reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the waxing moon. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“the beauty of the earth is a constant play of light and dark, visible and invisible.” (beauty – john o’donohue)

i prefer to think of it as waxing, not waning. growing in illumination, not heading toward darkness. the moon on our ceiling just above the crown molding shows up from time to time. the conditions need be right, the lighting need be perfect. and then it’s there, waiting to be noticed. i ran for my camera the first time i noticed it, afraid the shadow-and-light interplay would quickly disappear.

like everything else around us – waiting to be noticed – we are always in choice about noticing or not. we can take the time or not. we can nuance our time to scurry past or we can slow down, just a little, to see.

i recently saw an article about spain, a country that embraces the siesta, a time of rest within the day. there is consideration there to move to a four-day work week in an effort to balance work and life. it is hard to imagine that there is much more important than paying attention to that balance. what else is living? why are we rushing through it?

i really love to take photographs. our hikes in the woods and walks in the ‘hood and time-just-being-time are punctuated with my stopping-stopping-stopping to grab a photo here or there. some things are just blatantly beautiful, visible and full of light. they need not beg to be captured on film. others are not so obvious. they are not so visible, darker, perhaps even invisible, courting imagination. on the trail they disappear silently behind the woods-models, the fashionable haute couture of the forest. instead, they are quiet and steadfast. they have a certain je ne sais quoi that cannot be easily named. and they are indeed beautiful.

on the trail, the tiniest pink petals rising from the decayed leaves, the green-and-green variegated leaves tucked behind the flowering shrub, the fallen tree – home to symbiotic white rot fungi – in and amongst the stately, the healthy. the thistles, dried and browned wildflowers, inosculated trees sharing soil, underbrush, like understudies, taking their usual back seat to the crowns of the woodland.

in our daily routine, the way the spring rain forms a heart-puddle on the patio, the way the snow piles on the wrought-iron table, the way rays through the miniblinds shadow the wall, the way barney ages in the backyard, the way wine glasses clinking catch the light, the way the quilt gathers the morning sun, and the way the light in the living room gifts us a waxing moon.

the balance of the obviously beautiful with the less-obviously, less-definitively beautiful.

we take a bit of time as we can – we slow down just a little as we are able – to make sure that we notice the play of light and dark, visible and invisible.

we look around us, through waxing and waning, standing in the light and the dark. to make sure we notice all the beauty of the earth.

*****

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


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here. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

joey coconato has an undying love and appreciation of this place – earth – in all its constant beauty, in all its ever-fluid beauty. we have hiked with him many, many late nights of this pandemic, breathing easier because he is trekking, climbing, scrambling. we are ready to rest at the end of his journeys, the end of videos that have fed our souls. his spirit is inimitable and he is a completely understated positive force in the world. he is a leader led, himself, by a willingness to not-know, to focus on what’s up-close and to focus on the big picture, to see more, to adventure into knowledge. he looks for the good. despite some extreme circumstances, we have not heard him, out on the trail, speak negatively nor have we heard him crabby. not one iota. his life-view seems to simplify it all into gratitude for every step. his point-of-view seems to simplify it all into a peaceful co-existence with all that is natural, all that is living. he does not participate with the same measuring stick that others wield. and for that, he is in calm harmony with the world.

he stood in the vastness one day, mountains and canyons all around him, surrounded by trees he loves and lakes the colors of which cannot be found even in crayola 64 boxes, and with awe in his voice uttered, “it has been here every single day of my life.” he looked around; we looked around with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

the days he backpacked the maroon bells were particularly close to us. my daughter, with her adventurer heart, took us on a hike up into the maroon bells area. to see joey hike there was to relive the moments we, with her, stood at lake’s edge or caught glimpses of the towering red rock through the trees of the trail. precious time. treasured. his days in canyonland national park brought me right back to moments with her, just us on the edge of the precipice, laughter echoing across the canyon walls. unbelievably vivid in my mind’s eye, i am beyond grateful.

it has been a source of amusement for david and kirsten to speak of the moments i well up and cry – those first moments of seeing the mountains in the distance, the approach into the canyon, the arches of sweeping rock. i am overcome in these times as i stand on dirt that has been there forever and, with our dedicated efforts to mitigate climate change, will be there forever. it’s overwhelming. the sense of timelessness, of vastness, of my tiny-ness. i realize i cannot presume anything but the moment at hand, but i am reminded we are each part of the big picture, no matter how many moments or how few we are a part of them. we are each part of the change that takes place because we breathe. this earth would not be the same without us…we are dust of its dust.

so when joey stands still and is awestruck remembering, i draw in my breath with him.

every single day of my life. it has been here.

*****

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


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a clinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i am a clinker. i simply cannot take a sip of wine without clinking.

last week we rediscovered that three wine glasses clinking sound infinitely different than two. for the better part of a year we have only clinked two, never a third, never a fourth. like many of you, the pandemic has prevented us from sharing a few moments with others, having a toast, sipping and talking together in the same space.

last spring, summer and fall, out in their backyard distanced by about ten feet, we had happy hour with our best friends. we sat in adirondack chairs on the patio or in the grass, under the setting sun or the giant-sized umbrella, hoping for a cool breeze or warming by the bonfire. we talked, we laughed, we visited in our little pod from far away. but we never clinked.

i clinked in october. we were in the high mountains at long last and my girl was holding a wine glass in the same space and we clinked. tiny cherished moments and glittering in their rarity. and then, just as there were months before, there were months after. the clinks-of-aspen have been ringing in my heart since those crisp fall days.

so the fact that this past week we clinked is a big deal. we have had both our vaccines and so has 20. we are all meticulously careful. and so, after much research, for the first time, he came over for dinner. inside. in our kitchen. it felt surreal and took a little getting used to. oddly for us, it’s been a long time since anyone was in our house besides us. it was a special clink and we laughed at how normal and abnormal it was. and then, the same story only different, after way too much time, we clinked with my boy. at his spectator counter in their beautiful kitchen, steps away from a table set for a dinner we would share. clink.

three more-than-two-glasses-clinks in about a year.

although there are several outdated and somewhat dark ancient and medieval reasons for clinking, the farmers’ almanac states that, “it is believed that clinking glasses was done during toasts, because sound helped to please all five senses, completing the drinking experience. drinking is also a coming together of friends, so by physically touching glasses, drinkers become part of a communal celebration.”

a communal celebration. the sound of community. things that have been missing this last year. it is clear we are all starved for time together. it is also clear that some people are just throwing in the towel. fatigued with isolation, tuckered out by a piece of cloth across their faces, they go and do whatever they please, scorning the wise advice of medical experts who warn of the possibility of “impending doom” and beg this country to abide by covid-19 safety parameters just a little longer. it’s hard to understand – the lack of concern for the collective. we do not exist in a vacuum, though it would seem that there are those out there who believe we do.

as we – d and i – gently and very slowly add to our experiences with others, i want to celebrate each and every one, never taking for granted being seated around a counter, never taking for granted what it feels like dining around our tiny kitchen table or with a fancy setting in the dining room, never taking for granted a houseful of people milling around eating and drinking, never taking for granted what it feels like for those dear to you to walk into your house and enjoy the presence of others, never taking for granted basking in community.

“i have big ears,” one of my long-lost-but-now-found-cousins said on the phone when we were talking, trying to catch up on everything since around 1970. i tried to reassure him i would not talk his ear off each time we spoke; it takes so many words to try and catch up, to reconnect, as i am discovering in conversation with him, another of my cousins – his sister – and my almost-99-year-old aunt. he laughed and reassured me, “no, no. it’s all good. i have big ears.”

were he here, my cousin tony standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine, i would clink with him and celebrate mightily that my community is growing in ways i would not have expected.

*****

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


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dog and cat. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

his best friend. he waits at the door for his best friend to return. his sorrow is quiet, subdued. his grief is confusion, dedication to a belief that babycat will come home. he has never been in this house without him – not even a day – and this last week has been heartwrenching to watch his reaction. his sadness is palpable, his loss profound.

the first few days after his babycat disappeared he was almost silent. dogdog is never a silent dog, so this was noticeable. without a sound, he looked everywhere for his cat. with lydia’s wise recommendation i tried to visualize for him all that had happened once his babycat had left the house, to give him some context, to let him know he did not have to wait, to tell him that his babycat was now in our hearts. he looked deeply into my eyes and then looked away, as if to dismiss my explanation, to hold close his own perspective, his own interpretation.

‘the boys’ spent the days together – every day since we brought dogdog home as a puppy. they’ve navigated through changes and ups and downs with us. they’ve kept us amused and entertained. they’ve nuzzled us in our times of angst. the rare times they were apart were very few times that we were on a trip. they moved to the littlehouse on island with us and adapted, finding mutual spots at the place where the kitchen met the living room and the sun streamed in. the noise of the ferry on the crossing scaring babycat, dogdog stayed close to him, signaling all was well. they channeled reassurance to each other, touchstones of steady, ever-present. they shared their water bowl and cheered each other on when it was time for treats. where one would go, ultimately the other would follow. and at the end of the day, butt-to-butt, they lay on the raft, waiting for us to sleep. babycat ruled. they were best friends.

last tuesday morning as i sipped coffee on the bed and babycat lay curled up down by my feet, dogga jumped up and laid down. gently, with all absence of play and what seemed in all seriousness, he moved his face over to babycat’s face. they laid nose to nose, heads on the soft old quilt, their hushed stillness, in retrospect, a clear display of their great love for each other. after a bit of time, babycat’s symptoms surfaced suddenly. and everything in the world changed for our sweet dedicated-to-his-cat aussie.

i understand dogdog’s quiet. though our presence and snugs and words to him might help, solace will only come in time. “woundedness is one of the places where normal words and descriptions break down.” grief is not limited to human hearts.

*****

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a bit damaged and blooming. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

spring? is that you??

the snow was piled high on our walk around the ‘hood. stepping carefully around icy patches and those unsightly mountains of dirty snow next to the road, we strolled for a couple of hours. it was still freezing-cold out and the wind on our faces was biting. but the sun was out and, with icicles hanging off houses and treacherous sidewalks, we were stunned when we came upon this sight – early bulbs rising out of frozen ground, in a sheltered and sunny spot on the south side of the street. a signal that there is a new season to come, we practically danced on the sidewalk.

i texted her a photo and asked linda what these bulbs were. a lover-of-all-flowers, she immediately wrote back, “daffodils, i think. they look a bit damaged. like they came up and then got snowed on.” i replied, “aren’t we all? a bit damaged?”

it’s been a long hard winter. a long fall before that. a long summer before that. and, well, you know about last spring. today, scrolling through facebook, i saw a post that read, “a year ago this was our last normal week and nobody knew it.” wow. we can’t help but be a bit damaged.

but now, we look to the sun each day and note the rising temperatures, little bit by little bit. we think about coffee on the deck and a glass of wine on the patio. we look forward to the muddy trails in our favorite parks. we know that, though some things haven’t changed and the bit-of-damage is still present, there is a horizon and we are headed that way.

the bulbs will bloom, no matter how much they get snowed on. and so will we.

*****

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the good old days. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

carly simon is – obviously – singing in my brain as i design this. “…anticipation, anticipay-ay-tion, is making me late….keeping me way-ay-ay-i-ting… …cause these are the good old days…”

for dogdog and babycat, these are the good old days. there is nothing more pressing than the treat in our hands, the invitation to go “on errands”, the lure of catnip, the tiny bite of potato from our breakfast plates. they are filled with anticipation.

this morning i heard of the passing of a young woman who was in a youth group i directed decades ago now. i easily remember her. back then we called her missi and she was full of smiles and adventure. though i haven’t seen her in the decades that have passed, it is stunning and sad, as it always is in loss, to think of her not on this earth. those days of youth group were most definitely good old days, surrounded by eager teenagers of promise.

“we can never know about the days to come/but we think about them anyway/and i wonder if i’m really with you now/or just chasing after some finer day…”

i wonder, as we look back, what we will also see as the good old days. are they the days of great accomplishment, of awards or the moments precious few like lottery hits? or are they the days of car rides on back roads with no important destination? are they the hikes in the woods with no concern about speed or distance? are they the days of anticipatory youth or the days of contented age? are they days with the lack of pretense, the lack of measure, the lack of self-criticism?

the dog and the cat do not partake in de-constructive evaluation. if dogdog utters a quiet grumble at babycat for getting too close to his bone, he watches us remove his bone from the spot and clearly is – momentarily – remorseful as we issue a stern “no!” he does not linger there, however. he simply moves on to the next moment, the look on his face is gleeful expectation of whatever is next. he nudges his babycat adoringly, respectfully. he is living each good old day as they come, seemingly regretting none. there is no checklist for him; it just is.

“so i’ll try to see into your eyes right now/and stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.”

i will try to remember this: despite any angst that lingers in the air or in our hearts, it would serve me well to anticipate the sun of a new day, each new day, ready to slurp it up like dogdog and babycat, because it is – undoubtedly – one of the good old days.

*****

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bareback and honest. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

calm.

the mug calls for calm.

yet, in these times, calm is elusive. it is the floating dust glistening in sunlight. it is the golden ray through the cloud. it is the snowflakes silently falling in the woods. it is the sound of soft laughter, the sound of the dog’s feet running in dreams and the cat snoring in slumber. it is hard to hold onto, hard to touch; it is hard to find.

in these times, with coffee in our hands, we start the new day. we wake, wishes and burdens on our minds, both. the things that kept us awake in the middle of the night, the things that pushed us into sleep: exhausting, worrisome, celebratory, quietly reassuring, sleep-depriving, sleep-inducing. we start the morning, on the roller coaster, one of us holding the “calm” mug.

we have found that – the conversations over-morning-coffee, the conversations over evening-wine, the conversations on the trail, in the sunroom, at the kitchen counter – these conversations need a little help, a little preface, a tiny guideline. for him, a guy, though not a-macho-guy-type-still-a-guy-nonetheless, he is looking to solve. for me, a girl, well, i am looking to just talk, to just go on, to be redundant, to vent. we discovered early on that any talk-talk could easily dissolve into ugly if we didn’t clarify a few things, well, really one thing, first. was this a conversation where i wanted comfort or solutions? was this a conversation where i wanted him to listen or problem-solve?

i honestly can say these two questions – just this simple strategy – could have saved many a relationship moment dating back decades and decades. it took me way too long to realize this glaringly obvious simplicity – that men and women, women and women, men and men – any two people in relationship – approach from vastly disparate directions. i am riding my feisty mare in from the rising sun in the east and he is galloping on a sassy stallion from the setting sun in the west. meeting in the middle ground requires a little gps-ing, dispensing of the drawn word-swords and negotiating some clarity shortcuts. that simple. that makes all the difference.

in these times, though calm is illusory, we find that we can be in this world of unknowns mostly by just being. solutions are hiding with the calm, behind puzzling shadows.

but comfort, listening, empathy are right out in the open, in that field of possibility between the rising sun and the setting sun, riding a steady quarter horse, bareback and honest.

*****

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#pow. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” (paul theroux)

ten inches already. that’s what the weather app says. another several on the way. it’s stunning out. snow-magic everywhere.

my phone camera log has many, many photographs of snow. a lot of these are from my daughter, a professional snowboard coach and instructor and an avid and passionate snow-girl in the high mountains of colorado. every one of them makes me yearn to be there…in the snow-covered fallow of winter, the time of energy storing up underground ready to burst forth in spring and bring new life, a new day.

yet climate change barrels forward, knocking down the door. “we have arrived at a moment of decision. our home – earth – is in grave danger. what is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.” (al gore)

global warming threatens. the last five years were the hottest on record and CO2 levels are historic. the trends are dangerous. the weather is extreme. the long-term effects of decisions we make now will change the trajectory of what is possible and impossible for our children, their children, the children of their children. we, each of us, need be responsible.

“protect our winters POW was started in 2007 by pro snowboarder jeremy jones, who witnessed first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize passionate outdoor people to educate others about the growing problem of climate change and its negative effects on the environment, to protect the places and lifestyles they love. POW is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies that protect our world today and for future generations.” (protectourwinters.org)

2021. i cannot imagine – in recent years – a time when recovery and preparation were more vitally necessary, more heartbreakingly essential and when potential disaster was more imminent. we face down the raging pandemic, politicial chaos, heartless social injustices, vitriol echoing from one coast of star-spangled-banner-land to the other, wild and extreme weather events, bitter fallout from any and all of these.

the fallow of this winter need be rich with nutrients to conquer the acerbic byproducts of this time. the snow will help, i hope. yes, the fallow. this long, long winter. maybe snowmelt in the spring will reveal a wash of positive movement, rejuvenation, renewal.

“i don’t want your hope. i don’t want you to be hopeful. i want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire.” (greta thunberg)

it is our earth – graciously granted to us for a time. it is our absolute obligation – imperative for the future, any future – to act. like it matters.

“perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.” (auden schendler)

“the eyes of all future generations are on you…” (greta thunberg)

yes, greta. and what will each of us choose to do?

eleven inches now. we celebrate each flake.

*****

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

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wishbones in the woods. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we received a letter from the energy company that tree pruning may be required on our property. there is one tree that is closer to power lines than any others. this tree is out front and has been there the entire three decades plus that i have been here.

this old tree invited my children to climb it, was the source of limbs we used for christmas trees, shaded the front yard and gardens through the years. i watched this tree change through the seasons out the window as i rocked my children in the nursery; i’ve taken pictures of it with snow stacked up against its trunk. i’ve pondered what to do in the area around its roots, which rise above the surface of the ground; i’ve given up planting around it and allowed it to just co-exist with the dirt and scant grass. this tree has lost limbs in recent years and has some interior rotting causing some breakage to bear no leaves. but this is the source of long-time wisdom which has welcomed me home each time i’ve pulled into the driveway. each time i silently thank this tree and breathe a little bit easier to be at this place so familiar to me. i am wondering now if this is the tree. it pains me to think of this old tree pruned beyond recognition or, worse yet, taken down entirely. if indeed this is the case, i would hope to have pieces of this tree to save – slices as chargers for under dinner plates or even just simply a limb to wrap with happy lights and place in a spot of honor inside. yes. i am wondering if this is the tree.

the tree in the woods off the trail we follow was one that collected snow, its face to the wind. we hadn’t noticed it before; it blended into the rest of the woods and fallen trees. but, with snow on its bows it was clearly a wishbone, and, obviously, making a wish, i hiked into the underbrush to get a closer photo.

i wonder how often we pass by trees – and perhaps every living thing and perhaps people – without noticing them for what they are or who they are. how often do we turn a blind eye to that which is familiar or that which blends without any outstanding characteristic? it is possible that we participate in life more peripherally than we ought, more aloofly than the stuff of life deserves. the merit of each bow, each limb, each living thing, each person, is lost in our pursuit of next.

in the still threadiness of our hearts, perhaps slowing down and looking more closely might yield stronger connection to that which we understand, that which is familiar, that which we know well. more importantly, perhaps it might yield stronger connection to that which we don’t understand, that which is not familiar and that which we don’t know well. an opportunity to discard apathy and discuriousness and embrace old trees by the driveway and wishbones in the woods.

*****

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the reins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

my nine-year-old hands held the reins loosely. i was riding lucky, a big bay horse at the stable. it was the day we would take our horses out on the trail. i had hoped to ride mardigras, a stunning black horse with a white star tucked under its forelock. but lucky it was.

we rode out of the paddock and turned uphill toward the woods. nose-tail-nose-tail-nose-tail we rode silently, leather saddles squeaking under our tiny bodies. into the woods, our instructor let us separate out a bit, a little less interstate-traffic-jam-like, and we could each breathe a bit, enjoying the freedom of no fencing with our horses. lucky tossed his head and i bent down from my english riding posture to hug on his neck, running my hands under his mane. it was a beautiful day and i could think of nothing better to hold in my hands than the reins of a horse.

eventually we turned back toward the barn.

and in that moment, lucky pulled hard. the reins i had draped around my hands, thumbs properly placed, were wrenched from me. and lucky ran.

no one had told me ahead of time that lucky really loved the return trip to the barn. no one had mentioned that lucky, when turned downhill, would likely take his head, would likely run. no one had suggested that i pay closer attention to the reins when we were back-to-the-barn-bound.

i had never galloped before, but i was treated to lucky’s fastest gait going downhill. holding on with my knees as hard as i could i wished there was a western pommel i could grasp. i was at the mercy of this horse and he was having no mercy.

the barn came into view and lucky screeched to a stop. in the fluid move of a great white lipizzan, lucky reared up onto his hind legs and threw me to the ground. a defining moment indeed, hitting the ground. lucky, dragging his reins behind him, swaggered to the feed trough next to the barn and began to eat.

my instructor was soon at my side. she stood me up, checked me over, gave me a hug and walked me to another horse, giving me a quick peptalk on the way. she held out her hands linked together, gently but firmly asked me to place my foot into her shoe-up and immediately got me on another horse. overcome it.

and that brings me to today, a day i wish i could sit astride a horse and ride off into the woods.

nevertheless, i remember the words of sue aikens, “this will define me or i will overcome it,” and i, horse or no horse, take the reins in the middle of no-mercy and firmly hold them in my hands.

*****

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