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the path back is the path forward


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the rockwalk. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t know how much i noticed the rock garden next to the chalet shed in the backyard of my growing-up house. i know it was there. there were plants peeking out from in-between the rocks and the garden-pile grew through the years as my momma – with a love of rocks and stone – added to it.

the cairns and vessel-collections in our house echo that garden and its solid base for my own love of rocks and stone and pebbles. though i believe i will remember where each individual rock originates, where i picked it up, what it means to me or what moment it represents, reality is that i forget. with a few exceptions, i simply know that they are important. they were part of something i wanted to hold onto. and they became part of the rock garden of my life. they all count.

the rockway of the shoin house of the chicago botanic garden is deliberate. carefully placed stones, “bones of the earth” form a pathway through the fragile mosses of deep green. we stood, gazing down, both of us – i’m pretty sure – lost in thought about how we could incorporate such a walkway in our own backyard. orderly and stunning and functional, protecting all around it.

we spent a couple hours in the basement last night. i heard them from a distance first; the tornado sirens were going off. then, closer. i am storm-nervous. the derecho back a decade has gifted me with long-term storm ptsd and i’m not sure if there is much i can do to alleviate it. so when the weather forecast offers “tornado watch” i get ready.

we created a go-bag during the riots in our city a couple years back. it was recommended. i also keep an empty backpack nearby for computers and cords. there’s a leash in the go-bag and we have a duffel with a few clothes. i didn’t unpack all this after those devastating riots. instead, we realized the wisdom of having important stuff nearby, things you can grab in an emergency. and so, i had this all lined up – like a good rockwalk – on the couch in the sitting room off our bedroom, waiting. d picked up the dog (who doesn’t do steps for some strange aussie reason) and i grabbed the bags and water and some dog treats.

when you think about tornadoes as you sit in the basement listening, you realize that you can only create so much order…you can only try to design a walkway…you can only make plans. sitting in two rocking chairs in d’s studio, surrounded by the bins i am emptying and clearing down there, a couple dehumidifiers turned off so we could hear, with our backpacks and duffel bag, it all comes down to, well, not much. chaos happens and we find ourselves in it, stepping, trying to find our way on the rockwalk, to the other side, the next sunrise.

we waited for the sirens to stop and for the weather app to show that the worst of it had passed over us. david carried dogga back up and he got another sleepynightnight cookie. the bags went back on the couch, lined up, things to put away in the morning.

i wanted pancakes but it was too late and we were too tired.

*****

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lions and more lions. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the summer of 2011 in our ‘hood was dramatic. straight line winds came through, toppling close to a thousand trees in our neighborhood alone. all in about five minutes. i haven’t felt the same since.

when it’s windy out – really windy – or when strong or severe wind is predicted, i get nervous. we – both – lay awake at night, wondering about the tall trees behind our bedroom, hoping that they will prevail and stay standing.

a couple years ago a really gigantic branch fell into our backyard from our neighbor’s tree. it did not land on the house, but it was a fortune to have removed and, in these weird liability times, was ours to deal with. in an even weirder event, the neighbor came by to ask if we wanted to “go in on” the removal of three of the towering trees in his backyard. for obvious reasons, we declined, as did our other neighbors, and this couple, who had been dear to us – after four decades of living there – sold their enormous house and moved to texas without saying goodbye.

anyway, the windstorm-derecho of 2011 has made me tremble.

david’s ptsd came from childhood and being hit by lightning. i’m thinking i would have post traumatic stress, too, had i been hit by lightning. he was in his house, by a window, and zap! yikes!!

so when the rumbling starts and we are out walking or hiking, he is a wee bit trepidatious. the moment the lightning starts, trepidation turns to panic.

we were walking along the lakefront when we could see the storm clouds quickly approaching. boom! the thunder rolled. and then…the lightning. time and again. david was full-scale under-the-desk sheltering (though there was no desk). in no time he had taken cover-without-cover. i convinced him to get home. we are not those people who revel in thunderstorms or chase tornadoes or delight in derechos or any ridiculously windy events. we seek peaceful days and sun, maybe gentle rains and light quaking-aspen-leaf-worthy breezes. idyllic. nirvana.

we are entering the season of wild storms. they are all across the country. we watch the weather and eliminate places as potential places to ever live. “nope,” we say. “not a chance!” we have a short list of places we’d live, which is good, since it will lower the level of decision-fatigue and lessen the analysis-paralysis of too many choices.

in the meanwhile, on the shores of lake michigan with the lion full-on and the lamb – goodgrief – somewhere following at turtle-pace, maybe lost, one cannot underestimate the power of ptsd.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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spud. and ptsd. [d.r. thursday]

we played spud as kids. the abby drive kids ran through yards trying to escape the inevitable impact of the ball.

i was “it” a lot. i lived next door to a family with eight children, all of whom were athletic whizzes. when one of these athletes was “it” they’d throw the ball up, call out a number and we’d scatter, in my memory, in the grass close by. the catcher of the ball – the new “it” – would easily lob the ball over to someone frozen on the lawn and that kid would be the new “it”. easy-peasy.

but – there was a tad bit of hypocrisy here. when i was called “it”, they would scatter rapidly, their feet sailing across grassy yards, barely touching as i ran for the ball to yell “spud”. and then they froze what-seemed-like miles away, hiding behind any objet d’art disguised as a towering oak or big forsythia. my measly throw, complicated by those trees and bushes, would ensure my continuation as “it”, sometimes ad nauseam. this did not make playing spud fun.

in a few ptsd moments, i just read the rules of spud online – and it appears that you are not allowed to hide behind things. you are to run out in the open so as to move the game along and pass “it” status around. ahh. somehow, i’m sure i guessed that back in 1968 when i was in the middle of catching the ball yet again and calling out “spud” yet again and throwing at the targeted kid once again. but the rules were not quite objective and, when you have a family of eight vs one or two others, you are definitely at a deficit. things are not stacked in your favor. this is probably why i loved hopscotch so much.

bullies are everywhere. we encounter them in our daily lives: at work, at school, out in public, in the political arena. they change the rules willy-nilly to suit their agenda; they justify changing them with empty words of hypocrisy.

and now, people are running spud-ptsd-scared away, hiding behind each other, their integrity underground, “it” – the truth – unable to touch them behind their objets d’art: the smug all-powerful-makes-his-own-rules-to-suit-himself senate majority leader and the sinister autocratic-wishing-wishing-wishing president of this united states. the ball, so to speak, is in their hands and they are hiding, clutching their (non) great america and its questionable future, in plain view.

it makes me want to play hopscotch.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

©️ 2020 david robinson


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you can sit on the tooth. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

you can sit on the tooth copy

i did not inherit good teeth.  were i to be a horse i would not be running in the derby or any other horse race (which, right now, sounds like a good thing.)  anyway, i blame my sweet momma and my poppo; i’m not actually sure who gets the lion’s share of the blame, so i will just blame them both (and all the ancestors before them who did not have great teeth – we might as well make this a class-action-blame-suit.)

when i was a child growing up, my parents were quite a bit older than most of my friends’ parents.  this is because my sister is sooooo much older than me.  i was born soooo much later and, so, had parents who had some, maybe, backwards ideas.

drumroll, please.  my sweet momma – adorable as she was – and my sweet poppo – equally adorable – never ever EVER had novocaine when they got fillings.  for some unknown reason, they just toughed it out.  now, i am quite sure you are cringing at the very thought.  those drills.  that hook thing that tries to pull your tongue out of your mouth.  the sounds alone are unnerving.  anyway, they seemed to reach deep inside, thinking they were getting extra points or something, and they endured the pain throughout drilling/filling procedures.

this brings me to me.  because that is what they believed in, i was subjected to the same torture and did not have novocaine until i was well into adulthood and realized it was a thing.  having had two children without the benefit of anesthesia, i can honestly say now that i would rather have more children than go through any more dental work without novocaine or some such numbing agent.

so, this is a long preamble to my story.

i broke a tooth during lent.  you would think things like that wouldn’t happen during lent, but, alas, it did.  my dentist, who is a saint, was out of town and i waited for his return. because of my ptsd from childhood dentistry, i cannot go alone to an appointment like this so david went with me.  he always does.  we try to be there for each other in each of our doctor/dental appointments; it’s part of the i-support-you-in-everything deal.

my favorite moment when we walk in (my REAL favorite moment is when we walk OUT) is when the dental assistant says to david, “you can sit on the tooth.”  it is pretty funny to see a grown man figure out how to sit on a tooth.  it’s even funnier to watch him not feel awkward.  he handles his tooth-sitting with great aplomb, alternately cracking jokes with dan, the dentist, and holding my foot, since he can’t reach my hand from the tooth.

for this dentist who has all the patience in the world for my terror and for david’s presence there on the tooth, i am eternally grateful.   i would totally sit on the tooth for him.

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

ps.  don’t believe anything david says in his post.  i suspect it’s all not true.

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ponder life. [chicken marsala monday]

ponderinglife WITH EYES jpeg copymy poppo would sit in the chair and gaze out at the lake behind their house.  in the house before that, he would sit out on the lanai and gaze at the pool.  in previous houses, he had chairs or his workbench, where he would sit or stand and gaze, clearly thinking, thinking, thinking.

now, when you’ve gotten to 91, there’s plenty to think about, many memories, many stages of life, many ways the world has changed.  my poppo was a POW in world war II, escaping and coming back at a time that PTSD had little to no attention given to it.  the atrocities he had experienced were his alone to process, with the help of my sweet momma, if he felt that he could burden her with it.  my parents lost a child, a little girl named barbara lynn, who would be my oldest sister – even older than my sister sharyn! – while my dad was still missing in action, a little person, a part of him, he never met.  i know that as they established themselves as a family, there were challenges that befell them, joys that they cherished, times of much sorrow, small moments and large moments of laughter and goodness.  plenty to think about.

i always wondered what my poppo was thinking about, quietly sitting or puttering.  sometimes i would ask, but other times i would respect his quiet-ness. now that i am getting older, i find myself spending time quietly thinking.  memories, moments, decisions, good things, sad things, questions, things that make me cringe, things that make me laugh aloud.  i think about what’s coming up…what is planned, what will remain a mystery. i wonder.  i give thanks.  i pray.  pondering is a good thing.  it’s necessary.

each time now when i sit outside or inside curled in a chair and find myself just staring off into space, i can’t help but think about my daddy.  and i kind of feel him right there, quietly staring with me. pondering.

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pondering life is a very useful thing to do. ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood