reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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dandying me with courage. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it plummeted. this stunningly beautiful day – high 60s and touching the bright happy face of the low 70s – and then…

the highest high this week is 42, with a feels-like of 38. the lowest high this week is 26, with a feels-like of 13, which, incidentally they label “very cold” in parentheses next to the number 13. no duh. the lowest low will be 15 and the app leaves us guessing – right now – on the feels-like of that. so…yes…it plummeted.

but for a few days november teased us and dandy lions rose from the dirt, roaring, “spring! it must be spring!”. i’m betting if we hiked out there – say today – snow showers in the forecast – all the dandies would be gone, all shriveled and sad, tucking their heads down against the wind and elements. but those few days…

they are reminders of things we don’t appreciate while we have them. reminders to stand in gratitude – to look around all bright-eyed and see the amazing things in our own sphere as we encounter them. we linger often on the negatives, the anxieties and angsty worries, the what-we-don’t-haves. but on the day you can feel the sun on your face and are surrounded by the colors of autumn and the dandies are in bloom and the owl hoots in the night, i feel like it would sustain me longer were i to linger just another minute to recognize it all.

this past week. a hotbed mixture of happenings and emotions. loss and sundrenched days, both. the dashing of dreams and dreaming, both. end-of-life and birth, both. i look back and try to stand in each of those places, try to soak it up – like a dandelion in last-licks-sunshine – and i try to appreciate it all. not just appreciate it…reeeeally appreciate it. it all matters. fear is in there too…we are human and we get scared. but gratitude is like a warm blanket and it helps, even a little.

we were lucky to hike, lucky to drive north a few hours to see a friend perform, lucky to have had a time of security, lucky to stand together in an rv dealership and dream “someday”, lucky to prepare soup for dinner with 20, lucky to sit by our pond sipping wine, lucky to light happy lights around our house. we were lucky to see the sun come up through the windows east of our pillows, lucky to see the sun go down through the trees on the trail. i was lucky to hear even a tiny text from both beloved kiddos, lucky to 3-way-hug with d and dogdog, lucky to stand at the kitchen table and miss my sweet momma.

to spend a few more minutes relishing might carry me a little further down the road, a little further away from big worries. each thing a bit of ballast, stabilizing, centering, grounding me, dandying me with courage.

*****

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


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polly and anna. [merely-a-thought monday]

there is a fine line between security and insecurity, a line that runs invisible through days of buoyancy and through days of challenge. we have seen it – that line – when we least expect it, just at the moments you are beginning to breathe, at the instant you are sinking a little into ease.

i suppose that having crossed the line – back and forth, back and forth – gives us the ability to tread water, to sort, to distinguish that which is important and that which is not. but that tiny vibration that sometimes trembles in my chest returns, despite any pollyanna-ing i attempt.

we sat in a starbucks the other day. i mean, literally – physically – went inside, stood at the counter, and used some gift money that had been sitting on our app foreverrr. and then we sat there and sipped coffee and shared one of those lemon cake slices with the schmear of sweet frosting. it felt out-of-body…it had been sooo long since we sat in a starbucks.

over d’s head on the opposite wall the words “you’ll make it” got my attention. i was hoping it wasn’t the universe simply placating me. i was thinking more of digging out the colorful magnetic plastic letters circa 1995 and pulling out d-a-m-m-i-t for the fridge. but i guess i will have to choose to believe otherwise, leaning on both polly and anna.

“you’ll make it” – good words when you can see the line.

i sipped my pike roast and listened to laverne and shirley’s silk-flowerish theme song in my head, “there is nothing we won’t try. never heard the word impossible. this time there’s no stopping us. we’re gonna make it…”.

sometimes, though, you just have to sigh.

*****

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



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stretching, not ripping. [k.s. friday]

the threads are stretching, stretching…but not ripping.

barney stretches and yawns, still a piano, always a piano. his soul – tenacious and flexible and resilient – centering back to itself, despite weather, despite weathering. it’s late day and the shadows are long. there are small mounds of birdseed, assorted fallen leaves, bits of white at the leading edge of the keyboard. no matter. his aging exterior belies the zeal inside of him, the sorting of memories being played, sustain pedal lifting notes into the air and holding them there. barney has come to knowing that all the notes are still there – stretched across the atmosphere, lingering. he is not fearful of this process in the sun and the rain, snow and blustering winds.

“if you let your fears control your actions, then you are not going 100 mph through it, enjoying it.” (sue aikens)

barney does little these days. he is home for wildlife, the birds, the chippies, the squirrels – they know him well. but he is still going 100 mph through it, whirling and dancing in his beautiful body in our backyard. one day he will look even less like an upright.

but the chickadees and house finches, the cardinals and robins will glance over at him and think, “there’s that sweet piano.” for they, too, will still recognize him.

*****

HOLDING ON, LETTING GO ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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lions and more lions. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the summer of 2011 in our ‘hood was dramatic. straight line winds came through, toppling close to a thousand trees in our neighborhood alone. all in about five minutes. i haven’t felt the same since.

when it’s windy out – really windy – or when strong or severe wind is predicted, i get nervous. we – both – lay awake at night, wondering about the tall trees behind our bedroom, hoping that they will prevail and stay standing.

a couple years ago a really gigantic branch fell into our backyard from our neighbor’s tree. it did not land on the house, but it was a fortune to have removed and, in these weird liability times, was ours to deal with. in an even weirder event, the neighbor came by to ask if we wanted to “go in on” the removal of three of the towering trees in his backyard. for obvious reasons, we declined, as did our other neighbors, and this couple, who had been dear to us – after four decades of living there – sold their enormous house and moved to texas without saying goodbye.

anyway, the windstorm-derecho of 2011 has made me tremble.

david’s ptsd came from childhood and being hit by lightning. i’m thinking i would have post traumatic stress, too, had i been hit by lightning. he was in his house, by a window, and zap! yikes!!

so when the rumbling starts and we are out walking or hiking, he is a wee bit trepidatious. the moment the lightning starts, trepidation turns to panic.

we were walking along the lakefront when we could see the storm clouds quickly approaching. boom! the thunder rolled. and then…the lightning. time and again. david was full-scale under-the-desk sheltering (though there was no desk). in no time he had taken cover-without-cover. i convinced him to get home. we are not those people who revel in thunderstorms or chase tornadoes or delight in derechos or any ridiculously windy events. we seek peaceful days and sun, maybe gentle rains and light quaking-aspen-leaf-worthy breezes. idyllic. nirvana.

we are entering the season of wild storms. they are all across the country. we watch the weather and eliminate places as potential places to ever live. “nope,” we say. “not a chance!” we have a short list of places we’d live, which is good, since it will lower the level of decision-fatigue and lessen the analysis-paralysis of too many choices.

in the meanwhile, on the shores of lake michigan with the lion full-on and the lamb – goodgrief – somewhere following at turtle-pace, maybe lost, one cannot underestimate the power of ptsd.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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one way. not really. [flawed wednesday]

not really.

there is not really one way.

well, maybe i can make one exception: when driving and faced with a dead-end corner and a one-way street. one way.

otherwise? not so much.

the headline read, “florida isn’t the only state pushing legislation that could be harmful to LGBTQ students.” there’s also idaho, georgia, iowa, tennessee and oklahoma. not to forget texas and whatever other states have jumped on the bigotwagon since this headline. what?! apparently, these are states in which leadership has decided there’s just one way. and it’s theirs.

as the proud mother of a gay man, i have to wholeheartedly disagree with these folks. any idea of “normal” that they have conjured up is a warped righteous positioning of power and control, some sort of strange arc into absolutism. it does make one wonder about the possibility of people who need to compensate for something in their own lives. it is astonishingly arrogant, haughtily heartless, cruelly uncaring, blindingly bigoted, disgustingly discriminatory, and sickeningly small-minded in the most prejudiced of ways.

i’m guessing, then, that these same huffy lawmakin’ folks are sittin’ around makin’ it their business to raise questions about people, ponder others’ sexuality or gender, disparage people who identify differently than they do. they are wringing their hands and plotting how to silence them, to marginalize them. because their one-way is the only way and lives that may be richly influential, steeped in open-mindedness and the embrace and love of all humankind should be silenced and marginalized.

this is not the way.

there is not one way.

for that, indeed, would signal a dead end.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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what is. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

they came without sirens. 4am and just lights. the neighborhood was dim, darkness perpetuated by an outage that diminished power but didn’t eliminate it.

in over three decades they have never been here before and i hope they never have to come again.

the buzzing in the living room and the hot electrical smell were, frankly, terrifying. with wee-hours-just-awakened brains we gathered the dog, important papers, laptops, phones, wallets and put it all in the car. i threw together a small bag of our clothes and made sure we had a leash. the thought “what should i take?” kept playing through the fear, on repeat and somewhat incessant, yet unanswerable.

the carbon monoxide monitor woke me up. it wasn’t wailing, but it was beeping in the basement. i went down to investigate, but the lights wouldn’t all turn on and those that did were only partial power. i woke david and we walked the house, room to room, checking lights, while i called the power company to report this strange outage.

the living room stopped us cold in our tracks. the buzzing and the smell. loud and strong. neither were explainable. i called 911.

i have since decided that we should, for any unexpected emergency, have a go-bag packed. a few essentials to take us through a few days in case of any reason we need to leave in a hurry. we had one packed – as suggested – during the riots and the curfews of 2020, but we’ve since put it away. it would be wise to just have some necessities you do not have to think about. grab and go.

but the unanswered question, the real question: “what should i take?” what would represent life here – my children, my parents, our families, this creation of home. which trinkets, which photographs, which antiques, which blanket or memento, which album, which painting, which any thing. for a moment, i stood, smelling the smell and hearing the buzzing electricity, and i had no answer. at all. no idea.

for anything to represent life and love and time spent, passions and hard work and celebrations and grieving, it would have to be the stories of it all. one giant kaleidoscope, a myriad of constant change and brightly colored life itself, a timeline of full-spectrum light and deep midnight sky.

i froze in the living room that night. i wracked my brain for what to take. and i was afraid.

yet, the firefighters came and allayed our fear. their thermal imaging showed no hotspots. they checked each room, each floor and the basement. they traced the buzzing and the hot-electrical-smell to the cable box and the tv. i silently gave thanks for the CO monitor and its beeping, for light sleeping, for our good sense to get up and check the house, for the professionals who quickly arrived. i don’t want to think of what might have been. and really, “there’s no way to know what might have been.” (little texas)

instead, i will sit in gratitude for what is.

*****

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the end goal. [flawed wednesday]

when the exposure notification availability showed up on the iphone, i x-ed it out. it comes every day and every day i delete it. i’m not sure we need any more reminders of covid exposure. we are already hyper aware of the dangers of this virus, the breakthrough possibility, the guidelines. last night we talked about all the places we would go were it not for this pandemic. the list was seemingly endless and we were in wonder about missing all of it.

we know that others are out there living life as any other day, as in any other time. i don’t know how to do that right now. any moment i forget about it and start talking about something fun to do or someplace fun to go, i remember. the benefit-risk factor is mightily dependent on, well, every facet involved, including higher threat and protecting ourselves and people we love. but i do know this – if it is for my children, i will do it. though we don’t get to exercise it much, that risk is unconditional.

we are finding that maybe we are more conservative, more cautious than others as we weigh our activities and destinations. it’s frustrating. we are a year and a half into this and, while vaccinations help us significantly, there is no stopping a mutating virus that wants to spread without the cooperation of everyone.

at the end of this pandemic, when there IS one, we will look around at the wreckage. lives and health and homes and jobs and security have been decimated. there are those who have been ultra-cavalier and have blatantly denied and defied any safety measures. there are those who have gone to disney, who have gathered in large unmasked gatherings, who have traveled widely. and there are those of us who have not. it’s a wide spectrum where, really, the most prudent route seems a narrower band of collaboration. and it – truly – sometimes makes me ponder what we’re missing. and, even though i ask ‘why?’ time and again, we stay on the track we have decided on, committing to an end to this insanity.

i suppose an argument against the way we are navigating through this would be that we are living out of fear, that we are limiting ourselves in a limitless world because, even when we have no guarantee for life in ANY given circumstance, we have bowed to covid-19, a frightening reality that makes us pay attention. it makes me sad to write that.

at the end others will have lived through it and have traveled and celebrated and eaten out. and hopefully we, too, will have lived through it. but our experience-list will be shorter; if traveling and celebrating and eating out are the things that count we have the tiniest list. our experience-list includes a serious respect for medicine, for science, for experts trying to help us mitigate this. it includes a deep concern for others and a wish for their good health and well-being. it lists to the end goal and not the short term. it includes the very-fewest visits with beloved children and family, in some cases none, tearing at my heart, painful. it includes much home-time, gratitude for this place in which we work and learn and cook and grow and dance. it’s much narrower than we would have imagined and, yet, it is rich in ways i also could not have imagined.

and next year, or sooner, i hope, maybe our experience-list will include irish fest and farmer’s markets and eating at the bar at wine-knot and restaurants in chicago and exploring in north carolina and live-in-person conversations with people who have been there for us, national geographic live events and long stays in the rocky mountains with mornings at cabin coffee in breck and winterfest in cedarburg and a slow dance party revisited on our patio, with people spilling into the kitchen, making drinks and preparing hors d’oeuvres.

maybe our experience-list will include a booster shot and no masks and fewer headlines about staggering loss and more news about communities coming together in support of each other.

maybe our experience-list will have less worry and less fear. the end goal.

stay well. stay safe.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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our firework. [k.s. friday]

the morning dawned crisper and drier than previous days. there is nothing like sleeping with the windows wide open and a blanket on. even dogdog was feeling refreshed. we looked at the weather app. there is a tiny reprieve of the weather of late – yesterday and today. and then it’s going to soar back up into the 90s, with humidity making all the ferns and the basil outside grin.

the fourth of july will be beastly hot – as fourths often are. we may or may not walk to the lakefront. we know it will crowded and this still feels like time to be careful, pandemic-wise. fireworks will culminate the festivities with people on blankets and bag-chairs, with coolers and bugspray. there is a possibility that this plant – on the side of the trail as we hiked – may be our sole firework. and that’s ok.

each morning lately i have awakened around 4. and each morning i hear loud pops. i don’t know what these are. i assume they are fireworks, though i hardly know why someone is setting them off in the wee hours of the night. i hope they are not gunfire, though i’m not sure i would know the difference from a distance. since the violence that erupted in our town last year, merely blocks away from our home, i always wonder now. so i stay awake, waiting to hear if there are sirens. i find it unnerving.

dogdog is not a fan of fireworks; though he does not cower from them, he is clearly nervous. babycat would also be wary, sticking close to dogga and us. i know there are many people who have expressed how nearly terrified their pet is of fireworks. and, in these times we have been through, with the insane rise of gun violence in this country, i can relate to people being wary, being nervous.

i consider this too: fish and foraging creatures ingest the debris from these fireworks, often set off over water or rural areas. loud noises cause wildlife to flee. without plan and disoriented, birds and bees and so many other animals-sharing-earth-with-us panic, bringing undue harm to themselves. they are not celebrating. they are not even understanding. they are in flight mode, scared.

so this year, as spectacular as planned fireworks are, i find myself thinking that it might just be nice to stay in the backyard, quietly contemplating this democracy and all its flaws. we’ll maybe turn on the torches to keep away the mosquitoes and light the firepit tower and watch the flames in the breeze. we’ll play music and maybe dance on the deck. we’ll keep dogdog reassuringly close, sip wine and try to remember last fourth of july and the one before that and the one before that…

we’ll hear fireworks all around us. our neighborhood on the lakefront will be noisy and packed with cars – people who have driven here and parked on all the streets, toting their picnics and rolly-coolers and blankets down the sidewalks.

and i will hope that all will go well all over this country in this celebration of a day – a celebration of things so many seem to have forgotten, things written into the declaration of independence: “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

when i was a child i didn’t know. i watched fireworks with no sense of irony. i was in awe at the spectacle of the parade and the pomp and circumstance.

but as an adult – i know.

*****

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I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

someday?


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waiting in the box. [k.s. friday]

the lines are chalked slowly in many dysfunctional relationships. unaware, you carry on, not realizing that it is closing in around you. until one day, you wake with a sense of claustrophobia and it occurs to you that you are boxed in. your actions seem to matter not; instead you are subjected to being a react-er. it’s more about treading water than it is about independent movement. it’s more about illogical punting than it is about making sense. it’s more about fear than it is about breathing.

our country is in a box. we react on a daily basis to the newest atrocities of leadership, the newest lies, the newest accusations. yet, no check or balance seems to matter and there are no consequences for this unacceptable behavior.

we tread water waiting.

we are waiting for wisdom to show up. we believe in truth-tellers. we do not believe in those whose jelly-bean-jars of untruths are brimming over.

we are waiting for real answers about the pandemic. we refuse to inject disinfectant and we absolutely choose to wear masks. we believe in science and medicine and we reject hiding the facts from a suffering nation.

we are waiting for help for those who need it: those who have lost jobs, home, security, the ability to pay bills or purchase food. we believe in a government that cares about people on all steps of the ladder and does not honor the stock market over the food lines.

we are waiting for conversation to start – a meaningful first step toward eradicating the social injustice of this country. we believe in peaceful protest and listening, not turning a deaf and bigoted ear.

we are waiting for the science of climatology to hold this good earth in its gentle hands of proactive care. we believe now is the time to show that the future matters and that disregard for this place will destroy that very future for all our children and our children’s children.

we are waiting for the ability to move about in the whole wide world again. we believe that is the only way we can learn about ourselves – to learn firsthand from others who are different than us. we believe in embracing others not repelling them.

we are waiting to not be afraid. we believe in compassion and empathy, not fear-mongering and words inciting division and hatred.

we are downright waiting for the mean-spirited, arrogant, self-agendized abusive behavior to stop.

we are waiting for the dysfunction to release its hold on the lines of the box around each of us, the populace.

we are waiting to vote.

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THE BOX from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood