reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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teeters and totters. [merely-a-thought monday]

there are days that i find it stunning – the number of wisdoms quoted on memes on social media. goodness-gurus like maya angelou, dalai lama, buddha, mr. rogers, gandhi…as facebook profile pictures, cover photos, posts, instas, sage snaps. so many of these are about kindness – basic, the foundation for living in and amongst others.

the center of gravity on a seesaw is in the center of mass. two people on a beam, fulcrum pivot point in the middle, there is a place negotiated where the seesaw will balance. maybe this is the secret of interactions with others.

in too many instances it would seem that our interactions with others are out-of-balance, that they are a study in power struggle, in a quest for control. the seesaw slams into the ground as the heavyweight force succeeds in out-maneuvering the lightweight with no attempt at level. you cannot hide the heavyweight forces and think they don’t exist. the choice to let someone’s else’s side of the seesaw slam into the ground or to let them fly off the high side is conscious and real. and the goodness-gurus frown.

yet the teeters totter on and quote and proclaim and tout and proselytize and do not choose to lead by guruwisdom, ever righteous. it’s astonishing hypocrisy.

sue aikens lives alone in the most northern regions of alaska. she spends most of the year in frigid darkness, with an airstrip and a camp for those willing to brave the remote arctic. her wisdom is seemingly honed by years of introspection and sorting. she has no seesaw at her camp, but she lives everyday on the slim board that is life in those parts, always balancing with nature, with wildlife, with her own abilities and limitations. i imagine there are days that she spends on the low side of the metaphoric seesaw, trying to control her surroundings, the rises and falls, as much as possible. but i would also imagine that most of her days are spent trying to find the pivot point, equilibrium – the place where she interacts with the good earth and its inhabitants with grace and generosity and keeps the seesaw in balance. she has teetertottered in kavik over twenty years. she is clearly doing something right.

as she says, “your interactions are always your choice.”

*****

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

BE KIND BUTTONS


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alive. [k.s. friday]

marty was the first man i knew who was a breast cancer survivor. we also learned he was deathly allergic to shrimp – while we were all at joe’s crab shack devouring seafood. yiiikes. it feels like a zillion years ago, but it was a great community of folks – all who were dedicated to their craft and showing at large wholesale shows, lining up accounts with small and large shops across the country. it was before streaming was really The Thing and i was moving boxes and boxes and boxes – thousands – of cds with displays, all to be sold by real people in real places. the days were long – yamaha delivered in a piano and it was hours upon hours of playing, talking, writing purchase orders, selling cash and carry. in the evening we would all sometimes gather together somewhere, to share stories, to unwind. that one night, joe’s crab shack made us a little bit nervous. we traded seats around so marty wasn’t near any shrimp and wondered why we didn’t go to a steakhouse.

community makes a difference. in this latest lean time of community that is now particularly pronounced.

i watched as my dear big sister shared her breast cancer story on facebook. she is now, thankfully, on the other side, mostly healed from surgery and radiation, slogging slowly through a period of difficulty adjusting to a long-term hormone blocker. i know, without a doubt, that the people who sent her their love – even online – helped her. a community that rallies around is the village we all need, especially in desperate times.

heidi and i spent so very much time together. our mutual work was in the oncological field – performing at large and small cancer survivor and breast cancer awareness events. there are many posts in this blog about places we have been and i consider them to be moments i was honored to be a part of the supportive oncology community and a part of the story.

my grandmother-who-i-never-knew, my dad’s mom, died of metastatic breast cancer. my sweet momma had a double mastectomy at 93. my dad was a lung cancer survivor and my brother died because of lung cancer. this year my sister’s breast cancer diagnosis scared us.

in the middle of the night, when things are raw, i decided that a “sisu” bracelet was in order so i found an artist who designed and crafted it out of silver so that my sister could wear it and know i was with her, a part of her community, holding her close. i ordered one for me as well. because the middle of the night can be a scary time when you are thinking too much.

marty didn’t mention the whole shrimp-thing until we were already at joe’s. i guess he had decided to just go-with-it, to just live. he had already been through so much.

though i really wouldn’t change it – as i love my “sisu” bracelet – i wonder if it should just say “alive”.

*****

click here for a few other words about “i am alive”

I AM ALIVE ©️ 2005 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.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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up on the roof. [merely-a-thought monday]

adulting is hard.

this is not a new revelation.

it’s just a reinforcement of the obvious.

i’m caught in the onslaught of wistful; fall is here. and the on-and-on thoughts in the middle of the night include a zillion questions, all unanswered.

we took a walk in charlotte, on the way to a pedicure with my girl. i wanted to run to the door of the house-with-this-fence and hug the person who painted it.

where else can we be but where we are? marcel reminds us, “the real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

today is our anniversary. it’s been seven years since we had seven days in a row of parties, were surrounded by family and friends for seven whole days. oh, to relish something like that again! daisies and food truck burgers, heaping plates of pasta and sweet potato fries, cupcakes and gluten-free brownies, bottles of wine from ann’s corner store. we picked pumpkins and danced on the patio and bonfired on the beach. it was a giant celebration and we reveled in it all.

in the middle of middle age we somehow found each other – across the country from each other. we both had been married before – to extraordinary people who have also found a beloved with whom to share life. we often ponder together the “had we been smarter, more capable, wiser” questions, but the “réview” mirror is not where we are going and here – in our 60s – it’s full-steam ahead. we feel fortunate. we are able to share our time together, our growing-old, our foibles and messes and the successes that brought us to now. this time hasn’t been a cakewalk. it sure hasn’t been fancy. coming together in middle age has its challenges and we have had a few extras tossed our way through these years. we sort through the weirds and stand in the wonder. and we know we are where we are supposed to be. maybe there is some sort of design in this universe.

20 gave us a card. like most of his cards, he made it for us. it reads, “love isn’t something that happens to us. it’s something we’re making together.”

tonight we are going to bring happy hour up on the roof. because the very first day of making-this-story-together-the-day-we-met-in-person, that’s where we sipped wine under blankets as the sun went down on a cool may day.

*****

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faces on a bridge. [k.s. friday]

this darling face was larger than life, a giant print by simon te tai hanging on the wall at our airbnb in charlotte. many times we would find ourselves standing in front of it. it compelled you to do so. is there a “hug-a-sloth” day? we both would like to participate.

other than our sweet dogdog, the next animal face we were close to was the hawk’s.

it was out front in the yard, seemingly enjoying the sprinkler. d watched it out the office window, checking on it while he worked. when he went to turn the sprinkler off and remove the hose from the lawn, it stayed there and watched him. he sent me a photo of it, merely ten feet away, calm and steady. the next time he looked out, it was in the street and in trouble. grabbing a blanket he ran down to it. we have brought other birds to rehab centers so this would not be our first. the hawk was in distress and laid while david talked quietly to it. as he went to gently scoop it up, it flew off, straight up into the tree limbs above.

when i came home d was standing in the middle of the street, staring up, so i knew it had to be something to do with this hawk he had photographed.

there it was. a small raptor perched on a limb 25 feet above us.

we watched it for a while and then thought we should leave it be, believing it must be recuperating from – perhaps – being somehow stunned.

just a bit later, from across the street, at the front door, we watched with horror as this beautiful creature flapped its wings up in the tree and then fell out. grabbing a bin and the blanket we tore out the front door and ran across the street.

i implored him to wait. the eye i could see was closing and i caressed him softly, telling him how grateful the world was for his presence in it, how stunningly beautiful he was.

i don’t know when his tiny spirit floated away.

it was profound for both of us. david wrapped him carefully in a blanket and we placed him in the bin, hopeful that our suspicion was wrong and that it might be possible he was simply unconscious for a bit. but the time went by and each time we checked on him revealed no change. we called all the bird rehabilitation centers.

wisconsin dnr asked us to photograph the hawk. “take as many pictures as you can,” she instructed, “that way we can try to determine what kind of hawk it was and maybe a little information about what might have happened.” there were no obvious signs of injury and we know that the avian flu has been seriously problematic, especially for waterfowl and birds of prey.

his face was truly beautiful. feathers the color of bold coffee and caramel, amber eyes just like dogdog’s, a bit of green above his curled beak. really beautiful.

it’s these two faces of wildlife i will remember this past month.

the face of a sloth – though not three-dimensional – friendly and open, practically begging for a giggly snuggle.

and the face of a hawk – transient, evanescent and spirit-filled – visceral and, quite astoundingly, stroked by our fingertips – a moment we shared we will not forget – when this creature crossed over and we were all one, together. on a mysterious bridge that goes both ways.

BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

*****

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cheese curds and awe. [d.r. thursday]

the table is staged, ready for diners. linen napkins rolled, silverware inside. water glasses turned over and candles unlit. waiting.

block 37 on state street in chicago has at least a dozen eateries, a highrise group built post-2005 of dining restaurants with napkin rolls, bakeries with cupcakes and sticky donuts, coffeehouses and grilled cheese spots. all waiting for eaters. there are shops and there is a residential development, multi-use skyscrapers.

eighteen years ago today. block 37. the yamaha concert grand was on an outdoor stage in the sun in a tree-canopied park when we arrived. boom mics. monitors. staged. ready. waiting.

it was the tour of hope, a giant oncology event sponsored by bristol-meyers squibb. lance armstrong, a cancer survivor and chosen sports hero for those moments, was biking – with an entourage – across the country to raise awareness about cancer and survivorship and hope. and we were there to be part of the rally. the piano and boom were waiting for me.

in the way of not-knowing-when-important-stuff-is-happening, we meandered through the people getting ready for the arrival of the posse of bikers. we sound-checked, we did early photo shoots, we sipped water on a perfectly-perfect early fall day.

it was the day i met him. a dear friend who i’ve only seen in person once in my lifetime. scordskiii became the rock in my world as the years went by and, were we to sit and visit over coffee or sushi or a glass of wine, i suspect the conversation would be easy and constant, filled with reminiscing and laughter, not just a little wonder, and hushed moments in awe of it all. this would be a good thing. eighteen years is a long time.

we are slowly coming out of the cave. slowly. ever-so-slowly. we have actually been to a couple restaurants now. and this day – last week – was one of those times.

the tables at the restaurant were ready and we walked in to find david’s dear friend waiting. they have known each other for decades, though – since they live far apart – they haven’t had opportunity to see each other much. no matter. it is the gift of true friendship. the moments when all time sloughs off and, in awe of this magic, you return to the organic core of your relationship.

we had fried wisconsin cheese curds. it was a farm-to-table restaurant. we were surrounded by relics from farms and warehouses, all dating back, maybe even a century. we sat and sat, talking, sharing. people came and went around us, though no one was seated close.

i glanced at the other tables when we stood to leave. the napkins were rolled and the water glasses were turned upside down. and the dining tables were waiting for the next time people would sit and ponder life, its questions, its challenges and joys, the next time people would share a little space together. the next time people would look at the face of a dear friend before it was time to go.

the years…they fly by.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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two or more. [merely-a-thought monday]

it doesn’t matter to us that it is a vintage windsor wheelback country kitchen chair. it’s just a sweet chair in the dining room of a little house in the north carolina mountain town we are fond of. our favorite part is the stenciled “EAT”.

my next tiny project will be to stencil this onto the old metal framed chair in our dining room. it’s the chair we grab when 20 comes over and we eat inside. we always pull it into the kitchen and sit around the small square table my dad refinished 34 years ago. we could sit in the dining room – there’s plenty of space and more than enough chairs – but it’s cozy in the kitchen and we choose cozy for sitting, sipping wine, eating together, catching up, laughing. the textures in our kitchen are the same as in this mountaintown dining room – old wood floors, thick white trim, light grey walls, black chairs. i tend to select the airbnbs that look like our own sensibility – a home away.

back in the day i had stenciled along the entire kitchen upper wall, just like in our foyer. simple checkerboxes, but that has gone the way of simplicity. one of these days i will need to repaint the foyer – the plaster in there is forcing my hand. and the last of the checkerboxes will disappear. an era. bygone.

i laid awake last night for a long time. my dear friend linda told me that when she is awake for long periods at night she will walk through their bygone houses in her mind. it calms her thoughts and brings her closer to sweet sleep. last night i walked through my growing-up house, in the front door, into the living room and the kitchen, the dining room, the paneled den with the gigantic rock fireplace, down the hall into my bedroom. i took a tour of the basement and the backyard, the woods behind our house. i moved on…to florida and the homes i lived in there. the sheep farm in new hampshire, the littlehouse on washington island. here.

although i could picture the homes and the furnishings – for the most part – the pictures – snapshots from a viewmaster – i could mostly see were the gatherings. people gathered around tables in the kitchen, people gathered for holiday meals in the dining room, people gathered en masse outside or inside, just munching on snacks or burgers or making apple pies or having shrimp boils or big parties or little parties with tables lined with foods everyone brought to contribute to the feast.

it’s been a while since we have hosted any big parties. a couple years now. when i worked at the church we hosted all the time – any excuse for a choir party, all the summertime ukulele rehearsals. we added our big dig, the slow dance party, christmas eve outdoor luminaria bonfire fests. community was built around these gatherings – people coming together to visit and share and eat, to slow down and talk and share where they are at. a community that gathers grows. a community that shares meals grows. a community that authentically cares grows. connection. comfort. contentment.

we miss those times. it came naturally to us to be the spot. job loss and covid, financial strain, caution-in-gathering – they all put constraints on the big – and small – gatherings. little by little we return around the table. literally and figuratively.

in the meanwhile, we gratefully sit in the sunroom surrounded by happy lights or in the kitchen at the table, the legs of which dogdog gnawed on as a puppy or outside on the patio by the fire.

the thing we always knew: “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” (helen keller)

where two or more may gather.

and EAT.

*****

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


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quilts > duvets. [k.s. friday]

…and i will comfort you…

given a choice, we will stay in airbnbs. they are homes – real people’s places where they laid their heads – and they offer a comfort that hotels just can’t.

perhaps i have never stayed in a hotel resort that reaches its arms around me, snugged into its chest. it is true. i haven’t ever been to an all-inclusive. when we hotel-it, we stay at the hampton inn, where they offer breakfast and wash the duvet cover daily. they are very clean, mostly updated, the beds are goldilocks-worthy and there is a refrigerator and microwave for the food we are carrying with us.

we arrived in richmond, kentucky on a thursday evening. a fire truck was diagonally across the road, blocking it, and my heart flipped a little, wondering what might have happened. instead, a small town, it was the night of the homecoming parade. we got to the corner by our airbnb, but only to the corner. it was the final approach for the parade route and the police officer at the corner stopped us with a sheepish smile, “just pull over and watch.” he added, “sorry”.

we weren’t sorry. it was a delight to see the parade up close and personal and we cheered and the high school football team threw us candy. after all the convertibles with king and queen candidates drove by and the final police car with lights, the police officer allowed us to turn toward our lodging.

we wrote to andrew, the host of our roomy and perfectly-appointed loft, just to let him know what a joy it was to pull into his town and find such fun. he responded immediately. a real person. a real home. he pays attention. we sat on the tiny balcony and sipped wine while the church carillon rang out post-parade. after more than eight hours on the road, we felt comforted.

the little house in brevard was known to us. we stayed there before. so we knew exactly what we would find…a home with a front porch… our window into the tiny mountain town. we chose to stay there again because it had held us the first time…in comfort. home away from home.

the ukulele band i directed played the van morrison song “comfort you”. “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

comfort, invisibly wrapping us, giving us pause.

i can think of nothing more important in these times – really, any times – but especially these times – than people comforting other people. the capacity for a human to give reassurance and hope to another must surpass all efforts to compete, to one-up, to undermine. surely as the south begins to clean up from hurricane ian, the evidence is obvious.

i will comfort you – words unspoken perhaps – but deeds spell it all out. people loving one another.

quilts > duvets.

*****

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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and the parade greets us as we arrive


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no pizza, but thank you. [merely-a-thought monday]

if my sweet momma had hung tiny signs in trees, she would have hung this one, “be the reason someone smiles today.”

the historic district of plaza midwood in charlotte is a paradise of bungalows and porches. we walked to the harris teeter slowly, admiring each one, imagining the inside. later, we searched on zillow to see interiors and prices of these gems.

the house with the huge peace sign, the word love by the front door, prayer flags hanging on the side…we knew these people could easily be our friends. an inviting neighborhood. and then, this tree, filled with wisdoms and encouragements.

we porch-sat each night in our tiny mountain town, sitting on the steps or in sling camp chairs or at our pop-up table that travels with us. our airbnb is on one of the main arteries of the little city so there is traffic to watch and there are people walking by.

sometimes the conversations would be short and sweet and we would just greet people and cheer them on their way. other times, we’d start chatting. mike and michaela walked by and ended up at the porch several nights. and the feral cat – so sweet and so very shy – stopped by for a quiet visit each night. it easily started to feel really comfortable; we settled in quickly.

there are definitely times we walk or hike and attempt a littlebittaconversation with others when we are dissed. they will say nothing. truly nothing. no reaction, no smile, nothing. but we – nevertheless – try to subscribe to my momma’s unspoken mantra. we keep on trying to make others smile. it doesn’t take a lot of energy to try and momentarily engage with another, to act goofy or silly or self-deprecating, to do something kind, say something positive or enthusiastic or complimentary.

sitting on the steps of the porch one night, we said hi to a guy walking past. he was carrying his hot-out-of-the-pizza-oven pizza from the gas-station-triangle-stop-shop that oddly “offers growler taps and on-premise beer and wine”. he seemed surprised and then called over, “you wanna piece? i can share.” we laughed, tempted, and told him thank you.

we declined a slice of pizza, but my sweet momma’s eyes were sparkling.

*****

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a watchful eye. [k.s. friday]

should it get to the point that the vine is obscuring the metal sunflower, we will cut it back. right now the vine is in its glory, billowing on top of the wooden fence, weaving in and out of the decorative wrought iron, and tumbling down our side. it has reached out and is starting to creep over this sunflower, ever so slowly and then, suddenly, the sunflower is wrapped in vine.

we keep a watchful eye.

for the vines of the neighbors, though lovely, are somewhat aggressive and we wish to protect the plants we have beneath their spilling. they are quietly growing, growing beneath these explosive vines and it has taken us years to cultivate even this small garden.

it used to be that the snow-on-the-mountain took over…it was everywhere. it choked out the lavendar garden and its long-branching rhizomes were spreading, spreading, giving our newly planted grasses a run for their life. it was overrunning everything else and its root system sent out feelers all over the yard, even under the driveway, looking for vulnerable plants it could overtake.

now the ground elder, on the other side of the potting bench, is rampant. because it is on-the-other-side and we mostly keep it from the stone patio in our potting garden, we are not as worried. but we watch it anyway.

we’ve discovered that vigilance is key. not so shockingly, we see the vines will win.

so we keep a watchful eye. and we protect the more fragile plants. we are sure to water them and check for the invasives trying to squeeze them out.

because they are beautiful, diligent silent growers, not insistently loud snowballing vegetation, and they each deserve their own space in the sun, their own dirt, air to breathe and our appreciation.

*****

SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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