reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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102. [merely-a-thought monday]

102.

my sweet poppo would be 102 today. were he here, i would treat him to a scotch on the rocks, a good steak on the grill (that he doesn’t have to stress over), chocolate ganache cake, a hot cup of coffee. i would tease him and poke at him, asking him if he remembered to get my momma an anniversary card (for they were married on his birthday and it would be their 79th anniversary and, for some reason, this was always my job through the years – to take on the angst of wondering if my dad remembered…).

i wish he were here.

we were in our airbnb in the little mountain town.

we had just arrived that day. took a walk downtown, had pop-up happy hour on the porch, made a sheet-pan dinner, relished being there.

a warm and welcoming old house, there was a wine bottle stand in the dining room that held books and brochures of the area, menus and hiking trails, places to forge metal and horsebackride, guides to hundreds of waterfalls. good resources to plan our next days.

i randomly pulled out the small book on the end of the shelf and flipped it open. this was the page it flipped to. “how do you like them apples?” because i am redundant (yepyep) and because some things stick in my mind more than others, i have already written about how my dad always said this. kind of a nonsensical phrase, sometimes appropriate in context, sometimes not so much. it is with tremendous fondness i hear or see this phrase. it goes along with “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”

i held it open, photographed it, wanted to pack it away in my backpack. i was held – suspended – in a moment with my dad. he smiled from afar and thought he was pretty clever to pull it off.

he wanted to live to 100. if you asked him how he was, he would tell you that he was going to live to 100.

but he didn’t.

i wonder if he’s shaking his head on the other side, incredulous that things just work out how they work out, in spite of our plans, saying, “how do you like them apples?”.

though we loved that they were there – particularly me – we didn’t open the brochures much. we just punted and found ourselves on gravel roads in the woods seeking trailheads and climbing to waterfalls and granite outcroppings in forests of rhododendron, surprised again and again by howdoyoulikethemapples moments.

*****

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


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thinking notes. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“thinking notes,” ken calls them. lingering on the same note for an extra moment, an extra beat, sorting what’s next. well, technically, it would rarely just be only one beat or one moment, but that would require more explanation. i suppose most composers are familiar with this.

writing on the fly – improvisational but with a sense of theme – is surely plotting and scheming, figuring out in the nanoseconds ahead what will come. the moments you are deep into a recording and you somehow skew the rhythmic pattern – or the melodic gesture – you’ve developed, and you know that twist will change it all. your brain delivers a quick “plot twist” faceslap to your hands and you keep going. and, for the most part, no one is the wiser for the turn in the road, save for your producer.

outside the bookstore in the little mountain town the sign made us stop, nodding our heads. sometimes it’s the plot twists – and the unanswered prayers – that save us. we think we know best. we etch the plans in stone.

but those moments come and nothing stays the same, for even the tiniest twist in the road changes latitude or longitude, beat pattern, melody line. and they deliver with them the grace to play a little thinking note, take a little breath, close your eyes tightly and then reopen them – and then keep going.

hold your plans – and your plot twists – gently.

*****

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


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two or more. [merely-a-thought monday]

it doesn’t matter to us that it is a vintage windsor wheelback country kitchen chair. it’s just a sweet chair in the dining room of a little house in the north carolina mountain town we are fond of. our favorite part is the stenciled “EAT”.

my next tiny project will be to stencil this onto the old metal framed chair in our dining room. it’s the chair we grab when 20 comes over and we eat inside. we always pull it into the kitchen and sit around the small square table my dad refinished 34 years ago. we could sit in the dining room – there’s plenty of space and more than enough chairs – but it’s cozy in the kitchen and we choose cozy for sitting, sipping wine, eating together, catching up, laughing. the textures in our kitchen are the same as in this mountaintown dining room – old wood floors, thick white trim, light grey walls, black chairs. i tend to select the airbnbs that look like our own sensibility – a home away.

back in the day i had stenciled along the entire kitchen upper wall, just like in our foyer. simple checkerboxes, but that has gone the way of simplicity. one of these days i will need to repaint the foyer – the plaster in there is forcing my hand. and the last of the checkerboxes will disappear. an era. bygone.

i laid awake last night for a long time. my dear friend linda told me that when she is awake for long periods at night she will walk through their bygone houses in her mind. it calms her thoughts and brings her closer to sweet sleep. last night i walked through my growing-up house, in the front door, into the living room and the kitchen, the dining room, the paneled den with the gigantic rock fireplace, down the hall into my bedroom. i took a tour of the basement and the backyard, the woods behind our house. i moved on…to florida and the homes i lived in there. the sheep farm in new hampshire, the littlehouse on washington island. here.

although i could picture the homes and the furnishings – for the most part – the pictures – snapshots from a viewmaster – i could mostly see were the gatherings. people gathered around tables in the kitchen, people gathered for holiday meals in the dining room, people gathered en masse outside or inside, just munching on snacks or burgers or making apple pies or having shrimp boils or big parties or little parties with tables lined with foods everyone brought to contribute to the feast.

it’s been a while since we have hosted any big parties. a couple years now. when i worked at the church we hosted all the time – any excuse for a choir party, all the summertime ukulele rehearsals. we added our big dig, the slow dance party, christmas eve outdoor luminaria bonfire fests. community was built around these gatherings – people coming together to visit and share and eat, to slow down and talk and share where they are at. a community that gathers grows. a community that shares meals grows. a community that authentically cares grows. connection. comfort. contentment.

we miss those times. it came naturally to us to be the spot. job loss and covid, financial strain, caution-in-gathering – they all put constraints on the big – and small – gatherings. little by little we return around the table. literally and figuratively.

in the meanwhile, we gratefully sit in the sunroom surrounded by happy lights or in the kitchen at the table, the legs of which dogdog gnawed on as a puppy or outside on the patio by the fire.

the thing we always knew: “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” (helen keller)

where two or more may gather.

and EAT.

*****

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


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quilts > duvets. [k.s. friday]

…and i will comfort you…

given a choice, we will stay in airbnbs. they are homes – real people’s places where they laid their heads – and they offer a comfort that hotels just can’t.

perhaps i have never stayed in a hotel resort that reaches its arms around me, snugged into its chest. it is true. i haven’t ever been to an all-inclusive. when we hotel-it, we stay at the hampton inn, where they offer breakfast and wash the duvet cover daily. they are very clean, mostly updated, the beds are goldilocks-worthy and there is a refrigerator and microwave for the food we are carrying with us.

we arrived in richmond, kentucky on a thursday evening. a fire truck was diagonally across the road, blocking it, and my heart flipped a little, wondering what might have happened. instead, a small town, it was the night of the homecoming parade. we got to the corner by our airbnb, but only to the corner. it was the final approach for the parade route and the police officer at the corner stopped us with a sheepish smile, “just pull over and watch.” he added, “sorry”.

we weren’t sorry. it was a delight to see the parade up close and personal and we cheered and the high school football team threw us candy. after all the convertibles with king and queen candidates drove by and the final police car with lights, the police officer allowed us to turn toward our lodging.

we wrote to andrew, the host of our roomy and perfectly-appointed loft, just to let him know what a joy it was to pull into his town and find such fun. he responded immediately. a real person. a real home. he pays attention. we sat on the tiny balcony and sipped wine while the church carillon rang out post-parade. after more than eight hours on the road, we felt comforted.

the little house in brevard was known to us. we stayed there before. so we knew exactly what we would find…a home with a front porch… our window into the tiny mountain town. we chose to stay there again because it had held us the first time…in comfort. home away from home.

the ukulele band i directed played the van morrison song “comfort you”. “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

comfort, invisibly wrapping us, giving us pause.

i can think of nothing more important in these times – really, any times – but especially these times – than people comforting other people. the capacity for a human to give reassurance and hope to another must surpass all efforts to compete, to one-up, to undermine. surely as the south begins to clean up from hurricane ian, the evidence is obvious.

i will comfort you – words unspoken perhaps – but deeds spell it all out. people loving one another.

quilts > duvets.

*****

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

and the parade greets us as we arrive


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every waterfall counts. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we stood in a quiet forest, the only sounds – birds and running water.

we had taken a sketchy gravel forest service road – a single-car-width-wide – to get to the trailhead up the mountain, encouraging littlebabyscion the whole way and grateful we had gotten new tires before our trip. the brochure directions were not as straight-forward as we would have liked, and we lost signal for most of the time, but eventually the alltrails app helped us find our way.

250 waterfalls. there are more than 250 waterfalls to discover in brevard, north carolina. choosing where to go is overwhelming. but once you start laying feet on the dirt, hiking, it really doesn’t matter. we were surrounded by intensity every which way we looked. we stood by the side of the waterfall, silent.

it wasn’t one of the grand falls; it wasn’t listed on the “top 10”. but it was serene and light dazzled through the trees. millions of droplets captured the sun. a tiny miracle of beauty in the woods. haloed waterfall. stunning. perfect.

“and the moon said to me, my darling daughter, you do not have to be whole in order to shine.” (nichole mcelhaney)

we hiked on up further, a steep climb to a destination unknown.

*****

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


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no pizza, but thank you. [merely-a-thought monday]

if my sweet momma had hung tiny signs in trees, she would have hung this one, “be the reason someone smiles today.”

the historic district of plaza midwood in charlotte is a paradise of bungalows and porches. we walked to the harris teeter slowly, admiring each one, imagining the inside. later, we searched on zillow to see interiors and prices of these gems.

the house with the huge peace sign, the word love by the front door, prayer flags hanging on the side…we knew these people could easily be our friends. an inviting neighborhood. and then, this tree, filled with wisdoms and encouragements.

we porch-sat each night in our tiny mountain town, sitting on the steps or in sling camp chairs or at our pop-up table that travels with us. our airbnb is on one of the main arteries of the little city so there is traffic to watch and there are people walking by.

sometimes the conversations would be short and sweet and we would just greet people and cheer them on their way. other times, we’d start chatting. mike and michaela walked by and ended up at the porch several nights. and the feral cat – so sweet and so very shy – stopped by for a quiet visit each night. it easily started to feel really comfortable; we settled in quickly.

there are definitely times we walk or hike and attempt a littlebittaconversation with others when we are dissed. they will say nothing. truly nothing. no reaction, no smile, nothing. but we – nevertheless – try to subscribe to my momma’s unspoken mantra. we keep on trying to make others smile. it doesn’t take a lot of energy to try and momentarily engage with another, to act goofy or silly or self-deprecating, to do something kind, say something positive or enthusiastic or complimentary.

sitting on the steps of the porch one night, we said hi to a guy walking past. he was carrying his hot-out-of-the-pizza-oven pizza from the gas-station-triangle-stop-shop that oddly “offers growler taps and on-premise beer and wine”. he seemed surprised and then called over, “you wanna piece? i can share.” we laughed, tempted, and told him thank you.

we declined a slice of pizza, but my sweet momma’s eyes were sparkling.

*****

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