reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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in this season. [k.s. friday]

we are firmly entrenched now.

yes. entrenched in the land of hallmark christmas movies. ’tis the season.

two years ago we actually purchased one – our favorite hallmark christmas movie – a season for miracles. and, though we know it by heart – much like my big fat greek wedding or love actually or about time – we watch it over and over, never tiring of its sweet story.

weeks ago, we walked through downtown to mail our voting ballots. having proximity to town and the waterfront – all within walking distance – seems to be one of our leanings for all potential future places to live. the other is to be far away from everything hectic. it’s a toss-up. that late fall day with golden leaves, we walked along the lakefront and then cut in west – past the historic library and library park.

i must never have looked up there, because it took me by surprise.

an angel statue.

there’s history to this statue, but that wasn’t what it brought up for me. instead, it was a reminder of this ultra-sweet hallmark movie, with a very similar angel statue at the center of the fictitious town of bethlehem and a person who looks strikingly like this angel – an angel who is cast as multiple characters in the movie. it’s a heartwarming story.

we spent the rest of the walk, wondering about never noticing this angel statue before and talking about the generosities and grace in the movie we love. it cast a magical quality to our walk that day. we were surrounded by what-felt-like a gentle cloak of hopefulness, of light.

we’ve held off so far. but soon. soon we will pull out this movie and the fleece sherpa blanket on the couch. and we will sit and watch – once again – knowing exactly what is going to happen and still getting teary-eyed. both of us.

it will remind us of those around us without whose goodness we might be lost.

indeed, we are surrounded by these angels.

in this season and always.

*****

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off the trail we know. [k.s. friday]

each time the trail curves, i can imagine it. next.

but as weeks go, this one has been harder. we tried our best to be positive, to believe that the new bend in our road is not so fraught. but, the fact of the matter is that it is. fraught.

we are pretty tough. kind of scrappy. definitely frugal. well, most of the time. we have both been presented with lean times in our lives. even our life together has had its lean times. we always eat leftovers. we always repurpose things. we always turn the shampoo bottle upside down. we always keep the heat low. we haven’t bought a vehicle in sixteen years. in some unknown intuitive move for which we are now grateful, we put off the big chimney-fireplace project, necessary but ridiculously expensive. we haven’t flown in three years. we find sanctuary in a forest we know well. we know where the trail curves.

and each time the trail curves, i can imagine it.

as the sun glimmers on what-looks-like the other end, i think – this is just one day, one week, one time in our lives. tomorrow will dawn and it might be a completely different day, starting a completely different week, a completely different time in our lives. and we just don’t know. again.

we are now in a woods we do not recognize, on a path we can not anticipate. off the trail we know. anxiety hikes with us, as do worry, sadness and disappointment. we worked hard on our plan, but the best laid plans are laid down. and this week, as weeks go, this one has been harder.

the sun quivers through the trees in front of us, setting. we keep walking.

day is done, 
gone the sun, 
from the lake, 
from the hills, 
from the sky; 
all is well, 
safely rest, 
god is nigh.  

fading light 
dims the sight, 
and a star 
gems the sky, 
gleaming bright. 
from afar, 
drawing nigh, 
falls the night.

(taps - d. butterfield/unknown)

*****

IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

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it’s in our vote. [k.s. friday]

the midterms are rapidly approaching. the rhetoric is amping up. the tv ads, the phone calls, the billboards, the texts, the email messages, the political mail in the mailbox – all dedicated to sway our vote.

i realize that this is the way to raise money, that this is the way to get one party ahead of the other. many voters will elect to vote a straight party ballot. some will vote without asking any questions. some will vote without any information at all. some will vote for vapid minds, choosing the rough edges of spewed anger, covert scheming. they are voting on a bandwagon – with truth obscured – and haven’t looked past the exterior of the candidates.

i was chatting quite some time ago with a college professor. he was teaching a class three days a week and was talking about his experiences. “anybody can be brilliant for an hour and a half,” he quipped. i laughed, thinking how true that is.

but it’s the long haul that counts. it’s what’s at the crux that counts. i wonder what is in the center of what motivates the candidates we are considering. what is past the exterior, what are the things they affirm, believe in, wish to move forward?

anyone can look pious, even righteous, in brevity, for short spurts of time. but these same pedestalized people can bring to the table masked and unmasked agenda that is riddled with inequality, marginalization, discrimination, divisiveness, violence, a thwarting of social, racial, gender, financial equity all under the auspices of brilliance. it is our responsibility to peel back the layers, to poke through the season-of-midterm blahblah, to examine the intentions, the integrity, of the people we choose – truly, in every arena – to represent us.

how these people manifest in their communication, their compassion, their fairness, their steadfast evenhandedness, their actual brilliance – not the hourandahalf variety – should tell us something important. if a person does not represent the values we uphold ourselves, the ones we would lay out to each and every one of those we love, why would we elect that person to represent us, to reflect us? if our vote was revealed to our loved ones, our children, our family, friends, community, colleagues, would we take comfort, would we have pride, in what was revealed?

for it is in our vote that we truly show what is beyond the exterior. it is in our vote that we truly show what is in our heart.

*****

FIGURE IT OUT ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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stretching, not ripping. [k.s. friday]

the threads are stretching, stretching…but not ripping.

barney stretches and yawns, still a piano, always a piano. his soul – tenacious and flexible and resilient – centering back to itself, despite weather, despite weathering. it’s late day and the shadows are long. there are small mounds of birdseed, assorted fallen leaves, bits of white at the leading edge of the keyboard. no matter. his aging exterior belies the zeal inside of him, the sorting of memories being played, sustain pedal lifting notes into the air and holding them there. barney has come to knowing that all the notes are still there – stretched across the atmosphere, lingering. he is not fearful of this process in the sun and the rain, snow and blustering winds.

“if you let your fears control your actions, then you are not going 100 mph through it, enjoying it.” (sue aikens)

barney does little these days. he is home for wildlife, the birds, the chippies, the squirrels – they know him well. but he is still going 100 mph through it, whirling and dancing in his beautiful body in our backyard. one day he will look even less like an upright.

but the chickadees and house finches, the cardinals and robins will glance over at him and think, “there’s that sweet piano.” for they, too, will still recognize him.

*****

HOLDING ON, LETTING GO ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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just three. [k.s. friday]

we stood in the grocery store in brevard, right by the display. the food lion price for the charming smushy-flat white pumpkin was $8.99. it called to me, “you need me! bring me home!” but i got hung up on the price tag and we didn’t buy it.

we’ve had a pumpkin or two most years, often a pie pumpkin that we place on this funny wrought iron stand with arms, making it look like a pumpkinperson. we’ve gotten gourds – interesting shapes that tickle us. but not yet a white pumpkin, even though i really love how they look.

budgets are sometimes fun-oppressors. but any artist can tell you they are necessary. and any artist can tell you that there’s been at least one time that an $8.99 pumpkin – even one that might do the dishes and sorts socks – has not made the cut.

there is a sweet apple orchard out in the county. there is wine-tasting and a distillery at aeppeltreow, so there are spirits and spirited fun. there are a zillion apples and there are pumpkins and gourds and apple cider donuts. two years ago we picked out our tiny patch o’ pumpkins from their flatbeds and gardens of choices. coming home with a pear-shaped gourd and a couple smaller that were wart-laden we felt rich.

we bought pumpkins in aspen that same year and carved jack-o-lanterns at our airbnb with our daughter, leaving our artwork and extra candles behind for the next guests.

last year we featured our aging pear-shaped gourd in our sunroom, put out some orange happy lights and indulged in apple cider donuts at the orchard. despite the gluten they were worth it.

i think this year we will get a white pumpkin. and maybe two orange ones. three in all. just three.

but it will truly be magical.

*****

MILLNECK FALL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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faces on a bridge. [k.s. friday]

this darling face was larger than life, a giant print by simon te tai hanging on the wall at our airbnb in charlotte. many times we would find ourselves standing in front of it. it compelled you to do so. is there a “hug-a-sloth” day? we both would like to participate.

other than our sweet dogdog, the next animal face we were close to was the hawk’s.

it was out front in the yard, seemingly enjoying the sprinkler. d watched it out the office window, checking on it while he worked. when he went to turn the sprinkler off and remove the hose from the lawn, it stayed there and watched him. he sent me a photo of it, merely ten feet away, calm and steady. the next time he looked out, it was in the street and in trouble. grabbing a blanket he ran down to it. we have brought other birds to rehab centers so this would not be our first. the hawk was in distress and laid while david talked quietly to it. as he went to gently scoop it up, it flew off, straight up into the tree limbs above.

when i came home d was standing in the middle of the street, staring up, so i knew it had to be something to do with this hawk he had photographed.

there it was. a small raptor perched on a limb 25 feet above us.

we watched it for a while and then thought we should leave it be, believing it must be recuperating from – perhaps – being somehow stunned.

just a bit later, from across the street, at the front door, we watched with horror as this beautiful creature flapped its wings up in the tree and then fell out. grabbing a bin and the blanket we tore out the front door and ran across the street.

i implored him to wait. the eye i could see was closing and i caressed him softly, telling him how grateful the world was for his presence in it, how stunningly beautiful he was.

i don’t know when his tiny spirit floated away.

it was profound for both of us. david wrapped him carefully in a blanket and we placed him in the bin, hopeful that our suspicion was wrong and that it might be possible he was simply unconscious for a bit. but the time went by and each time we checked on him revealed no change. we called all the bird rehabilitation centers.

wisconsin dnr asked us to photograph the hawk. “take as many pictures as you can,” she instructed, “that way we can try to determine what kind of hawk it was and maybe a little information about what might have happened.” there were no obvious signs of injury and we know that the avian flu has been seriously problematic, especially for waterfowl and birds of prey.

his face was truly beautiful. feathers the color of bold coffee and caramel, amber eyes just like dogdog’s, a bit of green above his curled beak. really beautiful.

it’s these two faces of wildlife i will remember this past month.

the face of a sloth – though not three-dimensional – friendly and open, practically begging for a giggly snuggle.

and the face of a hawk – transient, evanescent and spirit-filled – visceral and, quite astoundingly, stroked by our fingertips – a moment we shared we will not forget – when this creature crossed over and we were all one, together. on a mysterious bridge that goes both ways.

BRIDGE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

*****

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the hawk. [k.s. friday]

we had eye contact.

in the middle of planting grasses he flew in. i turned and he was perched on the fence, studying us. we looked at each other – eye to eye. and this hawk sat still, just watching. before i could get d’s attention and have him turn to see him, the hawk flew off, eventually landing in the higher branches of the east neighbor’s tree, where he stayed for quite some time. we could see him there and he could see us.

from his vantage point i ponder what else he could see. the horizon stretched out before him, his high flight giving him an edge for observation, clarity. his eagle eye taking in the flow around him, the circle of life ever-present.

now it makes me wonder if he knew what was coming, how grounded we would soon need to be. things change in a moment and moving forward requires determination and some acuity. perhaps it was there to let us borrow some of its vast abilities, its confidence, the sense of being in control.

i stared at the hawk. the hawk stared back at me. peacefully, focused. i was just a little astounded at how close it was. maybe it was a little astounded at how close i was. no matter, we both stayed put and the moments slowed down until he took flight.

*****

TAKE FLIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood

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a watchful eye. [k.s. friday]

should it get to the point that the vine is obscuring the metal sunflower, we will cut it back. right now the vine is in its glory, billowing on top of the wooden fence, weaving in and out of the decorative wrought iron, and tumbling down our side. it has reached out and is starting to creep over this sunflower, ever so slowly and then, suddenly, the sunflower is wrapped in vine.

we keep a watchful eye.

for the vines of the neighbors, though lovely, are somewhat aggressive and we wish to protect the plants we have beneath their spilling. they are quietly growing, growing beneath these explosive vines and it has taken us years to cultivate even this small garden.

it used to be that the snow-on-the-mountain took over…it was everywhere. it choked out the lavendar garden and its long-branching rhizomes were spreading, spreading, giving our newly planted grasses a run for their life. it was overrunning everything else and its root system sent out feelers all over the yard, even under the driveway, looking for vulnerable plants it could overtake.

now the ground elder, on the other side of the potting bench, is rampant. because it is on-the-other-side and we mostly keep it from the stone patio in our potting garden, we are not as worried. but we watch it anyway.

we’ve discovered that vigilance is key. not so shockingly, we see the vines will win.

so we keep a watchful eye. and we protect the more fragile plants. we are sure to water them and check for the invasives trying to squeeze them out.

because they are beautiful, diligent silent growers, not insistently loud snowballing vegetation, and they each deserve their own space in the sun, their own dirt, air to breathe and our appreciation.

*****

SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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all that mylar. [k.s. friday]

they are a mystery. vhs tapes with no labels. now, how on earth can you send them to the vhs recycle place if you don’t know what they are? there could be priceless memories on that magnetic tape, mylar possibilities gone missing.

fortunately for us we still have a vcr machine. i’m not quite sure if it will just simply connect to our tv, but there is a gigantic plastic bag in the basement workroom with all kinds of cords and cables and such, so maybe we will find something in there that will help. or maybe we will have to get some kind of converter. nevertheless, we have hours of viewing fun in front of us for some rainy evenings and we can find out what’s on those unlabeled tapes.

there are plenty labeled as well, which makes it infinitely harder to dispose of them. movies of my girl and my boy as tiny babies, ballet recitals and soccer games, birthday parties and christmas mornings, movies my sweet poppo recorded off the tv, shots of family times, recordings of cantatas i directed, footage of some of my concerts and of me performing on qvc. they all demand a viewing and i’ll set them aside in a bin and someday, well, many somedays, serve them up with popcorn and m&ms.

the pre-recorded vhs tapes are no less sentimental. the million times we watched under the sea singalong songs, the ridiculously infinite numbers of times barney made an appearance at our house, disney movies, the nutcracker. it goes on and on. not just in the basement, these movies are in the chimney cabinets, waiting.

and then there’s the 8mm tapes, which were converted to dvds and carefully labeled a few years back. goodness! memories à gogo.

i guess someday someone will find our fuzzy purple cd case with the zipper and our daughter’s marker drawings all over it, the one we even take on trips. they’ll unzip it to find all our favorite dvds…the ones we default to, over and over and over, for we are those people who love to watch movies we love to watch again and again.

and they’ll wonder how to watch those dvds; they’ll seek out a dvd player, ponder what cords or cables they need, if they need some sort of converter. they’ll pick a movie out of the fuzzy purple case or maybe one home-recorded and labeled. they’ll load it up and push play.

then they’ll settle in with some popcorn and m&ms.

*****

let me take you back

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LET ME TAKE YOU BACK from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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two little piggies. [k.s. friday]

my poppo’s cane stands next to a chimney cupboard in the sitting room, propped with a couple of walking sticks. i’ve never been very good at using a cane – for some reason, i find it confusing. you shake your head and wonder, i’m sure, but there is something about placing the stick and the side you place it on and which leg you are attempting to aid that is a little bit baffling for me.

this past week, though, i had a full day of using my dad’s cane. i had broken two toes and needed a little something to lean on to get around. i tried using the foam roller but that proved awkward. and david, well, his shoulder wasn’t available all day.

my dad was most certainly chuckling watching me. i’m sure he was trying to instruct me from that other plane, in-between sipping coffee and nibbling on crumbcake. i figured it out, even though i couldn’t hear him, but not without laughing at my own awkward brain-cane-leg shenanigans. mostly, my hand holding the curve of my dad’s cane was a little bit of a gift. sitting as a decoration, it hadn’t occurred to me that it might come in handy. “use the stick,” i could hear him say. i keep listening for him, a decade tomorrow since i started missing him. always.

i’m not sure why i break my toes. the report from the dr’s office to the x-ray folks read “kicked a door jamb with her left foot.” i beg to differ. i didn’t KICK the door jamb. i ran into it. there is a difference. one sounds like a hissy fit, whereas the other is clearly an accident that happened as i zoomed around in the house, getting stuff done, barefoot.

it seems that every year or so i hurt a toe. most of the time, barefoot. but sometimes i even have my flipflops on. this time, though, was a doozy. two at once! i mean, seriously?

on the third day post-communing-with-the-door-jamb i put on one of the thick snowboard socks of a pair we had gotten when we went snowboarding and i broke both my wrists (another fun day) and i found a sport slide sandal of my son’s (who has much bigger feet than i do). the combination worked like a charm and i found that i could manage to move around. i’m still wearing this winning combo. i don’t look vogue but i am getting from place a to place b. and gaining momentum.

i suppose i should just wear shoes. like all the time. something to guard my toes, since they seem vulnerable. but i really love the sensation of bare feet on old wood floors. the planks creak and groan a little and you can feel the spaces that time and history have created in between the boards.

as much as i don’t look forward to any more broken piggies, i suspect these are not my last.

*****

IN THESE TIMES…gaining momentum

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IN THESE TIMES from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood