reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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agnes, mom, dad and dogdog. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever i feel afraid i hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect i’m afraid.” the tune from the king and i has gone through my head more than once in my life. the feel-good song you carry with you can make a difference (this is directed to our jaded babycat).

we have watched national geographic’s life below zero for a few years now. it’s not hard to develop “relationship” with the people on the show, especially now, in times of pandemic when you see few others. the hailstone family is based in noorvik, alaska. it’s brutally cold, removed and not an easy place to live. agnes hailstone, the 40-something matriarch, has a can-do attitude. the striking thing about this family is their positivity. what they are like off-screen is of question, but on-screen they are encouraging, supportive of each other, never undercut what the other is doing, and always have a more positive zeal than i ever could muster out on the negative-temperatured tundra in dim light and a freezing-wind stormy day on a snowmobile going 40mph for miles and miles across a frozen lake in search of a fish or maybe two from a tiny augured ice hole. “you can do things happy or sad or mad,” agnes said on a recent show, “but it’s best to just do things happy.” she adapts to new challenges, weird-stuff-that-happens, and seasonally-repeating obstacles as they arise and has passed her can-do-ness on to her children, her grandchildren, her spouse. she doesn’t give up. she is pretty heroic in my book. she must have bobby mcferrin humming in her head, “don’t worry. be happy.”

it’s impossible to not dance when you hear black eyed peas’ “i gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night”. it’s not likely you can resist with james brown’s “i feel good” or john denver’s “sunshine on my shoulders makes me happeeee.” it’s without question that “here comes the sun, dootin doo doo” easily elicits you singing along the famous line “and i say, it’s all right!”

but what about in the quiet? what about when all is silent, when all lyrics have slipped from your ready grasp, when you can’t think of a song to save your life, as the expression goes? then what? what do you draw from?

i suppose that’s the reason my sweet momma started the day by saying “good morning, merry sunshine.” or why my sweet dad would look at things that were challenging and simply say, “well, how do you like them apples?” after living lives full of challenge and the roller coaster of emotional heave-hoes, they chose to greet the world in each of their experiences with positivity. hearing my dad’s whistling told me everything i needed to know – they were ok in the world, no matter what. they chose it.

agnes hailstone and my mom and dad would like each other. and dogdog. dogdog too.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the reins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

my nine-year-old hands held the reins loosely. i was riding lucky, a big bay horse at the stable. it was the day we would take our horses out on the trail. i had hoped to ride mardigras, a stunning black horse with a white star tucked under its forelock. but lucky it was.

we rode out of the paddock and turned uphill toward the woods. nose-tail-nose-tail-nose-tail we rode silently, leather saddles squeaking under our tiny bodies. into the woods, our instructor let us separate out a bit, a little less interstate-traffic-jam-like, and we could each breathe a bit, enjoying the freedom of no fencing with our horses. lucky tossed his head and i bent down from my english riding posture to hug on his neck, running my hands under his mane. it was a beautiful day and i could think of nothing better to hold in my hands than the reins of a horse.

eventually we turned back toward the barn.

and in that moment, lucky pulled hard. the reins i had draped around my hands, thumbs properly placed, were wrenched from me. and lucky ran.

no one had told me ahead of time that lucky really loved the return trip to the barn. no one had mentioned that lucky, when turned downhill, would likely take his head, would likely run. no one had suggested that i pay closer attention to the reins when we were back-to-the-barn-bound.

i had never galloped before, but i was treated to lucky’s fastest gait going downhill. holding on with my knees as hard as i could i wished there was a western pommel i could grasp. i was at the mercy of this horse and he was having no mercy.

the barn came into view and lucky screeched to a stop. in the fluid move of a great white lipizzan, lucky reared up onto his hind legs and threw me to the ground. a defining moment indeed, hitting the ground. lucky, dragging his reins behind him, swaggered to the feed trough next to the barn and began to eat.

my instructor was soon at my side. she stood me up, checked me over, gave me a hug and walked me to another horse, giving me a quick peptalk on the way. she held out her hands linked together, gently but firmly asked me to place my foot into her shoe-up and immediately got me on another horse. overcome it.

and that brings me to today, a day i wish i could sit astride a horse and ride off into the woods.

nevertheless, i remember the words of sue aikens, “this will define me or i will overcome it,” and i, horse or no horse, take the reins in the middle of no-mercy and firmly hold them in my hands.

*****

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


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tear down, build up. [merely-a-thought monday]

nature of life box

the seasons pass.  we lurch from lush to barren.  we see the fire season lengthening, the arctic ice shelf shrinking, the oceans warming, the atmosphere more potentially lethal.  we see the lack of a bipartisan country, divisiveness poisoning our communities, self-serving rule over a democracy based on equity and compassion.  we are stymied by what we can do, what we can accomplish as individuals and we speak up, at the ready to be buoyed by support or torn down by scorn.  we have traversed the spectrum of built up and trampled.

i hope this season will pass.  that the tearing down will yield a new harvest.  that we will pay attention to our good earth and its physical struggles.  that we will cross the aisle and reach out.  that each of us will count, no matter our ANYthing.  that sensitivity and humanity and fairness will lead our actions.  that we will be kind.  that we will build up.  that this now barren-in-so-many-ways-land will again be lush.  with promise.  for everyone.

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

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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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it’s not a problem. [merely-a-thought monday]

it's not a problem correct aikens box copy

my poppo would likely have agreed with sue aikens.  he was a solution-finder.  i will, right-here-and-now, brag about his ability to fix absolutely anything; he would find a way, even if he had to make it up.  well, mostly because he made it up.

i’m not sure how he learned everything he learned; his knowledge base was incredibly practical.  give him any problem and it became a challenge for him – an undertaking he never-ever thought of as insurmountable…it was simply a solution he hadn’t yet found.  and so, i hear sue aikens (of national geographic’s life below zero fame – living a solitary life out on the arctic, solving problems i will likely never encounter) and i think of my dad, whose list of favorite places on earth included his workbench out in the garage (or in the basement in earlier years when they lived up north.)  he saved every screw and nut and bolt and tool that crossed his path “just in case”.   he was a re-purposer before it was vogue.  and he was an expert at turning cardboard boxes inside out or fashioning a new box from old in order to ship or store any thing.  his rube goldberg fixes were always pretty amusing, but they all worked and i can hear him in my head pondering and strategizing when i look at something-that-needs-fixing.  sue aikens would be proud.  her glass-half-full attitude is pretty amazing, considering the elements she deals with.  she’s pretty black and white about things; a lack of grey is something i can’t really relate to, but maybe that’s why she solves things more easily – she doesn’t get lost in any part of the emotional response to the problem.

i have to say, though, that i wish i could look at problems in the same positive way as sue.  yes, yes, yes, i know how much we all grow from problems and solving problems and blahblahblah.   it’s the stress of problems i’m talking about…the worry.  there was a prayer yesterday in the bulletin that said, “help us resist the reflex to worry constantly about every single detail of our lives…”  wow.  i double that.  mmm.  make that triple.  it is a reflex.  we know that the moments beyond problems will come.  more than likely we will be on the other side sometime soon, sitting in the middle of the solution and looking back,  shaking our heads at how befuddled and stressed we felt.  but in the meantime….

in the meantime, i would like a collection of some straight-up solutions for the problems that lurk…a (metaphoric) closet full of how-to-do-its or at least how-to-make-it-ups.  oh, and a better attitude about problems.  they are just solutions we haven’t found yet.

uh. yeah.  (eye roll)

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

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ice pops. [two artists tuesday]

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i know it comes as no surprise to you that we watch the national geographic show ‘life below zero’.  we’ve talked about it before and have even quoted snippets of wisdom from some of the show’s regulars.

in the next day or so it will drop to a “feels like” temperature of -52.  that’s negative fifty-two.  the “actual” temperatures won’t even reach the single digit negative numbers.  now, that’s cold!  and yet, each time the temperature is posted on the screen when we watch ‘life below zero’ it is usually some negative number (which doesn’t include the wind chill.)  then, whichever arctic resident they are following will proceed to go miles to hunt or gather or fish, walking or driving snow machines in bitter winds, dragging behind them sleds upon which they will place their findings.  i think we watch it because it is so far from our own lives.  we love the vistas and can’t really imagine the life.

the whole town was closed today; the school system, the colleges, the city offices.  and we haven’t even gotten to the life-below-zero temperatures yet.  at lunchtime we took a walk and the snow was amazing.  it was quiet and the lakefront was full of ice.  our sedum plants looked like the lemonade ice pops i used to make The Girl and The Boy with the tupperware do-it-yourself-ice-pop-set i’m saving for the possibility of grandchildren.  the snow is everywhere; there are enormous baby-sled piles on the sides of the roads.  icicles abound.  it’s beautiful.  it’s a vision of real old-fashioned winter, a calendar entry on one of those the-year-in-wisconsin calendars, postcard images of this time of hibernation.

and so, in deference to the scope of mother nature’s ability to stop us in our tracks, we plan to limit our outdoor exposure the next few days.  we look outside at all the snow that has already fallen and, expecting more, make sure we have enough basics in the fridge and the cupboards to last, in case we can’t get out.  our little scion rocks, but unplowed roads and extreme cold are not necessarily its gig.

maybe we’ll take a little time and watch some more ‘life below zero’.  by sheer comparison, we’ll realize how easy we have it.  oh! and hey, maybe we’ll make some ice pops.  or not.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the twain. [merely a thought monday]

lifebelowzeroquotesueaikens

i shudder when i hear the words “…and never the twain shall meet…”(rudyard kipling)  in my head when i read this.  but sue aikens’ words (on life below zero, she is a strong alaska-proof woman living in the arctic) were not a viewpoint on the polarization of our country.  they were merely the way she was describing the ropes she sets outside her buildings so that in the middle of fierce snowstorms she will be able to find her way, despite not being able to see in the swirling snow.

in life – intellectual, emotional, political life – however, there is a middle ground.  but it has become difficult in our current climate to sort to the middle, to not stand firmly on one side or the other of the great divide, a place that grows larger by the day, with an ever-brewing moat of hatred and vitriol, terrifyingly divisive to families, relationships, communities. there is danger on the far sides, danger in stubbornly and feverishly clinging to the left or the right, without considering ramifications, without any compassion, with an unbending dedication to absolutism, with no room or moment for thoughtful consideration, with breakneck righteous reactivity.

in sue aikens’ world, it will save her life to unconditionally sort left or sort right.  in ours, it may destroy us.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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flippers and bumpers. [merely a thought monday]

lifebelowzeroJessiequote

words of wisdom from jessie holmes (a sled dog racer) of national geographic’s life below zero…such a simple truth.  you can’t start in the middle….of the race, of the book, of the career, of the relationship, of the challenge, of the hallway that sits in-between one door closing and another opening.  you have to show up at the starting line and experience all of it.  wanting to avoid the pain, the ambiguity, the not-knowing-how-it-will-turn-out, we try to skip a stone from the start to the finish, but – if you picture a pinball machine and the ball careening off flippers and bumpers – we know that there are many variables and any one move will change where the steel ball will go next.  just like life.

in a statement of the obvious, “you cannot play your pinball machine without the playfield.”(pinballsales.com)  in jessie’s equally obvious but oh-so-poignantly-true statement, yes…you “can’t show up at the finish line without showing up at the starting line.”  it all counts.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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when sled dogs dream [flawed cartoon wednesday]

when sled dogs dream jpegBIG copy 2

life below zero has captured our attention.  sheesh.  we are not ‘those people’ who have to follow shows, but we find ourselves searching the channel-changer for the national geographic show or… wait-for-it-this-is-no-surprise … this is us.  (so i guess, in essence, we are ‘those people’.)  anyway, that’s not my point.

dream SQ PILLOW copywhen david drew this, i laughed aloud.  it is truly funny to think about what animals dream (like our dogdog who runs in his sleep and babycat who snores up a storm) and if their dreams distort reality, just as ours do.  in the morning, over steaming mugs of coffee, we often tell each other what we remember from our dreams.  talk about distorted reality!  i crack up thinking about what jessie holmes (the most avid -and very-sweet-to-his-dogs sled dog guy on the show) would do if he saw this cartoon.

the last little vestige of winter is in the air here (well, maybe.)  dream CLOCK copyas i write, there is snow in the forecast.  even though we had this amazing hike-gift the other day in sunny 65 degree temperatures, truthfully, i don’t really mind that winter hasn’t ended; it is a time of fallow and that brings great anticipation for spring and newness.

in the meanwhile, happy wintery-spring.

dream duvet cover copy

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sled dogs dream MUG copy

dream LEGGINGS copy

DREAM & WHEN SLED DOGS DREAM – PRODUCTS on Society6.com/flawedcartoon

FLAWED CARTOON WEDNESDAY – ON OUR SITE

read DAVID’S thoughts on WHEN SLED DOGS DREAM

WHEN SLED DOGS DREAM & DREAM ©️ 2016 & 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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flawed cartoon wednesday #1

wienerdogsledcorrectspellingJPG copywednesday nights in the trinity choir room are pretty funny.  is that because it’s wednesday?  is that because it’s easy to have fun singing or strumming the ukulele with a wholebunchapeople or playing handbells while talking about everythingunderthesun?  maybe it’s a little of everything.  wednesdays are like that.  we need the fun, the laughs, the rolling-of-eyes to get through the rest of the week.

FLAWED cartoon is also like that.  you may laugh.  you may groan.  you may roll your eyes.  but any way you look at them, they are good wednesday fare.

FLAWED cartoon was another run at syndication (which, by the way, is compared to winning the lottery, according to a friend of ours whose fun strip THE BRILLIANT MIND OF EDISON LEE runs daily and who said he felt like he had won the lottery.)  david and our dear friend 20 created this cartoon and i have handled all the technical blahblah of it.  we cackle every time we jot down a new idea.  ohmygosh, isn’t “cackle” a great word?!?

the wiener dog sled makes me laugh aloud.  we are pretty devoted life-below-zero fans and have great respect for andy and jessie on that show, both of whom run dogsleds.  john and michele next door have three wiener dogs and i just can’t imagine them pulling ANY sled.  and, although i don’t remember her well, i spent my babyhood years with a dachshund named shayne, who tells stories through my momma’s books of the same name.  wiener dogs rock, but as sled dogs?

and so, our melange of studio-created-stuff continues and FLAWED cartoon wednesday will hopefully bring a grin to your wednesday-can’t-wait-till-friday-face.

WIENER DOG SLED

FLAWED cartoon wednesday

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wiener dog sled ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood