reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the banana in cherrytomatoland. [two artists tuesday]

keeping the late late summer cherry tomatoes together will stimulate their ripening, i read. the ethylene emitted by them will urge them from green to pale yellow to orange to red. putting them in a brown paper bag with a banana or an apple would speed things along. right now, they are on the counter in a plastic, hopefully bpa-free, container, lidless, soaking up the sun. somehow, these tiny little tomatoes, regardless of size or shape or green innocence or red wokeness know all about impact on each other and a banana or an apple entering their tomato-only-zone would only help them.

that’s the kind of community we should all live in, work in, play in. because as barry manilow, yes, the guy who writes the songs, said, “everything you say and do is having an impact on others.”

it’s not like we are not aware of that. simple kindnesses as we go about our day make a huge difference – the concentric circles ever-widening, cherry-tomato-land goodness spreading, stimulating ripening, encouraging more goodness. it’s not as pollyannaish as it sounds. in every interaction we have a choice. the expression “there are a hundred ways you could have answered that/handled that” is worthy of our attention.

i’m from new york. growing up on long island is different than growing up in the midwest or the south or even the west coast. there is a rat-a-tat kind of rhythm to conversation there. lots of questions, lots of words. it seems aggressive, but it’s really not. it is, however, easy to interpret it that way. if you want to know about something, you ask. it’s a kind of pummeling with questions; you don’t ask one gentle question and patiently wait.

take the cherry tomatoes, for example. you could ask, what kind of cherry tomatoes are those? (and then wait.) or you could ask: what kind of cherry tomatoes are those?where did you get them?were they from seeds or tiny plants?how did you plant them?did you have to use topsoil?how much water did you give them?how often?do you have to fertilize them?what about sun?do they need to be in the sun?how long did it take before they bore fruit?do they only produce one set of tomatoes or do they keep producing?are they sweet?did you pick them before they were ripened?what about when it got cold?when did you pick the green tomatoes?how did you know what to do with them?can you still eat them?will they ripen?

i’ve had to tone down the newyork in me, slow down the question-pummeling (this is not as easy as it sounds), soften the edges of speech a little. the accent has mostly disappeared, but the rhythm is ever at-the-ready, prepared to garner answers or information or directions, not willing to miss the details. and those details…ever-important. my big brother could tell a story with more words than you can imagine; his details were picture-painting and precise and i loved every minute of his newyork style of storytelling.

we were on long island with my dear friend crunch when he was ordering a pizza. he said: “do you want gahhlic knots with the pizza?whatdyathink, gahhlic knots too?yes or no?are you hungry for gahhlic knots?they make great gahhlic knots at luigis. do you want some?tell me, i gotta awwduh. hello?” and then, in the car on the way to get the pizza and the garlic knots: “ya gotta turn up here.yeah, turn left.yeah after the driveway, turn left.here.left.ok.in about two blahhcks you’ll turn right.right.yeah, about a block now.right.uh-huh.right.yeah.hee-uhh.right.turn.ya gotta turn!”

david was losing it in the backseat. i had jumped right in. suddenly the impressionable pattern returned and i was also speaking, stepping all over crunch narrating where i was to turn. allowing no time for him to keep talking or answer anything i was saying – and vice-versa – we both just kept tawwwking and tawwwking, over each other. david’s laughter was contagious.

there had been (and have been, who am i kidding?) times – admittedly – when, in the middle of a more shall-we-say “heated” discussion d has looked at me and said, “let me finish.” hanging out on long island in the middle of pummeling vocal patterns has helped him realize i mean no harm. and i have adopted his “there are a hundred ways you could have answered that”. because it has an impact – the way we answer, the way we handle stuff.

we both try to be aware, in this still-covid time of much-togetherness and less-time-with-others, of our interactions, knowing that even the slightest acidity can affect things and will ripple outward in our day. instead of leeching negativity into each other, in the most intimate and the most community of interactions, i would rather encourage ripening, blossoming, flourishing.

i want to be like the banana in cherrytomatoland.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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what we seek. [d.r. thursday]

our favorite thing in the woods, when i was about eight or ten or so, were the salamanders. red-backed salamanders had a red stripe down their spine and, back then, were all over the woods outside our rustic cabins in the upstate new york state parks.

we stayed at many of them: selkirk shores, chenango valley, watkins glen, green lakes, letchworth. my sweet momma and poppo were not tent-campers, but they fully embraced the very-bare-minimum cabins in the woods and my mom would pack for a week ahead; we had to bring everything with us, including pots and pans. the bunkbed frames and mattresses were about all you got, with basic kitchen and bathroom necessities. we’d go for a week and for that glorious week, i would roam the forest and swim the lakes and ride bikes all over the park with my best friend. we didn’t do fancy vacations, but, for me, these trips were heaven. i think about my momma now – for her it was a lot of work, but she seemed happy to be “roughing-it” as she said. and she would run around each night, can of raid in her hand, singsong voice, announcing “raid! raid!” while we buried into our sleeping bags on our bunks and tried not to breathe.

before we discovered the lifeguards, we would hike through the forest, looking for anything interesting we could find, devising paths and mysteries to solve. mostly, we looked for the salamanders. one year, we found one that was particularly sociable with us and we were convinced it would stay around and be our friend. for obvious reasons, we named him sal. once you’ve named something, it is much harder to say goodbye.

now, the thing that’s hard to say goodbye to – out in the woods, high in the mountains – is the whole visceral experience. the cool fresh air, the trail under our feet, the sun filtering through the trees, quaking aspen leaves, the absolute drop-dead-amazing smell of a pine forest, the quiet.

we haven’t found salamanders in colorado woods, though we haven’t been seeking them as i did when i was in elementary school. instead, we have sought the feeling you get after you have hiked miles and some decent elevation. that exhausted adrenaline bursted rush of ahhh. the slightly burning lungs-are-in-your-chest feeling. the your-legs-want-to-sit-down-on-a-stump-for-a-moment tiredness. a little bit of wind-sun-scorched face. and the overwhelming desire to keep going.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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it can wait. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

text rest stop copy

we drove into new york from pennsylvania and one of the first things we saw on this beautiful drive was this sign.  “it can wait,”  it declared.  so true.  what’s so important that can’t wait a few miles? traveling at just 60mph that would only be a mere 5 minutes away. i was infinitely proud of my homestate of NY and the effort to acknowledge and accommodate today’s technology while not superseding safety.  distracted driving is against the law in many states, including NY and for good reason.  we have all been privy to devastating stories, accidents that might have been avoided, moments when paying close attention should be paramount.  providing a place to communicate is smart; these text stops were fairly frequent on the road and there were always cars and trucks parked there.  but on the road, speeding down the highway?  no technology present.

we are kind of at the back end of technology, david and me.  the girl and the boy are smack dab in the middle of it.  and the little children and young teens we see running around with ipads for entertainment or their own cellphones are clearly at the leading edge.  we’ve watched while standing in line, even at the post office, as a mother hands a small toddler a phone to play with while waiting.  i’m not sure where conversation or making up games or riddles on the fly went.  i remember standing in a zillion lines in the post office with the girl and the boy (shipping has been key in my business) and they seemed perfectly content to wait or, ohmygosh, just talk.  no technology present.

but it’s different now (saying this is a sure sign of us getting older) and everything is more immediate and more distracted.  how many times have you seen a couple together in a restaurant with cellphones at the ready, lingering halfway between their tablemate and the pull of the internet or the text or instagram or twitter…  the look on one of the faces an expression of defeat or, worse yet, an aloofness that comes with not being able to compete with the magnetic pull of that small device across from them.  “it can wait,” i whisper silently, wishing the other person at the table could hear.  what’s so important it can’t wait? what’s more important than those moments spent together, really together?  paying close attention.  no technology present.

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

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sisu. [merely a thought monday]

sisu box

sisu.  perseverance.  fortitude.  stamina.  courage.  determination.  my grandmother mama dear used this finnish term all the time and passed it down to my sweet momma beaky who passed it down to me.  a philosophy of life, a mantra, “you gotta have sisu!” mama dear would say.  if up against the odds, if forging upstream, my sweet momma would say, “you gotta have sisu!”  and so it was without a second thought when it was time to name my own company, the independent recording label that has been sisu music productions for the last 23 years.  i can’t think of a better name for all the challenges that have risen – and continue to rise – as an independent artist.

any moment of fear, of uncertainty, brings me to draw on that sisu…digging in my heels and standing firmly in it.  it’s kind of a blind faith and has everything to do with that.  in the face of adversity, of the scales tilted not-in-your-favor, you just keep on.  in the face of fear…everyone has their thing…the thing that makes them afraid…the thing that makes them white-knuckled…you just keep on.   sisu.

i was flying back from telluride to denver a couple days ago – in a smaller plane.  there was a big strapping guy all dressed in camouflage who got on the plane before me.  he told the flight attendant he had been out in the middle of nowhere hunting (successfully) elk and mule deer.  he was a rough and tumble kind of guy and ended up seated just across the aisle from me.  when the plane hit turbulence, particularly over the front range, his face turned red and he looked over at me with a deer-in-the-headlights look and said, “i hate this part!!”  i started talking to him then, trying to ease his obvious fear, talking about the wind currents and the mountains…how i could see the airport…we are almost there…just a teeny bit further…wheels are going to touch down any minute….  he was gripping the lock on the little tray table and finally relaxed his grip and smiled.  everyone has their thing.

we can loan others the sisu we carry with us.  we can bank on the sisu we carry with us.  i often credit being-from-new-york for times i have just forged-ahead-anyway, but my sisu roots go way further back than that.

sisu.  i stood back from the edge of a deep deep canyon the other day, my beautiful daughter on another boulder a few hundred yards away.  i looked at the sky, the sunset playing over red rock.  thought about that very moment in time, this moment i was sharing with the part of my heart known as kirsten…this moment that wouldn’t be repeated.  and i heard the voice in my head, “you gotta have sisu.”  i stepped to the very edge of the canyon, stretched out my arms and laughed aloud.

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read DAVID’S thoughts on SISU

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where i’m from. [k.s. friday]

where i'm from songbox

it’s circuitous…the way i would define where i’m from.  you have to be prepared to listen a spell if you ask me this question.

just like anyone, i have taken pieces – absorbed – every place i’ve been, every community i have shared in, every experience i’ve had, everyone i’ve met or been influenced by; indeed, those have become where i’m from.  in jeans and boots on stage i talk about where “home” is and try to differentiate by referring to wisconsin as “home”, florida as “home-home” and long island as “home-home-home” which sounds semi-ridiculous, not to mention annoying for people who cringe at redundancy.  plus it doesn’t include time living on a sheep farm in new hampshire nor profound moments i’ve had visiting places that have sought space in my soul.  but it might give you a place to listen from; with your eyes closed you may hear your own story.

when i wrote this piece, 21 years ago or so, i knew it needed to swirl around the theme, travel from one key to another, return to its theme…have continuity yet have places where it started again.  in celebrating my sweet momma and dad this week with the introduction of my song YOU’RE THE WIND it brought me back to my deepest roots, transplanted time and again though they may be.  no matter what, i will always be a northeast girl.  new york is in my blood and long island is ever a part of my heart.

where i’m from…it’s time ago…it’s now…it’s what’s to come.

if you listen you can hear the tide.  in and out…like day, like experiences, like finding home.  it changes.  it’s the same.

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read DAVID’S thoughts about this K.S. FRIDAY

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WHERE I’M FROM from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood