reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our mélange. still a toddler. [two artists tuesday]

every weekday for four years is kind of a long time. we kicked off our mélange on february 12, 2018 with the intention to blog each day using a mutual image. we’d see where those images would take us: down backroads of memory, forays into wondering, dropping into the tiniest cracks of things that happen in our days. they would generate stories and pondering and poetry and a dedication to a practice we both love: writing.

1106 blogs later – in the context of the mélange – and we are just as committed now as we were then. in these tens of hundreds of posts, we have been both succinct and verbose, grateful and snarky, questioning and certain. mostly, we have sat next to each other – every single post – typed on laptops and read aloud to the other what the chosen image evoked. it has been an absolute gift.

from an analytical standpoint, we can see that people all over the world are reading. we marvel at the number of countries where someone has opened up what we have blathered. it is not without wonder that we -every so often- hear from someone from afar. and then, there are those days that the analytics suggest perhaps no one is interested and our writing is for naught. yet, we write anyway. because, we have discovered, this is for us – a gift we have given ourselves.

in the beginning our monday-friday topics included two cartoon days: chicken marsala monday and flawed cartoon wednesday. those days have since morphed and changed into merely-a-thought monday and not-so-flawed (and sometimes flawed) wednesday. in the beginning, too, every day had products i designed for that day. we had (actually, still have) five stores on society6 where people could purchase prints and canvases and tote bags, mugs and phone cases, throw pillows and leggings and shirts with our original work. hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of products. and so much fun to design. we have featured morsels of david’s paintings and youtubes or mp3s of my music, tiny snippets of color and texture and devoted artistry. we dove into the telling-the-tale of these pieces and we have shared the soul of our work.

soon it will be a year since we first added saturday morning smack-dab, our smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-middle-age cartoon. we’ll be setting up an additional separate page for smack-dab, the cartoon. some people want less words and that will be the place to go for the less-is-more approach. this cartoon is one of the delights of my week and the scripting, layout, colorizing, design work give me a distinct honor of co-cartoonist.

we have learned – in this practice – to photograph, to look, to listen – even more carefully and intently than before. so much to notice, to pay attention to. life is about how you take it in and respond to it all.

the learning curve on anything worthwhile can be steep. toughing out the vulnerability factor, finding your voice, using it to write, putting-it-out-there, brings a mélange of emotion. for us, it has been about 1106x joy.

thank you for reading.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

our first mélange post

click here for our mélange

and – if you are in the mood for browsing:

CHICKEN MARSALA SOCIETY6 STORE

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY SOCIETY6 STORE

FLAWED CARTOON SOCIETY6 STORE

DAVID ROBINSON SOCIETY6 STORE

KERRI SHERWOOD SOCIETY6 STORE

THE MÉLANGE ©️ 2018-2022 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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27 cents. [flawed wednesday]

yes. i know. it was auto-generated. the three mailings (first class mail stamps cost $1.74) and the three emails and the text were all auto-generated. and all of it? dehumanizing.

we are no longer on molina healthcare since during-the-year 2021, but for a company that literally charged $19,927 for the period of time we were, a balance due of 27 cents seems a bit inconsequential and the threat of policy termination and coverage loss – in the middle of a global pandemic – while they claim to be “caring about people and advocating on their behalf” and “helping those most in need” – well, it would seem that a bit of real-people-ness might need to shine through.

i know that we have grumbled before about healthcare in the united states; this will not be an out-and-out rant, for i’ve written that in previous posts and want to have a bye for future ones. but it is surely a tad bit humorous to think that a company with a january 2022 net worth of $16.24 billion – billion! – cares about 27 cents.

even funnier is that as soon as i knew we had an outstanding balance over and above our premiums – this 27 cents – i paid it online. yet the letters, emails and texts kept coming, even a month after we no longer had their services. auto-generated, aggressive, uncaring, impersonal.

molina – in their employee handbook, as part of how they describe their core values – states: “we focus on what is important. ‘it is a business of nickels.’ little things matter and the nickels add up.”

ahhh. yup. i’m guessin’ they must. focus on nickels, that is. “we are careful with scarce resources.”

this is a company that bases their existence on the early clinic of their founder, “where caring for people was more important than their ability to pay.”

yes. yes.

“if we don’t receive your payment, your policy will be terminated and you’ll lose your coverage.”

we paid our 27 cents. molina healthcare lost at least $1.47 in that exchange.

that’s 29 nickels.

and two pennies.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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polka-dot mantra. [flawed wednesday]

there is really nothing unhappy about polka dots.  it is rare that polka dots are scorned, even more rare that polka dots are looked upon as harbingers of negativity.  polka dots get a bye in the fashion world, seemingly always advancing to the next round.

yesterday we spent about five hours on the phone with spectrum trying to fix our internet.  we unplugged our two-in-one modem-router combo, drove to the store, exchanged our equipment and tried to self-install (underscored in its excitement rating) and then spent another hour on the phone.  it was never fixed and we are hopeful for today, as a tech person will come and “evaluate the problem”.  we were ridiculously weary with internet-failure by the end of the day and solaced ourselves with a favorite holiday dvd movie snuggled around the laptop under the covers before sleep. 

our dear friends texted us a youtube of a spectrum skit on SNL that we could watch on our phone.  it was hilariously accurate and made us laugh.  we had literally spoken to an insane number of reps during this tech-debacle.  chris was one of them.

i liked him immediately.  he promised me a ferrari and a pizza as well as finding us a “package” to fix our internet grief.  i told him to keep the pizza and he thanked me profusely because, on a diet sans pizza, he has been craving it and did not want to think of me, his newest friend, eating pizza.  i told him to maybe have a piece of pizza, that life is too short.  it’s not good to crave things and deny yourself everything.  anyway, after our philosophical discussion, he again said that he would find a plan and he would fix our internet once and for all.  he was basing our success on “my demeanor and clothing choices”.  my ripped jeans and moccasin boots railed in protest but recognized we weren’t on a video call, after all, and gave up the fight.  it sounded like clothing really mattered to him and so i’m imagining that he had a dark blue gingham-checked shirt and jeans with a solid dark-blue skinny-but-not-too-skinny-to-be-out-of-sync-with-his-body tie and very cool rich medium brown tie shoes, since brown shoes seem to be really vogue with blue these days.  though chris was delightful to deal with – since it could have been different and dry and kind of like having a tooth filled at the dentist so I was relieved to be laughing and joking – chris did not fix our internet. neither did any of the other reps, all nice and scripty polka-dot-ish, but unable to address the problem. 

so, no ferrari, no pizza AND no internet.

we are determined, after last night’s movie made us predictably mushy, that today will be a polka-dot kind of day. 

we mantra: the tech will come – dressed in spectrum attire – and voila! fix the internet.  we will suddenly go from 30mbps (an old time warner cable plan no one told us to upgrade) to ultra wifi 400mbps (I will believe this when I see it).  we will have no issues with brand new equipment we just brought home.  we will easily engage wifi on all our devices.  we will carry on, having woefully lost a whole day in spectrumland, but rapidly recuperating back into reality.

we will be in polka-dot happiness with real polka-dots.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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pudgy pigeon. [flawed wednesday]

the pudgy pigeon was in the doorway. it didn’t move as we approached. it didn’t move as we took photographs. it didn’t move as i spoke to it and it didn’t move as we moved on. i worried about it after. something seemed awry.

while we were in colorado, we looked at a shutterfly book of pictures taken in 2013 – what was columbus’ 80th birthday party – merely eight years ago, so little time, so much time. but the difference – for us – is between 50-something and 60-something. and there is, shall i say, a difference.

our bodies changing-changing. our faces morphing into, well, i hope, slightly more wizened faces with less self-consciousness and more solid aplomb. aging. we read in headlines today, “fillers, procedures are wiping out generations of beauty.” (jamie lee curtis) we stand firmly in the camp of less-is-more. mmm…firmly and, yet, still, a little shakily, noting this youth and body-image-society.

what does this pudgy pigeon think?

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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initiative. [flawed wednesday]

(sign on the door of the milwaukee institute of art & design)

a year and a half.

jen told me yesterday that the 1918 pandemic, though most often referred to as a two-year pandemic, actually lasted two and a half years.

two and a half years.

i shudder to think of the toll this pandemic will have taken if it lasts yet another year or more. we have learned so much; we have learned so little. the pandemic has been like a kaleidoscope and like a microscope, both. it has scattered us into constantly changing patterns and it has brought everything into minute focus. yet i wonder where this will take us.

artists aren’t typically conservative in-the-boxers. we take risks, live gig lifestyles, put ourselves out there, are vulnerable and push back against things we consider inequities, ironic double-talk, disinterest in humanitarianism, opacity where transparency is touted. we aren’t quiet, for it is our job to speak – in whatever medium our talent. we are, as artists, there to raise questions, to promote pondering, communicate ideas, tell stories, express emotion, encourage engagement, inspire connection and collaboration, reiterate interdependence of all people.

though this burden does not remain singly on the shoulders of artists, even banksy has participated in making statements about safety and guidelines in this pandemic. i’m not sure how much more blatant it needs to be. encouraging covid-19 responsibility, his work in the london tube in july 2020 was titled, “if you don’t mask, you don’t get.” he spray-paints the words, “i get lockdown, but i get up again” at the end of the video featuring his rats on the tube.

though attendees were 100% vaccinated, the invitation read, “masks required at all times unless actively eating or drinking.” they provided masks, sweet ones with the initials of the wedding couple and a heart. the venues had high high ceilings, exposed rafters and ductwork. the wedding was outside, cocktail hour was outside, dancing was outside.

when the rain came, we all kept dancing. outside, twinkling lights all around, we breathed in fresh air. even with masks on.

“a lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” (banksy)

initiative (noun): the ability to assess and initiate things independently; the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.

the milwaukee institute of art and design has posted signs on all their doors. they have taken a stance.

wearing a mask in public spaces – and vaccination – have been scientifically proven to lower the rate of transmission, sickness and death of a deadly global pandemic. already a year and a half.

exactly what additional kind of initiative do you need?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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not-knowing. squared. [flawed wednesday]

i passed by these words: “try being informed instead of just opinionated.” i laughed and then frowned, thinking it was a great mantra for these times. it doesn’t even need any additional blah-blah. it simply can stand on its own, shining a spotlight on, well, most of us at some point or another.

i was recently reading some writings of noam chomsky, a linguist and philosopher and so much more. he is “widely recognized as having helped to spark the cognitive revolution in the human sciences”. his work is interesting and profoundly thought-provoking. and, he is one of those scholars who have quotes galore attributed to him, smidges of wisdom, tomes prompting controversy, questions that parry ignorance.

“the general population doesn’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know” is one of these quotes. bracing.

any scroll through news media apps in these times is pretty scary. intense drought, raging wildfires, ferocious storms erupting, melting glaciers and rising oceans, a global pandemic morphing and morphing again but not going away, the rise of authoritarianism in the global world, the attack on democracy and fundamental truths, the support of lies and personal agenda by people in trusted positions, the new climate change report issued by the united nations…the doomsday list seems endless.

we stumbled into a short documentary the other evening about doomsday bunkers. people in south dakota and texas purchasing $35k bunkers and tricking them out into homes in which they live, preparing, prepared. it was kind of daunting to see – these underground homes with pantry rooms full of canned goods, homes with no windows, homes that are more-or-less safe – or at least removed – from all that goes on above ground. i expected to see wily extremists but that wasn’t the case in the short we viewed. these were people who wanted to be ready to go on if all else failed – leaving “all else” to your imagination, easily fed by the horrors we read and watch in the news. i personally cannot imagine living this way. though the bunkers are in a community, the premise is removing yourself from the rest of the world and i wonder what is left of value then. a little more googling and other bunkers emerge – bunkers for the super rich, bunkers that are more extreme. what is really going on here? the things we don’t know.

i used to teach in the state of florida, though i have not lived there now for over thirty years. in the mixed miracle of social media, some of my previous students are friends of mine on facebook and i am delighted to see them in their lives as adults. i am horrified to watch the governor of that state remove protections for the children attending school there, not to mention teachers and administrators and other valued employees of school systems. barring mask mandates, downplaying vaccinations, issuing warnings to remove funding, threatening the withholding of salaries – all power ploys for his own sick agenda, which clearly is not to protect or encourage protecting the residents of his state, his constituents. i don’t understand this. and yet, his actions are mostly undeterred and it is only now that there are some superintendents pushing back, placing lives over one man’s warped authority. i wonder why every parent in the state isn’t lined up, pushing back. had my children been little while we lived there, i would have been appalled by the cavalier attitude about their health and well-being. they – and every single other child in that state – are not expendable. what is really going on here? the things we don’t know.

we’ve all heard the expression “ignorance is bliss.” is it really? is not-knowing the best way to go about living? is getting all hooked-lined-and-sinkered into opinion-land responsible? is watching the circus networks opine and distill truth and hatch conspiracy communal? is it ok to not know what’s really happening and not know that you don’t know? is it prudent – without asking questions – to fetch every bone thrown igniting rhetoric, encouraging vitriol, spewing hate, forwarding inequality, ignoring climate peril, wreaking chaos? even dogdog can discern firestarter sticks from real branches.

let’s not waste that cognitive revolution.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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what would popeye do? [flawed wednesday]

i know there is a simple solution: cut them off and scatter them back behind the garage so little critters can munch on them and appreciate them. yes, a simple solution. but i just haven’t done it. so, in the meanwhile, i whine and complain – aloud – about the spinach stems tucked tenderly under my potatoes and eggs, next to my halo and banana and adjacent to my steaming mug of bold black coffee.

though popeye attests ad nauseam to the benefits of spinach, never once have i seen him depicted wrestling with a spinach stem. this begs the question – do he and olive oyl remove them first? he sticks his hand into that infamous spinach can and sends a spinach lob through the air into his mouth, but, indeed, no stems.

i just googled, “should you remove spinach stems?”

it’s pretty apparent that this is An Issue. numerous sites are dedicated to showing how to wash and properly de-stem your spinach leaves. in fact, bon appétit.com states the obvious, “it’s pretty crucial to know when to keep the stems on your greens and when to take them off.” i say – in most cases, though not all, lest i be accused of limiting the magnesium intake potential and discriminating against non-fibrous-non-stringy-non-stuck-in-your-teeth-possible stems – take them off.

take them off. snip them. tear them. just get them off. this simple solution will likely add frequency to the spinach lineup in our breakfast menus. just the thought of nakedly-stemless rich green leaves peeking out from under the roasted potatoes on my plate makes me want to call popeye and stop kvetching.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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first-world pressure. [flawed wednesday]

i found an october 2017 edition of the magazine real simple in and amongst the catalogs in our magazine rack. paging through, i cringed when i saw an article about how to work from home, thinking how inadvertently prophetic that was. there were articles about kitchen makeovers, healthy habits, quick recipes and how to finance renovations. the second to last page was a faux program agenda for what was named by the author (ashley lefrak grider) the 32nd annual symposium of the american society for the investigation of contemporary fashion indignities. it made me laugh aloud, so i extracted two of the ‘session’ titles to share:

the morning ‘breakfast with the thought leaders’ was titled “low rise jeans: a plan to spread self-loathing among women who eat food.”

the ‘policy workshop’ held in the afternoon was titled “who bears the bulk of moral responsibility for pretorn jeans made of elastic and what is the appropriate punishment for this person?”

seriously, the experience of purchasing new jeans imperils most women’s senses of humor, not to mention self-image. styles change and jeans change and, each time, many of us are left wondering whose idea it was for women to wear skinny jeans or jeans that ride below a tummy that has had some serious childbirth adventures.

i detest the lighting in most store fitting rooms and the mirrors that surround you as you step out into the little hallway of curtains. were it to be my decision to make, i would provide soft lighting and beverages. a little asti/iced tea, perhaps. it’s painful. and jeans are my favorite thing to wear so you can bet that, once i have gone through this agony, through the oh-geez-these-make-my-butt-look-big-i’ll-just-wear-long-tunics-all-the-time enlightenment, i make jeans last a very long time and save them all in my overburdened closet. for years. it’s too anxiety-producing otherwise.

the worst is finding a new bathing suit. the hard plastic model mannequin wearing the darling suit in the swim, cruise and yachting department has not lived life and it is unfair to act like her little perfect shape is in any way relevant to the rest of us. ordering from a catalog is an option, but most of the same rules apply and make many of us wish that we could go back to the swimsuits of the 1920s, though these are also hardly ideal.

in the latest first-world news – just how does one keep up? – trends to follow include: luxe sweatsuits (named “almost-business-casual-take-you-from-the-couch-to-errands loungewear”), knit dresses and skirts (because who doesn’t want to wear form-fitting sweater-dresses!), leather coats pretending to be those oversized down coats, and, my personal favorite, puffy shoulders and sleeves, which makes me wonder why i gave away my bridesmaid dress from my niece’s wedding in the early 90s. what’s more, ultimate gray and illuminating yellow are the fashion pantone colors of the year, chosen for their “warmth and dependability”, but clearly not how they look on real people.

the tagline of real simple magazine is “life made easier”. and the heading on the page with the mock symposium agenda is “the struggle is real” with a sub-title of “clothes: we have a few complaints”. the closing session of the conference, with only an hour-long presentation – so little time, so much to say – was “to live is to suffer: was nietzsche wearing control-top pantyhose?” indeed.

women in our society have had an extraordinary and inordinate amount of pressure put on our ability to look fit, healthy, hydrated, well-rested, botulinum-toxin-injected and young. in the pickiest of picky new face-rules, lately i have noticed an emphasis on having eyelashes to end all eyelashes. as a blonde, eyelashes tend to be just laughable and definitely an investment in mascara. at a couple hundred dollars a lash extension application plus upkeep, costs seems like expenditures that would not fall under the ‘make a budget’ article guidelines, nevertheless it is a ‘thing’ and women everywhere are buying into it. at target yesterday, i wondered how the lovely young woman, waiting on us and trying unsuccessfully to type information into a device to locate our pickup order, functioned with her carefully manicured but insanely long fingernails. were these nails what she really wanted or were these nails a product of some sort of weird expectation that they were somehow elevating her already very natural beauty? the questions keep coming. so do the catalogs of new clothes, new swimsuits, new shoes, new products to trim your body, new trinkets, new dietary supplements. so much pressure.

too much pressure. good thing i don’t subscribe to cosmo.

i hear wide-leg-relaxed-fit-waist jeans are back. goodness and gosh, i can’t wait to go try some on. better yet, maybe there’s a pair in the back of my closet somewhere.

yes, friedrich, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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arrive alive. [flawed wednesday]

once upon a time a little boy sat in the backseat of his family’s car on his way to kindergarten. as we can all imagine, he was excited and maybe chattering about the upcoming day. he was likely looking out the window at all the other cars and trucks and maybe having a little snack as he was driven to school by his mom. he was alive. and then he was not.

i don’t know all the details of this story, but the root cause of the catastrophic death of this little boy on his way to fingerpaint and hear stories and maybe jump rope or play 4square and practice letters with thick pencils on widely-spaced lined paper was road rage. no matter who was at fault, no matter what happened on that highway, no matter really anything, this little person lost his life on a freeway because of anger that had nothing to do with him.

i was stunned the first time i saw the signs on highway 82 in the roaring fork valley of colorado. “road rage – call *277.” but we have all been privy to at least one incident of raging road behavior so that there is a mechanism in place to report it is actually a progressive step forward. i was simultaneously disturbed to think that road rage was so prevalent in this gorgeous place and yet glad to see that the authorities had a mechanism in place to try and help dissuade it.

we recently left the park in illinois where we often hike. it’s a left turn out of the park with no traffic light onto a two-lane road. checking both ways carefully, as there is a bit of an uphill to our right as we exit, i pulled little baby scion out into the eastbound lane to drive home. suddenly, just as a semi approached from the east in the westbound lane, an at-least-80mph audi screamed past on the small shoulder on our right. i was startled, but luckily did not wrench the wheel either direction, for both would likely have had devastating consequences for more than just us. what kind of person passes on the shoulder on a 45mph road for absolutely no reason except that they are raging? what kind of all-consuming lack of regard for others does it take to drive a machine capable of great injury in such a monstrously irresponsible way?

we evaded tragedy that day, but how many examples do we each encounter every day? sometimes it is only with luck and defensive driving we safely arrive at our destinations. safely at our destinations. it doesn’t sound like too much to ask for. we need check our anger as we click open our car doors to get behind the wheel. the tag line of illinois tollway’s speed awareness day has been, “slow down. arrive alive.” yes. we shouldn’t need an awareness day or signs emblazoned with lighted letters to remind us. we shouldn’t need * numbers to call in times of raging road peril.

we pulled up to the red traffic light a couple miles down the road. the audi was stopped right in front of us, a mere one car-length gain. a tiny gain when so much could have been lost. like the life of a little boy on his way to kindergarten.

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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what is really real? [flawed wednesday]

back in the day, my sister drove a dodge charger. it was a pretty sporty car then, the 1974 model, and, as a driver on long island’s expressways, she was up to the task. she is still much a new york driver, conversation while driving in the car punctuated with relevant muscle-car-language. it was always an adventure being in the car with her. i am eleven years younger so i learned road-talk sitting in her passenger seat.

when the commercial came on for the dodge challenger i had to laugh. they have been pretty similar vehicles through the years. and the commercial made me think of my sister. until i saw the little boy driving it like a road-maniac. right smack dab in the middle of all the fancy muscling around, the commercial pauses and the little boy turns and says, “our lawyers just want you to know that this isn’t real.”

duh. it’s a commercial. is anything real?

the disclaimer at the end of pharmaceutical company ads listing possible side effects – though it is announced that it is not an all-inclusive list – is always bracing…especially the “do not use this drug (fill in the blank) if you are allergic to it or the ingredients in it…” seriously? what is real?

in our litigious country it is remarkable that you don’t have to sign a waiver no matter what you do. so many potential lawsuits, so little time. everything everywhere is closer than it appears in the mirror.

i had to text my sister and ask her what year her charger was. i remember clearly how much she loved that car – i remember it as butter yellow with a white vinyl top. when she texted me back i found out that she had purchased that very car because a playpen fit in the trunk. it was after her daughter was born so playpens and toting baby stuff was real for her. muscling on highways not so much.

my first car was my volkswagen. it was a 1971 super beetle and i adored it. my dog came with me everywhere and sat in the well. i toted my little niece all around, windows down and singing songs on our way to the beach or to feed the ducks or to play in the park. it was not a muscle car, it had zilcho storage capacity and it was not featured in cool cream puff commercials then or now. but it was real and it was a steadfast little bug.

pre-pandemic we loved to explore antique shoppes. we would stumble upon so many relics, so many memories, so many we-had-this moments. often, we would find things we still have, which made us laugh aloud that our possessions – the ones not obvious vintage treasures – were considered antiques. the mixing bowls, the salt and pepper shakers, the corningware, the irish coffee mugs. wandering through the aisles of antique shoppes, i have been known to exclaim, “people shouldn’t be able to purchase new glassware or mugs or plates or china! it should be a requirement to purchase from a secondhand store or an antique shoppe!” i am overwhelmed sometimes by the vast amount of wasted products, the vast amount of new choices, the vast amount of value people place in the stuff they have. what is really necessary? what is really real?

as the proud owners of stoneware i bought for 25¢ a piece at a wholesale show, passed-down corningware, a stove/oven circa 1980, a scion xb with 247,000 miles, an old 1998 ford f150 pickup truck and, yes, a 1971 vw bug, we are not the audience for the new dodge challenger commercial we saw.

because the little kid was right. it’s not real.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY