reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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


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and then mother earth will dance. [d.r. thursday]

dancing in the front yard – mixed media 24″ x 24″

how many times we have danced there. in the front yard. with abandon.

how many times we have danced there. in the back yard. with abandon.

how many times we have danced there. in the kitchen. with abandon.

how many times we have danced. with abandon.

this morning, the sun streaming in through the windows mottling the old quilt with warm bright light, the birds singing in tall trees, the sky azure blue with promise of a crisp spring day, and i am reminded that it is earth day. penzeys, a company hugely invested in the people and endurance of this good earth, reminded me in an email, “time to breathe in all the goodness this world gives us and rededicate ourselves to not destroying that goodness for all the generations that come after us.” this year’s official earthday.org theme is “restore our earth” which “focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.”

this focus – moving us all toward responsibility – learning, growing, changing, restoring. necessary. vital. life-giving. every little action requires thought. every little action requires accountability to this place we call ‘home’.

yesterday i drove past somers house tavern in kenosha. it’s merely four miles up the road from here on the lake route we often take. leaving to drive north i wasn’t really thinking about anything. but suddenly there it was, on the left side of the road. the feeling of devastation – this was the place that three people’s lives had ended just a few nights ago. their end. the moments that day that got them to that place disappearing into a void. suddenly, tragically, they were no longer on this earth. someone with a gun walked into that tavern and took their lives. and i couldn’t shake it as i drove. i called david and wished i could turn around and go home and take a moment, in the middle of our own patchwork of challenges and joys, to remember to dance.

“world climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and the leaders of tomorrow will come to push us towards a better world” at the earth day live event today.

head-on, with our future at stake, we must also address issues of gun control, social justice, police reform, inclusivity, healthcare, hunger, homelessness, a seemingly endless list. so much responsibility. on each of us. we need not fear the other’s opinion; we need address the needs of living together on this earth.

“we can’t just hope for a brighter day; we have to work for a brighter day.” (dolly parton)

and if we do, then mother earth will dance too. with abandon.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

DANCING IN THE FRONT YARD ©️ 2013 david robinson


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still here. [merely-a-thought monday]

we woke up in the middle of the night as the alert went off on the phone. “criminal activity” was named but no further details. “criminal activity.”

we woke up in the early morning and sat with coffee and our phone and read that just up the road, merely four miles away, the next mass shooting had taken place. three people were dead, at least two others wounded. the gunman had not yet been apprehended. though there was an active shooter still freely moving about, who clearly had no issue with killing or maiming people, we were advised that there was not a threat to the community as this seemed a targeted shooting. “targeted shooting.” “not a threat to the community.”

there have been 148 mass shootings this year so far, over 45 in the last month. one month. though i was somehow in a semantics match recently over the terminology “weapon of mass destruction”, i would hold to saying that no matter the gun used in any of these events, 45 mass shootings (described as 4 or more victims shot, not including the shooter) constitutes mass destruction in my world. is value placed in the use of words or in actual lives? it was heated. the semantics seem like irrelevant hair-splitting. 148 mass shootings with at least four shot constitutes nearly 600 victims. if the circle of those victims’ lives only reaches out to ten others, that’s 6000 lives affected. if the circle abides by psychologist/anthropologist dunbar’s number (the approximate number of people about whom you are able to “keep track of all the relevant social information”) and is an intimate 150, then that is 22,200 lives affected. others claim the social network circle encompasses 290 – which would be 42,920. and then, there is the acquaintance circle, which holds 500, which would be 74,000. affected lives. since january 1. it’s bracing. it is destroying us. more importantly than any picayune semantics is the question of how to stop this kind of brutal destruction of lives.

and so, sunday morning – again – three mommas, three dads, three sets of family members, loved ones, friends were informed that the person they loved was dead. in a moment. and there is no going back. because in one moment people went from breathing, from living in whatever circumstances they were in, from whatever challenges they faced and whatever adversity had befallen them or whatever joy had emerged for them, to not. this time, in our town. we have joined boulder, atlanta, indianapolis, stockton, chicago, too many towns to list. we are number 47. in the last month.

targeted shooting. not a threat to the community. mass destruction. weapons. lives and lives and lives.

in these times, masked paths crossing at the grocery store count as a visit. especially when you pull your cart over to the side and step out of the line of traffic. we were at one of the local markets a few days ago, efficiently going about our list, when i heard my name – with a question mark at the end. because, as you know, it is a tad bit harder to recognize people when they are wearing masks. maybe fifteen minutes later or so, we felt like we had had a social outing, a surprise visit. we felt fortunate to have been there at that very time.

we talked about the pandemic, recent challenges, difficult times, isolation, family, a little sense-making by the end cap of maybe-it-was-the-coffee-aisle. we posed hard questions and sorted to the support of each other. the statement i remember clearly in this warm-conversation-that-felt-like-a-tiny-visit was sue’s. “to remind us we’re still here,” she wisely commented. “we’re still here.”

in today’s world, even more than before, being “still here” is nothing to take for granted. in today’s world, you don’t know what might happen at the grocery store, the mall, the religious house you attend, the festival, the concert, the bar, the school, the house party, the club, on the street, the spa, the convenience store, the gas station, the park, your workplace. being “still here” is not a given.

i took this photograph of tiny white flowers blooming out of the fallen leaves in the woods off the side of the trail on a partly cloudy day. purity, new growth out of the decay on the forest floor, the phoenix.

it seems that we are tiny flowers, fragile, each and every day rising, each and every day trying, each and every day breathing, reaching for the sun and soaking in the warmth of another day.

we are still here. and we are reminded to make it count.

*****

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


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earth is weeping. [flawed wednesday]

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have just had the seventh mass shooting in seven days in this country. earth’s occupants are in danger and earth is profoundly mournful. i’m with earth.

i don’t want to think that going to the grocery store could end anyone’s life – it’s unfathomable – and yet, as i write this, we have lost another ten people – who simply went to the grocery store. last week we lost eight beautiful lives with a shooter’s ‘bad day’ excuse. time and again, time and again. why is it we cannot stop this? it is no less real if you are not directly in the line of grief in any one of these mass shooting circumstances. the line of grief is all of ours and i wonder if you will think of this the next time you are in the grocery store or the spa or at a vigil or in a club or at a party, not to mention at a mall, in a church, at a concert, in a movie theatre, at school. i read a post with the words “…cheap thoughts and useless prayers now being rushed to the scene. more on this soon-to-be-forgotten-and-then-repeated story as it develops…” earth is reeling, its heart breaking into a trillion pieces in the midst of violence people seem unwilling to cease. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have lost 540,000 people in this country to this pandemic, shy of 2.8 million across the globe. in miami’s south beach, there are restrictions that officials are begging thousands of pandemic-weary tourists to abide by. we pass folks in the local costco with masks under their noses; we see crowded bars and restaurants in our town. despite the government’s pleas for compliance and its new-administration’s plans facilitating and expediting vaccinations and aid, the level of apathy is disconcerting. wishing for everyone to believe we are all in this together doesn’t make it happen. earth is wondering what’s so hard about decent-human-behaving to save each other’s lives. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. climate change and environmental flippancy is wreaking havoc on this good planet and the almighty dollar seems to be ahead in the race against any chance to reverse the damage. we were behind a pickup truck with the sticker “i’m with earth” as we drove across town. a little googling revealed what i couldn’t see from our vehicle, what i can’t read in the picture i snapped. these stickers are available on the website http://www.ilovegurus.com. each time someone purchases a pair of gurus – sustainably-sourced flip-flops – a tree is planted. every time someone purchases this sticker a tree is planted. their site reads, “continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting change in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. it may sound daunting, but if we work together, we can plant one million trees to improve our planet for generations.” we are all responsible. we all must make decisions, choices to take part in saving the planet. being aware. being answerable. taking action. planting trees. maybe earth is cautiously clapping her hands as people become more knowledgeable, more protective, more potently effectual, watching her advocates gently plant saplings, tenderly seeding for the future. i’m with earth.

a serbian proverb declares, “be humble for you are made of earth. be noble for you are made of stars.” each and every person – yes, a balance. a coalescence of earth’s humility and stars’ nobility, both. weeping earth, lofty stars.

today, i am full of sorrow for those people who have lost others who ran out to buy chips or bananas or a gallon of milk, each of them brilliant stars. i’m with earth. weeping.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY



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grrreat??? [merely-a-thought monday]

when tony the tiger said it, it was true. “they’re grrreat!” he growled. and yes, frosted flakes ARE grrreat. that sugary coating, that crunch, perfect with milk or almond milk. yum. he was not steering us wrong.

we were behind a pick-up on the way to the grocery store. the open bed had two huge flags, both of which said that which you might be able to guess. it was embarrassing even to be behind this truck.

“keep america great” the can’t-be-creative approach to the incumbent’s election makes me (and tony) stop in our tracks.

keep america great? for what, exactly, is great about america right now?

is it the political chaos, the mind-numbing cruelty of an incumbent president with no compassion, no moral compass, no honesty, no real concern for the populace?

is it the way that this nation has failed to appropriately respond to the global pandemic that is careening about our country, striking down families, afflicting old and young, decimating households, killing people? a wanton disregard of science, medicine, safety in the name of what? freedom? freedom of exactly what? is it the obvious choice of the leadership and its complicit minions to be unjustifiably and blatantly uncaring? the freedom to not care about the populace?

is it the social injustice and inequality that has been a part of the fabric of this nation since, well, forever? is it the racial tension, unrest, deeply rooted and devastating to the core of this crumbling democracy? is it the inability of this country to guarantee the provision of indistinguishably equivalent educational, career, earning potential, medical, banking, mortgage, legal, policing and judicial protections and opportunities?

is it the reprehensible wish to return this country to the ignorant, destructive ways of decades earlier, extinguishing the rights and equality of women, of LGBTQ, of any race that isn’t conservative-pearly-white?

is it the lack of affordable and equitable healthcare for all the people in this country? far be it from the united states to embrace the idea that all of its citizens – regardless of their place on the economic ladder – should have affordable and uniform healthcare as a basic right. instead, is it bankrupting its people when they seek care that this country is after?

is it the exclusivity of the wealthy, their insatiable hunger for more money, more money, the inability for the country’s peoples to rest easy at night, worried about their finances, their futures? is it the fact that the stock market is held in higher regard than the food line, that less in this country is never more, that it matters not who suffers, what little person or small business, as long as the corporations are benefiting? is it the disparity, the immovable wedge between wealth and not, the chasm of economic despair in which families all over this country are flailing?

is it the propensity of violence that is wracking these united states? is it the gun laws that allow regular folks to brandish weapons of mass destruction in the street? is it the killing and maiming of children in schools, movie-goers in theatres, concertgoers at venues, shopkeepers asking patrons to wear masks?

is it the extreme nationalism that seems to be seeping into the pockets of many citizens, diluting their compassion, stoking their fury, wrapping itself around their roll of dollar bills they hold closest to their hearts?

is it the way this country’s current leadership and legislature are failing to recognize that we – the – people are the very ones destroying this earth we share with 200 other countries’ residents? is it the way this country is shunning all the goodness that has been done around climate change, all the stopgaps that have been in place, all the earth-communal gathering-together of the most brilliant minds in an effort to heal the damage we have already done, slow the continued harm, avoid future desecration?

is it the palpable rage? the mind-blowing lack of empathetic, nonetheless sympathetic brotherhood/sisterhood of all? the nonsensical lies and warping of truth and justice, values tossed to the wayside? the ignoring of work that must be done?

keep america great? this “perfect union” securing the “general welfare” of all and reaffirming “domestic tranquility” and the “blessings of liberty”?

tony looks up from his bowl of frosted flakes, lays down his spoon and mutters with his mouth full, “keep??? america??? grrreat???”

“not so much,” he scoffs.

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


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please figure it out. [k.s. friday]

figure it out

i, like so many others, want to scream “FIGURE IT OUT!”

in a nation crumbling under leadership pushing division and counting on a so-called “patriotic” movement of the populace to want to climb aboard its sick agenda-ridden wagon, i want to look people in the eye and ask them to please figure it out.

figure out that you are being accosted with aggressive propaganda, with misinformation, with bigotry and false pretenses of protectionism.  in our country, this means you are being intravenously fed with distorted falsehoods, warped promises, extreme nationalism in a round-globe-world where this country is simply one of almost 200.

figure out that this disinformation is feeding into the frenzy.  in our town, this means that a 17 year old boy from just over the state line strapped on his AR-whatever, got in the car, reportedly had his mother drive him (holding his automatic-people-killer) to our town where he played cowboy vigilante and took the lives of two people during protests for social injustice.  this frenzy is dishing out the sickening sweet saccharin of cultish followers in a time of fragile unrest.

figure out that the hate-speech of people is wooing joiners, that words like “be sure to arm yourself and your family and know how to use them” cannot lead to any good thing.  in my life, this means people i love disenfranchising themselves from me, detaching and choosing the popular-group lure of strangers, rabidly spewing the hostile talk of animosity.

figure out that you live in a country that is supposed to be dedicated to unity and democracy and that you are being courted to blindly align yourself with a singular individual who has demonstrated all that is opposite to the very ideals, the core of goodness, this country touts.  in our world today, figure out what lies are and who is being upheld in the telling of them.

figure out that there is much to fix.  this system – our country –  is working as systems work – i have learned that they protect to the death the way they are set up and the profoundly, inexcusably unjust way that this country has been set up is glaringly obvious.  figure out that fixing it starts in your heart.

figure out that your children and your children’s children will be growing up in this place and choose what you want to leave behind for them.  is it a place of peace, of equality, of truth, of health, of gently holding this fragile earth, of clean air and clean water and fertile land, of hope and justice and liberty for all?

figure out that life is sacred and that it is lost in a moment.  figure out what truly means anything to you.  figure out the bottom line.  figure out that love is truly the answer, the place to begin.  figure out that those you love count and, for heaven’s sake, let them know.  and then look out, to others standing beyond those you already love, and love them too.

please figure it out.  we are in a death spiral.

 

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FIGURE IT OUT from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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the right place.

allLoveCountswe were on a serene lake…no waves, barely a ripple. the oars sliced into the water next to the canoe with hardly a whisper, the loons in the distance calling. the gunshots in the distance rang out over the still lake and startled us; the loon answered. i counted the number of times in a row the gun went off…not sure why i was doing that, but hoping that it would make more sense if i knew how many times i heard a gunshot. i asked later if there was a firing range nearby and was surprised to hear that there wasn’t. i’m not aware of any particular hunting season right now, so i am guessing that someone was just out there…somewhere…firing a gun just to fire a gun. the juxtaposition of absolute serenity and gunfire was unnerving. it seemed that northern wisconsin wasn’t the right place for that.

we hike there often. we take the blue trail with dogdog; it’s about 4 and a half miles the way we go. we know it well now, but every time we go we delight in the changes each season makes, the changes the weather makes, the changes we can see, smell, touch, hear. we often hear gunshots reverberating out there. i guess there is a firing range somewhere nearby. so people gather to ‘practice’. not having grown up around guns, i wonder what they are practicing for as i hear a rapid fire of shots, something that doesn’t sound like the measured shots of a hunter.   a state park doesn’t seem the right place for that.

my beautiful son is gay. also, he was on the high school and college tennis teams. also, he likes v-neck fitted t-shirts over round neck. also, he used to love ramen noodles. also, he was a fantastic pitcher and an ace shortstop. also, he doesn’t drink the bottom inch from a 2 liter bottle of soda. also, he loves chocolate chip cookies with mint chips in them as well. also, he was the only one in his fraternity who could drive a stick shift. also, he likes to be at the airport well ahead of his flight. random factoids. none of these define him totally as a person. all of them (and a whole lot more) make him who he is.

i remember the day he called me to tell me he was gay and that he was in a relationship. i don’t know if he was nervous or anxious about it, but i suspect that many young men and women have anxiety about telling their loved ones of their orientation. now, i don’t remember having to call my momma years ago to tell her i was heterosexual. why would that be any different?

i cherished his trust – his knowing that nothing i felt about him would change. his choice of who to be in relationship with was just a part of him like his choice of cookie. it changed the picture in my head of the future, but it didn’t change my support of him or my excitement about his future or my love of him.

they – young men and women – were in a bar. in a vacation destination town – orlando, florida. i would anticipate that there was much laughter, much talk, much dancing. maybe there was an expression of physical attraction between people there – a public display of affection. i hope so. i cannot wrap my head around the kind of hatred/discomfort/bigotry that would push a person to take a gun and kill people. shots rang out. people (sons and daughters of moms just like me) died. the surrealness of an individual’s hunting season that had opened at this venue make my blood run cold. a gay bar isn’t the the right place for that.

i am the very proud mother of a gay son. and i, like all mothers, want to believe that he has the freedom to be who he is as long as he is not harming anyone else or himself – just like my rule for my daughter. there is no right place for this kind of maiming and killing. i want to protect them both – my girl and my boy. i try to trust the world around me, around them. i pray for them to always be safe.

and i ask – where is the right place for that??