reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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i left it there. [two artists tuesday]

i left it there.

we had a few hours and needed a fix in the mountains. just a short distance away from congested civilization was a trail that lead into higher elevation and quiet. everything else slipped away as we climbed and followed the columbine.

i was moved by this fragile blossom on the side of the trail. delicate and perfect in every way that flowers are perfect, i picked it up, turned it over, felt its short life. like the sun, its tiny petals radiating from the center. its flawlessness is simple; its budding-lifeline complete. it was laying in the mountain meadow, waiting to be noticed. not much different than any of us.

and then, i laid it back down where i found it. and it will be there for the next person who hikes by, glances over and sees it. one sun-low-on-the-horizon-fall-dried-flower-blossom, past its season but not past its beauty.

that’s why i left it there.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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pastrami mountain. [d.r. thursday]

“there are always flowers for those who want to see them.” (henri matisse)

through a rainy windshield we peered out. the windows were fogging up from the vast temperature change that the weather system had brought with it. the lake was grey, light glistening and playing upon it – the sun coming out from behind the clouds. the sky – left to sunset in salmon with lines of dark clouds dissipating – seemed to highlight the snow on the mountaintops in the distance. puddles had formed on the land lakeside, the point that jutted out near us. a photograph after the storm. after our pause, we traveled on.

sometimes things are not what they appear. the same object translates differently to each of us. the same place reads positive/negative; our interpretation determined by the lens through which we view, the way we approach life. we learn to discern what is real, what we imagine. we learn to assess what we see using mature tools of sagacity.

sometimes things are not what they appear. everything is a matter of perspective, where you are seeing from, where you are in life. we arrive at destinations, full of expectations specific to our own hearts. we see what is there through our eyes. it is important work to be sure to be aware of how others perceive the place, the circumstance. we learn differences. we learn compassion. we learn empathy.

sometimes things are not what they appear. some places are not as they seem. we learn to listen to our intuition, to be wary, to ask questions of what we see and of what we are told, to do research, to wonder. we don’t follow as lemmings and we don’t remain silent. we learn to speak up, to give voice to the disparity between what a place says it is and what it shows itself to be. we learn boundaries and we hold our lines in the sand.

sometimes things are not what they appear. some wizards are merely people behind a curtain. their bluster is bluster, their words intended to suggest power, control, whereas their voice becomes synonymous with hurting others and self-aggrandizement. we learn sympathy, even pity. we learn distrust and not to be blind to agenda.

sometimes things are not what they appear. some people are not as they seem. though their roles imply otherwise, we learn to cautiously be with these folks. we realize that others can manipulate our perception of things, others can run over our viewpoint. and we realize those tsunamis are without truth-seeking. there is little communication – it is silent and colorless. there is little transparency – it is opaque. we learn discretion. we learn that there are those who will throw you under the bus, who will subvert you, to raise themselves up or to accomplish their objective. we learn to expose this kind of betrayal for what it is, to push back on this brand of sabotage, weeds attempting to strangle.

but there are always flowers for those who want to see them. we find places and things and people who are indeed flowers in our garden. places and things and people from which and from whom we learn grace and wisdom and adaptability and kindness. blossoms.

and i suppose the converse-henri is also true. if you don’t want to see flowers, you won’t. your perspective will grant you that, an empty garden. if you decide ahead of an experience that you will dislike it, you will likely see only in black and white, your experience void of the colors of sunflowers and peonies, aster and purple mountain sage.

so, yes, henri, there are always flowers. there is always the single ray of sunlight in the clouds. there is always the glass half-full. there is always the beautiful in the ordinary.

and there are always mountains. for those who want to see them, they are even in the trader joe’s shrink-wrapped pack of nitrate-nitrite-free pastrami.

sometimes things are not what they appear.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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sopris gold. [two artists tuesday]

it was a bit cloudy and drizzling when we drove into town and stopped at the market before finding our airbnb. the next day dawned much of the same, but around us the red rock shimmered deep ruby in the rain, the sage glowed and the air was clear and fresh.

we got into big red to lumber into town early that evening, the sun not yet ready to set, clouds breaking up to allow blue skies. down the dirt and gravel road, just around the bend, across a field of wild grasses and beyond the horses, suddenly there it was.

mount sopris, in all its glory, rose above us and above everything else in the valley. it was astoundingly beautiful and made me pull over to laugh aloud at its presence. this giant had been there all along, steady, its very existence a silent companion. just shy of 13,000 feet in elevation, with twin peaks, once i had seen it, i found myself turning to look at it, especially at every bend of the rio grande trail we hiked the next day. it felt grounding and majestic and very, very wise.

mount sopris is named after a gold prospector who led an expedition in the middle 1800s. “there’s gold in them there hills,” led them into the roaring fork valley. i don’t know the whole rest of that story, though they did not find gold.

i do know that the presence of this mountain, for me, definitely has the allure of the precious and captured my desire to stay put in its magnificent power. the surprise of seeing it appear out of the clouds was worth its absolute weight in gold.

it was a reminder of things unseen and yet there. a reminder of strength and steadfastness, quiet and unshakeable. a reminder of beauty where you don’t expect it. a reminder that behind clouds there exists a bigger presence, the universe vast, full of potential.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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here. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

joey coconato has an undying love and appreciation of this place – earth – in all its constant beauty, in all its ever-fluid beauty. we have hiked with him many, many late nights of this pandemic, breathing easier because he is trekking, climbing, scrambling. we are ready to rest at the end of his journeys, the end of videos that have fed our souls. his spirit is inimitable and he is a completely understated positive force in the world. he is a leader led, himself, by a willingness to not-know, to focus on what’s up-close and to focus on the big picture, to see more, to adventure into knowledge. he looks for the good. despite some extreme circumstances, we have not heard him, out on the trail, speak negatively nor have we heard him crabby. not one iota. his life-view seems to simplify it all into gratitude for every step. his point-of-view seems to simplify it all into a peaceful co-existence with all that is natural, all that is living. he does not participate with the same measuring stick that others wield. and for that, he is in calm harmony with the world.

he stood in the vastness one day, mountains and canyons all around him, surrounded by trees he loves and lakes the colors of which cannot be found even in crayola 64 boxes, and with awe in his voice uttered, “it has been here every single day of my life.” he looked around; we looked around with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

the days he backpacked the maroon bells were particularly close to us. my daughter, with her adventurer heart, took us on a hike up into the maroon bells area. to see joey hike there was to relive the moments we, with her, stood at lake’s edge or caught glimpses of the towering red rock through the trees of the trail. precious time. treasured. his days in canyonland national park brought me right back to moments with her, just us on the edge of the precipice, laughter echoing across the canyon walls. unbelievably vivid in my mind’s eye, i am beyond grateful.

it has been a source of amusement for david and kirsten to speak of the moments i well up and cry – those first moments of seeing the mountains in the distance, the approach into the canyon, the arches of sweeping rock. i am overcome in these times as i stand on dirt that has been there forever and, with our dedicated efforts to mitigate climate change, will be there forever. it’s overwhelming. the sense of timelessness, of vastness, of my tiny-ness. i realize i cannot presume anything but the moment at hand, but i am reminded we are each part of the big picture, no matter how many moments or how few we are a part of them. we are each part of the change that takes place because we breathe. this earth would not be the same without us…we are dust of its dust.

so when joey stands still and is awestruck remembering, i draw in my breath with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

*****

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


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the maroon bells. [two artists tuesday]

a double haiku:

even in the midst

of coronavirus fear

this earth speaks to me.

dirt beneath our feet

embraced by walls of red rock.

it’s beating my heart.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

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

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and now. the painting. [d.r. thursday]

and now painting copy

this painting is magical.  it is the stuff of dreams, the stuff of hope, a vision of the future, the thready sharing of life and love.  it looks more to me like flying than resting and, perhaps, as the wedding gift that d gave me four years ago today, it was prophetic.  with the presence of mountains and a daisy, holding hands, embracing, perhaps dancing in flight, it is what we knew then.

what we know now is so much more.

our journey, our flight, together has, in its rawest form, a newness.  meeting smack-dab in the middle of middle-age has its interesting elements.  not that either of us is rigid…oh, no….of COURSE not.  but when you are nigh 60 years old you do have your ways of doing things.  add to that the fact that we are two artists artist-ing together.  sheesh! there are some lively chats in these here parts.  and to feel like you are starting over again – in your middle 50s – is time-warpy.  there’s a lot to learn…but i guess that’s always true.

i have to say that i have never argued as much with another person.  i’m quite sure that we agree the sign we purchased on our honeymoon in the mountains of colorado says it all, “you are my favorite pain in the ass.”  it goes both ways.  we definitely have a full-spectrum of emotions together.  we are the best at disagreeing; we are the best team together.

i’m eternally grateful for this gift.  i cannot adequately put this into words, so it must suffice that – this is the man i skip with.

i have no idea where this journey with mountains and daisies will take us.  we are open to the mystery as we continue this amazing flight.  allways.  always.  magical.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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AND NOW ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 


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tomorrow. lettuce and erle. [k.s. friday]

THIS erle cover

one of the gifts i received for my 60th birthday this week – an envelope with seed packets of lettuces in it, dirt and manure.  on the outside of the envelope of seeds was this:

“to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” (audrey hepburn)

early november. moab, utah.  i was standing on the precipice of a vast and deep canyon and was filled with wonder.  My Girl encouraged me a bit further out, a bit higher.  she was right to push me.  the gorge inches away, unforgiving, i didn’t lose my breath until the very edge.  but i breathed in so much more.  i felt like ME. me, in my old hiking boots and ripped jeans, a couple black layered shirts and a vest, fingerless gloves linda made.  ME.  the air of the high desert mountains seemed to fill me and, as i stood there, pondering my very existence in this place, i felt renewed.  a meeting ground, i could feel all the yesterdays that brought me there and the tomorrows that stretched forward.  it is a spiritual place.  she was right and i tied my heart to it just as she had predicted.  the sun and i were each merely a tiny piece of the enormity.  we watched day end and shadows paint the canyon walls until dark filled the void. we laughed uncontrollably.  i cried.  no matter what, the next day – tomorrow – would come to that place and sun would spackle the walls until it would -again- be light.

THIS will be the next album cover.  in some tomorrow time.  i wish to bring burning sun and immense canyons into that project.  mountains and Spirit and old boots.  a bow to yesterday and to tomorrow and the place inbetween.  the air in me.  i don’t know when or exactly how.  i just know i need to somehow make the chance.  i need to stand on the very edge, once again.  it matters not whether i am relevant in these times.  it just matters that i plant it.  lettuce, here i come.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

thank you to old friends who called or texted or FB-messaged me this week.  i can’t begin to tell you what you mean to me. with love.

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erle. ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

OLD FRIENDS REVISITED from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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free solo. [merely a thought monday]

alex honnold quote box copy

while i laid awake, i tried to picture how i would react to someone literally placing me – without ropes – several hundred feet up a sheer granite wall, my hands gripping a crack and small outcropping, my feet perched on a slight deviation in the granite face.  it made my hands sweat and my heart race thinking about how paralyzed by fear i would be, unable to move either hand or foot.  THIS is out of my comfort zone. far out.  and i couldn’t get the image out of my mind.

the wind was gusting about 35mph and there were tiny snow squalls on the way to madison.  we were on our way to a movie theatre for a national geographic release of the movie FREE SOLO, the documentary capturing alex honnold’s successful free solo scaling of el capitan in yosemite.  free solo.  without benefit of any ropes or safety gear.  just his hands, his feet, climbing chalk, and memorization, no – absolute physical retention – of the precise moves he would make on the way up this 3000′ beautiful monster.

alex doesn’t talk about his fear much.  he, instead, speaks of enlarging his comfort zone, little by little.  his somewhat unemotional approach to this challenge is daunting.  one of his support team said words to the effect that alex had this challenge:  like an olympic athlete he needed to win the gold.  no ifs, ands or buts.  it was the gold or he would fall to his death.  who does that?!!  the black and white of that makes my breathing pause.  but alex pressed on.  clearly his comfort zone is huge, that bubble around him.  at least when it comes to mountains.

i know, as fascinated as i am with mountains and climbing stories of all sorts, that this is not something i could or would do.  my mountains are different than that and my comfort zone bubble has more to do with my artistry, music, writing.  not necessarily less scary, but certainly less physically demanding and clearly, without a doubt, less treacherous.  but we are not limited to one mountain at a time.

each of us has this bubble and i picture pushing on the walls of the chrysalis, little by little conquering the fear of the outside – whatever the challenge or challenges – making our way, without ropes or safety equipment, into the next step of our lives.  we try to “dream big.”  we “go after it.”  we “just do it.”  but in reality, with no protective membrane around us, we first have to gear up, face fear vs comfort, garner courage and climb.  yes. we free solo every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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chicken marsala monday

thismomentunique WITH EYES jpeg copy 2late yesterday afternoon, after a day spent working on computers and designs, with technology sluggishness taking over our souls, we headed to the woods to take a hike.  any time we feel tired or ‘stuck’ we walk.  around the ‘hood, along the lake, or to the starbucks about 2 and a half miles away.  any time we feel exuberant or elated we walk.  sometimes in the mountains (ahh!!) or in chicago or the third ward in milwaukee.  any time we need a ‘business meeting’ we walk.  mostly in the woods, in a county or state park.  walking and breathing in fresh air brings us back to the moment.  it re-centers us.

we hiked up the small rise in the woods, the light was waning and behind us the sky was deep deep orange.  in the clearing beyond the stand of trees stood, very still, a deer.  it was clearly the ‘lookout’ as way back in the field were six more deer, easy to count in the almost-dark as their white tails bobbed when the lookout gave the alert.  we stood perfectly still watching this beauty, a magic moment in the woods.  neither of us wanted to leave the spot.  i took a picture, not because you can see the deer in it, but because it preserved the moment for me.  i didn’t want to forget.  because, as you already know, i am thready like that.

around me, every rock or feather or piece of wood or ticket stub or scrap of notepaper carries with it a specific moment – preserved in time.  i could not necessarily tell the story of each of those moments – there are far too many for my synapse-challenged-brain to remember.  but i know that each one had meaning for me.  each one defined yet another piece of me, my relationship with someone i love, a time i shared with another being, a learning, a moment of sheer bliss, a moment of deep sadness.  each moment renewed me and brought me to my next moment of living.

as i have moved through life one thing has become certain.  that everything changes.  nothing stays the same.  life is in flux, always fluid.  what more do we have than each moment as it arrives for us?  i ask myself, “how do i want to spend this moment?  what do i want to feel about this moment?”  for i can never get it back.  i can never re-do it.  time has moved on.  and so i must keep moving.  i write about moments, i compose about moments, i tell stories about moments.  for me, those details count.   attempting to put succinctly (ha!) into words my philosophy-of-what-moments-mean is impossible; it is the umbrella that skies over everything else i believe, everything else i think.

when The Boy was little, he called the rearview mirror in cars the “review” mirror.  particularly poignant i think.  i have seen it written “don’t stare into the rearview mirror.  that’s not the direction you are going.”  instead i try (read: TRY) to review the past moments, learn from them, find grace in them, save the memory threads.  and wholeheartedly embrace the ones to come.  the moments.  unique.  in every way.   i love this chicken marsala image.

THIS MOMENT…UNIQUE…IN EVERY WAY MERCHANDISE

     ThisMomentUnique clock copy

ThisMomentUnique iphone case

ThisMomentUnique mug copy

CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY

melange button jpeg

check out DAVID’S thoughts on this CHICKEN MARSALA

this moment…unique…in every way ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood