reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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our living room. [two artists tuesday]

on a cold and cloudy day, the colors are muted. it is stunning. the trees have reached out and caught the snow as it flew by. the branches have held onto it, inches of white topping a narrow spectrum of greys and taupe, some tree trunks black in the dim. it’s quiet. we are – on most of the trail – first there, save for the deer and squirrels and rabbits who have left behind evidence of their passing. gorgeous. i am not cold, though the temperatures have plummeted. i feel wrapped by the woods, embraced. the paradise of winter is not on some beach somewhere. it is right here, in the middle of fallow.

it occurs to me that the colors there – in the woods – are the colors in our living room. i see now why – both – they are the colors we have chosen and why they feel so peaceful. the woods is in our living room.

i turn out all the lights – each lamp – the standing lamp, the side-table lamp, the lamp in the window nook, the lamp on the secretary – but leave on the twinkling white lights on the tall branches. they light the room just enough. they are the outside, brought in, a branch from the cherished tree in the front yard, a branch from the woods. they rise high above the old wood floors and bathe this room with starry light. they do not hold the snow as it falls any longer, but they hold memories and profound reminders of the rhythm of nature.

this is, yes, i suddenly see, why this is the palette from which our living room has evolved. it is muted, a quiescent slate from which anything can grow, in which any burst of new color blossoming is celebrated, a serene woods any time we need it.

*****

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rooting for midwest express. [two artists tuesday]

it’s exactly how i draw horses. back in the day i had a book that taught me how to draw them. i was horse-crazy and i studied this book and practiced over and over. i did not retain much of all that study – or all of the other books i read about horses – but i can still draw a horsehead. so when we flew over this island on our approach to the tampa airport, i was astounded to see the first vestiges of my own drawing. i named it van gogh horse – for obvious reasons. high tide and angle and an active imagination helped, but i sure do think it looks like a horse.

it had been three and a half years since i had flown. we’ve read many articles about aggressive passengers and, i must admit, that doesn’t sound too enticing. i can’t imagine being rude to people who are tending to your needs as you zoom through the sky. not to mention all that recirculated air and the folks in the seat behind us hack-coughing. ahem. so it was a little nerve-wracking.

but it was also magical. you forget. i spent a lot of time looking out the window, mesmerized by the cloud formations and the landscape below, checking the flight plan on my phone to see where we were (technology is pretty amazing!) and taking photographs. i looked – i am sure – like the quintessential tourist-on-the-airplane. but i didn’t care. we have driven everywhere in the last years so it was like a small miracle to jaunt from milwaukee to tampa in two hours and forty minutes.

i remember days i flew often. midwest express airlines and real plates and real silverware and gourmet meals and mimosas in the morning or wine in the afternoon. and, the pièce de résistance…warm chocolate chip cookies. it was an experience – a whole experience. i flew midwest as often as i could, flights to los angeles and nashville and south and out east.

the most memorable experience was the – only – one time the airline lost my luggage. i had concerts and appearances in boston and all my attire was in my suitcase. a midwest express representative – jimbo – who is still my friend on facebook – immediately set to helping me, told me to go buy some necessities, including concert attire, and send midwest the bill. i am mostly a jeans-wearing performer – though there were some exceptions that particular trip – so that kept the costs down a bit, but they covered every last thing i needed. customer service at its best. i called all those items “my midwest express collection” and flew midwest loyally until the airline was no longer.

in a memory-filled moment with the smell of baking chocolate chips in my mind’s eye, i googled the milwaukee-based airline and was jazzed to see it is hoping to make a comeback one of these days. i wish them well. here is the best news:

“the airline plans to bring back the cookies if it starts flying again.” (milwaukeemag.com)

i know that can take some time and some luck. but warm chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the airline’s tiny kitchen could encourage me to start flying more again. i mean, people can’t be ornery with cookies.

if i had to draw an airplane experience – even though i am clearly not gifted at drawing – i would draw people in cushy two-across-seats, trays down, real plates and silverware, coffee cups and mimosas, warm chocolate chip cookies, linen napkins. smiles and horses out the window.

i am rooting for midwest express.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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divots and heart. [k.s. friday]

we checked our bags. southwest airlines lets you check two and, as long as you trust that they will actually get them to the same destination to which you are traveling at the same time that you are traveling there, it’s a relief for the prior-to-travel packing frenzy.

there were many golf bags going ’round the baggage claim conveyor. none of them were ours.

i have golf clubs. in the basement. or maybe in the garage. no, i think the basement. i am not much of a golfer, though i have golfed. let’s just say that i am not gifted at the swing…or the stance…or the putt. really, none of it, save driving the golf cart.

i think golf would be more fun without the scorecards and the tiny pencils. so much pressure. everyone – despite their ability level – chasing after this one little ball, getting all crabby-like and self-deprecating…all under so much pressure.

one time i got a 91. people seem relatively impressed with this score. they comment, “wow! that’s pretty good for a total novice! (they can’t think of a word that is lower on the golf-ladder than novice.) really, that’s good! a 91 on 18 holes!”

i take my time replying.

“it was 9.”

“9 holes.”

their look tells all – they are trying not to burst into laughter or look astounded and are likely internally blaming me for all the divots on the course – every last one of them. because i have swung the club a zillion more times than any of them, in every part of the course. at least twice as many times as they have. and i am exhausted just thinking about how tired my arms – and really, every part of my body – have been after a “fun” round of golf. yes, indeedy.

i do think that d and i should go play golf together. we would likely laugh our way through the course, so we need to go when no one is behind us, grousing about how long we are taking or commenting on our pathetic swings. if no one was around we could replace our divots without judgement or sneers from the sideline. a smirkless round of golf could actually be fun. pressureless. pencil-less. one of these days. first i need a few golf lessons from sisu sue. she would be the best teacher.

we walked on the bike trail a few times recently. once, it was just after a few snowflakes fell. the tiny divot in the asphalt caught the flakes just so we would notice the heart as we hiked by. prior to that – though i put my heart into every one of those swings and they all just didn’t notice – the word “divot” made me cringe a little, thinking of my personal golf je ne sais quoi.

but now…i’m honoring the chop.

*****

the entire album: RELEASED FROM THE HEART
©️1995 kerri sherwood

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the pink backpack. [k.s. friday]

“it’s projection,” he wrote. yes. bill penzey is right. it is projection. we project love onto objects and we “really see these objects as love.” he continues, talking about his desire – were there to be a fire in his house – to grab the six-quart stainless kettle he has popped corn in for every movie night he has had with his wife, and his love of the heavy-duty spatula his father gave him, adding, “and in a world where nobody gets too much love anymore, i want to do all i can to hold onto that love.” he is clearly thready. i’ve never met him, but he is on my list – people with whom i’d love to have dinner.

we have a pink backpack. it’s packed from back in the days our town was on fire, days i can feel and hear and smell and taste – viscerally – but would rather not. we’ve kept it packed, realizing that it’s wise to have one thing to grab and one place to go to find that one thing. it has important stuff in it…papers and such. it doesn’t have the tiny cheese knife we use every day, the one that was my sweet momma’s. it doesn’t have the wedding ring my dad wore or the matching flannel shirt of a pair. it doesn’t have the toddler drawings of my children or the small bowl turned trinket-holder that babycat ate from. it doesn’t have zillions of photographs. it doesn’t have masters of all my albums or a collection of jpgs or pngs or printed photos of all of david’s paintings. it doesn’t have the rock i picked up hiking with my daughter or the cork i saved from the first fancy dinner my son made for me. it can’t hold my piano or the vintage typewriter 20 gave me or the bowls we love from ken and loida or the snuggly scarf jen gave me or the old torchiere lamp from my growing-up. it doesn’t have room for the old quilt or our favorite mountain mugs or our ukuleles or my guitars or our dvd favorite-movies-collection or the cardinal towels from my sister or the ‘i-found-you-you-found-me” painting of early k.dot-d.dot days.

the one thing about antique stores is that they give you perspective. lots of it. so many items in the world. so much stuff. you ponder why someone might have held onto a plastic flower arrangement in a plastic flower pot long enough that it became part of an estate that passed into an antique shoppe or how it is possible that there are so so so many 45 rpm records out there, collections of so many long-playing albums, and, someday, so many cds. even mine.

and then you know. it hits you like a spatula upside the head.

though none of that will fit in the pink backpack, were there to be any sort of emergency – and all we could grab is the backpack – we would not lose it all.

it’s love. all love.

*****

IT’S A LONG STORY ©️1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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in wonder. [k.s. friday]

right now it is a mystery.

accuweather predicts a blizzard. and we wonder if it is truly imminent. on days of heavy holiday travel, there may be fierce winds, whirling snow, no visibility, bitterly cold temperatures well below zero. such extremes, circumstances that might dictate the comings and goings of loved ones trying to be together to celebrate.

we’ll keep watching the weather and the warnings. we’re hoping it’s wrong, that it’s exaggerated, that it’s cautionary but not totally necessary. that we will get to this day without the extremes.

it is days before the day before the eve of the day. and though i respect that app on my phone i continue to plan as if it will be days of celebration and joy and not snowplows and shovels and heet and de-icer.

there is still much to do. there are packages to ship, a few to wrap, a couple to deliver. there are trips to the grocery store and maybe a tiny bit of shopping. there is de-dogga-furring by vacuum and a little dusting and much tidying up.

and all the while sitting in the wonder of the season. people celebrating love and generosity, time spent gathered, kindnesses and the reminder of ancient stories carried into this time, open hearts, hope and light.

*****

I WONDER AS I WANDER

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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shooting stars. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we know we are not alone. we know there are many other people who face many other challenges. we are merely two of them. we, like the others, face the challenges somewhat weary, yet stalwart, keep walking, and wish for better times.

the lights – all around us – full of glittering dazzle – are full of hope. shreds of twinkle and candoit. it is no wonder we keep happy lights all year round. these things always happen just when you are relaxing into breathing a little.

when i lost my job in november a couple years ago – right before thanksgiving and just before the start of advent leaning into the holiday season we were shocked. shocked because of the circumstances. shocked because it came out of nowhere. shocked because i had no warning. shocked because it actually felt mean-spirited. shocked because of, well, the hypocrisy. we couldn’t believe the action and we really couldn’t believe the timing.

but now, we both have lost our jobs in late november. and – like the last time, though circumstances are entirely different – it is no less shocking. the fact of the matter is that it – excuse the vernacular – sucks. really any time at all. but in a season of generosity, a time of light and hope and giving, a holiday full of warmth and expectation and love-one-another, this kind of loss is dismal.

our bootstraps are frayed and so are our heartstrings. yet, e.e. stands in the living room, beautiful. the dining room table is laden with packages to wrap and ribbons and tape. the old wrought iron railing outside our front door is adorned with evergreen garland and white lights and the radio is tuned to 93.9, the chicago christmas station. we keep listing gratitudes.

walking in our neighborhood and along the waterfront we are surrounded by lights and walking in the woods by icy displays glinting from the briefest moments of sunlight. there are meaningful symbolic reasons for lights, reasons why people decorate trees and light candles on menorahs, sing carols and recite blessings and festoon their homes.

it is a welcome byproduct of these rituals that “the lights can also trigger dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain”(matt barbour) and that “with these bright experiences with lights, we do have the physiological response from the nervous system that helps make us more alert, more aware, and can bring about these feelings of happiness,” said dr. terry pettijohn.

i don’t remember the shooting stars by the museums on the waterfront from previous years. but you can bet we are wishing on them.

*****

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too many words. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

so, neither of us has any trouble with going on and on and on. nope, this is not new news to you (as you read, vehemently nodding your head in agreement, thinking that this is not rocket science.)

each day – now – suddenly – when we open our blogsites, there is a prompt at the top….as if we can’t think of anything to talk about. they are not profound prompts, existential questions, deeply probing and inventive. no…these prompts are kind of remedial…like today’s “tell us about your first day at something – school, work, as a parent, etc.”. seriously? the first one was “how do you feel about eating meat?” and there were others: “who do you envy?” and “what’s your favorite cartoon?”.

we wrote to wordpress – really expressing our dissatisfaction with these newly ever-present prompts. we pay for these sites and really just want blank space to blog. good grief. staaahhhhp it. but it was to no avail. they show up every day on the top of our screen. yada yada.

we – clearly – don’t need wordpress’ prompts to write. we seem to have plenty of words milling about in our minds and bodies, just waiting to surface and barrel out onto the page.

and then…there are the words that don’t make it to the page…that just flit about in the air. because we both tend to be thinkers, we are both often mulling things over in our heads…for me, that tends to be details and for him, well, it’s more a concepts sort of thing.

it is not unusual for one of us – or the other – to just start blahblah-ing about all that goobledegook going on – babble, folly, a few valid points thrown in for good measure. more on the verbose side of the coin than the succinct side. we are together a lot – and we love to share – so this is not a rarity. it is an accoutrement of our relationship, like a scarf in cold weather.

and, though we usually hold good discussions, have good conversation, compare viewpoints and learn tidbits from each other, there are those moments when one of us will just reach maximum input, one word over the line, just a smidge too much – like when you are filling the sink soap dispenser and reach the top and the dawn dishwashing liquid just starts spilling everywhere, which, incidentally, is not easy to clean up, though i suspect you already know that – and that one of us (more commonly me, but most definitely him too) just sort of shuts down. all hearing stops – and it kind of looks like staring into space…but it’s really just being boggled. completely and utterly boggled. time stands still for a few minutes and then, catapulting through space on the planet while standing there – frozen and boggled – it catches back up, listening resumes and the boggle un-boggles.

and we continue on our merry way, laughing at the temporary word-absorption-lull.

too many words are just sometimes too many words.

and yes, i know you know that.

*****

read DAVID’S made-up babble on today’s SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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e.e. [k.s. friday]

“…simple…elegant…splendid…” she wrote about the branch from the big old tree in our front yard, the branch we wrapped in lights and on which we hung a tin star. last year’s christmas tree. sometime after the holiday, we changed the tin star to a tin heart and kept it in the living room, in front of the big window.

i suppose it goes without saying – for anyone who knows us – that each of our christmas trees has a story. well, not just a story, but a full-fledged novel full of threads that wrap around them like $2.99 twinkly lights fresh out of the box. we’ve given meaning to the tiniest pine tree from the side of a trail, to the carcass of a tree behind our garage, to the branch that fell into our back yard, to a straight trunk-of-a-tree we lugged out of the woods, to a christmas-tree-on-a-stick.

this year, we were going to get a permit and go to a state forest to cut one down. only we didn’t.

20 was exasperated with the tree he had gotten his momma. the lights were all knotted – a titanic tangle – and the tree was disheveled. he put it in the box and bought her a new one, planning to toss the old one. we wanted a tree out back and figured we could make this messy tree into something worthy of the deck, so he brought it to us.

david spent time – lots of it – patiently untangling and cutting off the attached multi-colored light strands. then he attached the three pieces of tree, stacking them to see how it looked.

the tree – 6′ – stood limply, likely gasping from the trauma.

we decided to let it get some air and put it in the framed doorway between the living room and the dining room, where it could have a little space while we fluffed it a bit and decided about putting it on the deck.

only…

only, it started growing on us, this sweet little tree – just trying to be a loved-christmas-tree – stood there, quietly watching us and waiting for our decision.

we whispered to each other – about her – on the couch, so as not to offend the little tree. and time to time, we’d take turns stepping into the living room to gaze at it. to ponder.

and then he took four hundred lights and gently wrapped them around the little tree.

magic.

we stood back and knew.

i said, “let’s call it e.e.” not for ee cummings, though he would definitely get it – all our christmas trees through these years. but the little tree knows – inside, in its heart of hearts – his poem “little tree” word for word. e.e.

but the e.e. is for 20’s momma, her first and middle name initials. as she – at 99 – struggles a bit with her health these very days, we will honor her, hold space for her, with e.e.

the silver ornaments shine on e.e.’s branches. e.e. holds out her arms graciously. and those lights. and we are entranced.

little tree

little silent Christmas tree…

look          the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed

you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they’ll stare!

oh but you’ll be very proud

(excerpts from “little tree” – ee cummings)

*****

THE LIGHTS ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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in this season. [k.s. friday]

we are firmly entrenched now.

yes. entrenched in the land of hallmark christmas movies. ’tis the season.

two years ago we actually purchased one – our favorite hallmark christmas movie – a season for miracles. and, though we know it by heart – much like my big fat greek wedding or love actually or about time – we watch it over and over, never tiring of its sweet story.

weeks ago, we walked through downtown to mail our voting ballots. having proximity to town and the waterfront – all within walking distance – seems to be one of our leanings for all potential future places to live. the other is to be far away from everything hectic. it’s a toss-up. that late fall day with golden leaves, we walked along the lakefront and then cut in west – past the historic library and library park.

i must never have looked up there, because it took me by surprise.

an angel statue.

there’s history to this statue, but that wasn’t what it brought up for me. instead, it was a reminder of this ultra-sweet hallmark movie, with a very similar angel statue at the center of the fictitious town of bethlehem and a person who looks strikingly like this angel – an angel who is cast as multiple characters in the movie. it’s a heartwarming story.

we spent the rest of the walk, wondering about never noticing this angel statue before and talking about the generosities and grace in the movie we love. it cast a magical quality to our walk that day. we were surrounded by what-felt-like a gentle cloak of hopefulness, of light.

we’ve held off so far. but soon. soon we will pull out this movie and the fleece sherpa blanket on the couch. and we will sit and watch – once again – knowing exactly what is going to happen and still getting teary-eyed. both of us.

it will remind us of those around us without whose goodness we might be lost.

indeed, we are surrounded by these angels.

in this season and always.

*****

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stuff happens. [k.s. friday]

“step confidently,” the stio catalog reads. there is an ad for boots – winter boots – and gorgeous pictures of snowfall and mountains and terrain where confidence could be challenged. we were just talking with 20 about those yaktrax you strap on your shoes to instill a bit of chutzpah as you walk on icy trails. anything to keep us outside. cause stuff happens.

yes. stuff happens.

and it happens fast. without warning.

a couple days ago i was walking from the kitchen to the sunroom – sans yaktrax – to let the dog inside. holiday music was playing and i was busy thinking about my next task as i approached the step down to the tile floor by the back door. i did a little math. i’ve successfully navigated this step – only one – at the very least – one-hundred-twenty-two-thousand times. but, somehow, and i have no idea how, i missed the step and fell flat – kerplunk-kind-of-flat-like-in-cartoons – on my knee. the one time i didn’t reach out my hands to stop myself – i guess those two other falls taught me something – but my knee took the entire brunt of the trip-fall.

i’m not sure the first thing out of my mouth was pretty or anything i’d be proud to mention here. my reaction – as i laid on the cold floor – was incredulous, thinking i was running out of appendages, wondering what vortex in the universe we had fallen into or if mercury was in retrograde or just what was happening here.

the xray technician told me that’s why it’s called an accident – because there is no real reason, but i was about as amused by that as other people to whom i have said those words. no real reason. she said, “stuff just happens!” uh-huh.

the nurse practitioner at the urgent care told me she concurred with the radiologist and – thank goodness – there was no fracture. geesh. she said a few days and we’ll see how it goes.

patience is now in order. time to spend with my knee horizontal doesn’t fall under “my favorite things” column. i’ll be hobbling around and sitting and trying to get things done, in a slew of time i can only label as “fraught”.

and i’ll be trying to figure it all out.

*****

FIGURE IT OUT ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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