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the path back is the path forward


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like loons. [two artists tuesday]

i wonder if they wondered.

we had stopped right in front of their front steps. like came to a dead stop. and just gazed.

but their blue eryngo had called to us, their seafoam green step risers, the perfect backdrop. a dead stop. full immersion. color – like the sound of loons on a quiet lake. so beautiful.

i took just a few pictures, knowing we should keep going on our sidewalk-amble, breezes off the shore beckoning us to walk through the park.

saturday we spent the day in our front garden beds. we transplanted the sedum being overrun by the tall ornamental grasses marching toward the old brick wall. we cleaned up the daylilies, proudly wearing their glorious orange blossoms, high above the green leaves. we – well, he – dug out a line all the way across the front, so that we can place a stone wall of sorts. nothing fancy and certainly nothing measured or pristine, a wall that will mark where the lily garden and the growing-grass meet.

ornamental grasses love this yard and the beachy feel suits this house. we know there are many fancy-plants out there, but we have learned, through experience – finally – to not fight with what works. ornamental grasses it is.

as we walk the ‘hood we try to get some ideas. our neighbors own a garden business and are gifted gardeners, so their yard is precise and, elegant and, well, pretty perfect. we are not making an effort to achieve perfect. we’re artists. we know there’s no getting there from here and we kinda like it that way. our yard is less magazine-like and more a folksy invitation to hang out, kick off your shoes, tell a story, laugh, sing, dance.

but it’s a treat to wander in this neighborhood, every house different than the next. there is no sameness here and there is no real garden or lawn-olympics. there are gorgeous ideas and there are misses. there are old hedges and new wildflowers. there are yew and big stately oaks and pines and delicate daisies and coneflowers, and there are hosta and ferns and container gardens and raised beds we can see peeking down driveways and around the sides of houses.

i suppose that there is an hoa somewhere that would cite the homeowner with the seafoam green step risers. they’d get a note that would give them a certain amount of time to re-paint those risers, wearing from weather and the front of many shoes climbing to go inside and be home or go inside and visit.

i’m glad we don’t live where this would be cited. because the day i took this photo all i could think about was what an eye – an aesthetic – the owners must have who put blue eryngo next to their seafoam-green-weathered steps. and what a gift it was to those of us wandering by who noticed.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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this day and age. [merely-a-thought monday]

“will you get to watch any fireworks?” she texted.

our city has spectacular fireworks. for over three decades i have marveled at the extent of the fourth-of-july display over lake michigan, sitting on the rocks along the shore, in the parks along the lakefront, down by where they set them off by the harbor. the fantastic light show goes on for about a half hour, culminating with a finale that bursts open the sky with color.

this city has a festival down by the lake, a carnival in the downtown, food vendors and dock-jumping-dogs and lots of music. there are children with ice cream cones melting on tiny fingers, bubble machines making iridescent bubbles float all around passersby, red, white and blue tchotchkes/chotchkes/chachkis on carts and people, bike parades with flags and streamers. there are hot dogs and brats sizzling, cheese curds and funnel cakes, lemonade and icees and dippin’ dots. there is no shortage of fun celebration and it’s all right there, within walking distance.

but in this day and age…

we won’t be going to watch the fireworks. this will be the fourth year now.

in 2019 we had just moved on island and didn’t leave dogdog and babycat during the display; they were adjusting to a new house as it was and we had no idea how loud the fireworks would be.

the city cancelled the fireworks in 2020; the global pandemic was early-on and there was a healthier respect for distancing.

last year, following the insurrection at the nation’s capitol, along with little to no leadership-held-responsible-for-all-of-that or any accountability, we stayed home.

and in this day and age…

we will stay home again. for the farcical supreme court has begun absolutely dismantling the freedoms that we are supposed to be celebrating. extremism and religious right are suffocating citizens of this country, thwarting the ability to live freely and make one’s own decisions. equality is going the way of centuries ago. discrimination is rising up, like fog on a wind-shifting hot summer’s day over the great lake. gun violence is dramatically increasing and, yet, guns are not limited. the extreme climate crisis is heaved off to the side in favor of big business; the epa is undermined and our children’s futures will feature many more “air quality alerts” than we could ever imagine, not to mention the global warming fallout from fossil fuel emissions. we watch lake mead drop and drop. we read of the po river in italy receding, lives substantially and critically affected. we see that australia is under water and that there are red flag warnings across the southwest – fires will be prevalent as the heat is heating up. the relationships between countries are strained. politics are warped. politicians play on stages of self-agendized blather. there is a lack of responsibility. there is a bigger lack of looking out for the big picture, the long haul, the world that will be inhabited by the children of our children’s children. kindness, consideration, compassion are looked at as weakness. we are flabbergasted at the stupidity. more, we are incredulous at the lack of people to see the stupidity. it seems the more clownish, the more vile, the more popular. it seems that evil lurks. and i wonder about the hypocrisy of watching fireworks while there are people quietly – and not so quietly – undermining democracy. we could ignore it all and go cheer – as loud as my sweet momma used to cheer – at the fireworks. or we could take a pause.

our old backyard neighbor played two things in their backyard. one was the soundtrack for “mamma mia” and the other was an album of john philip sousa marches. never insanely loud back then, both made us smile. a relationship three decades long.

but in this day and age, there are multitudes – truly multitudes – of children in that yard out back, a yard equipped with every single thing any generous public playground might have: full-size batting cage, full-size trampoline, three soccer nets, a basketball court, zipline, fort, swingset, sandbox, large plastic toys, atvs to ride, bikes, balls, bats, rat-a-tatting big toy guns and a new mysterious large wooden structure being built back along our lot line, where they can’t hear it or see it from their house, like most of the other entertainment devices in the large yard. apparently not at all conscious of the it’s-a-neighborhood-you-live-in-a-community philosophy, surrounded by people who have actually resided right here for decades, they play loud music through outdoor speakers so the whole neighborhood can hear – though no one gets a vote on what’s played – and the children have a spicy – and foul – vocabulary and bloodcurdling screams they don’t hesitate to use. demonstrating antagonism seems the way in this land beyond the dead arbor vitae. goodness! when did the rules of neighborhood – the rules of neighboring – change? did they not watch mr. rogers? parents need remember children are always watching their lead. likewise, leaders need remember citizens are always watching their lead. and how precisely did we get here?

this day and age.

we could make a big pitcher of iced water with slices of orange and lemon and grill some (plant-based) burgers, play a little music – at an appropriate volume – and watch our new pampas grass grow. we could admire our newly-cleaned garage or the new green blades growing in the haynet out front. we could paint rocks to hide on our trail or plant a few flowers. we could speed-dial fred rogers. all are quite likely. well, except for fred.

and we could go see the fireworks.

but we won’t.

not in this day and age.

though it will be a statement we make only to ourselves, it will be comforting to dogga for us to stay home.

besides, some things are just too much. in this day and age.

*****

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


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a beautiful day in the neighborhood. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the moon and first ave copy

when fred rogers aka mr. rogers used to sing, “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day in this neighborhood.  …  would you be mine?  …  won’t you be my neighbor?” i remember singing along.  it seemed he was from a different time.  a time when neighborhoods were truly communities.

we are lucky to live in a neighborhood that includes neighbors who are friends.  dear friends.  we gather on back patios and back decks, inside around dining room tables, huddled next to firepits and in each other’s kitchens.  we talk, we laugh, we try to solve the world’s problems.  our neighbors aren’t all the same ages, so we are at different times in our lives, which adds wisdom and perspective and good learnings to these times we spend together.  i have no idea what we would do without these wonderful people.

last weekend after linda and jim’s impromptu gathering, we walked down their driveway.  lighting our way was this moon, shining across the water, over the rocks, directly to us.

yes.  it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

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

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co-existing. [two artists tuesday]

co-exist

the dried bones of the cornfield are beautiful. we have watched the field change through the seasons.  last summer when we couldn’t see beyond the stalks in front of us, lush and green and full of life.  the fall when, as the field browned, we would find cobs on the trail, feed corn for the deer and other gluten-free wildlife.   (just making sure you are paying attention!)  the winter, when snow charmed the tall stalks. and finally, early spring, combine-blunt-cut-short stalks remain in this no-till field, sharing the rich soil with the promise of spring.  dandelions and corn.  co-existing.  apparently, dandelions are easier to control in the fall than in the spring.  they store up moisture and nutrients in their roots and so are pretty hardy in these may-days.  they were there all along.  co-existing.

we don’t disparage dandelions.  we have dandelions in our yard.  co-existing with grass. we aren’t pro-active about gaining their presence, but neither are we terribly pro-active about eliminating them.  we don’t spray chemicals that would be harmful to either domestic pets walking by or to wild animals that roam our area.  we do have neighbors who are deeply invested in their removal, so we try to be good community stewards and pull some out so as to not spread them.  but dandelion-removal isn’t a passion of ours and we really don’t mind too much the co-existence of dandelions with grass.  besides, we can always blame it on last fall.  they’ve been there all along.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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LittleFreeLibrary [not-so-flawed wednesday]

littlefreelibraryBOX copy

a legacy. todd bol has left a legacy in his wake.  and i can’t imagine one that doesn’t touch imaginations and creativity and limitlessness more.  todd built his initial little free library in 2009 in hudson, wisconsin, as a tribute to his mother, who was a teacher and a book-lover.  his first little free library was a replica of a one-room schoolhouse, which he secured on a post and filled with books that he invited his neighbors to borrow.  it caught on, as no one could have dreamed possible, and now these gems are across the united states and in more than 80 countries.

we read every day.  together.  we always have a book going and it is one of our greatest pleasures to read aloud to each other.  there is something magical about it – sitting close under a blanket, experiencing the book at the same time, reacting to it, talking about it.  sometimes a book is so engrossing it requires one of us to pull the other out of the book-world-reality that has consumed us.   such is the power of reading.

if you walk around our neighborhood, even without walking on every single street, you will encounter these little libraries.  there are five within just a few minutes, a few blocks of us.  todd bol died at age 62 on october 18.  but his legacy?  he has left behind “more than 75,000 little free library stewards around the world dedicated to literacy and community.”  an amazing – and ever-growing – gift to the world.  thank you, todd bol.

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

buffalo adirondack chair website box

and, speaking of legacy, happy would-be-68th birthday to my big brother wayne.  no matter what plane of existence you now grace, you live on in each of us.  i wish i could peapod or instacart or jet you gallons of coffee ice cream.  i love you and miss you.  always.

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dandy for dandelions [two artists tuesday]

dandy copy

this dandy product box

we have dandelions.  ask our neighbors.  luckily our neighbors on the west (and our sweet friends) share our love and adoration of dandelions.  well, maybe not love and adoration, but they don’t have a terrible aversion to them either.  neither of our households competes in what charlie calls “the lawn olympics.”  we have old houses and, thus, old lawns.  and yes…i have walked around our neighborhood and there are plenty of old houses with utterly rich, dense, verdant carpets.  but, alas, that is not us.

we have much to learn about grass.  everyone in our circle asks dan, because dan is a lawn god.  his grass is gorgeous and cross-cut and weedless.  we do have a lot to learn from him.  we are glad (but only for the grass reason) that he and gay don’t live next door.  but if they did – (and that would be lovely, but only on the east side so as not to displace our west side neighbors) – i am betting that our dandy dandelions would be gone and we would have dandy grass instead.

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – ON OUR SITE

read DAVID’S thoughts on DANDY!

dandy! ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson