reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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an octopus and a hissy fit. [d.r. thursday]

in the outstanding documentary “my octopus teacher” craig foster forges a relationship with an octopus in the south african kelp forest. every day he enters the cold water to search for her and over the period of about a year he bonded an intimate friendship with this amazing creature. when she disappears after a scare, he spends days seeking her, commenting, “i try to think like an octopus.” his success reuniting with her shows he is at least somewhat capable of thinking how she thinks, of seeing how she sees. your heart is filled watching the mutuality of their connection and you wonder why this level of reciprocal respect cannot exist more easily between human beings.

tuesday i had a hissy fit. i have mostly recuperated. i’m not sure where it started but it definitely was a meltdown. anxiety coupled with grief coupled with worry and angst with a pinch of frustration – the ingredients du jour for many of us on a given day in these difficult times. i went on about a propensity for letting things just roll off my back, making things ok, not speaking up – for myself – as often as i would wish or as often would seem apt. in my wild and wooly meltdown, i complained that others can do this and often do this – speak up, push back, say things are not ok – without incident, without remorse, without punitive measures, without concern. i stated examples in that way you do when you are ranting; there are many words you speak asfastasyoucan to make sure the other person keeps listening and there are also many punctuation words you linger on, stretching out the sound of them on your lips, exquisite cuss words that seem fitting at the time. these are not necessarily pretty, but they are definitely handy at providing emphasis. i ranted about neighbors playing music at absurd decibels in a house-dense community. i ranted about the internet and streaming and ridiculously small music royalties, an industry for independents, flailing. i ranted about my right hand’s range of motion plateau. i ranted about speaking up for myself and my rights as a woman, my rights as a professional, my rights as an employee. i ranted about not saying “no”. i ranted about losing my job. i ranted about those who claim to be caring and compassionate not even entertaining having any kind of discussion or dialogue. i ranted about ill-suited leaders in leadership positions, seemingly not being held answerable. i ranted about hypocrisy. i ranted about people’s silent complicity. i ranted about wanting to retort to others about their stance on politics, on gender and racial equality, on the pandemic, on climate change, on gun violence and gun control. i ranted that, even sans retort, even in even-keeled, calm, cool, collected and researched manner, it would be next to impossible to navigate debate. i ranted about the abyss in our nation that makes it impossible to have an intelligent, thoughtful and respectful conversation without vile getting in the way. i ranted about the inability for people to see things together. i ranted about missing my sweet babycat. i returned to the top, taking a breath and again ranted that others seem to do and say whatever they please, despite fallout or impact on others, despite truth or consequences, without care and with agenda, without benevolence and with mean-spiritedness, without kindness and with a lack of sensitivity. i ranted that i could not continue this way. i ranted, “if i can’t at 62, when is it that i can???” can’t what? can what? i’m not even sure i know. ranting is like that.

it would seem that possibly a kelp forest off the coast, deep dives with a weight belt, times of holding one’s breath minutes at a time might aid in establishing some sort of common ground. it worked for craig foster and his fantastic octopus. he carefully, and without antagonizing her or scaring her or moving too quickly, watched her in her short life. he passively, without interfering or having self-serving agenda, watched her deal with day-to-day life, with adversity, with terror, with the pecking order that comes in the ocean. he watched her gracefully and intelligently co-exist with stunning creatures of the sea. he was saddened when she was hurt; he mourned her when she died. relationship. a kinship crossing natural boundaries.

we humans…we have much to learn. we have brains that refuse to look for new factual knowledge, hearts that refuse to respect all love as love, eyes that refuse to attempt empathy or fairness and see what others see. maybe we should spend some time immersed in the vast ocean, in a kelp forest. or maybe we should try harder. or maybe we should spend some time answering the important questions of our hissy fits.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

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

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and we vamp. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

text message

delayed gratification.  it’s something we are growing used to in these days of days.  anticipatory glee.  it’s all an exponential wait-for-it.  as relatively impatient people, these are mostly new learnings.  there is no date on which we can hang our all-will-be-normal hats.  we must vamp until we know.

a long, long time ago, in the end of march, there was an opinion written by a woman with two teenage daughters who had a new appreciation for the way her grandparents lived.  she expressed that these grandparents owned a tiny home and had simple furnishings.  they took pleasure in the most basic of things:  dancing in the living room, watching a bare minimum on tv, sitting on the porch, crossword puzzles, having conversation, walking the familiar sidewalks of their tiny town over and over again, handwashing the dishes.  in the midst of this pandemic she could see their shining appreciation of the smallness, the stillness.  she could see the brilliance.

it occurs to me that we are living elements of her grandparents’ lives; i hope the same wisdoms will be bestowed upon us.  in the time after we have finished our work, we dance on the patio, watch little on tv, converse together, in texts, on the phone, on videoconferences, across driveways.  we sit on the deck or in the sunroom and watch spring chuggingly arrive.  we walk the same sidewalks we have walked together for years, noticing small changes: the heaved concrete or the bloomed daffodils, new mulch in gardens or new sturdy fencing.  we cook dinner; we do the dishes.  we are both quiet as we wait for what will come and we are just a little noisy in the moment.

to everything there is a season.  a time to plan.  where we will go, what we will do, who we will visit.  gratification, yes, delayed, but sage learnings in the moment.

one of the memorable texts of this waiting-place was one from a friend.  after some really serious life conversation, back and forth texting, she wrote, “let’s go out and have a drink.”  before i could wonder when we could do that, her next text arrived, “next year,” she added.

in the meanwhile we’ll do the dishes by hand and walk the sidewalks, waiting and planning, yearning, vamping till the song starts.

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

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the power of social…anything. [flawed wednesday]

think before you share

“think before you share”

SOME IDIOMS TO CONSIDER:

a two-edged sword.

it cuts both ways.

he said, she said.

off the record.

rumor has it.

the power of words.

heard it through the grapevine.

spill the beans.

the telephone game.

a little learning is a dangerous thing.

have your head in the clouds.

go on a wild goose chase.

dish the dirt.

add insult to injury.

can’t see the forest for the trees.

idle gossip.

baldfaced lie.

in bad faith.

stoke the fire.

trash talk.

get out of hand.

snowball effect.

jump on the bandwagon.

no love lost.

damn the torpedoes.

burn bridges.

a perfect storm.

boil over.

go down in flames.

AND THESE:

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

a penny for your thoughts.

it doesn’t hurt to ask.

the fact of the matter.

through thick and thin.

even keel.

those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

hold your tongue.

don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

call off the dogs.

leave no stone unturned.

heart to heart talk.

change your tune.

blow the lid off.

know which way the wind is blowing.

straight from the horse’s mouth.

a stitch in time saves nine.

look before you leap.

bury the hatchet.

do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

love makes the world go round.

live and learn.

yes. “think before you share.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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two broken wrists. [k.s. friday]

two wrists

day 4

it broke more than both my wrists, that snowboarding fall last monday.

it broke my ability to do many things for myself.  it fractured my independence.

it exploded my previous gratitude of those around me, loving and caring for me.  it expanded a dependence on others, particularly david.

it broke through my vulnerability threshold.  it made me acknowledge my modesty and encouraged me to try to stand tall in my new temporary disability.

it broke what i knew about others around me.  it both surprised me in all the best ways and surprised me in all the worst.

it broke my assumption that all things – all my relationships – all my work – would stay the same.  it shattered any sense of security.

it further broke my trust in our country’s healthcare coverage.  it pointedly drove home that point.

it broke through any calm-in-the-storm-around-us i had found.  it exacerbated a profound sense of worry.

it broke my muse.  it scared me, really scared me, and it made me wonder if i would play again, write again, perform again.

day 5.  my quiet piano welcomed me into the studio.  i stood in front of it.  determined.  and i played.  nine fingers, not ten.  not the hand-span of all other days, but never mind.

day 12.  eleven days after breaking them i still wake up, after night’s elusive sleep, surprised to see my wrists, well, more accurately, my cast and hard splint.

i think, “here we go,” and i set out to see what’s beyond two broken wrists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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baggage. [merely-a-thought monday]

your past

“your past should not dictate your future.”

we carry it all with us.  baggage.  baggage upon baggage upon baggage.  i once (poorly) drew a graphic of a stick person with an “outbreak of baggage”.   rollie bags and attaches, spinners and hardshells, suitcases and totes; i depicted a person with multiples of these, pulling and dragging and lugging them everywhere. each experience shoved into the depths of some piece of luggage; more and more loaded into expandable bags, the zippers stretched to the breaking point.  we lose sleep, perseverating over all the baggage we have.  the wee hours of the night nag us; we miss the hope of the sunrise.

but the sunrise happens nonetheless.  and the grace of a new day is gifted to us.  just as the tide-wave rushes in to the shoreline and cleanses the beach, washing away the footprints of the previous day, smoothing the rough edges, so does the new day grant us another chance.  we stand – present – right now, feet neither in yesterday nor in tomorrow.  our load is lessened, our baggage drops away.  we are freed to step lightly into next.  for our past does not dictate our future.

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

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the curious. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

blessed are the curious copy

my niece (well, technically d’s niece) posted this on instagram.  she and her husband, a pastor, are missionaries and have done pure and amazing hard work in the world.  she encountered this sign on a mirror in cairo, egypt while they are out gathering information to make a decision on their next placement.  i can’t think of two people more curious about others and the lives that people live outside our country; they have done impactful work and are seeking the next location where they can make a difference.  this sign must have felt like a sign to her – a reinforcement of their choices, their passion, their dedication, their direction.

it would be my guess that the moment you cease being curious is the same moment that you cease learning.  curiosity takes guts.  so does learning.  and adjusting.  at any age, we like to think we know.  and yet we don’t.

when my sweet momma entered assisted living, she was, quite understandably, apprehensive.  a person who adored her own home, but yet loved to converse with others – all others – it was hard for her to adjust to a new place outside of her own place, a new rhythm, new people, new things to do.  but she had great courage.  and she participated.  confused on lingo, she called to tell me that she was going to “taize on chair” but what she really meant was she was going to “tai chi on chair”.  and she liked it!  i was speechless with respect for her ability to try and learn new things, even at 93.  she was curious.  she kept asking questions.  she kept learning.  she kept having new adventures, albeit small adventures.  it mattered not to her that these adventures were not staggeringly earth-shattering.  what mattered to her was that it changed her.  it made her grow and think.  it made her try something new.  it made her braver.  it made her even more curious.

like hannah, like my sweet momma, i hope to stay outside the box.   to try new things and walk to the edge.  to look to others for inspiration.  to ask questions and listen to the answers.  to trust being curious.

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

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white rot fungi. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

nurselog in woods copy.JPG

“healer of the forest” nurselogs are numerous in the woods we hike in.  the white rot fungi grow easily in the outer bark of the tree, breaking down the structure of the wood and allowing small pockets of rich soil to form, remediating and inviting moss, mushrooms and small plants to feast on the nutrients and grow, stretching roots around the fallen tree to plant themselves deeper into the ground.  small animals find welcome in these healers and they live companionably together, each benefiting the other.  the concentric circles ripple outward.  symbiosis.  harmony.

i’m trying not to read the news as often these days.  i find it deafeningly dissonant. apparently, we, as a human race, are not naturally healers.  instead, we are creators of havoc, bullying, agenda-pushing individuals who give little care to remediating or living companionably together.  the concentric circles that ripple outward are filled with toxins; people get lost in power and control games, indeed benefiting no species whatsoever.  strident discord.

we could learn something from white rot fungi.

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

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plan ahead. [merely-a-thought monday]

chip hailstone box copy 3

my poppo would probably have liked chip hailstone.  an as-long-as-i-can-remember subscriber of national geographic, i imagine he would have liked the show ‘life below zero’.  he was good at solving problems, figuring things out, making stuff out of nothing.  his words of wisdom were simple.  “plan ahead,” he would say.   he was a card-holding-club-member-regular-reader of the handyman magazine; he easily could have been a contributing writer.  he would have loved chip hailstone’s comment, “you can make a long piece of wood short, but you can’t make a short piece of wood long.”  ahyup.  it’s in the details.  plan ahead.

we were coffee-sitting around the kitchen table.  it was a late florida morning, years ago now, and coffee break time was an every-day thing.  my dad suddenly got up from his chair and left the room, using his “stick” to get to the bedroom and back.  he returned moments later and started to speak.  “i have something for you, brat,” he started.  “with these years on your own you have learned so much out of necessity.  it’s time for you to have this.  you have earned it.”  he handed me his handyman club membership card and said, “this is yours now.  i’m proud of you.”

it was big news to get this card from my poppo and i didn’t underestimate its import. it would not have made me more gratified to receive a grammy award.  his -my- membership card is in plain view in my studio, reminding me of my dad and his words to me.

we watch ‘life below zero’ episodes and there are simple wisdoms dancing throughout the show.  things i can hear my dad say in his brooklyn accent.  things you think, “well, duh, of course.”  the same things you realize after-the-fact that you should have thought about before-the-fact.  yup, poppo.  plan ahead.

poppo & handyman club

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

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187. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

187 box framed copy

i had no idea how much i would love designing.  through the first ten years or so of album covers, i watched.  i sat with my dear friend 20 as he designed so many of my CD jackets and tray cards.  i learned a lot.  not about how to use photoshop or illustrator or quark but i learned about balance and clean design and how to “see”.  so when we started designing for THE MELANGE, that part came more easily.  the photoshop part?  well, that had a bigger learning curve (as does website designing.)  manipulating images and navigating programs without real directions can be a challenge, but i was up for it.  lots of learning.

the thing that really surprised us was when we looked at each of our society6.com stores this week and literally counted our product lines.   there are 187!  187 lines created across the five stores.

187 product lines later, i look back in wonder.

mugs and laptop covers, tote bags, prints and cellphone cases, beach towels, shower curtains…not to mention leggings.  in the course of the last year, i have designed between 50 and 60 pairs of leggings.  leggings with morsels of david’s paintings, leggings with graphics we have designed or photographs we have taken, leggings with words of wisdom, leggings with punchlines, leggings with lyrics.  i was a leggings-designing-maniac.  i think about even just these leggings designed, available on an on-demand site, and think – we could have all those made and just sell them ourselves.  we could sell those designs elsewhere – to a company that already produces leggings.  we could open a shop with all these products – interesting, different, artistic, not mass-produced or mass-purchased.  we could…  there’s no telling what we could do.

i asked david if he knew how many blogposts there had been in this MELANGE year.  he had already done the math.  we each posted 260 posts, totalling 520.  that’s more than a few words, more than a few thoughts, more than a little heart.

immeasurable energy has been devoted to these designs, these blogs, to this MELANGE.  here – at the one-year-old mark – we are astounded by the amount of time and effort this has all taken.  and we look back in wonder.

what has been the reward?

there is no way to underestimate the power of i/we-can-do-this.  the sisu of sticking it out, meeting the challenge, staying in the game, learning.

THE MELANGE is celebrating one year.  but we are celebrating so much more than that.  we look forward in wonder.

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this ANNIVERSARY MELANGE NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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THE MELANGE ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

images in THE MELANGE ©️ 2016-2019 david robinson & kerri sherwood