reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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hand-holders. [d.r. thursday]

in my memory bank, i can remember my sweet momma and poppo holding hands. they would grasp each other firmly. they would hold pinkies. they would hold hands often. and, for me, it was one of those telltale signs that they loved each other, despite the day, despite the challenges, despite everything. my dad would not let my momma cross a parking lot without holding her hand. my dad would not let my momma walk on a sidewalk without holding her hand. for that matter, my dad would not let my momma walk on the road side of the sidewalk – ever. he placed himself between momma and the cars zipping past. he opened doors wherever they went and waited to close the car door after she got in. a gentleman always, his stock of niceties was plentiful and momma never had to remind him.

i am a hand-holder. and i, obviously, come by it honestly. but i haven’t always been around hand-holding types. some folks just prefer not to hold hands. for me, it is an intimate sharing of moments, a warm reassurance, a statement of adoration. to adjust one’s stride to match another’s, to hold their hand, is gentle reinforcement – of pooh-piglet “making sure of you” right-here variety.

i don’t know if david’s mom and dad held hands through the years; i haven’t known them that long. but columbus is a sweet man who tears up when it’s time for anyone to leave, who loves to hug, who has a glint in his eye that says, “i like you! you’re in!” and so, i would imagine that he has been a handholding proponent, an advocate of a firm and tender grasp. and david’s mom stands with this man who, if he still understood and remembered all that had gone before these sadly-ever-increasing dementia-ed days, would still grab her hand, declaring his undying love and devotion.

i cannot think of a time that we do not hold hands. we hike holding hands. walk the ‘hood holding hands. watch movies holding hands. sit together to talk holding hands. it is a gift i relish – a many-many-years-yearning during which i spent years watching others. and pining.

in this painting columbus stands in the cornfields of iowa, the place he grew up, the place he packs to go regularly in his memory care apartment. jeanne finds him with bundles of clothing secured by belts or wrapped up between the sleeves tied in button-down shirts. he’s excited to see her when she comes to visit, a new limit that must be incredibly difficult for her to fathom after decades of marriage. most of the time he still knows that she is ‘the one’ – the one he would choose most in the world to hold hands with. but he is confused and sometimes he does not readily recognize her for who she is. he is still settling into his facility. it’s not likely he will go to iowa again now.

it matters not. together they stroll the halls and step into the colorado sunshine. jeanne, steadfast and brave, chats about the family and reminisces and columbus tells tales of the things he believes he has seen that day, visions of beloveds who have gone before, of places he cherishes and stories of the way-past. they walk slower than they used to; columbus breathes with a little bit of oxygen helping him along. jeanne checks in to see how far he wishes to walk, how tired he has become.

i imagine jeanne takes his hand and squeezes it. and i imagine columbus smiles. he knows she likes him. and, just like piglet, he knows she’s right there.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the snowman with mom-arms. [two artists tuesday]

in kindergarten, i watercolor-painted an image of my mom. there was no mistaking her, of course. to my eyes, it looked exactly like her and i was proud as could be when she later turned my masterful painting into a tile to hang on the wall of the kitchen next to the tiled artistic expressions of my big sister and my big brother. now i wonder as i look at the photograph of this artist-sans-maestro image. why did i paint my sweet momma with two distinctly different length arms? was i proportion-inept? was i image-to-paper incapable? was i running out of room on the page in-between all the birds? maybe, oh maybe, i was just not a gifted five-year-old-watercolorist. despite all its shortcomings, my sweet momma carried that tile-painting from one house to the next to the next to the next to the next to the last. as i glance at the art of my children around me – the hand-drawn childhood notes framed on my bedside table, the painted fish-rock on the kitchen windowsill, the handmade signs in my studio – i understand her fierce everlasting dedication.

this snowman seems the snow-replication – at least arm-wise – of my ‘beautiful’ mom-painting. i don’t think i ever painted my mom in a solo piece again after kindergarten. i’m sure i painted my family, my house, my pets, flowers and sky and horses. but i didn’t paint any more portraits. no, it didn’t seem like i was gifted in any way in a depiction of a real person on canvas or paper. but i would hasten to add that i easily have portraited my mom in a million other ways.

she is in music i have written, in photographs i have taken. she is in the branches i have dragged out of the woods and the rocks that have been collected in backpacks. she is in the memories that swirl in antique shoppes and in table coffee-sitting. she is in words i speak and expressions on my face. she is in my mind’s eye, my thready heart and in that little voice in my head. she is in the letters i write and the upside-down shampoo bottles and the homemade chicken soup in my stockpot. she is in the way i push back against inequality, the way i rail against wrongdoing. she is in the merry morning sunshine and the stars that glitter at night, begging attention.

and she is in this tiny snowman we built on a bench in southport park on a snowy day in february, proportionately-inappropriate arms and all.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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mother-daughter. [d.r. thursday]

another haiku day:

now she is up close,

and yet such independence.

two – always entwined.

her heart expands out;

my heart takes her all in, love

unconditional.

she will soar freely

as an eagle untethered

and rooted in love.

her wings will catch air,

her soul will find much wisdom:

grounded and high flight.

my daughter: sublime.

always loved. motherhood is:

never easy. best.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

view this painting MOTHER-DAUGHTER on david’s gallery site

MOTHER-DAUGHTER ©️ 2019 david robinson


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make us all instruments of peace. [d.r. thursday]

InstrumentofPeace copy

it is what it is.

where has this country come?  we need so much more.  for survival.  understanding, compassion, commitment to unity, justice, truth, equality, equity, love of one another, peace among peoples.

the last days we have watched the democratic national convention.  we have connected with the real-ness of regular folks, politicians, celebrities across the country who have had something to say.  we have listened.  we expected words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we could trust, words of truth.  and we have heard them.  our hearts swelled with a bit of optimism; our pulse slowed and calmed.

we heard the poignant words of michelle obama, speaking about the promise of this country.  we heard the tenderness in jill biden as she spoke about the empathy of her husband, about the import of love and understanding and kindness in this nation.  we watched people from each state and territory, on their own stomping ground, cast their delegates for the democratic presidential candidate.  we listened and teared up and, mostly, we hoped for these instruments of peace to rise above the noise and the furor of division in this country, slobbering all over itself with rabid foam, inviting ultimate disaster.

we will watch next week as well.  the republican national convention will be different than the democratic national convention, for sure.  in a climate where i’m not sure everyday republicans even have a grasp of what the party means anymore, it will be important for us to glean that for ourselves.  in an effort to attempt to understand the position of others we know and love, it will only be fair to watch both conventions.  we will expect words of encouragement, words of hope, words of comfort, words of healing, words of promise to unify and not divide, words we can trust, words of truth.

we live in community.  this country’s backbone is the melding of many peoples working to form a “more perfect union” together, to build together, to grow together, to share a common purpose.  we shall never arrive as instruments of hatred.  we shall arrive, however, as instruments of peace.

it is what it is.  what will we choose to do?  who will we choose to be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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INSTRUMENT OF PEACE ©️ 2015 david robinson


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so as not to forget. [d.r. thursday]

KDOT sketch

a few years ago i went through all the thousands of photographs taken for the previous three to four decades.  they were not neatly in photo albums, which would have made it much simpler.  instead, with a mere few albums capturing the earliest of years, they were in envelopes in boxes, envelopes in drawers, envelopes in bins, envelopes, envelopes, envelopes.  it was a gigantic task with the dining room dedicated to boxes marked with years and headings like “christmas”, “birthdays”, “summer fun”, “trips”, “visitors”, “losing teeth”… an opportunity to re-live all of it, the heart of life lived.

one thing i noticed in my goingthroughgoingthroughgoingthrough and sortingsortingsorting was that it was really obvious that i had most often been the one taking the pictures.  through my lens, my focus, my read of the moment, the wisp, the instant the aperture closed, my blink.

there is always the picture-taker, a designated recorder, the secretary of the emotions, the faces, the light and shadow, the view, the action, the moment-in-time.  i grab my camera all the time.  it’s second nature for me.  and now that it’s the same device as my phone, it is incredibly easy to always have it at-the-ready.  i just told a friend that i am difficult on a hike – always stopping to take pictures on the trail.  it’s not because i’m so much a collector of things-to-have.  it’s because i am a collector of things not-to-forget.  each photograph, each image reminds me not-to-forget a certain time, a certain place, a certain interaction, a certain story, a certain feeling.

so when i walked into the basement in july and i saw the wisp of me on the easel, it moved me.  that wisp is now gone and in its place, paint-over-paint, is this whispered iteration, on its way as d says.  a moment snapped of my time, a moment of his.  but this one, this wisp, this color-put-to-canvas photograph, is one i didn’t take and, my heart gently points out, one he clearly didn’t want to forget.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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messier. more color. [d.r. thursday]

sketch image

heart and strawberry

peter max, a pop-art-expressionist, popped into my mind when david showed me this sketch.  add bursts of color to this and it’s the happy full-spectrum pieces of the 60s and 70s, full of rainbow and light.

one of the presents i received for my birthday this year was a coloring book and colored pencils.  at the time i was unable to use it, but i put it aside for when my broken right wrist might cooperate and i might be able to lose myself in good-old-fashioned coloring.

i dropped david’s sketch into photoshop and started to peter-max it.

the more i worked on it, the happier i became.  it was so messy.  but it was just so – fun.

color – this infinitely wide range of possibility – fills the lines, goes out of the lines, overlaps and bleeds into the next, reminds me that life, even in these very times, times of chaos and unrest and pandemic and exponential worry, is not just black and white.  and, surprisingly, not just the blurry grey in-between.

life is much more peter max than that.  messier.  more color.

which brings me to this:  while it is easy, particularly right now, to sort to grey, perhaps an answer to the myriad of questions is to open the delicious tin of 50 premium artist pencils.  and just color.

yes. as dear jeff used to say, “that’s the ticket!”

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

colorized

early on…just a little bit of color…and infinite peter-max possibilities

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©️ 2020 david robinson, kerri sherwood


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we all wait. [d.r. thursday]

they wait

anticipation.  it’s the stuff of songs.  the stuff of great love.  the stuff of waiting for the worst to be over.  the stuff of all moms everywhere.

we wait.  we wait for them to be born.  we wait for them to fall asleep.  we wait for them outside the elementary school, gleefully skipping down the sidewalk toward us.  and then we wait for them outside the middle school, hidden in the shadows down the road to avoid seventh grade embarrassment.  we wait for them at the end of sport meets and music recitals, to congratulate or cajole.  we wait for them after the day is done at school. we wait for them to return home in the family car.  we lay awake, waiting for them a wee bit past curfew.  we wait for them to return home from college.  we wait for them to come home from afar.  we wait for them to say, “yes, all is well,” and we wait for them to sound genuinely happy.  we are not settled if they are not settled.

and now we wait – apart.  all of us.

we all wonder what day it is and we wonder when this waiting will be over.  we look to each other – on texts, on the phone, on social media, on videoconferencing – for words of wisdom, for encouragement, for reassurance, for a chance to say, “yes, i feel that way, too!”  we need meet on common ground; we are alive and we are vested in staying well and staying safe.  so we compare notes and share ideas and recipes and cartoons and articles and youtube songs and moments that make us weep.

and, like the day that your beloved child doesn’t tell you of their arrival ahead, surprises you and makes your heart swell with joy by walking in the front door, we wait for the hoped-for-but-unexpected.  the flattened curve.  the antibodies that prevail over the virus.   the vaccine.  the end of this profound worry, this herculean effort of medical workers, this exponentially terrifying pandemic.  in our world, our country, our state, our community, our midst.  in our circle.

we know one of these days this too shall pass.  and in the meanwhile, we are honing our waiting skills.  becoming adept at patience and being in the moment, not sure of what day it is exactly, but sure of the passing of days.  time will bring us to a new day and one of these days, just like our grown child unexpectedly bursting through the front door, Next will burst in and exclaim, “surprise!  i am here!”  and our hearts will explode with gratitude.

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THEY WAIT ©️ 2018 david robinson

 


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kneel. [d.r. thursday]

10275592_604954206294213_4390672829473118999_o

of all his watercolors, i remember this one.  maybe it’s universe-timing but the image of a person kneeling silently in reflection, in prayer, fading into the blue of eternal sky and the hinted suggestion of sun seems particularly synchronistic.  the fluidity of line, the brushstroke revealing the image of humanity – in a transitory time here as part of the whole.  a blurry-edged fleeting existence in all of time’s galaxy.

but the destruction, the disregard, the disrespect.  people who disassociate with the truth of here and now, gone tomorrow.  intent on pillaging the universe’s glee that each of us is here, each of us is exquisite, each of us can positively impact another.  this place is a place of profound beauty, the sky and the sun sure day to day.

perhaps the lure of this painting is the inkblot-exercise.  depending on what you focus on, the figure will be there, the figure will disappear.

perhaps the point is the earnest time on our knees, whether or not literal.  the questions we ask, the things for which we give thanks, the time to focus, the imploring to help us notice it all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 4.09.09 PM

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©️ 2000 david robinson

 


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sigh now. held in grace: pray now. [d.r. thursday]

PrayNow framed copy

“a state of detente”

i just read these words and stopped and re-read them.  for no specific reason – just because, i had taken the sarah ban breathnach book simple abundance out of the old wooden north carolina cabinet on the other side of the bed.  i flipped open to december 5, old cards and notes and newspaper clippings trying to slip out of the pages into which they were tucked.

the quote at the top of the page read, “most of the sighs we hear have been edited.” (stanislaw jerzy lec) and the meditation for this day was about sighing.  in fact, one of my favorite sentences reads, “women sigh so that we won’t scream.”  oh yes!  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about screaming, “there are several occasions in the course of any woman’s day when, without question, screaming is the appropriate response.”  sarah continues, in rare exacting form about sighs, and writes, “the act of sighing is a quiet vote of acceptance – of … moving on.  …letting it out.  letting it go….”  resilience.

sarah’s quiet wisdom touches a nerve:  “…sigh more… because … preferences, needs, wants, wills and demands to be dealt with, if there is to be a state of detente in the daily round.  more bending in order not to break…”  sisu.

i hadn’t thought about my sighing, but i know i do it.  the intake of breath and the slow exhale.  the thought i-have-no-idea-what-i-can-actually-do-about-this-anyway or the thought i-have-no-control-over-what-others-are-doing-or-thinking-or-feeling.  my own feeling of being astounded by someone or something.  the feeling of hurt.  the feeling of exasperation. fragility.  fortitude.  both.

the sigh.  a release.  from my heart into the hands of the universe.  isn’t that prayer too?

sigh now.  pray now.

visit HELD IN GRACE: PRAY NOW on david’s gallery site

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PRAY NOW ©️ 2010 david robinson


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worthy. [d.r. thursday]

softly she prays copy

“…there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple.  help, thanks, wow.”  (anne lamott)

the quiet simplicity of this painting SOFTLY SHE PRAYS draws me in.  it makes me yearn to close my eyes and be softly in this moment, there, here.  its invitation is clear.  its message is universal.  the location is unimportant.  on top of a mountain, next to a stream, in the woods, next to your bed, on the kitchen floor, under a starry sky, in the pouring rain.  all worthy.

 “…you might shout at the top of your lungs or whisper into your sleeve…” (anne lamott)

the words, the thoughts, the imploring, the confusion, the shouting, the gratitudes.  all worthy.

because as anne lamott, in her reassuring book HELP, THANKS, WOW, reminds us, “human lives are hard.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

view SOFTLY SHE PRAYS on david’s gallery site

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SOFTLY SHE PRAYS ©️ 2018 david robinson