reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our snowdog. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there is nothing, weather-wise, that dogdog likes better than snow. he is invigorated by it. he’s not particularly fond of rain and he is definitely not a heat-wave dog. but snow is a different story entirely. when asked, “what’s keeping you in wisconsin? why wouldn’t you want to move to florida?” i have to answer, “the dog doesn’t want to live in a hot clime.” period. i mean, really – every summer – he suffers (cue up maria portakalos in my big fat greek wedding“she suffers” as i cannot write the word without hearing her voice.)

as i write this, dogga is at the end of the bed, curled up on the quilt, sleeping. he’ll be ten this year and that is astounding to us. he is slowing down a bit, sometimes acting like an older dog. but there is nothing that makes him seem younger than a good snowfall. running out, he eats the snow off the deck, licking it – like a sensational ice cream cone – as he goes. we look out the window to let him back in and there he is, curled up in the snow, covered in giant flakes, happy as a clam. snow is his gig. it floats his boat. it’s his cup of tea. it makes him happy, gives him the energy of a puppy, it’s his thing.

i wonder if we are as wise as this. our snowdog is not thinking about his reaction to snow. he’s not analyzing it or weighing its costs v benefits. dogga is not wondering if it will last or when the snow will melt, thereby rendering him snowless and less blissful. he is not asking when it might snow again, banking on the next time, forgoing some of the joy of this time. he is just out there, laying in it – full-out, napping, accumulating snowflakes like seconds of ecstasy. he’s fully immersed in something he loves, paying no mind to the rains of spring or the heat of the summer, unconcerned about the turn of the seasons. he is simply in snow and he is happy.

*****

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


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our living room. [two artists tuesday]

on a cold and cloudy day, the colors are muted. it is stunning. the trees have reached out and caught the snow as it flew by. the branches have held onto it, inches of white topping a narrow spectrum of greys and taupe, some tree trunks black in the dim. it’s quiet. we are – on most of the trail – first there, save for the deer and squirrels and rabbits who have left behind evidence of their passing. gorgeous. i am not cold, though the temperatures have plummeted. i feel wrapped by the woods, embraced. the paradise of winter is not on some beach somewhere. it is right here, in the middle of fallow.

it occurs to me that the colors there – in the woods – are the colors in our living room. i see now why – both – they are the colors we have chosen and why they feel so peaceful. the woods is in our living room.

i turn out all the lights – each lamp – the standing lamp, the side-table lamp, the lamp in the window nook, the lamp on the secretary – but leave on the twinkling white lights on the tall branches. they light the room just enough. they are the outside, brought in, a branch from the cherished tree in the front yard, a branch from the woods. they rise high above the old wood floors and bathe this room with starry light. they do not hold the snow as it falls any longer, but they hold memories and profound reminders of the rhythm of nature.

this is, yes, i suddenly see, why this is the palette from which our living room has evolved. it is muted, a quiescent slate from which anything can grow, in which any burst of new color blossoming is celebrated, a serene woods any time we need it.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the talmud, the meditation room, the woods. [merely-a-thought monday]

we had never parked in that section of the daily parking garage, so we never saw it. creatures of habit, we didn’t park there this time either, but we walked across the driveway to use the elevator and the interior moving walkway on that side. for how many times i have flown out of the milwaukee airport, i was surprised to find we could walk inside instead of through the cold terminal parking garage. the walkway was much warmer than the damp parking structure and, since we were going to florida coatless, it was a much better choice.

we rounded the last corner – the one that takes you to the third-level-skywalk to the terminal – to find ancient words of wisdom marking an entrance to the airport’s meditation room. simple, beautiful, quiet – we never knew it was there, though it was completed in late 2017. “airports can be busy, hectic, and stressful places. the MKE meditation room provides a quiet, tranquil location for thought, reflection, prayer, and meditation.” (www.mitchellairport.com) we stopped into the meditation room on our way home. we sat for a few minutes, reading the inspirational words on the wall, closing our eyes in contemplation. it was surprisingly silent. it was right as the liminal space between the flight and home.

a few days ago – in the later afternoon – we hiked one of our favorite trails. we were stressed and needed the space and quiet of this familiar woods. we had been there days before, boots and snowpants through deep snow, trees stunning against the whiteness. it was beautiful. we find the ancient words of the talmud on this trail…we are sustained by its peace, we feel more hope for truth and justice as we walk in nature.

but this day was not quiet. and, though researching the mayhem revealed that it was a “woody invasive species clearing project,” we found the noise, the machinery, the devastated forest disturbing. nothing looked the same and, as much as we know this trail, it was hard to locate within it; without familiar trees and underbrush each bend in the trail looked different.

“removing invasive shrubs and trees in oak communities allows for enough sunlight to reach the ground level to encourage the growth of young native tree seedlings and other native vegetation.” (www.lcfpd.org) we felt somewhat relieved reading these words after our hike, understanding that these big changes were intentional and that the purpose was growth and sustenance of the savanna, prairie, and marsh wetland.

the talmud, the milwaukee meditation room, the preserved woods in northeastern illinois…all the same, i suppose.

it is the removal of the invasive, the obnoxious, the noise, falsity, injustice, all that is conflict-riddled, that allows the sun, that encourages, that sustains the world.

*****

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


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vindication. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we each have our strengths. and, on the flip side, we each have our weaknesses. i am a detail person. he is a big picture person. sometimes that equates to a lovely full-length view of the world. sometimes it’s a total pain in the ass.

most of the time david is kind of mushy, endearingly compassionate and not all male-blustery-like. this is a good thing. we tend to be on the same page a lot – until we are not. and then, those are the moments the dog senses that his best laying-down-spot is in the bathroom. we aren’t really yellers, but, since our dog is as empathic as we are, he just knows that our tone is changing and someone is miffed and he is going to get out of the way. soon, he checks back in to see how things are going and is generally relieved when – even before leaving – we turn to him in miff-middle and reassure him, “it’s ok, dogga,” anticipating his departure.

there have been a few times that d has done the guy thing…you know, the well-it’s-not-working-for-you-so-let-me-do-it. i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that it is royally annoying. i also wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that i feel total vindication when the whatever-it-was-that-wasn’t-working doesn’t work for him either. empowering. somehow i think you know what i’m talking about.

it’s in those exact moments – either way – on either side of the miffmobile – we all need to remember it’s good to laugh.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️2023 kerrianddavid.com


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the kitchen counters. [k.s. friday]

there used to be a lot of stuff on the counters. a breadbox, coffeemaker, fruit basket, basket with random mail and school dittos, microwave, paper towels, cookie jar…it makes me shudder now. the counters – back then – were yellow formica – bright yellow circa 1960 or earlier. i suppose the stuff on the counter helped disguise the counters a bit, but the backsplash was the same bright formica and there was plenty of that as well. i tried to think of it as cheery – every kitchen needs to be cheery. but…

the people who owned the house before us – back in the 80s and prior – had applied woodgrain contact paper to the counters and to all the shelves in the pantry and to the inside of the drawers, really anywhere it would stick. when we bought the house they asked us if we wanted a lesson on re-applying contact paper. i was horrified at the thought, and we politely said no. after we moved in i peeled all the contact paper off the counters and backsplash and elbow-grease-scrubbed off the sticky residue. yikes. what a mess. it was bright and it wasn’t without dings, but the kitchen went from peach cabinets and woodgrain to white cabinets and yellow. it seemed freshened, even with the yellow. it was supposed to be temporary.

there were other oddities – there was a door from our kitchen to the sunroom which they had kept on its hinges, blocking space that we filled in with an antique kitchen table that my dad refinished. we still eat around that table now. i suppose anyone touring our home who might consider it as theirs would utter “gut job” entering our kitchen but that’s for some future time. though we will make some updates to it, we love it the way it is. even temporarily.

at some point – a few years back – we decided to see what was under the formica. climbing into the cabinets i looked up and saw really lovely panels of good wood. we assumed that was the counter prior to the yellowness. it wasn’t so, as the first peel revealed. plywood was the countertop material and i literally starting panicking, running to the computer to google how to fix this dreadful mess. a sander, sandpaper, chalkboard paint and food-safe wax was the prescription and it achieved a kind of black soapstone look. black and white. it was supposed to be temporary.

we have pared down what’s on the counter. just the coffeemaker, the microwave and a wooden bowl of fruit – oh, and the roll of paper towels on a wrought iron stand. less busy, it makes it all feel less frenetic, tidier. it feels more orderly and that makes it feel more serene.

the florida national cemetery is the epitome of orderly. it is pristine and it invites you – without words – to wander. it would be easy to spend hours of time just walking among the big oaks and the lines of headstones, to weave in and out of the columbaria. its orderliness lends peacefulness and reassurance, its vastness a reminder of the temporal nature of this life – transitory, fleeting.

we arrived back home after a few days in florida with family, after interring my sweet momma’s ashes, after spending time with the adorable non-stop two-year-old and sat at our kitchen table with 20 who had soup and bread and glasses of wine waiting for us when we got there.

i love traveling and exploring and – simultaneously – always have a little homesickness when we are away, so i gazed around at our old kitchen and all its supposed-to-be-temporary fixings. my heart was full and i could feel all the time spent in there – my dad proudly placing the refinished table, my mom waxing poetic about the happy-yellow, my children in high chairs and suddenly on college breaks and suddenly adults. my kitchen counters and their timeline of transition, their sweet legacy.

one of these days we will update. but, in the meanwhile, i know it’s all temporary anyway.

*****

LEGACY ©️1995 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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reddi-wip. [d.r. thursday]

reddi-wip was always on her list. any holiday, any winter-hot-cocoa-possibility day, any waffles-and-ice-cream-up-a-notch day. my sweet momma was a reddi-wip fan. so i can’t help but think of her when i look in the fridge right now and see the familiar red and white canister, just waiting…

we don’t buy ice cream. i can’t have it and, though it wouldn’t really bother me – unless it was coffee ice cream – in which case i would be ridiculously jealous, d doesn’t want to eat it in front of me. so we don’t put it on the list. we will – from rare time to rare time – pick up frozen cashew milk or some other dairy-free option. just a pint. but a treat and oh-so-good.

instead, we freeze bananas. and we take out one of those appliances you buy in one of those we-need-this moments. it’s a yonanas and, even though it isn’t a front-and-center machine, when it makes an appearance from the shelves in the laundry room in the basement, it reminds us of the deliciousness of a littlebitta dessert, a little something sweet.

frozen bananas become ice cream in this miracle-machine. we top it with berries. or really anything you might put on an ice cream sundae. and then – if it’s really a fancy moment – there’s reddi-wip. swirls and white fluffy clouds of whipped cream on top – it becomes an occasion. we look at each other and wonder why we don’t make this more often. what day – really – doesn’t deserve to be an occasion, we wonder aloud. what day – really – doesn’t deserve dessert, we insist.

i’ve been thinking a lot lately about the word “indulgent/indulgence”. i’ve sat with it, pondered over it, journaled about it, discussed it at length. it is one of those yin-yang words, one of those words that is both inspiring and guilt-producing. the dark and light of self-indulgence, the expansive greyness of indulging, judgement and justification invisible partners. i had to decide if i would indulge in some looking-back, in processing some times of great difficulty. i had to choose between indulgence and necessity. it was a seesaw for a bit.

the reddi-wip made its way into the shopping basket as i planned for a special holiday meal. and now, as i gaze into the refrigerator, i realize it’s still there – there is more in the container – more fluffy whipped cream – for any day. it’s an every-day possibility. some things that look like indulgences are not. some things are necessary.

“joy is not made to be a crumb.” (mary oliver – don’t hesitate)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


					
		
	


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spotter. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“my do!!!!” he insisted. there is nothing like a two-year old insisting – with all his might – that he will do it himself. he is extremely capable – strong, smart, wily. somehow you forget how much energy a tiny child has…it just goes on and on and on until it suddenly stops and sweet sleep takes over. amazing stuff. my little great-nephew’s curiosity is divine and his giggle contagious. his stubbornness makes me laugh, but mostly because i can stand back and watch his momma and daddy handle it. their turn. and i am thrilled for them.

even though he was figuring out how to climb the jungle gym in the playground, we were there to spot him. as he learned, our hands were firm, guiding him. as he figured it out, our hands were lighter, still there, but just poised and ready. much like all of parenthood, i’m figuring out. you hold on tightly, then just firmly, then lightly, then you let go, but you are poised and ready. and, just like j, they don’t turn around to see if you are there. they just keep climbing the jungle gym steps, anxious to get to the slide, anxious to explore the rest, anxious to play with the other kids. you are simply the spotter. somewhat invisible but always there.

at the end of the days there – with this marvelous two year old – we were really tired. his spurty focus of energy staccatoed our day as well and, now that my own children are grown-up adults, was something not as familiar to us. our days are more linear with less punctuation, if you will.

but i laid awake at night anyway. i rambled through thoughts of the days when my daughter and my son were little ones with “i do” on their lips. it brought me to places i remembered clearly and places that had slipped into corners of my memory. i missed them and wished that thirty years ago cellphones had had cameras and the ability to make videos. carrying around the 35mm camera and the vhs/8mm videocameras was cumbersome; today’s parents have so many ways to remember every single thing that happens.

my niece and i talked about how motherhood has changed everything. and i told her that will never change.

she will always – now – wake thinking about this little person. and she will always – now – go to sleep with him on the blink of her eyes. she will hold tightly and then firmly and then lightly and then – in achingly beautiful and hard moments – she will let go.

but she will always be his spotter, visible or invisible, noticed or not. he may not turn around to see her there, but she’ll be there.

*****

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


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rooting for midwest express. [two artists tuesday]

it’s exactly how i draw horses. back in the day i had a book that taught me how to draw them. i was horse-crazy and i studied this book and practiced over and over. i did not retain much of all that study – or all of the other books i read about horses – but i can still draw a horsehead. so when we flew over this island on our approach to the tampa airport, i was astounded to see the first vestiges of my own drawing. i named it van gogh horse – for obvious reasons. high tide and angle and an active imagination helped, but i sure do think it looks like a horse.

it had been three and a half years since i had flown. we’ve read many articles about aggressive passengers and, i must admit, that doesn’t sound too enticing. i can’t imagine being rude to people who are tending to your needs as you zoom through the sky. not to mention all that recirculated air and the folks in the seat behind us hack-coughing. ahem. so it was a little nerve-wracking.

but it was also magical. you forget. i spent a lot of time looking out the window, mesmerized by the cloud formations and the landscape below, checking the flight plan on my phone to see where we were (technology is pretty amazing!) and taking photographs. i looked – i am sure – like the quintessential tourist-on-the-airplane. but i didn’t care. we have driven everywhere in the last years so it was like a small miracle to jaunt from milwaukee to tampa in two hours and forty minutes.

i remember days i flew often. midwest express airlines and real plates and real silverware and gourmet meals and mimosas in the morning or wine in the afternoon. and, the pièce de résistance…warm chocolate chip cookies. it was an experience – a whole experience. i flew midwest as often as i could, flights to los angeles and nashville and south and out east.

the most memorable experience was the – only – one time the airline lost my luggage. i had concerts and appearances in boston and all my attire was in my suitcase. a midwest express representative – jimbo – who is still my friend on facebook – immediately set to helping me, told me to go buy some necessities, including concert attire, and send midwest the bill. i am mostly a jeans-wearing performer – though there were some exceptions that particular trip – so that kept the costs down a bit, but they covered every last thing i needed. customer service at its best. i called all those items “my midwest express collection” and flew midwest loyally until the airline was no longer.

in a memory-filled moment with the smell of baking chocolate chips in my mind’s eye, i googled the milwaukee-based airline and was jazzed to see it is hoping to make a comeback one of these days. i wish them well. here is the best news:

“the airline plans to bring back the cookies if it starts flying again.” (milwaukeemag.com)

i know that can take some time and some luck. but warm chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the airline’s tiny kitchen could encourage me to start flying more again. i mean, people can’t be ornery with cookies.

if i had to draw an airplane experience – even though i am clearly not gifted at drawing – i would draw people in cushy two-across-seats, trays down, real plates and silverware, coffee cups and mimosas, warm chocolate chip cookies, linen napkins. smiles and horses out the window.

i am rooting for midwest express.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the asteroid. [merely-a-thought monday]

a large-moving-truck-sized asteroid missed the earth. apparently, not by much. npr called it a “very close encounter” and nasa said it was a “near miss”. it kind of puts things in perspective. i mean, what does anything angsty mean when all could be destroyed in a moment by a united-van-lines-projectile?

i suppose the wise among us would nod slowly at that question. they’d take a deep breath and exhale audibly before speaking. and then they’d point out that there are no guarantees – for any of it – and perhaps lighter hearts would be a better way to fly through this universe, skimming along, soaring, aerial acrobatics from moment to moment.

it’s been seven years. my sweet momma glimmered her way to heaven seven years ago and now, seven years later, we are interring her ashes. the wooden box that my brother-in-law holds gently in his hands is added to my dad’s niche in the columbarium. his ashes are in a hard cardboard heart-shaped box and my dad grins as her wooden box is added next to his, relieved that it wasn’t the other way around or my momma would have had something to say about his box being wood and hers being cardboard. nevertheless, our son said it best, “happy they are resting together.”

i brought my ukulele and a songsheet and we all gathered around and sang “always” before the niche was closed. it was simple. and short. and the service a row behind us had a twenty-one gun salute followed by taps – just in time as the caretaker replaced the granite door.

it’s sobering to be in the veteran’s cemetery. pristine and beautiful, but sobering. so many headstones. so many little granite doors.

i looked up – i wanted to remember the sky – perhaps the heavens – the moments we stood there, after. the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze.

my sweet parents whispered “thank you” to us and my momma got that stink-eye look she gets. “now go live life,” she added. and my dad reached out his hand and diverted the asteroid’s path, just a little. but enough to make a difference.

always.

*****

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


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not-knowing. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

94. the ages of our vehicles add up to 94. years.

yep. that makes us pretty analog, i’d say. there is nothing in our vw superbeetle, big red or littlebabyscion that even resembles the digital world.

so when we got in my niece’s volvo or my sister’s nautilus we felt a taaad bit lost. my niece said, “hey, while we’re gone feel free to use the car!” as she walked out the door. we looked at each other, laughing. there was no way we would use her car. sheesh. we don’t even know how to start those cars. we would need a littlebitta instruction – remedial help – before taking to the road.

i guess we have some catching-up to do.

some day.

in the meanwhile, we will languish in not-knowing.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2023 kerrianddavid.com