reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the easel in our sunroom. [d.r. thursday]

we have sat at this table countless times now. it’s the table at which duke and eileen sat for decades of their marriage, sipping coffee, listening to the radio, reading the paper. there have been infinite conversations at this table, much laughter, maybe even an argument or two. this table, clothed in worn, yet sturdy, has seen many meals and some good life.

two days ago i spent some significant time at this table with 20, duke and eileen’s son. we helped him when it was time to clean out their house; duke had moved on to a different dimension and eileen was moving into assisted living. he asked us to put the old table into big red and take it as a donation to one of the resale shops in town. we brought it to st. vincent de paul and they refused it. the guy at the furniture donation door said that it showed wear on the top and that it wasn’t acceptable under their guidelines. we didn’t have time to take it elsewhere so we left it in the back of big red, for a very long time, waiting for another day to donate it somewhere.

looking out onto our deck and backyard, our sunroom is one of our favorite rooms. we stood in the sunroom one day in the early pandemic and did some re-imagining. an old door horizontal on a couple horses spanned the length on the east side of the room and an antique drafting table was smack in the center looking out back. we moved the drafting table upstairs to the office. and stood there, pondering. we thought it might be nice to have a table in front of the window, perhaps one we could sit at with coffee or lunch. we went downstairs into the storage room looking for perhaps another old door, a surface we could use. we couldn’t find just what we wanted, so we thought that we might go look for a table somewhere. it was one of those forehead-smacking-moments when we remembered we had such a table in the back of big red. we unloaded it and the duke-and-eileen table had itself a new home.

we have written at this table. david has drawn cartoons and sketched sketches at this table. i have laid out, added font, finessed, colorized, photoshopped at this table. we have created at this table. it is the easel in our sunroom, a room we adore. amid happy lights, succulents and plants with names like KC, snakeinthegrass, leticia, ralph surround us. the gentle sound of a tiny fountain is soothing and the whir of the small wine-fridge-from-the-boy reminds us not to forget snack-time-happy-hour. we can see the birds at the feeder and know that magic is sunning on a rock in the pond. this table is happy and we are happy the secondhand store turned it away.

so on tuesday, 20 and i sat working on some things he needed to get done. a couple of times he said, “wow. we are sitting at the table duke and eileen sat at all those years…” yes. that’s how we feel each day.

the specific history of this table is a mystery, for we will never know the love expressed at this table, never know the decisions made at this table, never know the tears shed at this table. we just know that it has comforted us through this whole time of pandemic.

like duke and eileen, we have sipped coffee at it, listened to music, read news apps. we have had conversations and much laughter and have argued at this table. this table continues to wear, continues to age, continues to be a place of many meals, and continues to see some good life.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

a place of creations


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levels of color. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we were the only ones. the only customers in the grocery store with masks on. there was one employee we saw wearing one, but we didn’t see any other shoppers with one on. the other day, at a different grocery store, we were the recipients of a few dirty looks. but heck, we have tougher skin than that. mostly.

we sat outside while the light waned, before the mosquitoes had rsvp’d they’d be there. torches on, flame dancing from the fire column, we had a few hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine and talked about these times. there is a wistful dividing line between before and now. the pandemic has shot a chalkline in our calendars and even now, not quite after, we can see the difference.

the books arrived in the mail. it was one of those rare days when you open up the front door and see a surprise gift parcel on the doorstep. the books, memoirs of raynor and moth. the salt path, the first, a viewmaster of days during which, through the necessity of impossible challenges, raynor and moth were hiking the south west coast path in the united kingdom. “i think they are your people,” she wrote about this couple.

we opened the first paperback. i am reading it aloud and we have a voracious appetite to keep going in between all else. i read and we digest, this tale of backpacking without the reassuring fallback of retreat or going home in the end. it’s breathtaking and stunningly candid.

monday night i read aloud the sentence, “being separate from people for large chunks of time had reduced our tolerance levels.” it was not a statement of pandemic; it was a statement of wilderness camping. yet, it hit us – it was a statement of pandemic. so relevant.

if we are all honest with ourselves, we find now that the pandemic has most definitely divided our circles into before and now . . . and hopefully, one day, after. people who are absolute, people we have stayed in touch with or who have stayed in touch with us, even spottily, people who have fallen away. people who have shown true colors, people who have been generous and compassionate. people who have jumped at the chance to help others, to abide by recommendations to ease this pandemic, people who have chosen to be cavalier, go-their-own-way, to scoff and ignore, to not be any other’s keeper.

the season/reason mantra applies, we pondered aloud at the table, talking about past friendships and working relationships. some people, there with us at some point, are just not to be dragged into now. we appreciate their presence at the time they were present and we learn we must let go. they have become woven into who we have become and those threads remain somewhere in the interior of the quilt. but, in the way that time moves on, so do attachments. and even beyond the natural attrition of relationships – just like raynor and moth, though not on a wild trail – the simplicity of who we have become, what we have seen or done, where we have gone or not gone, how we have lived through these times, of pandemic, of loss, of challenge, of grief – this simplicity has changed us and, it seems, has changed our tolerance levels. as if they were on a cmyk or rgb profile – empathy, compassion, masks, vaccines, distancing, research, critical thinking, kindness, questioning, learning, truth, transparency, loyalty, generosity, inclusivity, gentleness, agenda-ridden-less, fairness, decency, basic dedication to not being mean…a wide spectrum of color levels in humans that surround us.

we were quiet as we sat and thought about people in our lives, what has changed, what has remained the same, people we yearn to see, people we, frankly, perhaps sadly or resignedly, don’t care to see again.

we gratefully looked around at flames in torches, food on our table, the dog on the deck, the old screen door to a comfortable beloved house merely steps away. the simplest pleasures have been, are, the pleasures. we cannot think of a reason that this is not a good thing. though we shed a few tears, we held hands as we spoke, together not separate.

the mosquitoes found their way to the deck. we blew out the torches, snuffed the fire column and carried our plates inside.

*****

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


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intrepid. [two artists tuesday]

and just like that – on a beautiful sunday driving a back road in wisconsin – little baby scion turned 250,000 miles.

we drove with the camera ready…ready to take a video of the 249,999-250,000 turnover, ready to stop and take a picture on the side of the road of this momentous moment. this tough, scrappy little vehicle is intrepid. with a few bumps and scratches (like the rest of us) and a few rattling noises (also like the rest of us) littlebabyscion diligently trods on, dutifully and reliably chalking up miles and experiences with us. and we are devoted to it.

we knew it was coming. we were less than thirty miles away, a mere backroads drive to lake geneva to pick up a piece of flourless chocolate cake in anticipation of our celebration of this no-frills little square vehicle. we planned our sunday afternoon around it, loaded dogdog in and, in sunday-drive fashion, took our time both on roads we knew and roads we turned onto, just to see where they went. we pulled over when it turned. it was astounding to actually think about: that this little car had safely driven me/us 250,000 miles. that’s 83 times across the united states! we sat there and thought aloud about all the places we’d gone in it, all the roadtrips, and all the really significant events that had happened.

when littlebabyscion turned 235,235 miles i recounted some of those; it is no less inspiring to me now. littlebabyscion delivered my girl and my boy – and all their stuff – back and forth and back and forth and back and forth etc etc etc to college dorms and apartments. littlebabyscion brought babycat home from florida. littlebabyscion drove across the country loaded with cds for concerts and wholesale and retail shows. littlebabyscion picked up david at the airport for the first time we met and drove us away on our honeymoon. littlebabyscion drove dogdog home from a farm in a little town on the river on the other side of the state. littlebabyscion took us back and forth and back and forth and back and forth to florida to see my sweet momma in the last of her life. littlebabyscion was our haven the day, on the highway to see her, my momma died. it held us safe, a buttress for our grief. littlebabyscion moved us all – with dogdog and babycat ferry-quivering each time – to the island littlehouse and then home again. littlebabyscion has determinedly climbed mountain passes to get to see our girl and driven in traffic jams out east and on chicago’s highways to see our boy. littlebabyscion has slept in rest areas, restaurant lots, parks. littlebabyscion has eluded storms and hail and snow and straight-line winds. like 20 said, when he heard of its milestone, “to the moon and back!”.

i asked steve, our miracle mechanic, what i would do when littlebabyscion reached 300,000 miles. “keep driving it,” he said.

he’s right. keep driving it.

so one of these days, a while from now, expect to see this same shot with 300,000 miles on the odometer.

you go, littlebabyscion, you x-ceptional xb.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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pointers. [d.r. thursday]

“i believe art is utterly important. it is one of the things that could save us.” (mary oliver)

in those moments – so many of them – when all else fails to reassure – beauty reminds us. it keeps us present, in the moment, working to get to the next moment, breathing in deep breaths, slowly, slowly.

the work of an artist, in any medium, is as a pointer, just like the wooden ones with the rubber tip that your fourth grade teacher used as she pulled down the world map on the roll above the blackboard to show your class the track of an expedition or the location of a country. artists pull down the map and point to it, making it accessible to anyone, making it alive, bringing an infinity of beauty, pulling your attention away from the narrative inside, whatever it might be. it is a tool of healing, a balm, a salve. it is freeing. it is free.

we immerse in music, in the ecstasy of dance, in the flow of poetry, in the spectrum of paint on a canvas, the feel of clay pots in our hands. we sometimes forget and are driven into the angst of life’s dimensionality, missing the limitlessness of the simplest. these are the moments we turn to art.

for in the end it is not the accumulation of things or wealth or titles or power. it is simply and utterly the sheer beauty of being here, the absolutely stunning realization that we get to be here in this moment in a continuum of moments we share – albeit tiny within the vast – with the universe. inside the art.

“you can’t take it with you,” my sweet poppo would say as he would refer to money or stuff. in those pondering moments he had, he somehow knew watching the cormorants on the lake out the window, listening to music on their stereo, puttering and creating in his garage workshop, quietly coffee-sitting with my momma – these were the things of value. the day he threw caution to the wind and purchased a large painting at the splurgy karl’s mariners inn restaurant perched on northport harbor; he was answering the call of art – the pointer that drew him in and wrapped him, in this case, in the fjords of norway and endless dreaming. it moved home to home with them and always was a source of calm, a reminder of beauty and peace.

each day i walk downstairs and see this canvas on the easel. each day it reminds me of the trail we often walk, for it is the paused and erased beginning of a painting of the woods of that trail. i pay attention to it because it affords me tiny spaces of river trail within my day. it reminds me, as i scurry about attempting to get things done, to remember. it slows me down and i can hear the rustling of leaves, the birdcalls, the crunch of our feet on dirt, the chatter of squirrels. i can feel the sun atop my head, the breeze in my face, my arm looped through david’s. i can see the color of wildflowers, lush green underbrush, rough grey-brown bark, cloud-dotted blue sky. i can sense a bit of time on my hands, but just a bit. and i am right there, stepped out of the up-close worries, stepped into beauty. i am paying attention. art has done its good work.

to pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. (mary oliver)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit DAVID’s online gallery



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the sustain pedal. [k.s. friday]

the file drawers are bursting. there are three bank boxes in the closet, next to and on top of the file cabinets. there is still music to be filed away, but it’s almost done. the ukuleles and the strum stick are hung on hooks. the cello sits silently in the corner. the black metal music stands are cleared of sheets and books. everything needs to be dusted or waxed. the wood floor needs to be swept more thoroughly – to chase away the dust bunnies. a few pencils wait. the storm is gathering. the sustain pedal begs for attention.

i’ve played maybe twice since last november. i stacked music and calendars and binders of slated songs and folders of research in there. i dragged in a box or two of supplies and cantatas that i brought home. i laid the ukuleles on the rocking chair, the poster behind the door. but i didn’t play. except for a day or two after our babycat died and maybe one or two other times. the piano is tacet. and the sustain pedal waits.

because i played and sang constantly for work before the end of november, and i was surrounded in my studio by all the tools and resources i used for that work, it has been, in the these last few days, important to me to finally move all that which i had been playing, all that which is no longer relevant to my life. this studio needs to be clean. it needs space. it needs room for new. it needs to no longer represent life doing that work, that dedication, that place. my studio needs a refacing. the sustain pedal holds its breath.

i got an email from a lovely woman somewhere in new mexico. she wants to order a baker’s dozen cds and wrote that she includes owning them up in her wish list of “large sacks of $100 bills and 25 hugs and smiles received daily for life”. i’m grateful to her and her dedication to analog music. it will be fun to pack it all up and ship it to her, though i will have to direct her to amazon for a few titles i no longer have in stock. her order is a reminder. and even in these days when i have been actively submitting titles to pandora for streaming (there are now nine titles available on pandora.com and everything on digital platforms everywhere) it is refreshing to go to the stock of cds and pull out shrink-wrapped copies of music to ship off. the sustain pedal giggles.

i’m getting anxious to finish the studio cleanse. to walk in and see possibility. to sit and listen to the quiet. to see the new project, the new song, the new composition through fog, fallow and passing time. to one day again depress the sustain pedal and place my hands on dusted keys under a full stick. i don’t know when that will be.

the sustain pedal whispers, “whoosh”.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

THAT MORNING SOMEDAY from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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touchstones. [d.r. thursday]

yoga series: iconic (54 x 54, mixed media)

in the beginning i knew very little. we wrote every day but only talked twice. i read his newsletters and appreciated his perspective on things. i had seen only one tiny photo of him online but we shared pictures of our coffee mugs perched in different places in our homes or on our travels. and i had studied his paintings.

you can learn a lot about a person immersing in their art. whether it’s prose or song, paint or instrumental musings, the clues are there.

i am not a fan of thomas kinkade. his paintings are tight and controlled and, for me (but not for the one in twenty homes in the US that hangs one his prints), somewhat trite and contrived. i know that “tommy k” (as scordskiii and i nicknamed him) was (and his paintings still are) inordinately successful, serene, idyllic images of cottages and streams, gardens and gates. his galleries are all over the world. the “painter of light” (as he trademarked himself in a smart marketing ploy) was not necessarily the same as his paintings. i met him one evening at QVC when i was on air during a year-long or so promotion of my music. waiting to go on-stage and on-camera, yamaha CFIIIS at the ready, i met him in the hallways between dressing rooms. he was not a light and airy friendly guy that evening. i don’t know if he was having a bad day, but really everyone at these studios was normally refreshingly jovial. except for him. this did not really bother me, however, as, though i could see “success” written all over him, having tommy k greet me and have conversation was not important. dick clark, of american bandstand fame, on the other hand, was a gem. he and his wife were lovely and generous folks and it was delightful to meet them and chat in the hallways. but i digress.

when david mentioned he was a painter i did not know what to think, what kind of paintings to imagine that he painted. our developing friendship was candid and didn’t include fluffing up the other so my curiosity about the form of his art needed sating. i visited the website he had at the time. and i was stunned. one of his newest works back then – thereafter named iconic – was graceful and beautiful and full of respect for the body woman. i dove deeper into the site. each painting i studied engaged me – the color, the white space (so to speak), the balance, the composition, the texture. i was joyous. there was no need for fluff. i loved his work.

downstairs where, prior to a real painting studio’s emergence, i had thrown paint on a few large canvasses to hang about the house, sits his easel. there are paintings stacked and rolled in various places, in and amongst the boxes and boxes of cds that find themselves housed down there.

some of these – paintings and cds – are truly relics, artifacts of our art, dating back decades, skipping stones through periods of our lives.

some of these are touchstones, moments of new form, of changing form, of solidity in an uncertain world.

some of these, the relics, the artifacts, the touchstones are cairns, pointing the way to the future, suggesting we follow both paths we know and paths we do not know. art is like that.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit DAVID’S online gallery

visit this painting ICONIC

ICONIC ©️ 2010 david robinson


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meander-er. [k.s. friday]

meander

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost)

a product of sunday-drive-parents, i am a meanderer.  i’ll choose a backroad.  i’ll choose the woods.  i’ll avoid the six-lane interstate.  i’ll avoid the leader-led-coach-bus-travel tour group. i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in an obvious life metaphor, choosing to be an artist of any medium -for the long haul- is choosing to be a meanderer.  it’s choosing to live life looking for and celebrating layer cakes – a layer cake of work.  it’s a continual wracking-of-the-brain for the next idea, the next project, next pitch, the next initiative, the next validation of your artistry.  it’s continual exploration and continual growth, surprises and intrinsic rewards of the heart.  and it’s continual worry: how will what you earn equal or be greater than that which you owe.

my parents encouraged my every musical moment.  neither of them was a musician, but their steadfast support reinforced the decisions i made that were more out-of-the-box.  their prideful applause inspired and fed me, lighting a fire even when the embers were falling to ash.  times i would rise and fall and rise again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in somewhat recent days, when i was bemoaning the exponential cost of healthcare, someone asked me if i needed to see a financial counselor, someone who could ‘teach me’ how to budget.  i was stunned at the lack of sensitivity and actual empathy.  “no, thank you.” i responded, while trying to maintain the sound of calm in my voice, “i am actually quite good at budgeting and truly love math.  this is not rocket science.  it is simply a case of not having enough income, even from several jobs, coming in.”  a meanderer.  those sunday drives.

i’ve read plenty of ‘being the youngest child’ articles.  it seems that my profession, lean toward autonomy, artistry, careful rebellion are all because of my place in the sibling line-up.  so, once again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

the urge to be off-the-beaten-path, literally and figuratively, to quietly sit in the middle of the woods or i-wish-more-often the top of a mountain, to stand on a wooden stage with a piano, a boom mic, a few songs and a story to tell:  things that are part of my very soul.  the core.  i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

and i thank them from the bottom of my heart.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood