reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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something so delicious. [d.r. thursday]

it was the perfect “welcome home”.

there is something so delicious about going away. we left town and the cold north for florida. it was just for a few days, but the difference in climate is stunning. when you are not – in general – wearing your 32 degrees base layer or your earmuffs on a walk or your furry boots and you have traded it all for cropped jeans and flipflops and no-sleeves, it is a joy. the sun shined down on us as we visited together – our family – a ridiculous and unbelievable four years since we had seen them. we stuffed conversations into nooks and crannies of time and cheered glasses and cooked and took walks and played thomas-the-tank-engine with the tiny two-year-old-miracle who is now in the fam as well. in the middle of it, we suddenly realized how fast it was all going. and then, it was time to board. masks on – two of like four people in the entire tampa airport – we got on the plane and zipped through the air back home.

there is something so delicious about getting home. behind us we had left dogdog in the ever-capable hands of our 20. behind us we had left the worries and angsts of the moment, of this time. behind us we had left our 32 degrees base layers and hats and gloves. behind us we had left all vestiges of our normal schedule and normal routines.

we exited the plane, stopped at the meditation room at milwaukee airport and got into a cold but completely happy-to-see-us littlebabyscion (i may be projecting here) and drove home, getting more excited each minute. 20 had soup and bread ready for us when we got there. he knows how to tend to those basic comforts – those things that reassure when you have left part of your heart behind somewhere else. and then…that deep tiredness – that happens after you have been away and have arrived back home – sunk in.

sleep came early and then we woke early. looking out the window we watched the snow fall. it’s winter in wisconsin and it looks like winter. i like that. i need the seasons to go by…it’s part of my own process as well.

as the flakes get larger and i write this i know that today is a home-day. i just need to stay home, do the laundry, look at the lists i left, process leaving family-i-love behind. tomorrow i will go out. tomorrow is soon enough.

today i just need to absorb the “welcome home” and listen to the quiet snow fall.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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out loud. [d.r. thursday]

and nature studied jackson and drip-technique-painted the leaf on the trail. strategically placing small muddy potholes, it invited hikers and dogs and horses to step in. just as strategically, it placed the leaf nearby, deep brown in leftover autumn paint. soon, creamy splotches and drips and spatterings pollocked the leaf, ever-changed. i couldn’t help but notice as we walked. i felt some slight validation for the paint-spattered-paintings on our walls, the ones where i stood back and threw paint and threw paint and threw paint until i knew it was done.

i was tempted to pick up the leaf, to carry it home with us. i kind of wish i had. i wonder if anyone else noticed it, really noticed it as we did. and then i realize, that it is in our noticing – even just us – that it became a complete work and that it had a place in the world and that it wouldn’t be forgotten.

it was a good reminder for me, and i remind myself to tell d as well, to remind him. the size of the audience never matters, the number of viewers or listeners. even in one person’s experience of any work of art there is meaning.

“if you asked me what i came into this world to do, i will tell you i came to live out loud.” (émile zola)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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not “eh”. [d.r. thursday]

the little girl squealed. at full tilt – for a toddler – she ran toward the dome calling out to anyone listening, “i get to go inside!!!”

i daresay that there was not an adult present who was not invigorated by her unbridled enthusiasm, by what she saw so many of us may have forgotten. through her child’s eyes.

“you turn the pages back for me…to the way i used to be…./and now my darkest night is coming to an end, since i began to see through a child’s eyes…again.” (lowen and navarro – through a child’s eyes)

we all picked up the the pace, heading to the starry dome. a mass of people practically careening down the path to join in the lighted dome, under the light display and inside the music.

“you don’t go outside and see a starry night and say, ‘eh,'” anne said. “you say, ‘wow!'” (diane mina weltman – “an evening with anne lamott”)

“eh” was not part of this night. this extraordinary display in the garden – this amazing constellation above our heads as we stood in the dome with the jumping-bean-little-girl – was not “eh”.

and, in rare moments when you can feel the threads connecting you to the earth and all that is in it – the big, the little, the massive, the tiny – those moments you can touch the gossamer, the incandescent, the enduring, the evanescent – you – really – realize that none of it is “eh”, none of it is “same-old-same-old”, none of it should actually require any less enthusiasm than a toddler at full tilt.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN LIGHTSCAPE 2022
CHASING BUBBLES – david robinson


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buffalo plaid and stardust. [d.r. thursday]

tucked in my mind’s eye, along with sugar plum fairies and gingerbread houses, twinkling lights and sleigh bells and tiny trees, are matching red buffalo plaid pjs.

old navy made it happen.

for a few days now we have worn our matching red buffalo plaid pj pants. flannel and cozy, we knew better than to purchase long flannel pjs for our kiddos. old navy had already thought this out – they also had flannel red buffalo plaid pj boxers. score! we bought them and wrapped them into stockings. we have no idea if they will wear them or not, but my momma-heart knows we all have them – match-the-family pjs – and just the knowledge makes me happy.

the other day – on christmas evening – they made their first appearance, under a sherpa blanket on the couch watching “love actually”. since then they have appeared under a different sherpa on the couch in the sitting room, dogga curled up on the rug, reading a book together. we are reading aloud the third bestseller by raynor winn, “landlines”, a tale of two long-walkers hiking through scotland, a tale of hope and renewal and restorative juju for them. it’s descriptive and we find ourselves lost in the highlands, step after step in the rain, with them.

our new year’s eve was quiet. we ran a few errands and settled in on the couch to read, had a couple phone calls, prepared a late dinner and settled back on the couch. but our smack-dab cartoon had told a different story. though sometimes-but-not-always a straight-line-to-us-autobiographical middle-age-cartoon, it told the story on new year’s eve of two people who had to get outside and who went walking before midnight so as to be outside – along the lakefront and under the stars – at the turn of the year.

we were having trouble staying awake. it did not seem likely that we would actually see the new year arrive, sleepy eyes and all.

but then – somehow, the two of us, who are now earlier-to-bed-earlier-to-rise, got to the 11 o’clock hour. and we knew – prepare yourself for the double negative – we could not not do it.

hats and gloves and down coats and boots and the night wasn’t as cold as it seemed at 7 or 8 or even 9. the lake is a block away and we walked along it, enjoying the holiday lights still up and lit on our route. we cut in to the path that is right next to the shore and strolled slowly, watching the fireworks in the sky around us.

and, though it was cloudy and we could not see the moon or the stars, we could feel the stardust falling on us, with the promise of a new year.

surely the stuff of sugar plum fairies and twinkling lights, gingerbread and sleigh bells and red buffalo plaid flannel pjs.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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nothing better. [d.r. thursday]

“the snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning…
(mary oliver – first snow)

it snowed all day, the wind howling, the temperature careening below zero. a white christmas was on its way. the luminaria, though, they would not make it onto the sidewalks with neighbors and friends. it would be too oppressively cold, dangerously bitter.

wisconsin – right here by the great lake michigan – was not besieged with tremendous snow. there were not depths taller than shovelers or windows blocked by towering drifts. but it was so so cold. severe.

and even in the frigid, the glitter was obvious.

“…never settle
less than lovely!
…”

the pond gathered the flakes. you could almost see them individually…the gift of a dry and very cold snow. dogdog laid outside, allowing snow to fall on his fur and, from time to time, jumping up and licking big swaths from the deck. he is a cold-weather dog, gleeful in the snow.

some of our plans were changed because of the arctic blast. i regretted that. for a bit. there were so many things to go do, so many lights to go see.

but the dura-fire was lit in the fireplace, the wine was poured, the cookies needed decorating, the ornament game waited. and we looked out the window and spoke of bing crosby and white christmas.

and it was beautiful out there. and still. quiet. and sparkling.

“…and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain – not a single
answer has been found –
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one
…”

and we were home. together. and i can think of nothing better.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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astonished. [d.r. thursday]

nostalgia hits fast.

how many times i have stood in front of the gazebo in northport harbor…how many times i have sat on the steps, lost in thought or listening to the clinking of metal sails in the docks next to the park…how many times i’ve wandered in the harbor surrounded by the dreamy lights of the gazebo and old-fashioned sidewalk lampposts on the paths.

lake bluff brought it all back.

an absolutely beautiful display in the square drew us to it and we parked, even in freezing cold, to walk around a bit, take pictures and soak it all in. it wasn’t northport, but it was stunning and magical.

the wordpress prompt today reads: is your life today what you pictured a year ago?

are any of our lives today what we pictured a year ago?

the element of surprise … both ways.

at a time of year that always-always makes me miss my childhood home, both of my parents, our big stone fireplace, the luminaria lighting our neighborhood streets and groups of friends caroling around the blocks, hot cocoa and marshmallows, tinsel and krumkake, rum cake and eggnog, the delicious anticipation of opening gifts and the northport harbor gazebo radiant, its lights shimmering in the harbor, we find the little square in the middle of lake bluff. astonishing.

instructions for living a life: pay attention. be astonished. tell about it.(mary oliver)

*****

UNFETTERED 48″ X 48″

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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waiting past dimly-lit. [d.r. thursday]

in color. it may be a while. winter is upon us. al fresco waits.

we walked past, on a dimly-lit day, as if there was a 40 watt bulb in a really big room. they caught our attention. i could hear the laughter and the clinking of dishes and silverware somewhere in my head, the strung lights turned on, maybe a little music. the picnic tables, the patio space wait.

we have had a string of days. dimly-lit. overcast and drizzly, a few snowflakes here and there, damp. the sun is out there, waiting.

we have had a string of days. dimly-lit. our spirits a little under-the-weather, a little tuckered-out, a little flummoxed. we walk the sidewalks of this small town, having gotten out of our heads a little. we assure each other – opportunity is out there there, waiting.

we pass signs of the holidays approaching…decorated trees, boxes of ornaments, star tchotchkes and packs of menorah candles in shop windows. waiting.

had we waited for dark, i’m pretty sure the little town west of milwaukee would have lit up. but we didn’t wait.

we drove home the backroads, through farmland and tiny towns. and when we got there we lit our own happy lights and sat at the table in our sunroom.

we talked about how lovely it was to just be out and about. a few moments in dimly-lit days with some added technicolor.

we bought our first led bulb. it’s 100 watts. we installed it in the kitchen schoolhouse fixture and made a stockpot of chicken soup by its light. we were surprised. the light was significant. we were going to wait, but the two-pack was on sale. so we didn’t wait.

the silver tree on the windowsill reflected the lights stretched across the open shelf. the star in the sunroom glistened, strung globe lights below it.

a little less dim.

the moon is waning, the stars are absent. but even in night-clouds, we see evidence-bits of them. waiting.

*****

WAITING ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHASING BUBBLES 33.25″ x 48″


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newton’s cradle pendulum. [d.r. thursday]

it’s some time after sundown – the time we have declared happy hour. we aren’t at a bar or a lounge or a restaurant or a pub. if we are lucky, we are outside somewhere – in the woods, on a trail, even in our backyard sitting by the pond in the last wee bit of waning sunlight.

these days – when cold gets through our fleece quarter-zips and vests – we are likely to be found at the happy-lit table in front of the window in our sunroom, dogga by our feet. we will put a christmas tree out there on the deck and it will add festivity to the string of lights out back.

in these last days we have encountered major stress. i mean, what couple hasn’t? we have returned to a place of unemployment. there is a big sense of loss, there is anger, there is tremendous angst. though no fault of ours – the company closed its doors entirely – there is also some embarrassment…to be back here. all of this – loss, anger, angst, embarrassment – adds up to shorter tempers than usual and some listing on the side of hopeless, incredulous. all of that – i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say it – adds up to some ugly moments. we are struggling to stay balanced, to stay even. this is our story. we know everyone has one.

so we instituted a new rule. a survival rule. during happy hour – regardless of beverage – spirits or not – we will list the gratitudes of the day. from the tiniest morsel to bigger wins, we are taking turns remembering the day and all it brought and we are choosing to speak to the kindnesses, the beauty, the accomplishments, the striving, even the bite of flax-4-life brownie. anything. nothing is measured. nothing is off the table. it all counts.

so as the sun goes down on the trail and we haul to the finish as quickly as possible, we express gratitude for the palette in the sky, for the leaves crunching under our feet, for being able to get outside, for each other. we choose to let go the hard-hard moments, knowing that being human is a pendulum. there will be surprises of good and surprises of not-good. and, like newton’s cradle pendulum with its perpetual-motion swinging kinetic balls, it will just keep going. back and forth. back and forth.

sunset, sunrise.

we are lucky to be here.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

PAX (peace) 24″ x 24″


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fluff and pine and raynor winn. [d.r. thursday]

and we will give thanks over costco rotisserie chicken and homemade mashed potatoes.

and we will play favorite cds in the happy-lit sunroom as we set a table, thoughtfully choosing cloth napkins, deciding which place, which memories we want to evoke.

and we will speak of others gathered around tables and tv trays, spilling into family rooms from dining rooms and kitchens filled with light and food and conversation.

and we will call and have chit-chat, maybe even a facetime visit.

and, if the rain holds off, we will take a hike in the woods. it will be slightly warmer and there are few dishes to wash.

and, maybe, we will read poetry or the new raynor winn book, if our copy arrives soon enough.

and it’s possible we will watch a movie or two, with a duraflame log burning but not stressing the fireplace and chimney.

and we will dessert on brownie bites, perhaps a dollop of whipped cream, perhaps a few raspberries. or ice cream from our yonana, still a dollop, still a few berries.

and we will miss those not here…those gathered with others, those too far away, those on other planes. we will speak of them in our gratitudes and hold them all close.

and we will sit – and stand – and maybe even dance – in the day, even in its liminal space.

and we will begin to decorate with fluff and pine to welcome the season, earlier than usual.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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a mixed bag. [d.r. thursday]

$6.99. for ten. that’s not cheap. and i have often wondered why they are not included as a perk for city taxes or the utilities and waste pickup. i always – really always – print out the coupon for $2.00 off and have them in my purse every fall. but even then, $4.99 is still not inexpensive.

the other day we stood in the grocery store in front of the biobag display and had a few terse words. i didn’t have any printed coupons in my purse and he-who-shall-remain-nameless-in-this-story wanted to buy a couple boxes. everything inside me railed against buying them without the coupons. i even said that i would go back – after i downloaded the coupon page and then went to the officemax to print them (since our printer was on the fritz). he said my time was worth more than that. i wondered – again – why, if kenosha is providing a link for the coupons on their city site for anyone and everyone, the stores don’t just discount them at point of purchase. it seems like a ridiculous exercise in wasted paper, a little bit of irony – especially when the reason to purchase them is to be environmentally mindful. seems a little plastic if you ask me. to let you off the waiting-with-bated-breath hook, we bought the biobags – two boxes – and i tried to forget that we paid full price.

while i recognize the absolute need for biobags – and the ability for them to disintegrate – i wonder how all people can afford them. they simply cannot purchase boxes and boxes of biodegradable biobags in lieu of food or in lieu of paying the mortgage or rent or gas for the car to get to their job or the WE energies bill. there has to be a way for everyone to have access without breaking the bank. i can tell you that there were many times we stood in the store and had to think about whether or not to purchase them. and now, we are back there…thinking again about the cost.

the trees around us haven’t lost all their leaves yet. we will finish out the boxes of bags we have and then, i suspect, we will use those big black plastic bags and take them to the compost site out by the airport and dump the contents into huge piles. we can reuse the black bags for the next runs and the next runs. as we fall into winter we will definitely mulch some on the yard as well and rake some into the gardens for critters to take refuge and find warmth.

leaf-raking time is a funny time. it brings back a zillion memories of my poppo out front raking leaves and leaf-raking parties with hot cocoa and cookies (we had a zillion trees at my growing-up house) and, later down the road in a different time, a different state, my kiddos loving jumping in the leaves and despising raking. we love to swoosh our feet through the leaves as we walk and the scent of fallen autumn leaves is divine. we drive around the ‘hood, astounded at the sheer number of bags at the curb and try to remember how many weeks the city will pick them up. we can smell leaves burning as we drive to our favorite trail and we watch as people use those big blower devices to blow leaves into the street, passing on leaf-responsibility and encouraging their leaves to blow into their neighbors’ yards.

leaf mulchers. leaf blowers. leaf burns. leaf piles. leaf bins. leaf parties. leaf them alone.

it’s a mixed bag. yes. pun intended.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY