reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

pinch back the suckers. [two artists tuesday]

and so, these two dwarf indeterminate tomato plants make me want more. the every-morning greeting, the dew on their leaves, raindrops on their fruit, the exquisiteness of having tomatoes from our tiny container garden on our table, in our salad, our pasta.

it wasn’t much of an investment. $6.98 times 2. we already had big old clay pots, a couple hand-me-down tomato cages, some potting soil. we just had to pay attention. i read articles about yellowing leaves and how damp the soil should be. i asked 20 questions about snipping off suckers, the shoots that grow where the stem and branch v-intersect. researching, i read, “suckers don’t serve much of a purpose. they can, however, draw energy away from the main stems, decreasing tomato growth.”

our basil story is much the same. basil leaves are delicate, but with gently pinching the plant back, pruning off the buds that appear, the sweet basil has been amazing. many red pesto sauce pastas, bowls of caprese salad, salmon with basil and cherry tomatoes on the grill dinners – a smorgasbord from a few plants on a potting bench.

it just goes to show you what a little bit of nurturing will do. these plants – like people – have responded to the attention, the up-close and personal care, the encouragement and cheering on, the constant delight in their growth. they have risen to gentle handling, careful hydration, a bit of nutrients. they have flourished and, in both cases, removing the suckers has been of great value, has opened a chance for maturation of the plants, has helped.

now that we are the tiniest of farmers, it is hard to evade the tiny-farmer-metaphor in my mind. i think aloud, “this should be a mantra for places of business everywhere: remove the suckers…those who draw energy away, those who decrease growth.”

for what place of business, what organization, what non-profit, what institution wants to decrease growth, to suck the life from its employees and its volunteers, to smother their energy, to manhandle their efforts, to discourage their development, to undermine success?

only one, i guess, that doesn’t want tomatoes and basil.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


Leave a comment

boomer farmers. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i cut some valentino basil to toss with tomatoes and olive oil over pasta. in an eat-less-meat effort, d grilled some tilapia. we ate outside at the table under the umbrella where we could catch wafting basil coming from the potting stand and from the little trunk across the deck. we congratulated ourselves on our farming…at least so far, anyway. it remains to be seen how long we might be successful, whether the tomato plants will ever offer actual cherry tomatoes and if the basil will do that leggy thing that basil plants do when you don’t have natural green thumbs.

keith told us to watch the millennial farmer. since we have run out of joey coconato’s youtube backpacking videos and have literally watched each one at least twice, we tried the millennial farmer on for size. keith lives in a farming community and knows about tractors and fields and heavy equipment much much more than we do, but, we have to admit, after having searched for the first of the videos, we have a deeper appreciation for all of that and we know that the millennial farmer might likely tease at our measly stand of hopeful plants. no worries, we boomer farmers are happy and, more importantly, not overwhelmed by our choices. mostly, we love tomato and basil drizzled in olive oil tossed over pasta or in caprese salads. and any planting is still planting.

we had mulled over flowers for the potting stand. it’s in full sun most of the time so that meant we needed to make some careful choices. we are very aware of what we’re spending these days so that factored in as well. when we ultimately decided to just simply plant a few edibles we were excited and went to several nurseries to choose our plants. lowes got our attention for their $6.98 tomato plants – dwarf indeterminates – which we learned means that they will stay smaller and will bear fruit throughout the season instead of just once. milaegers got our vote for their basil. the valentino smelled heavenly and sweet and looked incredibly healthy (to us) at only $3.99. a few big old clay pots out of the garage and sweeping off the barnwood-and-pipe plant stand and we were set. tomatoes and basil – “soulmates on and off the plate.” ready for a summer of lightly tossed pasta and insalata caprese.

now, zach johnson – the millennial farmer in minnesota – might have some advice for us. the diagnostics and computerized tools and mapping and equipment that they use to choose planting distances and tilling and depths and variable rate seed installation and seed choices and seasons are mind-boggling, not to mention the super-sized mechanical equipment like tractors and combines and seeders and cultivators. the science of farming, the art of farming, he makes it all sound both easier and much more complex than we could imagine. his love and nurturing of the land, his life and his fifth-generation farm are obvious.

men’s health magazine calls his youtube channel “peak relaxation” though that is simply because we are armchair-boomer-farmer-watching. zach’s wise intention, according to his channel, is “to build the connection between farmers and consumers.”

we understand. we are now both. ok, ok. light on the farmer, heavy on the consumer. no barn here. just us and our potting stand, two tomato plants and a basil. and an appreciation for real farmers everywhere.

*****

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


Leave a comment

our echeveria. [two artists tuesday]

on a beautiful summer day, wearing flipflops and with a broken toe, we followed my son, rapidly walking miles through the streets of boston. it was wonderful, in and out of historical places, walking in gardens, taking in the library, strolling in restoration hardware, eating cannolis and people-watching from bistro tables on the sidewalk.

i did not pick up any rocks or sticks that day, now a few years ago, which is rather unusual considering my propensity for them and for saving some thing from perfect (and even imperfect) moments. but we did carry home this sweet and tiny succulent in the smallest of pottery pots, carefully wrapped and boxed by the attentive people at RH in packaging that reminded me deliciously of the packaging-guru-guy on the movie ‘love actually’ (but i digress.) $25 seemed like a lot to pay for this tiny gift we were giving ourselves.

it was 2017 and we devoted our energy to rules about overwatering, underwatering, not-touching-the-petals, enough sunlight, not-too-much sunlight. our little succulent, supposedly low maintenance (what exactly IS low maintenance, anyway?) devoured our plant-attention, but, in the coming years, suffered nevertheless. we transplanted it to a bigger old clay pot, careful to use nutritional potting soil. we read up. water, touch, sun – we experimented with combinations. it seemed to no avail.

the light streams into our sunroom. early in the morning, the sun rays across the room and into the kitchen. later in the day, the room of old windows and new windows invites the outdoors in. there’s an old door that sits on two wrought iron horses on the eastern window. art supplies and nespresso sit nearby. in spring last year, we moved a table into the sunroom, in front of the windows that look out back. we call it our covid table. we hung happy lights and strew them on the table.

we placed this little succulent next to the tiniest pine tree and a ponytail palm that makes me happily think of my beautiful daughter’s ponytails. we decided to forego the instructions we had read and gently watered the little echeveria, letting the water and our hands touch the leaves, talking to it, reaching in and extracting leaves that had dried, rotating the pot to capture light, the tiny rosette in the middle looking healthier by the day. i look at this plant now and think that it needs another transplant, a bit bigger clay pot. and each time i remember the day we got it.

a little attention, a little hydration, a little good soil, a simple old clay home, a little deviance from the plant-rules, a little conversation, a little inclusion in our every day, and this tiny succulent is flourishing.

what better metaphor for nurturing the people around us. give them at least what we give low (read: high) maintenance plants.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


Leave a comment

nurture me. carrots, pianos and frogs. [k.s. friday]

nurture me songbox

i miss my piano.  i didn’t realize how much until late last night, in the darkened theatre, my hands touched the keys and i could breathe.  my neck and shoulders, stiff and aching from undue stress, relaxed just a little.  tears fell down my face.  they are still there now, as i write this.

this morning, as d was making breakfast, a tree frog hopped out from between the cabinets and landed on the stove.  fortunately, we were able to coax him from the hot burners and take him safely outside.  it was unclear how he got inside.  but his message was clear, a message we had learned from helen quite some time ago.  f.r.o.g. = fully rely on God.  and so, a giggle and a time of fresh, deep breaths.

when i have performed this piece NURTURE ME (as i mentioned in a previous post) i have loved to tell the story of the carrot seed, the absolute knowing that nurturing can lift anyone, any living thing, from fallow, from despair, from seed into grandness, into thriving, into life.

carrots, pianos, tree frogs.  all are capable of telling the story.  nurture trumps hate.

 download RELEASED FROM THE HEART on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

cropped head kiss website.jpg

NURTURE ME from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


Leave a comment

pax. [d.r. thursday]

pax morsel sharpened copy

a morsel of the painting PAX

pax: the kiss of peace (latin); peace (ecclesiastical latin)

“pax,” he wrote to me.  years ago, in a chaotic, somewhat scary time of my life, the word “pax” was an end-goal, security in an insecure world, the warmest blanket on a bitter cold day.  it doesn’t just happen.  there are people around us, some epicentered and some peripherally, who create a place where we can find this peace, even momentarily.  their stalwart stance, their steadiness brings us back off the brink of angst.  the smallest iota of peace, like a mustard seed, grows until we can balance back on our own feet, strong enough to walk on…with leaps or even baby steps.

this painting makes me think of one of those people in my own life.  a dear deeply-valued friend, his help and his accessibility helped me deal with someone else’s craziness unfortunately directed at me.   he was the lighthouse in that storm for me.  he helped me feel safer so that i could find peace in the chaos.

for various reasons, we don’t always realize when we are someone else’s rock.  we don’t feel central, we don’t feel involved, we don’t feel informed.  but there are times we don’t know – times we plant ourselves into someone’s life and nurture them, even in the tiniest of ways – times we may never know how much what we said or what we did counted.  times of giving peace to someone else, one of life’s most essential elements.

“pax,” he wrote to me.  thank you.

PAXunframed copy 2

PAX mixed media  24″ x 24″

to view PAX in david’s gallery, please click here or on the painting above

read DAVID’S thoughts on this D.R. THURSDAY

birdy feet website box

PAX ©️ 2015 david robinson, kerri sherwood

 

 

 


2 Comments

nurselog (nurs lawg, log) noun: each of us

photo-4we were silently canoeing in a quiet lake. very few other people were out. it was almost still. the sun was warm on our faces. and there is a certain rustling sound that birch trees make in a gentle breeze.  as we drifted around a bend, there was an old, old tree, its broken, jagged end angled a foot above the water. from a distance, and then closer, we could see what looked like a tiny garden growing in the tree’s jagged end.

“it’s a nurselog,” he said. as the fallen tree disintegrated, the organic matter became the perfect soil for new growth. small plants were stretching out of their new home, this welcoming space they had found.

(later i looked it up.   on asknature.org i read, “tall, wide trees in the forests of the pacific northwest serve as nurse logs to their seedlings after they fall, providing decades of water and nutrients as they slowly decay.”)

nurse log. nurselog. (i like it as one word.) i thought about it as we paddled. my sweet momma was a nurselog. everyone she encountered she gave space to, nurtured, made at home. she was the perfect soil for others’ new growth, whoever they were.

isn’t that our job?

one of my favorite children’s books is called ‘the carrot seed’ by ruth krauss.  the copy i have of it is one of those hard cardboard books that get all goobery on the edges after hundreds of readings. in the book a little boy wants to plant carrots but is cautioned by his mother, his father and his big brother that the carrots won’t grow. regardless, he diligently continues to water and tend the little spot where he planted the carrot seed. and then one day, a carrot came up. my favorite line from the book is “just as the little boy had known it would.” there is an illustration by crockett Johnson that depicts the little boy with a wheelbarrow that has in it the biggest carrot you’ve ever seen.

the power of nurturing.

anne lamott (in ‘grace, eventually’) wrote, “all of us lurch and fall, sit in the dirt, are helped to our feet, keep moving, feel like idiots, lose our balance, gain it, help others get back on their feet, and keep going.”

what’s more important?photo-2
what are we REALLY here for?
how can we help each other grow?
what does it all mean?

“…provide decades of water and nutrients…”

we kept canoeing, our paddles gliding in and out of the calm water, the lake answering our unspoken questions.

nurture me
is one of my earliest tracks.

recorded on ‘released from the heart’
THE CARROT SEED inspired this piece.

www.kerri sherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood