reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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betty’s right. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

each of us can rack up the could-haves, like in a pool triangle, all stuffed in next to each other and ready to break with a cue. fragile, though. we can look back and think “why didn’t i…?” time and again. we can regret.

i suppose the gift of a new year – and those dang resolutions – is to sort and reevaluate the things that you consider important, the things worth continuing, the things worth letting go, the things worth learning. new practices of things-to-do and new practices of things-not-to-do. the lists permeate our brains and hearts, nagging, nagging.

there is a meme, well, many memes, circulating about betty white. it states something like “you have lived a really good life if, at 99, people say you have died too soon.” i realize that betty was inordinately popular, successful, always at the top of her game. but she was a real person, too. and she had to decide how to live. her positivity and laughter gifted each of us who have watched her or listened to her. in a recent interview she recommended, “taste every moment”. mmm. not at all corny, just a simplicity, a reminder.

we carry this pop-up-dinner table and stools around with us, switching from big red to littlebabyscion and back, depending on which vehicle we are driving. when big red refused to start for our road trip over christmas, we transferred the pop-up stuff into littlebabyscion and packed up to go.

we know we could have eaten at the sweet dining room table in our airbnb in the little mountain town. we ate there several times. but that last evening…we needed just a bit more time on the front porch, a bit more time outside, a bit more time admiring buffalo-plaid-man’s holiday decorations across the street, a bit more time in that town. we set up the pop-up table and stools, put up the luminaria again, lit a candle, brought out hors d’oeuvres for happy hour and, later, dinner. a little more effort, but not really much. everything tasted better out there. each moment.

before we even left home and while we were hiking in those north carolina mountains i thought about the new year approaching. i thought long about grasping onto the opportunity to just go, roadtrip to a new place, changing pattern. i thought about chances to amend, to let go, to reach out, to break the racked-up could-haves. big ways and little ways. i tasted a few resolution-ish moments, trying on for size – acting on – some of those thoughts-i-had.

and even in my first meager efforts – nothing earthshattering, nothing that will likely change the whole wide world – i must say, betty’s right.

*****

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tangible signs. [merely-a-thought monday]

there is never a time that is not the right time to be reminded and to remind others: “you are worth so much”. in these times – fraught with all sorts of difficulties – any and all positive outreach to each other is of value.

never should we take another for granted. never should we undermine another. never should we dismiss that others are in need. never should we forget that others are hurting. no matter their age, their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, their religion, their socioeconomic ladder rung, their anything.

we spotted the first sign after hiking. on the side of highway 64, we passed a driveway and i exclaimed, “did you see that sign?” i pointed it out the next time past. and then we saw more. transylvania county in north carolina was responding to crisis they had experienced. three teenagers committed suicide since august and the community is reeling. but they are not just jolted into grief; they are jolted into action.

a retired physician with seven children, four of whom are still in the community’s secondary schools said, “the conspiracy of silence has to end, both in our community and elsewhere. the evidence is clear — talking helps and silence hurts. what we’re doing with this sign campaign is a love letter from our community to our kids. this is just a small expression of the depth of our concern…”.

organizations in the community are addressing needs and are trying to sort ways to raise awareness. people are mobilized. much like the way dontgiveupsigns became a thing, transylvania county has started a thing. because every person counts, every person matters. and without aligned action, mission is void of truth.

we didn’t get a photograph of the yard signs. you can see them in an article in the transylvania times. but when we decided to use this as our quote for this first merely-a-thought monday of the new year, it seemed right to pair it with this silhouette of a chandelier, crystals – a symbol of wealth, success, status.

for each of us is worth so much. each of us – rich in possibility, in ways we contribute to the whole, in interaction with the world, in love of each other.

and there is never a time to forget that.

as amy wolff, the co-founder of don’tgiveup said, “life is messy but we’re in this together.”

​*****

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the orange blazes. [d.r. thursday]

there is this thing about being on a mountain in the woods. you don’t realize you are there – on the mountain. oh, you know you are going uphill and downhill and some of it is extreme, but being ON it is different than looking AT it. you are immersed in the scents and sounds and each step you take on the trail, over tree roots and slippery fallen leaves, is a really glorious celebration of being outside.

and then, in-between the branches devoid of leaves and over the tops of pine, you catch a glimpse. it takes your breath away, as do things that you love, things that are beautiful, things that remind you to “be here, now”.

the days were warm and the sun was amazing. it burned off a bit of fog early as it rose over the mountains and drew us outside. to drive down the road a bit meant getting to the national forest in a matter of minutes. hundreds of waterfalls and innumerable trails awaited. with only a couple days, we wondered where to start.

the orange trail blazes were on the trees as we hiked. it was supposed to be a relatively short trail, so we decided to turn off and take the faintly-traveled blue up the side of a steep ridge a good ways as well. we need new hiking boots it seems; the hundreds and hundreds of miles we have hiked in these over the last years have worn down their tread and traction on the leaves was a challenge. i found a stick on the side of the trail and that helped. trekking poles are also on the list. we saw no one on the blue. it was quiet and immense and the babbling stream below us was serene. the mountains around us peeked through branches on our way, more so the higher we got. we watched the sun as it got a little lower in the sky and turned around.

joining back up with the orange we started to hike back toward the lot. or so we thought. it seemed far, much farther than we had thought. the trail app wasn’t cooperating and we began to wonder if we were heading the wrong way. that made us the tiniest bit cranky, though we tried to laugh it off, even as the sun was slipping.

we passed a few people, also confused by a couple signs propped up by rocks that didn’t seem to correlate with the blazes. i took stock of our rations: a mini kind bar, a bottle of water, two halos, one sweater poncho and a thermal shirt tied around d’s waist. though i didn’t actually doubt that we would find our way out, i could imagine what it would be like to truly get lost and be unsure of the way out of the forest. “before we do the pct some day in the futuring-future, get a trail gps,” i made a mental note.

since orange was a large looped trail – and a smaller interior loop choice too – we knew we’d eventually get somewhere, though it did extend to two different parking lots, separated by a whole lot of what-would-end-up road walk. we kept hiking. at one point david thought we should turn around and go the opposite direction. happily we didn’t follow that naggy doubt he had in moments of what-the-heck. littlebabyscion was patiently waiting in the lot at the end and we loaded my stick in the back, checked our mileage – about 8 – and drove down the national park road in the last of waning light.

we hiked up another ridge the next day. we got a later start after a wonderful morning wandering in town. we didn’t make it to the peak. we were told the view was spectacular. but the hike was quiet and the brook babbling, birdcalls plenty and that smell of deep-in-the-woods like the best candle you’ve found.

before the sun set we turned around.

but it’s ok. we’ll be back.

*****

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light infinity. [k.s. friday]

“light of the world, shine on me. love is the answer. shine on us all, set us free. love is the answer.”

(“love is the answer” by todd rundgren, recorded by england dan & john ford coley, 1979)

“we’re standing at the crossing, where day and night divide. it takes all of your heart to keep the light alive. and the darkness seems so endless until the dawn arrives. we’ll hold the spark between us and keep the light alive.” (“keep the light alive” by lowen & navarro, 1995)

it would seem that we arrive at this place each and every year to see light infinity. there, beckoning, gesturing to us or quietly waiting. the days have run into each other. the successes, the joys, the learnings, the disappointments, the issues, the slights, the worries, anger, hurt, promises kept, promises broken, the new, the old, humanness … all gathered in the place of the light.

the flame reminds us of the spark of love into that which is around us. the flame reminds us of the frailty – just a breeze away from extinguishing. we invest too much in the each-day and not enough in the big-picture. we know that.

the light gives us a little nudge. again. a reminder to allow it. grace, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, love do not cease nor do they choose only one wick, one candle. they continue on. and on. lighting. every one. every where.

we just need intend to allow the light. infinity.

allow the light
is all
the call implores.
allow the light
to flood
the heart,
to flow
the veins,
to fill
the space
that craves.
allow the light
is all.
the light is all.

the light
is

(mary wickham)

*****

YOU’RE HERE (kerri sherwood – rough cut)

HOPE

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood YOU’RE HERE ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

THE LIGHTS, JOY, THIS SEASON ©️ 1996, 2004, 2005 kerri sherwood



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old roller skates and skateboards. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there are presents and, then, there are presents.

20 knew what my response would be – ahead of time – when i opened his smartly-wrapped gift, fancy homemade ribbon coordinated with the wrappings. but the absolutely delectable time – inbetween giggling over a really wonderfully simple-yet-perfect bow while guessing what was in the box and moving aside the inner paper – was full of anticipation. conversely, i could see it in him too. it is life-enhancing. both ways. those moments you wait as someone – who you know well and for whom you have found something exquisitely perfect – begins to open your gift. it matters not how big or small, free or expensive; you just know you paid attention to little details and you cannot-wait-to-watch-them-open-it.

i pulled out the brown paper in its role as tissue wrap and there was an old-old pair of sidewalk roller skates with a set of keys. circa 1950/1960 heavy metal with rugged metal wheels. vintage.

instantly transported back-in-time to the feeling of rollerskating on abby drive, i could remember strapping on the skates up at the front stoop, following the sidewalk down as it turned and then turned again into the driveway, struggling to stay on the concrete driveway ribbon – as we had one of those driveways with a ribbon of grass inbetween the ribbons of cement and skating into that was a sure way to fall. the end of the driveway had a little bump too; you’d have to stop there (stopping was always an issue) and step over the end of the apron. and then, the street. and freedom.

at some point, my big brother took the metal wheels off of a pair of skates and made a skateboard. i can still feel that board under my feet – the rough ride of metal against cement-aggregate mixture. we sought out asphalt, though, back then, it was in shorter supply. over by the long island lighting company on the sound there was a really long curving road downhill all made of asphalt. it was a little bit terrifying. and required either driving there or toting your skateboard on your bike a few miles. so – in our everyday world – rough rides on steel skate wheels was our destiny.

my brother made the next skateboard with rubber wheels and a bigger deck and, though it was slower, you didn’t feel as imperiled on it. he mostly used that one and the blue painted one with the red hang-loose was relegated to me. there is much to learn from a rough-ridin’ skateboard, a ribbon driveway and an apron-bump.

i wish i knew where those two skateboards were.

but finding them is unlikely, as i’m sure they are long-gone. about as unlikely as 20 stumbling into a pair of old roller skates and knowing they would be perfect.

*****

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the marvel. [k.s. friday]

there’s so much you can miss.

the sun passes its solar noon and starts inching down toward the horizon, the light spilling from it rapturous. golden rays bathe everything in their path and we marvel as we drive past the fields, talking about the trees catching the light.

toward the end of daylight, as the sun is almost down, the grasses, feathery plumes waiting to soak it in, stand in the spotlight and we marvel looking out the front window, walking out into the back yard.

we walked through the gallery, admiring the work on fresh white walls, framed by white woodwork, windows looking out onto the lake, old wood floors warm and well-trod. the spiral staircase, the built-in cabinetry, the spotlights and architectural elements caught our eyes. we marveled at the play of light through the chandeliers.

the tree we have deemed THE tree this year looks nothing like a typical christmas tree. it is one of the limbs from the big old maple tree out front, a beloved sentry whose large, low-hanging branches were chopped to allow room for the supersized utility equipment a couple weeks ago. i had saved this branch from the pile that was set for the dump truck, pulled it aside up close to the house. the guys looked at me funny when i asked them not to take this branch, to leave it there. sunday we brought it in – which is much harder than it sounds as its branches stretch out far, embracing air and light and our doorway is not oversized. we felt somewhat like stars in the movie “christmas vacation” as we attempted to stand the tree up in our living room. though the ceiling is quite high (–) it was higher. a saw here and a saw there and we placed it in a big clay flower pot with rocks we brought home from dory lake and aspen and a brick from the old patio. we stood back after futzing with the angle of the pot and drew in our breath.

sculpturally stunning, it is bark against white, stark and proud. i wound lights around its trunk and i could feel this big old tree branch smile. i wrapped a piece of black glittery mesh-fabric around its base and thought about how much our babycat loved chasing the sparkles each year around the base of our trees. i hung one tin star off a branch. i futzed a little more and stood back, again.

the sun streamed in the windows the next morning and the tree stretched in its light, yawning from the night. i believe its branches have opened even more than they were – embracing its new place, no longer sadly tossed aside. a new purpose.

we might have missed it. the opportunity to have this year’s tree be an actual piece of what-was-happening-in-our-lives, to honor a well-loved and well-known companion. to have a gorgeously simple harbinger of the festivities of the season. we might have gone to a tree lot. or costco. or target.

we might have missed it. the marvel. but we didn’t.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

THE LIGHTS, JOY, THIS SEASON ©️ 1996, 2004, 2005 kerri sherwood


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bubbles, lace, crystal and tulle. [d.r. thursday]

on hangers festooning the basement laundry room, ballerina tutus of leotard and tulle challenge my drive to go through, sort, clean out, organize. tiny costumes and pink slippers that held fifth position and twirled pirouettes taunt me. i stand and gaze. and stare, lost in thought. they are the stuff of dearest memories, of watching my daughter dance, of sitting on the wood floor in the back hallway of the ballet studio, of heartbreakingly sweet recitals and pink roses and light smudges of blushy rouge on softest four-year-old smiling cheeks. how, then, do i sort these, i wonder. how, then, do i clean them out, i wonder.

though i am mostly not a fancy-schmancy, the bubbles and the bits of lace and tiny crystals will get me along with the art and the twinkling lights. there is that piece of lace of my wedding gown from 39 years ago held in an embroidery hoop. there is that first bubble nightlight that my son loved when he was little-little. there is that delicate crystal bracelet my sweet momma wore. there are those handkerchiefs my grandmother crocheted, colorful scalloped edges on tiny cloths of linen. and artwork circa 1990s: glittery tissue-paper poofed trees of construction paper, crayon and pencil drawings of me, of family, of flowers, of cars and trucks. stories on pa-pads-paper cut with kindergarten scissors and stapled, stories in notebooks, stories on looseleaf. the cursive script of my mom’s handwritten letters. sugary white ornaments i can still see on our long island christmas trees. the signed fine crystal stemware of my grandparents. the tiniest-tiny graceful bud vase with a handwritten scrap-of-paper note my mom wrote indicating it had been her grandmother’s. the 1943 floral-etched bell my parents got as a wedding gift. what does one do, i wonder.

on rare days i didn’t feel well – you may skip this part if you wish, dear gentlemen – when i had horribly yucky cramps, my sweet momma would pour the tiniest amount of manischewitz into the tiniest green beautifully etched vaseline glass. we’d sit and talk on the couch by the front window and the tiny bubbles of elderberry, a blanket and momma’s care would soothe me. there are six of these vintage glasses and a tray to match. i have no doubt what one does.

one keeps the bubbles and the lace and the crystal and the tulle and art-in-all-its-forms. isn’t that what basements and attics, treasure chests and the old corner cabinet in the dining room are for?

there’s plenty of other stuff that can go.

*****

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around the barriers. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

so someone went around our rickety old adirondack chairs with the signs that said “sidewalk closed” in order to walk across the newly-poured sidewalk. clearly, this person wants to be remembered. judging by the print, this person is male, relatively long-legged, dons footwear sans brand markings on the sole and leans a bit heavier on his right foot than his left. since that is not much to go on, there is not much to be remembered. just that he wanted to make some sort of statement that day and marched right around the barriers and right through our new cement.

on the trail through the woods hiking on sunday we went along a train track for a ways. a new-looking black locomotive of a long freight train blew its whistle and we peered through the trees to watch. the train was really long and every car was the same, which seemed unusual. freight trains in these parts usually have all kinds of boxcars, flatcars, hoppers, tanktainers, double-stacked container cars. the only differing aspect of these silver hoppers was the graffiti on the side of the cars. most looked newer – or newly scrubbed – but some had lots of added color…the meaning-making marks of spray paint artists who somehow are able to find ways to paint, despite whatever barriers might exist in the rail yard.

i suppose we all have an imperative to leave a mark. to say “i was here” in one way or another. we visit antique shoppes and tease that my cds and his paintings will someday be piled in tiny booths with 20%-off-sale signs and no curator or record-spinning-dj to “explain” our work. one of these days it will be difficult to find a way to actually physically play cds – so for that, i guess i’m happy a lot of it is digitalized, mp3s, like jpegs and tiffs of david’s paintings that are floating about the internet. marks.

this is our 201st consecutive week of writing these blogs for our melange. 201 weeks, five days a week (and more recently six). rapidly approaching four years of writing in this context, together. if each post is about 500 words – or so – that is over 500,000 words. each. together – in just these last 201 weeks – it’s well over a million words. lotsa marks. blogsites can be cumbersome. they can be barriers to leaving-a-mark because of the technology. but not insurmountable. social media can barrierize one’s efforts, particularly social media that indiscriminately shuts down profiles for community standards that have not actually been violated. but one walks around the old adirondack chairs and figures it out. because marks take a little effort sometimes.

i’m hoping that person-x is feeling more acknowledged by the time the utilities come back out in the spring to pour a permanent cement sidewalk out front. as someone who put tiny initials in a zoo sidewalk thirty years ago, i can’t say i don’t understand. i just hope that if we put up better barriers, the only marks in the new sidewalk will be ours.

*****

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blurring to color. [two artists tuesday]

what they don’t realize is that we are really tempted to do it: get in big red and start driving to south dakota.

their message was gracious and full of light – they wrote to tell me that they loved one of my pieces and that every time it comes on their dish music channel they clap their hands and feel happy. this tiny gesture was a heap of wow for me; i am always astounded when someone takes time out of their busy days to pass on kindnesses like this.

i wrote back.

and then THEY wrote back. it was suddenly communication between real people. two people who live on nine acres in south dakota and us, here in wisconsin.

they extended an invitation for a meal, great humor, a glance into their wild turkeys and red fox and deer and songbirds, a gesture from strangers-no-longer. we felt that we’d-love-to-be-friends feeling. the black-and-white text of their email blurred to color.

we were masked-browsing last spring at one of our favorite boutiques in cedarburg. i picked up a canvas purse i had been studying and studying and studying, strapped it cross-body and walked to where the mirror was (because, if you are unaware, a mirror is necessary when purchasing a purse).

two ladies were shopping in that neck of the shop and seemed amused at all the questions i was pummeling at david. they joined in, nodding at each of my queries and looking at him with great anticipation of the sudden enlightenment he would have re purse-buying. eventually, they joined in the fray and we all started laughing and comparing pocketbook notes and requirements and successful handbag finds and great disappointments. the laughter was just utter joy and the temptation to suggest meeting-them-in-a-couple-hours-for-a-glass-of-wine was powerful. our day’s commitments didn’t allow the extra time or we would have. the black-and-white of strangers in a store shopping had blurred to color.

if we could have a party and invite people right now i am quite certain i know some of the newest envelope-addresses we would send to: kevin and his wife, the water utilities engineer. steve and his wife, mechanic of brilliance. the two shopping-ladies at lillies. and our friends in south dakota.

black and white can always blur to color.

*****

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a weirdfest. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

“but what’s your REAL job?”

it’s been forty years now…over forty, actually. four decades of other people asking THAT question: “what’s your REAL job?”. for a society that values entertainment in all arenas of medium, it would seem a ridiculous query – for this work as an artist – this work providing a piece of heart connection, of balance, this work expressing ideas with the hope of creating beauty, this work exploring perceptions and nudging perspectives, this work generating emotions – this IS my real job. as an artist. a funambulist.

and as a lifelong artist, some things about my life are just different than the norm. it is hard for people to know what to say – or for that matter, what to think – when you mention you are a musician or that you write or paint or dance or sculpt or act. it’s kind of a conversation-stopper. or a chance for the people at the table to push, “but what’s your REAL job?”.

the success of our lives is not measured in rising stocks or 401k’s or retirement portfolios or even bulging savings accounts, for that matter. real jobs are defined by levels of security and solvency that artists, sadly, rarely experience. it’s just hard for others to wrap their heads around such oddity, such tenuousness, such a complex relationship with the imperative to create.

so we point out: the bow, literal or figurative, of any artist is humble gratitude. the joy of any artist is the rippling concentric circle of their work. success is connection, resonance. even with one tiny person-star in the galaxy.

the definition of our lives is complicated to explain, though i expect so is yours. if one artist is awkward, two artists is a weird-fest. sooo not-normal. we will laugh WITH you as you struggle to understand us. weird or not, it is who we are.

*****

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