reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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stumbles and falls. [two artists tuesday]

and in the same way that my palm is a picture of life, so was this trail.

roots everywhere. trippables. this north carolina forest, a temperate rainforest, was a palmistry dream. rhododendron bushes and tree roots criss-crossing, superficially close to the surface, looking unlike the high colorado mountain woods, full of pine and aspen, spruce and juniper.

i must not lift my feet up all the way when i walk. because – every so often – i stumbled and caught myself with my walking stick. shuffling along is not in order. in metaphor-land, that’s much the same as life too. no shuffling. pick your feet up and step…even baby steps.

years and years ago, decades really, i remember being in the car with my former husband. he was driving and there was someone crawling along…shuffling, if you can imagine that in a car with tires. “do something!” he muttered. “even if it’s wrong!” he added. it was the first time i can remember hearing that expression. it made me laugh aloud. the “even if it’s wrong” part. i still think about that when i drive. it’s the you-can-always-turn-around and find the right route. you are not stuck on the road you are on for always. i refuse to cut across lanes of traffic just to make a turn i didn’t realize was coming up quickly. there are other ways of getting there.

we took it slow…my lesson from vacation, the essay i would write were i tasked the proverbial what-did-you-do-on-vacation assignment. we talked about it in littlebabyscion as it crossed to 260,000 miles on the odometer. “slow and steady and we’ll get there,” i said. “there?” d asked. “anywhere we need to be, any decision we need to make, any challenge we need to forge through,” i replied.

somehow, despite the roots and the shadows and the stumbles and falls, we manage to rise up again. the trails all have them. so do the roads and the choices and decisions and relationships. smooth sailing is a myth. it’s all a little bumpy.

we go a little slower.

and there is grace in the air. we need extend it to each other and to ourselves.

*****

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no pizza, but thank you. [merely-a-thought monday]

if my sweet momma had hung tiny signs in trees, she would have hung this one, “be the reason someone smiles today.”

the historic district of plaza midwood in charlotte is a paradise of bungalows and porches. we walked to the harris teeter slowly, admiring each one, imagining the inside. later, we searched on zillow to see interiors and prices of these gems.

the house with the huge peace sign, the word love by the front door, prayer flags hanging on the side…we knew these people could easily be our friends. an inviting neighborhood. and then, this tree, filled with wisdoms and encouragements.

we porch-sat each night in our tiny mountain town, sitting on the steps or in sling camp chairs or at our pop-up table that travels with us. our airbnb is on one of the main arteries of the little city so there is traffic to watch and there are people walking by.

sometimes the conversations would be short and sweet and we would just greet people and cheer them on their way. other times, we’d start chatting. mike and michaela walked by and ended up at the porch several nights. and the feral cat – so sweet and so very shy – stopped by for a quiet visit each night. it easily started to feel really comfortable; we settled in quickly.

there are definitely times we walk or hike and attempt a littlebittaconversation with others when we are dissed. they will say nothing. truly nothing. no reaction, no smile, nothing. but we – nevertheless – try to subscribe to my momma’s unspoken mantra. we keep on trying to make others smile. it doesn’t take a lot of energy to try and momentarily engage with another, to act goofy or silly or self-deprecating, to do something kind, say something positive or enthusiastic or complimentary.

sitting on the steps of the porch one night, we said hi to a guy walking past. he was carrying his hot-out-of-the-pizza-oven pizza from the gas-station-triangle-stop-shop that oddly “offers growler taps and on-premise beer and wine”. he seemed surprised and then called over, “you wanna piece? i can share.” we laughed, tempted, and told him thank you.

we declined a slice of pizza, but my sweet momma’s eyes were sparkling.

*****

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


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blue, red, yellow, blue. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we were on the mountain past the junction where the blue trail met red, in the middle of the red trail, heading to yellow. it was considered “moderate” but i wondered what temperature it was outside when someone deemed it “moderate”. because at 90 degrees and humid, it wasn’t feelin’ too moderate.

the day before we had climbed to see a waterfall and then took the trail up from there. up, up and away it went and with north-carolina-mountain-summerish temperatures, we were lucky to find a cool stream at some elevation. david climbed down and dipped the bandana, which i wrapped around my neck. that helped. we got to a spot where it was purely a scramble up boulders and decided to turn around. frozen shoulder and high heat aside, it wasn’t as inviting as advertised. we hiked back down.

back on red, with a branch-ala-trekking-stick in hand, i tried to decide which way to go. back would mean a trail i already had climbed – and i knew there was a lot of up on the way back as well. forward would be a lot longer, but would also mean completing the trail.

to be clear, we were not flip-flopping it here. we had full-on hiking boots on our feet and carried small backpacks with water and snacks and our alltrails app, a wonder of science and technology. thankfully, we had the bandana and there was a stream punctuating our hike.

i’m pretty stubborn most days. if we are walking around town – our own or this mountain town we are currently in – we love to wear flip-flops. we actually haaave hiked in flip-flops, though i wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. standing on the red, even with my boots, i wasn’t sure which way to go. i was overheated and my knee was screeching a little at me. i drank some water and grabbed my stick.

we kept going.

the hike was about six and a half miles, which doesn’t sound too bad, except for the stats said we had also climbed 47 floors. mind you, those are not like the twelve levels of steps in the parking garage after the ej concert. these floors are indicative of elevation and don’t mention roots and rocks and clay and loose pebbles. and humidity. did i mention it was hot?

it’s usually roots that get me. i mustn’t pick up my feet. i don’t know. what i do know is that david – always the genteel and solicitous husband – reaches out his hand or places his shoulder at arm’s reach. he steadies me so i don’t bounce off the side of the mountain or land – never-too-gracefully – in the middle of the dirt trail. he offered to turn around, reassuring me it didn’t matter which way we finished.

sometimes he talks about my shoe choices. but on the side of the mountain, sopping cool bandana around my neck, more than halfway there, he was only encouraging. our conversation about shoes was only about finding new hikers that will take us to yet more adventures. maybe something even more sensible, even more sensitive to our foot-knee-back-hip-shoulder – full-body – needs.

the red trail met up with yellow. i was grateful. mostly, though, i was really happy when yellow met back up with blue. yeeeeeha!

we made it. the whole hike.

and then we sat on the front porch in bare feet sipping a good red watching the traffic go by.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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vertically. [k.s. friday]

they move them vertically. not horizontally. vertically.

the yamaha CFIIIs is a powerhouse 9-foot grand. a piano, it is a canvas waiting, blank, black and white.

they move it in, attach the legs. the technician shows up, tunes, voices, listens. the artist plays. the technician futzes some more. it’s a dance, making sure it is ready. the piano is patient and steady.

i have had the good fortune of being a recipient of these pianos. they have been delivered to recording studios, to stages, to televised venues, to big outdoor parks. the CFIIIs and the C7 are THE pianos. hands down.

at the elton john concert in charlotte, north carolina with d, my daughter and her boyfriend, he marveled at the load-in-load-out that it must take to move the ej piano, band, set, lighting, media show every night or so on the “farewell yellow brick road tour”. mostly, he talked about the piano, about how amazing it was, and how much it must cost, and how it must be moved, and how not just anyone gets to play that, for sure.

because most people believe it is moved as is – horizontally – i explained that it’s moved vertically, on its side.

but i didn’t explain how i knew. i didn’t talk about how many extraordinary pianos had been brought to me that way, how many on which i had performed or recorded. we were at elton john’s concert and he is – truly – a shining star.

inside, though, i knew. i could feel it, that urge to run up on stage, grab a boom mic, stand at the piano and play and sing. poking at me like a snickers bar. “i’m still standing. yeah, yeah, yeah.

the other day – at the daniel stowe botanic garden – there was a small grand in the atrium. my daughter looked at me when we walked in and said, “it says you can’t play it.” i went over to look at it. “no worries,” i said, laughing.

but at the ej concert….now that’s another story. he played and sang and i was proud to also be a yamaha artist.

“my gift is my song and this one’s for you.” (elton john – your song).

the words rang in my ears and my heart attached the exclamation mark. my gift IS my song…all of them…the ones with words and the ones without. the ones with music and the ones without. the ones written and the ones not written yet.

maybe there are still vertical pianos out there waiting. for me.

*****

WAITING (from JOY) ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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paddles in the water. [d.r. thursday]

vincent was there. right off the side of our canoe he swirled his paintbrush and the water canvas became starry-night dreamy. charles schulz was there too and i could see snoopy dancing atop the surface. it kept evolving, even without the help of our paddles. ever-changing.

jaxon was two yesterday. his curiosity, his energy are unmatched. he is fearless. everything is possible and the whole world stretches in front of him. his boundless zeal, like a fast paddle in the water, arranges and rearranges utterly everything-in-life continually. he is not considering how to approach life. he is simply living it. no expectations. just embracing it all – the whole kaleidoscope.

being on the road takes you away from the norm. it takes you out of the bills, the projects, day to day worries or concerns, dealing with health issues. you are suddenly on the surface of the lake – so to speak – skimming along in littlebabyscion, watching the world go by. we get to the city-we’ve-never-visited-before, a city trying to keep up with immense growth. the districts are working on revitalization. we take walks in historic neighborhoods and fall in love with bungalows and big porches. and we wonder.

we sit in a stadium – the first time in many years – surrounded by 60,000 people – the first time in many years – to see a concert – the first time in many years. we marvel at the changes we have felt in those years.

we hug her goodbye. parenthood is dynamic, never static, and motherhood is no easy trail. missing is just plain hard. i try to adjust, to readjust and readjust again, to hold it all lightly. the paddle on the surface of my heart teaches me lesson after lesson.

we wonder about all of them as we drive on – the people out there also driving, the people whose homes we are passing by, the people in the rest area, the people in the local grocery store. what is their life? who are they? what are their worries? what are their joys? sometimes you can feel it, even from the road. we both nearly wept as we passed by a very-rusty-beige-identical-trailers trailer park with maybe fifty bereft homes in an arid dirt expanse of land; treeless, shadeless, plantless, playgroundless, it felt hopeless. every shade on every trailer we could see was pulled shut. we saw no people, though each trailer had a vehicle parked nearby. it was south carolina, not at its best. no pastel-colored historic homes, wrap-around porches or coastal beaches, no palmettos, no golf courses or rolling grassy knolls. just nothing. dirt. except these trailer homes – and we had to try to wrap our heads around the fact that at least there were homes with roofs, perhaps air conditioning to ease the hot muggy heat. the empath cloud followed us for miles until we could shake it loose, putting our paddles into the water and stirring things up as we drove.

we arrive in the mountains, zigging, zagging, climbing. tall trees block the sun and suddenly we are cooler and everything takes on the color green. it keeps changing, this expanse, these days of life.

we’ll hike. every turn in the trail will be different, every view different. the elevation will give us a view of the mountains – out there – and we’ll photograph them to remember. we’ll dip bandanas in streams to cool off and stand by waterfalls taking pictures to remember.

and when we get home, it will all swirl around us – the moments. vincent and snoopy will laugh a little at our attempts to hold onto it. and jaxon will remind us of how gently to hold the kaleidoscope.

*****

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the west wall. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

it’s the west wall. and every morning as the sun streams in across the room, we comment. it’s one of those images that you anticipate, that stays with you, that you miss on cloudy days – a new day captured between miniblinds. and, because we were there and so was he, we know the shadow in the bottom left window pane is a shadow of dogdog’s furry ear and the nape of his neck. his ritual – laying on the bed with us in the morning as we sip coffee and the sun works on rising.

it will soon be a year since columbus – david’s sweet dad – died. it is now just days away. i knew him for merely eight years. but he was easy to adore. he still is. i talk to him every time i get into big red, feeling his presence as i crank up country music and roll down the windows. i don’t even know if he cranked up country music and rolled down the windows, but i sense his approval and it makes me smile. he had a gentle way about him and his shadow leaves soft edges in my heart. i told david that it will get a little bit harder each day now. there is no changing that. not feeling his absence is like trying to keep an open candle lit in the wind. impossible.

the anniversary of his leaving-this-earth forces one to recognize mortality. when my big brother died, it foisted upon me an absolute sense of a lack of infinity – time goes by and the world continues on, yet there will come a time that our relationship with the world will no longer feel the same and our shadow will be a little less pronounced, a little less definitive, a little fuzzier, though no less present. when my poppo and then, three years later, my sweet momma died, i was struck by the sheer ludicrousness of how wrapped up we all get in everylittledetailofeverything. it felt like we should spend more time shadow-dancing together in the sun and less time in the actual shadows. there is no time to waste. we learn it – and forget – again and again. and again.

in the way of shadows and energy and love, we know that our dogga can feel us, despite our temporary absence from him as we travel. just like the people we love – here and not here – he is right with us.

the west wall reminds us.

*****

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still standing. [two artists tuesday]

“yeah, yeah, yeah!”

the most powerful moment i felt at the elton john concert sunday night came when he sang “i’m still standing”. still standing! yes!

analysis of the lyrics aside, “still standing” elicited the gigantic reverberation of 50-60,000 people singing along, all of whom, i suspect, have a “still standing” story. it’s the kind of song that generalizes – it’s about relationship, but isn’t everything in life – our relationships with our beloved, with others, with ourselves, with our life’s work, with this universe? just the sheer still-standingness of being alive made singing along worthy, no, more, a necessity. the stadium roared.

his first hit – in 1969/70 – “your song” brought tears to my eyes. in the encore set, i knew we wouldn’t see him live-in-concert again and the experience was rich, under a beautiful open-air night sky hearing my husband, daughter and her boyfriend sing along in various songs.

but that i’m-still-standing … i wrote it down in a note in my phone.

because sometimes life teeters and you are delivered boulders while you – a tiny rock of ash in a huge galaxy – attempt to precariously balance it all. and last night – well – i knew i was still standing.

and i suddenly knew that i would do all i could to make sure that my tiny star is dancing inside and out, that all the notes count, that it’s all silently and roaring out-loud. yeah, yeah, yeah.

elton john somehow reminded me that i’ve been standing all along.

*****

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juicy fruit gum and frank. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the lyrics are going through my head. “stretch your coffee break! top it off with juicy fruit gum!” i can hear the jingle. over and over.

there is only sooo much you can stretch a coffee break. a few minutes is merely that – a few minutes. kinda like there is only so far you can stretch a $dollah. i mean, one $dollah does not go as far as it used to. stating the obvious. just saying. anyone shopping at the grocery store or filling their vehicle with gas can tell you that. not to mention house sales, rents, deferred maintenance items and – the big one – healthcare. the mighty $dollah just doesn’t stretch.

so, for two artists, in carefully planning how to execute a retirement, there is much to finagle, much to calculate, much to belabor, much to bemoan. and then – like the rogue waves they are – stuff gets in the way. and the aggressive efforts at The Plan get undermined, waylaid, jolted.

we will retire. someday.

frank sinatra croons to me, “fairy tales do come true. it can happen to you. if you’re young at heart…”

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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body surfing. [k.s. friday]

it’s all a wave. we ride out, we ride in, the surf is gentle and easy, the surf is rough and pounding. as far as we can see into the horizon we know it will all be like this.

“frozen shoulder,” she said.

at the orthopedic specialist at the highly-regarded froedtert hospital, i blinked back tears. i have had appendage challenges the last two years. it’s a wave. in between the normal tides rolling in, we have a brush with a rogue breaker. she’s kind and explains the stages of frozen shoulder, what i might expect. it can take up to 42 months to un-freeze, she mentions, though i refuse to take that in. for nine months now, since the time of my covid booster, it has become my new normal, this painful and incomplete range of motion. she points to the deltoid and explains the vaccination – any vaccination – must go into the deltoid, not through or slip around it; if either of those happen, inflammation will result. i guess the wave of inflammation has roiled in.

the rogue wave passed by david a couple weeks ago, tapping him as it went. we rose to its challenge, just like we’ll rise to this one. it seems that the surf is not as still as we would wish right now, but there are moments of calmer waters.

we are adrift in our sea – each of us – as we go about living. each molecule of the lake party to the elements, each atom of us rawly exposed.

we are body surfing. every single day.

*****

ADRIFT from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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myths. [d.r. thursday]

he reassured me that – were we to be lost in the woods, deep in the forest, without our alltrails app, without google maps, without a gps of any sort – we could determine north by the side of the trees on which the lichen was growing. “that will be the north side,” he told me, adding, “and with that important information, we would be able to find our way.”

uh. nope.

i just looked that up and it is a myth. whattheheck?

just exactly how are we to know which things we have learned are myths and which things we have learned are not? this is a confusing and complex problem. particularly at moments – like in the woods, lost – when one would think, “wait! i can help! the lichen! look at the lichen! it grows most profusely on the north side. we can find our way out!”. which old wives’ tales are true and which aren’t?

we have found, lately, that the real truth of the matter is that everyone is pretty much making up everything. it’s all on-the-fly. wives’ tales and all.

the monsoon rains came on sunday after a perfectly-perfect day on saturday. “seven inches of rain possible,” the accuweather app read, “areal flooding. flash flooding. turn around. don’t drown.”

we hoped it would go around our town, just a bit to the west (or the east over the lake) and just skirt around us. but no such luck. it downpoured. at exactly the wrong angle and velocity for our house. in the middle of gathering chimney-work estimates, the rain battered the compromised chimney. in the basement, i made it up and laid towels to direct the rivulets of water (complete understatement) that were coming in, hoping i was making a difference. we crossed our fingers and wished for the storm drains to keep up. we turned to the north, looking for the way out of the forest.

because it was truly torrential, everyone around us was having issues. the huge tree in our neighbor’s yard fell and we kept looking up, standing out in the rain, waiting for the city to come and help them. the trees to our north are the ones that worry us the most in our own yard. there is no lichen on them. we laid down tarps on the deck along the house trying to keep the water from pooling along the siding and foundation. we got sopped in all our making-it-up. i wondered what else we could do, besides wait. but there wasn’t much. we kept vigil on the basement and on the trees to the north.

and we didn’t get a cold from standing out in the rain. another myth.

*****

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