars, but it counts that my dad and my brother did. somehow that gives me an edge and david will look at me thinking i might have an idea as to what is going on. with no divine intervention coming from the heavens where my dad and brother are rolling their eyes, i make it up, hoping to be somewhere near the mark and we keep driving, if at all possible. to be perfectly honest, in more recent years, i have found the mechanics of these older vehicles really interesting to learn about. if only it didn’t spell a repair.

the perils of driving something with 252,000 miles on it are numerous. but, as you can see by the absolute affection we have for our xb, the rewards are also numerous. it astounds me time and again that this little box car has driven this far, equivalent to over 80 times across the united states. and now? now it needs a catalytic converter. a little hiatus for littlebabyscion. but – as steve reminds us – it’s not a monthly car payment. “there’s no winning in that,” he says. and for right now, though many of the friends we have are purchasing new vehicles for their retirements, we agree.

winning is climbing in big red and driving up over the pass. winning is littlebabyscion turning another thousand and another thousand. winning is appreciating good and solid vehicles, nothin’ fancy, but steadfast and with big hearts. mutual love.

besides, standing in the local, family-owned tire store the other day, it was with great pride i answered a young guy who walked in and asked who had the “cool old truck out there”. “that F150?” i said, “that’s ours.”

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerri sherwood


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fuchsia shibui. [k.s. friday]

“rather than being a fall away from beauty, ageing can be the revelation of beauty, the time when the inherent radiance becomes visible.” (john o’donohue)

perhaps i would have noticed these leaves in the prime of their life, clotheslined on the branch, hanging in the sun. their verdant green might have captured my attention and the focus of my camera. but i kind of doubt it. for, indeed, they would have blended into the rest of the woods, the rest of the underbrush, the colors, the shrubbery, the landscape.

in the autumn of their lives, these leaves are ravishing. they gesture to the camera and invite my study. their ageing is their invitation to relish their presence, the visual “hey! look at me!”.

these days it is predictable. there is something – each day – we will say that is a reminder, though gently and with soft humor, of the very fact that we are ageing. we poke at ourselves, with self-deprecating comments about wrinkles or crepey skin or bellies changing or achy joints. we roll our eyes and then one of us reminds the other to be present in it and joyful and grateful, mostly grateful. we are not eloquent in those moments. they involve words like “sheesh!” or “stahhhhhhhhp!” or comparisons “but look at MY wrinkles!”. to suggest we are ageing gracefully is to ignore the american cultural emphasis on youthfulness, with ageing depicted negatively. in contrast, ageing in japan is revered. the elderly have the utmost respect. in the autumn of their lives, turning toward mid-life and beyond, the flaws earned throughout life are considered the very things that intensify beauty. shibui, it is said, is an aesthetic turn toward subtle and unobtrusive beauty, textural in elegance and roughness, diverse in spontaneous and restrained, a balance of simplicity and complexity, understated but not innocent, gorgeous words about meditation over spectacle. (wikipedia)

yesterday, in the middle of thinking about kneeling on the stripes, i found myself stumbling upon hearts. there was the heart – a random piece of ripped tissue – on the hinged lid of the stainless wastebasket. the hearts on the shower curtain, light somehow filtering through the holes holding curtain rings, reflected down onto the curtain itself. the heart leaf on the sidewalk. this morning the heart, shaped from the skin of the potato, on top of the tiny wedge of breakfast potato. it was a little uncanny. but was it?

or perhaps it is some kind of universe message – raising its voice over the din of flaw-noticing and in-the-pause-thinking and liminal-space-white-noise – reminding me of being loved. in this autumn-of-my-life. that the fuchsia is showing up, is a statement in the middle of a dense forest, raising the ordinary to extraordinary, the natural presence of shibui.

*****

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kneeling on the stripes. [d.r. thursday]

“do you have the courage to be in the pause between what is ‘no longer’ and what is ‘not yet’?” (octavia raheem)

i kneel down in the middle of the road. it is up-north and there are few vehicles. i want to be in the yellow stripes in the road, to gaze their expanse and, in seeing the curve, not be able to see beyond it. it’s visceral.

i am in liminal space – in the pause – waiting and not knowing. it feels right to stand smack in the middle of the street. to own it – these stripes, this curve in the road, these questions. it pushes me to move, and, in the way of irony, prods me to stand still. it is not short-lived. it is lostness. and, at this aarp time of life, it is a little unnerving.

though i know found follows lost, just as not yet is out there beyond no longer, it leaves me in the orange-yellow stripes.

i miss the days on washington island when we walked right in the middle. it didn’t matter. no one was coming down the road. and when someone did, so infrequently, we moved over. but there weren’t stripes in the road there; it was just asphalt. it’s when you are walking on the stripes, squatting on the stripes, kneeling on the stripes, that you feel a tiny bit of powerful.

we are broken records of liminality. we know the lyrics of the song and are disgruntled when the record skips and skips and skips again, leaving us to repeat the same over and over. stuck. surrendering into a groove in the surface of vinyl, surrendering into a groove of fallow. without reaching over and touching the needle, the record continues to skip. without reaching and touching the liminal space, sorting and reflecting and resting, we cannot see beyond the bend in the road.

none of that is helpful, though. i stand in it. on the stripes. what was is no longer. what is not yet is not even a blurry image.

i think, this time, this must be what it feels like to retire, without the benefits of retirement. to no longer do what you have done for decades, to step away (or be thrust away, let’s be brutally frank). and to realize you don’t want to go back.

to wonder what is next. to reach into all-the-stuff-you’ve-done and pull the long straw of passions set aside. to decide to ferret out, in due time, direction and sense. to not fight the fallow or the pause. to try and have courage not to just fill in the gap. to kneel on the stripes. to trust.

“when we surrender, when we do not fight with life when it calls upon us, we are lifted and the strength to do what needs to be done finds us.” (oriah mountain dreamer)

*****

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tennis with diebenkorn and pärt. [two artists tuesday]

“now, the idea is to get everything right – it’s not just color or form or space or line – it’s everything all at once.” (richard diebenkorn)

each time i have stood in front of one of the ocean park series paintings, i have been totally engaged. the light, the color, the form, the line, the space – richard got it all right in these. they are fantastic abstracts, luring you in. we left the san francisco museum of modern art with a richard diebenkorn book, one of those coffeetable type books – large with gorgeous illustrations and text. i keep it in my studio, to gaze at and sink into.

i do not know much about painting. at all. i have learned, though, that composition is, across the medium-board, still composition. a painting, a song, a dance, a poem needs someone to receive it, someone to interact, to respond, someone upon which it may fall. and for the artist, though imperative to do the work regardless, it creates the space for the flow to go back and forth, like a tennis ball across a court. each bounce and bounceback adds a little wisdom, a little emotion, breath. as i stand in front of richard’s ocean park paintings, it is as if i can hear his even breathing in my ear.

i stood on the dock up-north, gazing down at the water, light and sun playing on its surface. were i to have chosen colors to paint this, and not the black and white of the paintings i have spattered – the only paintings i have done as an adult, i might have chosen these tones. they are the colors i love to be surrounded by. this would be an abstract painting of getting outside without getting outside, to be there without being there.

but i did not paint this. nature took care of the color and form and space and line and i merely captured what nature made easy. there are many of these now – photographs of the abstract – all with strings tied to my heart and memories in my mind’s eye of outside. i keep thinking they would make a good coffeetable book…”getting outside inside”….a title, an invitation…for those sulky days when one needs the bounceback of the breath of the woods or the water, the space of the mountain trail or the rocky beach.

the gift of glassy lake reminds me that there are other mediums to explore, textures i might consider. i imagine richard diebenkorn and arvo pärt, on two sides of the court, two dimensions, lobbing the ball back and forth. abstractionist and minimalist – both extending an invitation. i start to answer.

*****

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