reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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astonished. [d.r. thursday]

nostalgia hits fast.

how many times i have stood in front of the gazebo in northport harbor…how many times i have sat on the steps, lost in thought or listening to the clinking of metal sails in the docks next to the park…how many times i’ve wandered in the harbor surrounded by the dreamy lights of the gazebo and old-fashioned sidewalk lampposts on the paths.

lake bluff brought it all back.

an absolutely beautiful display in the square drew us to it and we parked, even in freezing cold, to walk around a bit, take pictures and soak it all in. it wasn’t northport, but it was stunning and magical.

the wordpress prompt today reads: is your life today what you pictured a year ago?

are any of our lives today what we pictured a year ago?

the element of surprise … both ways.

at a time of year that always-always makes me miss my childhood home, both of my parents, our big stone fireplace, the luminaria lighting our neighborhood streets and groups of friends caroling around the blocks, hot cocoa and marshmallows, tinsel and krumkake, rum cake and eggnog, the delicious anticipation of opening gifts and the northport harbor gazebo radiant, its lights shimmering in the harbor, we find the little square in the middle of lake bluff. astonishing.

instructions for living a life: pay attention. be astonished. tell about it.(mary oliver)

*****

UNFETTERED 48″ X 48″

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section-hike to chicago. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

over here, by one of the great great lakes, it is mostly flat. when you drive a bit south – toward chicago – particularly on the back roads – you will find ravines punctuating the landscape, gorgeous woods with deep cuts, gullies likely carved by streams into glacial moraines with bluffs high above the lake. i can’t imagine choosing the interstate over these roads and, if time allows, we are avid believers in the back ways.

most of the places we hike in our area do not present elevation gain as a challenge. instead, we have to do distance to make up the exercise gap. i’ve been a sea-level-girl pretty much my whole life – from a where-i’ve-lived standpoint – so when we are faced with elevation gain i have to do a bit of acclimatizing to get any kind of mountain legs or lungs. long island, florida, wisconsin – clearly, none of these are known for their mountain peaks.

we hadn’t ever walked the bike trail on the south side of the illinois border. we parked littlebabyscion near the entrance of the bike trail in some neighborhood – much to the chagrin of a woman walking her dog who – clearly – immediately had her suspicions about these two people exiting their vehicle – having parked their good-grief-it’s-a-2006-vehicle-ewww on the end of the road in this upscale ‘hood – for the trail. i started to walk to the trail and went back, wrote a cheery note “hi. we are just walking on the bike path,” finished it with a happy face and placed it in full view in the windshield. for the first hour or so of hiking i worried if we would get back to an empty space where our sweet littlebabyscion had been and a note to call the tow company. (it was with relief we later returned to find our little vehicle and another parked there as well.)

we crossed the wisconsin-illinois border and found the straight and narrow. illinois does a remarkable job of trail upkeep, no matter where we have found one, no matter the terrain. we kept walking. and walking. and walking. it was a beautiful day and easy to lose sight of the time or distance. we had water and halos and lemon lärabars. we were set.

we looked at the bike trail maps. though there are sections that are harder to define – one must find one’s way from one defined trail to another – you can pretty much walk or bike all the way to chicago.

we giggled and decided we would section-hike to chicago. it will be practice for the possibility of section-hiking or thru-hiking the john muir trail or the PCT. uh-huh. because walking on a bike trail – near civilization, without elevation gain, without 30 pounds on our backs, with littlebabyscion patiently waiting for us and our kitchen and comfy bed at the end of the day – is definitely good practice for say 211 miles or 2650. oh ye of little faith. whatever.

we turned around after checking time and the mileage and the forecasted hour of sunset. the way back – like the previous day on the des plaines river trail – i thought about how many miles we would complete that day, in a few hours. i doubled it and tripled the time and pondered doing that day after day for weeks or – in the case of the PCT – months.

it has a magical dreamy lure. there is no straight and narrow out there. there is hard work and perseverance. and we – watchers of more youtube video accounts than most – ponder if we could do it. we are fueled by people like the remarkable (!) wander women and, really, anyone, say, over 60 we watch successfully navigate the challenges. we think aloud – “maybe someday.”

in the meanwhile there is work to do, a plan to piece back together again post-implosion, and section-hikes to chicago.

*****

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the fat seagull. [k.s. friday]

“you must begin by knowing you have already arrived. your true nature lives as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time.” (richard bach – jonathan livingston seagull)

i followed the seagulls on my ten-speed. to the beach, always the beach. later, i followed them in my little blue volkswagen, their screeches out my open window, their soaring showing me the way. and i felt kin to richard bach, his writings about freedom and passion and dreaming and the meaning of life. we met at the beach – crab meadow – and talked telepathically. well, i talked. i don’t know if he was listening. he was on the west coast and i was on the east, though i suppose jonathan livingston may have been able to deliver any message of gratitude i had.

and so we arrived at the fat seagull. it is beyond me why we had never discovered this bar and grill tucked into the downtown of manitowoc. it’s a cheers! kind of place, people who know each other gathered at the bar and around tables, eating, drinking pints, playing games, talking. in the way of wisconsin pubs, there is a vast menu and we order a thursday special to split. the bartender tells us that the two wine glasses they had were broken so he gives us diminutive stemware and charges us less. we choose the bottle still corked, wondering who last drank out of the open bottle and how long ago that might have been. we are kind of strangers in a strange land…17 draft beers and traditional old-fashioneds surround us and our tiny wines.

we listen to live music and gaze around – at people, at the bar, the old wood floor, the ceiling. it is a study in perfection. we feel alive – out and about – a two hour drive each way – food we didn’t prepare – wine we didn’t pour. we talk about how it feels. we laugh and dance. we don’t realize it’s raining out; it had been a beautifully sunny day. we are glad to be there.

we end this week in uncertainty. we reach backwards, examining all we have done – so far – in life and work, what we have accomplished, what we have not. sixty-something is not youth, nor is it aged. it is somewhere in-between, located wherever we are. we bring all we know – and all we do not know – with us. we try to trust that we have arrived, that we are on the tarmac – or – in the terminal, that we – too – despite our lack of certainty – have flown, screeching and soaring.

“instead of being enfeebled by age, the elder had been empowered by it; he could outfly any gull in the flock, and he had learned skills that the others were only gradually coming to know.”

*****

TAKE FLIGHT ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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caaa-rits! [d.r. thursday]

stri-ped. two syllables. not one.

i moved to wisconsin and found out that there was a whole ‘nother way of tawwwking here.

acrosst. add the t.

turn-ament. no tour here.

rowwwt. not root (route).

the i. not the interstate.

highway. not freeway. not even expressway. or parkway. just highway.

brahts. not bratwurst.

slowww cooker. not crockpot.

carrots. not caaa-rits.

and the list goes on…

i did not adhere to these right away. some of these are things i still don’t utter, pronunciations that don’t make it into the air.

i really have no idea how this state (or state of mind) has changed my patterns of speech. i know that i can easily – way easily – slip back into my long island roots. and that, if i am talking to the right person, i will instantly have a drawl. my voice and vocal patterns tend to be impressionable.

when heidi and i worked together all the time in performances, i picked up the vernacular of hers that emphasized the THANK of “thank you!”. the “thannng” was forward and “kwew” was in the back. i think of her probably every time i say “thank you” for just that reason. i think of carol when i say “turnament” and 20 when i talk about the slowww cooker.

so it stands to reason that we have fallen in love with jim and sipandfeast. ohmygawwwwwsh!!!! delightful in every way, sipandfeast is a youtube channel (and an IG and a website and whatever else). jim and tara, their son and daughter live on – wait for it – long island. it makes me instantly adore them. he cooks. with the greatest of simplicity and in the gentlest way, he demonstrates amazing italian (and other) recipes, many of which were passed down by his grandmother. his accent, his delivery, the way he just tawks to the audience, the fam are all the sweetest and we find ourselves searching for the right dutch oven to start making these meals. but have i mentioned the way he tawwwwks? caaa-rits!!! i feel like just because i am FROM there we should hang out. (preferably at their dinner table post-cooking show.)

i really have no idea what this image is. i somehow shot this photograph without knowing. it could be my neighbor’s fence…we were taking a walk and i was putting my phone in my back pocket when i guess it snapped a pic. it looks a little like a flag, but it’s not. trust me on that. i’m not a big flag person these days.

i have to say, though, that as i looked at it, studying and wondering, i could hear someone in my head say, “it’s stri-ped!”.

*****

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just three. [k.s. friday]

we stood in the grocery store in brevard, right by the display. the food lion price for the charming smushy-flat white pumpkin was $8.99. it called to me, “you need me! bring me home!” but i got hung up on the price tag and we didn’t buy it.

we’ve had a pumpkin or two most years, often a pie pumpkin that we place on this funny wrought iron stand with arms, making it look like a pumpkinperson. we’ve gotten gourds – interesting shapes that tickle us. but not yet a white pumpkin, even though i really love how they look.

budgets are sometimes fun-oppressors. but any artist can tell you they are necessary. and any artist can tell you that there’s been at least one time that an $8.99 pumpkin – even one that might do the dishes and sorts socks – has not made the cut.

there is a sweet apple orchard out in the county. there is wine-tasting and a distillery at aeppeltreow, so there are spirits and spirited fun. there are a zillion apples and there are pumpkins and gourds and apple cider donuts. two years ago we picked out our tiny patch o’ pumpkins from their flatbeds and gardens of choices. coming home with a pear-shaped gourd and a couple smaller that were wart-laden we felt rich.

we bought pumpkins in aspen that same year and carved jack-o-lanterns at our airbnb with our daughter, leaving our artwork and extra candles behind for the next guests.

last year we featured our aging pear-shaped gourd in our sunroom, put out some orange happy lights and indulged in apple cider donuts at the orchard. despite the gluten they were worth it.

i think this year we will get a white pumpkin. and maybe two orange ones. three in all. just three.

but it will truly be magical.

*****

MILLNECK FALL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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the answer on the underpass. [two artists tuesday]

england dan and john ford coley played over and over on my bedside cassette player. even now i’d happily pay dearly for tickets to a concert. it’s not possible anymore. but they rank up there as one of my favorite duos in the 70s and certainly must have been rumi fans. radio listeners in my graduating class would be hard-pressed to say they didn’t know every word of the songs “i’d really love to see you tonight” and “nights are forever without you”, both top-tens.

before i moved from long island, there was this boy who made dinner for me at his tiny apartment above his mom and dad’s house. at the end of dinner he tried to lure me into staying on the island, playing dan and john’s song “we’ll never have to say goodbye again”, which also peaked on the ac chart at number one. or wait…was it christopher cross’ “never be the same”??? either way, i barely knew him. before dessert, i waved from the window of my car as i pulled away.

the wall leading to the underpass was painted and we passed it each time we drove over to our girl’s place. finally, we caught the stoplight and i could take a picture. rumi’s words in a mural, simplifying it all, “love is the bridge between you and everything else.”

it makes me think of england dan and john ford coley.

“light of the world, shine on me, love is the answer
shine on us all, set us free, love is the answer

and when you feel afraid, love one another
when you’ve lost your way, love one another
when you’re all alone, love one another
when you’re far from home, love one another
when you’re down and out, love one another

when all your hope’s run out, love one another
when you need a friend, love one another
when you’re near the end, love
we got to love, we got to love one another…”

(john wilcox / kasim sulton / roger powell / todd rundgren)

i daresay that leading with love – demonstrably powerful, full of kindness and fairness and grace, sans fear and agenda and grudge – might really be the answer. to most questions.

and the bridge. to most anywhere.

*****

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a bottle of rosé instead. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s not true.

he is actually a great chef. he loves sous-cheffing but he is never averse to preparing an entire dinner. give him a recipe and some space – and maybe the promise to clean up later – and he will take on anything. especially if he and 20 are at it together. they practically sing and dance while they cook. ok…they DO sing and dance while they cook. and soon, very soon, fall and winter will have us inside more and they will be making-up-dinners-as-they-go while i sit and sip wine and try to ignore how seventh-grade-ish they are.

not to say that we would not be above having a big mac. though we haven’t had one in literally years and years – diet choices at the forefront of reasons – sometimes “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” sounds dang good.

regardless, billy joel brings me back to luigi’s and gino’s in northport, new york pizza slices folded in half, concerts at the nassau coliseum and my sweet momma’s lasagna.

i might have to settle for a bottle of rosé.

*****

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i’m from new york. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

towering cloud. monochromatic tones. i took this photograph. i may not have taken a second look but for the wire cutting diagonally across it. it was the interruption that made it – a gorgeous cloud – even more interesting.

i’m not from here.

i am proudly from new york and sunday night out on our deck i reveled in feeling new york. i haven’t felt as new york as i felt that evening in a long time. we were playing records outside and painting rocks. i had selected a few albums – dan fogelberg, john denver, michael murphey, survivor, fleetwood mac – and i was playing dj, picking and choosing the songs to play. we sang along, somehow remembering lyrics of songs we hadn’t heard in ages, a mondegreen or two slipping in.

then i went inside to find a certain album, leaving david to pour a little wine and wonder what i was searching for.

i came back out with the double-album-set of saturday night fever. there is nothing that quite defines 1977 like that album and the bee gees. instantly transported back to the discos and beach bars of long island, i got up and, in the new privacy of our backyard, danced. the more i danced, the more i danced.

i texted a few friends, asking them if they remembered the steps to the hustle. crunch wrote back that he didn’t remember all the steps, but he remembered the spins and sent a picture from a beach bar on the island he was at as he typed his message. marc reminded me he didn’t dance – which i, of course, remembered – and told me – if i was indeed sending him snippets of “stayin’ alive” simply to annoy him – not to be such an “assassination” (which, back in the day, i would say for the word “ass” so as not to cuss. friends would tell you i have come around from those days.)

interrupting our 70s mostly-mellow flow, saturday night fever disco drew a line through the soft wash of memory in which we sat. it invigorated us. it made us dance and it made us laugh. it made a perfect night even more perfect. and it woke up the new york in me, never too far away but always a little at-bay, a little tempered.

new york is a little noisy for wisconsin. new york is a little demonstrative for wisconsin. new york is a little talkative for wisconsin. new york is a little emotional, a little animated for wisconsin. new york is a little exuberant for wisconsin. new york is a little brash for wisconsin. it’s a little center-stage, a little aggressive, a little assertive, a little interruptive.

i’m not from here.

i’m from new york.

and i’m damn proud of it.

*****

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hairnets. [two artists tuesday]

though a red and white striped jumper, accompanied by white tights and saddle shoes, was not my favorite outfit, i really loved being a candystriper when i was in high school. the local hospital – huntington hospital – had a training program and then you could choose as many days as you wished to volunteer. there were many options – to help in the coffeeshop, to deliver meals, to offer magazines or books on a cart, to visit with patients. my favorites were the coffeeshop and visiting with patients, but i loved all of the work i was assigned. i learned about origami from one of the patients and spent hours with him making cranes and lightening his spirit. i don’t know what his diagnosis was, but i do know it was very serious and he was only a little older than we were. he needed light and we all tried hard to bring it to him whenever we could.

the coffeeshop was a blast, always filled with patrons. i have this unusually tactile memory of making toasted onion bagels with butter – giant new york bagels – i can even still catch a whiff, mixed with coffee wafting from large pots we continually refilled.

the worst part of the job – as a candystriper – was wearing a hairnet. clearly it was for sanitary reasons, but no sixteen-year-old-girl really wants to scoop all her hair into a net and plaster it against her head. especially not if she has a nordic high forehead – which i did – well, and still do. yup. at the end of our shifts, we would go out into the sunlight and yank off our hairnets, leaving our long hair to blow wild and free.

our front lawn is wearing a hairnet. it kind of made me giggle a little as they laid down the haynet and rolled it out. the dirt and seed under it likely groaned – confined! – but the hay will keep the birds from snacking on the new seed and dan said that the hay will dry and then you can rake up the netting. easy-peasy.

mostly, it is astonishing to look out the front window or drive up to the house and see a flat yard. for the last seven months or so we have had a giant lump in the front yard, a debris pile with cement and rocks and asphalt and chunks of hard rubber and copper fittings and some cast iron – and, i’m guessing, lead – since that is what they were removing – bolts. when grass-trying-to-be-a-yard-again grew on the lump (which was all the way from the house to the street and at least twenty feet across) there was no way to cut it. we quickly became “those people” on the block, with the messiest (and ugliest) yard. david went out with the mower, but that was impossible, so he took trimmers and diligently trimmed the top of the mess. a lower mess is better than a higher mess. but – a mess nonetheless. i’m quite sure that people drove by and pointed. i can’t say i blame them.

they came and excavated the debris lump. it was a big job and they had big scraping machinery and a big dumptruck. it was quite the process. the guy in charge was particular and, thus, particularly annoying to the other workers. but they were a hardworking crew and, a few hours later, drove off with our water line replacement leftovers.

and so now we are primed for new grass. we are watering appropriately and we are conferring with dan, who has the best grass ever. he will guide us into better grasshood. we will tend our new yard carefully as it comes back from its turmoil and wreckage.

and one of these days we will be able to remove its hairnet and verdant grass will blow wild and free.

*****

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and then, the feral. [d.r. thursday]

in my recollection, my sweet momma didn’t buy flats of flowers with the arrival of spring. my mom and dad didn’t run nursery to nursery purchasing new shrubbery or plants to add to the gardens around our home. they didn’t pore over landscaping catalogs nor research shade and sun preferred plantings. though it didn’t occur to me then, i realize now – and empathize – that they couldn’t afford it.

the half-acre piece of long island on which i grew up was beautiful and natural and serene. along one side of the house – a little bit shady – were four-o-clocks and bleeding hearts. along the other side were hosta. in the front corner and along the side where the neighbors-who-had-the-nice-weimaraner lived there were forsythia. on the other side where the neighbors-who-had-the-weimaraner-who-bit-me lived there were rose of sharon. we had rhododendron and i can’t remember what else in the front garden. but they all came back; they were perennials. because anything annual, well, i don’t think that was in the budget.

and so i guess i have come by it honestly. it wasn’t a “thing” when i grew up to run out and purchase – before anyone else picked them all over – flats of this year’s preferred annual flowers. it wasn’t a “thing” to plant hanging baskets and wooden barrels or giant clay pots with flowers for the season. it was expensive then and it’s expensive now. i learned early to appreciate the simplest garden, the natural setting of a woods, the reassuring return of perennials you have nurtured and which, likely, came from cuttings someone else gifted to you.

when i first moved to wisconsin, it was a full-impact moment when may arrived and everyone was talking about the flowers they would plant. friends and neighbors would dance gracefully into planting season and the ballet seemed a bit foreign, a bit out-of-reach. the quietly-popular greenhouses were divulged to me; i purchased a small trowel and got to it. impatiens and waxed begonia and petunia flats later, to no avail i had tried to avoid the pressure. each year posed the angsty question of color – for there are trends, i found, obvious by the missing palettes at the nurseries.

my momma and my dad loved their garden. they loved their indoor plants as well. and, when they planted vegetables out back next to – but far enough away from – the dog run, they loved those too. mostly, they loved the trees canopying our house and yard, the woods out back, the tiny lily-of-the-valley next to the old shed. i never heard them utter a peep wishing for more. i never felt – growing up – that i had missed out, not having new flowers or plants each year.

yet, here i was – i am – living in a place and time where that seems to be of vital importance. and i have wondered why this urge, this spring-flower-purchasing-extravaganza doesn’t come naturally to me. i know it’s not because i don’t love flowers.

we walk and hike through the woods. no matter whether the forest trail takes us into the mountains or along the low elevation of a river in the midwest, we notice the floor of greenery, the flowers growing wild, color and shape, exquisite all.

once again this year – like last – we won’t purchase annual flowers. the plants we will add for our summer will be cherry tomato plants, basil, lemongrass, perhaps lavender. we will appreciate the tenacity of our hosta and our ferns, the spreading wild geranium, the stubborn return of our daylilies, the tender peonies, our aspen sapling, the ever-present grasses. we cheer on the groundcover sally gave us and the groundcover sneaking under the fence in its every-year attempt to take over the garden. we celebrate the simplicity and wish that our front yard – in its water-main-replacement-utter-mess – wouldn’t require neat and tidy grass replacement, a huge and costly job to remove old sod and stray cement poured from the temporary sidewalks and various strewn deposits of rubber and metal and rocks.

my sweet momma and dad adored the yard of my growing-up home. they didn’t pass on to me the necessity of more. instead, they passed on to me an embracing of simplicity, gratitude for what-we-have and the appreciation of other gardens – friends’, neighbors’, public botanic celebrations of gorgeousness. they passed on the love of feral forests of jack-in-the-pulpit and the crowning glory of trillium.

*****

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