reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

what’s your chew? [merely-a-thought monday]

the minis are the best. though i haven’t had them in forever. available in the ever-popular neopolitan ice cream flavors, i prefer vanilla.

charleston chews. yum. everyone has their crutch. a while back, mine would have been kitkats. someone could have said to me, “you can’t kitkat your way out of this” and, though i beg to differ on the “can’t” and “out of this” parts, they would have been right-on about the kitkats. avoidance and tangents and, yes, even food in desperate situations, go hand in hand. diverting, skirting confrontation, maintaining decorum, keeping peace…some things require overt and potent bribes.

he says i change the subject. i get a kind of blank look on my face and “squirrel!” into some other path of conversation. were i to spend some time thinking about this, i am guessing he is right. once i am in an exchange that can only head downhill, my brain is rolodexing for something else to talk about, to veer off to, to act as distraction.

he hasn’t had a charleston chew. this is preposterous and certainly un-american, so i will have to remedy this. but i know if i held a dark chocolate bar or a chocolate chip cookie or, now, a piece of crumbcake, in my hand – even in the middle of a “talk” – he would bite.

because the truth is…you CAN charleston chew your way out of many sticky situations. you just have to know what a person’s charleston chew is.

*****

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


Leave a comment

a spot of tea. [merely-a-thought monday]

care packages would arrive often from my sweet momma. a big box that, inevitably, my poppo had turned inside out so my momma could pack it up with anything and everything she could think of. macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, m&m’s, twizzlers, stickers, pa pads, andes candies, newspaper and magazine articles she read and wanted to share, coupons. the list was long and always included a new tea or two.

she was clever about packing these packages, taking the tea bags out of the boxes – to take up less room – and putting them in glad bags. but she would enclose the label from the box and sometimes, she’d enclose some other smidgen or two.

the other day, in a tea mood, while searching for the perfect tea, i came across one of these smidgens. a side of a celestial seasonings box, a harriet beecher stowe quote, perfect timing. my momma’s care package did it again. a source of comfort, of reassurance, of love, unexpectedly, in the course of a day i needed it. “…never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

our lives – in actual comparison to what else is happening in the world – seem ridiculously easy. we have had our challenges and setbacks, but i wince when i think about complaining in the middle of watching news coverage of the atrocities of ukraine or climate crisis real-time in lands of glaciers or the amazon rainforest or the overall covid pandemic decimation or the fight to maintain absolute LGBTQ+ freedoms or womens’ ability to choose what is right for them and their bodies or the continued discrimination of black lives or the economic hardship that is befalling vast numbers of people in our own country. i trust that harriet beecher stowe, a woman before her time, would shudder at ALL of this.

it would seem – even upon simply reading headlines – that this country is in retrograde. we are slipping backwards and it horrifies me. each day i read of people-with-agenda designing ways, strategizing, lobbying, legislating, to usurp the freedom of others just trying to live their lives. i wonder how these people – some with screaming loud and obnoxious voices, some with haughty, righteous, quiet intentions, some with silently evil thoughts – sleep at night. how they live with their own warped view of equality, their own bizarre view of peace, their clear disdain for the basic tenets of life, of loving one another. they become more and more powerful as we watch and i think of the work of harriet beecher stowe and i think of my sweet momma’s approach to life. retrograde, indeed.

referencing harriet’s arguably most powerful book, “uncle tom’s cabin”, it was written “the goal of the book was to educate northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening in the south. the other purpose was to try to make people in the south feel more empathetic towards the people they were forcing into slavery.”

to educate. to make people feel more empathetic. the value of truth-telling, stifling deadly misinformation. the necessity of looking – really looking – at oneself. the compassion that empathy brings to the soul. these make all the difference. to bring kindness – always and under every circumstance. to not stick your head in the ground and avoid the tough stuff. to speak up, to speak out. to hold on, even in the hardest moments. to never give up. to hope. to believe. the tide will turn.

i looked up and whispered “thank you, momma” when i found the tea-box-cardboard quote. i didn’t hear anything back at that very moment, but i knew she was listening, perhaps, though, with half an ear. i suspect she was busy. there’s much to be done. my sweet momma and harriet were likely having a spot of tea.

*****

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


Leave a comment

frogs, sausages, monkeys and hiking boots. [merely-a-thought monday]

we were talking about hiking boots. she said that her tread was so smooth and nonexistent when she was in banff that they had to go buy yaktrax. i talked about sliding on wet leaves as we climbed up a nearly vertical trail in the mountains of north carolina. we wondered how many hundreds – or thousands? – of miles we each had on our respective footware. then, with no modesty or guilt and maybe even a little proudly, we compared how many tabs we have had open in one sitting as we researched new boots. she won, at 20 tabs. my old and intrepid laptop would surely crash with 20 tabs open, though i can totally relate. i asked her, my physical therapist, to let me know when she decided on a pair so i could avoid all the rest of the research. it does occur to me, though, that, at her age, she does not likely have any kind of foot or knee or hip or any-for-that-matter issues. nevertheless. i’ll take her recommendation under advisement. i am tired of looking. we laughed together about our analysis paralysis – as brad calls it – as she manipulated my shoulder – i’m positive she was trying to take my mind off of what she was doing – and she told me she called it “decision fatigue”.

i think decision fatigue is why i have to move around my clearing-out tasks in a circle. i can’t stay in the clothing-decision arena or the shoe-decision arena or the paperwork-decision arena or stuff-decision arena too long. it’s easier for me to spend some time communing with one set of bins, suffering the choices, pulling ruthless from thin air and then moving on to the next. circular. in a circle. i’ll be back and it will all get done, but i’m too exhausted to finish it out in one fell swoop.

it took me a long, long time – and many, many tabs – and a few returns – to come to the decision to tap on “order now” when i was looking for some new lightweight everyday winter shoes. rykä – shoes made for women – won me over and every day i am glad when i put on my boots. i read all the reviews (the one where the mom bought these boots for her daughter when they went to iceland had me dreaming of trips with my daughter to iceland) and i checked multiple sites. by the time decision fatigue set in i had ordered two pairs in different sizes from different websites. one was perfect and the other went back. (what song does that sound like??? speckled frogs “glub, glub” or sizzling sausages …”ten fat sausages sizzling in a pan. one went pop and the other went bang”….come to mind….) (or is it….”five little monkeys jumping on the bed. one fell off and banged his head”…). whatever.

decision fatigue has delayed a new bathroom faucet, the possibility of new kitchen counters, whether the fireplace should stay wood-burning or gas logs or insert and…and…and, most definitely, new hiking boots.

and don’t ask me how many winter outerwear vests i ordered. ya gotta love “free returns”. manna for the decision-fatigued.

*****

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


Leave a comment

my poppo in my dream. [merely-a-thought monday]

my subconscious was in overdrive. i had heard some news late in the evening and, clearly, it played into all i was thinking about in my overnight sleep. both my sweet momma and my poppo were in my dream, as were people who were stars of the news i had heard, and, unlike many other dreams that vanish with the dawn or fade to irretrievable mishmash, this one stayed with me.

in it, i wanted to tell my dad what had happened, wanted to share the news with him, wanted to give him the back-story of it all, which, of course, he already knew (especially from his vantage point a dimension away). he was setting up microphones for me – something he truly has never done in real life – and he looked over at me. he furrowed his brow. “i’m working for tomorrow,” he said. “work for tomorrow,” he encouraged.

i can still see him, bending over a mic stand, adjusting a boom mic and looking forward. his words have stuck with me. “for tomorrow.”

i knew enough in the dream that he wasn’t pooh-pooh-ing the value of today – neither was he sloughing off the importance of work in this day. today. rather, it was somehow clear to me that he was discarding the what-had-been, the back-story i was going to repeat – again – and he was leaning on the hopeful of tomorrow, the promise of work done today helping tomorrow, and it is likely he would agree with juliette gordon low, the founder of girl scouts of america, one of my mom’s passions, when she said, ““the work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.”

i woke up the next day still in the dream. my poppo was somehow still present with me. and the news i had heard, though not unexpected and certainly a little bit satisfying in a puzzle-piece-found sort of way, became less worthy of my time. some stuff is just more important left behind. there are plenty of fascinating puzzle pieces ahead.

as i take bags and boxes to donation sites soon, i know that clearing space – out of the basement and out of closets that had been full of unworn clothing – will be invigorating. i have been going through, going through, revisiting memories, feeling the visceral that touching clothes you wore and objects you used brings you. but, hanging on to too much old stuff, too much excess, too much old yuck too tightly squeezes life out of the air. letting it go allows a flow of fresh in. it will open up room for other things to enter or it will just simply open up room. because, as my dad says, it’s working for tomorrow. tomorrow…a time of renewal and hope and change.

there will hopefully be many “days after today”. as i create history on this day, it is my hope that it is always with an eye to tomorrow. i know not every day will earn a spot in the books. there may be many we do not care to revisit in the ‘réview mirror’; there is room for growing. i guess that’s where learning comes in. (“learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences…the result of experience.”) but in looking to tomorrow, instead of yesterday, there is hope. even the tiniest flower wholeheartedly and courageously peeking out of the nearly-still-frozen ground knows that.

that poppo of mine. he’s one smart cookie.

*****

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

happy seven year anniversary to the release of my sweet momma’s book SHAYNE! ❤️


Leave a comment

dining. [merely-a-thought monday]

we are not fancy-schmancy froo-froo types. we don’t have chandeliers or swagging silk curtains. we don’t have china or sterling silver utensils. we don’t have a matchy-matchy dining room set or linen tablecloths graced with taper candlesticks. but we do have rich dining experiences, nevertheless.

whether at our cozy table in our old kitchen – the square one that my sweet poppo refinished in our basement – the one with a couple white painted legs dogga chewed on as a puppy – the one that i had to wipe clean every week as babycat would rub up against it leaving a dander mark – the one that my babies sat by in their high chairs and that many a cuppajava was sipped….or at the covid table in the sunroom – the one with snakeinthegrass and leticia and nonámē and stubby and boston and, now, charlie – the one with happy lights and tealights – the one looking out back….or at the big table in the dining room – the one with the memories of big gatherings and games played and pass-the-mashed-potatoes and pasta dinners…any table, it doesn’t matter. we sit together and, in our together, are grateful for the chance to prepare our meal and share it.

we choose our plates carefully. it might be a white crock night or a black plate night or maybe kenandloida colorfully-painted ceramic bowls or small plates. the vessel matters. and so do the cloth napkins. no matter what we are having for dinner – vegetable soup or a tagine or plant-based meatloaf – we try to pay attention to dining and not just eating.

we can count the number of times we have been dining inside a restaurant since before the pandemic – on one hand. it has been for very specific reasons – mostly our children, but once, the up-north gang, freezing from winterfest, gathered indoors at a pub to sip drinks and gorge on kettle corn. these times have been rejuvenating and joyfilled, though i have to say, blame-it-on-covid, i usually count the days hence. sigh.

regardless, our two-years-heading-into-the-third have not been without a richness that comes with choosing to make a big deal out of meals. nothing lavish, but still meaning-affluent. nothing opulent, but still flush with deliciousness. nothing fancy-schmancy, nothing froo-froo, but dining. definitely dining.

not just sitting and eating.

*****

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


Leave a comment

fallen and passé. [merely-a-thought monday]

so a few years back – for a little bit of time – we would get our netflix fix by signing into the mom-we-never-met-in-los-angeles-account-whose-son-was-the-ex-boyfriend-of-the-ex-boyfriend-of-our-son. it feels like we should send her a thank-you note for those times watching “parenthood”. i’m sure she is lovely; her son is delightful. we were grateful for the path in during a time in a place we had no cable and were mostly watching dvd movies we brought home from the tiny library. we didn’t miss tv. and, though we are back to having cable for years, we don’t really miss it now. it’s about time to shut it down.

i sent the picture of the fallen antenna and its hulking thirty-foot-plus tower to our children, and my son, incredulously (or was that with a hand smacking his forehead over our caveman existence), asked, “was that even something in use anymore?” to which i reassured him that we were certainly not in the darkest of ages and that it was purely decorative. i do, however, know that there are people still using some kind of antenna in some capacity. it’s just not us.

netflix recently announced that they are reconsidering the way they are selling their service. they are trying on a new program where you can’t glom onto someone else’s netflix to watch – across the street, across town, across the country. it would seem that they are changing the rules midstream, but i guess ya gotta make money. because i am idealistic, i’m certain that spotify will follow and so will rhapsody and dish and apple music – a sudden conscience burst of everyone-has-to-pay-appropriately-for-what-they-stream….eh, it’s doubtful.

everyone is on someone’s netflix. everyone is using someone else’s cable sign-in. everyone is on someone else’s amazon and someone else’s cellphone bill. it’s a thing called survival.

i was on the phone with the car insurance company. i had gotten the new premium billing for the next six months and it had gone up 20%. twenty percent. now, that’s a lot considering the age of our vehicles, the amount of driving we don’t do, the fact that (knock wood) we have not had any incidents, our clean driving records (knock wood again). i asked what the justification was for the abrupt rise in cost, particularly after years of decreasing premium costs for good behavior et al.

the woman on the other end of the phone was lovely and explained “inflation” to me. i calmly retorted back, “so, the insurance company is responding to inflation by increasing premiums 20% while recognizing income is not growing in any manner near that.” she paused and drawled, “you know, i couldn’t agree more.” it was not without glee i got the increase down to 10%. but even then, i was still a bit disgruntled. when was your last 10% raise?

the time-before-the-last-time i called spectrum (our cable company) and asked for a review of our service and billing, i made it abundantly clear that i was looking to lower our cost. after a long period of time on hold – during which i listened to some beauteous piano-cello music – the rep came back on the phone and excitedly (this was contrived, i’m sure) told me that she had a great new deal for me. with unmatched enthusiasm she described the new deal…all the channels and services and blah-dee-blah…ending with “shall i sign you up?” naturally, this did not include the price. and for good reason. when i inquired about the pricing, she told me the cost of the package. it was $35 MORE than our current package. more. to clarify: more.is.not.less. i was speechless for a moment, trying to think of anything positive to say. i uttered “nothankyou” (twice to make sure the recording got it) and hung up.

soon it will be time to cut the cable. we watch very little tv. and that which we want to watch we can likely purchase in an app or something. i’ll have to ask my son.

because the days of being gathered in the living room around the tv watching “mary tyler moore” or “gidget” or “hogan’s heroes” or “petticoat junction” or “growing pains” or “three’s company” or “golden girls” or “cheers” or “friends” or “home improvement” or “everybody loves raymond” are kind of passé.

master marsh was right. the photo of our tv antenna demise should be labeled “the death of broadcast television”.

*****

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


Leave a comment

that crooked smile. [merely-a-thought monday]

his crooked smile stopped me.

we were wandering slowly through the orchid show at chicago botanic gardens, drinking in the colors, the fragile blooms, the deliciousness of being-out-somewhere-doing-something. in the hallway between two larger spaces, there he was. waiting. wearing the imperial margarine crown, large bulbous nose, really long kind-of-jay-leno-chin and a crooked smile, his eyes squeezed a little shut in an engaging invitation, he was waiting.

i stood there staring at him, laughing. he was sitting in front of an old piano painted in bluebird-sky-blue-peely-paint and he winked at me. all the other orchids didn’t have to do anything to get our attention, and, truthfully, neither did he – they were all stunning and refreshing hopeful harbingers of maybe-spring-will-come – but he tried extra hard anyway.

i see him as toothless. but i have no judgements about that at all. i suspect most orchids are toothless, well, except for the one that made me do the “duh-chomp, chomp, chomp—what’s up doc?” bugs bunny imitation in the middle of a room full of people. that one most certainly had teeth. two buck teeth just screaming for us to notice. nevertheless, this guy – the imperial margarine guy – did not have teeth. his jimmy durante schnozzola was all he needed. and those eyes. and that crooked smile. sheesh! what charm!

when we left the botanic garden we felt a rush of fresh air. this wasn’t just the difference between a heightened-warm greenhouse and the cold chicago air. it was a sense of newness. a refreshing, though albeit tiny, touch of “normal”, a reminder of beauty. it was sheer magic. it was diving into a rainbow and immersing, coming out the other side dripping with colors we hadn’t seen in a long time.

it was admiring blossoms of solid colors and stripes and polka-dots and marveling over shapes and sizes and textures. it was reading of orchid seeds sailing over oceans and great expanses of land, steadfastly enduring. it was laughing with orchids which had personality, confidence and humility, joie de vivre.

they reminded us of life, in the middle of a neverending pandemic, in a period of time that would mark the beginning days that ukraine was invaded by russia, the world shocked by the wickedness of it all. the country-of-sunflowers was under siege and the orchids were blooming. all existing at the same time, on the same plane, in the same world. a gentle prod – yet again – to appreciate every last little thing.

maybe that’s what his crooked smile was all about.

*****

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


Leave a comment

just a meow away. [merely-a-thought monday]

you cannot underestimate the connection. beyond joy, beyond telepathy, beyond sheer love, we are tethered with the silkiest, most incandescent beautiful strings to our pets. words do not explain this.

it is not quite a year ago now when babycat suddenly took ill and died. it was devastating to lose him, this cherished fattest tuxedo cat who had stood with me through some of the most difficult days in my life. he was there for all the tough stuff: divorce, empty-nest-entrance, loneliness, unexplainable challenges, loss of both my poppo and my sweet momma, wrist breakages, job losses, pandemic agoraphobic necessities. he was there for all the joyous stuff too, though his facial expression rarely changed for either end of the spectrum of emotions. most importantly, he was there. his lugging body soft in my arms, his purr softly – and not so softly – easing me to rest. i miss him.

babycat would be 13 today. it’s a made-up birthday he had all his life because he was a rescue kitty, found with no birth certificate or ancestry information. pronounced to be called “wilson” he never really knew his real name – the one on the initial veterinarian paperwork. he knew he was “babycat”, “b-cat”, “baby-the-c”; he had a theme song to prove it.

it is never easy losing a beloved pet. i still remember losing each treasured dog. those are moments you don’t forget. but babycat was my first cat. and i had no idea what to do. so i taught him to be a dog. he came when called. he sat when asked. he meowed when i said “speak”. he sat up for treats. he answered “meh” when i called his name out, looking for him. he refused, for his entire life, to wear a collar. and, for the first year or two or four, he – adoringly – bit my ankles when he wanted food. he propelled himself into the double-hung-window sills of this old house, watching the world go by. he laid by the dog’s dish, full of food, taunting him. they were the best pals, babycat and dogga.

dogga was second and he knew it. babycat was alpha in every way and he knew it. but there were those days you’d walk into the living room and they were laying next to each other in sunshine streaming through the windows. or you’d walk into the kitchen after breakfast and they would both be in there – sleeping. or you’d walk into the bedroom and there they were, together.

the day babycat died, a short time before i rushed him to the vet, he and dogga were laying on the bed with me. they nosed each other gently. it was an ultra-sweet moment. and i wondered after if they were saying goodbye. i fight the lump in my throat thinking about it.

i still wake sometimes thinking i am spooning the cat.

*****

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


Leave a comment

our mélange. still a toddler. [two artists tuesday]

every weekday for four years is kind of a long time. we kicked off our mélange on february 12, 2018 with the intention to blog each day using a mutual image. we’d see where those images would take us: down backroads of memory, forays into wondering, dropping into the tiniest cracks of things that happen in our days. they would generate stories and pondering and poetry and a dedication to a practice we both love: writing.

1106 blogs later – in the context of the mélange – and we are just as committed now as we were then. in these tens of hundreds of posts, we have been both succinct and verbose, grateful and snarky, questioning and certain. mostly, we have sat next to each other – every single post – typed on laptops and read aloud to the other what the chosen image evoked. it has been an absolute gift.

from an analytical standpoint, we can see that people all over the world are reading. we marvel at the number of countries where someone has opened up what we have blathered. it is not without wonder that we -every so often- hear from someone from afar. and then, there are those days that the analytics suggest perhaps no one is interested and our writing is for naught. yet, we write anyway. because, we have discovered, this is for us – a gift we have given ourselves.

in the beginning our monday-friday topics included two cartoon days: chicken marsala monday and flawed cartoon wednesday. those days have since morphed and changed into merely-a-thought monday and not-so-flawed (and sometimes flawed) wednesday. in the beginning, too, every day had products i designed for that day. we had (actually, still have) five stores on society6 where people could purchase prints and canvases and tote bags, mugs and phone cases, throw pillows and leggings and shirts with our original work. hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of products. and so much fun to design. we have featured morsels of david’s paintings and youtubes or mp3s of my music, tiny snippets of color and texture and devoted artistry. we dove into the telling-the-tale of these pieces and we have shared the soul of our work.

soon it will be a year since we first added saturday morning smack-dab, our smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-middle-age cartoon. we’ll be setting up an additional separate page for smack-dab, the cartoon. some people want less words and that will be the place to go for the less-is-more approach. this cartoon is one of the delights of my week and the scripting, layout, colorizing, design work give me a distinct honor of co-cartoonist.

we have learned – in this practice – to photograph, to look, to listen – even more carefully and intently than before. so much to notice, to pay attention to. life is about how you take it in and respond to it all.

the learning curve on anything worthwhile can be steep. toughing out the vulnerability factor, finding your voice, using it to write, putting-it-out-there, brings a mélange of emotion. for us, it has been about 1106x joy.

thank you for reading.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

our first mélange post

click here for our mélange

and – if you are in the mood for browsing:

CHICKEN MARSALA SOCIETY6 STORE

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY SOCIETY6 STORE

FLAWED CARTOON SOCIETY6 STORE

DAVID ROBINSON SOCIETY6 STORE

KERRI SHERWOOD SOCIETY6 STORE

THE MÉLANGE ©️ 2018-2022 kerri sherwood & david robinson


Leave a comment

rose petal lemonade. [merely-a-thought monday]

it was a first. the very first time that david had a dozen roses sent to me.

i heard the knock on the door and went to see what it was. the tall package was sitting there. fromyouflowers.com the label read. i, excitedly, called d down from his office upstairs, saying, “look! i got flowers!!” he ran downstairs, looked at the box with a slight furrow and replied that they were ordered to arrive monday, on valentine’s day. i suppose that might have given us a glimpse into what-would-be.

i brought the box into the kitchen and grabbed the scissors to slice the tape, tears coming to my eyes as i gently pried the flap open and saw the red-red of roses inside. we’ve been daisy-people with a single rose-here-or-there, but never a dozen roses. i extracted the inner cardboard holding everything upright and looked down into the top of the bouquet.

there were loose rose petals everywhere. rose buds floated on top of the bundle and i could see the stems where they belonged. sensing that this was not going to be pretty, with d watching, i unwrapped the paper around the stems.

rose petals and leaves fell around us, on the counter, on the floor, on my clothes. though d had not ordered an invisible flower girl, it appeared that one had magically appeared to shower us with rose-love. clearly when he ordered this gift he hadn’t checked the option where the buds and leaves were attached to the stems.

his face said it all.

the one time he went all-out. the one time he surprised me with delivered-to-the-door-flowers. the one time he sent a whole dozen roses.

i gathered together all the rose petals and rose buds that still-tightly-held-their-shape-but-not-their-stems. i went into the dining room and took out a beautiful crystal bowl that used to be my sweet momma’s and poppo’s. i placed all the petals and buds into the bowl, arranging the buds so their graceful curls faced up.

i looked at david and said, “still beautiful. just different.”

a little later, work-day over, we lit a candle, clinked glasses and sent naked-stem-photographs to our friends and family, sharing the moment and lemonading rose petals.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this VALENTINE’S DAY