reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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until the next time. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“wherever you go, go with all your heart” (confucius)

this is not hard in the quiet bow of a canoe on a pristine dark aquamarine lake under a baby blue sky. my heart is all in.

from one time to the next you forget a little how the paddle fits in your hand, how it easily skims through the water, how it rubs that spot under your thumb. you forget the sound of water droplets hitting a quiet surface as you raise up the paddle, the swoosh of the oar back into the water, the peace. no real destination. just point the bow and paddle.

if we have a thought in the world, it is only about beauty and fresh air and a breeze in our favor. we pass water lily pads and, every so often, a lily gracing them, pink pondweed above flat vases of gathered rhododendron-looking leaves. it’s serene. it’s quiet.

there is no race, so set time limit. we simply go, aware of how full our hearts feel. we paddle back only when it seems time.

the walkie-talkie crackles, “happy-hour-snack-time-tchk.” we laugh. and turn the canoe. no pressure.

we make our way back past the fisherman, the floating mats waiting for kids and splashing and laughter, the island created by the rising lake level. past the place we saw the porcupine, past the place the turtles were swimming, past the place someone caught a giant bass some time ago.

they wave from the dock and tease over the walkie-talkie that there is nothing left.

we paddle to shore and climb out.

part of my heart stays – quietly – for a moment – in the bow and memorizes the way it felt. until the next time.

*****

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


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opening day. again. [merely-a-thought monday]

we wake up early anyway. there’s no alarm clock on saturday morning. yet, before the sun is barely above the horizon we are awake. we both lay and listen quietly to the quiet. birds, chipmunks, the pond out back, maybe the waves on the lakeshore if it’s windy. for just a little while, before the lawnmowers start or cars drive by or people empty their recyclables into the new big blue waste containers, if we close our eyes we can picture being wherever we want to be.

my big brother has now been on a different plane of existence for thirty years. 30. as of yesterday. it is shocking that so much time has passed by. for the longest time i had a hard time understanding how the world could go on, when he could no longer feel it. and yet, it did. those of us left behind had broken hearts and missed the sound of his laughter, the details of his stories, his giant bowls of coffee ice cream. we are left wondering how he is present with us, what he can see, what, if anything, he feels. it was a friday.

“this life is not a dress rehearsal.”

the magic of friday night seems ubiquitous. for those in a traditional workweek, the weekend stretches out in front of you, friday night’s yawns delicious and lingered in. there are two glorious days to follow, days of errands or adventures or catch-up or sleep or just simply nothing. two of them. days to declutter your brain a little and sink into a little less routine.

and then, suddenly, sunday.

and, too fast, monday.

and we find ourselves wishing for friday.

yet, there is something about mondays that we should probably lean into. another day. here.

i stand here, in the kitchen in the world in all its complexities and all its flaws, and the dog gives me a kiss before he starts his breakfast and i bring david freshly-brewed coffee in a favorite mug. he smiles as i approach his pillow and the dog pounces on the bed. the sounds of early-early monday morning are like the sounds of saturday, like the sounds of friday. the certainty of monday is no less or more certain than the certainty of saturday or friday.

i imagine my brother took with him the sounds of morning, the sounds of his beloveds, the sweet taste of first java and ice cream in a late-night bowl. i don’t imagine he reached out to grab things as he floated; there were certainly no trappings as dear as the party he had on thursday-the-day-before just being near those he loved. his hologram remains with each of us, his humor and brilliant mind within our grasp as we speak of him. he made – and makes – a difference in this world for us.

we can choose to shut down the party on sunday. last call before midnight, enough time to sleep for the new week. or i guess we can recognize it can keep going. to be standing here, now, in this spot – with all its chaos and all its bounty – is party enough.

the day starts in quiet. the sun is barely over the horizon. the birds are singing, chipmunks chirp. i can smell the coffee brewing. i am here. i don’t know how the world goes on once i can’t feel it anymore. but for now, i can.

and it’s opening day. again.

*****

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

in honor of my big brother, listen to ANGEL YOU ARE

(from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood)

sip coffee, listen to the birds, love on your loved ones, kiss your dog. repeat.


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marcel. in the woods. [two artists tuesday]

in these times, we often hike the same trail. there is not enough time for long-distance travel right now. but we are comforted, nevertheless, by this same place, again and again. it has become an old friend and there is nothing better than someone or something you know really well and love in all its moods and through all its seasons.

it was easter sunday and, for only the second time in decades, i had no obligations. it was cold – almost miracle-mitten cold – and we were trying to choose between meandering through the early spring flowers at the botanic garden or hiking “our” trail. we suspected that the botanic garden would be crowded; we believed the trail would be almost empty. we chose the trail.

you might think we would tire of this trail. you might think we would choose something else, somewhere else. you might think there would be nothing new to see. on the contrary.

i am reminded, as ever – again – now that i am, finally, just the tiniest bit wiser – of marcel proust’s words, “the real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

there was lots of trailside vegetation coming alive, tiny buds, green sprouts. the familiar turns in the path led us past busy squirrels, chipmunks we could hear but not see scurrying in the underbrush, birds and geese and ducks.

after a couple hours, we set up our pop-up bistro table and chairs in the middle of the woods. surrounded by tall pines in a spot that would be underbrush-inaccessible in the summer, we sat, in the cold, snacking on cheese and crackers, quinoa tabouli and a few sips of wine in small yeti tumblers with lids, springtime napkins reminding us of the season. we took our gloves off, had a few schnibbles, put our gloves on, chatted and repeated. we pulled up our hoods and turned our backs to the wind picking up. mostly, we sat in the quiet.

and we looked up.

and there, that which we could have easily missed, was this magnificent view of the blue sky and the towering tops of pine trees that had endured the same forest for a very long time.

there is nothing ordinary about a view like that.

an idiosyncrasy, a quirk, a hallmark, a side you hadn’t yet noticed. such is the complexity of an old friend. such is the charm of discovery.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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looking glass falls. [k.s. friday]

there is no limit to how long you can stare at rushing water. cool mist enveloped us as we stood there, watching. in the land of 250 waterfalls, we, as even babbling-stream appreciators, stood and took in this gorgeous sight.

it is unusual for us to be in the midst of many people these days, even outside. yet, here we were, transfixed by the looking glass falls, along with at least thirty other carsful. everyone, with different accents and languages, exchanged greetings on the way up or down the rock steps. everyone was smiling. everyone was kind. the waterfall brought us all together before we parted and looked for the unbeaten path, the trail in the woods, the less-trod, less-populated places that would be quiet. in those moments of togetherness, though, the sheer force of the water spilling over granite seemed to be a cleansing balm to anything that would keep us all separate.

we stood still on looking glass rock trail the next day, just listening to the stream below us. a hiker jaunted by us, intent on making tracks. he turned around and asked us if there was something worthwhile to look at. that, in itself, was a funny question, considering the absolute beauty of the place we were standing. i responded that we weren’t looking, “we’re listening.” he nodded and said something about serenity, then pushed on.

if there were a place i could choose to stand as this year turns into next, i think i would pick one of the 250 waterfalls, or, for that matter, the stream. a reminder that all things keep moving. that everything is fluid. that the edges are smoothed by the water that runs over and over and over them. that dropping worries and angsts and all negativity into the moving, rushing fall or even the whitewater river or gurgling brook, will allow that very water to carry it all away.

“it’s time to let it all go,” he said as we were visiting together. he’s right.

as this year turns its head toward the sun of a new year, i drop it all into the water and start again. we are merely riverstones in this fluid looking-glass-filled life.

happy new year.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

RIVERSTONE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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and then…wisps. [k.s. friday]

we settled into the ritual with ease. sundown came and we gently removed the tiny wax bits that were left in the menorah. we drew new candles out of the box, placed them in their spots, sparked the shamash, lit each day’s wick, reciting either the words we had researched or blessings we spoke into the universe. when the last night came, as we watched the flames dance in glassware on the table and in the window, we sang. we made up the song and intended it as words of gratitude and a wish for light in all. it has become a new tradition we will continue…there cannot be any reason to not add rituals into the darkness.

we found it to be a time of quiet, these moments as we sat and watched the flickering. we sat, silently, for the menorah was small and the candles only lasted the requisite half hour or so. but a half hour, taken as sweet lull in the day is a good reminder to be still. our days, this season, all will us to go faster, faster. yet, it seems, the best way to move into the rest is to pause.

we made dinner after we celebrated our little festival of lights. sometimes with a favorite cd, sometimes with the local chicago holiday station, music floated around us. though i love singing along to carols, and so many of our old albums conjure up piles of memories, i’ve noticed that the instrumental versions of these gently wrap around us, slow us down a little.

when 20 was over for dinner i mentioned that. “instrumentals would be nice,” i observed as yet another pop singer acrobated her way through a simple carol, over-cadenza-ing into the stratosphere. both 20 and david stared at me like i had lost my mind. they hesitated and then one of them said, “duhhhh.” i stared back, “it’s-not-like-i’m-going-to-put-on-my-own-albums-geeez.” they rolled their eyes.

in a more-is-more faster-and-faster society, there is something to be said for decelerating. there is something about simplifying. there is something about lighting candles and reciting ancient peaceful blessings. there is something about taking the time for quiet and taking the time for celebration. there is something about staring into the reflection of years past, of the week, of today.

we watched the wispy trails of smoke as they faded into the rest of the evening.

*****

still, still, still

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

THE LIGHTS, JOY!, THIS SEASON ©️ 1996, 2003, 2004 kerri sherwood


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the hush. [merely-a-thought monday]

the snow swirled outside the floor to ceiling glass – the city was blurry beyond the wind. it was brief. it didn’t stick. it was a statement. fall was gusting a bit of winter. everyone shivered, glad to be inside during the band of squall.

there is much still to be done. time seems to have raced by and we chose trails instead of pruning, talking in adirondack chairs in disappearing sun instead of packing away. procrastinating, holding onto the last vestiges of warmth and perfect autumn days, we opted to do the minimum, knowing the rest would need to be done in the colder days; the season keeps moving on.

we rise now in early quiet morning, without multitudes of birds out the windows, without sunny-the-chipmunk calling from the fencepost, without the sun beckoning us, “outside, outside.” we check the temperature…24 degrees…we reluctantly turn the heat up a smidge. we re-stock the nespresso pods, choose warm holiday teas for the coffee-pot-canisters over the counter, and seek out new soup recipes. we think about placing the shovel by the back door, its winter home. we crack the window just a bit now and sleep with an extra quilt.

the mums bow in the hush of the brisk mornings, chillier daytimes, less sun, more clouds, frost at night, all delivered by the magic wand of the calendar marching on. they are still beautiful and, from this view, we see the intricacy of the bud, sepals nestling and supporting petals, protecting the pink. we dig out my miracle mittens, his warm gloves, earmuffs, scarves, baselayers.

we talked about the silence this morning. it is still and the sun is trying. it may snow.

there were tiny flurries as we walked on the sidewalks of chicago, down coats and gloves, our heads bowed to the wind. it’s time to be inside more and we recognize – in the way of the universe – that we are much like the mums.

*****

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


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and the universe says, “shh”. [k.s. friday]

the old radiator in my studio was its home for years. i picked it up at a wholesale show…an old fencepost with equestrian leather…i couldn’t resist. it was perfect next to my piano. shh. quiet. ponder. dream.

it’s outside on the back deck now, really for the same reasons. shh. quiet. ponder. dream. it reminds us to take those moments and just be.

in the middle of the night last night we talked for a few hours. it was a big discussion…about life, about existence. we agreed that life is merely about those rare and outstandingly idyllic moments – a collection you might store in a little special box or place in photographs-in-the-round for a viewmaster – ready, at any time, for you to look at, review, be reminded of, hold close. not usually the gigantic stuff, but the slides of tiny, even silent, markers, instants you recognize as mica.

we had another water episode a few days ago. it seems the theme this summer. once again, drains in the basement yielded water instead of no water. a really lovely young man from the sewer-drain company came; it was their second time in just over a month. the tree roots they had cleared likely had left behind another piece. it doesn’t matter. he cleared it out and we moved on. it wasn’t without a ton of unexpected work…clearing all of david’s paintings out of the space to protect them, moving any and every thing out of the way of the water and allowing room for the technician to work without feeling nervous about anything around him. after he left and we cleaned everything up it was back to quiet.

we exercised down there again yesterday. it’s a peaceful place, even though it is a basement. being surrounded by the muse of david’s time at his easel brings a certain life to it. i imagine he wishes this little sign was in his studio, but there is a hush nonetheless, even without the sign.

our studios – places where time fills in the gaps between noise.

in the middle of existential questions about my wrist and hand, a screeching halt to occupational therapy imposed by the insurance company (don’t get me started), questions and the after-effects of betrayal, a silencing of my professional work, i have not sat there much. i enter to allow in light and fresh air, gaze at my piano and walk out. another silent day.

each morning, for at least a week, as i have sat with pillows propped sipping coffee, the window beside me wide open, i have been visited by a chipmunk. it sits atop the fence post across the driveway right opposite the window and looks in, chirping. i named him ‘sunny’ as it is often that the sun is just reaching that fencepost as he sits and the first time he was bathed in rays of light as he held his spot and said whatever he was saying to me in chipmunk i could not understand.

today, in the quiet of the morning, sun not even yet beginning to stream in the window, sunny was out there, chirping to wake us. i called out the window to him a good morning greeting. we chirped back and forth a bit before he left, satisfied he had awakened me. i watch for him now each day as the sun starts to rise.

three times in a twenty-four hour period over the last weekend i heard or saw the words “everything will be ok”: once written, once spoken and the third time bob marley sang it in the woods as we hiked the river trail.

sunday as we sat at the table on the deck in waning light a not-oft-seen hummingbird came directly over and hovered right in front of me. a couple days later as i stood on the deck, david watching, a monarch butterfly flew over to me and circled less than a foot above my head. and sunny, a chipmunk on a fence post, greeting me each day.

i guess that sometimes the universe is quietly whispering, “it’ll be ok. everything will be ok. shh.”

*****

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SILENT DAYS from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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sistered. [d.r. thursday]

the quiet is one of my favorite things each early morning. the world has not yet awakened, save for the birds. as the sun rose red into the sky today it was as if a silent movie was playing in the sky, strewn with color.

“stillness is the canvas against which movement can become beautiful. we can only appreciate movement against the background of stillness. were everything kinetic, we could not know what movement is. as sound is sistered to silence, movement is sistered to stillness.” (john o’donohue – beauty)

sistered.

it’s the rests that give meaning to the music – the breathing that makes owning a passage only yours.

it’s the white space that gives design power – balance revealing subject, a viewer’s ability to see.

it’s the negative between the positive – giving definition, directing eyes to move.

it’s the imperfection that accords perfection.

it’s standing still that makes dance dance.

it’s less words that gives impact to more words – wisdom is not measured in the verbose.

it’s dark that gives the stars life – a stage for shimmering pinpricks of light, gigantic close, tiny from afar.

it’s noise that makes the whisper worthy of delicious goosebumps.

it’s the tide going out, coming in that makes the waves, the low-tide sand pushing the wave higher.

it’s absence that reminds us of the potency of presence.

it’s sleep that gives energy to awakeness.

it’s dreams that give shape to reality.

it’s quiet – gentle hushed sunrising birdcall-punctuated quiet – that feeds the wearied cacophony in our minds as we start anew. offered with possibility, with crayons or colored pencils or thick oils to fill in our day, peeking into spaces of nothingness, seeing past what we see, coloring over the lines, entering the negative space, uncluttered and still.

sistered. beautiful.

*****

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wonderful world. [k.s. friday]

“easy living” it advertises on the cover of the wayfair summer catalog. inside, you can purchase everything you need for easy living. for a price, you can create easy living spaces on your deck, your front porch, in your kitchen, in your bath, by your pool, in your backyard. most items are really beautiful, beckoning you to believe in the power they have to help you live easy. this summer, we actually added a few small things to our own deck, though our deck is a mostly-target-added-to-repurposed-stuff deck. i have to say, a few cushions and outdoor pillows make an inviting difference.

we have changed our schedule a bit these days. we used to stay up really late and watch late night news and comedy talk shows, but through the pandemic and the political-rah-rah times it has tended to get us riled up. so instead, after the sun has fallen from the sky and mosquitoes having joined us on the deck, we watch minimal tv and go to bed early to read aloud or watch trails on a laptop. we wake up early, with rising sun and birdcalls streaming in through the wide-open windows in our bedroom.

this morning, just as the sun rose, i plugged in the coffee, fed dogdog, opened the windows in the sunroom and went outside. i greeted the tiniest farm on our potting stand, tested the soil for dampness, looked for ripe cherry tomatoes, pinched back the sweet basil. i checked on the lavender. i added bird seed to the feeder. i looked for magic in the pond and pulled a couple weeds. i watched dogga sniff around his yard and drank in the salmon sky lightening in the east. i came back inside and wandered from plant to plant, saying good morning to succulents and KC and snakeinthegrass. the coffee pot beeping drew me out of where i was standing by the window, looking out, and i pulled out cabin coffee company mugs. every day is different and every mug brings with it a different set of visceral memories. it was a breckenridge mug kind of day.

it was quiet; all was still. i thought: this. this is easy living. a little bit of ritual, a little peace at the beginning of the day, a little peace at the end of the day – these are ingredients you cannot purchase from a catalog. these simple gestures we make to being present-here-now are contagious. they spread the intention of simplicity to the rest of our day. and though we don’t always stay there, in peace, we know we can find our way back there.

because at the beginning of the next day we can try again. we can find the wonderful in this wonderful world.

PULLING WEEDS from RIGHT NOW (kerri sherwood)

and – click here – just because everyone should listen to louis armstrong every day

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

PULLING WEEDS ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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every sanctuary needs a crank. [two artists tuesday]

it’s all about the crank. it’s one of those unremarkable-yet-remarkable imperative gizmos that makes all the difference.

we’ve had an umbrella. it was 9′ in diameter and dark green in color. but there was no crank and it was – now – in the departure of having a “normal” wrist and the genesis of a we’ll-work-this-as-hard-as-we-can-and-see-where-we-get wrist – literally impossible for me to open or close it. i would huff and puff and stand on a chair, but even in the good old days of normal-wrist, i was hard-pressed to open it. and so, it would remain closed. and closed is not the life-goal, not the self-actualization of an umbrella. so it was time for the big-green-umbrella to move on, to be loved by someone else…someone with two normal wrists. we put it out by the big tree between the sidewalk and the street with a sign that said “free” and it was gone within fifteen minutes. that made my heart happy. but it left us with a challenge: to find another umbrella.

now, if you haven’t been out there looking – in brick and mortar or online – there are a LOT of umbrellas. they come in all different sizes and shapes and with all different purposes. there are umbrellas that tilt and market umbrellas and patio umbrellas they have named cantilevers – which stand next to chairs or outdoor settees and gracefully shade you from the side or the back, not just the middle of a table.

we wanted one for the middle of the old wrought iron table and found one – after much research (as you might guess) – that we really liked. i did all the proper investigating: does it have a crank? is it heavy enough to stand in the wind? does the diameter of the pole fit properly into the stand we already have? will it match or complement our deck and patio? is it spf friendly?

the umbrella we found was just lovely. off-white with a floral print of black flowers, some of which are faded to a deep gray. that may sound weird, but it was really pretty and somewhat unusual and matched our vision of the deck…a little pattern in what was mostly solid or simple design.

we ordered it. we picked it up. we glanced at the outer covering, a sheath with a photograph of the umbrella set up in some faux-yard. we were pretty excited -like when we got our fire column (for this umbrella preceded it) – when we opened it up. we were setting the stage for our backyard sanctuary, this place of peace, with much planning and as few expenditures as possible.

we slid it out of the sheath we would later store it in during cold winter days as it waited to be used once again in early spring.

we brought it outside to the deck.

and we started to open it up.

and. . .

there was no crank.

none.

not a handle to be found.

though the photograph and the description depicted a crank handle, it was a misnomer. false advertising. someone mightily slipped up.

and though it was quite lovely, i could not open it alone. what good is an umbrella you can’t open? we had just given one of those away.

a couple of umbrellas later and in umbrella-information-overload, we settled on this one. it’s not perfect. it’s not exactly the color tone i wanted. the pole is not black as it was advertised. it doesn’t have a self-tie. but it was on a terrific sale and – – – it has a crank.

i thought i was over the lovely off-white-black-flower-patterned-umbrella until i saw it in a yard in the ‘hood. i stopped in my tracks and stared, poking david in the arm and pointing, speechless. i wondered if they were also surprised by its no-crank-handle-ness. i wondered if they ever open it. i wondered if they have normal wrists.

but i’ve moved on. i no longer think about the off-white-black-flower-patterned umbrella. because there are some things that a sanctuary really needs.

a crank is one of them.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY