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an octopus and a hissy fit. [d.r. thursday]

in the outstanding documentary “my octopus teacher” craig foster forges a relationship with an octopus in the south african kelp forest. every day he enters the cold water to search for her and over the period of about a year he bonded an intimate friendship with this amazing creature. when she disappears after a scare, he spends days seeking her, commenting, “i try to think like an octopus.” his success reuniting with her shows he is at least somewhat capable of thinking how she thinks, of seeing how she sees. your heart is filled watching the mutuality of their connection and you wonder why this level of reciprocal respect cannot exist more easily between human beings.

tuesday i had a hissy fit. i have mostly recuperated. i’m not sure where it started but it definitely was a meltdown. anxiety coupled with grief coupled with worry and angst with a pinch of frustration – the ingredients du jour for many of us on a given day in these difficult times. i went on about a propensity for letting things just roll off my back, making things ok, not speaking up – for myself – as often as i would wish or as often would seem apt. in my wild and wooly meltdown, i complained that others can do this and often do this – speak up, push back, say things are not ok – without incident, without remorse, without punitive measures, without concern. i stated examples in that way you do when you are ranting; there are many words you speak asfastasyoucan to make sure the other person keeps listening and there are also many punctuation words you linger on, stretching out the sound of them on your lips, exquisite cuss words that seem fitting at the time. these are not necessarily pretty, but they are definitely handy at providing emphasis. i ranted about neighbors playing music at absurd decibels in a house-dense community. i ranted about the internet and streaming and ridiculously small music royalties, an industry for independents, flailing. i ranted about my right hand’s range of motion plateau. i ranted about speaking up for myself and my rights as a woman, my rights as a professional, my rights as an employee. i ranted about not saying “no”. i ranted about losing my job. i ranted about those who claim to be caring and compassionate not even entertaining having any kind of discussion or dialogue. i ranted about ill-suited leaders in leadership positions, seemingly not being held answerable. i ranted about hypocrisy. i ranted about people’s silent complicity. i ranted about wanting to retort to others about their stance on politics, on gender and racial equality, on the pandemic, on climate change, on gun violence and gun control. i ranted that, even sans retort, even in even-keeled, calm, cool, collected and researched manner, it would be next to impossible to navigate debate. i ranted about the abyss in our nation that makes it impossible to have an intelligent, thoughtful and respectful conversation without vile getting in the way. i ranted about the inability for people to see things together. i ranted about missing my sweet babycat. i returned to the top, taking a breath and again ranted that others seem to do and say whatever they please, despite fallout or impact on others, despite truth or consequences, without care and with agenda, without benevolence and with mean-spiritedness, without kindness and with a lack of sensitivity. i ranted that i could not continue this way. i ranted, “if i can’t at 62, when is it that i can???” can’t what? can what? i’m not even sure i know. ranting is like that.

it would seem that possibly a kelp forest off the coast, deep dives with a weight belt, times of holding one’s breath minutes at a time might aid in establishing some sort of common ground. it worked for craig foster and his fantastic octopus. he carefully, and without antagonizing her or scaring her or moving too quickly, watched her in her short life. he passively, without interfering or having self-serving agenda, watched her deal with day-to-day life, with adversity, with terror, with the pecking order that comes in the ocean. he watched her gracefully and intelligently co-exist with stunning creatures of the sea. he was saddened when she was hurt; he mourned her when she died. relationship. a kinship crossing natural boundaries.

we humans…we have much to learn. we have brains that refuse to look for new factual knowledge, hearts that refuse to respect all love as love, eyes that refuse to attempt empathy or fairness and see what others see. maybe we should spend some time immersed in the vast ocean, in a kelp forest. or maybe we should try harder. or maybe we should spend some time answering the important questions of our hissy fits.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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faith takes a little practice. [d.r. thursday]

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blind faith.  every day.  dare i say that is the way we live?

live (verb): to be alive or have life.  we rise, we go about our day, never really certain what or who will cross our path, never absolute about any single thing we might encounter or be challenged by or be gifted with.  we make plans, we have hopes, we dream of freely checking off that which is on our list-of-things-to-do and our bucket list.

in this moment now, we cannot see the moment of the past or the moment of the future, but we know that they are there; they exist.  there is much we cannot see.  words that elicit emotional response but nothing you can see as a thing with your eyes – love, grace, forgiveness, freedom.  you can see evidence of them but not an actual thing, like the simplicity of a table or a chair.  faith is one of those amorphous things.  present as a gentle reassurance, zealous as a fire in your heart.  you can no sooner lasso faith as you can lasso love.  both are omnipotent; both are invincible.

“well i will walk by faith, even when i cannot see.” (walk by faith – jeremy camp)

and so we keep walking, never really knowing anything for sure.  we trust.  we trust the next day will come.  we trust we understand these words that capture that which we cannot see; we embrace them.  we trust we have life and that #allwillbewell.

but it suggests giving over to something bigger than us.  it suggests belief in a universe where we are aligned with each of the stars in the milky way, where we are equally important – each of us, where we are held and richly loved and granted grace and forgiveness.  where we lay our heads down to sleep and rest, believing, blindly, that next will come with the sun.

none of it is easy – our lives are not pre-scripted for ease.  but we have been gifted with big hearts, thinking minds and the ability to keep on, despite all of life’s ambiguity.

my sweet momma loved these words, “breathe in faith.  exhale fear.”  no real proof.  unless of course you count all those around you who love you, who have loved you and who will love you.  the grace you have been granted with each day.  that new day that comes.

“none of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward.  because we trust.  because we have faith.” (paulo coelho)

sometimes it takes a little practice.  one foot in front of the other.  stepping lightly.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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assumptions. [d.r. thursday]

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the sun lights our room early in the morning.  we don’t have room-darkening shades so   if artificial measures haven’t been used (read: obnoxious alarm clocks) we wake with the light.

thoughts stream in with the light in this just-past-the-dark-hour.  our quiet as we sip coffee, like jiffy-pop starting to pop on a hot stovetop, is punctuated by bits of conversation.  the dreams we are climbing out of, the babycat’s snoring through the night, dogdog’s sweet need for early pets, what the weather looks like out our window peering into the backyard, projects we are working on, what is on the docket for the day.  ideas, reminiscences patter through.  we stretch into the day yawning in front of us, putting on, and trying to keep on, caps of making-good-assumptions.  today is a good day to have a good day, as the saying goes.

good assumptions.  apparently, they are a high ticket item.  for we all are, in the world, surrounded by those who do not make good assumptions.  my sweet momma would tell me, “don’t jump to conclusions.”  “ask questions,” she would admonish. a difficult lesson worth oft-repeating.

we would sit on the couch at the end of the day, sipping tea and eating chips ahoy cookies.  we’d talk about the day, bitter jabs by classmates or exclusionary moments i had endured.  “try to find something good,” she’d remind me, while at the same time not underplaying the hurtful behaviors.  “make good assumptions.”  this is the same woman who, on the emergency room table in the wee hours of the night, in great pain and fearing a broken hip, looked up at a cranky and tired nurse and remarked, “you have a beautiful smile.”  it changed the moment; i suspect it changed the rest of the nurse’s day; perhaps it changed all those who she interacted with thereafter and so forth.  those undeniable concentric circles.

in early days with david, clearly in the beaky-beaky school of thought, one of the most-oft-repeated things i remember him saying is “ask questions.”  don’t assume you know.  don’t assume anything.  ask.  listen.

quite some time ago, mike stated, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  watch, ask questions and listen, he advised.  don’t make assumptions.  the best way to learn, the best way to collaborate, the best way to approach challenge, the best way to move in the world.

momma would smile and look at me, facing down adversity or standing tall on a personal summit, and say, “wowee!”

i can practically hear her now, her eyes dancing, saying, “see?  if you ARE going to assume anything, assume awe.”

thank you, chicken marsala, for the reminder.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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throw pillow wisdoms. [merely a thought monday]

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i love the unicorn on the daily calendar wendy aka ben aka saul gave me, but the thing i really pay attention to are the words of wisdom it offers me day after day.  sometimes it makes me laugh aloud; sometimes it makes me really think.  later in the day i recall a bit of the message, but i can’t recall how the unicorn was standing or if it was flying or rearing up or ….

i think that’s the way with other similar images…like our CHICKEN MARSALA.  CHICKEN is our little made-up boy, a cartoon, who showed up for the first many months of mondays as a part of this melange.  CHICKEN always had a message morsel – a CHICKEN NUGGET –  and it was that message that seemed to resonate with his audience.

taking some of those words of wisdom or expressions, i designed ‘words-only’ products (as well as products with CHICKEN MARSALA on them.)  with the shopping season upon us and everyone seeking something unique as gifts, the next few weeks we’ll revisit some of those products so that you can see what you might have missed.

this is throw pillow week.   you can find these by clicking on the box above or by clicking HERE.  when you get to the society6 site, you will find these same simple images and lots of others – including images with CHICKEN MARSALA – on coffee mugs, travel mugs, laptop sleeves, phone cases, hoodies, t-shirts, tote bags, blankets, towels, coasters, even shower curtains.  it was a blast designing all of these product lines.  i hope that we can help you in finding just the right thing for someone special…or maybe even yourself.

happy holidays with love from me, david & chicken marsala.

read DAVID’S words on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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inspiration. a gathering storm. [chicken marsala monday]

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a few years ago, after my tealight-vessel-throwing-on-the-wheel experience, i felt like i still needed to express myself in another medium (other than music).  as much as i adored the idea of throwing pots, the cost of the clay and studio time was not in direct proportion to my level of ability; it was time to put that aside till the budget was flush and i could return to the pottery studio without counting pennies.  a tealight vessel (ok, there were a couple tealight vessels if you must know) and one lonely bowl were a total joy but it was clearly going to take some good-long-time to get better on that wheel.  demi moore (in ghost) made it look easy.  it is not.

and so i went to the art supply store and bought a huge canvas.  the biggest one they had in stock.  the kind with a deep side (1.5″).  i brought it downstairs to the workroom and searched around for paint.  since i am not well-versed in this area (to say the least) i selected a can of black paint and a can of white paint.  both household paints. latex.  semi-gloss.  i searched around for one of the old brushes i had been using to paint furniture and i set up my “studio”.

day after day i would go downstairs to look at this spot in the basement.  i could feel my excitement gathering.  i had no idea what i was going to do with this canvas, but it was ready for me.  until one day, indeed, i was ready.

i stood before the canvas and began to paint.  i brushed on paint.  i threw paint.  i spattered paint.  i painted over paint.  time fell away and i kept painting.  i’d walk away and let it dry and then return (this doesn’t take very long with household latex…long enough to pour another cup of coffee or glass of wine) and i’d paint some more.  i’d stand back and i could see what it needed (at least what my eye said it needed.)

and then, i knew.  it was time to stop.  i didn’t know where it was going, but i did know when it was time to stop.

now, i can’t say if the cost of the canvas and studio time were in direct proportion to my level of ability, but i can say they were way less than what my heart felt.  these moments, gathered together, a storm of inspiration, fed me.

this painting hangs in the hall in our house. when i sent a photo of it to a friend of mine right after i was done, scordskiii wrote back to ask whose work it was.  i told him it was mine, laughing and apologizing for it.  he was appalled by my apology and made me promise not to apologize again. so now there are a few more in the living room.  arriving after these paintings all had their dedicated spots on the walls of what-is-now-our-home, david, the real painter in our house, said he loves them.  i’m always invested in real art made by real people, regardless of the genre, so i love them too.  not necessarily because of what they look like.  but because of what they made (and make) me feel.

my first painting

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inspiration is a gathering storm ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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inspiration and crazy things. [chicken marsala monday]

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i’ve never bungee-jumped or parachuted out of an airplane or ziplined across a gulch or dropped on a snowboard off the side of a mountain.  but i understand how inspiration can make you do crazy things.

i remember my first album, 23 years ago now, felt like a crazy thing.  it was scary stuff, putting my own music ‘out there’; it was scary standing on stage telling the stories that went along with those pieces and playing my first full-length concert.  i imagine the adrenalin i had standing in the wings of the stage before the lights dimmed was much like that of stepping off the platform in a body harness ready to fly.  now, the scary stuff would be not doing that which i know so well.

so many people who have stepped out – trusting their instincts, trusting their training, trusting their beliefs and values, trusting their resilience.  following a path that might look unlikely.  following inspiration.  seemingly crazy stuff all of it.  stuff that opens them to a wide spectrum of possible results, from wild success to something that looks like failure.

all inspired.  all crazy.  all learnings.  all life.  it may not all be safe, it may make you feel vulnerable; it may even invoke fear, but it sure is interesting.

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inspiration makes people do crazy things. ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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the chase. [chicken marsala monday]

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dogdog drags babycat across the wood floors through the house with babycat’s head in his mouth.  at first, when dogdog was new to the family, it really frightened us and we admonished dogga for dragging the cat around.  but then we realized that it was a game.  if dogdog wasn’t playing, babycat would slap at dogdog with his claw-paw and make the chase start.  it mattered not who “won” the match, for there was no obvious winner. (although i must say that it appears that babycat is indeed the alpha in the house.)  most important for the two of them was the chase.  just having fun.

it’s the same with anticipation.  i can clearly remember having great anticipation for something-or-other, relishing that feeling, the adrenalin rush, the quickening of heart, the excitement i could feel.  when the actual Thing happened, it wasn’t nearly as delicious as what led up to it – the anticipation, the process, the chase to it.  the Thing was almost anti-climactic, a sort of denouement of all the details getting there.

albums are kind of like that.  the process of writing, practicing, the anticipation, the work, chasing the perfect recording.  and then, the tying up of loose ends, the post-project letdown. as much as i wish i could, there is no way i can control what the ‘catch’ will be, whether or not the music will resonate with listeners, whether or not the album will do well in the market.

as an artist, it is all the magic in the middle that matters to me.  the chase.

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it’s not the catch, it’s the chase that matters ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 


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not enough crayons. [chicken marsala monday]

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as i am writing this, The Girl just texted to say she was driving off the pass and that she and lumi-dog had finished their hike in the back-country.  earlier she had texted (as is safe practice for all back-country activity) to let someone know both that she was going to be out of cell service, off the grid, in the high mountains on a hike and where she intended her hike to take her.  she is a conscientious hiker and boarder and i can’t tell you how much i appreciate that.  and so, early early this morning, i looked up the hike she was taking.

the #1 hike in the san juans (according to my trail app) it was taking her on a giant elevation gain and to a stunning lake, the color of which i couldn’t describe by the picture, and evidently was un-grasp-able even by the people reviewing the hike.  this was a place incapable of being captured by even a crayola 64-box.

that is what i love about our world.  countless places we couldn’t begin to capture with crayons.  no matter how many we could get our hands on.

the places that take our breath away.  the places that give us breath.

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there aren’t enough crayons in the world to capture it all ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 


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play like there’s no tomorrow! [chicken marsala monday]

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for us, it’s easy to like chicken…our chicken marsala, that is.  we made him up; he is the (mutual) son we didn’t have together.  and so, he’s a jeans-wearing-black-shirts-mostly-flip-flop little boy.  he takes after david with his esoteric wisdom and me with his high forehead and sentimentality.  he has much more brevity than either of us, but he’s little, so give him time.

it’s easy for us to be invested in chicken’s antics, to laugh aloud at his shenanigans, to get a little misty at his emotional ties.  but we have driven across the country with david making up his little voice in the backseat; we have taken a three foot tall flat-chicken into welcome centers and family gatherings; we have taken pictures of our chicken at the colorado border and hanging out in the back of the xb.

and so, it’s easy for us to believe that chicken marsala would have an instant following – an ever-growing group of people who believe in him kind of like how they believed in charlie brown or calvin (well, maybe a teeny little bit like charlie brown or calvin.)  because we do.  we believe in him.  his snippets of wisdom, his goodness, his take on life.  i realize that, like any story, it’s possible that maybe it is hard to start in the middle.  (i am the worst at starting in the middle of any movie – i ask a million questions trying to catch up…)

so i just want to say this:  if you had a chance to have a little boy in your life, one whose wise words entered your heart and whose voice countered the narrative so prevalent in our world now, and, even if he was, ok, make-believe, wouldn’t you just love it to be a little boy like our Chicken?  this nugget is for you.  play.  with abandon.  like a little make-believe boy.  like there’s no tomorrow.

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play like there’s no tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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unleash the power of your crayon. [chicken marsala monday]

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on my piano in my studio is a teeny sign with a big message.  it reads, “if you asked me what i came into this world to do, i will tell you i came to live out loud.” (emile zola)   it’s a reminder – a reason for being.  true for each of us, it’s unleashing the metaphoric crayon of our creativity, our thoughts, our knowledge, our gifts, our voices.

there is an extraordinary amount of power in those crayons..the place in the middle that we open…the heart from where our concentric circles start rippling out…where the crayon meets the page, the song is composed, the painter paints, the activist writes.  “loud” (for the sheer sake of being loud) and “out loud” (simply having a voice) are two vastly different things.  and, if you are paying even the least bit of attention at all to world events, we are privy to both in our lives these days.

after living all this life so far, i hope now that the crayons i pick will help to ripple out things that are good, things that consider others, things that are not hurtful, things that are fair, things that are kind.  the power of a crayon unleashed that is “out loud” not “loud.”

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unleash the power of your crayon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood