reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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full of beautiful. [d.r. thursday]

i worry about the ferns. fragile, willowy, tender shoots determinedly growing up from under the pile of leaves waiting, decaying, protecting the garden through fall’s end and winter’s scourge until, finally, spring. and then, there they are. despite it all. back in the northwest corner of the yard, tucked in along the fence line and next to the old garage.

they start slowly, peeking out, and then – voila – they are taller, taller, and unraveling their curly tops, like a modern dancer, curling up one vertebrae at a time, opening and embracing dappled sunlight. without concern for any part of history or future, they just grow. they are perennials, so keeping them healthy – a bit of simple nurture – ensures this fern garden in the back of our yard.

i’ve grown other plants in this yard through the years. ornamental grasses, day lilies, ferns, hosta, a couple peonies, these are the thrivers. purple iris, black-eyed susans, a planted lavender garden all fell to the wayside.

the neighbor’s snow-on-the-mountain, creeping under the fence, devoured the iris. wild mustard gave the black-eyed susans a run. the lavender was taken over by boxwood elder on a rampage.

but the delicate ferns…through dogdog’s puppyhood and now his adulthood…through the drought and maybe too much sun and maybe too much rain…through the late-late springs and the early winters…have survived.

in each of them i see the fortitude of the dancer, practicing unfurling vertebrae by vertebrae, forgetting all else – all negativity, all lack, all the torrential storms – in the tender, rich, vibrant forward-movement of now. full of beautiful.

“there is an entire forest
full of the most incredible flowers,
plants and trees inside you,
and you are ignoring all of it to nurture a single tree
that they planted inside your heart and abandoned.

the people who left you this way
don’t deserve to become your favourite stories to tell.
you are a massive forest full of beautiful and vibrant stories
and every single one of them deserves you more
than those that abandoned you to hell.”

(nakita gill – a forest story)

*****

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how unprecedented you are. [two artists tuesday]

we don’t really know. we rise each day, bold coffee at our lips, with curiosity. truly, what the day will bring is a mystery. the best-laid plans, well, they are only that – plans. things change and the kaleidoscope swirls around us in mere moments.

“this being human is a guest house. each morning a new arrival…” (rumi – the guest house)

and we rise again the next day…

…the day lilies and the grass blades are rising as well. through the upheaval of their dirt, the excavation of their home, the burying of their fallowed stems, the netting and straw post-waterline-replacement, they are rising anyway.

my thoughts of pulling everything up and starting fresh in the front yard came to a screeching halt when i saw them. if they are resilient enough to bright-green their way into this upheaved spring, i think i would be somewhat dishonoring to remove them. in doing so, i would miss their profound message of fortitude, of courageous no-matter-what-ishness, of their coy laughter reaching for the sun.

“you are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” (john green – the fault in our stars)

we miss it. in the middle of our don’t-really-know days, we miss seeing the absolute stalwart root in clay we each bring. we miss the credit of finagling another chaotic day. we miss our embrace of the new arrival of mystery. we miss our own unprecedentedness.

yet there it is. rising through the netting and the straw and the mud and the excavated rocks and cement.

“on the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you…”

(john o’donohue – beaanacht)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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and the circle cried too. [d.r. thursday]

“it’s the circle of life
and it moves us all
through despair and hope
through faith and love
’til we find our place
on the path unwinding
in the circle
the circle of life”

(circle of life, elton john, tim rice)

“it can all unravel so fast,” he said as we watched footage of erin burnett (cnn) in a van in ukraine, trying to find a border that was open, a border that did not have a fifty-six hour wait in line. the absolutely devastating reality of families trying to leave-and-go-where? is sobering.

we have written each day, because that is what we do. most of the time we write ahead so that the blogs publish early in the morning. sometimes that means that we are not writing of the moment in time, not writing of the crisis, not writing of the emotional and physical upheaval of others in the world. sometimes we are simply writing about something simple, something mundane, something inane, something that may not seem plugged in.

we walked out front the day we pushed littlebabyscion down the driveway so that big red could be threaded through the space between the wall and the xb and driven across the yard to the street. as i stood there, ready to inform d about clearance on either side, i looked down at the wall and the copper ring, standing on edge, was there. it took me by surprise; it had surely stood on its edge for months, through rain and snow and wind, not moving. we realized it was a fitting from the water line replacement work we had done, as the line installed in the ground was copper. the ring had withstood some time and definitely some weather. steadfast. and there it was. a circle of copper.

russia’s invasion into ukraine is the mightiest of disasters. a human-driven catastrophe intended to hurt others, intended for cataclysmic fall, turmoil, shakeout that will last decades, utter grief to a country that has rebuilt, that has risen up in strength and great fortitude.

the mortal politics of this ugly invasion aside, it is abhorrent to watch as families pack a suitcase from their house, their home, their life and split apart – men staying behind, conscripted to fight. we cry again and again, watching as they hug, exchange goodbyes – not knowing – and leave to go mostly to places they do not yet know. the point is to leave. the point is not yet to know. the point of these incredibly strong, stalwart and courageous people is to have hope through the despair.

every bit of news we watch and read brings into focus, yet again, the flimsy grip we have on living. what we thought was important can drop away in mere instants. what we thought was necessary becomes superfluous. what we thought was solid becomes nebulous, untenable.

“it can all unravel so fast.”

life. the circle.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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here, he gazes north. [d.r. thursday]

on island he gazed south. here, at home, he gazes north.

it doesn’t matter that there are inches of snow piles on the deck. ever the snowdog, he lays in it, relishing the cold, and gazes north. i wonder what he is thinking.

dogga is rarely still. he seeks the bark-back of other dogs in the ‘hood, standing in the middle of the backyard. he runs around the opposite-traffic-circle sign, around the pond, to the fence, then the other. scoping out, trying to get the attention of simply any other canine.

but there are those moments, in the middle of his self-initiated fray, that he is quiet and still and he poses, like the lions “patience” and “fortitude” flanking the front of the new york public library. “patience” and “fortitude” have been trademarked and are featured in the logo and all of the library’s marketing shenanigans. perhaps dogdog is the branding of our backyard, of our home. gazing north. or – simply – gazing.

for we, too, are gazers. we sit and ponder. we gaze and wonder. we watch the backyard change seasons as we change seasons.

the other day dogga was laying on the bed when i walked into the bedroom. i sat down next to him, his wagawag-tail thumping. i told him all the stuff i was thinking about, because isn’t that one of the reasons we HAVE dogs?

he listened. thump. listened. thump thump thump.

he did not solve anything. he did not answer any of my questions nor did he ask any questions. he did not agree or disagree. he did not argue for reason. he just listened. with patience and fortitude.

were i to lay in the snow with dogdog on the back deck gazing north perhaps i would also have more patience and fortitude in this season of time. at the very least, i would be in the best of company.

*****

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already. [k.s. friday]

“her mother told her she could grow up to be anything she wanted to be, so she grew up to become the strongest of the strong, the strangest of the strange, the wildest of the wild, the wolf leading wolves.” (nikita gill)

inscribed in the sidewalk in frisco, colorado right outside the door to next page books and nosh, this quote begged me to take its picture. even under the bluest sky, embraced in high elevation rocky mountains, in and amongst the most golden aspen, it stood out. my sweet momma giggled from the other dimension as i took out my camera, and momentarily blocked the entrance to this independent book store.

we wandered for a long time in the shop. like deb’s fair isle books on washington island, it was exquisite and welcoming and easy to sink into. we touched the spines of books, chose another set of prayer flags, read greeting cards, bought our girl a magnet. i wanted to sign up for many of the upcoming masks-on gatherings there, sip coffee, browse the ‘be kind’ stickers and study the hiking trail books and maps on a center display. i would have liked to have been at “not your mother’s book club” on the 25th. my momma thought that was funny and assured me she would have attended as well. yes, it would be easy to spend magical days there; i suspect chatting and being quiet would pass the time and suddenly the sun would dip behind the mountains and we would be gently nudged out the door, past the nikita-inscription and onto the sidewalk.

i learned on their website that october is conflict resolution month. back in wisconsin, unfortunately, we were unable to be present on the 19th for the event at the shop called “conflict resolution for holy beings” (joy harjo) but i know plenty of people who should have attended.

nikita gill, a poet and writer with huge instagram following, also penned: “you have been praying so long for the strength to outlive the pain they inflicted on you, that you have forgotten – you are already strong.”

my sweet momma nods in agreement and whispers “oh yes!” to nikita and me.

glancing over at me, she adds, “hang the flags in the wind.”

*****

SISU: a finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience and hardiness.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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cliffs and pine needles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i was ten with a camera in my hand. we were in the woods at sleepaway camp and there was a teepee. particular about photographs even back then, i wanted to take a full-length photograph of the teepee and the best way was to step behind a big pine tree and part the branches to take the photo. i brushed aside the branches and aimed my pocket instamatic camera only to realize that i needed to step back just a bit more to get the picture i wanted. i stepped back the teeniest bit to get my shot. and suddenly there was no ground.

i fell backwards about thirty feet off the cliff.

in my zeal for the photo i hadn’t noticed the cliff edge hiding behind the pine tree, which was precariously perched just off its side. after moments during which i’m guessing i was knocked out, i could hear the camp counselor and my best friend freaking out up on the trail and i tentatively moved things around – arms, legs and such. everything seemed to work. and in the odd swimming motions i was making down below teepee-land, i realized i had fallen into a gigantic pile of pine branches, all piled up, generously softening my fall. a few feet to either side and the dry ground was as hard as the large rock outcroppings scattered in the woods of camp koinonia in upstate ny. it seemed completely shocking to fall three stories and be absolutely fine and, when they made it down to where i was in the middle of branches and just a bit scratched up, the counselor, susan and i started laughing uncontrollably. how it went right is beyond me, but, somehow, luck prevailed.

we finished reading the salt path, a profoundly moving account of a newly-homeless couple hiking the entirety of the south west coast path in the UK. as one of the reviews reads, “inspiring…a true story of love, hope, and survival against impossible odds.” (j. santlofer)

five pages before the end, raynor winn wrote, “the shock of something going right is almost as powerful as when it goes wrong.” i was reading aloud. i read that line and stopped. i told d i had to re-read it. i read that line again and stopped. and i cried. not giant loud sobs like any of us in these fraught times deserve, but tears sliding down my face, uncontrollably, salty like the mist on the coast path. i was brought to a standstill by one sentence.

these times have proffered many surprises. we have felt challenged by challenges, betrayed by betrayals, silenced and minimized, left in the lurch. we have been cautious, we have bootstrapped. we have been canny by need, scrappy by necessity. we have found surprises at every turn. and, just at the time difficulty has made you get used to things going wrong, suddenly, you are shocked by something going right. someone has reached out. someone has cared. something – even one tiny thing – changed in the frequency pitches around you. something – even one tiny thing – is on the horizon. something – even one tiny thing – lifted the mist, that fog of uncertainty with side orders of confusion, grief.

and when you stepped off the cliff, you landed in a soft pile of pine needles.

*****

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eleanor’s tea bags. [k.s. friday]

she was a rebel. radical and progressive, eleanor pushed with all her might, a rogue in a traditional world. eleanor roosevelt is held in high esteem, a social justice mover-and-shaker, deliberate and smart and very, very strong. she wasn’t afraid of hot water. she often dove right in.

we women all know eleanor. oftentimes, intimately. for she resides in each of us – that spirit of strength and fortitude, bravery and courage, mighty in beautiful bodies.

forest trillium, in all its slender elegance, takes quite some time to mature. after years of growth, it will eventually bloom, its three leaves gently cupping the blossom. an early spring flower, white ages to pink, a color often associated with softness, perhaps even meekness. but in its ever-present flower-wisdom, trillium is anything but meek. it is particular and ephemeral, stunning as a star of the woodlands. its bloom scents as fruit or decaying meat to attract pollinating insects, its attempt to ensure its propagation. heralding spring, trillium is fragile and endangered. in new york it is labeled “exploitably vulnerable.”

the path we each choose differs. our goals, our intentions, our dedications, our wishes and dreams run a vast spectrum. we have different journeys; we have different origins. we are quiet; we are noisy. we go with the flow; we make waves. we may not agree, but we are zealous.

we are the guardians of our ambitions, the preservers of our pilgrimages, the shielder of our adventures, the great protectors of our beliefs, the fuel of our passions, the champions of our beloveds, mama bears with or without cubs. we are fragile; we are damn strong. and we are most definitely exploitably vulnerable. yet, in that vulnerability, in those moments of hot water, each and every woman i know is eleanor.

i say we tea bags stick together and celebrate each other.

*****

from my seat in 2021 sharing with you the stay strong/strong-woman song i wrote in 2002 for the album AS SURE AS THE SUN: COUNT ON YOU:

COUNT ON YOU (kerri sherwood – from the album AS SURE AS THE SUN)

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COUNT ON YOU ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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sigh now. held in grace: pray now. [d.r. thursday]

PrayNow framed copy

“a state of detente”

i just read these words and stopped and re-read them.  for no specific reason – just because, i had taken the sarah ban breathnach book simple abundance out of the old wooden north carolina cabinet on the other side of the bed.  i flipped open to december 5, old cards and notes and newspaper clippings trying to slip out of the pages into which they were tucked.

the quote at the top of the page read, “most of the sighs we hear have been edited.” (stanislaw jerzy lec) and the meditation for this day was about sighing.  in fact, one of my favorite sentences reads, “women sigh so that we won’t scream.”  oh yes!  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about screaming, “there are several occasions in the course of any woman’s day when, without question, screaming is the appropriate response.”  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about sighs, and writes, “the act of sighing is a quiet vote of acceptance – of … moving on.  …letting it out.  letting it go….”  resilience.

sarah’s quiet wisdom touches a nerve:  “…sigh more… because … preferences, needs, wants, wills and demands to be dealt with, if there is to be a state of detente in the daily round.  more bending in order not to break…”  sisu.

i hadn’t thought about my sighing, but i know i do it.  the intake of breath and the slow exhale.  the thought i-have-no-idea-what-i-can-actually-do-about-this-anyway or the thought i-have-no-control-over-what-others-are-doing-or-thinking-or-feeling.  my own feeling of being astounded by someone or something.  the feeling of hurt.  the feeling of exasperation. fragility.  fortitude.  both.

the sigh.  a release.  from my heart into the hands of the universe.  isn’t that prayer too?

sigh now.  pray now.

visit HELD IN GRACE: PRAY NOW on david’s gallery site

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PRAY NOW ©️ 2010 david robinson


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little-baby-scion sisu. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

scion sisu

for starters, i was raised by beaky and pa.  my sweet momma and poppo grew up in the time of the depression, born in 1921 and 1920, respectively.  so my propensity to turn the shampoo bottle upside down and squeeze the last ever-lovin’ drop out of it – till there are no more molecules left in the bottle – is something i come by honestly.  my momma may not have been the inventor of the soap sock or the wait-and-save-this-new-thing-for-something-special but she had it all down pat.

and so, it seems to run true that i do not easily replace stuff with brand-spanking-new stuff.  our stove/oven is over 40 years old; it still works and why fill up the landfill with yet another stove/oven?  i know that a new stove/oven would probably grace our little kitchen with more flare, but then the whole kitchen would have to be re-done around the new appliance.

among other clothing items i can carbon-date, i have, in my closet and drawers, clothing that was my girl’s or my boy’s – sport sweats or t-shirts, jeans or even shorts – not only do those connect me to memories with them, but, sheesh, why not?  i have shoes from waaaaay back, not hoarding…really.  the last time i bought a pair of shoes – other than my infamous old navy flipflops –  was a few years ago, the black suede boots with fringe were on clearance and i couldn’t resist.  i have worn the heck out of them.

and that brings me to little-baby-scion.  a 2006 model, this little toastermobile is scrappy.  equipped with few amenities, there is far less equipment to break on this little vehicle. (i turn to knock on wood as i write this.)  this scion has been a rock – taking me/us cross-country to see my sweet momma when she was struggling, to see our girl in the high mountains, our boy on the east coast.  it drove babycat home from florida, dogdog home from the other side of wisconsin and was our luxury vehicle of choice on our honeymoon.  it kept me safe driving cartons of cds to concerts and wholesale shows.  it has withstood ferry rides to and from the island.  through rain, sleet, snow and ice it has prevailed.  every time we get in, especially on a long-drive-day, we root, “you go, little baby scion!”

and so the other day i asked d to take a picture as it landed on this mileage.  no real reason, just gratitude for something that has been lasting and lasting.  i have no real drive (no pun intended) to have a new lavish car nor is it necessarily in the budget at the moment to replace something that doesn’t need replacing. little-baby-scion rocks and packs like a u-haul.  and is now joined by big red, our 1998 ford F150 pick-up.  we celebrate both of them, inanimate, yes, i know.  but still…

today i just want to say – way to go, toyota!  way to make a vehicle that is dependable and trustworthy.  it’s a sturdy little car, full of sisu.

and, the best part, around some design table at some point in the early 2000’s, i can picture some 20-something saying, “hey!  let’s put blue lights under the dashboard.  we can do away with map lights and light people’s feet.”  yes!  the real merits of our sweet scion.

keep goin’, little-baby-scion!

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

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sisu. [merely a thought monday]

sisu box

sisu.  perseverance.  fortitude.  stamina.  courage.  determination.  my grandmother mama dear used this finnish term all the time and passed it down to my sweet momma beaky who passed it down to me.  a philosophy of life, a mantra, “you gotta have sisu!” mama dear would say.  if up against the odds, if forging upstream, my sweet momma would say, “you gotta have sisu!”  and so it was without a second thought when it was time to name my own company, the independent recording label that has been sisu music productions for the last 23 years.  i can’t think of a better name for all the challenges that have risen – and continue to rise – as an independent artist.

any moment of fear, of uncertainty, brings me to draw on that sisu…digging in my heels and standing firmly in it.  it’s kind of a blind faith and has everything to do with that.  in the face of adversity, of the scales tilted not-in-your-favor, you just keep on.  in the face of fear…everyone has their thing…the thing that makes them afraid…the thing that makes them white-knuckled…you just keep on.   sisu.

i was flying back from telluride to denver a couple days ago – in a smaller plane.  there was a big strapping guy all dressed in camouflage who got on the plane before me.  he told the flight attendant he had been out in the middle of nowhere hunting (successfully) elk and mule deer.  he was a rough and tumble kind of guy and ended up seated just across the aisle from me.  when the plane hit turbulence, particularly over the front range, his face turned red and he looked over at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, “i hate this part!!”  i started talking to him then, trying to ease his obvious fear, talking about the wind currents and the mountains…how i could see the airport…we are almost there…just a teeny bit further…wheels are going to touch down any minute….  he was gripping the lock on the little tray table and finally relaxed his grip and smiled.  everyone has their thing.

we can loan others the sisu we carry with us.  we can bank on the sisu we carry with us.  i often credit being-from-new-york for times i have just forged-ahead-anyway, but my sisu roots go way further back than that.

sisu.  i stood back from the edge of a deep deep canyon the other day, my beautiful daughter on another boulder a few hundred yards away.  i looked at the sky, the sunset playing over red rock.  thought about that very moment in time, this moment i was sharing with the part of my heart known as kirsten…this moment that wouldn’t be repeated.  and i heard the voice in my head, “you gotta have sisu.”  i stepped to the very edge of the canyon, stretched out my arms and laughed aloud.

moab edges with website

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