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the path back is the path forward


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hosta extraordinaire. [k.s. friday]

ordinary. perennially ordinary. hostas are intrepid, robust, shade-tolerant, adaptable plants. they are patient with human-planting errors and magnanimous with dogs who run amuck through their early sprouting. these plants seemingly have boundless energy to reproduce and spread and fill-in gardens in shadow. with low maintenance personalities, they happily populate yards and our hosta garden out back is an easy joy.

right next to the hosta is a garden of ferns. these are a different story. they are, indeed, more particular than hosta and, in our experience, much higher maintenance. they are beautiful, willowy and tall and a gorgeous green that changes in the light. still pretty ordinary but with a little more sass.

there are a few peonies in our backyard gardens. they are more specific about their needs. they like the sun and well-drained soil. they like a little space. they have a short-lived flowering season, but their wafting scent is remarkable. they are still ordinary plants, but need a smidge more attention than the ferns and quite a bit more attention than the hostas.

they all, however, live in community and, were we better garden-planners and were we not to have an aussie running circles in our backyard grass, would present a lovely picture. despite our lack of garden design and despite dogdog’s propensity for a bit of ruin, we are grateful for each of these living plants out back. the extraordinary of their ordinariness doesn’t escape us. they are there, they are steadfast, even without us worrying about them, fussing over them, micromanaging them. they seem to know what to do.

i recently interviewed for a job. it didn’t require a masters degree in the field, but i have one. it didn’t require experience in the area of expertise, but i have forty years. coming away from the interview, i noted to myself that it also didn’t seem to require a sense of humor or a sense of who people on either side of the call really were. is this ordinary? i’ve read many articles recently about leadership and management. the best of the best leaders and managers are human, appreciative of those they work with, looking for potential and collaboration, leaning on a bit of community warmth and pushing back at haughtiness and agenda in the workplace. the best of the best remember we are all extraordinarily ordinary, together.

i suspect i was too old for this job. that thought takes my breath away, but, these days, it seems to be true. i watch as garden centers work in our neighborhood and others we pass through. they carry in plants of great variety, design architectural gardens of varying heights and species and colors. i wonder if these gardens will require owner-vigilance or if they will propagate and grow toward their potential with the freedom that years of gained wisdom and savoir-faire and insight have granted. or if, perhaps, it will be a respectful collaboration, a chance to, in community, laugh at the breeze, bask in a bit of sun, cool off in late afternoon shade, soak in the rain and grow leaps and bounds. ordinary extraordinaires.

just like our hostas.

“it’s the ordinary people who give extraordinary love. when you sit back and look at it all you know this is what life’s made of. it’s not the stuff you accumulate or the title on your desk. it’s the people around you who make living life the best.” (song – this is life: ©️ kerri sherwood)

*****

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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those ferns. [two artists tuesday]

ferns

the ferns make me think of sally; the day we pushed the wheelbarrow up and down third avenue back and forth to her house – over and over – loaded with hosta, ferns, daylilies.  the sweet-smelling peonies make me think of linda, digging in the dirt of our gardens, planting, weeding, helping to shape the space.  the grass makes me think of russ and marykay, again, a day of wheelbarrowing, again third avenue, but due north instead of south, over and over.  we dug the pond with big help from ted and monica and a bevy of friends at our ‘big dig’ party.  we sustain the pond with words of wisdom from jay and charlie.  we build bonfires in a firepit from jen and brad and we watch lettuce grow in wooden planters from 20.  we just added hosta from daena’s mother-in-law-to-be; dan and gay delivered them.  it has taken a small village to plant our garden.

it is not without luck that these have grown well.  dogdog has done his best to try and decimate the yard and My Girl worked long hot hours last summer pulling weeds any rainforest would be proud of; our stay on island and not in our backyard encouraged strong holding-on-not-letting-go weeds of great substance, but the girl prevailed over them.

we didn’t hire a garden center to ‘do’ our yard.  it’s not too planned; it’s definitely not too fancy.  it is a place of sanctuary, though.  a place, created with so many people we love.  a place where – in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of the heart-wrenching chaos in this country, in the middle of economic worry for so many, in the middle of fear of more divisiveness and even less thoughtful leadership – we can sit in broken adirondack chairs on the patio or on the edge of the deck, arms wrapped around our knees, listening to the fountain, the birds, the wind in the trees.

the sun warms.  and we wait to hear the croaking of the pond-frog who magically appeared just a few days ago.

read DAVID’s post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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everybody has their thing. [two artists tuesday]

so, we were trying to have a nice backyard.  the pond, the deck, the grasses, the hosta, the barnwood planting stand, the old piano….we were headed in the right direction.  but then there’s dogdog.  he has this THING.  every time we let him out and michele and john’s dogs are out, he races around in a circle, digging into the grass that was there, creating a velodrome (kenosha is known for its velodrome, only not this one.)  we tried various ways to address this, to try and dissuade him from running around in the circle, from ruining the grass that we had painstakingly planted.

finally, we decided it would be far less painful for us to just embrace it.  i went online and ordered an actual highway sign (the european roundabout sign, because he runs clockwise every time and the roundabouts in our country are counter to that.)  we planted a few grasses, put up temporary rope to help the grasses have a chance, pounded in our new sign and sat back to watch.

i mean, EVERYbody has their thing.  sometimes it’s just easier to not fight it.  it’s easier to just, well, laugh.

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dogdog roundabout ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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when is the last time you waltzed?

raw-2we had a slow dance party the other night. everyone came with a bottle of wine, a candle in a jar, an appetizer and their favorite slow dance. jay wrote earlier in the day that she and charlie had pared it down to maybe fifteen favorites. i got that. i was having the same trouble.

we danced on the patio, surrounded by white twinkle lights, tiki torches, and a fire in the firepit. there was laughter and murmurs of “awww”, hoots of “ohmygosh, that was my prom theme” and sweet moments of a full patio of mostly middle-aged (ick, did I say that?) couples gently moving in dance in each other’s arms.

beautiful linda led us in the electric slide and the cuban shuffle (nope, not slow dances.) the musicians present insisted we all count the beats and discovered a kick beat that was throwing everyone off. triumph! suddenly everyone was shuffling and sliding in time.

inside, the table was creaking under bottles of wine and a big jug of fruit-infused sangria. candles and flowers were everywhere. photosandy’s olive dip was a hit and joan’s tomato, mozzarella, basil bruschetta was amazing. and then there were marykay’s gluten free dark chocolate brownies…omg.

i cannot begin to capture how magical it all felt. i looked around and gave thanks for a group of friends who embrace me and me them.

i suspect that this will be the first of many slow dance parties to come. there are more people to invite, more dances to dance, more memories to make.

the next day alone on the deck we three-stepped to slow irish waltzes. bliss…is a slow irish waltz.

when is the last time you waltzed?

slow dance (from the album AS SURE AS THE SUN)

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itunes: kerri sherwood


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welcome, barney!

barney is in our backyard. he is holding clay pots with our herb garden and some beautiful white impatiens. there are a fewphoto candles in glass jars. and he is perfect.

i’m not sure i ever thought that someday i would have a piano in my backyard. barney is a very old upright. about a hundred years old, he is tired and worn from long years, decades even, spent in a basement boiler room, but i can see the life in him as the sun hits him. never ever would i have imagined the idea of wild geranium growing up around a piano tucked into a bed of day lilies, just a few feet away from our little pond. never would i have imagined the idea of water getting on a piano, without dashing to wipe it off. it rained yesterday and i had to fight the urge to run outside and wrap my arms around him. barney’s new life is to feel loved and not ignored, appreciated and smiled at and not relegated to a dark, piano-inappropriate place. he was slated for the scrap dealer.

photo-1each morning since his arrival i have gone outside and thanked him for all his good work in the world. i am grateful to have a spot for him to rest. he looks proud. and he truly looks happy.

i really am an acoustic girl. my big yamaha grand has a studio of its own. my growing-up-spinet has a spot in our basement (not an easy place to move it to in this old house.) barney has a place in the backyard.

and all have big places in my heart.

photo-2

www.kerrisherwood.com
itunes: kerri sherwood