reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the black bin in the middle. [d.r. thursday]

personally, i like the black bin in the middle of the room. right now, it gives me a sense of peace, or, more accurately, less of a sense of panic. in our seemingly neverending plumbing story, we are still seeking the proper gasket for our dysfunctional coupling. we were behind a local plumbing truck on the way to lowes. this business has operated in our town for four decades servicing all these old houses with their variety-pack of fittings and pipes and unions and o-rings and such. as i told a friend, it was a universe-is-laughing-at-us moment as we drove behind this truck that i just knew had shelving with old disheveled water-stained cardboard boxes full of the exact gasket we needed. i wanted to jump out of littlebabyscion at a stoplight and run up to his driver’s window and knock-knock-knock on it and beg him to check the ratty cardboard boxes for this gasket, which of course, he probably had in his pocket, upon which i would offer him 10 or 20 dollars for this simple vintage rubber 79 cent piece. it didn’t happen, of course. i’m quite sure that he would have done anything to avoid my panicked face in his window. and so, we are still on the quest. and learning a lot about gaskets and o-rings and sheet-and-ring gaskets and fun stuff. someone said to me yesterday, “oh, like that’s something you really want to know about!” but i disagreed. though i wish the tiny leak would stop, i am finding the puzzling-out of it a great learning process. a creative process, let’s just say. so. the black bin in the middle of the room.

soon we will piece back together david’s studio down in that space. he’s bringing paintings back into the light and we gaze at them as he recalls much of this pandemic year, time spent without painting. i know this feeling as i enter my own studio upstairs. a crate of cantatas i composed, some resource books i have used for decades, a few decorations from the choir room i used to occupy – they sit along the side wall of my studio, the remainder of what i need to file away, put away, throw away. i, too, have not spent time in my studio creating. it’s the wrists, it’s the job-loss, it’s the pandemic … it’s a long time of fallow, i suppose. it is the juxtaposition of art that makes a living and art that is living. it’s a sort of betrayal by art. it’s feeling that which you have dedicated yourself to letting you down. it’s change. it’s a time of discernment. it’s a time of confusion. it’s a time of loss. it’s a time of not-found-yet. it’s a time of grief. it’s complex. it’s a mixed bag.

we laid awake in the middle of the night. we had a banana, our traditional middle-of-the-night snack. we talked. we grappled with the year-of-years we have all had. once again, for the millionth time, we tried to sort it out.

we talked about my snowboarding-broken wrists and a community of leadership that never reached out to me. we wondered aloud. we talked about the pandemic breaking out, virtual-work, exponential curves of connecting to others online. people, including us, losing positions we loved to a virus that shut everything down. we talked about financial hardship, too common a denominator. we wondered aloud. we talked about the terrifying covid numbers we watched on the news – climbing, climbing, climbing. we wondered aloud. we talked about political division, a time of chaos and the amping-up of bigotry, complicity and vitriolic rhetoric. we wondered aloud. we talked about isolation, people missing people. we wondered aloud. we talked about the civil unrest in our town, deaths-by-automatic-weapon a few blocks over, curfews, fires, boarded-up businesses. we wondered aloud. we talked about my fall in the fall, a whopping new wrist ligament tear and, again, a community of leadership that did not reach out. we talked about losing my long-term job. we talked about the silence of others. we wondered aloud. we talked about david’s dad and his move to memory care, his mom and her spinning grief and loss-paralysis. we wondered aloud. we talked about our sweet babycat and his sudden dying, the heartwrenching hole. we wondered aloud. we talked about the lack of security, rampant. we talked about extreme gun violence and people’s hatred of anything-they-aren’t. we wondered aloud. we talked about exhaustion, pervasive and overwhelming all of us. and we wondered aloud.

not much sleep.

we’ll find a gasket that works soon. or we’ll call a real plumber in. and maybe, little bit by little bit, our artistry will call to us – to trust it, trust ourselves. it will remind us that it is not responsible for making a living. it will ask us to look around at that which is of solace to others in these times, regardless of lacking financial reward: it is music, it is visual art, it is the written word. it is art and it is living.

and, for some time to come, the black bin will sit in the middle of the studio. to remind us of the process.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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through it. [k.s. friday]

it comes in stages. there is no easy route to the other side. just through.

the unexpected snow – after most had melted – though, indeed, a beautiful blanket of quiet – was also a stark and cold reminder that winter was not done. somehow it was a reminder of people gone, of the lack of interaction with others, a reminder of the invisible fence between us all, somewhat devoid of color and warmth. the pandemic we are living through has provided us with historic missing. so much lostness. someone asked me yesterday if i had had a vaccine. when i replied yes, she asked me why, then, was i wearing a mask. i stared at her above the piece of cloth i, like many of you, have diligently worn everywhere for about a year and replied that having a vaccine doesn’t abdicate me from responsibility. it is my job as a decent human being to continue to do my part – not just until i am vaccinated, but until the country is on track and there is little chance of others becoming ill because i, or anyone, was negligent. not wearing a mask herself though not vaccinated, she replied angrily that it wasn’t fair, that i shouldn’t have to wear a mask. i withheld the retort that quickly sprang to my lips and instead just said that this is hard. we are all lost together and foundness will be somewhere on the other side of all we have missed, somewhere in the spring of healing, in whatever season that falls.

when the tradesmen installed the patio, they carefully and artfully chose pieces to fit together. they slowly and tediously laid out a spot in our backyard where we could sit and sip wine in adirondack chairs, where we could hang our hammock, where we could build a bonfire late at night and dream dreams in the fireflies of sparks it sent out. the snow crystallizing on the rock accentuated the spaces between the pieces. though clearly defined as edges, it reminded me that all these pieces do fit together, perhaps nothing is really missing. every emotion – lostness and foundness and all inbetween, a jigsaw puzzle of sorts, the title of which, were there to be a box that would contain all the cardboard pieces, might read ‘life is like this’.

up against a pile of pillows, i sat in bed with coffee a few days after we lost babycat. with sadness and unwilling to greet the new day, i hadn’t yet opened the miniblinds. yet in the window to the east, the sun was insistent. it found its way through the tiny cracks between the blinds, the tiny holes that hold the string, as if urging me to open-open-open up. it didn’t change my missing when i opened them. i still missed babycat. i still missed all sense of normal. i still missed my children-all-grown-up, my parents-in-another-dimension, my family-far-apart, my friends-separated-by-covid-responsibility. i missed security and good work well done. i missed laughing and all things carefree.

but, in opening the blinds, i did not have to miss the sun and i stood in its warmth streaming in, looking at the spot on the bed where babycat would have laid in the soft rays from the window. and i realized that in yearning for all that on the other side i would have no choice but to go through it all, all the stages, snow, crystal flakes, sun and all.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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dog and cat. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

his best friend. he waits at the door for his best friend to return. his sorrow is quiet, subdued. his grief is confusion, dedication to a belief that babycat will come home. he has never been in this house without him – not even a day – and this last week has been heartwrenching to watch his reaction. his sadness is palpable, his loss profound.

the first few days after his babycat disappeared he was almost silent. dogdog is never a silent dog, so this was noticeable. without a sound, he looked everywhere for his cat. with lydia’s wise recommendation i tried to visualize for him all that had happened once his babycat had left the house, to give him some context, to let him know he did not have to wait, to tell him that his babycat was now in our hearts. he looked deeply into my eyes and then looked away, as if to dismiss my explanation, to hold close his own perspective, his own interpretation.

‘the boys’ spent the days together – every day since we brought dogdog home as a puppy. they’ve navigated through changes and ups and downs with us. they’ve kept us amused and entertained. they’ve nuzzled us in our times of angst. the rare times they were apart were very few times that we were on a trip. they moved to the littlehouse on island with us and adapted, finding mutual spots at the place where the kitchen met the living room and the sun streamed in. the noise of the ferry on the crossing scaring babycat, dogdog stayed close to him, signaling all was well. they channeled reassurance to each other, touchstones of steady, ever-present. they shared their water bowl and cheered each other on when it was time for treats. where one would go, ultimately the other would follow. and at the end of the day, butt-to-butt, they lay on the raft, waiting for us to sleep. babycat ruled. they were best friends.

last tuesday morning as i sipped coffee on the bed and babycat lay curled up down by my feet, dogga jumped up and laid down. gently, with all absence of play and what seemed in all seriousness, he moved his face over to babycat’s face. they laid nose to nose, heads on the soft old quilt, their hushed stillness, in retrospect, a clear display of their great love for each other. after a bit of time, babycat’s symptoms surfaced suddenly. and everything in the world changed for our sweet dedicated-to-his-cat aussie.

i understand dogdog’s quiet. though our presence and snugs and words to him might help, solace will only come in time. “woundedness is one of the places where normal words and descriptions break down.” grief is not limited to human hearts.

*****

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


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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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hear you whisper. [k.s. friday]

hear you whisper song box

missing comes in many shapes and sizes.  colors too.  i’m now at that age that i hear this song in the context of too many people i know who have lost loved ones.  whether their beloved has moved on to a different dimension or a different life, it leaves behind someone grieving.  “you’re so here though you’re not here.” 

i occasionally browse through facebook and i am struck by the number of acquaintances or friends or family members who are remembering a loved one, this group of people unknown maybe to each other but bonded invisibly by a mutual intense emotion.  my heart responds to their pain, their determination to keep going, their day-by-day stepping back into the world.  it’s indeed a “crazy maze” that they are navigating, that i have navigated as well, that we each navigate at some point in time.

although moving on to a different life presents other extraordinary challenges to live through, losing someone to dying often leaves so many unspoken words, so much un-lived living-together.  “i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, over many miles and many distant skies.  i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, and i believe it’s not goodbye.”  like many of you, i, too, have listened intently to the universe, to the night, waiting to hear, believing that just-on-the-other-side is a whisper, on the wind, wafting its way to me.

purchase the CD AS SURE AS THE SUN or download HEAR YOU WHISPER on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts about this K.S. FRIDAY

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HEAR YOU WHISPER from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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rogers park. [flawed wednesday]

Roger's Park Feet

on the platform at rogers park

we didn’t give it a second thought when The Boy told me that he was going to be traveling to the rogers park neighborhood of chicago. of course we were going.  we got out the metra train schedule and looked at the sunday trains from waukegan to rogers park, looking at our google maps to see where the restaurant we were meeting him at was located and how to get there from the train station.  we will literally trek anywhere if My Boy or My Girl are going to be nearby (or even far) and we have a chance to see them.

we jumped off the train at rogers park and made our way through the streets, enjoying a nice walk, through residential and commercial areas.  we turned down clark and then devon and had lunch at uncommon ground, a place known for its rooftop organic farm.   when he had to leave, The Boy suggested that we go tour loyola’s lakefront campus before we headed back to the station.  we were glad we did; the area was beautiful and we liked rogers park.

six sundays later a beautiful young man had flown out to chicago from new york to pursue his doctoral degree at northwestern university.  he moved into a place in rogers park and, four hours after he arrived, took a stroll on clark street to buy hangers at a local store.  this aspiring student – just 25 years old – the same age as MY Boy- got caught in the crossfire of two men.  he was shot and killed.  a mere four hours after his full-of-dreams arrival.  i don’t even know what kind of flawed earth we live on when a mom has to learn that her child, following the direction and hard work of his life, has lost his life.  my heart breaks for her.

indeed, my heart breaks for every mom, every parent, every human, who has been touched by needless, unwarranted, tragic violence in this world.  such despair.  where is it safe?

on google maps, there is a small exclamation mark with this caveat:  “use caution – walking directions may not always reflect real-world conditions.”  i never noticed it before.  it’s quite the understatement.

Sign at Loyola - Thoreau

painted on a wall at loyola university in rogers park, chicago

 

read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

feetonmetraJULY2018

rogers park. ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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two artists tuesday #3

CHILDRENarethebestwithframe jpeg copymay 15, 1990.  the day my life took an unchangeable turn.  the girl was born.  i became a mother.  nothing would ever be the same.  and i am beyond infinitely grateful.  love became more than a noun and a verb – it became a person in my arms.  every fibre of me was in love with this little wonder.  i still am.

nothing can really prepare you for this feeling that is undeniably the most intense thing i have ever felt.  i had my first taste of this when my niece wendy was born…the first of my niece-nephew-niece trio.  i was young then – just eleven (sorry, ben…that really dates you ;)) i fell in love with each of them and, to this day, i’m quite sure they have no idea how much they are loved.  but motherhood was different.  it took my heart to a different plane entirely.  i wondered how it would be -how i could love any more- when i was expecting my second child.  when the boy was born i felt as if i had grown a whole second heart, as bottomless as the first one.

i am so very fortunate to be the mother of these two amazing people-in-this-world.  my daughter ‘the girl’ is beautiful and fiercely independent and talented and smart and funny and -will always be- one of the reasons i breathe.  my son ‘the boy’ is beautiful and fiercely independent and talented and smart and funny and -will always be- one of the reasons i breathe.  i have been moved by their presence in the world.  i have learned in countless ways.  i have struggled with the balance of  wanting-them-near and having-them-far-away.  i know that there is not anything else i have done that is more important.  they are the first thoughts in my mind in the morningtime and the last at night.  i have been changed.  i will never be the same.

this past week, like too many times in recent years, has cut to the core of my heart.  i have felt overwhelming empathy for mothers (and, of course, fathers) who have lost their child to violence.  i am not protected so much that i believe the events of the past week are the only children being lost to violence.  i am no less appalled by the loss of a child to famine or war or domestic brutality.  i just can’t imagine it.  the raw brokenness-of-heart is unfathomable for me.

our children, like anything else that really counts in life, do not come with a manual in which you can look up ‘how’.  we can read and study and research and google, but every situation is different and caring for and raising children is – and, by sheer importance, absolutely SHOULD be – the toughest thing you have ever done.  and, if you have chosen it,  the most momentous. it counts.  it is the shepherding of life.  it is life begetting life.  children are the breath of the (what-kind-of-world-do-we-want?) world that continues. not just for their parents.  but for all of us.  because it doesn’t just take a village; it takes a world to raise a child, to raise children.  they ARE the best thing.

CHILDREN ARE THE BEST THING – MERCHANDISE

TwoArtists ChildrenAre MUG copy                TwoArtists ChildrenAre FRAMED PRINT copy

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange

read DAVID’S thoughts about this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

 children are the best thing ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

 

 

 


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in the storm.

sometimes – in this world – there are really no words.  this is one of those times.

instead, there are images, sounds, visceral emotional responses, reassurances and reminders…

i walked down the stairs into the studio.  david had just finished this painting.

it is called “i will hold you in the storm” and it is the image, the sound, the visceral emotional response, reassurance, and reminder in my day of this time.

thank you, d, for making me weep.I will hold you

 


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army green converse sneakers.

we took the train there. it was a glorious day and we had left extra time to walk around the little town, explore a bit, sit, have a glass of wine. the sun was warm and we were looking forward to hearing an author speak, one i have respected for many years. joyce maynard was at the book stall in winnetka, sharing wisdoms and her newest book, a memoir titled the best of us. IMG_0025

the sun warmed us on this early fall day as we sat and sipped, waiting for the time of the reading to begin. i told david stories about reading joyce’s work, way back even before the time when I lived in little bitty hillsboro, new hampshire and, from a short distance away, she wrote a column called domestic affairs. she has had impact on me for many a year and i was happy to be able to tell her that in person.

we haven’t started reading her new book yet. she inscribed it to us, “with the hope that our story inspires your own.” the best of us is a profound story of love and loss and growth and embracing Living.  joyce was honest and candid. she read sections of the book aloud. she shared real moments that were both excruciatingly painful and infinitely life-full. and she wore awesome army green converse sneakers.

seeing joyce was multi-layered for me, as it is whenever we attend openings or readings or concerts…as an artist it always makes me think about where i have been, where i am, where i am going. it was lovely to meet such a prolific author, inspiring to hear her words about her book. but mostly? mostly it made me want to write more, share more. words. lyrics. music. paintings. our new two-person play. medium doesn’t matter. it’s a spur that i could feel – deep inside.

as an artist couple, our spectrum of emotions is pretty wide. sometimes maybe too wide (yes, it’s ok to laugh here.) but as an artist couple we both feel the spur and we join hands and jump into the next thing.

…but not until after i order a pair of army green converse sneakers.

IMG_0026

my treasured pink hand-me-downs from the girl

 


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sweet momma’s iced tea

i can taste it. momma’s iced tea. it was the best iced tea i think i have ever had. somehow she brewed this perfectlylemonysweetishbutnottoosweet iced tea every time. now i wish i had the exact recipe, although i suspect that it still wouldn’t taste the same. i wonder if she is making iced tea in heaven. do they even drink iced tea in heaven?photo

yesterday i could think of nothing i wanted more than to talk with her. just tell her life stuff and hear what she had to say. one morsel of momma would have gone a long way to make me feel better. or make me feel balanced. or make me feel something that i have trouble wrapping words around. but i’m betting you know what i mean.

laurie walked into ukulele band rehearsal wearing estee lauder’s pleasures perfume. i was instantly drawn back into my memory bank of memories with momma. that was her favorite perfume. my sister gave me the last bottle our sweet momma had so that i might -every now and then- take a whiff and get a glimpse of her.

today – as kumbaya-ish as this sounds – please call your mom, hug your mom, send your mom a card, acknowledge all your mom has done for you and for others, ask your mom for advice, teach your mom something new, sing to your mom, play the piano for your mom, send your mom flowers, bring your mom dandelions, tell your mom a joke and laugh with your mom, cook with your mom, reminisce with your mom, ask your mom how she is, ask your mom about when she was little, ask your mom what she wishes for, sit with your mom, tell your mom you love her. she is – so often – the person who takes the brunt of everything you can dish out, sitting in the fire with you and adoring you unconditionally. just love your mom.

yes, this is a hard process – this grief thing. some days i am –at already56– ok. i walk through the world surrounded by amazing people who, somehow by design, are there with me, loving me and me them. other days, well, i wish i could sit down and drink my sweet momma’s iced tea.

yes, my sweet momma, i will hold you forever and ever
(from the album AND GOODNIGHT~A LULLABY ALBUM)

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood