reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

34 – the combination of 14 & 20 – love to cook together. they chop and laugh and saute and bake and grill, punting their way through recipes. with glasses of wine in hand (and lately, maybe old-fashioned wisconsin old-fashioneds) these two brothers-of-different-mothers gleefully prepare dinner.

twice a week we three (61 when you add us all up) used to dine together. and then covid. for well over a year, dinners stopped and phone calls commenced. but even zoom doesn’t come close to the ritual of preparing good food and sitting down all together around a table. finally, fully-vaccinated and still wearing masks out in public spaces, we are back. and so there is a piece of our world that has righted; the axis is just a little less tilted. we are grateful.

20 goes way back for me. shortly after my beloved big brother died, i believe he looked down from heaven and hand-picked out 20 to stand in for him. he didn’t expect 20 to be exactly who he was, he just expected him to be there for me. and vice-versa.

my little girl and 20’s little girl took ballet lessons together as tiny ballerinas and 20 and i sat on the wood floor with other parents just off the studio, morning light spilling in through the windows. my little boy drove his matchbox cars up and down the hall, including on and off 20’s legs, clearly seeing in him a man who adored the magic of small children and their imaginations. it was like group therapy, this cadre of parents on the wooden floor, and we still think of those times fondly. we followed ballet class with an ice-cream-sundae trip across the street to andrea’s and sitting on high stools at jack’s cafe in front of the soda fountain. cups of hot coffee and watching our tiny girls make straw dolls with paper napkins and my little toddler boy having soup-that-race-cars-eat with a side of saltines and pickles were glittery times…priceless. in the way that life and mystery goes, 20 happened to be a graphic designer at a time in my life when i needed a graphic designer. we celebrated my first album together and he designed many of the next ones. there for meetings or reviews, i watched him and justine and duke at work. i had the good fortune of secondhand learning; i still credit 20 with the way i design things now. it was inevitable that we would still be almost-brother-sister 27 years later. i imagine this will go on forever and ever, in the way that my own big brother devised it. only now, we are a trio of compadres. we’d have it no other way.

in this time of so much loss for so many, we have not gone unscathed. jobs and security, finances and healthcare, communities-within-communities, relationships – all have an iota of decimation. the rituals of our life together are the things we hold onto, the firm footing that delivers us from one day to the next. for us, resuming the twice-a-week dinners with 20, friday night potlucks with our dear-dear friends which have temporarily become happy-hours in their backyard, our familiar-trail hikes watching the seasons change in the woods…these are real, three-dimensional and steady and are evidence of life beyond these times. they are evidence of a return to some semblance of normal, though we suspect things may never actually be normal again.

we are still careful out in public. we still wear masks and use sanitizer. at OT appointments they still take my temperature, have a pile of masks at the door and ask a slew of covid questions. we are wary of too much exposure – our innermost circle demands it, for this pandemic is still alive and well and we do not wish to place our dearest close ones at any potentially devastating risk.

yesterday we passed a teen girl walking down the sidewalk, mask at her chin, with a sad, sad face. it made me think about all the people who have lost loved ones during this year-plus of covid. i wonder how they feel as they watch others, in seeming cavalier fashion, gather in crowds, throw out their masks and throw any remaining caution to the wind. i’m guessing maybe they are heartbroken. because there is no going back. it can’t be undone. and the loss of their beloveds has not changed others who do not walk in their shoes.

i guess it’s the lack of empathy, the lack of looking-out-for-each-other, the lack of small efforts of willingness to aid the big community that i find most disturbing. because, really, in the ritual-festooned-relationship-rich-shimmering-end we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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creeping pigweed. [merely-a-thought monday]

i know little to nothing about farming. driving through eastern colorado, missouri, all of kansas, iowa and across the state of wisconsin, there are patchworks of farmfields that stretch on seemingly forever. gorgeous and rich in the colors of good dirt and rising plants, we admired the quilted beauty of our roadtrip and talked about farming as we passed the lives of people we would never meet.

the billboard read, “don’t let pigweed creep back!” it was an imperative to research. pigweed is, apparently, insidious and something that hardworking people who have chosen crop-growing, stock, and all means of agriculture, have to deal with. pigweed can be toxic to livestock and will aggressively take over grain and soybean fields. it is resistant to mitigation and hard to control. it can be destructive. once eradicated, one must remain vigilant about its presence so as to avoid further damage to crops and animals.

i am struck by how this invasive plant mimics what has happened in the political arena of our living.

we had just, a mere couple hours before, stopped at a gas station to fill up big red and run into the restroom. wearing masks, we entered the convenience store where all conversation stopped as the door swung closed behind us. no one inside had on a mask and the stares at us were pointed and aggressive. it was unnerving. had we entered a miraculous-global-pandemic-free zone? or had we entered inside a building where pigweed had never left, where the insidious, toxic dis-ease of misinformation and selfishness was spreading its roots, reaching out underground and above to damage all within its cloying and suffocating grasp? is there no hope for this place with entrenched pigweed?

it would seem to me, as we read the current news of steps forward, of good intentions, of attempts to advance efforts toward equity and equality, social justice, healthcare, hunger and homelessness, of work to aid in getting past this horrid pandemic and all its fallout, that we should do all we can to not let pigweed creep back.

*****

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


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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

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

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“the only one wearing a mask” [merely-a-thought monday]

the only one wearing a mask

CONFUSED.  CONFUSING.  CONFUSION.

all apply.

we don’t go into any store without a mask on.  the way we understand this – is that this is essential.  in an effort to curb the spread of this pandemic, protect others and do our part to ‘flatten the curve’ we need to follow simple protocol.

at the risk of redundancy, which i have been accused of before, we have been appalled at the lack of people wearing masks.  it’s not like you are being asked to undergo a colonoscopy before entering the grocery store (or worse yet, the prep for one); it is a simple request:  wear a mask.  yet, there we are, in the store and we can feel the now-familiar tightness-in-our-chest-anxiety rising as we attempt to move away from people who seem to care little about distancing or breathing their aerosols our way.  what-on-earth-is-so-hard-about-this??

david went to a small grocery the other day.  he had his mask and he had brought disinfecting wipes with him.  neither of these were burdensome to him.  he walked into a somewhat crowded store and found that he was the only one wearing a mask.  what?!

wwmrd? (what would mr. rogers do?):  be a good neighbor.  (i’m betting he’d wear a mask.)

we live in wisconsin so it would seem prudent to look up what the department of health services has to say about this:

When should I wear a cloth face cover?

  • You should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.

Wearing a cloth face cover may be beneficial as it may help to protect others from germs you may be spreading without knowing it.  (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/protect.htm)

that seems relatively clear.  embracing redundancy once again:  “you should wear a cloth face cover when you are outside the home conducting essential activities such as going to work, to the grocery store, pharmacy, banking and enjoying outdoor activities while maintaining physical distancing.”

down the street the state of illinois is requiring face masks.  ahhh, you say with a cavalier smirk unhidden by a face mask.  that state has a democratic governor, you point out as you enumerate the many ways that the government is taking over your personal life by issuing coronavirus guidelines.  i’m not a biologist or an epidemiologist but i suspect that this pandemic is not stopping to discern the difference between democrats and republicans.  and a face mask, worn by you or the people you encounter in a day, just might protect you, your family members, your friends, your colleagues, the people-who-you-don’t-know-at-the-grocery-store-but-who-count-anyway.

so why are the vast majority of people not wearing masks? why are so many folks not social distancing?  why are people announcing vacations on facebook?  vacations?  are we even encouraged to do that right now?  (because who wouldn’t love to go merrily on a vacation for a while?)  one sweet person, who lives in another state, replying to a text of mine that bemoaned missing my children asked me if we were on “house arrest”.   everything is confusing.

one of the funniest, albeit a tad off-color, clarifications of the what-would-mr-rogers-do approach i read said:  “having some states locked down and some states not locked down is like having a peeing section in a swimming pool.”  no exponential brainpower needed there.  i would think that swimming-pool-water-rule applies to most all the guidelines.  seems pretty clear to me.

i guess i’m just saying i don’t understand.  this is a global pandemic.  despite a plethora of conspiracy theories distorting reality, there is medicine and there is science.  i, for one, would rather place my trust in the people immersed in those than in self-aggrandizing politicians or propaganda-pushers, each ignoring medical science in their own creative ways.  there is a difference.  “america strong” reads the flag we pass on 7th avenue.  strength and resilience are found in unity, not division, in working together, not apart, in being neighborly.

as the country begins to prematurely open up and disregard the CDC’s guidelines as “overly restrictive” we will likely download that multi-page guide.  we would like to see more specifically how we can do our part .  thinking they might actually protect us, we want to see the ‘overly restrictive’ restrictions.  we want to participate in a responsible way.  we will follow these guidelines as best we can.  we will social distance.  we will cough into our elbow.  we will not gather.  we will not pee in the pool.

and we will freaking wear masks, even if we are the only ones.

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

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