reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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mini-marshmallows and gogo boots. [merely-a-thought monday]

if you are wondering where mini marshmallows come from, wonder no more. clearly they grow on white baneberry bushes in dr. seuss-land. passing it on the trail i could not get over how oh-the-places-you’ll-go this bush was. a standout in a green forest floor, confidently colorful and nicknamed “doll’s eyes” for obvious vintage-china-doll reasons, it got my attention and it piqued my curiosity.

we watched a silly movie a couple nights ago. my sweet momma loved sandra bullock so every time i watch a sandra bullock movie i feel like my mom is right there with us, giggling or cheering her on. the movie was “all above steve” co-starring bradley cooper. its silliness is comedic fun, particularly on an evening we were not looking to be intellectually challenged. but there was an unexpectedly sweet message in this movie. mary (sandra bullock), a brilliant young woman who is a crossword puzzle constructor and has a brain full of random knowledge and would kick anyone’s patootie playing trivial pursuit, is trying to be “normal” to fit into the world. in the end she discovers the power of standing in her own shoes, which were, in her case, red gogo boots.

artists are often looked at as misfits, a little outside the box, not quite fitting in. perhaps more colorful, perhaps louder, perhaps more questioning, the job of an artist is to elicit movement in thought, in action, in emotion, in sensitivity. we are hot-pink-stemmed mini-marshmallow plants in a world of green underbrush, ever being told that exposure will grant us the ability to live in this world, to pay our bills, to get ahead. artists everywhere under the sun shudder upon hearing those words, “think about the exposure.” we don our courageous metaphoric gogo boots, go to town trying to be ‘normal’ and realize that we were really ok all along, in our own skin.

often i have heard others comment on the re-purposed stuff in our house. empty window frames, screen doors, travel-worn suitcases, branches wrapped in lights, old coffeepots doubling as canisters. we’ve been asked, “how did you think of that?” i don’t know how to answer that other than “how couldn’t i?”

i’m guess i’m not ‘normal’. in the world of christian louboutin and jimmy choo footwear desires, i’m wearing old navy flipflops and hundreds-of-miles hiking boots. in a world of oscar de la renta and ralph lauren aficionados, i’m wearing my dad’s old flannel shirt and jeans. in a world of cle de peau beaute and guerlain and creme de la mer, my face is lucky to see an oil of olay original and coppertone 30spf combo.

and i, just like artists everywhere, love to be reminded, time to time, that we were all born to stand out. each and every one of us. artist or not. no matter the road we walk. no matter the red gogo boots or hot-pink stems. stand out. in our own skin.

mini-marshmallow, anyone?

*****

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


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normal. in waiting. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

when we went to hippy tom’s farm and wandered around, browsing, i was overwhelmed by feeling like we were inside a sickness – a hoarding personality – and i felt trapped and breathless. it was too much for me. we drew in deep lungs full of air when we left, shedding the layers of dusty disorder. we were fortunate; we never had to return there. we wished him, the sale of his inordinately massive barns-full and sheds-full and yards-full of stuff well, and left, returning to some degree of normalcy, some degree of air on the county highway back home.

these past four years have felt that way. we have been trapped inside the narcissistic and delusional sickness of the president of the united states. we have hovered in the dark recesses of his self-indulgence and in the rhetoric of his hate-speech, his divisiveness, his zeal to promote violence. we have lingered in his vitriol.

we are a nation, in its spacious skies, its amber waves, its purple mountain majesty, that needs air.

the words of joe and jill biden on thanksgiving made me weep. words of unity, words of solidarity, words of hope, words of recognition of the need to heal. these words, spoken by people who feel like real people rather than physical manifestations of psychological sickness, are words that inspire. the president-elect and the first-lady, in waiting.

we look to this light. new times. new leadership. new air.

and we are grateful. for normal. simply that. normal.

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


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this land was made for you and me. [d.r. thursday]

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i played “this land is your land, this land is my land” on the ukulele the other day.  were woody guthrie to be alive, he may have added another verse to this song, this one depicting the russian roulette game that people in this country are playing with the coronavirus.

it’s astounding.

these are NOT normal times, no matter how much you might want to ignore that little fact. and since these are NOT normal times, you should be mindfully considering at-great-length anything you want to do that IS normal.

“from california to the new york island. from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”  when was the last time that it occurred to you that what you do affects others?  was it today?  was it last week? was it ever? what amount of sacrifice are you willing to take in order to protect others and yourself and put this country on a healing trend so that things MIGHT be able to be normal again SOME day?

are you out at the bars?  are you at a restaurant, maskless, ordering from your masked server without a care in the world except whether you would rather the sparkling water or the tap?  are you having dinner parties, group gatherings, barbecues in your backyard?  are you on vacation?  are you talking out of one side of your mouth and acting out of the other?  are you duplicitous; do you want people to believe you are being careful and mindful, but on the other hand, it is your life after all……    are you putting anyone in harm’s way?  are you renting cabins in small remote towns that have hospital/medical systems that would be stricken by a surge in numbers, something that you might bring there, even inadvertently?  are you at the beach?  the club?  the public pool?  are you making plans to go to disney as soon as it opens?  are you wearing a mask when you are outside your home? are you social distancing?  do you really care?  or are you like so many people – irked by any degree of self-sacrifice, believing you are an entity unto yourself?  are you buying into conspiracy theories and falsehoods?  do you think this global pandemic is overblown?  do you feel inconvenienced?  do you think we should just throw caution to the wind and take-our-chances?  are you upholding ignorance?  are you mimicking the repulsive behavior of a president who doesn’t care about anything but his re-election and will spout off lies to your face, your actual face?

“when the sun came shining and i was strolling, and the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling, as the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting:  this land was made for you and me.”

for you and me.  there’s a responsibility there.

today my daughter told me that someone called her an asshole when she asked them to as-per-the-law-where-she-is put on a mask to enter the shop.  and SHE’S the asshole???  this person could not put a small piece of cloth over their nose and mouth to protect others and my daughter is the asshole???

because of this person and their apathetic incomprehension and their unconscionable extraordinarily selfish behavior – repeated ad nauseam across the land that’s made for you and me – i cannot see my beloved daughter.  “it’s a pandemic,” she wrote.  “all the respectful tourists stayed at home.”  she is at risk.  the numbers are rising where she is and the people who should stay in their states-with-exponential-growth and wait-to-travel are populating her area in droves.  without a care in the world.  without giving a flying flip.  and with no shame.  and so it’s not safe there.  how dare they.

“this land was made for you and me.”  act like you belong in a community, like you belong in a country, like what happens to people across the land affects you too, like you care even an ounce for others.  it’s actually pretty simple:  don’t be an asshole.

i’m tired.  as in – exhausted.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“a little normal would be nice.” [merely-a-thought monday]

normal with frame

normal is up for grabs.

in the middle of my meltdown yesterday, i’m sure i uttered, “i just want normal.”

but normal is subjective now.

there is a deep schism between the normal of the of-course-i’ll-wear-a-mask-maskers and the it’s-against-my-constitutional-rights-to-make-me-wear-a-mask-non-maskers.  a deep schism between the sides of the aisle.  a deep schism over this global pandemic, the economy, healthcare, equality, blatant racism.  a deep schism over confederate monuments.  a deep schism over basic respect.  a deep schism over truth.

a chasm of difference.  it makes me wonder what, if anything, can bridge it, what can create a common story, what can make us a populace that cares about each other?

scrolling through facebook is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country doing normal stuff:  eating at restaurants, having drinks at bars, gathering with friends, going on trips, boating, fishing, at the beach or the pool, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

driving downtown is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country just-down-the-road doing normal stuff:  eating inside and outside at captain mike’s, gathering at eichelmann beach, hanging out at the lakefront, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

trying to plan anything is depressing.  we need to go to see david’s parents.  i desperately need to see My Girl and My Boy.  there are so many details to keep each other safe.  there’s nothing normal.  it’s freaking confusing.  we plot the trip west, a roadtrip, thinking about 19 hours across the middle of the country, thinking about arriving at my at-risk-in-laws’ house, having not picked up any additional possibility of passing covid-19 to them.  where do we stop safely?  where do we get gas?  where do we use restrooms?  how can we be sure they will not be recipients of anything we bring along?  we care.

and yet, there is the rest of the country – the ones screaming at city hall meetings, the ones seeking judgement against requiring masks-for-safety, the ones who throw pointed word-daggers arguing against the danger of this pandemic, the ones arguing for other causes of death, the ones voting out all precautions for the state of wisconsin, the ones who stand in front of the entire country and arrogantly (and without a grain of truth) state, “we’ve flattened the curve!”  how is it that the leadership of this country gets away with this?  no wonder half of the country wears no mask, states and does whatever they damn well please. WHAT pandemic?

it’s depressing.  missing the moments that make up life – chances to easily be with family, friends.  chances to have a bite out without worrying about aerosols.  chances to sing with others, to sing for others.  chances to go to concerts and plays.  chances to gather around a kitchen table or the island at your best friends’.  chances to stop and hug your decades-long neighbor.  chances to hold your grown-up children and kiss them and make them roll their eyes.  happy hour with friends crowded onto a deck.  parties in the backyard.  normal stuff.

it was on a marquee outside a store, “a little normal would be nice.”

i couldn’t agree more.

i told tom i had a really hard day yesterday.  he said, “you have to grieve.”

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

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the tape box. [two artists tuesday]

bcat tape box copy

i’m not sure why babycat thought we expected him to go sit in the square.  but he did.  jen had told us about this experiment….put blue tape on the floor and see what your cat does.  laughing, we tried it.  and b-cat cooperated.  it wasn’t minutes after the tape was on the floor that he entered the kitchen, looked at it and went directly to it.  he sat his sweet hulking body down inside that tape-box and eventually he laid down inside it (although he was definitely coloring outside the lines, so to speak.)  it was astounding to watch.  this is a cat, after all.  and yes, he has really loved the dogbed in the sunroom and the crest box in the sitting room, but a box made of painter’s tape?  we just didn’t expect him to conform so readily.

most of the time, b-cat lives his life outside the box.  he acts more like a dog than a cat; i had never had a cat before him so i taught him all sorts of dog-tricks.  babycat doesn’t really know the difference, although were he to look it all up, he would see ‘follows the sun around the house’ was in the rule book for cats, not dogs.  but this one evening, with no prompt from us, he decided to stay inside the box.  he sat, he laid down, he purred in his sleep.  he was content.  inside the box wasn’t too bad, i guess.   later on, though, when the tape was off the floor, he didn’t seem to notice it was gone.  he never looked for it.  he didn’t seem to pine for its presence in his life.  he just went about his not-normal-cat behavior.  outside the box.

i guess there is something to be said both about living in the box and living outside the box.  both have merit.  one encourages you to be the cat you are defined to be.  the other allows you to be the dog no one expects you to be.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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o christmas tree, o christmas tree

three years ago the boy and his best friend and i went to the christmas tree farm. there was a lot of snow and we ran through it, dodging each other’s snowballs. plodding around, we found the ‘perfect’ tree and an extra little one to go upstairs as well. the boy and pierre sawed them down, we loaded the big tree on top of the car, drove home and had hot chocolate before digging out the tree stand from the basement. this ‘perfect’ tree held white lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

IMG_2828two years ago d.dot and i were standing with the boy in the snow out in the field and the boy said, with disdain, “not THAT one!” he was talking about a christmas tree we had moseyed over to, a christmas tree that was speaking to the ‘youtwoarenotnormal’ in us. the boy wanted a ‘normal’ tree – one that had a ‘normal’ shape – one that looked ‘normal’ – the kind of tree that everyone associates with all the hallmark movies and norman rockwell christmas plates. and so, since we had driven in his car and he vowed to make us walk home from the christmas tree farm in freezing temperatures, we obliged his wish for a ‘normal’ tree. and it was beautiful. it had ridiculously sharp needles (we later named it ‘satan’) but it held white christmas lights proudly and it felt like a celebration.

last year the boy wasn’t there when we went to the christmas tree farm. so that meant that two artists were let loose in the fields. dangerous. we stomped through the snow and mud, laughing and looking at every single tree there. it wasn’t all that cold out, and the light was streaming throIMG_3997ugh the fir branches. it was glorious. we found our tree in the back of the farm. we nicknamed it ‘christmas-tree-on-a-stick’. (if you ever go to the minnesota state fair, as the boy and the girl and i did a few years back, you will find literally everyyyything on a stick.) this tree had a long trunk with no branches – about 3-4 feet up- and then the tree part started. everyone who saw it, loved it. it was a ‘perfect’ tree…a ‘perfect’ tree on a stick and it held white christmas lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

this year we drove past the christmas tree farm to see if it was still there. the land is for sale – 34 acres of oasis in town – but it is still there for all who want to have an adventure and find their ‘perfect’ tree. we didn’t stop right then; we planned on coming back another time. we laughed, pondering what this year’s tree would look like. it was likely we would pick out something even more ummm….artsy….than last year. we knew the boy would be thrilled. ha.

one morning, a few days after that, we took a walk. as we approached our home there was a big branch in the street that had somehow been knocked off the big tree in our front yard, a tree that has been there forever. this tree has been in so many pictures through the years. it has towered over the girl and the boy as they grew. it has been the base of snow forts, the shade for the summer, the harbinger of budding spring coming, the last tree to lose leaves in the fall. when i rocked the girl and boy as babies in the nursery, it was this tree i could see out the window, this tree that i see in my mind’s eye, this tree marking the changing of the seasons, the growing of children, the movement of time. i looked over at the branch in the street and then ran to get it. looking at d.dot i said,”what about this? this could be the perfect christmas tree for us this year.” we laughed and brought it inside so that it could dry out a bit. a couple of days ago, we placed it in the christmas tree stand, wrapped burlap around the bottom, aphoto-3nd stood back to look.   this branch, this piece of history, this year’s christmas tree – is holding white christmas lights -and a little metal star- proudly and is a celebration.

sometimes it is the simplest things.

 

 

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