reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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barney and the sunflower. [k.s. friday]

we moved the sunflower. it was on the deck for a few years now, rusting behind the aging wooden glider, tucked between the kitchen window and the bedroom window. it greeted us each day we left and came home. it watched over my girl as she house-sat during the summer, a couple ago now, when we were on island. she didn’t know it, but i had asked it to keep her comings and goings safe and each time she left and came back to smile good days upon her. it came home from a cedarburg festival with us, having called us over to ponder its purchase. we walked the length of the festival and talked about the sunflower. then we went back, after more debate than most probably make about purchases, and bought it. about two weeks ago we moved it. now its place is next to barney, surrounded by peonies and wild geranium and daylilies and snow on the mountain. it is happy there.

when you’ve lived somewhere for quite some time there are naturally places that you go that feel better than others. for me, there are places in this town that have immediate warm responses for me, places that have held me, places that are part of my cairns, places where i have dreamed and imagined, places where a community has meant the world to me. there are other places that conjure up memories i would rather forget with visceral responses i can actually feel; i generally stay away from those spots not wanting to relive moments of grief or poor judgement or anger or betrayal or grand disappointment. i have learned, though, that sometimes the best way to process those is to drive past, to acknowledge, to breathe deeply, to maybe weep. in the same way that actual places remind us, mementos from places we hold dear make it into our special boxes or find their way into our home like sticks accumulating in the walking stick vessel in our sitting room or rocks added to the stones around the pond. some mementos are bigger than others, like the sunflower from a gloriously sunny festival-going day in a town we adore browsing or the 5′ long driftwood from a long island beach that graces the mantel or the high mountain aspen branch wrapped in lights in the dining room. and then there’s barney. there’s no escaping this beautiful piano in our backyard, aging with us.

i’ve shared barney’s story before…how he escaped the junk man’s junkyard destination and, for a small price, came here to share life with us. from a basement boiler room to a place of honor near the pond in our tiny yard he sits and invites the company of beautiful plants, munching squirrels and cutie-pie chipmunks. yet he is a memento. and the place he came from is no longer a favorite place. instead, it is a place i now avoid, with emotions that elicit a physical response and a little vibration i can feel in my chest when i think about it. and so how do i avoid attaching these feelings to barney, i have wondered.

my growing-up piano is in our basement. movers moved it there many years ago, before there were walls in the stairwell. i wonder what will become of it if we ever move. it proudly holds art books and a small stereo and sits in david’s painting studio with a couple rocking chairs and his gorgeous old easel. i have thought about ways to repurpose it. and yet, it is so dear that it will, for right now, stay there just as it is, with music in its bench and the little index card on which is carefully printed in eight-year-old font “practice makes perfect”.

there is a piano of size in my studio. it sits at full stick, waiting patiently. i was in there yesterday and it whispered to me, but, for right then, i was consumed with the finishing of putting things away. there is still music to file, organ music still to go back into cabinets. i must decide what to do with the poster that hung on the choir room wall that reads, “if you ask me what i came into this world to do, i will tell you i came to live out loud” or the metal cut-out words “it’s all about music” or the white strands of happy lights that were woven around the blackboard that listed rehearsals and demonstrated strum patterns and had dates of parties for that well-loved community held at our house.

maybe once i decide what to do with all of it – including the emotional wreckage part – i will again sit at my piano. drive past, acknowledge, breathe deeply, weep. my piano is full of empathy i can feel and some day, soon i hope, i will be able to sit and play – in a studio cleaned and inviting with mementos of goodness and intentions of evolution. then i will walk out of the studio and down the hall, through the kitchen and the sunroom and outside onto the deck. and i will sit on the old settee and listen to the pond and the birds and watch the chipmunks scurry across the top of the old piano that shares space with the sunflower and a couple green-eyed metal birds.

in answers that have come with a few months of time, i have found that the piano-ness of barney has overcome the where-it’s-from-ness. the peeling back, the wrinkles, the embrace of its tiny community in our yard…these things have usurped the rest.

instead, barney and the sunflower together greet us upon leaving and greet us upon returning home. together, they both bring joy and reassurance to our backyard and they both smile good days upon us.

*****

tune in to my little corner of iTUNES

or tune in to my ever-growing PANDORA spot in the world

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

PULLING WEEDS from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

34 – the combination of 14 & 20 – love to cook together. they chop and laugh and saute and bake and grill, punting their way through recipes. with glasses of wine in hand (and lately, maybe old-fashioned wisconsin old-fashioneds) these two brothers-of-different-mothers gleefully prepare dinner.

twice a week we three (61 when you add us all up) used to dine together. and then covid. for well over a year, dinners stopped and phone calls commenced. but even zoom doesn’t come close to the ritual of preparing good food and sitting down all together around a table. finally, fully-vaccinated and still wearing masks out in public spaces, we are back. and so there is a piece of our world that has righted; the axis is just a little less tilted. we are grateful.

20 goes way back for me. shortly after my beloved big brother died, i believe he looked down from heaven and hand-picked out 20 to stand in for him. he didn’t expect 20 to be exactly who he was, he just expected him to be there for me. and vice-versa.

my little girl and 20’s little girl took ballet lessons together as tiny ballerinas and 20 and i sat on the wood floor with other parents just off the studio, morning light spilling in through the windows. my little boy drove his matchbox cars up and down the hall, including on and off 20’s legs, clearly seeing in him a man who adored the magic of small children and their imaginations. it was like group therapy, this cadre of parents on the wooden floor, and we still think of those times fondly. we followed ballet class with an ice-cream-sundae trip across the street to andrea’s and sitting on high stools at jack’s cafe in front of the soda fountain. cups of hot coffee and watching our tiny girls make straw dolls with paper napkins and my little toddler boy having soup-that-race-cars-eat with a side of saltines and pickles were glittery times…priceless. in the way that life and mystery goes, 20 happened to be a graphic designer at a time in my life when i needed a graphic designer. we celebrated my first album together and he designed many of the next ones. there for meetings or reviews, i watched him and justine and duke at work. i had the good fortune of secondhand learning; i still credit 20 with the way i design things now. it was inevitable that we would still be almost-brother-sister 27 years later. i imagine this will go on forever and ever, in the way that my own big brother devised it. only now, we are a trio of compadres. we’d have it no other way.

in this time of so much loss for so many, we have not gone unscathed. jobs and security, finances and healthcare, communities-within-communities, relationships – all have an iota of decimation. the rituals of our life together are the things we hold onto, the firm footing that delivers us from one day to the next. for us, resuming the twice-a-week dinners with 20, friday night potlucks with our dear-dear friends which have temporarily become happy-hours in their backyard, our familiar-trail hikes watching the seasons change in the woods…these are real, three-dimensional and steady and are evidence of life beyond these times. they are evidence of a return to some semblance of normal, though we suspect things may never actually be normal again.

we are still careful out in public. we still wear masks and use sanitizer. at OT appointments they still take my temperature, have a pile of masks at the door and ask a slew of covid questions. we are wary of too much exposure – our innermost circle demands it, for this pandemic is still alive and well and we do not wish to place our dearest close ones at any potentially devastating risk.

yesterday we passed a teen girl walking down the sidewalk, mask at her chin, with a sad, sad face. it made me think about all the people who have lost loved ones during this year-plus of covid. i wonder how they feel as they watch others, in seeming cavalier fashion, gather in crowds, throw out their masks and throw any remaining caution to the wind. i’m guessing maybe they are heartbroken. because there is no going back. it can’t be undone. and the loss of their beloveds has not changed others who do not walk in their shoes.

i guess it’s the lack of empathy, the lack of looking-out-for-each-other, the lack of small efforts of willingness to aid the big community that i find most disturbing. because, really, in the ritual-festooned-relationship-rich-shimmering-end we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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creeping pigweed. [merely-a-thought monday]

i know little to nothing about farming. driving through eastern colorado, missouri, all of kansas, iowa and across the state of wisconsin, there are patchworks of farmfields that stretch on seemingly forever. gorgeous and rich in the colors of good dirt and rising plants, we admired the quilted beauty of our roadtrip and talked about farming as we passed the lives of people we would never meet.

the billboard read, “don’t let pigweed creep back!” it was an imperative to research. pigweed is, apparently, insidious and something that hardworking people who have chosen crop-growing, stock, and all means of agriculture, have to deal with. pigweed can be toxic to livestock and will aggressively take over grain and soybean fields. it is resistant to mitigation and hard to control. it can be destructive. once eradicated, one must remain vigilant about its presence so as to avoid further damage to crops and animals.

i am struck by how this invasive plant mimics what has happened in the political arena of our living.

we had just, a mere couple hours before, stopped at a gas station to fill up big red and run into the restroom. wearing masks, we entered the convenience store where all conversation stopped as the door swung closed behind us. no one inside had on a mask and the stares at us were pointed and aggressive. it was unnerving. had we entered a miraculous-global-pandemic-free zone? or had we entered inside a building where pigweed had never left, where the insidious, toxic dis-ease of misinformation and selfishness was spreading its roots, reaching out underground and above to damage all within its cloying and suffocating grasp? is there no hope for this place with entrenched pigweed?

it would seem to me, as we read the current news of steps forward, of good intentions, of attempts to advance efforts toward equity and equality, social justice, healthcare, hunger and homelessness, of work to aid in getting past this horrid pandemic and all its fallout, that we should do all we can to not let pigweed creep back.

*****

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


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the glowing orange ball. [k.s. friday]

the sun was setting over the mown hayfield. i pulled over to capture it, to watch. the heavy cloud cover was passing and the glowing orange ball owned the horizon. day was ending. night would bring rest. and a new day would dawn.

in this world where we rotate ever-in-motion, there is assurance of a new day. there will be another dawn. and then, after a day of time-spent, there will be another dusk. and then, after a night of time-spent, there will be another dawn.

as we wake these mornings now, we look to the horizon for little bits of hope, little bits of new-day reassurance.

we grasp onto the transition to a new administration for our country, compassion and decency and brilliant minds guiding us.

we clench onto the way out of the pandemic raging across our country, across our world. we double-down on our decision to choose safety over the overwhelming desire to be done-with-it.

we try to feel a little less tired, a little less exhausted by it all. we try to refill our meager energy with the adrenaline of new.

we all seize tiny pieces of sun as we struggle with the anxiety of these recent days. we crawl out of the shadows bit by bit. so many of us have much to try and comprehend, much of which to try and make sense.

all of our personal stories include the loss of loved ones, the loss of good health, the loss of stability, the loss of basic needs, the loss of movement, the loss of community. all of our personal stories bring shade into places we yearn for sun.

i grapple with the grief of losing a career, with hypocrisy and isolation, with no real understanding of what-just-happened. i have conversations in my mind with people who turned a blind eye, who collegially turned their backs, who refused to have any conversation, who never asked questions, who alluded, who made assumptions, who never reached out, who seemed to care less, who would not even look at me. i squeeze closed my eyes tightly to try and forget and look to the glowing sky of a new day and take a step.

we grapple with starting the story of a new beginning. in the middle of all this, new beginnings are elusive, like trying to catch a ray of light in your hands.

we all grapple with this time of darkness. we know we are waiting for the sun to touch our faces and bring hope.

we know it will show up each new day – in people who love us, in kindnesses and care we receive and offer to others, in reaching out, in honest eye-to-eye contact, even over our masked faces, in generously listening to each other, in asking questions and learning, in working together, in the glowing orange ball on the horizon. and each new day we take it in, just a little bit more.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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new light. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

luminaria

it is a new day.  filled with new promise, new possibility, new adventure, new hope, new light.  no matter what, the light comes.  it cannot be snuffed out, for after every night there is day.  it is sure.

we look to the horizon and, like the most exquisite of tall-stemmed flowers, we lean toward the sun.  we grow.  we rest.

we know, intrinsically, that even in circumstance where our own light is dampened, when it is dark, when we feel extinguished, exhausted, profoundly saddened, the tiny light that flickers from deep within, from others, from sunrise, can reignite our zeal, rejuvenate us, restore us, bring us bravely back to day.

happy new day.  happy new year.  happy new decade.  happy new light.

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

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conked out. [two artists tuesday]

dogga babycat end of day

conked out.  it’s the end of the workday, the end of playtime, the end of the evening, the end of the month, the end of the year and they are conked out.  so are we.  with toys strewn about, they collapse on the floor, a wary eye on each other every so often, just making sure. but mostly, sleepy, eyes closed, soft sighs.

we feel the same way.  conked out.  it has been a year.  tomorrow we’ll search for some sage to burn on the first day of the new year, smudging room by room, letting the snuffed flame’s gentle smoke chase out the negative and allow new light in.

conked out.  it feels like a repeating theme…a basso ostinato…a foundation upon which we are all arriving at this last-day-of-the-year station.  exhaustion seems to be the grounding venn diagram of all those we have spoken with.  like lines of the composer john cage:  dissonant polyphony, indeterminate chance-filled melodies, questioning, shapeless and yet heading in some vexing conclusive direction.  2019.  confusing and atonal with a lack of rests, avant-garde, but in all the wrong ways.

as we approach the last minute of the last day of this year, we sneak a peek at the new year.  new beginnings.  we sigh. deeply.  looking ahead.

i glance at a small sign i have on the wall.  it is not without noticing the irony i read a quote from john cage, “begin anywhere.”  a good place to go from conked out.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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grace. [k.s. friday]

grace songbox

it’s a mystery.  grace.  it falls on us like morning dew, each and every day.  we rise, buoyant or troubled, joyous or grieving, in clarity or murky, in the light or in the dark.

and it is a new day.  beauty surrounds us.  even breathing.  there’s nothing we must do to receive it.  we are granted grace…unconditionally.  its simple and steadfast generosity – its rain – our gift.

we step into next, knowing we have yet another chance.

purchase the CD or download on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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GRACE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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the pink. [k.s. friday]

inasplitsecond song

there is a moment when the sky turns a delicious shade of pink as the sun sets in the western horizon.  each beyond-the-crayon-box-color doesn’t last long; they morph into the next color and then the next.  each second, as you watch, counts.

there is a moment when before-night turns into after-day.  crossing the pink.

“live in the present/grab onto this time/don’t look behind you/you gotta walk that thin line/of the future and the past/it’s all within your grasp/that second could come way too fast”

there is a moment – one that probably occurs multiple times a day – when you can choose how to react to things.  you can linger in the not-taking-it-personally-they-are-hurting-you-not-because-you-are-you-but-because-they-are-them zone or you can step over the line and bite back.  crossing the pink.  everyone in relationship recognizes this.  any relationship, be it spouse-spouse, significant others, parent-child, child-parent, colleagues, supervisor-employee, employee-supervisor, drivers stuck in traffic, customer-customer service rep, strangers in a long grocery line.  not biting back doesn’t render you powerless; instead, in the hardly-ever-easy not-taking-it-personally, it aids in your health and well-being.  you choose.  crossing the pink.

“you look in the mirror/today’s world stares back”

there is a moment – a split second – when you stand still and see all that was behind, all that is here and now.  it is impossible to see all that is possible, for surely if you were back many pink crossings ago you would not have imagined the now of now.

and so, this split second should tell us that we have no idea, that our imaginings of the future are both wildly over-feared and inconceivably understated, that with each split-second breath we take, we cross the pink into another split-second that is filled with hope of new.  but sheesh, we are human and we are worried, fearful, guilt-ridden, persistently trying to figure out what we did wrong to elicit ‘such a response’, repeatedly weighing everything, sorting, feeling powerless.

what if we stayed in the moment of delicious pink, watching the sun promise rest and a new day.

“take it slow/don’t let this moment go/it’s here and it’s now/use this gift somehow”

read more about this song IN A SPLIT SECOND here

purchase the CD AS SURE AS THE SUN or download on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

sunsetontherocks WI website box

IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 


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right now. [k.s. friday]

right now songbox.jpg

i remember writing this.  i was coming out of storms and it felt like i was, at last, rising like a weak sun in the dense fog, slowly but surely burning off the fog.  it was my right-now.

i wonder how many times in life we re-do that.  like the movie groundhog day, we re-live again and again the process of coming out of the mess, the stress, the worry.   life seems fraught with those storms and fog sometimes.  we yearn for steady, for clear skies, for brilliant sun.

when the day is done and we go to sleep with wrinkled brow, we try, albeit sometimes futilely, to remember that right-now passes into the next.  this very ‘right-now’ will soon be ‘before’.

there will be a new day. a new right-now.  new hope.

purchase RIGHT NOW CD or download on iTunes or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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RIGHT NOW from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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each new day. [k.s. friday]

each new day songbox

my sweet momma would start the day by chirping to me, “good morning merry sunshine!”  what a gift to consistently start the day that way.

i wrote this piece at a difficult time in my life.  the titles on this album somewhat tell the story:  boundaries. scattered. pulling weeds. holding on, letting go. it’s not black and white.  figure it out.  taking stock.  baby steps.  each one a descriptor of that time;  each title written for the album before the music.  i composed to each word.

but the most important title on the album, the arc that reigns over the gut emotion of the rest, i realize now is ‘each new day’.  for we are granted yet another chance….to choose to live the day well, to embrace the new, to walk in tomorrow’s grace, to love, to choose kindness, to say we are sorry, to recuperate from something that has hurt us, to work toward balance, to forgive, to model goodness, to help someone else in pain, to learn something new, to listen, to laugh, to hold someone’s hand or share a hug, to do better…

time really does move breathtakingly fast.  each new day counts.  good morning merry sunshine.

purchase the CD or download on iTunes or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

sunrisewebsite

EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood