reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the pod of our diapause. [two artists tuesday]

the color of a palomino, the pod of milkweed off the side of the trail captures my attention. though i want to touch it, to feel what looks like a velvety ear, i don’t disturb it. this pod has burst open, its seeds scattered, waiting for verdant spring and the eventual arrival of monarchs. the butterflies left the midwest for the winter, migrating, traveling up to 2500 miles to shelter and hibernate through winter in coolness that is not cold.

their diapause is a period of suspended development. it is common in the insect world, this inactivity: “a state in which their growth, development, and activities are suspended temporarily, with a metabolic rate that is high enough to keep them alive.” it’s a kind of dormancy. it sounds a little like isolating in the middle of a pandemic, a little like a response to a few more-difficult years. a slowing down, an insulating, a turning-in, heartbeats enough to sustain yet not enough for vast inspiration. hmm.

back on our favorite local trail, we are watching it wake. we take note of the changes in color, the changes in the woods, in the meadows. sipping coffee this morning we listen to the new sounds – birdcalls we have missed in the quietude of winter, the middle of our diapause.

we start to feel the pull of the outside more, the draw of places to see, the falling-off of quilts we have wrapped around us. i begin to wonder – with a little more energy – what next and next look like. the sun streams in the window and stays up later, pushing back night like feet on a crab soccer ball.

we begin to break open the pod of our diapause, long after milkweed but before the butterflies come back.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the glow. [d.r. thursday]

even on a foggy, overcast day, looking down from the ridge the glow was unmistakable. the everciduous beech trees stubbornly held their leaves, dying the brown woods a shade of cantaloupe or hard-to-identify pantone.

the forest floor below our feet was shuffling-full of leaves, oaks and maples and a variety of brown county timber. vines curled their way around trees in attempts to find the canopy. on this winter day, were it not for the marcescent beech, we could see further than any other season in the woods.

marcescence, i’ve learned – for this is not a word that sprang to the forefront of my mind – is the retention of leaves through winter. it isn’t until the leaves are completely brittle and wind takes them that they drop. and in the meanwhile, new growth – new leaf buds – have been protected and had access to nutrients and moisture, a sort of still-on-the-tree mulch.

it occurs to me that marcescence is like changing jobs. one generally holds onto a job until retaining the next, the security of employ feeding confidence and necessities while new awaits. it’s always a little disconcerting to leave before next is there, a leap of faith, sometimes, a premature leap, with regret.

yet sometimes, it is absolute. we drop our leaves. we stand naked in the forest, tall and exposed, willowy trees waiting for spring. sometimes we shed all that protects us and take risks and go fallow in liminal and shiver in cold winds. we gaze around and see everciduous folks nearby, confident, predictable, stalwart. we dig in, deep roots of belief in ourselves despite weather that tests us. we draw from the ground, are fed by what we know, what we have learned, what we have created. we hold onto tiny bits of light. we protect the glow. we push on.

and new buds show up. spring always follows winter.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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unfinished. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

while she explained to me the presence of the cross on the back of the donkey, he explained to david how he installed the sun-seeking solar panel in the barnyard. both exist here. the old world donkey and the twenty-first century solar panel. together.

he told us that they were about our age when they started to make plans for next steps. they sorted and listed and researched and made decisions for their next phase, moving to acreage further south – in a bit more temperate clime – closer to some family, out in the woods with ridges and ravines, living their dreams for the next of life. “you should start thinking about that now,” he encouraged us. he’s right. we think about it all the time.

“the world never comes at you all at once,” john o’donohue wrote. “you are not simply here. neither are you definitively and forever ‘you’.” … “no person is a finished thing.”

things you can count on. change and change and change.

we know change is imminent. and change has already arrived. and we have exited change, taken the doorway that reads “next”. and we can see more doors and more doors. they are a little further away, like trail markers, choices to be mapped, routes to follow, narratives with gaps to fill in.

maybe a coupla donkeys, a coupla horses, dogdog, mountains, cherry tomato plants, and trees. our lives will evolve.

in our mind’s eye, we paint ourselves older – hopefully wiser, but i know there’s no guarantee of that. we paint the hue of early morning sunrises over peaks near and far. we paint old porches and adirondack chairs. less stuff and more time. old world and new world. much like now, we paint in mugs of coffee and glasses of wine bookending the day. we paint in people we love. we paint in hiking and writing and new recipes and doing the art we do. it’s unfinished, this canvas.

life is not a paint-by-number. and solar panels and donkeys co-exist in barnyards. and we are not definitively any particular colors in any particular place doing any particular thing. we are made of dreams and change.

*****

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


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the gig economy tapestry. [ saturday morning smack-dab.]

i was going to write about the gig economy. about how living a life – mostly – in that world has given me a perspective about work that is maybe a little less rigid than the perspective of one who has worked outside the gig economy. always piecing it together, always scrappy, always thinking of the next new thing to create – these are second nature. not having as much, worrying, repurposing, having thinner margins – these are also second nature. in the middle of the middle of what-next thinking, outside the box of indeed and monster and ziprecruiter and simplyhired and random sites that seriously suggest i apply for positions as a neuroscience researcher. “now what?” people will ask – mostly who don’t really know me or who are drawing comparisons with their own lives. i was going to write about all that.

but then i thought about beauty. i thought about how artists dive below the surface, try to find the depth of meaning, try to hear and see what which others might pass by, not noticing. i thought about stages and boom mics and connection and standing in front of a diebenkorn – or a robinson – deep inside, marveling. i thought about arvo pärt and his absolute tug on my heart. i thought about john denver and simplicity. i thought about recording studios and soaring string sections, cello lines that make clouds rearrange to allow in light. the weaving of intricate relationship between people and nature, between people and art in any form.

there have been moments – and i can actually remember them – when i have been driving and listening to a song and i weep or hiking and seeing something so stunning i stop and cannot move. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that it was right to turn down the business-school-accounting-program acceptance. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that i will not have the same security as the person-i-would-have-been following that route. moments when i feel a sense of pride to be a tiny part of the tapestry of what people turn to in time of rejuvenation, of rest, of crisis, of pure bliss. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that somewhere along the way what i have done with my time has touched someone, has opened them, has taken them diving with me. below the surface of this great big world – to beauty.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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and the wind brought fall. [k.s. friday]

the wind brought fall.

iowa and kansas were full of summer-on-its-waning-edge, the sun streaming into the truck making merely having windows open not enough. the highway noise was loud and the air conditioning a welcome buffer so we could talk and ponder what the next days would bring.

we saw it from a distance and assumed it was farmers plowing in dry fields of dirt, billowing cloud dust across the horizon from afar. and then we drove into it. in minutes, touching the window glass cleared up the mysterious billowing. the beyond-blustery front was bringing cold air and as we drove from kansas into colorado, the gusts delivered autumn.

we walked into their living room this morning and the fire was lit. there is nothing like a cup of coffee by an early morning fire. the day is cool and the sun is out. those of us who traveled for yesterday’s celebration of columbus’ life and are still here will gather later around a fire out back. in the meanwhile, we’ll walk and talk and have a little quiet time after much visiting and catching up till later last night. the service is over and next follows.

when these flowers were blooming, they were vibrant and gorgeous, spilling over the old fence along the sidewalk. the petals started to drop off as fall started to arrive, dropping in little by little. bright yellow pistils started to turn mustard then cocoa brown. the picture begged to be taken – beautiful and fallow on its eventual way.

as we drive back to wisconsin, we’ll again pass fields of corn waiting to be cut down, plowed over, vast brown rolling land. we’ll miss the green, we know, even at home, even in our little gardens, on our little potting stand.

but we know that time just doesn’t jump from one season to another. it actually shows signs as it comes, gives fair warning, allows us time to process a bit and adjust. it transitions and gently encourages us to move on, into the next season.

summer yields to fall and we will bring home a little wisdom harvested from the side of the highway.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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PART OF THE WIND from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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the long view. like the rain. [merely-a-thought monday]

the catalogs accumulate in the rack in the bathroom. every so often i go through them and ferret out the ones i want to keep, the ones to hold onto for just a bit longer. it isn’t likely that i will purchase anything from them right now, but perusing them is like shopping, even a bit like buying in an odd way. i have found that if i look at something in a catalog often enough, long enough, the desire to have that item is somehow satisfied and will eventually go away. of course, this isn’t always true and some things have cut through the noise of all-those-pages, risen to the top and, after much internal debate, have been ordered. just not so much in recent days.

some catalogs pay close attention to the beauty of the whole. catalogs like patagonia, stio, sundance. pieces written by brand ambassadors, stunning photography, they are like picture-books and beg your attention. some catalogs stress a narrative, the story that makes you want an item; j.peterman rules at this, but soft surroundings creates story as well. some catalogs tell the back-story, personalizing the company, like karen kane. many are aware of their social impact, like LL bean. some catalogs just stuff asmuchinformationastheycan into their pages. those don’t make the magazine-rack-cut and are promptly recycled when they arrive.

i took photographs of many stormy skies, wet grasses, and drips dripping this past week, grumbling a bit about the weather. i would have rathered that the sun of the earlier part of that week had stuck around, the 70 degrees had lingered, the i-am-about-to-put-on-flip-flops temptation. instead, it rained and stormed and drizzled and fogged and rained again.

then i flipped open the january stio catalog on the rack, on the cover a long line down a powder slope created by a skier, always making me think of my daughter. every other page had a gorgeous photo; this company, birthed in 2012 and stewarding responsible outdoor lifestyle, is based in jackson hole, wyoming, so there is much appreciation for high mountain vistas. i perused the photos and the text, glancing at the gear. and i stumbled across the words, “the long view…think for the future.” it was an ad for recycled fleece clothing and their ethical stance, much like the powerhouse patagonia, to “reduce impact and waste and consume less energy – which is all better for this closed loop system we call earth.”

the long view. think for the future.

like the slow and steady turtle. like the fallow of the winter. like the tiny five degrees a month i hope to regain in my wrist. like the first words on a page, the first strokes on a canvas, the first notes in the air. like the extended-term wearing of masks to mitigate a mutating pandemic. like the temporary suspension of dinners in restaurants, live concerts, large gatherings in respect for each other. like the absence of normal, of security in a time of rebuilding. like time-without to remind you to appreciate time-with. like the incessant rain on an april day.

*****

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


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snowcake and lemonade. [d.r. thursday]

david, wearing his birthday tiara, waiting to have birthday cake

he said that he stood at the back door and thought, “i’m going to like this time of life best.” out the door, surfing through piles and piles of snow, dogdog ran the yard, bowing to the snow and snacking on it, his chin and face covered. a snowglobe day, david stood and watched our dog in his glee while the coffee brewed. moments later, he brought a steaming mug of strong black coffee to me, lounging in my flannel pjs in bed, sleepy eyes and a warm cat by my side. we clinked mugs and sipped while we talked of birthdays and time.

our day was simple. we ate, we wrote, we ate again. dogdog and babycat were by our sides, not eager to be anywhere else on this frigid day. negative temperatures in the minus-twenties weren’t at all encouraging for hikes outside, or even walks, and i made a mental note to start asking around about a treadmill. we unwrapped a winter-scene jigsaw that had been in the hall closet for years, called people, answered texts, opened a surprise gift that arrived on our frozen doorstep and puzzled at the dining room table. a late dinner and a couple of glasses of red and dogdog was begging to go sleepynightnight. he led the way to the end of the day, a valentine’s-day-birthday, a day of marveling at how dear people are, how fast time goes, how vested we are in adjectives like ‘peaceful’ and ‘promising’ and ‘content’ to describe our next. ‘euphoric’ and ‘carefree’ would be lovely too; so many adjectives, so little time.

on the deck right out the sunroom window, the wrought iron table and chairs were laden with the accumulation of days of snow. i could not help but see the round snowpile on the table as a giant birthday cake; i could not help but see the snow-shape in the chair as a little alien snowman, waiting patiently for a piece of cake. it was just too tempting and david was out front shoveling. with a couple silver christmas balls, a tiara found upstairs in my girl’s room, a tall white taper and some vintage pink-plastic-cake-numbers-that-hold-tiny-birthday-candles, i made myself laugh. sinking well over my knees in snow as i inadvertently stepped off the side of the deck into a drift, i collapsed into the snow, cracking up, just too excited for david to come around the corner of the house, shovel in hand. lemonade, i thought. this is lemonade.

and that, i believe, is what he meant by, “i’m going to like this time best.” a time when you know that lemonade – and the making of it with or without lemons – is most rewarding.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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next. in the sun. [k.s. friday]

an ice field, this river. devoid of color, devoid of life. but below, it is teeming with fish, perhaps turtles, swimming, swimming, waiting for a thaw.

it is much like my studio. it, right now, is devoid of color, devoid of life. i suppose, like the river, it is teeming underneath. but, for the moment, it is an ice field.

i pass by my studio every day. some days i walk in to open the blinds, to allow the southern sun to fill the corners. i walk in later to close them, to keep out the cold and the dark. especially the dark.

my piano waits, swimming silently like the fish and the turtles; it is waiting for a thaw. mine.

i don’t know what’s next. the notes – scraps and notebooks – for the decades of composing and recording and songwriting i’ve done that used to pile all over the top of the keyboard, spilling into the body, slipping onto the strings under the full-stick lid-up, stacked on the bench – have been put away.

i don’t know what’s next. the music – for the decades of work i’ve done that used to pile all over the top of the keyboard, spilling into the body, slipping onto the strings under the full-stick lid-up, stacked on the bench – has been put away.

i don’t know what’s next. there’s a blank journal. a notebook. paper and a clipboard. pencils. an aspen leaf, a few high mountain rocks. there’s a peg from one of elton john’s pianos and a tiny sign that says “i came to live out loud”. waiting. the sun is gathering in the nooks and crannies and diligently pushes the dark cold away, waiting.

my footprints will fill in like these tracks on the river. the work i’ve done, the work i used to do, will fill in, will look less and less like footprints. little by little the wind will blow snow into the tracks and they will eventually dissolve into the rest.

and next will keep waiting. up the river. in the sun.

*****

music to download in the meantime, before next

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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weeping man. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

we watched global citizen’s concert ‘together at home’ on saturday night.  this virtual concert featured a wide spectrum of celebrities and musicians and raised about $128 million for the world health organization as well as local and regional frontline healthcare workers in support of covid-19 relief.  despite wildly varying opinions about this effort, i would have been proud to play in the midst of this.  it was about humanity.  some of it was pretty raw.  people were in their homes, many the likes of which i will never enter.  they were with their instruments, they were playing or singing songs they felt would resonate with those watching.  a few were, as expected, clearly voice-tracked.  a few were, as expected, a bit ego-tainted.  split-screen performances and technology raised the bar for musicians everywhere.  but it was a moment in time – eight hours in total between online and on-air – when you could see that all of us grieve and yearn the same way.  no matter the size of your mansion or tiny house, no matter the grammys on your shelf or the lack thereof, this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege.  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

THIS all exists.  for each of us.   it isn’t always good.  it isn’t always not-good.

there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of overwhelm, the moments of absolute weariness that, despite all evidence to the contrary in your tired mind and body, actually do lead to Next.  times you feel alone, times of sorting, times of grief, times of fragile vulnerability, times of regret.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

and there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of stunning awe, the moments of sheer exhaustion at your goal-line, moments that actually do lead to Next.  times you feel enamored of life itself, times of incredulity, times of unquestionable good fortune, times of serendipity, times of simple all-consuming sweet love.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

we recognize it.  we can feel it.  and we know that in another moment he -or she, for there is no pronoun-hogging here- will slowly raise his head out of his hands and Next will have arrived.  (reverse threading, and so he weeps, january 17, 2019)

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

to view or negotiate purchasing this painting, please visit the virtual gallery here

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 


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a flame through the night. [two artists tuesday]

tiki flame

we lit the torches about 5pm.  it was cold but not breezy and the lake was calm after several days of bigger surf.  it was the last night.

we sat on the back porch steps and watched the flame flicker.  we moved inside and watched it dance from the living room, a fire burning in the woodstove.  we checked the wind and the weather forecast and said goodnight to the torches late that night, flames glowing outside with boxes packed around us inside.  very early in the morning i could see the slightest of flame glimmering in the torches, the light of golden rising sun behind them.  all through the night.  they burned all through the night.

there was something profound about that for us – the flame that kept burning through the night.  i’m not sure i can speak to it.  i can just say that the welcome flame of the torches in the morning was calming, steadying, grounding.  indeed, the sun will set, night will descend, the sun will rise.  the flame continues.  light continues.

it was the last night on island, for now.  the first dawn of next.  and, as these things do – every sunrise and sunset – it has forever changed us.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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flame through the night image ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson