reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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cabbage fields. [two artists tuesday]

in the age-old tale of things-are-often-not-as-they-appear, this beautiful almost-transparent white moth flits from lavender bloom to lavender bloom. in certain moments it is even hard to see, its translucent wings disappearing and then glinting in the sunlight. against the dark background of the deck, it is easier to see as it feeds on the nectar of these deep purple blossoms. it’s a cabbage white butterfly. and it is likely responsible for the tiny holes in the tomato plant leaves. it’s fortunate we do not have a cabbage patch as these little guys have the capacity to destroy it. such a beautiful little creature and so much potential for destruction of goodness.

i’m writing this (ahead) on a rainy sunday morning and it’s too easy on sundays for my mind (and heart) to jaunt over to the things-are-not-what-they-appear heading.

this translucent butterfly has specific markings (a black spot on the upward front side of its wings), a specific size just over an inch, markings that depict the gender, making it easier to identify and, if necessary, prevent or eradicate the damage it can do to a hard-earned crop. if it were to look like any other butterfly – or say, a beautiful monarch – it would be much more difficult for gardeners to recognize the peril, much more difficult for farmers to stand firm and work at keeping the crops safe that they have nourished so carefully, for so long, with so much dedication.

sitting on the deck watching this butterfly flit about, the sunlight catching its gentle wings here and there, i never suspected it might be at the root of the problem i am experiencing late in the season now with our cherry tomatoes. under a cloak of not-knowing and not-asking-enough-questions or googling enough, i didn’t know to point at this gentle creature. but the act of googling has given me information. i can look for larvae on the tomato leaves and examine the damage with a plan for it.

were it to be a full field of cabbage, like out in the county here, it would seem imperative to act upon this. a whole field of cabbage – a field of potential abundance – can be destroyed by the existence of something that people might never question. research says an infestation of the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar can destroy all cabbage growth, and prevention is said to be imperative to avoid the ruinous nature of such an aggressor. that way “you’ll have less work and damage later on.”

this butterfly has been here since the 1860s so its presence seems pretty solid and unshakable. i guess you have to pay attention to damage being wreaked around you in your tiny tomato garden, delve into it, gather information, ask questions and stop the quiet chaos from happening.

it’s easier when the wings are transparent, when the markings easily identifiable and when the community of gardeners and farmers are seeking the goodness of the cabbage field.

metaphors are everywhere.

*****

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a promise? [merely-a-thought monday]

a long time ago i took a girl’s black t-shirt to the local embroidery shop and had them embroider the word “be” on it. it was a gift for my beloved daughter when she was a teenager.

be.

be yourself, in every situation, in every way. feel empowered to be strong and vibrant, with education and experiences to choose from, a blank canvas on which to paint your future.

back in the day, in the early 80’s, my husband and i, directors of a youth group, attended a conference, which i think i remember taking place in atlanta. the theme was “you are promise” and it was an upbeat, positive-memes-loaded reminder dedicated to youth. it never occurred to either of us that it would not be aimed at absolutely ALL youth – regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identification, ethnic background, religion, or economic circumstance. “you are promise” was – in our viewpoint – for everyone.

today’s world – in what should be following forty years of continued enlightenment, continued inclusion, continued support of all, continued de-marginalization, continued love – struggles to get anywhere near self-actualizing as a place of promise for everyone to grow, to just be.

instead, the word “promise” gets all webbed into violent strains of discrimination, supremacy and extremism, and the word “be” is reconstituted into self-agendizing virtually everything.

this board was installed and painted on a shop window downtown two years ago now, after the riots in our town, a place reeling with grief and questions and fear. i can still smell the smoke in our open-windowed house, still hear the shots and the sirens, still remember the visceral images. most of the boards are down, but this has been there ever since.

upside-down with polka dots and handprints, it seems a gentle, though sobering, reminder – to be yourself, in every situation, in every way, its presence perhaps a suggested promise of acceptance.

just like a black t-shirt that’s in a bin in our basement.

*****

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breck. [d.r. thursday]

breck rode home in the back. just shy of five years ago. it came potted in black plastic and we happily bought it a giant clay pot so that it could live on the deck with us, next to the old glider, tucked in by the house and shielded from too much wind. we watched its tiny leaves quake in the breezes and marveled at this piece of one of our absolute favorite places, breckenridge, colorado.

during the winter we wrapped the bottom in plastic to protect the pot and keep its roots a little warmer; plus we weren’t really sure where to plant our tiny aspen. our yard isn’t that big and there are big trees that could block the sun from breck, not to mention that we wondered about the possibility of breck’s potential height. twenty to eighty feet is a significant range and, even with a norm of fifty feet, planning might be necessary.

we doted on breck and talked to it every time we passed by. when our daughter house-sat for a summer, we asked her to talk to breck as well. we did not want this displaced tree to feel akilter, out of place, lonely.

a couple summers ago we planted breck in the ground. we placed it back in the corner of the yard, right in the center of ferns and hosta, under a bit of shadowy guidance of some big oaks and maples and next to the big pine tree. we could still see it from the deck and the patio and we hoped it would flourish in its new spot, for, surely, it had outgrown its pot.

breck did well in the summer until things grew up around it. the thing about aspens is that they need sunlight. its branches began to suffer; there wasn’t enough sun getting through. we needed to transplant this baby tree.

in the middle of dogga’s running circle there are some ornamental grasses. they live next to his roundabout sign (the european variety – clockwise). very carefully, in the fall, we moved our sapling aspen into this wide open spot, full-sunlight-possible. we have watched it as it adjusts.

aspens have a cloning nature and, though we cannot see this, breck is hopefully sending out other stems underground. one day in the far future when breck is no longer, there will be new growth and, thus, its clone can live thousands of years. as long as there is sun and rain and things aren’t covered in concrete, our backyard will always have the potential of being an aspen stand.

now that it is spring – well, sort of – we are waiting. there is new rich copper-brown growth and there are buds, leaves patiently timing their grand opening. we will watch carefully and research what breck might need to sustain. we want to give breck every chance to thrive.

we can’t wait to sit on the patio in adirondack chairs in warm sun watching the new leaves of our cherished little aspen quake in the breeze.

*****

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brown bags, baby. [d.r. thursday]

i have fond memories of brown paper bags. the beginning of the school year – backpacks laden with new textbooks and letters home to us parents, new spirals and pencils and pens and dry erase markers, a box of tissues for the class, rulers and glue sticks.

the textbooks coming home required covers and i’d save up grocery bags for the job. i don’t know if i personally ever had a bookcover that was anything BUT brown paper in my growing-up years, so it seemed natural to cover my children’s books in the same. it’s free, it’s sturdy, you can decorate it any way you want.

for some reason, i really liked making bookcovers out of brown paper bags. i can still easily see clearing the dining room table off, grabbing the scissors and the shipping tape. loved it. even in the time-sensitive early morning with a teenager by my side and a sudden “oh-you-have-to-cover-this-now” announcement, i really loved it.

maybe it was this bookcovering fondness that generalized to wrapping gifts with brown paper. (think: “brown paper packages tied up with string”.) the organic look (and earth-friendly environmental responsibility of brown bags) tied with jute or burlap ribbon has a certain jours de vie flair. i have eliminated all glitter from my ribbon choices; there are only so many eyerolls from the children i can handle.

at one point in my wholesale show days i used old boxes and grocery bags as display materials. i spray-painted the old boxes and cut semicircles out of the front to exhibit cds and tore pieces of grocery bags to use as labels and signage. there were no display materials more lightweight and with raw-edged organic fabrics wrapping the booth and tiny spotlights it was pretty magical. i couldn’t believe that i had carried bricks – literally bricks – for a couple years of shows. sometimes it takes a while for good ideas to catch up.

so the paper bags on the counter after grocery shopping are full of potential. they beckon to me to save them for a bit before recycling, to give a little more thought before placing them in the bin. they suggest themselves as containers for clothing meant to give away. they raise their hands as dropcloths for art projects or handyman challenges, ready to be part of a new earth interrupted painting. they remind me that, if i ever run out of pa pads, they could serve as scrap paper, ready to remind me of tasks to be done, ready to be grocery lists. full circle.

the bag o’ bags in the stairwell is ready at any time for any job.

*****

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EARTH INTERRUPTED ©️ 2012 david robinson


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cactus, candles and a red wagon. [d.r. thursday]

i started a business when i was young. nothing cost more than about a dollar but i was a zealous salesperson. i pulled a red wagon around my neighborhood, going door to door – in the days when that was actually safe – and sold cactus. my sweet momma had prolific succulents and would pot tiny offshoots and volunteers into cups or chipped mugs or little clay pots, turning them over to me to sell. it’s amazing how many people would buy a 25 cent baby cactus from an eight year old at the door. i was thrilled counting my earnings at the end of the day and would impatiently wait for the next proliferation of cactus pups.

after a while and some market research, i decided to add candles to my stock. i purchased wax and three-dimensional plastic molds, tape and had a perfect little finnish knife to trim the wax after taking it out of the mold. i never lit any of those candles. they seemed more like decorations and less like candles-to-burn. funny to think about not-thinking-about-lighting-them and i wonder how many of the candles i happily sold on the streets of my growing-up were ever burned. though i’d love to revisit that project now, for fun and maybe to actually try the candle as a candle, my supplies are stuck somewhere – since 1979 – in the somewhat-finished attic room closet of a methodist church on long island, where i had helped with a youth group and taught them how to make candles.

i wonder now about what someone will think when they stumble upon all of that – my dad’s old hard plastic luggage case with molds and wax. i wonder if they will laugh thinking about the simplicity of it. after all, for my tiny business all i really did was melt the wax in a double boiler, choose a color dye, place the wick, tape and set up the molds, pour the wax into the molds and wait. once they were set, i trimmed along the seam line to create a seamless looking alligator or snail or mushroom or a variety of other marketable shapes of candles i can’t recall. i simply changed the form of wax.

i suppose it’s all like that. changing the form. the notes float and the composer grabs them out of the atmosphere, placing them together into a piece of music, changing the form of their ethereal bobbing-around-out-there. color bursts around us, nature offering us every iota of choice, and the painter gently retrieves them and places them together on the canvas, translating the iron oxide red of delicate arches into a vibrant sunrise or the flower of a still-life. the butterfly on the wing dances and the ballerina’s steps mimic the form, an expression of freedom and joy. words and expressions whirl around and turns of phrases hide inside dictionaries and the writer plucks and chooses, creating poetry and story from the raw.

my sweet momma and poppo discovered ikea in their 80s. they were intense fans. from time to time i would get big ups packages from them – ikea runs – with new wooden spoons or lanterns or cork trivets or tealights or whatever was their latest discovery there. and so i became a tealight fan. we burn them often. to light the table on our deck, to light our pop-up, inside all around the house, to honor someone with a flickering flame all day, safely burning on the stove. i guess that these are a lot easier to make than alligators or snails. and i know that they are obviously a lot easier to light and actually burn.

i still have a round yellow happy face candle i received years ago. i haven’t burned it. something about not messing with its form, i guess. why do we have candles we aren’t going to burn?

today, i think i might take out that round happy face candle. maybe i will put it on the stove, in a safe-to-burn-all-day spot. maybe it will infuse inspiring form-changing into the air around me. there’s much to purge from more recent times and much to welcome in next days. it’s worth a try.

*****

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adding an image from later that day:


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sopris gold. [two artists tuesday]

it was a bit cloudy and drizzling when we drove into town and stopped at the market before finding our airbnb. the next day dawned much of the same, but around us the red rock shimmered deep ruby in the rain, the sage glowed and the air was clear and fresh.

we got into big red to lumber into town early that evening, the sun not yet ready to set, clouds breaking up to allow blue skies. down the dirt and gravel road, just around the bend, across a field of wild grasses and beyond the horses, suddenly there it was.

mount sopris, in all its glory, rose above us and above everything else in the valley. it was astoundingly beautiful and made me pull over to laugh aloud at its presence. this giant had been there all along, steady, its very existence a silent companion. just shy of 13,000 feet in elevation, with twin peaks, once i had seen it, i found myself turning to look at it, especially at every bend of the rio grande trail we hiked the next day. it felt grounding and majestic and very, very wise.

mount sopris is named after a gold prospector who led an expedition in the middle 1800s. “there’s gold in them there hills,” led them into the roaring fork valley. i don’t know the whole rest of that story, though they did not find gold.

i do know that the presence of this mountain, for me, definitely has the allure of the precious and captured my desire to stay put in its magnificent power. the surprise of seeing it appear out of the clouds was worth its absolute weight in gold.

it was a reminder of things unseen and yet there. a reminder of strength and steadfastness, quiet and unshakeable. a reminder of beauty where you don’t expect it. a reminder that behind clouds there exists a bigger presence, the universe vast, full of potential.

*****

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just like an onion. [two artists tuesday]

time away from home always grants moments for reflection. out of the norm, away from routines and the familiar, it is time to think, to ponder, to wonder, to both anguish and be overwhelmed with gratitude. roadtrips are moments suspended and quiet time in the truck on the highway can take you deeper inside. they are chances to examine the emotional flow-chart, a ping-pong of mapping that is our lives.

yesterday we drove through a snowstorm coming up through the passes. i was driving big red and didn’t want to relinquish the wheel. i wanted to know that i was not too nervous to drive through the snow, the icier road conditions, past runaway truck ramps in high elevation descents. we drove past a semi that had jack-knifed backwards on the highway, literally perched on the edge of the road, hanging over a cliff. we were thankful arriving safely back into spring and onto dry roads. under soaring pines bowing with fresh powder and on slushy lanes, i thought about our past recent days and the bit to come in the mountains. i drove, hands tightly on the wheel, the rhythmic sound of wipers and the wet road the only accompaniment. in the middle of all of it, i pondered my role in these days, the way i fit into each of these stories.

sending out new shoots, seeking to divide and grow, this sprouted red onion looks like i feel inside. peeling back the outer paper, the onion sections itself off so that multiple bulbs may be planted. wanting to hold on to what i’ve known, wanting to learn, new ways of being, of accepting change, of middle-aging gracefully, of holding on and releasing, of sorting, i search the inside layers for answers to questions i ask myself and questions i haven’t yet given words to.

i guess each of us sedimentary-humans must take on these onion-questions when we aren’t too busy denying listening to them. like this red onion, there are mushy parts that are no longer good, that reveal a raw flawedness, that beg letting go. and there are layers of goodness, sweet and refreshing to remember. and, in highway-rolling moments and staring-at-ceiling-deep-in-the-night moments, there are also new sprouts to acknowledge. all are there, bearing fruit, a gentle and prodding reminder that time – years – and life – keep going and stopping either is trying to catch rays of the sun in our hands.

the gift of pulsing-time, the fluidity of planting-harvesting-planting-harvesting of ideas and artistry and work, relationships and love…these remind us to grow anywhere we are planted and, despite the challenge, not to be afraid of peeling back the layers. for there are many germinating bulbs to be found.

*****

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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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leave the outbreak of baggage behind.

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

leave the outbreak of baggage behindwhoa. the outbreak of baggage.
one day it occurred to me that this outbreak of baggage precludes us from moving into Next.
it traps us in our own past, our own history – good and bad, our own unmet expectations and disappointments.
if we can leave all these pieces of baggage behind, instead of carrying -or wheeling- every last one,
then we can focus instead of what is truly ahead of us, the potential, the rise of the sun.

Screen Shot leave baggageFOR TODAY’S FEATURED PRINT FOR HUMANS, PLEASE GO HERE