reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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indelible. [d.r. thursday]

indelible. the way of impressionable cement, not-yet-set or after much falling rain. the new sidewalk around the corner and down the street will forever look like autumn to me. until the impression of fallen leaves fades, i will always think of fall and raking leaves and stoked bonfires in the cool night air.

indelible. the way of scent. the whiff of a beloved’s cologne or perfume and you are catapulted in time to shared space with that person. the aroma of a certain cake in the oven or simmering sauce on the stove or how rye toast makes me think both of my sweet momma and my grandmother mama dear. the way walking through even a tiny pine forest both brings back the tall pines of florida and the sparkling air of colorado high mountain forest.

indelible. the way of taste. how you know exactly what a hot chocolate chip cookie tastes just out of the oven, without having one. how you anticipate that first cup of coffee in the morning. how you roll around the werther’s caramel and other times and places flit through your mind.

indelible. the way of color. how army green makes me think of the vietnam jacket my brother-in-law gave me. or how there’s a certain red that makes me think of moab and the high desert. how rich black makes me think of my piano. how blue makes me think of one of my sweet nieces and purple makes me think of the other. how pink is now a color my sister is rocking. how black and white together make me think of our babycat.

indelible. the way of sound. the seagulls in the air make me think of home – long island beaches – the surf pulls at me. bluejays bring me immediately back to my growing-up back yard. loons and i am up-north, hanging out with the gang. the sound of john denver music and the list of images in my mind’s eye grows; his music has accompanied me near and far. the echo of a sustain pedal takes me to quiet stages and dark theatres, practicing, a concert in the offing. the train at night, likely to always make me think of laying in bed, here, at home. the foghorn, the same.

indelible. the way of touch. the sensation of petting our dogdog. of holding hands. of scuffing feet in fallen leaves. of the cold water of a stream running over my feet – instantly transported to an aspen brook, hidden way back on trail. the certain way someone hugs, the one-in-a-million dna of that hug.

indelible. the way of first impressions. we have this chance many times a day. the first impression we have on the cashier or associate at the store, the first impression we have on the person walking the other way on the sidewalk, the first impression we have with the person on the other end of the phonecall, the first impression we have with strangers and, i suppose, those close to us each new day. and more, intimately, close-in, how we start our days. the indelible way we come home. how we greet each other. with joy or abstracted, aloof.

i saw a video of a young woman, a social worker steeped in education and research, speaking about how she learned a simple lesson about relationship from her dog. each day, each and every time, she would return home and her dog would be filled with zealous and passionate happiness at seeing her. she had no doubt about its love of her and how it felt when it saw her. dogdog jumps higher than the back doorknob every time we come home, with ardent wagawag. yes. important to remember as we see our beloveds, our family, our friends. the impressions we give them.

they are indelible.

this branch of leaves will eventually fade from this sidewalk square. but i know i’ll keep remembering these leaves as we pass this spot, enduring till they are the lightest light and blend, disappearing, into the cement.

i hope that i will remember that my impression is also indelible. first impression, every impression. even as i blend into the cement.

good lessons from rye toast. good lessons from our dogs. good lessons from the leaves.

*****

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“went to visit mom.” [k.s. friday]

it’s an octave. though it is not obvious to most and though it is difficult to see, it is an octave. well, slightly more than an octave, actually. d to d and then e and f. f# too. there are still 88 keys, even aged. still 88 keys, even devoid of their black and whiteness. still 88 keys, even in their new patina. still 88 keys, even though some may now be missing. it is still a piano. its soul is intact.

my sweet momma has been gone seven years today. seven.

the other day, in a group text with some dear friends, i read one friend’s response to a question from another about whether she was home. “not home yet,” she wrote. “went to visit mom.” it stopped me in my tracks and i stood still for a moment. those words – “went to visit mom” – were powerful moment-freezers. time suspended just for a few seconds as i pondered what it would be like to be able to write those words – “went to visit mom”.

i know that i was fortunate. my sweet momma was almost-94 when she died. and i was 56, so almost six decades of me sharing the same plane of existence. her life was inspiring and i was lucky to have her cheering for me in every success, in every travail. she was steady and a rock who was always there, whether or not, in different phases of my life, i recognized it. it was true for me that there was no one who was a bigger cheerleader for me – she had pompoms out the moment i was born and never hesitated to use them. and, as is true for most of us, i’m quite certain there were times i took that for granted, took her for granted.

“went to visit mom.” wow. what i would give to have minutes, hours, days with her. to seek her wisdom, watch her enthusiasm, see the glint in her eyes and hear her laugh, coffeesit with her, have a giant bowl of pasta fagioli or a big slab of crumbcake or some silly adventure. to feel enormous unconditional love. to hug her. to be hugged by her.

“neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.” (desiderata)

barney will reside in our backyard for a long time to come. this gorgeous instrument will continue to be worn by weather and the elements. its keys will fall off, the wood laminate will peel. it will still be a piano and each octave will still be an octave.

my sweet momma, i know, is the same. she is still there, as perennial as the grass. i know her love supersedes my loss of her.

maybe sometime today i’ll go out by barney. i’ll take a candle and light it. and i’ll text d, upstairs in the office working, “went to visit mom”.

*****

LEGACY

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LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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sweet laughter. [d.r. thursday]

i can’t imagine what it would feel like to have written enormously happy screenplays like ‘when harry met sally’ or ‘sleepless in seattle’ or ‘you’ve got mail’. my sweet momma loved the play of meg ryan and tom hanks and billy crystal and, even in face of a double mastectomy at 93, she would watch these movies and she would feel good. nora ephron had feeling good dialed in. her recommendation to “laugh in the face of calamity” is not surprising and deborah copaken’s recent article in the atlantic with snippets of deborah-nora 2011 conversation includes two more of nora’s rules for middle-age happiness: gather friends and feed them and cut out all the things (people, jobs, body parts ) that no longer serve you. these seem to be sage tidbits of wisdom.

when i was younger, there was no shortage of reader’s digest issues in our house. i grew up reading these excerpted and short stories. one of the features was called ‘laughter, the best medicine’. people would submit their own stories for a chance to be published and paid $100. some of these paragraph-stories would elicit a snicker or two, others a real chuckle, though i don’t remember ever out-and-out guffawing. i suppose guffawing is not so young-girl-like; perhaps i should substitute another word. regardless, they were clean jokes and real-life experiences of people that were there to make you laugh. i loved watching my mom and dad laugh over them.

when i googled reader’s digest, i stumbled across an article about bob carey, a man whose wife has been battling breast cancer since the early 2000s. he, in his hope to help, pulled on a pink tutu and went all over the country having his picture taken to raise money for breast cancer research. there is nothing like a man-who-doesn’t-have-a-tutu-body in a pink tutu struttin’ his stuff in the middle of new york city or at the grand canyon to make you laugh. his honoring his wife linda through the tutu project he embraces her spirit, her courage and the power of laughter in their lives. it’s good stuff, this laughing.

laughter triggers physical and emotional changes in our bodies. even a smile elicits goodness in our own selves, relaxing stress muscles, encouraging others around us to relax. it’s the reason i will always start a concert with a story that will likely make people laugh, a story of vulnerability, even a self-deprecating story. a relaxed audience is a participatory audience who has been invited in. there’s no second chance to make a first impression.

my sweet momma would have been good friends with nora, had she had the chance. she would have applauded bob carey in his pink tutu, had she seen him. the sound of her laugh and the dancing light in her eyes stay with me.

in the words of pablo neruda, “…deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter for i would die.”

sweet laughter. like the whisper of words of your beloved or a gentle kiss to the top of your head, the laughter of your beloved.

there is a book i haven’t read yet – by richard cohen, about nora ephron. it is called ‘she made me laugh’. can you imagine a better legacy?

*****

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just like my sweet momma and poppo. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

inosculate: join by intertwining or fitting closely together. “inosculation is a natural phenomenon in which trunks, branches or roots of two trees grow together. it is biologically similar to grafting and such trees are referred to in forestry as gemels, from the latin word meaning “a pair”.” (wikipedia)

tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of my sweet momma leaving this earth. there is not a day that goes by that i do not think of her, miss her, wish i could call her, have questions to ask her. in the way that we all wish on stars, i wish i could have more time with her.

momma lived three years past my dad’s passing. in the very days before he died, he knew that his dying was imminent. i walked into his hospital room and he told me he was ready. i, however, was not. neither was my momma. she was seriously infuriated at him. they had been married – at that time – for 68 years. 68. i haven’t even lived that long yet, and they were together for longer. in every way imaginable, they were, like these trees in the woods, inosculated. a pair.

inosculate: to unite intimately.

my parents had simple routines in their later years. coffee and breakfast. making the bed. reading the paper. coffee break. a few errands perhaps. lunch. my poppo doing a little work at his workbench or in the garden while my mom worked at her desk. sitting and gazing at the waterfowl behind their house. maybe a little snack in the afternoon. reading. dinner. nothing stupendous. nothing extraordinary. but most definitely inosculated.

though i’m sure they drove each other a bit crazy at times (who doesn’t?), in these later years, particularly, they fit together like these trees. sharing responsibilities for the day-to-day. carefully mindful of each other’s health concerns. re-telling old stories. looking forward to any time they would see their family. grateful for this home bathed in sunlight and surrounded by green.

they were indeed “gemel trees”, sharing deep root systems, with prolonged contact, fusing together. and, in the end, their love was no longer complex. it just was.

when we passed these trees off-trail, i wondered about them. i’m not absolutely certain where their connections are and if they are prime examples of inosculation, but they are indeed living in community, united. they somehow rely on each other, sharing nutrients and sun and dirt-space on this earth.

and, once again, here in the forest, i can see the simple example set for humans. the same one my sweet parents set.

*****

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the wisdom of the white trout lily. [merely-a-thought monday]

when my big brother died, i was lost in a maelstrom of emotion. it was hard for me to wrap my head around how the world would go on at a point he could no longer feel it. it wasn’t like i hadn’t experienced loss before. at that point in my life, i no longer had any of my grandparents present on this earth with me. that just felt like a more natural thing – to lose those we love who are elderly, who have lived long and full lives. my beloved brother, on the other hand, was merely 41 and there were so many hopes and dreams he still had for himself and his family. i am still struck by the fact that the world does, indeed, go on. the sun rises and sets; the moon lingers in the night sky. and my question, both existential and somewhat obvious, remains unanswered: how it can go on if he can’t feel it anymore. how it will go on – someday – if i can’t feel it anymore.

at some point a few years ago, i played for a memorial service at a synagogue. one of the meditations before kaddish made me weep. penned by merrit malloy, it reads: “when i die give what’s left of me away to children and old men that wait to die. and if you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you. and when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me. i want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. look for me in the people i’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away, at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind. you can love me best by letting hands touch hands and by letting go of children that need to be free. love doesn’t die, people do. so when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”

the white trout lily humbly bows on the forest floor. much like people, though on a different scale, their presence is ephemeral, fleeting. on sunny days, their petals will curl back, up, towards the sun; on shady days these small flowers may not even open. their simple beauty a mystery to the passerby, their faces shyly downward, they fill the underbrush on the side of the trail, dotting the landscape with fragile white blooms. i trust they are not concerned with the impact they make on the world nor do they wonder about their footprints once they are gone. they are simply there – love – dressed in white floral.

as we have moved through the pandemic and the devastating myriad of even just this past year, it is inevitable to think of all the loss, the loved ones who have died, the families and concentric circles left behind in grief, questioning. it is also – yes – a reminder that we are still here.

my dear friend sent me a link to a new york times op ed by charles blow. she drew my attention to the last line, words of perfection: “when i am gone, and people remember my name, i want some of them to smile.”

yes.

that.

smile. and give me away.

*****

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first. [merely-a-thought monday]

it’s rare to wander into a place without footprints. a combed beach, an untouched snowfield, beckon you to step, to be first, to be the only one.

after a snowfall a few years back we went hiking out in the county. the only being there before us was a deer, its tracks evident in the snow. and then ours. the three of us in quietude together, before anyone else. it made everything feel pure and connected; it was a jewel of a day.

we went hiking on one of our favorite trails closer by. snowpants swishing and our feet breaking through the snowcrust, we were the only ones. the snow was untouched, a blank canvas, inviting both our steps and the humble retreat we considered to preserve it. it’s magical to look backwards on the trail and see only the tracks you have laid there.

yes, “there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on.” (c.r. brunt)

in the opening notes of a new composition, many composers, artists, writers feel that they are going where no one else has trod before. we are given to the thought that in our uniqueness we will have something to say, sing, play, paint, draw that no one – ever – before has said, sung, played, painted or drawn. it is not likely that this is true.

in the way that everything cycles around us, so do the notes, the colors, the words, waiting in clouds of possibility all around us to be positioned together, partnered, brought into one. we, as artists, choose from these barely visible pots. we fuss, we nuance, we finesse, we fingerprint, we make it our own.

and yet, much later, decades even, in looking back over the trail – the song, the poem, the story, the painting – we recognize glimmers from those who have walked before. threads of connection, purity of the artist-collective-story, souls woven in the telling of the human-tale. original-first and cyclically-repeating.

because, indeed, as the snow melts on the trail, it reveals evidence of others who have been there, others who have left their words, their notes, their colors. others who have left their footprints, their tracks, back to another day when someone else was first.

*****

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it’s not about us. [k.s. friday]

it’s not about us.

it really is no longer about us. it is now about those who come behind us. it is about those who follow our footfalls and any who step in moments beyond ours. we owe them – in advance.

we owe them a country based on life, liberty for all and the pursuit of happiness.

we owe them a country truly practicing equality in every way, be it gender or race or sexual orientation or economic status or religious preference.

we owe them a country that is healthy and mindful of its environmental future, a country that has clean water, clean air, clean vegetation, clean food sources.

we owe them a country with an openly crossed aisle, where respectful conversation takes place and negotiation is paramount.

we owe them a country where leaders are cherished examples of goodness, stalwart and compassionate role models for their children and their children’s children.

we owe them a country where truth is valued, where fallacy and falsehoods are not propagated like the wind, where honor stands tall.

we owe them a country where voting makes a difference and every voice counts.

we owe them a country and policies that hold every citizen’s safety in high regard.

we owe them a country that chooses kindness.

we owe them a country where national treasures are relationships not tangibles.

we owe them a country that cares about their good health, that supports them if they are hungry, that encourages them to learn, that embraces their new ideas, that cares when wrinkles grace their faces.

we owe them a country, a world, that helps them dream.

we owe them sunrises, sunsets and moonrises that hold promise, light and hope.

it is our legacy to them. it’s not about us any more.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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not. [two artists tuesday]

kindnessSCHITTSCREEK.jpg

granted, schitt’s creek is not a shining example of serious shows.  nor is it the apex of intelligent, thought-provoking viewing.  but we had run out of parenthood (still sniffling over the bitter end) and this is us and everest movies and documentaries and decided to try on something new.  we chose schitt’s creek.

it quickly became apparent to us that the humor in this show was not necessarily in alignment with our sense of humor, but we watched anyway.  we decided it was a study.

the stunning moment came when one of the characters looked at another and, in complete candor, said, “kindness is a sign of weakness.”

we sat and looked at each other, the glow of the moon on water out the window.  we dove deep into those words.  after much debate and a search for profundity, we realized that in this country, at this time, with these circumstances, it was a true statement.  kindness is not where it’s at, not what gets you ahead.  it is without power and control.  its calmness is terrifyingly missing in national goings-on, in international goings-on, in dealings with people even close-up and personal with agendas that serve only themselves.  kindness has left the building in more places than we would care to think about.  but a weakness?  not.

beaky, my sweet momma, said, “be kind.  be kind to each other.”  and she damn well meant it.  it may not have served her as well as being arrogantly demanding might have.  it may not have served her as well as being haughty, nasty, biting might have.  but it leaves a legacy for her that i am proud to speak about.  it is a rare treat to see someone not take sh*t from someone else and do it with strong backbone in a kind way.  my sweet momma was well-practiced.

and, i might add, she was not weak.

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LittleFreeLibrary [not-so-flawed wednesday]

littlefreelibraryBOX copy

a legacy. todd bol has left a legacy in his wake.  and i can’t imagine one that doesn’t touch imaginations and creativity and limitlessness more.  todd built his initial little free library in 2009 in hudson, wisconsin, as a tribute to his mother, who was a teacher and a book-lover.  his first little free library was a replica of a one-room schoolhouse, which he secured on a post and filled with books that he invited his neighbors to borrow.  it caught on, as no one could have dreamed possible, and now these gems are across the united states and in more than 80 countries.

we read every day.  together.  we always have a book going and it is one of our greatest pleasures to read aloud to each other.  there is something magical about it – sitting close under a blanket, experiencing the book at the same time, reacting to it, talking about it.  sometimes a book is so engrossing it requires one of us to pull the other out of the book-world-reality that has consumed us.   such is the power of reading.

if you walk around our neighborhood, even without walking on every single street, you will encounter these little libraries.  there are five within just a few minutes, a few blocks of us.  todd bol died at age 62 on october 18.  but his legacy?  he has left behind “more than 75,000 little free library stewards around the world dedicated to literacy and community.”  an amazing – and ever-growing – gift to the world.  thank you, todd bol.

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and, speaking of legacy, happy would-be-68th birthday to my big brother wayne.  no matter what plane of existence you now grace, you live on in each of us.  i wish i could peapod or instacart or jet you gallons of coffee ice cream.  i love you and miss you.  always.

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ks friday

jacketrfthjpeg copywith the advent of ancestry kits and accessible dna testing, we are a society of people with more desire to learn about our individual heritage.  for christmas, The Girl and The Boy each got a dna testing kit from their father.  i’m excited to hear the results of these.  it’s fascinating to me to find out what our roots are; despite some specificity flaws and rounding up (or down) of genetic heredity in the testing and reporting kits i have read about, it is still interesting to know just a little bit more about where we come from.

my sweet momma and poppo traveled to salt lake city to work on the genealogy of our family.  they spent hours in the library there, researching.  they would have loved the idea of simply submitting dna to find out a broad spectrum of heredity, of lineage, but i suspect they still would have traveled to work on this the old-fashioned way, looking for names of family and how the branches of the tree spread out.

without doubt you have seen the commercials for these tests.  my favorites are the ones where people find that they were either mistaken about their ethnic heritage or they found that there were some surprises.  the best part is that – and i know it’s a commercial, but hey, i’m gullible – they embrace learning about this new part of their identity they had no idea existed.  they embrace something different.   they want to celebrate ethnicities they knew nothing about.  why not celebrate these whether or not it is a part of our heritage?  maybe we can make the legacy we pass down one of inclusion and acceptance and a curiosity to learn and welcome others, whether or not their dna matches ours.

 

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LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood