reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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we’ll see. part two. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i mean, i love calculators. really love them. i got excited the other day when i found a TI-30X IIS in a basket i was going through. sheesh. i blame my high school math teacher, a man everyone adored and for whom we all worked really hard. he’s one of the reasons so many of us ended up loving math…still.

and so i am the billpayer. i have a dollar store calendar with due date notations each month which serves as a folder for outstanding bills. i check it often and keep track of spending. i prepare our personal and business taxes in february, a task – everything line-item-ed to bring on to the accountant – that is sometimes daunting, but…ya gotta love all that math. i never really mind any of it. sometimes, though, i wish the numbers were different. it would maybe be a little easier with better numbers. sigh.

the aarp magazine and newsletter come into the mailbox and i peruse them for thoughtful advice, words of wisdom, pointers. invariably, they have some article on retirement – which is, of course, their real area of expertise. and, along with the article that lists all the things you need to “successfully retire” (aka do whatever-the-hell you want) there will be lists of IRAs and 401ks and savings pie charts and spending allowances and how they proportionately relate to each other and your life post-wage-earning.

good grief.

it is not in my best interest to take these too seriously.

by the time we are fully retired, with inflation going the way it is – gas prices and groceries, continually rising heating bills and let’s-not-talk-about-cable anymore and oh-right-then-there’s-healthcare – we might have like zilcho to spend.

i love the articles about places to retire to – small towns and lakefronts, unexpected charming villages. there’s always the question of retirement living communities with amenities and activities or planned gated neighborhoods or mobile home parks set in tropical locations.

with housing costs and rents rising ad nauseam, it is hard to think about having the resources to purchase a new home and move. we dream and look at tiny-house plans. we consider this beloved old house we live in. we wonder about traveling. we wonder about adventures. we wonder about the pacific crest trail.

we make a strict budget, planning ahead. i thank bill h., my math teacher, for the ability to think it all through and do the math in my head. and i warn d.

so in our fun and adventurous retirement, after working hard in our lives, after judicious and frugal-no-real-frills spending habits, i calculate our likely extraneous income…that expendable fluff – like reddi-whip piled high on top of a hot fudge sundae – and i tell david.

“zero,” i inform him. “we can spend zero.”

we’ll see, i guess.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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imperfections. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it was the rip in the petal that attracted me. this stunning white bloom in the woods, surrounded by underbrush, green leaves and many seemingly-perfect flowers, this was the one that stood out.

kintsugi is a japanese art. it is the practice of putting broken pottery pieces back together again with gold. it is metaphoric self-care. it is the celebration of that which is difficult making you stronger. it is the holding most gently and most admiringly that which is not perfect. it is creating something more beautiful, more unique and more resilient from something broken.

this bloom in the woods needs no gold. its purity and absolute allure are natural. it does not suffer illusions of self-conscious expectations nor does it pine over flaws nor does it wallow in the not-good-enoughs. it simply and silently leans toward the sun in all its glory.

and it wins my vote as the most-beautiful, dazzling the forest floor, reminding me, once again, to have gratitude for all the imperfections that make me me.

*****

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


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well and stinky. [merely-a-thought monday]

hash marks are kept somewhere, keeping track of the days we do it well and the days we just basically stink at it…life. the generous thing about it, though, is that, for the most part, no one is waving those down-down-down-down-across-hatches at us. each day, we get to do it again, the best we can. and some days we do it well and some days we stink at it. sleep and repeat.

after six decades of doing life – which admittedly, isn’t really all that much – i can still say i am a newbie. every day i learn something new; every day i sort out a little somethin’; every day i adjust the on-the-dirt-attitude-indicator which, funny thing, is the same as in the air: keeping you relative to the horizon and making you aware of the smallest change in orientation. every day, on this fluid axis, i hope for a little grace – from others, from the universe, from myself.

and i try again. my sweet poppo would remind anyone who was listening, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” and so i do.

yesterday marked forty years since the day of my first marriage. it was a sunny warm day in florida; i was wearing my sister’s gown, my sister-in-law’s train and white stiletto macramé sandals. i carried a silk flower bouquet and the tiny white beaded purse i had gotten for my sixteenth birthday. i had little time in front of the mirror, trying to share getting-ready-time with my lovely big sister, my matron-of-honor, who has a more perfected and lengthier getting-ready practice.

at twenty-three, just three weeks after my college graduation, full of anticipation and excitement and hopes and dreams, a little unresolved trauma and not-just-a-little naiveté, i walked down the aisle to the good man who would become the father of my beloved children. and somewhere, the hash mark collection started. we did things well. we were stinky at things. and i absolutely take responsibility for my own stinkinesses, things that disrupted the horizon.

it’s been years now since i have seen him. time, in its wisdom and flow, has softened the ending, blurred the rough edges. i am grateful for the decades we spent together and for the unique and powerful children we raised. and i only wish the best of health and happiness for him and his wife. someday i hope to see them and share laughter and stories and memories of our daughter and our son as they grew. no one does this life all perfectly and sometimes it’s all much clearer as we reflect back, look at the shadows. grace lingers in the air, waiting.

this past week has brought its own challenges and it has brought its own bits of devastating news for people in our concentric circles. the circles widen and widen and we see the turmoil and angst and tragedy of others. the horizon wobbles under us and we try to adjust, to straighten up, level out. life is flying by. we wake to another day to do it well or stink at it. either one.

and desiderata reminds us, “in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul…” because some days we do it better than others.

“…be gentle with yourself.”

*****

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


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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


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how unprecedented you are. [two artists tuesday]

we don’t really know. we rise each day, bold coffee at our lips, with curiosity. truly, what the day will bring is a mystery. the best-laid plans, well, they are only that – plans. things change and the kaleidoscope swirls around us in mere moments.

“this being human is a guest house. each morning a new arrival…” (rumi – the guest house)

and we rise again the next day…

…the day lilies and the grass blades are rising as well. through the upheaval of their dirt, the excavation of their home, the burying of their fallowed stems, the netting and straw post-waterline-replacement, they are rising anyway.

my thoughts of pulling everything up and starting fresh in the front yard came to a screeching halt when i saw them. if they are resilient enough to bright-green their way into this upheaved spring, i think i would be somewhat dishonoring to remove them. in doing so, i would miss their profound message of fortitude, of courageous no-matter-what-ishness, of their coy laughter reaching for the sun.

“you are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” (john green – the fault in our stars)

we miss it. in the middle of our don’t-really-know days, we miss seeing the absolute stalwart root in clay we each bring. we miss the credit of finagling another chaotic day. we miss our embrace of the new arrival of mystery. we miss our own unprecedentedness.

yet there it is. rising through the netting and the straw and the mud and the excavated rocks and cement.

“on the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you…”

(john o’donohue – beaanacht)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the birdies. [merely-a-thought monday]

ehhhhh, i’ve turned into my parents.

that’s not a bad thing. it’s just a fact. well, at least it’s partially a fact.

on long island, in the middle of growing up, riding my bike with susan, writing poetry in my tree, practicing the piano and organ, doing my homework, playing frisbee at the beach all-year-round, toting my camera around, hanging out at the dive center, fishing with crunch, cruising around in my bug, adoring my baby nieces and nephew, i didn’t notice. maybe i just didn’t pay attention.

they talked birds. birds in the yard, birds on roadtrips, birds upstate, birds at the beach. birdcalls from the woods behind our house, birdcalls passing overhead. they tossed birdnames around and, every now and then, i’d catch one and it would stick somewhere in my memory. but for the most part, their lobbing of vital bird information swooped over me and flew by.

and now.

now i want it all back. because we.love.birds.

we watch their antics in our backyard…at the birdfeeder, at the pond, on the fence, tucked under the awning over the back door, in the trees, hopefully building a nest inside the old barnwood birdhouse on the pine. they are sweet, sweet, sweet.

we guess what they are…sparrow, grackle, mourning dove, starling, crow (oh, so obvious), junco, wren, finch, cardinal, red-winged blackbird, bluejay, chickadee, tanager, oriole… i recognize some from home-home, but some have so many similarities that identification is tricky.

surely they are not looking at us thinking human or ….? they just know. so it feels important to know the difference.

on a great adventure at the botanic garden, we picked up the handiest little spiral pocket-sized quick-guide book called “birds of the midwest“. there are color-coded tabs and you open to the color page that correlates with the primary color of the bird you are trying to identify. such a remedial approach is good for us. (it’s kind of like avoiding the issue of looking up a word when you don’t know how to spell it…you don’t have to look up the bird under what kind it is when you don’t know what it is.) we keep it on our table in the sunroom and use it often as we gaze out back. i imagine we will take it with us as we hike.

in other amazing tools, thanks to dear deb-on-island, we have an app on our phone that is a bird identifier. not only can it identify a bird from a photograph or a list of questions you answer, but – and this is soooo cool – it can identify a bird from the birdcall you record. amazing! the cornell lab of ornithology deserves a giant round of applause for this app, which can identify up to 6000 bird species. the power of science. !!

my sweet momma had an iphone. she adored it, sending random photos to people and receiving photos from everyone in the family. it kept her in the loop and, at almost-94, she was a texting maven. we were in easy contact with each other and she with family and friends from all walks. she both embraced it and made silly technological mistakes, just like us, but nothing a quick turn-it-off-turn-it-back-on couldn’t really solve. it assured her that she was involved, particularly after my poppo died. the power of connection cannot be underestimated.

i wish that i had known – back then – about this app. it would have rocked her bird-loving world.

as it is, i know that every time we are sitting and pondering what a bird is or admiring one aloud or peacefully listening intently or just simply watching the bird-play in our yard or in the woods or at the shore or anywhere, she and my dad are giggling, knowing i’d get there someday.

*****

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in the quarry. does my butt look big in this? [saturday morning smack-dab.]

a rock and a hard place. he is wedged between them and help-me-i’m-wedged-and-i-can’t-get-out he can’t escape. there is no choice but to say the wrong thing. go either way and he has sunk miserably to the levels of pond catfish, carp at best.

in these days of changing-changing-changing bodies and expectations of ourselves, we peer in the mirror and are astounded at what we see staring back. menopause and “men”opause (whatever on earth that is called) – in all its glory – has taken its toll on our metabolism and our hips and someone with a line-defining pen has carved on our faces while we sleep in the night. and those jowls. let’s not forget them.

so while i want him to understand – to really get it – to grok it at a cellular level – to feeeeeel my pain, he is thinking, “she’s beautiful” and tells me so. ohmyheavens, seriously? can he not share in my astonishment, couple with my what-do-i-do-now-ness, sympathize in a big-big way, help me pick out jeans in the next size?

there is no winning here.

it is the perpetual “does my butt look big in this?” question. over and over. forevermore.

he can “pretend” not to notice, which undermines his believability factor and, ultimately, leaves him stranded with no credibility when i am facing down the mirror. he can acknowledge and discuss the merits of aging with me, leaving me incredulous that he would suggest that i am aging. he can try to play long ball – riding the fence – acting like he can’t hear me – changing the subject.

no matter what, he will find himself in the rock garden.

eh. who am i kidding? it’s more like a deep, dark quarry.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️2022 kerrianddavid.com


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marcel. in the woods. [two artists tuesday]

in these times, we often hike the same trail. there is not enough time for long-distance travel right now. but we are comforted, nevertheless, by this same place, again and again. it has become an old friend and there is nothing better than someone or something you know really well and love in all its moods and through all its seasons.

it was easter sunday and, for only the second time in decades, i had no obligations. it was cold – almost miracle-mitten cold – and we were trying to choose between meandering through the early spring flowers at the botanic garden or hiking “our” trail. we suspected that the botanic garden would be crowded; we believed the trail would be almost empty. we chose the trail.

you might think we would tire of this trail. you might think we would choose something else, somewhere else. you might think there would be nothing new to see. on the contrary.

i am reminded, as ever – again – now that i am, finally, just the tiniest bit wiser – of marcel proust’s words, “the real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

there was lots of trailside vegetation coming alive, tiny buds, green sprouts. the familiar turns in the path led us past busy squirrels, chipmunks we could hear but not see scurrying in the underbrush, birds and geese and ducks.

after a couple hours, we set up our pop-up bistro table and chairs in the middle of the woods. surrounded by tall pines in a spot that would be underbrush-inaccessible in the summer, we sat, in the cold, snacking on cheese and crackers, quinoa tabouli and a few sips of wine in small yeti tumblers with lids, springtime napkins reminding us of the season. we took our gloves off, had a few schnibbles, put our gloves on, chatted and repeated. we pulled up our hoods and turned our backs to the wind picking up. mostly, we sat in the quiet.

and we looked up.

and there, that which we could have easily missed, was this magnificent view of the blue sky and the towering tops of pine trees that had endured the same forest for a very long time.

there is nothing ordinary about a view like that.

an idiosyncrasy, a quirk, a hallmark, a side you hadn’t yet noticed. such is the complexity of an old friend. such is the charm of discovery.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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beachgrass and self-care. the same. [d.r. thursday]

and i can imagine that i have carefully laid down a blanket on the dunes of fire island or smith point park further east. i can hear the surf rolling and i can feel the sun on my face, warm sand heating the blanket under me. the grasses sway in the breeze and i can hear the tiniest gasps of music from a radio playing a long distance away. it is a piece of heaven.

and so much a piece of my memory that i could feel it when i looked at this through-the-grasses photo taken in my midwest front yard. things that are visceral.

i imagine that the next time i see the atlantic ocean or even long island sound, i will feel the same way as when i first see the mountains or pass into the canyons. it takes me by surprise every time, though i don’t know why i’m surprised. yet it’s overwhelming. the mountains. the ocean. for different reasons and for the same reason. it suddenly occurs to me – all at once and little by little – that i am but a tiny piece of this vastness. were i to not feel it, it would still exist. i am lucky enough to feel it.

i am writing this – a few days ahead – on my birthday. i just had a glorious breakfast in bed, a phone call with my beloved daughter. i’ve opened cards and read text messages and facebook posts. it is sunny and very cold and we will wrap up in warm clothes and go take a hike somewhere.

i was awake in the middle of the night. my beloved son texted me just after midnight. and then i laid awake.

the quilt and i talked about life until david woke up hearing our murmurings. we watched a trail or two and then, the wisdom of the wander women, amazing thru-hiking backpackers of a certain age. they talked about their feet, which got my attention. issues with their feet. bunions. arthritis. toes turning. they recommended tiny gel-rubber wedges and orthotics, ways to honor their own self-care.

suddenly i found tears streaming down my face. as a person who, for instance, wears a wrist brace and a finger splint to sleep, i have – for some reason – labeled this, in a kind of deprecating why-do-you-need-this way, as high-maintenance, a weakness. hearing them – “solution-oriented” – dedicated to gently and intentionally caring for their “gracefully aging bodies” so that they could go and DO – was visceral. i could feel their self-love, and the support they had for each other in that self-love, in thriving, just like i could feel the sun on my face and warm sand under me. not a weakness. no…instead, indeed, a strength. it was a moment for me.

i don’t imagine that i will weep when i try the gel wedges in my hiking boots. i don’t imagine that i will cry if i place an insole under my foot. though maybe i will. it’s not exactly the same as revisiting the mountains or catching the first glimpse of the ocean. but i might be underestimating it.

the beachgrass protects the dunes, trapping windblown sand. it preserves the beach, the barrier islands against severe wave or wind or storm. we work to secure ecosystems in the mountains, protecting vegetation and animals from destruction the best we can, preservation for water and energy.

last night, in the middle of the night as i moved from 62 to 63, i was reminded again: that though i am tiny-in-vast, just like each of us, we are – yes – here to feel it. with all the trappings and obstacles and challenges and gloriouses – we are responsible to care for our bodies – the best we can. to love each inch, despite anything. to support each other in that care.

to realize – suddenly – that finger splints and tiny gel wedges are the same as beachgrasses, really. all part of the same world. it really all counts the same.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

a day at the beach: mixed media 38×52
spoons and sandcastles: mixed media 28×57.5

A DAY AT THE BEACH, SPOONS AND SANDCASTLES ©️ 2017, 2018 david robinson


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the stuff we see. [two artists tuesday]

we cannot help ourselves. we see stuff. i usually don’t suppose that’s unusual, until someone stares at us – with that blank look on their faces that betrays the “oh-sheesh-they-are-SOOO-weird” thought they are having. and then i realize we might be a little unusual. i shrug it off. “we-are-all-worthy-we-are-all-worthy” i repeat.

the shark was on the side of the trail. lurking. all crusty and gnarly, his face. he was obvious. he was cause for conversation, tales of scuba-diving in cold long island waters and off the coast of tropical islands. we can’t help but see and we laugh and gasp out, “look! it’s a ……..!”

seeing. it’s a burden every artist carries. it’s in the backpack with the parmesan cheese and the twizzlers and the tiny box wine and the kind bars. it’s probably good that we are mostly alone during these moments; our imaginations fly wild and free and we crack ourselves up.

and isn’t that the point? the laughter? i can’t think of anything better than laughing together, even at our own expense. we tell stories to friends, emphasizing the goofy, the silly, the utterly-profoundly dumb, self-deprecating and reveling in it. getting my hair cut and claiming the highest forehead in the guiness book of world records of foreheads. having a pedicure and claiming the biggest big toe in modern history. even, recently, at the doctor’s office, asking, please, for a sticker or a gold star for passing my bloodwork. just silliness. we can’t help it.

but to walk with him and find the sharks on trail and the ducks stuck in trunks (see below) and the tree mooning us (see below) and the desert hills from space (also see below) is to walk inside laughter. it’s to have maybe learned – at long last – not to take everything quite so seriously.

it’s to learn how to get older and crusty and gnarly ourselves and to hold it all lightly.

because in truth, the shark tree was beautiful.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY