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pointers. [d.r. thursday]

“i believe art is utterly important. it is one of the things that could save us.” (mary oliver)

in those moments – so many of them – when all else fails to reassure – beauty reminds us. it keeps us present, in the moment, working to get to the next moment, breathing in deep breaths, slowly, slowly.

the work of an artist, in any medium, is as a pointer, just like the wooden ones with the rubber tip that your fourth grade teacher used as she pulled down the world map on the roll above the blackboard to show your class the track of an expedition or the location of a country. artists pull down the map and point to it, making it accessible to anyone, making it alive, bringing an infinity of beauty, pulling your attention away from the narrative inside, whatever it might be. it is a tool of healing, a balm, a salve. it is freeing. it is free.

we immerse in music, in the ecstasy of dance, in the flow of poetry, in the spectrum of paint on a canvas, the feel of clay pots in our hands. we sometimes forget and are driven into the angst of life’s dimensionality, missing the limitlessness of the simplest. these are the moments we turn to art.

for in the end it is not the accumulation of things or wealth or titles or power. it is simply and utterly the sheer beauty of being here, the absolutely stunning realization that we get to be here in this moment in a continuum of moments we share – albeit tiny within the vast – with the universe. inside the art.

“you can’t take it with you,” my sweet poppo would say as he would refer to money or stuff. in those pondering moments he had, he somehow knew watching the cormorants on the lake out the window, listening to music on their stereo, puttering and creating in his garage workshop, quietly coffee-sitting with my momma – these were the things of value. the day he threw caution to the wind and purchased a large painting at the splurgy karl’s mariners inn restaurant perched on northport harbor; he was answering the call of art – the pointer that drew him in and wrapped him, in this case, in the fjords of norway and endless dreaming. it moved home to home with them and always was a source of calm, a reminder of beauty and peace.

each day i walk downstairs and see this canvas on the easel. each day it reminds me of the trail we often walk, for it is the paused and erased beginning of a painting of the woods of that trail. i pay attention to it because it affords me tiny spaces of river trail within my day. it reminds me, as i scurry about attempting to get things done, to remember. it slows me down and i can hear the rustling of leaves, the birdcalls, the crunch of our feet on dirt, the chatter of squirrels. i can feel the sun atop my head, the breeze in my face, my arm looped through david’s. i can see the color of wildflowers, lush green underbrush, rough grey-brown bark, cloud-dotted blue sky. i can sense a bit of time on my hands, but just a bit. and i am right there, stepped out of the up-close worries, stepped into beauty. i am paying attention. art has done its good work.

to pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. (mary oliver)

*****

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just waiting to float. [merely-a-thought monday]

the clock read 2:39am when i finally looked at it. i had been awake for some time already. because sleep remained elusive, i listened to the birds as they woke up to be with me, to be sure that i would know that the sun was soon rising, that the day was starting. 4:45 came and went. sleep stayed at bay and every thought that was ever present stayed wide awake. the white miniblinds glowed to the east. the sounds of the world waking: mourning dove coos, chattering squirrels, cawing crows, tiny finches, maybe a cardinal, maybe a blue jay, a lumbering train, robins, always songbird robins.

though deep slumber is a personal favorite of mine, i did not mind the night last night. the pondering of life, the listening, the sighs of dogdog and his paws running in his dream – all were a pre-coffee tapestry and i knew, as the sun rose and i finally drifted for a bit, that this day will blanket me with goodness. particularly if i sing. the dogdog song, all the incorrect lyrics of songs from the 70s i would sing back then at the top of my lungs, any random song that occurs to me, any song i invent in the moment.

for there is something about spontaneous singing, something about the making-up of lyrics or the repetition of well-worn lyrics spun into space that changes things. poetry in air. the frequency of happiness, of joy, of breaking into song changes what is happening in you, around you, sending its waves out, out, out.

i do believe in kindness. i do believe in mischief. and i do believe in singing. any old time. mary oliver and i might have sat together and chatted over tea, for we would have agreed about all matters of joy. and, even though mary and i never tipped cups or glasses, i consider all with whom i have, especially as dark turns to light and i am wide-awake and snug under blankets in a window-open-chilled room. i was lucky to sit with andrea, a love-filled free-spirit poet, songstress of peace. i have been lucky to sit with joan, thoughtful writer and ardent reader, her wisdom resonates and lingers in my pondering. i have been lucky to sit with susan, in her kitchen, writing songs with words and good food and cakes and so much music. i have been lucky to sit with jim, music at the ready, joined with him in improvisational weaving. i am lucky to sit each day with david, a word devotee, think-provoker, slow-dancer, and now, spontaneous singer.

the sky is brilliant and cloudless as i write this on sunday morning for monday. the sun is golden. the sound of the keys of two laptops punctuates my thoughts. a mug of coffee gets cold next to me as i type, as i am lost in musing. i think to the day ahead.

though my routine has been upheaved in recent months, though good sleep has been in hiding, though there are many things to worry about, to wonder about, this day begs my attention. it begs good mischief. it most certainly begs kindness, as the universe is full of goodness and has been gloriously kind. this day begs to be sung to.

even if i don’t sing aloud. because the songs are there with me just waiting to be chosen, to float.

*****

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


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“the pace of nature.” [merely-a-thought monday]

“…adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” (ralph waldo emerson)

no matter how hard we try, there is not one thing we can do to make the sun appear or the day warmer or the moon to rise or the snow to fall. we accept that time will come, time will pass, time will form and time will destroy. we give over to nature, anticipating that which we know, expecting the unexpected. we baby-step through this very time in the universe, our footprints barely visible on the timeline that is forever. we learn that no matter our stride, we are simply tiny beings. eventually, we learn, after giving over to patience, that that is enough.

the john denver sanctuary in aspen is a treasure trove. we have been there three times now. a garden of trails and large river boulders etched with lyrics and quotes, perennial daisies and aspen trees, it is a gentle sinking into peaceful. the city sounds of aspen fall away and the river and streams are lulling.

we wandered for hours, reading, sitting, pondering, the sun on our faces, the sound of quaking leaves slowing us down. i stood on a giant rock, like a stage under my feet, and bowed deeply to no one and to the brilliance of a man who knew how to tenderly shape melody and weave lyric into a fabric like a soft blanket.

we were immersed in poetry, in words, delicious to read aloud. we were quietly taking it all in, i in all my john-denver-glory, reliving the cassettes i wore out, rewinding, rewinding, listening again and again. this exquisite place, tempting all-day-hooky-playing, wielding a magic defined by thought, encouraging reflection, softly begging you to tumble in your own thoughts. this place slowing you down, reminding you that it is not stuff that defines you, it is not the stuff-of-you that will remain with others.

we wrestle with timing, with suspense, with expectation and disappointment. we measure against ladders of success and hold ourselves to higher higher higher standards of accomplishment.

nature quietly treks on, luminescent and glorious, patiently acknowledging every babystep moment of its impact, surrendering judgement and secretly, from the heart of the universe, signing its autograph on all of us, whispering to us to slow our pace.

*****

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


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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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converge. [two artists tuesday]

deer tracks converge

“i shall pass this way but once. any good that i can do, any kindness i can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer nor neglect, for i shall not pass this way again.” (etienne de grellet)

this saying is tucked into my wallet.  it hangs in our kitchen.  it was my sweet momma’s favorite and she lived by it like a mantra. she did not procrastinate kindness until it was convenient; she lived it.

we pass the deer tracks at bristol woods.  often we are first after the deer.  i wonder what they are like as they pass each other, as their paths converge and diverge.

bold black prayer flag converge framed

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CONVERGE. ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood

 


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share space under the clouds. [d.r. thursday]

CloudWatchers morsel 2 copy.jpg

cloud haiku

a cloud haiku 🙂

CloudWatchers copy

view the full painting CLOUD WATCHERS online – click here or on the painting above

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 CLOUD WATCHERS/MORSEL ©️ 2002-2006/2018 david robinson

 


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make others happy. [merely a thought monday]

pt barnum quote

wendy aka ben aka saul brought the movie so that we could watch it together.  the musical the greatest showman was completely entertaining.  there are so many quotes and moments in that movie that are worthy of repeating but the one that is on-screen at the conclusion is by far the umbrella quote.  “the noblest art is that of making others happy.” (p.t. barnum)

so often, it is the arts that people turn to for a breather, for something beautiful, for something to relieve their stress.  a person will listen to music, gaze at a painting, get lost in reading a book or watching a play, feel their breathing slow down during a ballet, sink into a poem. invaluable offerings of peace, of happiness, the arts give pause.

it is humbling when someone tells me that a piece of music has touched them, that a song has made them weep, that something i wrote made them stop a second and ponder.  it is my job as an artist to do my best to reach out with my work.  i can’t determine if it will resonate with anyone; i can only “put it out there” as they say.

it is more often lately that i bemoan the priceless value of the arts that coincides with the oft-price-less earnings of the arts. for what better work than to make others happy.  what better work than to be part of what people turn to when they need to breathe, when they need beauty, when they need to de-stress.

it is noble work.  however you achieve it.  for at the end, will we remember anything other than what made us happy and, more importantly, how we made others happy?

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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reach. [two artists tuesday]

REACH copy.PNG

“..but i look up high to see only the light, and never look down to see my shadow. this is a wisdom which man must learn.” (song of the flower by kahlil gibran)

in these times…times of division…times of marginalizing…times of anger perpetuating anger…times of disrespect…times of hopelessness…we implore each other, our universe, our God – for answers, for fairness, for unity, for peace among all persons.

as the flower, we look up and see the light.  knowing the shadows are there, but believing that the light overcomes them. for as the sun moves, so do the shadows change. as the day dawns, the night fades.

the light.  reach for it.

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reach. ©️ kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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i came into this world…it’s personal [two artists tuesday]

i came into this world collage

every time we get a text from david or molly with a picture of sweet dawson coloring i believe i see an artist-in-the-making.  he is intense, all not-even-two-years-old of him.  his crayons seem deliberate choices, his drawing coming from a place inside that beckons him to the paper, the cardboard box, the canvas. it’s innate.

charlie is a second grader.  he practices batting every day.  he has ground down an area of the backyard so much that seth thinks there will never be grass there again.  charlie can cite all the players on the kansas city royals and their stats and he will narrate his own one-person ballgame in the backyard, an announcer with great animation and accurate details.  such a small person with such a big passion for the game.  it’s innate.

khloe, a teeny but mighty seven year old, would come up to the chancel each week and john would let her play the drum set.  she didn’t pound, she didn’t arbitrarily hit drums or cymbals.  you could see by the combination of joy on her face and an expression of concentration that she was pretty serious.  she has the beat.  it’s innate.

when my sweet beth and i talked on the phone she said, “i’m not sure how i feel about her going into music.” she was talking about her older daughter, who already has been cast as the lead in three plays this coming school year.  i don’t think she has a choice.  for emme, it’s innate.

each of us spokes-in-the-giant-wheel come into this world with something.  something that is just ours.  ours to do.  ours to bring.  it’s innate.  already in us.

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i came into this world collage

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i came into this world with art already in me ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 


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find your poetry tree. [chicken marsala monday]

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if my sweet momma couldn’t find me in the house, she knew to go outside, round the house to the maple tree just beyond my growing-up-window and look up.  there i would be, sitting in a crook, notebook and pencil in hand.  it was a place of inspiration for me, a perch for penning thoughts, reflections, poems, stories, lyrics.

i think we all have one…a poetry tree.  it may be the kitchen table, an adirondack chair on a porch, a blanket on the beach, a desk tucked away in a quiet spot of the house.  or a time that gives us more room to think;  for me, it can be walking, blowing my hair dry or those moments that brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) ideas strike in the shower.  we have a spot that helps us think, sort, dream, create, rest.  a spot that fills us with creative juju.  mine was a tree, just like chicken’s.

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find your poetry tree ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood