reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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plush, jammy, untamed & unbound. [two artists tuesday]

i will, henceforth, describe myself as “plush and jammy”. i also like “untamed and unbound” but i fear that my children would scoff at me, their almost-63-year-old mom “untamed and unbound” making them roll their eyes, but only for a moment or two so as not to waste too much time thinking about it.

plush and jammy sound like menopausal words so i pretty much adore their use on a lovely bottle of apothic. to be real, jammy, the opposite of earthy, refers to the fruit-forwardness of the wine and plush…well…it’s polished and opulent, soft, silky, round. earthy wines remind one of fall leaves, wild mushrooms, the forest floor aromas – which sort of sound like me (or the me i want to be), while jammy brings forth a syrupy sweetness that is not acidic, berry goodness. i may have to reconsider my descriptors.

untamed and unbound are the joey coconato words, er, the joey-coconato-wannabe words of wine. it is not necessarily a perfect pairing of words and merlot, but apothic stands in righteous pride with the words and i respect that. you have to LOVE those tags. it’s what everyone wants. it made us buy the wine. and, the wine was delightful, though we artists are not wine snobs.

we have all been subjected to questions like: what words would you use to describe yourself? we wrack our brains, trying to come up with adjectives that are accurate, responsible, fun, creative, that give clarity to who we are without being trite.

mine…i’m going with: a plush and jammy, aggressive and earthy, fermented and generally non-acidic, untamed and unbound logophile.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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evanescent. [two artists tuesday]

the eiffel tower stands in our front yard, along with niagara falls and hunter mountain and the atlantic surf and canyonlands national park and the rocky mountains and northport harbor. they are there, even without clear shape. each are shadowy remembrances of time spent, each are mementos of life and time, tiny moments passing, never to be identically repeated, always to be celebrated.

we watch the play of sun on the snow, the shadows of the trees, the clouds drifting across the sky, the night shroud filled with stars. never static. we bring gratitude for every second we have had, though sometimes we forget to appreciate them, sometimes we forget to acknowledge the fleetingness. in those times, we hold, with foolish tenacity, to thoughts of what’s-next instead of lingering in the delicious stew of right now, regardless of essences and elements that may not be to our liking. we wonder if it’s all maybe not enough, if we are maybe not enough.

we don’t realize that our shadow in the snow is perfect. it is also light and dark, interrupted by the brick wall and tree limbs. it stands tall as we learn about standing tall. it moves in grace as we step and change, all part of the never-ending flow, the coming and going of it all, the roll. it bows its head as we bow ours, thanking the universe for this evanescent time in the sun.

our shadow is right next to all we have seen, looking to all we will see. edges, a little less precise, a little less defined, softer, glorious, present. our shadow is right next to the eiffel tower, niagara falls, hunter mountain, the atlantic surf, canyonlands, the rockies and northport harbor.

*****

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stop. go. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i was about ten. and i was helping my dad clean out the gutters. we were up on the roof of our house on long island. and i was feeling on top of the world. that is, until, i wasn’t.

this could easily become a commercial for leaf-filter-gutter-guards, but that wasn’t a thing back then. instead, we were up there using little trowels and our hands to scoop and toss, scoop and toss. until i wasn’t.

i wanted to stop…but my body kept going. i hit the ground hard and broke my cheekbone. my sweet momma was not-so-pleased with my dad’s allowing-me-to-fall-off-the-roof, but it wasn’t his fault. if you lean forward over a gutter too far, gravity takes over. and that’s the story.

last night, i was awake most of the night. around 2:30 or so, david got us bananas to munch on and we started chatting. valentine’s day was his birthday and he turned 61, which he said feels very different than 60. “i don’t have a problem with the tens,” he said. “it’s the ones. it’s once you are solidly in the decade that it’s different.”

we talked about the differences between 51 and 61, of which, i must say, there are many. you want your body to stop changing (read: aging), but it keeps going and going and going. after much laughter and poking fun, we decided we were fortunate and shouldn’t complain.

the snowboard expert who was sharing the commentator role with the nbc peacock host was telling a story during the olympics. i don’t remember the story because i was too busy writing down his comment, which felt like it could generalize to so.much.in.life. “i wanted to stop but my body kept going.” we watch amazing athletes who have taken their whole lives mastering their sport to prepare for moments-in-time-competing, on top of their game, winning, and, in other moments-in-time having to deal with the stumbling of a body that didn’t quite cooperate on that particular day at that particular time.

i had two normal wrists before. and then, that one particular time. i wanted to stop – on my snowboard on the side of the skihill so as not to plow into the little girl crossing my path on skis – but my body kept going. simple as that. tried to stop. couldn’t stop. got closer and closer to her as she traversed on her tiny skis. and fell. two broken wrists. it’s been two years now. another one of those things david and i talked about in the wee hours. time. how it flies. it just keeps going, no matter what we want.

we went to the grocery store. we both wore masks. there is a global pandemic. still. as we walked toward the paper towels along the aisle that’s perpendicular to theirs, an unmasked naked-faced man came the other way. he started staring from a distance away. and frowning. at my mask. and then, direct eye contact. staring. i stared back. it was awkward. two people out-and-out staring as they approached in the grocery store sale aisle. normally, i would drop my gaze and look elsewhere, but this time i just held it. he passed by within inches of me, still staring. the aggression in the grocery store is titanic. such a waste of energy. such a waste of staring. i wonder if he wanted to stop. it was creepy.

we got home from the store and brought in the first of the bags. dogga bounced up and down at the door, greeting us. “on the rug,” we pointed. he tried – very, very hard – to sit down on the rug and wait to be invited to go outside. but he just couldn’t. we knew he wanted to. he wants to please us. but he just couldn’t. his little body – running at 78rpm-as-opposed-to-33 and downshifting to a lower gear to amp it up – just couldn’t stop. his delight was obvious. we were home. he was happy. he wanted to go out. jump. bounce. jump. bounce.

he skidded across the deck, long paw prints in the snow. luckily, when he came to the end, it was merely a foot or so off the ground. ka-thump.

he stood up and off he ran. he is clearly closer to 51 than 61.

*****

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our mélange. still a toddler. [two artists tuesday]

every weekday for four years is kind of a long time. we kicked off our mélange on february 12, 2018 with the intention to blog each day using a mutual image. we’d see where those images would take us: down backroads of memory, forays into wondering, dropping into the tiniest cracks of things that happen in our days. they would generate stories and pondering and poetry and a dedication to a practice we both love: writing.

1106 blogs later – in the context of the mélange – and we are just as committed now as we were then. in these tens of hundreds of posts, we have been both succinct and verbose, grateful and snarky, questioning and certain. mostly, we have sat next to each other – every single post – typed on laptops and read aloud to the other what the chosen image evoked. it has been an absolute gift.

from an analytical standpoint, we can see that people all over the world are reading. we marvel at the number of countries where someone has opened up what we have blathered. it is not without wonder that we -every so often- hear from someone from afar. and then, there are those days that the analytics suggest perhaps no one is interested and our writing is for naught. yet, we write anyway. because, we have discovered, this is for us – a gift we have given ourselves.

in the beginning our monday-friday topics included two cartoon days: chicken marsala monday and flawed cartoon wednesday. those days have since morphed and changed into merely-a-thought monday and not-so-flawed (and sometimes flawed) wednesday. in the beginning, too, every day had products i designed for that day. we had (actually, still have) five stores on society6 where people could purchase prints and canvases and tote bags, mugs and phone cases, throw pillows and leggings and shirts with our original work. hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of products. and so much fun to design. we have featured morsels of david’s paintings and youtubes or mp3s of my music, tiny snippets of color and texture and devoted artistry. we dove into the telling-the-tale of these pieces and we have shared the soul of our work.

soon it will be a year since we first added saturday morning smack-dab, our smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-middle-age cartoon. we’ll be setting up an additional separate page for smack-dab, the cartoon. some people want less words and that will be the place to go for the less-is-more approach. this cartoon is one of the delights of my week and the scripting, layout, colorizing, design work give me a distinct honor of co-cartoonist.

we have learned – in this practice – to photograph, to look, to listen – even more carefully and intently than before. so much to notice, to pay attention to. life is about how you take it in and respond to it all.

the learning curve on anything worthwhile can be steep. toughing out the vulnerability factor, finding your voice, using it to write, putting-it-out-there, brings a mélange of emotion. for us, it has been about 1106x joy.

thank you for reading.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

our first mélange post

click here for our mélange

and – if you are in the mood for browsing:

CHICKEN MARSALA SOCIETY6 STORE

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY SOCIETY6 STORE

FLAWED CARTOON SOCIETY6 STORE

DAVID ROBINSON SOCIETY6 STORE

KERRI SHERWOOD SOCIETY6 STORE

THE MÉLANGE ©️ 2018-2022 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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the bass-who-used-to-be-a-soprano. [k.s. friday]

in her gravelly voice, from the back row of the choir room, i heard one of the bass singers say, “i used to be a soprano!” everyone laughed and laughed. and then we sang.

laughter was a dominant force in that room. there is nothing quite as motivating as laughter-punctuating-work, nothing quite as unifying as laughter, nothing quite as joyful as the laughter of others. we had no shortage of laughter.

for in the choir room, the ukulele band gathering, the handbell practice, the worship band rehearsal, with soloists and in ensemble, laughter and joy were how i led.

linda was the council president when she hired me as the minister of music almost a decade ago. they never saw another president who led with her understated panache and wisdom and authenticity. “a pillar of the church,” someone said. yes. a powerful woman – who was who she was.

the first time i met her – at my interview way back when – she arrived late, disheveled and with a dirty t-shirt on. i wondered who that woman was. i wondered why she arrived looking like that. as it turned out, she had been cooking for the masses – it could have been ten thousand for the enormous heapings of food she would prepare – and she had been in the basement kitchen. she pitched in, in every way. her presence – in all ways – was a given.

there is much i never knew about her, but i knew this. she was honest and blunt and generous. she was kind to everyone, adored her family, and she stood tall as she faced down loss and serious health issues. she was straight-up, as they say.

years ago she asked me to sing, on some eventual day, at her memorial service. i first waved off her thoughts of mortality – for a woman like this is needed in this world – and then i agreed. “of course i will,” i said to her, “it would be my honor.”

her service was last friday – a week ago now – and i was not there. the church to which she had dedicated her energy and love had fired me – over a year ago now. (i mean, who gets fired from a church??)

i don’t know if she knew much about that, for her world had become smaller in her struggle for health. i do know that, had she still been in the position she was when i first arrived, i would still be there. for linda had a way of making sure others had perspective, that balance was achieved, that agenda was dispelled, that conflict was resolved, that transparency was paramount and that the best interest of the whole was held in open hearts.

alas, that wasn’t the case.

i was unable to sing for her service and, much like the service for H, i was unable to be there.

we lit a candle for linda on friday. we talked about her. we told our favorite stories. we laughed. i posted a thought on facebook. it was important for me to acknowledge this amazing woman, the bass-who-used-to-be-a-soprano.

and now, the whole wide world is without her. and as the whole wide world looks on, filmy incandescent threads of her, her spirit, her dedication, her fortitude, her voice weave around us.

and the world asks: who was that woman?

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

HATE TO SAY GOODBYE from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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the gift of a gift. [merely-a-thought monday]

and, of course, i wonder who found them.

the hike to looking glass rock is uphill. not a little uphill. reeeally uphill. the view through the trees, sans leaves, reveals mountains close-up, mountains out in the distance. it’s a gorgeous trail.

we started later than we had planned. and so, we had to turn around before we made it to the top. because once the sun goes down – and it goes down fast – it is next to impossible to safely navigate the trail back down. roots and rocks and twists and turns could turn it into a crisis. and we have watched everest enough times to remember professional guide rob hall’s words: it’s not my job to get you up the mountain…it’s my job to get you safely back down. pisgah national forest is – clearly – not the intensity of everest, but the same rule applies anyway.

and so – this time – we missed looking glass rock, an amazing formation, its sheer stone face rising above the trees. there will be a next time; we’ll start earlier, carry some lunch and more water and we’ll get there and back before darkness falls.

i had tucked a package of our “be kind” pins into my bag. i thought that there might be a place i could leave them. each time we have passed a little trail magic – a painted rock, tiny gift – it has lifted our spirits. i couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to leave these pins than this forest. the knot in the tree seemed perfect – at the right eye level for those hiking up. my only regret is not being able to go back and see that they are gone.

for each time i have left a rock – with a heart or a peace sign or a tiny message – on our local trail tucked into the notch of a tree, on an obvious branch or perched on a burl – i have had the opportunity to go back a next time and see that it has disappeared. it’s the gift of a gift.

i can only assume that the little cellophane bag tied with green curling ribbon in brevard is gone. i can only assume that someone has given out all the “be kind” buttons. i can only assume that as the recipients wear them or put them on their backpacks or their purse or hang them on the visor in their car they smile and pay it forward just a little.

the gift of a gift isn’t always known.

*****

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temporary. [two artists tuesday]

we have a ridiculously high level of dedication to this. despite the fact that no one is requiring it, no one is requesting it, no one is paying for it. every weekday, for one week shy of four years, we have written a post. i guess it’s part of the autograph we leave on the world, whether or not anyone reads it.

they poured the last bit of temporary sidewalk this week. it’s there till spring when it will be replaced by something permanent. i stood at the front door and chatted with the guys, who told me we should sign our names in it…after all, it is temporary cement. i did have this fleeting thought that, even if it were permanent cement, it is still temporary, but i didn’t think they wanted to have an existential conversation so i said nothing.

i went upstairs to get d from work. “we have to sign our names in the sidewalk. the guys told me to,” i pulled him away from his desk. he grabbed a yellow craftsman screwdriver from the kitchen drawer – where we keep one to tighten the door handle and that thingy on the door jamb that the lock slides into…what is that thingy called…oh yeah, strike plate….that.

it wasn’t too cold out – which is why they poured – so we went outside, stared at the open, undisturbed, perfectly raked canvas of wet cement and … drew a blank. the possibilities were endless. a peace sign? a heart? flowers? a mountain sunrise? paralyzed with uncertainty and too many choices, we decided on our names, which presented its own set of problems.

for we never really call each other our names. of course we will reFER to each other as kerri and david to others, but saying the name david TO david feels funny coming out of my mouth. and hearing david say kerri to me is just weird.

because a long time ago now we found out that we had the same middle name. in the very early stages of our relationship – when all we did was write emails and then texts – before we had met in person and before we had much voice-to-voice conversation, we discovered that, in the oddest of odds, our middle names are – for all intents and purposes – the same.

erle.

and

earl.

mine is the feminine version (that’s what my sweet momma would try to have you believe. having been named after my dad erling, she tried to convince me that e-r-l-e was soft and girlie. mm-hmm.) david’s was “the sound that bears make” – according to him; he was named after his grandpa.

regardless of the obvious chatter this will create as you try to discern if it is indeed soft and girlie or more of a gutteral utterance of a grizzly bear, it was decidedly a unique moment to find out we had somewhat rare names as our middle name.

and so, i started to call him david earl. (and similarly kerri erle.) soon, the formality dropped to d.earl – which is pronounced d-dot-earl. and this was shortened to d.dot – which is pronounced d-dot and does not include the obvious redundancy (d-dot-dot), because, heaven knows, we would not want to be redundant.

most of the time now, i just call him “d”.

so…standing there…in front of cement just pining to be written in…we had a decision to make. what.to.write.

and there you have it. the absolutely unnecessary story that you can’t believe you just read to the end. k.dot and d.dot in the cement sidewalk. temporarily.

the next morning – the morning after the installation – i stepped out to look at our handiwork. the sidewalk had cracked in the bitter overnight cold.

but they’ll be back, like they said. in the warmer spring or early summer days. and they’ll pour the next.

there’s a good chance we will write in that permanent sidewalk as well. our autographs.

those, too, will be temporary.

*****

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unfinished. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

while she explained to me the presence of the cross on the back of the donkey, he explained to david how he installed the sun-seeking solar panel in the barnyard. both exist here. the old world donkey and the twenty-first century solar panel. together.

he told us that they were about our age when they started to make plans for next steps. they sorted and listed and researched and made decisions for their next phase, moving to acreage further south – in a bit more temperate clime – closer to some family, out in the woods with ridges and ravines, living their dreams for the next of life. “you should start thinking about that now,” he encouraged us. he’s right. we think about it all the time.

“the world never comes at you all at once,” john o’donohue wrote. “you are not simply here. neither are you definitively and forever ‘you’.” … “no person is a finished thing.”

things you can count on. change and change and change.

we know change is imminent. and change has already arrived. and we have exited change, taken the doorway that reads “next”. and we can see more doors and more doors. they are a little further away, like trail markers, choices to be mapped, routes to follow, narratives with gaps to fill in.

maybe a coupla donkeys, a coupla horses, dogdog, mountains, cherry tomato plants, and trees. our lives will evolve.

in our mind’s eye, we paint ourselves older – hopefully wiser, but i know there’s no guarantee of that. we paint the hue of early morning sunrises over peaks near and far. we paint old porches and adirondack chairs. less stuff and more time. old world and new world. much like now, we paint in mugs of coffee and glasses of wine bookending the day. we paint in people we love. we paint in hiking and writing and new recipes and doing the art we do. it’s unfinished, this canvas.

life is not a paint-by-number. and solar panels and donkeys co-exist in barnyards. and we are not definitively any particular colors in any particular place doing any particular thing. we are made of dreams and change.

*****

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


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betty’s right. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

each of us can rack up the could-haves, like in a pool triangle, all stuffed in next to each other and ready to break with a cue. fragile, though. we can look back and think “why didn’t i…?” time and again. we can regret.

i suppose the gift of a new year – and those dang resolutions – is to sort and reevaluate the things that you consider important, the things worth continuing, the things worth letting go, the things worth learning. new practices of things-to-do and new practices of things-not-to-do. the lists permeate our brains and hearts, nagging, nagging.

there is a meme, well, many memes, circulating about betty white. it states something like “you have lived a really good life if, at 99, people say you have died too soon.” i realize that betty was inordinately popular, successful, always at the top of her game. but she was a real person, too. and she had to decide how to live. her positivity and laughter gifted each of us who have watched her or listened to her. in a recent interview she recommended, “taste every moment”. mmm. not at all corny, just a simplicity, a reminder.

we carry this pop-up-dinner table and stools around with us, switching from big red to littlebabyscion and back, depending on which vehicle we are driving. when big red refused to start for our road trip over christmas, we transferred the pop-up stuff into littlebabyscion and packed up to go.

we know we could have eaten at the sweet dining room table in our airbnb in the little mountain town. we ate there several times. but that last evening…we needed just a bit more time on the front porch, a bit more time outside, a bit more time admiring buffalo-plaid-man’s holiday decorations across the street, a bit more time in that town. we set up the pop-up table and stools, put up the luminaria again, lit a candle, brought out hors d’oeuvres for happy hour and, later, dinner. a little more effort, but not really much. everything tasted better out there. each moment.

before we even left home and while we were hiking in those north carolina mountains i thought about the new year approaching. i thought long about grasping onto the opportunity to just go, roadtrip to a new place, changing pattern. i thought about chances to amend, to let go, to reach out, to break the racked-up could-haves. big ways and little ways. i tasted a few resolution-ish moments, trying on for size – acting on – some of those thoughts-i-had.

and even in my first meager efforts – nothing earthshattering, nothing that will likely change the whole wide world – i must say, betty’s right.

*****

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


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tangible signs. [merely-a-thought monday]

there is never a time that is not the right time to be reminded and to remind others: “you are worth so much”. in these times – fraught with all sorts of difficulties – any and all positive outreach to each other is of value.

never should we take another for granted. never should we undermine another. never should we dismiss that others are in need. never should we forget that others are hurting. no matter their age, their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their ethnicity, their religion, their socioeconomic ladder rung, their anything.

we spotted the first sign after hiking. on the side of highway 64, we passed a driveway and i exclaimed, “did you see that sign?” i pointed it out the next time past. and then we saw more. transylvania county in north carolina was responding to crisis they had experienced. three teenagers committed suicide since august and the community is reeling. but they are not just jolted into grief; they are jolted into action.

a retired physician with seven children, four of whom are still in the community’s secondary schools said, “the conspiracy of silence has to end, both in our community and elsewhere. the evidence is clear — talking helps and silence hurts. what we’re doing with this sign campaign is a love letter from our community to our kids. this is just a small expression of the depth of our concern…”.

organizations in the community are addressing needs and are trying to sort ways to raise awareness. people are mobilized. much like the way dontgiveupsigns became a thing, transylvania county has started a thing. because every person counts, every person matters. and without aligned action, mission is void of truth.

we didn’t get a photograph of the yard signs. you can see them in an article in the transylvania times. but when we decided to use this as our quote for this first merely-a-thought monday of the new year, it seemed right to pair it with this silhouette of a chandelier, crystals – a symbol of wealth, success, status.

for each of us is worth so much. each of us – rich in possibility, in ways we contribute to the whole, in interaction with the world, in love of each other.

and there is never a time to forget that.

as amy wolff, the co-founder of don’tgiveup said, “life is messy but we’re in this together.”

​*****

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