reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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to mask or not to mask. [flawed wednesday]

four of us. there were four of us at costco with masks on. me and three costco associates.

yet, we personally know more people – right now – who have covid, who just got over covid, who were just diagnosed with covid, who are in the hospital with covid – than at any other time during the pandemic.

yes. it is a royal pain to wear a mask. yes. they are completely optional. yes. you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. but every time – which is daily – we hear about someone else “testing positive” it serves as the impetus to – again – put on our masks before heading into the grocery store, into costco, into the home repair store, into crate and barrel, into the ace.

maybe we are overly conservative. we wonder this aloud. as artists, we have taken many chances, we have risked much, including financial stability. these choices – as artists – have not rendered us the label “conservative”. our political views are not conservative. our leaning toward simpler living is not run-of-the-mill conservative. “granola” maybe, but not “conservative”.

but the whole mask thing has us pondering over and over and over. in truth, we are trying to recognize the interconnectivity of everyone – what we do affects you, what you do affects us. we are trying to – in community – be cautious, be responsible. and we are trying not to test positive.

weeks – maybe even a couple months – ago we railed against it all. for one day we literally went into every store maskless. it was liberating. we could breathe easily, we could smile at other people. we wandered, our faces exposed, reveling in what-used-to-be. we exchanged glances at each other, an “ahhh”, rebels out and about.

later we heard that an entire family we knew was covid-positive. they were very ill and it had already lasted at least a week. we sheepishly donned our masks the next time out.

with all the home tests, we know that “the numbers” are not actually significant these days. there are many, many more people who have covid (or have had covid) than the government is aware of. it’s not like john or jane doe picks up the phone and calls the cdc when their home test is positive. we scarcely know the reality anymore.

we missed the phil vassar concert – twice now – because of this. we still haven’t dined out in our own town in two and a half years. you can still count the number of times we have dined out – period – on two hands over the entire course of this pandemic. we measured our risk those times and the benefit outweighed them. they were opportunities to be with our children, our family or ones very dear to us. when phil was playing a very crowded people-sandwiched-with-people summerfest last saturday, we were playing phil vassar on our deck, sipping wine, singing along in the waning light. granola.

yes, it’s completely optional to wear masks. and yes, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to; you are free – well, unless, of course, that includes things that the “apolitical” (ahem!) supreme court is now overturning or wishing to overturn, in which case your freedoms are limited and anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-contraception, anti-equality, anti-environment-protection, pro-gun-carry, pro-christian-only-public-prayer, pro-gerrymandering rulings will rule over you, should their push-against be successful. kinda makes masks child-play.

it gives me pause for thought as i think about all the people who have been giant and loud anti-maskers. are these all the same people? (yes, that’s rhetorical.)

the other day in costco i was walking down an aisle. coming the other way was a young woman, a worker, also in a mask. our eyes met. our eyebrows raised up a little. tiny lines appeared at our temples. and we exchanged a little granola love. i swear i could see a rainbow appear out of nowhere, peace signs floating, unicorns singing lyrics, something about “liberating strife”.

i took off my mask after i exited. and i breathed in the air of the land of the free and the home of the brave, the sweet land of liberty. from someone’s car radio system i could hear aretha spelling out “r-e-s-p-e-c-t….just a little bit…”

my sister texted her dear friend was in the hospital, with covid, on oxygen.

i tucked my mask into my purse, to use the next time.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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with abandon. [k.s. friday]

sing with frame

i warm up first.  the sound system is on and i wail through the building like a country artist on a flatbed.  the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room; it encourages me to sing more, sing louder, sing with abandon.

i’m recording nine pieces of music a week right now.  five of these are vocal songs.  i stand in the venue in front of the piano, boom mic in place and turn on the voice memo on our island-iphone-which-is-newer-than-our-other-iphones.  i play and sing from the beginning to the end, without stopping.  there is no tracking; there are no editing features, no going-back-and-fixing-this-or-that, no auto-tune, no equalizing, no other instrumentation, no balancing wavelengths, no mastering, no amazing engineer, no producer.  any ambient sound becomes a part of the recording. we listen afterwards and decide if i need to re-record, which simply means starting over from the beginning.  it’s more recording than i have done in-studio in a long time.  and it’s vastly different, this straight-up tape-it-with-the-phone recording.  in the last bit of time i have recorded over 90 pieces of music. that’s a serious amount of recording.  in album terms, it’s at least seven CDs worth.

it makes me want to stand -again- on a wooden stage in front of a piano and a boom and sing my heart out.  it makes me want to maybe get some of my own stuff – the stuff lingering in notebooks and folders of scrap paper – on tape.  it makes me think about rv’s and touring and the little voice in my brain reminds me that i’m 61.  “ONLY 61,” i retort.  it makes me wonder.

it’s a common story.  ask carole king or phil vassar.  they wrote songs.  lots of them.  and other people sang them.  until one day…and then they forever owned that boom mic over their pianos.

decades ago, i thought i’d just write songs.  i’d play all my instrumental pieces in concert – like george winston and david lanz – and i’d grant permission to ‘real’ singers to sing the songs i had written.  but then one day…and now you would have to wrestle that boom mic from me.  different stories, same principle.

we are singer-songwriters.  we are people who sing.

all warmed up, it’s easier to get from the beginning to the end without too much pitchy-ness.  it’s easier, warmed-up, to know what to expect from my still-healing-broken-wrists.  it’s easier to know what to expect from my voice.

and so i keep singing.  i wail through the building.  and the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room.  i sing more, i sing louder, i sing with abandon.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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“every storm runs out of rain.” [merely-a-thought monday]

every storm runs out copy

“i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.” (oriah mountain dreamer)

in the middle.  of the storm.  of the fire.  the stallion of human nature rears up; we push back; we flail hooves with words, with rebuttals, with defenses.  and the circumstances that have created the storm or the arsonists who have built the fire prevail, deaf, obstinate, bullheadedly dogged.

after a bout, we raise our beaten heads up, panting.  and we silently stand.  we slow our breathing down, and begin to calmly wait, deliberately, intentionally trust that the storm will pass, the fire will go to ash.

for “every storm runs out of rain.” (maya angelou)

and we will come out on the other side.  joan once told me that the only way to the other side is through.  those wise words have echoed in my heart time and again.  there is no circumventing, no avoidance.  the fires, the storms will come.  no matter.  and although we will live in them longer than we wish, longer than we ought, they will not last forever.

“this too shall pass.” (my sweet momma)

the pain will subside, even a tiny bit.  the angry words will run out.  the crisis will start its labored, interminable return to zero axis.  good will begin to tilt the seesaw.  the sun will rise.  next will come.  and we will have survived a worst day, worst fire, worst storm.  we will still be breathing, having passed through hyperventilating, catching our breath, slowing our pulse.  we will be standing.

” i don’t care what’s in front of me or what’s behind me; i just wanna stop the wheel and stand still…” (phil vassar, ‘stand still’)

and we will be in this moment, this one we won’t ever get back.  the fire, the storm attempt to rob us of these very seconds, to draw the breath from our ashy-rain-filled hearts.  but we stand still.  we know it will pass.  we know that every storm runs out of rain.

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

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#yougolittlescion

FullSizeRender(1)in 414 miles our little scion’s odometer will read 195,000 miles. i have driven in it all but 250 miles of that, having bought it used-brand-new. every time we get in it for roadtrips, we pat the dashboard and say, “you go, little scion!” we tell it we believe it will easily travel to 300,000 miles, its little organic self saying, “iknowican, i knowican, i knowican.”

i have two cars. one is this little scion (the 2006 model that looks like a toaster.) the other is my 1971 volkwagen super beetle. i treasure both. my sweet momma and poppo ordered the vw new before they went to europe back in 1971 and drove it around europe for weeks, before shipping it back to the docks in ny (i still remember driving there to get it and bring it home.) in 1976 it became mine and has been a thread since then.

which brings me to our little scion. the xb is one of the un-fanciest cars out there. you had to pay extra (which i didn’t) to have armrests. there are no maplights; there are, however, blue lights which light up your feet – which makes me wonder in amusement what the good folks at scion were doing when they decided that was an important feature. these lights generally come in handy when you have new shoes and like to look at them a lot. or if you like the color blue. the radio display has various colors you can choose from – early mood radio, i’m guessing. regardless, i carry a handy-dandy flashlight, cause it’s pretty dark with few dashboard lights and no maplights.

so two cars. neither of them new. we are surrounded by people who are in retirement or planning ahead to retirement or are in a position to purchase new vehicles. all of them are lovely, with conveniences and style. yet, right now, we choose to padiddle along in our little scion and i can’t help but think about how this little car has been a part of my life, has served me, and now us, through the years.

it was there when i drove back and forth across the country, wholesale-ing my cd’s at shows, rascal flatts and phil vassar music blaring. it was there the day i took the girl to college, glowing pink with dorm-room-stuff. more importantly, it was there when i drove home, tears streaming down my face. it was there, but not glowing any particular color, when i took the boy to college and each time i drove all over the midwest to watch him play tennis.   it was there, somehow getting me home from the airport in the early morning i flew home the day my daddy died; i have no recollection of that drive. it was there in every drive-straight-through to visit momma in florida, to be there in times of sickness, to celebrate her book release. it was there the day i got a text message while driving to florida that my sweet momma had died, keeping me safe as i steered to the shoulder. it was there bringing our adopted babycat home and it was there when dogdog became part of our life. it was there driving from the church to the beachhouse on lake michigan to celebrate our wedding and driving to the mountains of colorado for an amazing honeymoon. it was there when, somehow unnoticed prior to 186000 miles, the spark plugs and rings imploded right at the exit to a rest area, not too far from a dealership that immediately set to work on it so we could rush home to see the boy before he moved out east. with only five windshields (it has this propensity for attracting breakages), four sets of tires, and three sets of brakes, (and yes, new plugs and rings) it has moved the kiddos in or out of minneapolis, appleton, indianapolis, chicago, the high mountains of colorado. it looks a little worse for wear, a few dings and scratches, but who among us doesn’t? it was there in the snow, in ice and in sunshine, dutifully doing its little-scion-job.

so, talk about thready… i am attached to this little car. its un-fancy-ness makes me proud. it’s a workhorse, packs better than most vehicles its size, and has protected me and us for almost 200,000 miles. thready indeed.

300,000 here we come. #yougolittlescion


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stand still.

last night at the lenten service pTom spoke about a wisdom that had touched and stayed with him through the years. i found it profound in its simplicity and wrote it down when we got home after rehearsals.

“don’t just do something. stand there.”

mmm. how often i feel compelled to ‘do something’. someone i used to know often said (in moments of impatience), “do something. anything. even if it’s wrong.”

doing something avoids sitting IN it, whatever IT is. it avoids being in the time of sorrow, the time of grief, the time of confusion, the time of anger. it allows you to step out of the moment. it gives you permission to step out of the moment. it gives you excuses (albeit well-intentioned) for not being in the moment.

now maybe that is a good thing, sometimes. those moments you know that it will only serve you poorly to stay in the frustration, stay in the anger, stay in the weirdness of an off-moment. those moments may be only asking for trouble and moving into the Next is healthier. but staying in the strife, in the sadness, in the confusion also gives you a chance to feel it. to maybe try and sort it. i am guilty of trying, sometimes, to sort too much. the perils of being emotional, being mushy. too empathic at times, it is hard for me to separate what i am feeling from what someone else is feeling that i am picking up. i am given to wanting to fix moments like that.

but i’ve learned i’d rather sit with someone in their moment than exit the building when they need someone else to be there. it’s not in my saying-something. it’s in my being-there. and i’m not ego-centric enough to think that it’s ME being there…it’s SOMEONE being there. another person. someone who thinks and feels and can hold a hand and just be quiet.

phil vassar has a song called “stand still”…i love this. (and…side-note…it’s wonderful to dance to). “stand still. i’m right where i wanna be…holding you in the middle of the moment of my life. the way i feel i don’t care what’s in front of me or what’s behind. i just wanna stop the wheel and stand still.”

in Now. standing there. not doing anything. just being. what better gift can we give to people? to ourselves? my favorite moments are not the big ones. they are the teeny ones where i feel present. where i get this huge rush of happy or satisfied or intense sadness or enormous gratitude. where i catch my breath. where the world stops for a second (even though it doesn’t) and reminds me that i am here. right now. living this second. hopefully doing the best i can. always learning. always growing. always feeling the presence of God and this universe full of everything we can count on and nothing we can count on. always held in grace.

heidi quoted to me this morning from a compendium inc. book, “scientists have discovered that there is no limit to your amazingness.”(not verbatim)

no limit. to amazingness. yours and what you bring. to the amazingness of the moment. a moment standing still in a giant spectrum of possible emotion.

“i just wanna stop the wheel and stand still.”

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood