reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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thriving. [k.s. friday]

there was a jaguar suv parked in one of the bays when we went to pick up littlebabyscion at the shop. it was shiny black and had an aura of extravagance. i joked as we walked in that it was “practically identical” to our little xb. our beloved – and stellar – mechanic laughed and said, “nah! it’s just ridiculously expensive! fancy doesn’t make it better.” because this society assigns value to things that cost more, i probed a little further, comparing our very-basic vehicle to this one, and he answered, “the reason people buy these – and many other vehicles like it – is for other people to see them driving it. it says ‘i am successful’ to the world.” i laughed and rolled my eyes, joking about the level of success us driving our scion speaks to and he replied, “nope. doesn’t matter.”

“…only about 0.000002% of musicians become ‘successful’.” (one of many statistics found when googling the rate of success for musicians.)

now that is a bracing statistic. it would suggest that there are a heck of a lot of musicians out there – including me – driving un-fancy vehicles with odometers pushing 300,000 miles. it would suggest, too, that there are a lot of musicians out there whose egos are not benefitting from the sideshow and stroke of other people’s ‘that-person-is-successful’ thinking.

but we still keep on keeping on anyway.

successful (synonyms): prosperous. profitable. booming. fruitful. thriving.

the prosperous is evasive. the profitable is of-the-past now that streaming is the preferred mode of listening over purchasing cds or even paying for downloads. the booming has slumped. the fruitful is fallow, often barren, depending on levels of frustration over thinking you should have been a financial analyst, software engineer or investment broker. and the thriving? well, that’s another story.

thriving is growth and growth rays out from the center in an artist. up against a challenge, we seek a different route, a different way. it is not our nature to give up, though an independent artist’s odds of success are clearly stacked. we simply “cannot imagine leaving”. (todd skinner)

instead, we channel the creative energy that keeps stoking up, that keeps us going. we funnel it out into threads of let’s-try-this or let’s-learn-that. when we can’t perform, we play. when we can’t play, we compose. when we can’t compose, we write. we find rivers we can enter and we wade in. we take risks.

in recent days i have come to realize that i still have much to learn…much growing to embrace. there are always more questions than answers. creativity whispers, “do not limit your future by basing it on the past, projecting what you can do based on what you have done. your goal is to be not just better than you were, but as good as you can ultimately become.” (todd skinner)

true in every arena of life…artistry, physicality, emotional health, motherhood, in community. much to learn. always. thriving.

it’s a mystery how it all will turn out. how, in the end, we will be seen. whether we will be prosperous or have a profitable life. if we will have boomed or been fruitful. whether we will have driven a fancy-car, a workhorse old truck or a steadfast littlebabyscion and what that all means to the world watching.

what will really matter – to us artists, adapting in ever-changing light and in each season – is if we thrived.

*****

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what we seek. [d.r. thursday]

our favorite thing in the woods, when i was about eight or ten or so, were the salamanders. red-backed salamanders had a red stripe down their spine and, back then, were all over the woods outside our rustic cabins in the upstate new york state parks.

we stayed at many of them: selkirk shores, chenango valley, watkins glen, green lakes, letchworth. my sweet momma and poppo were not tent-campers, but they fully embraced the very-bare-minimum cabins in the woods and my mom would pack for a week ahead; we had to bring everything with us, including pots and pans. the bunkbed frames and mattresses were about all you got, with basic kitchen and bathroom necessities. we’d go for a week and for that glorious week, i would roam the forest and swim the lakes and ride bikes all over the park with my best friend. we didn’t do fancy vacations, but, for me, these trips were heaven. i think about my momma now – for her it was a lot of work, but she seemed happy to be “roughing-it” as she said. and she would run around each night, can of raid in her hand, singsong voice, announcing “raid! raid!” while we buried into our sleeping bags on our bunks and tried not to breathe.

before we discovered the lifeguards, we would hike through the forest, looking for anything interesting we could find, devising paths and mysteries to solve. mostly, we looked for the salamanders. one year, we found one that was particularly sociable with us and we were convinced it would stay around and be our friend. for obvious reasons, we named him sal. once you’ve named something, it is much harder to say goodbye.

now, the thing that’s hard to say goodbye to – out in the woods, high in the mountains – is the whole visceral experience. the cool fresh air, the trail under our feet, the sun filtering through the trees, quaking aspen leaves, the absolute drop-dead-amazing smell of a pine forest, the quiet.

we haven’t found salamanders in colorado woods, though we haven’t been seeking them as i did when i was in elementary school. instead, we have sought the feeling you get after you have hiked miles and some decent elevation. that exhausted adrenaline bursted rush of ahhh. the slightly burning lungs-are-in-your-chest feeling. the your-legs-want-to-sit-down-on-a-stump-for-a-moment tiredness. a little bit of wind-sun-scorched face. and the overwhelming desire to keep going.

*****

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‘shrooms and fairies. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the amazon truck pulled up and the driver got out, ran a package to our door and ran back to the truck. but he didn’t pull away. he pulled up a bit and stepped out again with his phone, aiming it up at the big old tree at the end of our driveway. in the notch of branches was a giant mushroom, super-sized by humidity. he poked at it and a chunk fell off for him to investigate. from inside i couldn’t tell what he was doing, but once i walked down the driveway i could see the giant ‘shroom. perhaps a northern tooth fungus, it was beautiful and mysterious. it’s no wonder the amazon guy stopped to stare and photograph it.

there are years that we have had mushroom rings in our yard. you’re thinking, wow, they mustn’t have great grass. no, we don’t have great grass. but a fairy ring of mushrooms is common and apparently take about a year to form, all underground. superstition says that if you enter a fairy ring, you will dance with nature’s creatures and you will be unable to stop. since we like snacks and sleep, we have chosen not to enter the ring, avoiding the off-chance that this inexorable dancing take over. but the presence of fairies and elves seems magical and since these rings are associated with luck, i choose good luck over bad and we haven’t done anything to prevent them from being there.

one evening as we sat having a late dinner at our covid table in the sunroom, happy lights on and a couple candles flickering, i looked more closely at snakeinthegrass. i was surprised to find the presence of tiny mushrooms, sprouting up and living in community with this sansevieria plant. perfect little fungi, they stood tall and steadfast for a few days and i imagined tiny invisible-to-the-human-eye fairies waltzing under their domes. we laughed at the ballroom on our table.

as fascinating as mushrooms are, i would never be one to go out into the woods to arbitrarily pick them; there are too many doppelgangers out there and we are not informed. but in the way of learning new factoids, it’s amazing to note that mushrooms actually breathe oxygen – just like humans – and emit carbon dioxide, the opposite of plants. and the genetic makeup, the actual dna, of mushrooms is more similar to humans than plants.

as i look at the coming and going of these tiny mushrooms in our potted plants and high in our maple tree and ringing in the yard, i think about the necessity of their existence in our ecosystem. fungus, they give back and make it possible for plants to survive. they are synergetic without exception. perhaps their dna is even more advanced than humans.

*****

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pop-up dinner. [ k.s. friday]

we popped up at the old beachhouse.

it’s under construction; they are restoring it, this beautiful art-deco historic building, finished in 1940. the southport beachhouse “used recycled materials to cut costs. this way, rather than paying for new materials, the city paid workers to tear down condemned buildings as well as build new ones. the beach house uses luxurious slate, stone and marble materials salvaged from the old kenosha post office, which would have been otherwise unaffordable.” part of the new deal and roosevelt’s wpa (works progress administration) it is a gorgeous structure on the shore of lake michigan and the place we had our reception six years ago, a bonfire on the beach to end a stunning day.

in the middle of the beginning of covid – last year – i read an article about a new york couple’s ingenious solution to the inability to go to restaurants or pubs or gather with others, instead to isolate and social distance. i saved it and thought it was something worth pursuing.

this year, after a lot of research and a couple false starts sent back, i found a lightweight (mostly plastic) folding table and lightweight (mostly plastic) folding stools. i showed them to david and said, “let’s have pop-up dinners!”. small enough to be kept in littlebabyscion or big red, it’s an intention that begs spontaneity.

our first pop-up was this past sunday after our trip to the orchard.

we carried the table and stools and the picnic basket, the one from my sweet momma and poppo, onto the beach and found a spot in front of the scaffolds on the cement by the building, lit our candle-in-a-jelly-jar, set out our plates and cloth napkins and cheese and crackers and olives, our metal stemware. easy.

i imagine this fall, and even winter, will bring many pop-up dinners and happy hours. i can already list the places at which i’d love to pop up. snowpants and mittens won’t deter us. we’ll carry blankets, maybe thermoses of warm soup.

it was a little chilly at the beachhouse on sunday. the breeze was picking up. i picked up my phone and turned on the one piece of music i have saved to it. cherish the ladies began playing if ever you were mine and i watched david rise off his stool. he came over to me, held out his hand and invited me to dance.

as the sun began to dip below the horizon and the colors in the sky began to rise above the lake, on a honeycrisp apple kind of day, we danced on the sandy beach, scaffolding and a smiling cream city brick beachhouse our backdrop, a pop-up dinner waiting.

*****

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MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️1996 kerri sherwood*

*if you are near MILLNECK MANOR on long island, please visit and have a pop-up dinner for us. ❤️


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fragile and crucial. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“and someday the light will shine like a sun through my skin and they will say, what have you done with your life?  and though there are many moments i think i will remember, in the end, i will be proud to say, i was one of us.” (story people)

nature has no pretenses. it isn’t trying to be all-that. no keeping-up-with-the-joneses. it just is. it’s truth at its core. it is color in all spectrums, bold and diffused, opaque and transparent.

this aspen leaf lay at the edge of the lake. no longer vibrant green or golden yellow or even toasted brown, it lay, waiting to be seen. light shining through it; it was exposed. and ever so brilliant. i knelt down and studied the veining, intricate and delicate, fragile and crucial.

my sweet poppo, in his latest years around 90, had delicate skin, seemingly transparent. this man, strong and never afraid of hard work, became more fragile and his arms – that had cut down trees and repaired volkswagens and tiny bulova watch fixings and rube-goldberged nearly anything and made coffee every morning for my momma and drove mopeds in early retirement and whirled me around the ice rink and gently held his grandchildren – turned translucent, telling stories of his life. his eyes, unclouded, spoke those memories – the beloved tales of family, the challenges of being a prisoner of war in world war two, the upstate water hole, the waterfowl games out their back lanai. no pretenses.

i suppose we will all lose our color at some point. we will become more gauzy and our veneer will start to fade. maybe it’s in those moments that we realize that none of it – the veneer and the joneses – really mattered. that all that was important was being. through all the phases – all the color – all that was important was life, clear and true. and that it was fragile and crucial all along.

*****

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enchanted. [two artists tuesday]

and golden was the glow from the forest as we walked

into the sun low on the horizon,

our feet swishing through leaves on the trail,

our gaze above us, to the canopy.

the quaking aspen invited us, “stay,”

rustling in percussive background

to our hearts beating and wishing.

the respite in the woods,

the time on mountains,

the black and white of this stand,

we immersed in immense beauty.

stopping in the middle, the path forward and back,

we stood tall,

breathing deeply,

and shimmered with them,

enchanted.

*****

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the mission of goodness. [merely-a-thought monday]

when a business is transparent, it is not afraid to put it out there. it’s not afraid of feedback – good or bad. it only wants to be the best it can be, its actions to be the most positive. this automotive shop was up-front, honest and did the best they could in a short period of time with circumstances for which they clearly had heart. davis automotive in hays gets our recommendation and – if you find yourself in need of car repair in the middle of kansas – we suggest you go there. they stepped up and helped when we really needed it. and the sign above their door was sincere.

it is important for a business or organization, its mission statement and its actions, treatment of customers, employees and its community to be in alignment. i’m thinking that’s why people go to the trouble of writing such declarations. to have intention and to courageously be accountable to that intention.

lately i’ve taken particular interest in reading posts, brief mantras, vision statements or supposed purposes. more than once i have found these to be askew of the organization and its reality. more than once i have found posts about listening and compassion, assertions about avoiding harsh words and falsehoods, pronouncements about lifting others up and statements about participating in generosity – lovely words but, often, empty words of hypocrisy.

so when we drove up to this small automotive shop in hays and they wanted to know, post-repair, if we were satisfied, i had great appreciation for them, for their dedication, their compassion, their service, their courage and their – yes – transparency. they are indeed participating in the mission of goodness.

*****

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the chalkboard in the mountains. [k.s. friday]

in a high mountain town this wall was full. chalk layered upon chalk, there was no space left for even a word or two. we stood for a few minutes and started to read it. we were touched. it was obvious that, given the chance, people will share what they are grateful for, will express their gratitude, will put it out there in public. grateful begets grateful.

we had spent time with family, time in high elevation, time on the trail. we had eaten good meals together and we had cried together. we had sipped wine out of yetis, ate halos on a big downed tree, sat in front of a roaring fire on a chilly night. we had lingered at the lake and had found a new bundle of prayer flags to bring home with us. we were grateful. and we were exhausted.

the path home this week was long across the great plains. we snacked our way across, from giant bags of every snack you can imagine dropped at our doorstep before we left from jen and brad. we said a teary goodbye to the mountains – waving to the last vestige of very-distant pike’s peak – and then passed through brown barren land and acres of dried cornfields and rolling farms. we reviewed our time spent. we were quiet. we relished double espressos at a surprise starbucks. and we arrived home to a delicious meal prepared by our 20.

we should all have a grateful wall. i’m thinking we should take the blackboard we had at our wedding, six years ago now, and install it in the house somewhere.

in short order it would be filled, layer upon layer of colored sidewalk chalk, layer upon layer of gratitude, a reminder to – no matter what – stay there.

*****

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GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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the shadows. [d.r. thursday]

we can see the shadows getting longer. earlier in the day, the sun is lower in the sky and fall is on the rise. the wistful-autumn-thing is starting. picking apples and going to the pumpkin farm are on our list-of-things-to-do and i’m pulling out soup recipes, planning ahead. i’m hoping the cherry tomato plants will sustain longer. and the valentino basil has rejuvenated; dinner last night was red pesto pasta – thanks to this very plant. we need to order some wood and i’m keeping my eye out for the perfect mums. and socks made a cameo appearance the other day. blue jeans and boots, the stuff of happiness, are itching their way back into our world, having been buried under summer and no-airconditioning wear. i love fall. and nothing stops the melancholy.

we didn’t sleep again. i’m writing this on wednesday, so last night – tuesday night – was a long wakefulness with a smidge of dozing around 6am. i was aware that i was feeling anxious, worried. no amount of tossing and turning helped. once you are traveling down that road, there are no u-turns. i watched the shadows change in the room, listened to the rain, rearranged my pillows a time or a hundred times. insomnia is a resolute challenger. and, in the middle of the night, every question you have ever perseverated over, ever pondered, that has ever even remotely teased you for an answer is present and accounted for, lined up, waiting for answers or action plans. meanwhile, any even breathing of your spouse, and even the dog, wreak havoc with your impulse control.

the coffee this morning tasted especially good. the day is grey, though the sun is supposed to appear this afternoon. i wrote in my calendar, as i do each day, and was, once again, flabbergasted that it’s just shy of the end of september. equinox as i write and tomorrow we fall deeper into fall. equal parts of darkness and light on this day. that might explain my lack of sleep – equal parts of dark and light – the chiaroscuro of the wee hours – when we would rather languish in light, literally and metaphorically.

a year ago today my daughter facetimed me from the top of a 14’er. it was a scramble to the top, rocky and treacherous. and then, there she was. 14,000 feet up, in the sun, sunlight bathing her radiant face. she panned the camera around so i could see the vastness of it all. mountains and canyon and brilliant uninterrupted light and deep shadow. an equinox perhaps by calendar, but overtaken in any soul-sense by the gleaming luminescence of arriving at the summit.

we each have our own personal night-shadows, building blocks of angst and anxiety, dark caverns filled with life events and life decisions and being wronged and wronging. morning usually helps. it’s when what is real-now shows itself in three-dimension and that which is shadow fades just a bit. the existential questions of the night shrink ever-so-slightly. we look at our to-do lists and pencil in time to take a walk, to hike, to feel the sun on our faces.

we know – despite the neverending pondering of the night – that the questions matter less than the moments. we have learned it time and again – watching the cycle of life, sand running through our fingers, holding mica in our hands. we will, undoubtedly, learn it again.

we know we can make it to the top of each mountain. the equal or unequal division of darkness and light will not stop us. and neither will the shadows. each step counts. we put our faces to the sun and get on with it.

*****

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CHASING BUBBLES

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columbus. a jewel. glistening. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there are days i really miss the littlehouse. perched right on – merely truly feet from – the shore of lake michigan, it was the sweetest house with a gentle spirit. we both felt it the first time we walked in. a reassuring sense of home filled with light. the lake right outside was moody, as lake michigan is. there were nights i could not sleep, its non-rhythmic crashing keeping me wide awake. and there were nights i could feel its powerful presence, quiet, calm, gigantic potential laying in wait. lake michigan is no weenie lake. it is full of peril and demands respect. but its latent power is potent and gives rise to unparalleled energy.

living near lake michigan off-island is different than on-island, but we still feel the lake. a couple nights ago, windows open, we could hear the surf pounding. wave after wave – with a beach hazards warning on our weather app – crashing onto the rocks. and the other day, walking along the shore, the surf rose high and jewels of water caught the light as it motored into the seawall boulders. an unrelenting and dispassionate force of nature.

monday night we received a facetime call. david’s sister-in-law dialed us so that we could see his mom visiting columbus, his dad. columbus, who has been an unrelentingly sweet force of nature all his life, is failing. this has come on rather suddenly, though he has been traveling the road of dementia now for a time. it was shocking to see his face, thinned by weariness and ailing. it was shocking to not really hear his voice, to just gaze at him, oxygen-aided, to try and talk to him, to say all the words – the important ones – in an unprepared moment. it was shocking to hang up so that they could call his next child, so that he could hear another beloved’s voice.

we don’t know what will happen next. we have the wisdom of hospice personnel and their perspective from years of experience. we know columbus appears lost now, not a lot of acknowledgement on the face that used to light up around anyone he loved, well, truth be told, around people in general. we watch and wait now. completely at a loss, gravity driving the tide, a mystery. we sit in the grace of the gift of columbus’ life and the sun rises and sets and the harvest moon is full. and the waves keep us awake.

just like lake michigan, though, columbus’ power is ever-present. his intense love is deep and unwavering. his family will carry him wherever they go. every day. he is a jewel glistening in the light.

*****

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