reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

the kitchen counters. [k.s. friday]

there used to be a lot of stuff on the counters. a breadbox, coffeemaker, fruit basket, basket with random mail and school dittos, microwave, paper towels, cookie jar…it makes me shudder now. the counters – back then – were yellow formica – bright yellow circa 1960 or earlier. i suppose the stuff on the counter helped disguise the counters a bit, but the backsplash was the same bright formica and there was plenty of that as well. i tried to think of it as cheery – every kitchen needs to be cheery. but…

the people who owned the house before us – back in the 80s and prior – had applied woodgrain contact paper to the counters and to all the shelves in the pantry and to the inside of the drawers, really anywhere it would stick. when we bought the house they asked us if we wanted a lesson on re-applying contact paper. i was horrified at the thought, and we politely said no. after we moved in i peeled all the contact paper off the counters and backsplash and elbow-grease-scrubbed off the sticky residue. yikes. what a mess. it was bright and it wasn’t without dings, but the kitchen went from peach cabinets and woodgrain to white cabinets and yellow. it seemed freshened, even with the yellow. it was supposed to be temporary.

there were other oddities – there was a door from our kitchen to the sunroom which they had kept on its hinges, blocking space that we filled in with an antique kitchen table that my dad refinished. we still eat around that table now. i suppose anyone touring our home who might consider it as theirs would utter “gut job” entering our kitchen but that’s for some future time. though we will make some updates to it, we love it the way it is. even temporarily.

at some point – a few years back – we decided to see what was under the formica. climbing into the cabinets i looked up and saw really lovely panels of good wood. we assumed that was the counter prior to the yellowness. it wasn’t so, as the first peel revealed. plywood was the countertop material and i literally starting panicking, running to the computer to google how to fix this dreadful mess. a sander, sandpaper, chalkboard paint and food-safe wax was the prescription and it achieved a kind of black soapstone look. black and white. it was supposed to be temporary.

we have pared down what’s on the counter. just the coffeemaker, the microwave and a wooden bowl of fruit – oh, and the roll of paper towels on a wrought iron stand. less busy, it makes it all feel less frenetic, tidier. it feels more orderly and that makes it feel more serene.

the florida national cemetery is the epitome of orderly. it is pristine and it invites you – without words – to wander. it would be easy to spend hours of time just walking among the big oaks and the lines of headstones, to weave in and out of the columbaria. its orderliness lends peacefulness and reassurance, its vastness a reminder of the temporal nature of this life – transitory, fleeting.

we arrived back home after a few days in florida with family, after interring my sweet momma’s ashes, after spending time with the adorable non-stop two-year-old and sat at our kitchen table with 20 who had soup and bread and glasses of wine waiting for us when we got there.

i love traveling and exploring and – simultaneously – always have a little homesickness when we are away, so i gazed around at our old kitchen and all its supposed-to-be-temporary fixings. my heart was full and i could feel all the time spent in there – my dad proudly placing the refinished table, my mom waxing poetic about the happy-yellow, my children in high chairs and suddenly on college breaks and suddenly adults. my kitchen counters and their timeline of transition, their sweet legacy.

one of these days we will update. but, in the meanwhile, i know it’s all temporary anyway.

*****

LEGACY ©️1995 kerri sherwood

download music from my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


3 Comments

divots and heart. [k.s. friday]

we checked our bags. southwest airlines lets you check two and, as long as you trust that they will actually get them to the same destination to which you are traveling at the same time that you are traveling there, it’s a relief for the prior-to-travel packing frenzy.

there were many golf bags going ’round the baggage claim conveyor. none of them were ours.

i have golf clubs. in the basement. or maybe in the garage. no, i think the basement. i am not much of a golfer, though i have golfed. let’s just say that i am not gifted at the swing…or the stance…or the putt. really, none of it, save driving the golf cart.

i think golf would be more fun without the scorecards and the tiny pencils. so much pressure. everyone – despite their ability level – chasing after this one little ball, getting all crabby-like and self-deprecating…all under so much pressure.

one time i got a 91. people seem relatively impressed with this score. they comment, “wow! that’s pretty good for a total novice! (they can’t think of a word that is lower on the golf-ladder than novice.) really, that’s good! a 91 on 18 holes!”

i take my time replying.

“it was 9.”

“9 holes.”

their look tells all – they are trying not to burst into laughter or look astounded and are likely internally blaming me for all the divots on the course – every last one of them. because i have swung the club a zillion more times than any of them, in every part of the course. at least twice as many times as they have. and i am exhausted just thinking about how tired my arms – and really, every part of my body – have been after a “fun” round of golf. yes, indeedy.

i do think that d and i should go play golf together. we would likely laugh our way through the course, so we need to go when no one is behind us, grousing about how long we are taking or commenting on our pathetic swings. if no one was around we could replace our divots without judgement or sneers from the sideline. a smirkless round of golf could actually be fun. pressureless. pencil-less. one of these days. first i need a few golf lessons from sisu sue. she would be the best teacher.

we walked on the bike trail a few times recently. once, it was just after a few snowflakes fell. the tiny divot in the asphalt caught the flakes just so we would notice the heart as we hiked by. prior to that – though i put my heart into every one of those swings and they all just didn’t notice – the word “divot” made me cringe a little, thinking of my personal golf je ne sais quoi.

but now…i’m honoring the chop.

*****

the entire album: RELEASED FROM THE HEART
©️1995 kerri sherwood

download on my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

tree lessons. [two artists tuesday]

we know the trees well. on all three of the hikes we usually take in our area. we watch them as they change through the seasons, giving their leaves over to fallow, holding snow, reawakening. their portraits shift against the sky – from dense to sparse and back to dense. we notice when limbs fall and when nests are built in their branches. we watch as they turn from photographs of trees to graphic images, of dark and light. ever-changing. evolving. we use no filters.

eyes wide open – sort of – we move about our days. we see the people we see, do the work we do, go the places we go. some days are all about the familiar, the patterned, the every-day-ish-ness of it both reassuring and maybe a little stifling. we look at the days without noticing the days, at the people without noticing the people, at the work without noticing the work, at the places without noticing the places.

sometimes i stand just inside the front door of our home and look in. i try hard to pretend that it is my first step into this home. and i look – really look – to see what i see, feel what i feel, notice.

and days, and people, and work, and places.

the trees are teaching me.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


1 Comment

the pink backpack. [k.s. friday]

“it’s projection,” he wrote. yes. bill penzey is right. it is projection. we project love onto objects and we “really see these objects as love.” he continues, talking about his desire – were there to be a fire in his house – to grab the six-quart stainless kettle he has popped corn in for every movie night he has had with his wife, and his love of the heavy-duty spatula his father gave him, adding, “and in a world where nobody gets too much love anymore, i want to do all i can to hold onto that love.” he is clearly thready. i’ve never met him, but he is on my list – people with whom i’d love to have dinner.

we have a pink backpack. it’s packed from back in the days our town was on fire, days i can feel and hear and smell and taste – viscerally – but would rather not. we’ve kept it packed, realizing that it’s wise to have one thing to grab and one place to go to find that one thing. it has important stuff in it…papers and such. it doesn’t have the tiny cheese knife we use every day, the one that was my sweet momma’s. it doesn’t have the wedding ring my dad wore or the matching flannel shirt of a pair. it doesn’t have the toddler drawings of my children or the small bowl turned trinket-holder that babycat ate from. it doesn’t have zillions of photographs. it doesn’t have masters of all my albums or a collection of jpgs or pngs or printed photos of all of david’s paintings. it doesn’t have the rock i picked up hiking with my daughter or the cork i saved from the first fancy dinner my son made for me. it can’t hold my piano or the vintage typewriter 20 gave me or the bowls we love from ken and loida or the snuggly scarf jen gave me or the old torchiere lamp from my growing-up. it doesn’t have room for the old quilt or our favorite mountain mugs or our ukuleles or my guitars or our dvd favorite-movies-collection or the cardinal towels from my sister or the ‘i-found-you-you-found-me” painting of early k.dot-d.dot days.

the one thing about antique stores is that they give you perspective. lots of it. so many items in the world. so much stuff. you ponder why someone might have held onto a plastic flower arrangement in a plastic flower pot long enough that it became part of an estate that passed into an antique shoppe or how it is possible that there are so so so many 45 rpm records out there, collections of so many long-playing albums, and, someday, so many cds. even mine.

and then you know. it hits you like a spatula upside the head.

though none of that will fit in the pink backpack, were there to be any sort of emergency – and all we could grab is the backpack – we would not lose it all.

it’s love. all love.

*****

IT’S A LONG STORY ©️1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

download music from my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

church. [k.s. friday]

he wrote, “that building is not God.”* (john pavlovitz)

the light lit up the sky, a golden glow in a fog toward the heavens. it is one of the chicago botanic garden’s iconic displays, this tunnel of light, begging you to look up, be wrapped in its light, acknowledge the goose bumps. the luminous winter cathedral drawing people toward it. they stood, marveling, they strolled slowly, they posed for photographs, the millions of starry twinkling lights enveloping all.

i’m not much for cathedrals, really. i never have been; it’s nothing new. while i can appreciate their stunning beauty and the incredible feat it often took to build or install, they have never brought me closer to faith than any other place…outside, in the presence of others, at the piano, alone in wonder.

in my life – and in three and a half decades of my work life – i have found churches to not only house beauty. i have found churches to also house ugly. and so, i was relieved to read the words of john pavlovitz. it is important to distinguish the difference – the building is not God. and, sometimes, the best place to find the supreme deity you are seeking – no matter the name, no matter the denomination or affiliation, no matter the book of written word – is not in a place, not in a building.

the people – so many gathered there – under the arch of the winter cathedral seemed softer. the glow of light on their faces, they moved slower, offered to photograph others, gazed up. just as a community of people in a church often do, they seemed to come together, one of the benefits of “the building”. but, as i have found time and again – and, if we are to speak truth – those benefits sometimes run out. and people within become consumed by that which would never be considered a basic tenet of faith – the hypocrisies of power and control and discrimination and subjugation and competition, toxic things that “[don’t] feel like Love anymore”*.

as i walked under the night sky i knew that the cathedral would be close to the last installation on the guided path. i steeled myself for its overtones, even with its undeniable beauty.

we stood back and watched people enter it. in awe. it is truly glorious.

we approached and there was this tiny voice inside my head naysaying “church” to the other tiny voice exclaiming “wow”. both.

yet ethereal was there and it shone down on us as we walked through to the other side. and then we were once again under a night sky, full of stars we could see and stars we couldn’t see. just like faith.

“you are fully freed to run into the wide open spaces of this world, and to experience life and faith and beauty in ways you never thought possible…”*

*****

ALWAYS WITH US – solo piano ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

ALWAYS WITH US – piano with orchestration ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

download music on my little corner of iTUNES

purchase a few hundred ALWAYS WITH US solo piano HYMNS OF FAITH CDs

stream my music on PANDORA

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

the turtles. [k.s. friday]

i think about the turtles. they are there in the warmer months, sunning on logs and rocks that jut out of the river. but, when it dips below fifty degrees or so – and stays there – they disappear. apparently, they dive down to the muddy bottom, their metabolism slows down, they require less oxygen. their mucky homes keep them safe as they bide time, these wise, long-lived creatures of the water and the land.

from time to time on the trail we look for them. we know where they hang out and have watched for telltale signs of small snouts poking out of the water. but then it got cold and we just missed them.

the river is alive with other wildlife. geese and a few hardy ducks, squirrels, deer – we see them as we hike.

but we always talk about the turtles anyway. just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean we forget about them. we know they are there – somewhere – in hidden spots, places they feel sheltered and secure. i think about what they might be doing. they are silent and the fallow is long. i trust they are sorting what is next, kind of like us.

he can tell you i worry about them, despite the fact that i know they are completely capable, totally self-sufficient, quite brilliant actually. nevertheless, i am more comforted by seeing the turtles every now and then – at least – than by wondering how they are faring. time keeps moving, though, and i keep hope that when it warms up and the turtles have a more secure sense of themselves in the world they will reappear, out of the suspension of presence. i’m hoping for an early spring.

i know that the turtles are aware i am watching for them and waiting. and the river freezes. and then it thaws.

*****

LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

download music from my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

e.e. [k.s. friday]

“…simple…elegant…splendid…” she wrote about the branch from the big old tree in our front yard, the branch we wrapped in lights and on which we hung a tin star. last year’s christmas tree. sometime after the holiday, we changed the tin star to a tin heart and kept it in the living room, in front of the big window.

i suppose it goes without saying – for anyone who knows us – that each of our christmas trees has a story. well, not just a story, but a full-fledged novel full of threads that wrap around them like $2.99 twinkly lights fresh out of the box. we’ve given meaning to the tiniest pine tree from the side of a trail, to the carcass of a tree behind our garage, to the branch that fell into our back yard, to a straight trunk-of-a-tree we lugged out of the woods, to a christmas-tree-on-a-stick.

this year, we were going to get a permit and go to a state forest to cut one down. only we didn’t.

20 was exasperated with the tree he had gotten his momma. the lights were all knotted – a titanic tangle – and the tree was disheveled. he put it in the box and bought her a new one, planning to toss the old one. we wanted a tree out back and figured we could make this messy tree into something worthy of the deck, so he brought it to us.

david spent time – lots of it – patiently untangling and cutting off the attached multi-colored light strands. then he attached the three pieces of tree, stacking them to see how it looked.

the tree – 6′ – stood limply, likely gasping from the trauma.

we decided to let it get some air and put it in the framed doorway between the living room and the dining room, where it could have a little space while we fluffed it a bit and decided about putting it on the deck.

only…

only, it started growing on us, this sweet little tree – just trying to be a loved-christmas-tree – stood there, quietly watching us and waiting for our decision.

we whispered to each other – about her – on the couch, so as not to offend the little tree. and time to time, we’d take turns stepping into the living room to gaze at it. to ponder.

and then he took four hundred lights and gently wrapped them around the little tree.

magic.

we stood back and knew.

i said, “let’s call it e.e.” not for ee cummings, though he would definitely get it – all our christmas trees through these years. but the little tree knows – inside, in its heart of hearts – his poem “little tree” word for word. e.e.

but the e.e. is for 20’s momma, her first and middle name initials. as she – at 99 – struggles a bit with her health these very days, we will honor her, hold space for her, with e.e.

the silver ornaments shine on e.e.’s branches. e.e. holds out her arms graciously. and those lights. and we are entranced.

little tree

little silent Christmas tree…

look          the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed

you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they’ll stare!

oh but you’ll be very proud

(excerpts from “little tree” – ee cummings)

*****

THE LIGHTS ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

download music from my little corner of iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

warmth wins. [two artists tuesday]

the tiny fallen branch must be radiating enough absorbed heat to melt the icy snow-pack just around it. the perfectly custom-shaped frame of snow reveals gorgeous long-needled pine laying on the ground atop a small clump of clover. the green in a field of frozen crunchy white was a beautiful glimpse underneath, a reveal.

things aren’t necessarily what they seem. and – though we sometimes remember we also sometimes forget – we find that there is more going on – beneath the visible surface – than we can imagine. i suppose it’s mr. rogers’ endings-beginnings, it’s george eliot’s “don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s the cinderella song “it’s what’s inside that counts”… i suppose you just never know.

it served as a reminder on the trail. though fallow seemed to be starting and early winter was beginning to take its toll, a little bit of green busted through the ice, peeking out, asking us to notice. it seemed it was stored-up warmth that mattered.

reading and research bring up many physics and scientific theories postulated about this phenomenon, about the albedo effect, about dunes and wind, about snow and pine needles. they are all fascinating, but for me – it was mostly all about the disparity between what it looked like on the outside and what was on the inside. because we don’t always know what’s just below the surface – in circumstance, in the environment, in people.

but a little warmth (or albedo or a breeze) reveals a smidge. just a little grace, a little forgiveness, a little compassion, a little generosity, a little love.

it doesn’t take much – this tiny pine bough is proof, indeed.

warmth wins, every time.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


1 Comment

stuff happens. [k.s. friday]

“step confidently,” the stio catalog reads. there is an ad for boots – winter boots – and gorgeous pictures of snowfall and mountains and terrain where confidence could be challenged. we were just talking with 20 about those yaktrax you strap on your shoes to instill a bit of chutzpah as you walk on icy trails. anything to keep us outside. cause stuff happens.

yes. stuff happens.

and it happens fast. without warning.

a couple days ago i was walking from the kitchen to the sunroom – sans yaktrax – to let the dog inside. holiday music was playing and i was busy thinking about my next task as i approached the step down to the tile floor by the back door. i did a little math. i’ve successfully navigated this step – only one – at the very least – one-hundred-twenty-two-thousand times. but, somehow, and i have no idea how, i missed the step and fell flat – kerplunk-kind-of-flat-like-in-cartoons – on my knee. the one time i didn’t reach out my hands to stop myself – i guess those two other falls taught me something – but my knee took the entire brunt of the trip-fall.

i’m not sure the first thing out of my mouth was pretty or anything i’d be proud to mention here. my reaction – as i laid on the cold floor – was incredulous, thinking i was running out of appendages, wondering what vortex in the universe we had fallen into or if mercury was in retrograde or just what was happening here.

the xray technician told me that’s why it’s called an accident – because there is no real reason, but i was about as amused by that as other people to whom i have said those words. no real reason. she said, “stuff just happens!” uh-huh.

the nurse practitioner at the urgent care told me she concurred with the radiologist and – thank goodness – there was no fracture. geesh. she said a few days and we’ll see how it goes.

patience is now in order. time to spend with my knee horizontal doesn’t fall under “my favorite things” column. i’ll be hobbling around and sitting and trying to get things done, in a slew of time i can only label as “fraught”.

and i’ll be trying to figure it all out.

*****

FIGURE IT OUT ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

download music from my little corner on iTUNES

stream on PANDORA

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


1 Comment

the window of magic. [two artists tuesday]

the stairs in our home go straight up a few steps, turn 90 degrees to the left and then another 90 degrees to the left before the last few to the landing. if you turn left again you will see straight into the treetops through the office window, will pass the bathroom, and will head down a short hall to our daughter’s room. if you turn right at the landing you walk into our son’s room.

there’s a big window in his room ahead of you and it faces north. it is the window of magic. for if the circumstances are just right and the frost gathers and holds hands with the sun, this is where the crystals are found. and they are divine.

that day, in every corner, from every angle, the ice shimmered, an evanescent presence that would disappear as the window warmed. the ephemeral tiny expressions of frozen wouldn’t last. not yet. it is still fall and there will be warmer days still.

but for right then, to stand and gaze at the strands and shards and bubbly droplets is to take part in the very moment, that very moment of cold. it was to acknowledge it. and to recognize its transient beauty.

a long while ago i was gifted a necklace with a silver snowflake charm. in the tiny box was printed a brief message, “every snowflake is unique; it’s true. each one’s special, just like you.” not the thought-provoking words of mary oliver or john o’donohue, but a simple reminder of unrepeatable gorgeousness, in words anyone can grok.

these last days have been harder, a holiday with empty chairs. we are adults now and we know that this is the way of life. john pavlovitz writes, “in this season each of us learns to have fellowship with sadness, to celebrate accompanied by sorrow. this is the paradox of loving and being wounded simultaneously.”

we walked on the trail and spoke of each member of our family. we each spoke a gratitude for each person, each step on the trail punctuated by a story or some enlightenment. we laughed and i wondered what gratitude would be uttered for us, hoping that words would not be difficult for the utterer to find. our thanksgiving was bookended with early morning pumpkin pie and full bellies of mashed potatoes at day’s end. in the middle was appreciation for the people we love.

it is easy to see the cold, the long winter ahead, the empty chairs. they are apparent and they can be brutal.

it is harder to walk, peer through the window, and see the crystals and their exquisite – even if brief – magical uniqueness.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY