reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the kitchen counters. [k.s. friday]

there used to be a lot of stuff on the counters. a breadbox, coffeemaker, fruit basket, basket with random mail and school dittos, microwave, paper towels, cookie jar…it makes me shudder now. the counters – back then – were yellow formica – bright yellow circa 1960 or earlier. i suppose the stuff on the counter helped disguise the counters a bit, but the backsplash was the same bright formica and there was plenty of that as well. i tried to think of it as cheery – every kitchen needs to be cheery. but…

the people who owned the house before us – back in the 80s and prior – had applied woodgrain contact paper to the counters and to all the shelves in the pantry and to the inside of the drawers, really anywhere it would stick. when we bought the house they asked us if we wanted a lesson on re-applying contact paper. i was horrified at the thought, and we politely said no. after we moved in i peeled all the contact paper off the counters and backsplash and elbow-grease-scrubbed off the sticky residue. yikes. what a mess. it was bright and it wasn’t without dings, but the kitchen went from peach cabinets and woodgrain to white cabinets and yellow. it seemed freshened, even with the yellow. it was supposed to be temporary.

there were other oddities – there was a door from our kitchen to the sunroom which they had kept on its hinges, blocking space that we filled in with an antique kitchen table that my dad refinished. we still eat around that table now. i suppose anyone touring our home who might consider it as theirs would utter “gut job” entering our kitchen but that’s for some future time. though we will make some updates to it, we love it the way it is. even temporarily.

at some point – a few years back – we decided to see what was under the formica. climbing into the cabinets i looked up and saw really lovely panels of good wood. we assumed that was the counter prior to the yellowness. it wasn’t so, as the first peel revealed. plywood was the countertop material and i literally starting panicking, running to the computer to google how to fix this dreadful mess. a sander, sandpaper, chalkboard paint and food-safe wax was the prescription and it achieved a kind of black soapstone look. black and white. it was supposed to be temporary.

we have pared down what’s on the counter. just the coffeemaker, the microwave and a wooden bowl of fruit – oh, and the roll of paper towels on a wrought iron stand. less busy, it makes it all feel less frenetic, tidier. it feels more orderly and that makes it feel more serene.

the florida national cemetery is the epitome of orderly. it is pristine and it invites you – without words – to wander. it would be easy to spend hours of time just walking among the big oaks and the lines of headstones, to weave in and out of the columbaria. its orderliness lends peacefulness and reassurance, its vastness a reminder of the temporal nature of this life – transitory, fleeting.

we arrived back home after a few days in florida with family, after interring my sweet momma’s ashes, after spending time with the adorable non-stop two-year-old and sat at our kitchen table with 20 who had soup and bread and glasses of wine waiting for us when we got there.

i love traveling and exploring and – simultaneously – always have a little homesickness when we are away, so i gazed around at our old kitchen and all its supposed-to-be-temporary fixings. my heart was full and i could feel all the time spent in there – my dad proudly placing the refinished table, my mom waxing poetic about the happy-yellow, my children in high chairs and suddenly on college breaks and suddenly adults. my kitchen counters and their timeline of transition, their sweet legacy.

one of these days we will update. but, in the meanwhile, i know it’s all temporary anyway.

*****

LEGACY ©️1995 kerri sherwood

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the pink backpack. [k.s. friday]

“it’s projection,” he wrote. yes. bill penzey is right. it is projection. we project love onto objects and we “really see these objects as love.” he continues, talking about his desire – were there to be a fire in his house – to grab the six-quart stainless kettle he has popped corn in for every movie night he has had with his wife, and his love of the heavy-duty spatula his father gave him, adding, “and in a world where nobody gets too much love anymore, i want to do all i can to hold onto that love.” he is clearly thready. i’ve never met him, but he is on my list – people with whom i’d love to have dinner.

we have a pink backpack. it’s packed from back in the days our town was on fire, days i can feel and hear and smell and taste – viscerally – but would rather not. we’ve kept it packed, realizing that it’s wise to have one thing to grab and one place to go to find that one thing. it has important stuff in it…papers and such. it doesn’t have the tiny cheese knife we use every day, the one that was my sweet momma’s. it doesn’t have the wedding ring my dad wore or the matching flannel shirt of a pair. it doesn’t have the toddler drawings of my children or the small bowl turned trinket-holder that babycat ate from. it doesn’t have zillions of photographs. it doesn’t have masters of all my albums or a collection of jpgs or pngs or printed photos of all of david’s paintings. it doesn’t have the rock i picked up hiking with my daughter or the cork i saved from the first fancy dinner my son made for me. it can’t hold my piano or the vintage typewriter 20 gave me or the bowls we love from ken and loida or the snuggly scarf jen gave me or the old torchiere lamp from my growing-up. it doesn’t have room for the old quilt or our favorite mountain mugs or our ukuleles or my guitars or our dvd favorite-movies-collection or the cardinal towels from my sister or the ‘i-found-you-you-found-me” painting of early k.dot-d.dot days.

the one thing about antique stores is that they give you perspective. lots of it. so many items in the world. so much stuff. you ponder why someone might have held onto a plastic flower arrangement in a plastic flower pot long enough that it became part of an estate that passed into an antique shoppe or how it is possible that there are so so so many 45 rpm records out there, collections of so many long-playing albums, and, someday, so many cds. even mine.

and then you know. it hits you like a spatula upside the head.

though none of that will fit in the pink backpack, were there to be any sort of emergency – and all we could grab is the backpack – we would not lose it all.

it’s love. all love.

*****

IT’S A LONG STORY ©️1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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in wonder. [k.s. friday]

right now it is a mystery.

accuweather predicts a blizzard. and we wonder if it is truly imminent. on days of heavy holiday travel, there may be fierce winds, whirling snow, no visibility, bitterly cold temperatures well below zero. such extremes, circumstances that might dictate the comings and goings of loved ones trying to be together to celebrate.

we’ll keep watching the weather and the warnings. we’re hoping it’s wrong, that it’s exaggerated, that it’s cautionary but not totally necessary. that we will get to this day without the extremes.

it is days before the day before the eve of the day. and though i respect that app on my phone i continue to plan as if it will be days of celebration and joy and not snowplows and shovels and heet and de-icer.

there is still much to do. there are packages to ship, a few to wrap, a couple to deliver. there are trips to the grocery store and maybe a tiny bit of shopping. there is de-dogga-furring by vacuum and a little dusting and much tidying up.

and all the while sitting in the wonder of the season. people celebrating love and generosity, time spent gathered, kindnesses and the reminder of ancient stories carried into this time, open hearts, hope and light.

*****

I WONDER AS I WANDER

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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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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.

*****

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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


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a festival of branches. [k.s. friday]

long island’s ice storm of ’76 was a doozy. crunch was over, hanging out at our house when it started. though we encouraged him to stay, his big green four-wheel-drive truck made it to his home through what was heavy slush at the time. in the middle of a snowglobe world, magically coated in sparkle, he was back the next day and we wandered the neighborhood, taking photographs of everything encased in ice. it was stunning. the graceful mimosa tree, tall stately oaks, forsythia bushes, azalea, rhododendron, rose of sharon…all wrapped in crystal, the sun’s glare making sunglasses an absolute.

i can’t remember an ice storm like that here, at least not in the last three decades since i’ve lived here. wisconsin is more of a sub-zero-temps/snowfall state than an ice-storm state. but there was a pretty devastating winter storm in 2020 when everything along the lakefront was frozen, trees bending to the pressure of wind and water.

in predictions for this next week or so, accuweather uses terms like “limited outdoor activity recommended” and there is the emotionally wrought overuse of the word “bitterly” used next to the word “cold”. negative windchills are prevalent and even miracle mittens aren’t enough.

so when you look outside and see blue skies only interrupted by the artful limbs of trees, you are fooled. it may appear to be the perfect day for a walk, but warnings not to be outside – “hypothermia likely without protective clothing” – are pause for thought.

we haven’t walked on the lakefront path past the marina lately. when the water starts churning from north and northeast winds, the lake pounds the shore. ice forms along the coastline – sometimes in those circles called ice pans or ice discs – and the metal railings jutting out over the lake along the walk have collections of giant icicles. we’re not sure what’s there right now.

in this neighborhood of big old trees and above-ground power lines we hope ice storms continue to be a rarity. each time a huge beautiful limb is down or a tree succumbs i feel a sense of sadness. though i believe the soul of a tree is somehow left behind and surrounds us with the wisdom of the ages, i wonder how the squirrels will move about. for here, in our ‘hood, there is a festival of complex travel high above the ground, branching every direction. savvy squirrels scamper from tree to tree to high wires to tree – squirrel highways.

out the window next to me, even now, i catch the shadow of a squirrel running south down the line parallel to the driveway. it makes me smile every time.

*****

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odd-one-out. [k.s. friday]

he was this guy who would pick me up in his blue convertible camaro and have flowers tucked into the visor. or a stuffed animal peeking out from the glove compartment. when it was my 18th birthday, he drove 45 minutes late at night to decorate my vw bug with roses and install a big sign on the oak tree outside our front door. he bought cards and concert tickets, taught me how to play tennis and took me to restaurants all over the island. in the spirit of the 1970s susan polis schutz calendar he gifted me, he also gave me a small poster, which i still have.

“i am not in this world to live up to your expectations. you are not in this world to live up to mine. i am i and you are you. and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.” (fritz perls)

the small evergreen was particularly beautiful, standing out in a part of the woods that surrounded it with tall hardwoods. its singularity made me stop and photograph it. i felt connected to it, the odd-one-out in a large grouping of the more-similar. i told it that it was beautiful and blew it a kiss.

this sweet pine tree in the national forest was tiny in comparison to nearby 80 foot giants. it must love winter, when the leaves of its neighbors no longer form a canopy blocking it from the sun. as you hike, your eyes adjusting to the brownness of the trail, it becomes a source of color, and you hungrily take in the green of its needles, its softness in a world of bare trunks. you begin to notice other tiny bits of green here and there, a little surviving underbrush here, a little sapling there. color returns.

when i was still 18, and he was a few years older, he asked me to marry him. he was a kind man, and probably still is. i was not – at 18 – ready. i still had more love stories to relish and love stories to regret. i had good sun and hard darkness ahead. i had moments of the-only-one-in-jeans to experience and times of growth when the canopy opened to the sky. i had hardwood forests to stand alone in.

and life moved on.

“but i look up high to see only the light and never look down to see my shadow. this is wisdom which man must learn.” (kahlil gibran)

i know the little pine tree blew a kiss back to me.

and then we hiked on.

*****

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood




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no anonymity. [k.s. friday]

anonymity is not a strong suit of airbnb. and, for us, that’s exactly the point. the relational piece of staying in places other real people own does not usurp privacy. but it offers a glimpse into lives – those which you may never have peeked into otherwise. without reservation, i would say that most all of the airbnbs we have stayed at have been owned by someone with whom we’d love to be friends.

the window that opens when you unlock the front door to the tiny house, the condo, the bungalow, the loft, the cabin, the cottage is an invitation. on the most basic level, it is an opportunity to see how someone else makes a space a home, how it’s designed, how it’s appointed. it is an opportunity to reconstruct – in your mind – something about your own home, an idea to take with you. it’s a chance – for a bit of time – to experience another place as-if-you-live-there: to wander and cook and porch-sit and immerse, even a little. when you stay in the vicinity of the owner’s place it changes things, for then, on a whole ‘nother level, it’s an opportunity to see morsels of how someone else lives, their real-life. and when you have the chance to meet the person or people who host where you are staying? that is a gift.

sitting on the adobe open-air-to-the-mountains-balcony off the bedroom in ridgway, in rocking chairs on the front porch on the farm in kentucky, at the table overlooking snowmass, under the après sign in breckenridge, watching people go by in tiny brevard. it is not without wonder we think about places we will stay someday.

and, i guess, not surprisingly, there’s something about all these places that makes us say, “we could live there.” something different than what any hampton inn, our hotel chain of choice, can offer.

it is not randomly that i pick out places to stay when we travel. i carefully consider location, amenities, the presence of light, whether or not we can cook, if there is outdoor space, a fireplace, a kitchen counter where we can chat. i look at pictures and read reviews and one will always jump out as a place that looks like us. so not so random.

and i guess it is not random either that we meet people – it boils down to the people – who stand out. they are living lives and opening themselves up to others. in providing more personal lodging they are reinforcing the humanness and opportunity of travel. they remind us – again and again – to be just a little more vulnerable, just a little more open. we don’t walk in someone else’s shoes, but to stay in someone else’s home, even for a night, has given us the tiniest chance to know them and to get where they are.

we are not here to live anonymously.

*****

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TIME TOGETHER ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood


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light infinity. [k.s. friday]

“light of the world, shine on me. love is the answer. shine on us all, set us free. love is the answer.”

(“love is the answer” by todd rundgren, recorded by england dan & john ford coley, 1979)

“we’re standing at the crossing, where day and night divide. it takes all of your heart to keep the light alive. and the darkness seems so endless until the dawn arrives. we’ll hold the spark between us and keep the light alive.” (“keep the light alive” by lowen & navarro, 1995)

it would seem that we arrive at this place each and every year to see light infinity. there, beckoning, gesturing to us or quietly waiting. the days have run into each other. the successes, the joys, the learnings, the disappointments, the issues, the slights, the worries, anger, hurt, promises kept, promises broken, the new, the old, humanness … all gathered in the place of the light.

the flame reminds us of the spark of love into that which is around us. the flame reminds us of the frailty – just a breeze away from extinguishing. we invest too much in the each-day and not enough in the big-picture. we know that.

the light gives us a little nudge. again. a reminder to allow it. grace, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, love do not cease nor do they choose only one wick, one candle. they continue on. and on. lighting. every one. every where.

we just need intend to allow the light. infinity.

allow the light
is all
the call implores.
allow the light
to flood
the heart,
to flow
the veins,
to fill
the space
that craves.
allow the light
is all.
the light is all.

the light
is

(mary wickham)

*****

YOU’RE HERE (kerri sherwood – rough cut)

HOPE

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood YOU’RE HERE ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood

THE LIGHTS, JOY, THIS SEASON ©️ 1996, 2004, 2005 kerri sherwood



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and then…wisps. [k.s. friday]

we settled into the ritual with ease. sundown came and we gently removed the tiny wax bits that were left in the menorah. we drew new candles out of the box, placed them in their spots, sparked the shamash, lit each day’s wick, reciting either the words we had researched or blessings we spoke into the universe. when the last night came, as we watched the flames dance in glassware on the table and in the window, we sang. we made up the song and intended it as words of gratitude and a wish for light in all. it has become a new tradition we will continue…there cannot be any reason to not add rituals into the darkness.

we found it to be a time of quiet, these moments as we sat and watched the flickering. we sat, silently, for the menorah was small and the candles only lasted the requisite half hour or so. but a half hour, taken as sweet lull in the day is a good reminder to be still. our days, this season, all will us to go faster, faster. yet, it seems, the best way to move into the rest is to pause.

we made dinner after we celebrated our little festival of lights. sometimes with a favorite cd, sometimes with the local chicago holiday station, music floated around us. though i love singing along to carols, and so many of our old albums conjure up piles of memories, i’ve noticed that the instrumental versions of these gently wrap around us, slow us down a little.

when 20 was over for dinner i mentioned that. “instrumentals would be nice,” i observed as yet another pop singer acrobated her way through a simple carol, over-cadenza-ing into the stratosphere. both 20 and david stared at me like i had lost my mind. they hesitated and then one of them said, “duhhhh.” i stared back, “it’s-not-like-i’m-going-to-put-on-my-own-albums-geeez.” they rolled their eyes.

in a more-is-more faster-and-faster society, there is something to be said for decelerating. there is something about simplifying. there is something about lighting candles and reciting ancient peaceful blessings. there is something about taking the time for quiet and taking the time for celebration. there is something about staring into the reflection of years past, of the week, of today.

we watched the wispy trails of smoke as they faded into the rest of the evening.

*****

still, still, still

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THE LIGHTS, JOY!, THIS SEASON ©️ 1996, 2003, 2004 kerri sherwood