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in it together. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the up-north gang makes plans that feature rest rooms. we travel distances – often caravaning – but we know that we will be stopping. no ifs, ands or buts.

the drive to cedarburg is not long, but the last thing any menopausal woman OR – let’s-face-it – man wants to do upon arrival anywhere is to desperately look for a bathroom. there is no time for that. no one wants to feel imperiled by the call of nature.

it feels somewhat irresponsible to be writing about paper bags and tic-tacs and mini-mart restrooms while russia invades ukraine and people’s lives are in jeopardy. it feels a little like it could be interpreted as not-paying-attention. we sat with our coffee this morning and talked about families packing up a few things and leaving…just leaving…with no place to really go, not knowing what to take, separating from the men in the household who have been ordered to stay, conscripted. it is nothing shy of terrifying and we wonder, yet again, how it is that this world is so conflicted and broken. yet we look around and we see evidence of division and suffering and methods of control everywhere.

and so, last weekend, our little field trip to cedarburg’s winter festival was exactly the right thing to do. we stopped at the gas station we always stop at. they had added two new restrooms, good news for a bunch of 60plussers on the move. less waiting that way. we watched the sled dogs race, we wondered about whether the river had been frozen the day before for the bedraces. we wandered in and out of shops and finished our day all together in the tiny bar of a bed and breakfast there. faces reddened from the wind, laughter up and down the table.

our up-north-gang mini roadtrip was before the invasion. i would choose it again, though. because we need to be reminded – over and over – that those are moments not to be taken for granted. the silly oh-my-gosh-i-need-a-restroom-right-freakin-now shared times of this gang as we age and age. the familiarity and ease of people you have spent time with, people you are in menopause with, people who talk about utterly anything. presence is not to be underestimated.

we are fortunate. and we know it. and as we give thanks for all we do have – including people we love and new mini-mart restrooms and winter festivals and freshly fallen snow – all under a sky of freedom – we also lift up those in a land not really so far away. and we hope for their safety, their very lives and an end to conflict they did not choose.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

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no anonymity. [k.s. friday]

anonymity is not a strong suit of airbnb. and, for us, that’s exactly the point. the relational piece of staying in places other real people own does not usurp privacy. but it offers a glimpse into lives – those which you may never have peeked into otherwise. without reservation, i would say that most all of the airbnbs we have stayed at have been owned by someone with whom we’d love to be friends.

the window that opens when you unlock the front door to the tiny house, the condo, the bungalow, the loft, the cabin, the cottage is an invitation. on the most basic level, it is an opportunity to see how someone else makes a space a home, how it’s designed, how it’s appointed. it is an opportunity to reconstruct – in your mind – something about your own home, an idea to take with you. it’s a chance – for a bit of time – to experience another place as-if-you-live-there: to wander and cook and porch-sit and immerse, even a little. when you stay in the vicinity of the owner’s place it changes things, for then, on a whole ‘nother level, it’s an opportunity to see morsels of how someone else lives, their real-life. and when you have the chance to meet the person or people who host where you are staying? that is a gift.

sitting on the adobe open-air-to-the-mountains-balcony off the bedroom in ridgway, in rocking chairs on the front porch on the farm in kentucky, at the table overlooking snowmass, under the après sign in breckenridge, watching people go by in tiny brevard. it is not without wonder we think about places we will stay someday.

and, i guess, not surprisingly, there’s something about all these places that makes us say, “we could live there.” something different than what any hampton inn, our hotel chain of choice, can offer.

it is not randomly that i pick out places to stay when we travel. i carefully consider location, amenities, the presence of light, whether or not we can cook, if there is outdoor space, a fireplace, a kitchen counter where we can chat. i look at pictures and read reviews and one will always jump out as a place that looks like us. so not so random.

and i guess it is not random either that we meet people – it boils down to the people – who stand out. they are living lives and opening themselves up to others. in providing more personal lodging they are reinforcing the humanness and opportunity of travel. they remind us – again and again – to be just a little more vulnerable, just a little more open. we don’t walk in someone else’s shoes, but to stay in someone else’s home, even for a night, has given us the tiniest chance to know them and to get where they are.

we are not here to live anonymously.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

TIME TOGETHER ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood


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good moments waiting. [k.s. friday]

“we’re out of practice,” writes elizabeth bernstein. her article in the wall street journal is about reconnecting with others as we move slowly and cautiously out of pandemic-mode and back into the world. since this past year-plus has levied many and varied challenges upon all of us, her words seem prudent, reminding us to realize that we are each in different emotional places and honoring those will be absolutely necessary.

as we hike on trails we are alternately silent and chatting-up-a-storm. we find ourselves reminiscing, going over the last year-plus, reviewing. we are both awed and aghast at the things that have happened through this time. simple moments of bliss and moments of raw hurt. surprise at the time flying by and impatience at the time dragging. gratitude for the generosity of others and anger and anxiety at agenda we don’t understand. much time spent as just the two of us…the two of us plus dogga and babycat. we stop – mid-river-trail – and stare at each other, remembering the time, the losses, the learnings. this moment in time – all the circumstances that have brought us to this moment in time – and we look forward, wondering.

“we’ve all been through so much. we’re all so raw. and there is a strong sense of longing,” says sociologist and yale professor marissa king. though we long to be together with family and dear friends, communities of people we have been missing, we have come to realize that we have made it through, continue to make it through, the storm of this time. we have established rituals of our own, personal reassurances, moments of goodness that have arced us into next each and every time. we have failed from time to time and we have succeeded from time to time. mostly, we have made it from Time to Time, each then to each now.

reconnecting, we understand, will be complicated, perhaps intense, perhaps exhausting, perhaps selective. but those moments will, too, be worth it, whatever concentrated effort it takes. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t shared. “reconnection is not a one-and-done undertaking,” writes ms. bernstein. like the time that has gone by and the hard work it has taken to grok the necessity of being apart, it will require some practice to be together. we haven’t walked in the shoes of others and we haven’t experienced what they have experienced. the vice-versa is also true. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t divulged, things we haven’t mutually endured. there is much ahead, likely to be profoundly emotional.

we stand on the river trail and think about belly-laughing in a circle of friends, crying in the arms of family, dancing on the patio, snacktime on the pontoon boat, ukuleles in the park, happy hour in the backyard, floating in florida pools, rooftop and mountaintop times. and we know that, though there have been many good moments and though there are many good moments right here, there are many good moments…waiting.

*****

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GOOD MOMENTS from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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dog and cat. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

his best friend. he waits at the door for his best friend to return. his sorrow is quiet, subdued. his grief is confusion, dedication to a belief that babycat will come home. he has never been in this house without him – not even a day – and this last week has been heartwrenching to watch his reaction. his sadness is palpable, his loss profound.

the first few days after his babycat disappeared he was almost silent. dogdog is never a silent dog, so this was noticeable. without a sound, he looked everywhere for his cat. with lydia’s wise recommendation i tried to visualize for him all that had happened once his babycat had left the house, to give him some context, to let him know he did not have to wait, to tell him that his babycat was now in our hearts. he looked deeply into my eyes and then looked away, as if to dismiss my explanation, to hold close his own perspective, his own interpretation.

‘the boys’ spent the days together – every day since we brought dogdog home as a puppy. they’ve navigated through changes and ups and downs with us. they’ve kept us amused and entertained. they’ve nuzzled us in our times of angst. the rare times they were apart were very few times that we were on a trip. they moved to the littlehouse on island with us and adapted, finding mutual spots at the place where the kitchen met the living room and the sun streamed in. the noise of the ferry on the crossing scaring babycat, dogdog stayed close to him, signaling all was well. they channeled reassurance to each other, touchstones of steady, ever-present. they shared their water bowl and cheered each other on when it was time for treats. where one would go, ultimately the other would follow. and at the end of the day, butt-to-butt, they lay on the raft, waiting for us to sleep. babycat ruled. they were best friends.

last tuesday morning as i sipped coffee on the bed and babycat lay curled up down by my feet, dogga jumped up and laid down. gently, with all absence of play and what seemed in all seriousness, he moved his face over to babycat’s face. they laid nose to nose, heads on the soft old quilt, their hushed stillness, in retrospect, a clear display of their great love for each other. after a bit of time, babycat’s symptoms surfaced suddenly. and everything in the world changed for our sweet dedicated-to-his-cat aussie.

i understand dogdog’s quiet. though our presence and snugs and words to him might help, solace will only come in time. “woundedness is one of the places where normal words and descriptions break down.” grief is not limited to human hearts.

*****

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


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that smell of horses. [two artists tuesday]

sleigh ride copy

so, i love the smell of horses.  i love the proud way they hold their heads and the sometimes-wild forelock that dances between their ears.  i love watching them cavort in fields together, free to gallop and play.  i love the warmth on my hand as i stroke under its mane.  i love the sound of leather creaking underneath me when riding.  i love the clip-clop of hooves.  i love the feeling i get up-close-and-personal talking softly to a horse, looking deeply into its eyes, pools of wisdom taking it all in.  it is no surprise to most of my people that i love really everything about them.

with the snowy quiet punctuated by the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and laughter, we rode the sleigh through the woods.  the sun was out and, with snowpants on and under a blanket, it was toasty.  perfect.  ace and bill carried us through the trails to a spot for a bonfire and cocoa and then back.  i didn’t want it to end.

there are people in your life who just know what you need.  we are lucky enough to have a bunch of these people close by and paying attention.  our little trip up north was perfectly timed.  a chance to just enjoy each other and the frozen-but-not-really-freezing outdoors.  the sleigh ride was wondrous.  the time together restorative.

the peaceful time in the woods and on the snow-covered frozen lake brought me out of storms i was withstanding.  the laughter, good food, conversation, pjs and coffee and games with glasses of wine helped transport my spirit and rejuvenated me.  i am grateful.  for a few days it didn’t matter that my wrists were broken.  my ernie straw was with me and i was surrounded by people who loved me.

and the horses.  ahh.  icing on the cake.

so now, i will wait till the next time…the next time i am near horses.  as someone who has had a lifelong wish for a horse of my own, those times feed me.  i imagine that maybe somehow one day sometime i might have a horse-of-my-own.  i imagine i won’t show this horse or ride around in a paddock practicing dressage.  i will ride my friend in the woods and in the fields, manes flying, both of us gleefully breathing the air and listening to each other.  i imagine silent conversations about love and respect and sweet moments of just being close by each other.  i imagine walking away, blowing a kiss backwards to this horse – my horse – the wind catching the scent on my hands and my clothes, and smiling.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“don’t try to get it over with.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dont try to get it over with

a dime.  if i had a dime for every time i heard, “is this you?” as i answered the phone i would possibly be a rich girl.  i am a rich girl, nevertheless, simply because of the utterance of those words.  a dime for every lifeline.

in the craziest time of life, when i was reeling, hearing the voice of my dear friend scordskiii on the phone was a lifesaver.  it was a crazy time of life for him as well, profoundly devastating.  but we weren’t alone in our individual fires.  they raged about us and we each held the other safe, just away from the flames.  were i to have gotten that era over with as-fast-as-possible i would have missed it, this symbiotic exchange of breathing-together, of MAKING-it-through not getting-through-it.  conversations of laughter, singing, telling stories, pondering, arguing points, more laughter.  hours upon hours while he drove in some other part of the country and i sat up all night keeping him company or i drove way-far-away from where he was and he talked me through what i most needed to process at the time.  or we just sat still, in our own corner of the world, talking.  really really talking.  hours of review, of planning, of sorting, of truth, of fear, of ranting.  and laughter.  i have no idea what i would have done without him.  and, despite the pain and the fallout and the ash that (still) remains after the smoldering fire was finally doused, i am grateful to the universe for making me walk through it.  for making me be present.  for not keeping me from the lessons, for giving me reasons to not try to get it over with.  it was an extraordinary time.  the lifeline he extended to me is a thread that will never be broken.  despite his ensuing here-gone-here-gone-ness, his presence will always be a part of what has woven into what looks like me, what is me.

the fire.  who are the people who will stand in the fire with you, will stand still with you, will unconditionally love you, will be your guardian, your buoy, your champion, your lifeline?  how many dimes would you have by now?

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

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road shadows. together. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

road shadows

watching as the ferry arrived, we were practically jumping up and down with glee.  our up-north-gang was arriving and the ferry was taking a few minutes too long to dock.  we had been anticipating them for weeks, our company log on island too few.

it’s not like there is a ton of stuff to show them here or, really, to do.  but there are friend groups who don’t need stuff to see or do; instead they are just there to simply be together.

they are there to laugh at funny hair in the morning, sip coffee and wait in line for the one bathroom.  they are there to pile in and out of the truck, dodge raindrops, play short-list tourist.  they are there, wishing for sun but not minding the bad weather that moves in, content to just be together. they are there to make mimosas and old-fashioneds, pour wine and have more snacks than you can imagine.  they are there to take turns cooking, cleaning up, always gabbing, always laughing.  they are there in the tough moments, profound and honest conversation, balancing, disarming the sting of the sword.  they are there walking side by side, talking and being quiet.  they are there playing games in evening dark, heads drooping with sleep, wishes of sweet dreams.  they are there, together.

we watched as the ferry left, both of us feeling instantly wistful.  our up-north gang leaving for the mainland.  as always, we were ever-so-grateful to have been together.

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

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kind of awesome. [merely-a-thought monday]

your day

when packages arrive here, you get either a phone call or a text from the ferry dock.  you are told that a package will be arriving and that you can pick it up after 4:45 at the ferry dock office.  it’s pretty exciting, especially when you don’t know what it is.  you arrive, curious.  if you are in the back room of the dock office, you are likely surrounded by amazon prime boxes, because amazon prime is definitely a thing here on island.  with a $53 round trip ferry price tag for the two of us to go shopping off-island, paying zero for delivery on items you can’t buy here anyway makes total sense.

last week we got a call.  it was the thursday of a for-various-reasons-really-rotten couple of weeks.  david had been having high fevers for over a week and we had to go off-island to a clinic for some bloodwork, which eventually revealed that he picked up lyme disease in the previous weeks here.  exhausted and shocked, we attempted to stay patient and treat his painful, confusing and somewhat scary symptoms while we waited for those results.  jen and brad knew we were waiting and they knew we were having some heftily trying days.

we left for the ferry dock at 4:30, our pace slow, watching for the sweet leggy deer that wander into the road.  david went in to get the package.  he came out with a big box, from wine.com, with the words: “fact:  your day just got kind of awesome.”  six bottles of our favorite friday-night-potluck wine were inside with a note of love.  you can bet that as early that evening as was acceptable, we opened one of those and toasted our dear dear friends and our gratitude for them.  kind of awesome.

we have wonderful friends at home.  we consider ourselves very fortunate.  20 was just up here for a couple days, replenishing groceries for us, sitting and talking and having the kind of conversation only people who have known each other for years have.  it was kind of awesome.  the up-north-gang is coming this week and we can’t wait.  they will bring snacks and laughter, hugs and listening ears, perspective and big heart. they asked for a list ahead of time, of things we might need that we don’t have access to.  our days with them will be kind of awesome.  back at home, our friends help take care of our home, assisting us from afar.  michele and john mow our lawn, loan their bike to my girl, ask how they can help.  linda and jim make us food and pour generous glasses of wine at the drop of a hat.  dan brings a new dehumidifier.  kind of awesome.  there are too many people to list.  there are too many people to thank. which is, in and of itself, kind of awesome.

today, with a deeply sombered heart, i am aware of a young woman who is losing her grasp on life.  with the thinnest of thread she clings, struggling against a plethora of sudden medical emergencies.  i don’t know the whole story.  i just know that this young woman, with a huge life force, may be moving on to a different plane of existence.  and it very well might be today.  today.  i think about that.  today.  toDAY.

every day we have the opportunity to help make someone’s day kind of awesome.  we can choose that or we can choose to perpetuate something different.  we can gift someone with kind words, kind deeds, or we can be, well, rotten.  we can ignore people’s hearts or we can tend to them.

it’s a choice every day.  fact.

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

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life lessons. [merely-a-thought monday]

lifelessonstuition copy

you have those friends.  the ones you don’t get to talk to or see all the time, but the instant you call or text or, even better, get to be with them, you pick up right where you left off.  sometimes, those calls or visits are really long; there’s so much to catch up on.

susan and i had one of those calls recently.  the conversation ranged across a gigantic prairie of life subjects – from children to lenten service music to food to relationships to age to challenges to direction to joys to disappointments.  there’s always the inevitable “we should talk more often” and “i miss you”; times we realize how much running our crazy worlds past each other matters.  the “tuition” takes just a little bit less of a toll if we can utter the gory details to our friend, divulge our imagined vindication on whatever the “tuition” is, paint a picture – describing in inordinate detail – of each of our chronicles.

linda, infinite in wisdom and groundedness, finds humor and the wise sticking point in situations.  she has been there for me for decades, close by and from afar.  she is a model of loving steadfastness and makes me feel as if she hugged me, even if we are only on the phone.

heidi, another one of those dear people for me, always asks, “what’s the learning?”.  as infuriating as that question can be, it is a perspective-arranger.  it gives you pause for thought and invites another viewpoint.  the thing i may be obsessing on may not be the point after all.

toward the end of our phone call, susan and i laughed about all the things we were ‘learning’.  oh yes, grateful students?  well, maybe not exactly.  but we are pretty enlightened (for the most part) and we kept laughing as susan said, “yeah, all these life lessons are great, but the tuition sucks.”  we hung up with promises to call again soon.  whether or not that happens right away, i know she is right there.

because here’s the thing we can count on – in the midst of the “tuition that sucks” is that our true relationships and the support we receive from them is endless.  the conversation never really stops.  it just hopscotches from one time to the next, a life-thread of lessons shared.

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

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what they value is on the wall. [merely-a-thought monday]

kenosha tire sign copy

my poppo was staunch about a few things.  tires, brakes and windshield wipers were three of them.  not only staunch, he was particular; his tire brand of choice (for him and for anyone he loved) was without-a-doubt-michelin.  and so, with the exception of the time i had a tire blow out on a highway far from home, on a sunday, with no specialty tire store open, i have always bought michelins.

we’ve sat at kenosha tire many times, really for every vehicle:  the vw, the minivans, the jeeps, the xb.  having new tires mounted or a tire fixed or having all four rotated, they are courteous, informative, and speedy.  i never truly mind waiting for something like this to be done; i love to watch people so i stay amused most of the time.

this establishment has been there since 1970.  it’s not a fancy place; there’s a variety of chairs, a variety of plaques with sponsored-team pictures, a variety of tire samples and tire signs and a large screen tv.  sometimes there’s a dog or two and i suspect maybe there is a cat back in that office with the counter-level swinging door.  this is a family business and their dedication not only to their customers but also to the community is obvious.  i always feel like they listen to me; i always trust them.

before we went out west, we had our tires rotated…i could hear my dad nagging, er, reminding me all the way from heaven.  on the wall next to my chair was this sign.  the four-way test of the things we think, say or do printed on rotary international paper.  it struck me as a simple tool…something to help frame our thoughts, the things we blurt out or defiantly or unthinkingly state, the things we do that have the potential to hurt others.

it is clear to me that kenosha tire values people.  it is clear that they support their community.  and now it is clear to me that they found this simple guide to kindness was important enough to put on the wall.  we should all have a wallet-sized copy to which we can refer.

i’m betting my dad would be pretty staunch about using this shop to buy our tires.  kindness in business was another one of those things he was pretty particular about.

as a matter of fact, i’m also willing to bet that, other than 2x4s, i-beams, sheetrock and maybe shiplap, this is the only wall-related-discussion he’d be interested in.

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

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