reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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flannel people. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“…eat bread and understand comfort….” (mary oliver – to begin with, the sweet grass)

flannel is like that. flannel shirts, flannel sheets, flannel pjs. the touch of flannel on our skin and we become swaddled babies, small children held in the arms of a loved one, cozied, reassured, comforted.

though there are expensive flannel sheets ‘out there,’ our flannel sheets are from target. two sets of them now. both soothing, serene, bread-like.

we sat in paris – on park benches, cathedral steps, in the grass – with baguettes and cheese, bottles of wine, olives. when i think of paris now, i think of this…comfort – sinking in to the place, like sinking in to flannel sheets on a cold winter’s night, gordon lightfoot’s webs of snow drifting outside our window. i wonder how we could have had a better time – i know…the butter, the starred eateries, the crepes, the cuisine. but we are flannel people, i suppose, and we learned – for us – the way to really feel paris was to sit on its steps, in its parks, in the grass. it was to shop its markets, its boulangeries, its tiny groceries. it was to simplify and to feel the flannel.

because we ate bread and understood.

“…i have become older and, cherishing what i have learned, i have become younger….” (mary oliver)

*****

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


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millinery musings. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

littlebabyscion wore the lighted tree like a sparkling bejeweled crown. the tree was the guide back to our little xb in a very crowded parking lot. littlebabyscion wore it proudly.

i’m not much of a hat-wearer. i have those 180-earmuffs and wear those mostly. i think that my face looks like a smushed pear if i wear a hat and – the other day when i tried to describe to david what my hair does when i pull on a hat – i could only verbalize it with sounds – like mwuhhh! – the sound that might demonstrate the smushing down of long hair around my long face pulled over my long forehead. goodness! so.much.long. not enough round.

i gaze around at how very delightful other gals look in hats. i mean, some women wear hats like there’s no tomorrow. stunning, adorable, beguiling, you-name-it…they can really carry off a hat. me? i have a nordic face and my thank-you-poppo-dad’s forehead and the non-thick blonde hair of someone in my ancestry. not to mention these jowls that appeared a year or so ago. don’t worry…i won’t go on and on about those again. i am vowing to go on and on less. to me. to others. to the universe. my jowls are teaching me a lesson. “be less jowlish,” they say. i will leave it to you to decide what that means. for i do not want to go on and on.

so, suffice it to say, a crown would not be my best accessory. an adornment such as that sort of requires thick hair that doesn’t really tousle easily. i fail on both accounts. i do not wake like women waking in movies. (nor do they, i suspect.) instead, i wake and look like i have pretty much slept on my head or have sleep-wandered outside and found myself in a windstorm before moseying back under the covers. clearly i am a peaceful sleeper.

i do love the idea of a hat, though. and back in the day – during the forehead-bangs of the 1990s – i wore many a fine hat. a flat-brimmed black felt hat, a kelly green felt upturned-brim bucket hat, a paddy cap, a cowboy hat…once on, they were my companions for the whole entire day as hat-hair is a thing to which one does not want to expose others. it was my millinery period of time and i still have the hats in hatboxes in my studio closet. one never knows when hat-juju might strike.

and so, the two winter hats i have call my name every now and then.

we got out of littlebabyscion to go hike the trail. it was cold and really damp, a deep chill. i pulled the hat-with-the-biggest-pompom-you’ve-ever-seen over my head and reveled in the instant warmth. there is definitely something to be said about this whole-head-hat-thing as opposed to the 180s.

i pulled on my miracle mittens, looked at my reflection in the car window and began to walk away from the parking lot.

but not before i could hear littlebabyscion stifling a guffaw, trying hard not to laugh.

*****

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


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marvel. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i wonder if the tree looked in the mirror and counted rings, pondering the impetus behind each one, the reasons for the wrinkles of years, ever-forming, ever-widening. it is doubtful that the tree gazed, searching the rearview mirror for clues, connective tissue, remembrances of angst or sublime moments. it seems more likely that the tree just accepted each concentric ring, the truth of time. it seems more likely that the tree recognized the steady strength it gained for each ring, the rootedness each ring-wrinkle brought to it.

it would seem that this could be a good lesson from nature for us. the natural, raw, untouched passing of time shown on our faces, each beautiful in aging. we could acknowledge the years and the easy and the hardships. we could bow to the accumulation of moments, time flying by as we gather minutes in our embrace. we could turn toward each other, accepting and without judgment, full of grace and care, measuring only our love for each other, unbiased by wrinkles or rings, color or patina. we could tenderly touch the faces of our beloveds and marvel.

*****

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


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both-and. [merely-a-thought monday]

ricko and nick could be friends. they are on the same page…that trite-but-true one of potentiality.

in “my big fat greek wedding” nick portokalos quotes dear abby, “don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.” out in the middle of the arctic tundra, ricko dewilde firmly states, “the best way to lose an opportunity is to believe it’s not there.”

john denver in “looking for space” lyrics writes,

“on the road of experience
join in the living day
if there’s an answer
it’s just that it’s just that way

when you’re looking for space
and to find out who you are
when you’re looking to try and reach the stars
it’s a sweet, sweet, sweet dream
sometimes i’m almost there
sometimes i fly like an eagle
and sometimes i’m deep in despair…”

we are all out there – looking for space. no matter the ladder rung, no matter the age, no matter the skill level, no matter the lifeline of work and education and privilege and lack thereof, no matter the past, no matter what we believe, no matter the matter we are looking for space. the place to stand and breathe and be exactly who we are.

this week i flew like an eagle. this week i was deep in despair. i would guess – were we all to be candid – there were many with me up in that eagle-sky and many with me scrambling in muddy-despair. it’s both-and. life is a correlative conjunction.

and – in that infinitely latent and screaming way of possibility – the space we inhabit on this good earth is full of it.

*****

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


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dasher. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the thumb-push-up-puppet collection sits idle in a basket…those characters and animals with a wooden platform and a button underneath the base that you push and they collapse and rebound and dance and, if you practice enough, you can keep the beat with just one appendage without moving the rest – talking from experience, of course. but playing – literally playing – with dasher and blitzen have made me want to unearth the basket and dust those babies off.

there is not much that’s funnier than watching six adults racing wind-up reindeer across a coffee table racetrack. each of us cheered and sneered at our reindeer, watching them spin and go the wrong way, teeter off the table, fall over and race for the finish line. you would think that dasher might have an advantage – with his name and all – but dasher was my reindeer and must not have self-actualized yet. he never won a race. but there’s still time. he will not be limited to holidayseason2022. when it’s time, we will store him away – with blitzen, so he is not lonely – until next year’s festivities. maybe by then he will be ready, his confidence will be restored, his winning juju amped up, his luck turned upside down, like a frown to a smile. oh yes. i still have hope.

more than anything else in this season, my favorite gift has been laughter. the kind of laughter when your ribs begin to hurt and your cheeks are sore from your face in smile-mode. i have loved any play – so generative, so rejuvenating, so rooting, so opening. the reminder to not take yourself so ridiculously seriously. each of these moments of this short and so-fast life count and i’d rather remember laughing with beloveds and family and friends more than much of anything else.

i’m thinking the push-up puppets need to see the light of day.

*****

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


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shooting stars. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we know we are not alone. we know there are many other people who face many other challenges. we are merely two of them. we, like the others, face the challenges somewhat weary, yet stalwart, keep walking, and wish for better times.

the lights – all around us – full of glittering dazzle – are full of hope. shreds of twinkle and candoit. it is no wonder we keep happy lights all year round. these things always happen just when you are relaxing into breathing a little.

when i lost my job in november a couple years ago – right before thanksgiving and just before the start of advent leaning into the holiday season we were shocked. shocked because of the circumstances. shocked because it came out of nowhere. shocked because i had no warning. shocked because it actually felt mean-spirited. shocked because of, well, the hypocrisy. we couldn’t believe the action and we really couldn’t believe the timing.

but now, we both have lost our jobs in late november. and – like the last time, though circumstances are entirely different – it is no less shocking. the fact of the matter is that it – excuse the vernacular – sucks. really any time at all. but in a season of generosity, a time of light and hope and giving, a holiday full of warmth and expectation and love-one-another, this kind of loss is dismal.

our bootstraps are frayed and so are our heartstrings. yet, e.e. stands in the living room, beautiful. the dining room table is laden with packages to wrap and ribbons and tape. the old wrought iron railing outside our front door is adorned with evergreen garland and white lights and the radio is tuned to 93.9, the chicago christmas station. we keep listing gratitudes.

walking in our neighborhood and along the waterfront we are surrounded by lights and walking in the woods by icy displays glinting from the briefest moments of sunlight. there are meaningful symbolic reasons for lights, reasons why people decorate trees and light candles on menorahs, sing carols and recite blessings and festoon their homes.

it is a welcome byproduct of these rituals that “the lights can also trigger dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain”(matt barbour) and that “with these bright experiences with lights, we do have the physiological response from the nervous system that helps make us more alert, more aware, and can bring about these feelings of happiness,” said dr. terry pettijohn.

i don’t remember the shooting stars by the museums on the waterfront from previous years. but you can bet we are wishing on them.

*****

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


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slowww. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it happened.

one of those.

he was going on and on about – fictitiously – going to steinhafel’s (a big furniture store) or ashley furniture or colder’s and finding a giant twenty-drawer-dresser. and then he would find a hutch to go on top of this enormous dresser. and it would all go in the bedroom – in lieu of most everything else in there, including the bed. he went on about how then i would have a dresser with the vaaaaaaast amount of space i had talked about/pined for/whined over and we would sleep on the rug in the living room on blow-up air mattresses, practicing for our thru-hikes.

he had me in stitches as he described this, in the middle of which i snorted.

now – that is good living – snorting while laughing.

and there – in the fleeting instants of this dresser-fantasy – was one of those moments.

it might be easy to forget – to pass by – the dresser-scheming, the fictitious dresser to fix all my dresser inadequacies, the dresser-to-rise-above-all-dressers – but the belly-laughing and the need to hold my ribs and the participation in the high-brow voice deeming my new fancy dresser worthy – these were not forgettable. and the look on his face – total seriousness, a dedication to making my dresser-dreams come true – was priceless.

you just can’t walk on by without noticing.

the moon was almost full on the way home from milwaukee. we pointed and ooh-ed and ahhh-ed at it. it rarely escapes us, unless behind the curtain of drab clouds that has been hanging around. the stars, the sun, happy lights on fences and porch railings…they make us all dreamy-like.

i’m guessing we notice the little stuff even more when the big stuff is in peril. the way setting sun makes cattails glow. the way pistachio shells still connected but sans nut look like talking heads or pac-man. the way it feels to see a smile on either child. the way his hand feels on the small of my back, steadying me. the way dogdog has started kissing us. a note from someone about an album or a song. the familiar creak on the stairs and the mindless latch-release opening a pantry of food. the eye doctor telling us we “seem pretty good” together. tiny kindnesses and big generosities. going on a little adventure and coming home.

after richard curtis left our dinner together – monday’s post – he wrote us a handwritten note. handwritten…like those notes and all those letters i have saved from my sweet momma or those tiny scraps of paper from my children from when they were little or, really, any time at all.

in his note – ok, not really, but i would surely guess this were there to be a note (and, for that matter, a dinner) – he wrote, “remember…don’t pass by too fast.”

slowww. we will go slow.

*****

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


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section-hike to chicago. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

over here, by one of the great great lakes, it is mostly flat. when you drive a bit south – toward chicago – particularly on the back roads – you will find ravines punctuating the landscape, gorgeous woods with deep cuts, gullies likely carved by streams into glacial moraines with bluffs high above the lake. i can’t imagine choosing the interstate over these roads and, if time allows, we are avid believers in the back ways.

most of the places we hike in our area do not present elevation gain as a challenge. instead, we have to do distance to make up the exercise gap. i’ve been a sea-level-girl pretty much my whole life – from a where-i’ve-lived standpoint – so when we are faced with elevation gain i have to do a bit of acclimatizing to get any kind of mountain legs or lungs. long island, florida, wisconsin – clearly, none of these are known for their mountain peaks.

we hadn’t ever walked the bike trail on the south side of the illinois border. we parked littlebabyscion near the entrance of the bike trail in some neighborhood – much to the chagrin of a woman walking her dog who – clearly – immediately had her suspicions about these two people exiting their vehicle – having parked their good-grief-it’s-a-2006-vehicle-ewww on the end of the road in this upscale ‘hood – for the trail. i started to walk to the trail and went back, wrote a cheery note “hi. we are just walking on the bike path,” finished it with a happy face and placed it in full view in the windshield. for the first hour or so of hiking i worried if we would get back to an empty space where our sweet littlebabyscion had been and a note to call the tow company. (it was with relief we later returned to find our little vehicle and another parked there as well.)

we crossed the wisconsin-illinois border and found the straight and narrow. illinois does a remarkable job of trail upkeep, no matter where we have found one, no matter the terrain. we kept walking. and walking. and walking. it was a beautiful day and easy to lose sight of the time or distance. we had water and halos and lemon lärabars. we were set.

we looked at the bike trail maps. though there are sections that are harder to define – one must find one’s way from one defined trail to another – you can pretty much walk or bike all the way to chicago.

we giggled and decided we would section-hike to chicago. it will be practice for the possibility of section-hiking or thru-hiking the john muir trail or the PCT. uh-huh. because walking on a bike trail – near civilization, without elevation gain, without 30 pounds on our backs, with littlebabyscion patiently waiting for us and our kitchen and comfy bed at the end of the day – is definitely good practice for say 211 miles or 2650. oh ye of little faith. whatever.

we turned around after checking time and the mileage and the forecasted hour of sunset. the way back – like the previous day on the des plaines river trail – i thought about how many miles we would complete that day, in a few hours. i doubled it and tripled the time and pondered doing that day after day for weeks or – in the case of the PCT – months.

it has a magical dreamy lure. there is no straight and narrow out there. there is hard work and perseverance. and we – watchers of more youtube video accounts than most – ponder if we could do it. we are fueled by people like the remarkable (!) wander women and, really, anyone, say, over 60 we watch successfully navigate the challenges. we think aloud – “maybe someday.”

in the meanwhile there is work to do, a plan to piece back together again post-implosion, and section-hikes to chicago.

*****

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


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just over. just beyond. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

just over the horizon, a midwest-calendar-worthy farm. the photograph could be black and white save for the old barn and an outbuilding, red boards peeking at us, just over the horizon.

there was snow. way more snow than we realized. at home the lake effect had kept the snow at bay – this time. but up there, snow lay on the evergreens, drifted along fences and there were even those piles in parking lots. just over the horizon.

we drive and wonder. we take the back roads to milwaukee, choosing to stay off the interstate. we wish to see the horizon as we pass it. we wish to wonder. who are these people – these hardworking farmers in these days? we pause to talk about what life must be like, the challenges, the rewards, what the horizon will bring them as the years click by.

it makes me think of a song –

i look once more
just around the riverbend
beyond the shore
where the gulls fly free
don’t know what for
what i dream, the day might send
just around the riverbend
for me
coming for me

(alan menken/stephen schwartz)

it’s in looking back we realize how far we have come. from where we stand – still – we can’t see how the horizon changes. we cannot see what is beyond the horizon. were we to live life like a leica drone – or a gull – we might be able to catch a glimpse. but maybe all that would do is fill in the gaps – color in the rest of the old barn, show where the silo meets the ground, capture the next bend in the river, the next rise of the land.

it wouldn’t show the snow that might fall. it wouldn’t show new dreams dreamed nor the future coming.

it would simply give us the architecture of what’s out there. but not the heart.

that’s the stuff to wonder about.

*****

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


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an old quilt. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in some ways, it felt like coming home. this trail – its bends and hills and forks – was a mainstay for us for a long time. it was the old quilt before we added another to our collection. we used to wrap this trail around us often in the week, most especially on sunday afternoons, replacing the sunday-drives of my growing-up.

the nature megaphone always called to us. we’d crawl in and sit with our backs against the curved wall, our boots propped up on the other side. we’d take out whatever snack we brought along and munch and talk. and, if we were lucky, the sun was coming in on the greater-than side and it would bathe our faces and we’d close our eyes and just listen to the forest.

but we hadn’t been there in a few years. the county, in a money-over-preserve-conscious moment, approved the building of an aerial adventure course – with high ropes and ziplines and such. and then the woods were screaming-noisy, the parking lot fuller than we had ever seen it. we wondered why all those people in all those cars didn’t see the value of the woods before the treetop park.

one day last week we went back. there were few cars in the lot so we pulled on our boots and set out.

it was instantly like coming home. leaves gently raining down on us, we could feel the trail saying, “hey. where’ve ya been?” and we decided right away to do all the loops, see it all, visit the megaphone.

sitting inside, our backs to the curved wall and our dusty boots propped up on the other side we wished we had brought a snack. the sun was streaming in, warming our faces. we closed our eyes and listened.

all the old quilts in your life count. even the ones you don’t wrap in very often.

“to outer senses there is peace,

a dreamy peace on either hand,

deep silence in the shadowy land,

deep silence where the shadows cease.”

(oscar wilde – impressions II)

*****

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