reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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juicy fruit gum and frank. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the lyrics are going through my head. “stretch your coffee break! top it off with juicy fruit gum!” i can hear the jingle. over and over.

there is only sooo much you can stretch a coffee break. a few minutes is merely that – a few minutes. kinda like there is only so far you can stretch a $dollah. i mean, one $dollah does not go as far as it used to. stating the obvious. just saying. anyone shopping at the grocery store or filling their vehicle with gas can tell you that. not to mention house sales, rents, deferred maintenance items and – the big one – healthcare. the mighty $dollah just doesn’t stretch.

so, for two artists, in carefully planning how to execute a retirement, there is much to finagle, much to calculate, much to belabor, much to bemoan. and then – like the rogue waves they are – stuff gets in the way. and the aggressive efforts at The Plan get undermined, waylaid, jolted.

we will retire. someday.

frank sinatra croons to me, “fairy tales do come true. it can happen to you. if you’re young at heart…”

*****

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 void. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s like an ongoing game-mix of charades and taboo or catch-phrase over here.

we can’t think of a word…we act it out…we “sounds-like” it…we describe the word without using the word…we gesture wildly and stare blankly at each other. we don’t start panicking right away, but there comes a moment when the void is a little too voidish and we wonder if we will ever come up with the word at all.

since we are writers, this is a tad bit relevant. one of us invariably needs a word – we know the word – we are intimately familiar with the word – the word is like second skin – but it has gone missing.

we try to come up with the letter it starts with – say, r, for example. one-of-us insists it starts with an r and that-same-one-of-us launches a verbose description about TheWord, attempting to get the other to ThinkOfTheWord.

“r!” i repeat, “it starts with an r!!”

“and it’s pasta? something we’d have with sauce?? rigatoni?? rotini?? ravioli??”

“no! no! no!” “think!!” “we have it all the time! r!!! come ON!!” beginning to act out what it looks like, hands drawing in the air…

“ribbon??”

“ribbon?? have we EVER had ribbon pasta?? dang!! come ON!!”

“are you sure it’s not a t? like tortellini? or trofie?? or maybe a c? like cavatappi? or cavatelli??”

“geeez. no! it’s an r!!”

“well, i can’t think of another r-pasta. is it penne?”

“penne!! that’s it!!! yes!! penne!! a p!!”

the void is a moat, equipped with word magnets, it seems.

every day another word is butterfly-netted and held at bay, even if only for a few minutes, just to torture us.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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those gizmos. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it happens. yep. iykyk.

we have all done something like this. did we lock the door? did we close the windows? did we leave the iron on? (who irons these days, anyway?)

my sweet momma’s sign on her mirror – “old age is not for wimps” – was prophetic. it’s not just the aches and pains that seem to grab your hand one day and skip along with you, all jolly-like. it’s the yiiiikes moments. those moments when you wrack your brain to try and remember if you did something. and your silly ole brain won’t let you get there. i mean, what IS that?

these are the moments that we can talk about while sitting around with the up-north gang or at friday potluck dinner. these are not moments you wanna mention to the kids. as it is, our stories are less than captivating to them now. add to it a level of aging-hazard and we’ll soon be the proud owners of whatever gizmo will help us be less feeble.

goodness! my momma was right to put that sign on her mirror. it’s not for wimps, these, err, challenges. good thing we are all doin’ it together.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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toddler tizzy. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

they were perfect little travelers when they were little – my children – seasoned roadtrippers happy-as-clams as long as there were snacks.

not unlike the kiddos, we simply cannot get from point a to point b without snacks. roadtrips are synonymous with non-stop grazing, all bets off, things we don’t usually eat at home. though i’d like to say it’s all about trail mix and flax seed bars, the reality is that twizzlers and munchos and peanut m&ms sometimes make their way into the bags easily accessible from the front seat. carrots and grapes and cut-up apples and water bottles are in the cooler. and coffee. there’s always coffee. hydroflasks filled at home followed by cardboard starbucks cups of the boldest pour. back in the non-gluten-free days there would be those amazing lemon loaf slices too – the ones with the slightest schmear of frosting. and we’d bring along schmearless plain panera bagels, just to chew on. yes, yes, we know how to rock the highways.

lately, we’ve tried to be more – conscious – of our choices, tried to eat healthy snacks – even in the car – more kind bars, less pringles, more gf granola bites, fewer hostess cupcakes.

but then there’s david. trying to be all healthy-like, waxing poetic about the glorious bags and coolers full of nutritious, wholesome foods, robustly clapping at our roadtrip fare.

he’s all-in, a clean-snacks, upbeat good-food-eater until…that toddler-award-winning-tizzy-moment he completely loses it when he realizes that, indeed, we have not included peanut m&ms.

*****

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*using an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural really gets my inner-grammar-nerd going, so much research went into whether there is an apostrophe referring to the plural of these candies. since m & m are names and the candy is actually called “m&m’s”, i decided to go with the apostrophe referring to the complete name, but not without cringing at the use of an apostrophe sort of doubling as a plural. ugh. blame my sweet momma. 😉

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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parking spot swagger. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there are three parking apps on my phone. and that’s just to cover chicago.

not wanting to appear outdated (ahem!) or out-of-the-loop, just before the last time we went to visit our son, i loaded two new apps…that way, no matter where we parked i would have it covered. no matter what space – on the street, in the lot, in someone’s yard, anywhere – i would be able to -all-casual-like – take out my phone and calmly pay for our spot without a second thought. i was ready. the credit card was loaded, the apps were signed into and open. and i was both proud and brave, thinking i was on top of it. i mean, driving in the city has enough issues sans parking woes. i detest bumper-drivers and people who weave in and out of lanes, the aggression of people-trying-to-get-somewhere faster than the people in front of them. we choose the back way as much as possible.

we had picked him up and drove over to the restaurant, through a crowded wrigleyville on a cubs-home-game-day, having had someone drive right into littlebabyscion’s back bumper at a red light, arriving to parallel park on the street. i was all ready. i pulled out my phone, poised to impress everyone with my parking readiness, this new knowledge of parking spot ease.

i studied the sign on the side of the street. a little confused, i looked over at my son, who was counting his lucky stars he had survived my city-driving to arrive at lunch. alas, it was sunday. and in a moment of utter letdown-from-a-big-buildup, he announced that we didn’t have to pay to park.

as lovely as it was to park for free – imagine! – i was disappointed to not use my newfound parking je ne sais quoi. the irony.

we drove home the back way, through little towns and on country roads, with no one on our bumper, figuratively or literally, confident that we could park anywhere our little hearts desired.

*****

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we’ll see. part two. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i mean, i love calculators. really love them. i got excited the other day when i found a TI-30X IIS in a basket i was going through. sheesh. i blame my high school math teacher, a man everyone adored and for whom we all worked really hard. he’s one of the reasons so many of us ended up loving math…still.

and so i am the billpayer. i have a dollar store calendar with due date notations each month which serves as a folder for outstanding bills. i check it often and keep track of spending. i prepare our personal and business taxes in february, a task – everything line-item-ed to bring on to the accountant – that is sometimes daunting, but…ya gotta love all that math. i never really mind any of it. sometimes, though, i wish the numbers were different. it would maybe be a little easier with better numbers. sigh.

the aarp magazine and newsletter come into the mailbox and i peruse them for thoughtful advice, words of wisdom, pointers. invariably, they have some article on retirement – which is, of course, their real area of expertise. and, along with the article that lists all the things you need to “successfully retire” (aka do whatever-the-hell you want) there will be lists of IRAs and 401ks and savings pie charts and spending allowances and how they proportionately relate to each other and your life post-wage-earning.

good grief.

it is not in my best interest to take these too seriously.

by the time we are fully retired, with inflation going the way it is – gas prices and groceries, continually rising heating bills and let’s-not-talk-about-cable anymore and oh-right-then-there’s-healthcare – we might have like zilcho to spend.

i love the articles about places to retire to – small towns and lakefronts, unexpected charming villages. there’s always the question of retirement living communities with amenities and activities or planned gated neighborhoods or mobile home parks set in tropical locations.

with housing costs and rents rising ad nauseam, it is hard to think about having the resources to purchase a new home and move. we dream and look at tiny-house plans. we consider this beloved old house we live in. we wonder about traveling. we wonder about adventures. we wonder about the pacific crest trail.

we make a strict budget, planning ahead. i thank bill h., my math teacher, for the ability to think it all through and do the math in my head. and i warn d.

so in our fun and adventurous retirement, after working hard in our lives, after judicious and frugal-no-real-frills spending habits, i calculate our likely extraneous income…that expendable fluff – like reddi-whip piled high on top of a hot fudge sundae – and i tell david.

“zero,” i inform him. “we can spend zero.”

we’ll see, i guess.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the circle of life. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

sometimes asking a question is purely a matter of politeness. you want the other person to know you value their thoughts, but, since you’ve already decided, their answer blurs into the gusty winds inside your mind and you do what you want to do anyway.

i can’t say that all the lost turtles and frogs and hurt birds and chipmunks and leg-damaged preying mantises in the wild have come home with us. i can say that i wanted them to. he generally feels that nature should be left to carry on in the circle of life (i can hear elton john singing now) and so i already know his answer to my “what should we do?” question. we’ve come across kittens on trails and i’ve stared at him without a word as he sorts for something to say about wild cats. of course there is nothing to really say about a tiny tabby in the woods, except that we are not really all that far from civilization and, surely, this cat belongs somewhere, so taking it home would equate to, well, kidnapping it. that, for sure, stops any taking-it-home-ness from happening.

were it up to me, particularly in this empty-nest-time, all the sweet creatures we come across would be our little friends. and the circle of life – if need be – would include a stint at our house, in our nest.

and elton john would be happy.

*****

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in the quarry. does my butt look big in this? [saturday morning smack-dab.]

a rock and a hard place. he is wedged between them and help-me-i’m-wedged-and-i-can’t-get-out he can’t escape. there is no choice but to say the wrong thing. go either way and he has sunk miserably to the levels of pond catfish, carp at best.

in these days of changing-changing-changing bodies and expectations of ourselves, we peer in the mirror and are astounded at what we see staring back. menopause and “men”opause (whatever on earth that is called) – in all its glory – has taken its toll on our metabolism and our hips and someone with a line-defining pen has carved on our faces while we sleep in the night. and those jowls. let’s not forget them.

so while i want him to understand – to really get it – to grok it at a cellular level – to feeeeeel my pain, he is thinking, “she’s beautiful” and tells me so. ohmyheavens, seriously? can he not share in my astonishment, couple with my what-do-i-do-now-ness, sympathize in a big-big way, help me pick out jeans in the next size?

there is no winning here.

it is the perpetual “does my butt look big in this?” question. over and over. forevermore.

he can “pretend” not to notice, which undermines his believability factor and, ultimately, leaves him stranded with no credibility when i am facing down the mirror. he can acknowledge and discuss the merits of aging with me, leaving me incredulous that he would suggest that i am aging. he can try to play long ball – riding the fence – acting like he can’t hear me – changing the subject.

no matter what, he will find himself in the rock garden.

eh. who am i kidding? it’s more like a deep, dark quarry.

*****

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those blue cornflowers! [saturday morning smack-dab.]

corningware is a fact of life. my mom had corningware, my sister had corningware, my sister-in-law had corningware, i have corningware. there’s no getting around it. it just is.

it doesn’t really matter that there are other cooking vessels out there – fancier, more expensive, touting evenly distributed heat and cast-iron goodness. i was – from growing up with aluminum stock pots and the blue cornflower pattern – predestined for my “spice-o-life” corningware set. in a nod to bougie, i also have a couple pieces of the “french white” oven-to-table elegance. one of these days i may break out of this. the la creuset people are patiently waiting.

we go to antique shoppes often. someone asked me if we buy things. tilting my head to think about that question, i realized that we don’t buy things all that often, though we have a pension for repurposing old stuff so there are definitely exceptions to that. we have a merry old time, though, wandering around, telling stories and laughing. why is it that we tell stories, you ask? well, it’s because so much of the stuff we c.u.r.r.e.n.t.l.y. have (or, ok, have had) is also stocked in the antique stores. it’s not limited to the corningware and our pyrex mushroom-pattern mixing bowls. it’s the books we read, the albums we listened to, the games we played, the clothing styles we had, the leather tooled purses, the belt buckles we recognize, the peanuts mugs, the sylvester and tweety glassware, the woolen mill spools and the rug beaters i collected in the early 90s. it’s the vases passed down, etched glass platters, the linens from finland, the beer steins from europe, the flour sifters, the handmade yoyo quilts, the happy face wastebasket. i have bins of ebay-worthy treasures. vintage. wink-wink.

one of these days – hopefully in the far, far away future, his paintings and my cds will find their way into an antique store somewhere. people will pass by and they’ll say, “oh geeez. remember when we had a cd player? what year was that again?”

in the meanwhile, we will relish becoming antiques ourselves.

*****

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