reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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two or more. [merely-a-thought monday]

it doesn’t matter to us that it is a vintage windsor wheelback country kitchen chair. it’s just a sweet chair in the dining room of a little house in the north carolina mountain town we are fond of. our favorite part is the stenciled “EAT”.

my next tiny project will be to stencil this onto the old metal framed chair in our dining room. it’s the chair we grab when 20 comes over and we eat inside. we always pull it into the kitchen and sit around the small square table my dad refinished 34 years ago. we could sit in the dining room – there’s plenty of space and more than enough chairs – but it’s cozy in the kitchen and we choose cozy for sitting, sipping wine, eating together, catching up, laughing. the textures in our kitchen are the same as in this mountaintown dining room – old wood floors, thick white trim, light grey walls, black chairs. i tend to select the airbnbs that look like our own sensibility – a home away.

back in the day i had stenciled along the entire kitchen upper wall, just like in our foyer. simple checkerboxes, but that has gone the way of simplicity. one of these days i will need to repaint the foyer – the plaster in there is forcing my hand. and the last of the checkerboxes will disappear. an era. bygone.

i laid awake last night for a long time. my dear friend linda told me that when she is awake for long periods at night she will walk through their bygone houses in her mind. it calms her thoughts and brings her closer to sweet sleep. last night i walked through my growing-up house, in the front door, into the living room and the kitchen, the dining room, the paneled den with the gigantic rock fireplace, down the hall into my bedroom. i took a tour of the basement and the backyard, the woods behind our house. i moved on…to florida and the homes i lived in there. the sheep farm in new hampshire, the littlehouse on washington island. here.

although i could picture the homes and the furnishings – for the most part – the pictures – snapshots from a viewmaster – i could mostly see were the gatherings. people gathered around tables in the kitchen, people gathered for holiday meals in the dining room, people gathered en masse outside or inside, just munching on snacks or burgers or making apple pies or having shrimp boils or big parties or little parties with tables lined with foods everyone brought to contribute to the feast.

it’s been a while since we have hosted any big parties. a couple years now. when i worked at the church we hosted all the time – any excuse for a choir party, all the summertime ukulele rehearsals. we added our big dig, the slow dance party, christmas eve outdoor luminaria bonfire fests. community was built around these gatherings – people coming together to visit and share and eat, to slow down and talk and share where they are at. a community that gathers grows. a community that shares meals grows. a community that authentically cares grows. connection. comfort. contentment.

we miss those times. it came naturally to us to be the spot. job loss and covid, financial strain, caution-in-gathering – they all put constraints on the big – and small – gatherings. little by little we return around the table. literally and figuratively.

in the meanwhile, we gratefully sit in the sunroom surrounded by happy lights or in the kitchen at the table, the legs of which dogdog gnawed on as a puppy or outside on the patio by the fire.

the thing we always knew: “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” (helen keller)

where two or more may gather.

and EAT.

*****

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


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a bottle of rosé instead. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s not true.

he is actually a great chef. he loves sous-cheffing but he is never averse to preparing an entire dinner. give him a recipe and some space – and maybe the promise to clean up later – and he will take on anything. especially if he and 20 are at it together. they practically sing and dance while they cook. ok…they DO sing and dance while they cook. and soon, very soon, fall and winter will have us inside more and they will be making-up-dinners-as-they-go while i sit and sip wine and try to ignore how seventh-grade-ish they are.

not to say that we would not be above having a big mac. though we haven’t had one in literally years and years – diet choices at the forefront of reasons – sometimes “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” sounds dang good.

regardless, billy joel brings me back to luigi’s and gino’s in northport, new york pizza slices folded in half, concerts at the nassau coliseum and my sweet momma’s lasagna.

i might have to settle for a bottle of rosé.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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our muffler. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

“dirtbag!” i could see it on the guy’s disgusted face in the parking space next to mine at the festival grocery store lot. i tried to wait until he was in his vehicle, but he was futzing around outside his car for too long and i needed to get home with my few groceries, so i started littlebabyscion.

it roared to life. i mean, really roared. susan says it’s pretending to be a ferrari for a few moments in time, but i dunno. it’s a bit more jet-engine-like. “prepare for take-off. we’re number two in line on the runway. cross-check!”

i’ve always wanted to say “cross-check”, mostly because i still haven’t figured out what it really means. i just didn’t anticipate saying it in my car.

anyway, i digress.

i know the guy in the parking lot drew ridiculous conclusions about me – me…63 and generally not this noisy – and my vehicle – littlebabyscion, our faithful and trusted toyota companion for the last 258,000 miles and a vital continued part of our retirement planning so as to avoid a new car payment. in the matter of mere seconds, he thought he knew it all, simply from the din. sigh. go drive your buick, you buickman, you.

littlebabyscion – in the middle of other crisis – decided the stress was just too much and blew a hole in the muffler assembly. this happens every september or october; i’m really not sure why they make mufflers out of stainless steel but all the connectors out of metals that rust out rather quickly. regardless, we can count on visiting the exhaust system shop each early fall.

it quickly became louder, from the whisperings i could hear when we left the medical center to the loud and booming voice it had announcing its arrival – and departure – from, well, everywhere.

it’s humbling to drive a car down the road that is making too much noise. people stare. people roll their eyes. you know people are thinking, “geez. get your dang car fixed.”

and – in big surprising news – people make assumptions.

we have an appointment. i called the shop within a half hour of The Noise starting and drove by for a drive-up check to make sure nothing was dragging (which i hope-against-hope stays the way it is now – a tiny strap is holding things together, much like my composure.) our appointment is next wednesday, so there is a considerable amount of time we will still be driving littlebabyscion…aka the-noise-machine.

it surely is a reminder to not make assumptions. we cannot stand in another’s shoes. we cannot know the details of another’s life. we cannot decide that someone is a “dirtbag” simply because their non-sports-car is making a tad bit of noise. it reminds me to step back and give lots of grace.

and to wear earplugs. ’cause it ain’t gettin’ any quieter.

*****

ps. we all know the saying about the word “assume”. by golly, it’s true!

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the hawk. [k.s. friday]

we had eye contact.

in the middle of planting grasses he flew in. i turned and he was perched on the fence, studying us. we looked at each other – eye to eye. and this hawk sat still, just watching. before i could get d’s attention and have him turn to see him, the hawk flew off, eventually landing in the higher branches of the east neighbor’s tree, where he stayed for quite some time. we could see him there and he could see us.

from his vantage point i ponder what else he could see. the horizon stretched out before him, his high flight giving him an edge for observation, clarity. his eagle eye taking in the flow around him, the circle of life ever-present.

now it makes me wonder if he knew what was coming, how grounded we would soon need to be. things change in a moment and moving forward requires determination and some acuity. perhaps it was there to let us borrow some of its vast abilities, its confidence, the sense of being in control.

i stared at the hawk. the hawk stared back at me. peacefully, focused. i was just a little astounded at how close it was. maybe it was a little astounded at how close i was. no matter, we both stayed put and the moments slowed down until he took flight.

*****

TAKE FLIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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the grass. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we are making headway.

at long last, there is not an unsightly mound in our front yard and our grass is actually growing. it is astounding what a little attention will yield.

we will never quality for the lawn olympics, but neither will we get the worst-on-the-block award. we bought a used edger and are defining the daylily garden with vintage bricks that match the old brick wall behind it. we used to have a beautiful old brick patio up by the front door – back in the day – but had to remove it in order to have the (non-disclosed-at-the-time-of-sale) underground oil tank removed. i’ll not forget the day we found a 7′ stick in the garage with carved inch and foot marks. we wandered the yard and discovered the cap, hidden in plain view, that spelled out the epa no-no. our poor yard has been through upheaval more than once.

and so, here we go. the backyard and the frontyard have consumed us this summer. but we are making headway. yup. no medals but it makes us just a little bit happy watching both flourish. just a little attention.

it’s always that way, isn’t it?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING


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ithinkican chandelier. [two artists tuesday]

it’s glittering.

the crystals on our outdoor chandelier are catching the sunlight, their exquisitely-cut facets sparkling toward the sun, the clarity of spheres throwing prisms of light and, in the dark, casting intricate shadows – strung pendalogues with silhouettes illuminated by moonlight.

uh-huh.

ok. i give. it’s plastic. all plastic. except for a couple metal strap parts and the solar pack.

so when we ordered it – this solar chandelier – we expected some heft and prepared how to hang it on the old door that sits behind the glider on our deck. we talked to jeff at the ace and decided upon a hinge we’d attach to the door with a wrought iron arm that we could move in an arc, depending on how we wanted the chandelier to be hanging. we had wanted to hang it over barney – for that old piano in our backyard deserves a chandelier – but it turned out that the chippies and squirrels and birds won over a lighting fixture, regardless of its beauty.

the box came. lighter than, well, we expected.

and when we took it out of the box and attempted to unwind it from itself, we were a little skeptical that it would fulfill the lofty dreams we had for a chandelier outside.

nevertheless, we are not the kind of people who give up on something before we give it a chance. we decided to try it on for size before packing it and shipping it back.

we hung it on one half of the birdfeeder’s shepherd hook. turned on the solar pack and waited. night fell and this earnest little ithinkican-chandelier lit up. “sweet,” we both thought aloud. we hung it under the umbrella over the table and it cast ridiculously interesting shadows up. then we hung it on the awning and wondered if it would ever make it to the door and the hinge-arm-shenanigans we had ready for it.

plastic or not, it has us intrigued.

this morning i can see it out the window of the bedroom. the eastern sky is full of warm summer early morning color. as the sun rises, the crystals catch it. they glitter.

and the little chandelier grins.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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that lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

whether we acknowledge it or not, it sits next to us, powerful. some days it forces us to pay attention. the waves roar, the wind blows, it is colder near the lake. other days, it is silent, just a presence, like something you feel but can’t see.

i remember when we first arrived here – 34 years ago. the lakefront was different. there was a big engine plant in prime real estate on the lake. it all looked drab and run-down and giant smokestacks lined the sky.

when they didn’t call my husband back for weeks about the position he had interviewed for, i felt lucky, like i had escaped. wisconsin wasn’t on my radar much back then and i wasn’t so sure i wanted it to be.

but, in the way of irony, after six or seven weeks, they did contact him and offered him the job. and the rubber hit the road. i left florida – where we were living at the time – pretty much kicking and screaming, though silently, inside.

eight to nine months later we moved into this house. and, as a dear friend wrote to me, [my] “dna is probably embedded in almost every inch of it.” wisconsin, indeed. 34 years.

as life goes and time moves on, it’s a little uncertain where we will be in years to come. as an ever-increasingly ominous climate change rears its ugly head, we see the potential wisdom in remaining where we are – close to a huge fresh water source in a place where most weather is not too extreme. we have only a short list of places we’d move, a couple of them in a heartbeat.

and then we take a walk. it’s very early morning and we are returning from dropping off littlebabyscion at our mechanic’s shop, choosing to walk home. he’s an early bird so we are walking before a lot of the town is awake for this summer dawn.

the lake is mostly still. it blends into a cloudy sky and takes our breath away. we’ll turn right – west – and walk a block to home. the lake will stay where it is.

and a little while later, over a fresh pot of coffee, we will look at the photographs. to our side, the lake will be quiet as we comment on its stunning personality.

i’m still not sure if i’m crazy about wisconsin. i’m not from here. and that changes things in this town.

but lake michigan – just steps away – knows that. and every now and again that lake, while we are walking in our old neighborhood along its shore, nudges me and makes me pay attention. it pokes at the heartstrings that are tied to this place – through the good, the bad, the ugly, the marvelous – and reminds me of its presence.

*****

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


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walking sunsets. [two artists tuesday]

there are days that go by that we don’t notice. we hear the waves crashing or the wail of the foghorn, we feel the wind shift over the cool water surface, we listen to seagulls over our house or boats racing the shore. and, though those are all familiar to us, we don’t notice.

we walk the sunset along the lake, night dropping in around us. it’s quiet but we hear faint strains of music from the harbor and the festival on the channel. the lights to our left balance out the ever-diminishing clarity of view to our right. it is pretty exquisite. we are lucky, we repeat.

we live in an old house with an old garage and an old yard in an old neighborhood. we are steps from lake michigan and its glorious power, its ferocity, its smooth-as-glass silk, its wide spectrum of personality. and, sometimes, we don’t notice.

because sometimes, like you, we get caught up in the stuff of life, the challenges of life, the confusing relationships of life, the weariness.

those are the days we should walk the sunset.

for there is not much that reminds you of time passing like watching the giant eastern sky answer the western setting sun. there is not much that reminds you of your absolute tiny-ness in the overall scheme of things. just shy of eight billion people on this good earth and everyone shares this one sun, able to watch colors over lakes, deserts, meadows, cityscapes, neighborhoods, ballfields, cornfields, highways, bayous, mountains.

to sometimes notice, sometimes pay attention, gives us petite pause, like the air you feel staring at a richard diebenkorn ocean park painting, the all-over softened loll of arvo pärt’s music unwinding you, slower-than-slow-dancing on the patio, the hush of a hammock.

“we think we have about twenty good summers now,” the wander women talk about choosing their adventures. we are the same age, so it’s a little bit bracing.

but a good reminder. even from the very start. if we only have about 70 or 80 good summers in all, if we are fortunate, it would seem each one really, truly counts. and, if the height of summer is – in most parts – about three months long, then that’s about ninety days. that means somewhere between 6300 and 7200 good summer sunsets in all, possibly more, possibly less.

it makes me wonder how much i noticed in the first 5670 summer nights to date.

i’ve got some work to do.

i’ve got some walking sunsets to pay attention to.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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not unimportant. [k.s. friday]

just like when i take a photograph of a person i try to avoid having extraneous people in the picture, when i take photographs outside i try to avoid any messy unnecessities.

this time i did it on purpose.

on july 29th i will have lived in this house for 33 years. i have sat out back watching the sky turn orange over the garage for 33 years. i have watched the trees grow up over the rooftops in my view. i have watched squirrels on their highways-of-highwire for 33 years.

it suddenly occurred to me that there might come a day when i can’t simply walk out the old screen door onto the deck, stepping onto the patio to watch the sky in the west. there might come a day when i live somewhere else and i won’t have access to this view.

and so the messiness of wires sectioning off the sky became important. important enough to photograph. important enough to remember.

we’re surrounded by things – and views – we have taken for granted. we see them every day – though we don’t really see them.

they seem unimportant.

yet, these familiar sights are the very things that help ground us. in a world that is politically volatile, climate that is destroying mother earth, bombastic leaders itching to reduce freedoms, disrespect and aggression out of control, it would seem that we need grab onto that which grounds us, centers us, slows down our breathing.

because i’m thready, i notice – and try to memorize – things like how the old wood floor creaks in the hallway, what it sounds like when the glass doorknob falls off, the feel of the small chain on the basement door and the decades-rubbed indent it has made, the sound of a double-hung window with ropes and weights opening, the deck cracking in cold weather, the cool painted-cement floor under bare feet in the basement, the places where the plaster has cracked. they all spell home.

and, with a world in turmoil, everything in flux, so much anxiety and grief and worry, things that are solidly familiar help.

*****

THE WAY HOME from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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wait! what?!? [merely-a-thought monday]

elephant or bear. i’m trying to decide which i’d rather be called. both momma elephants and momma bears defend their young, protect their clans. i’ve decided to go with elephant (obviously, sans political statement), for it is said, “female elephants continuously protect each other from predators in the wild, providing one another a sense of security.” and i’m less grizzly-bear-growly than wrap-my-tail-around-them-draw-them-close. hmm. well, maybe i’m a little of both. either way, i’m not going to forget if you are mean to my children. i’m not going to forget if you are mean to my family. and, in this case, i’m not going to forget if you are mean to my spouse.

people can pretty much think anything they want. we artists are pretty much used to that. questions like “what do you reeeeeally do for a living?” have peppered us our whole lives. people stare and furrow their brows when we answer. and i’m guessing that it’s not just what we say. we must … look … and act … a little artsy… or something.

sidewalks are generally pretty black and white. concrete. stamped or not stamped. seamed between squares. jointer-tool-etched or not. dyed or not. though my sweet father-in-law would have happily described all the varieties of concrete possibilities to me, i am having trouble getting through on the heaven-line so i will have to linger in my narrower spectrum of understanding.

we have concrete. in our front walk by the street, in our driveway and in our walk to the front door. all of that concrete is permanent now – post-lead-water-line-replacement-the-story-that-would-never-end – except for one square (which i hasten to point out is actually a rectangle, though far be it from me to get stuck on a detail.)

this one square, er, rectangle, is up by our front door. temporary concrete lays cracked in the spot waiting for the real concrete, contraction line between it and the old sidewalk that has welcomed visitors for about, well, 94 years, i guess.

and it continues to wait.

because it’s a “weird little job” – not worthy of attention – uh, hello? every size audience counts. just sayin’. – and because the sub-sub-contractor is “afraid the guy won’t be happy because the color and curve won’t match the sidewalk that’s already there.” uh, hello? we are intelligent beings who can grok that different ages look different. letmetellyou, we can grok that. even in sidewalks. – and because he also said, “and he seems a little different.”

wait! what?!?

“he seems a little different.”???

i’m a-wonderin’ “whatintheheck?!” while i am reading this email that was forwarded to me from the sub-contractor-to-the-city, one step above the sub-sub in the project ladder.

“he seems a little different.”

funny. david had walked in from visiting with the sub-sub when he came to take-a-gander at our “small, weird project” and had said – about the sub-sub, “wow. he seems like a really nice guy. really knowledgeable and pleasant.”

i guess the sub-sub was a good actor.

because really nice guys don’t report – even sub-sub to sub – that the client, the customer, the resident – seems “different”. that’s just kind of mean.

i don’t know what i am supposed to glean from the forwarded-email-with-no-additional-message, but the elephant in me (or was it the grizzly bear?) did write back that, though tempted to ask for clarification on what precisely was meant by “he seems a little different”, i was not going to belabor the rudeness of such a statement. what does that have to do with anything here?

it begs the question: does this mean that the sidewalk won’t be done because “he seems a little different”??

the point is the sidewalk. finishing the job. the one that started last november. really nothing else. not david’s artistic look or his intelligent conversation. not how he seems. the point is the sidewalk. not his “seeming different”.

besides, dude. newsflash: now, so do you.

*****

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