reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the village on the back side. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we are on the flip side of the tv antenna saga.

we are relieved to have it over with. our 30+ foot tall steel tripod tv tower – which has been standing right snugged up close to our house for the last at-least-three-decades-probably-more-like-five-or-six-or-so – fell over. it was a windy night…the kind of wind that keeps us awake and anxious in this neighborhood of big old trees. we didn’t hear it fall. all we heard was the fierce wind and i pulled the quilt over my head to try and sleep.

i stood in the kitchen in the morning looking out through the sunroom, sipping my coffee and gazing at the eastern sky and saw it – diagonally placed outside across the big windows – where nothing diagonal or steel or large and unwieldy usually sits. the tv tower with the antenna on the top. the wind had broken it off at the base and it fell north – reception from milwaukee would be really ace leaning that way it occurred to me. it was leaning on the fence and dangling over our neighbor’s stamped concrete driveway and spanish tile garage roof. we wanted neither of those disturbed and were immediately concerned about the danger of the antenna falling on someone. i texted them to say we had noticed and then i texted the village.

“what do you do with this?” i asked all our people. i started getting responses immediately, some suggestions or the oft “i-have-no-idea”. the insurance company was worthless – they couldn’t even point to the first thing we should do. antenna installation experts said it was “out of their wheelhouse”. the tow truck guys didn’t have the right equipment. big jim came over to evaluate it with d. they stared and contemplated a few-strong-men but quickly negated that idea.

ultimately – to save you a long drawn-out story, interesting and quirky (of course) but long nonetheless – a tree care company came the next day to assess the situation. naturally, it was snowing that day and that made the removal more treacherous so it had to be pushed back a day and we had to hope the snow would not accumulate in heavy inches on the tower, there would be no more wind and that no one would go near it.

the next morning, the tree guy admitted to being awake in the night thinking about the removal, plotting. that made us feel a little better since we had some higher anxiety with it precariously dangling out there.

with some sort of backhoe jaws holding the base so the entire tower wouldn’t pivot and do damage and a steel-cutter-thingy, they sawed the tower and antenna into pieces, loaded it into a dumpster they had brought with them and drove away. all in like a half hour! it was done. gone.

the house looks different without the dated tower and antenna like so many houses down here by the lake and scattered throughout our town. i missed it for the first day. and when i sip coffee in bed and look out the east windows i can no longer see it next to the steep roofline, with squirrels scampering up so that they can get on the roof and check out any gutter snacks that might be lingering. there’s plenty to look at though. and plenty to ponder.

the front of the orchid bloom is gorgeous on this plant. stunning, really. but the back…graceful and sturdy, supporting the frame of the blossom.

just like our village.

****

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no anonymity. [k.s. friday]

anonymity is not a strong suit of airbnb. and, for us, that’s exactly the point. the relational piece of staying in places other real people own does not usurp privacy. but it offers a glimpse into lives – those which you may never have peeked into otherwise. without reservation, i would say that most all of the airbnbs we have stayed at have been owned by someone with whom we’d love to be friends.

the window that opens when you unlock the front door to the tiny house, the condo, the bungalow, the loft, the cabin, the cottage is an invitation. on the most basic level, it is an opportunity to see how someone else makes a space a home, how it’s designed, how it’s appointed. it is an opportunity to reconstruct – in your mind – something about your own home, an idea to take with you. it’s a chance – for a bit of time – to experience another place as-if-you-live-there: to wander and cook and porch-sit and immerse, even a little. when you stay in the vicinity of the owner’s place it changes things, for then, on a whole ‘nother level, it’s an opportunity to see morsels of how someone else lives, their real-life. and when you have the chance to meet the person or people who host where you are staying? that is a gift.

sitting on the adobe open-air-to-the-mountains-balcony off the bedroom in ridgway, in rocking chairs on the front porch on the farm in kentucky, at the table overlooking snowmass, under the après sign in breckenridge, watching people go by in tiny brevard. it is not without wonder we think about places we will stay someday.

and, i guess, not surprisingly, there’s something about all these places that makes us say, “we could live there.” something different than what any hampton inn, our hotel chain of choice, can offer.

it is not randomly that i pick out places to stay when we travel. i carefully consider location, amenities, the presence of light, whether or not we can cook, if there is outdoor space, a fireplace, a kitchen counter where we can chat. i look at pictures and read reviews and one will always jump out as a place that looks like us. so not so random.

and i guess it is not random either that we meet people – it boils down to the people – who stand out. they are living lives and opening themselves up to others. in providing more personal lodging they are reinforcing the humanness and opportunity of travel. they remind us – again and again – to be just a little more vulnerable, just a little more open. we don’t walk in someone else’s shoes, but to stay in someone else’s home, even for a night, has given us the tiniest chance to know them and to get where they are.

we are not here to live anonymously.

*****

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TIME TOGETHER ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood


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blurring to color. [two artists tuesday]

what they don’t realize is that we are really tempted to do it: get in big red and start driving to south dakota.

their message was gracious and full of light – they wrote to tell me that they loved one of my pieces and that every time it comes on their dish music channel they clap their hands and feel happy. this tiny gesture was a heap of wow for me; i am always astounded when someone takes time out of their busy days to pass on kindnesses like this.

i wrote back.

and then THEY wrote back. it was suddenly communication between real people. two people who live on nine acres in south dakota and us, here in wisconsin.

they extended an invitation for a meal, great humor, a glance into their wild turkeys and red fox and deer and songbirds, a gesture from strangers-no-longer. we felt that we’d-love-to-be-friends feeling. the black-and-white text of their email blurred to color.

we were masked-browsing last spring at one of our favorite boutiques in cedarburg. i picked up a canvas purse i had been studying and studying and studying, strapped it cross-body and walked to where the mirror was (because, if you are unaware, a mirror is necessary when purchasing a purse).

two ladies were shopping in that neck of the shop and seemed amused at all the questions i was pummeling at david. they joined in, nodding at each of my queries and looking at him with great anticipation of the sudden enlightenment he would have re purse-buying. eventually, they joined in the fray and we all started laughing and comparing pocketbook notes and requirements and successful handbag finds and great disappointments. the laughter was just utter joy and the temptation to suggest meeting-them-in-a-couple-hours-for-a-glass-of-wine was powerful. our day’s commitments didn’t allow the extra time or we would have. the black-and-white of strangers in a store shopping had blurred to color.

if we could have a party and invite people right now i am quite certain i know some of the newest envelope-addresses we would send to: kevin and his wife, the water utilities engineer. steve and his wife, mechanic of brilliance. the two shopping-ladies at lillies. and our friends in south dakota.

black and white can always blur to color.

*****

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“wait! what??” [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s not a not-listening thing. it’s not even a not-paying-attention thing. it’s just that sometimes we are simply on two different planes thinking about two different things – entirely. we can have whole conversations during which we both think we are communicating and, yet, we are talking about different stuff. i have learned to preamble my questions or statements with a little background, kind of painting the picture, so to speak – no pun intended – so that we might stand a better chance of being on the same page subject-wise.

we rarely disagree. when we do it is with gusto. but there are those really strange moments we gusto ourselves out and suddenly realize that we were talking about the same thing, the same opinion, in agreement. all that bluster for nothing.

and then there’s always the bemused reality check “wait! what are we talking about again?”

read DAVID’s thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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packing. a solo sport. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it is not unusual for it to be 1am and for me to still be packing the night before a trip. well, specifically, fretting over packing. he – who shall remain nameless – will have packed in less than fifteen minutes. i am struggling and being tortured by the what-ifs of every trip you ever go on. what if you need to dress up? what if you spill on your favorite shirt and there is no laundry available? what if your flip-flop breaks? what if it’s unusually cold? what if it’s unusually hot? what if we have to walk far? what if my shoes give me blisters? what if i feel like wearing a skirt? what if i don’t?

he – that nameless one – patiently sits by (though i’m betting underneath it all is rather smug), offers meaningless male-advice but is, nevertheless, good moral support as i go through my increasingly-anxious shenanigans: things in, things out, repeat. though packing is a solo sport, having someone there sitting with you sort of helps.

shoes are an issue. that and jackets. he has learned to grab one of those gigantic blue ikea bags and hand it to me, “just pack whatever shoes and jackets you want! there’s plenty of room in the car!”. this is a man who, though it all seems so incredibly simple to him, knows better than to question the process.

he runs downstairs and gets me a bigger suitcase. ahhh, good man. good man.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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levels of color. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we were the only ones. the only customers in the grocery store with masks on. there was one employee we saw wearing one, but we didn’t see any other shoppers with one on. the other day, at a different grocery store, we were the recipients of a few dirty looks. but heck, we have tougher skin than that. mostly.

we sat outside while the light waned, before the mosquitoes had rsvp’d they’d be there. torches on, flame dancing from the fire column, we had a few hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine and talked about these times. there is a wistful dividing line between before and now. the pandemic has shot a chalkline in our calendars and even now, not quite after, we can see the difference.

the books arrived in the mail. it was one of those rare days when you open up the front door and see a surprise gift parcel on the doorstep. the books, memoirs of raynor and moth. the salt path, the first, a viewmaster of days during which, through the necessity of impossible challenges, raynor and moth were hiking the south west coast path in the united kingdom. “i think they are your people,” she wrote about this couple.

we opened the first paperback. i am reading it aloud and we have a voracious appetite to keep going in between all else. i read and we digest, this tale of backpacking without the reassuring fallback of retreat or going home in the end. it’s breathtaking and stunningly candid.

monday night i read aloud the sentence, “being separate from people for large chunks of time had reduced our tolerance levels.” it was not a statement of pandemic; it was a statement of wilderness camping. yet, it hit us – it was a statement of pandemic. so relevant.

if we are all honest with ourselves, we find now that the pandemic has most definitely divided our circles into before and now . . . and hopefully, one day, after. people who are absolute, people we have stayed in touch with or who have stayed in touch with us, even spottily, people who have fallen away. people who have shown true colors, people who have been generous and compassionate. people who have jumped at the chance to help others, to abide by recommendations to ease this pandemic, people who have chosen to be cavalier, go-their-own-way, to scoff and ignore, to not be any other’s keeper.

the season/reason mantra applies, we pondered aloud at the table, talking about past friendships and working relationships. some people, there with us at some point, are just not to be dragged into now. we appreciate their presence at the time they were present and we learn we must let go. they have become woven into who we have become and those threads remain somewhere in the interior of the quilt. but, in the way that time moves on, so do attachments. and even beyond the natural attrition of relationships – just like raynor and moth, though not on a wild trail – the simplicity of who we have become, what we have seen or done, where we have gone or not gone, how we have lived through these times, of pandemic, of loss, of challenge, of grief – this simplicity has changed us and, it seems, has changed our tolerance levels. as if they were on a cmyk or rgb profile – empathy, compassion, masks, vaccines, distancing, research, critical thinking, kindness, questioning, learning, truth, transparency, loyalty, generosity, inclusivity, gentleness, agenda-ridden-less, fairness, decency, basic dedication to not being mean…a wide spectrum of color levels in humans that surround us.

we were quiet as we sat and thought about people in our lives, what has changed, what has remained the same, people we yearn to see, people we, frankly, perhaps sadly or resignedly, don’t care to see again.

we gratefully looked around at flames in torches, food on our table, the dog on the deck, the old screen door to a comfortable beloved house merely steps away. the simplest pleasures have been, are, the pleasures. we cannot think of a reason that this is not a good thing. though we shed a few tears, we held hands as we spoke, together not separate.

the mosquitoes found their way to the deck. we blew out the torches, snuffed the fire column and carried our plates inside.

*****

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good moments waiting. [k.s. friday]

“we’re out of practice,” writes elizabeth bernstein. her article in the wall street journal is about reconnecting with others as we move slowly and cautiously out of pandemic-mode and back into the world. since this past year-plus has levied many and varied challenges upon all of us, her words seem prudent, reminding us to realize that we are each in different emotional places and honoring those will be absolutely necessary.

as we hike on trails we are alternately silent and chatting-up-a-storm. we find ourselves reminiscing, going over the last year-plus, reviewing. we are both awed and aghast at the things that have happened through this time. simple moments of bliss and moments of raw hurt. surprise at the time flying by and impatience at the time dragging. gratitude for the generosity of others and anger and anxiety at agenda we don’t understand. much time spent as just the two of us…the two of us plus dogga and babycat. we stop – mid-river-trail – and stare at each other, remembering the time, the losses, the learnings. this moment in time – all the circumstances that have brought us to this moment in time – and we look forward, wondering.

“we’ve all been through so much. we’re all so raw. and there is a strong sense of longing,” says sociologist and yale professor marissa king. though we long to be together with family and dear friends, communities of people we have been missing, we have come to realize that we have made it through, continue to make it through, the storm of this time. we have established rituals of our own, personal reassurances, moments of goodness that have arced us into next each and every time. we have failed from time to time and we have succeeded from time to time. mostly, we have made it from Time to Time, each then to each now.

reconnecting, we understand, will be complicated, perhaps intense, perhaps exhausting, perhaps selective. but those moments will, too, be worth it, whatever concentrated effort it takes. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t shared. “reconnection is not a one-and-done undertaking,” writes ms. bernstein. like the time that has gone by and the hard work it has taken to grok the necessity of being apart, it will require some practice to be together. we haven’t walked in the shoes of others and we haven’t experienced what they have experienced. the vice-versa is also true. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t divulged, things we haven’t mutually endured. there is much ahead, likely to be profoundly emotional.

we stand on the river trail and think about belly-laughing in a circle of friends, crying in the arms of family, dancing on the patio, snacktime on the pontoon boat, ukuleles in the park, happy hour in the backyard, floating in florida pools, rooftop and mountaintop times. and we know that, though there have been many good moments and though there are many good moments right here, there are many good moments…waiting.

*****

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GOOD MOMENTS from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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these flipflops. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we still wear masks. at festival, at target, at lowes, at costco, at woodmans. these flipflops are one of the reasons. though we have been totally vaccinated and, according to the cdc guidelines, could discard the masks – like most people in these parts – we are still vigilant. this is not because we don’t want the pandemic to go away. oh no. we would love to think that it’s over. but we know it isn’t. because, well, science. and these flipflops stop us from any cavalier disposal of all the masks on the hook on our refrigerator.

we have only eaten in one restaurant now since march of 2020. it was about six weeks ago and, admittedly, wonderful. phat thai in carbondale, colorado and our girl and her boyfriend. priceless. we were nervous – being newbies back at a restaurant – but the benefit/risk factor was obvious, the reservation was later in the evening when there were not as many diners there. we pass many restaurants in our own downtown area and they are often mob scenes of patrons. we couldn’t do that yet; it would make us uncomfortable. phat thai was relaxing and truly a lovely evening. we remain cautious though. because of these flipflops.

i just checked the cdc website. since covid statistics are no longer posted as chyrons we have limited exposure to the toll of deaths from this pandemic or other such concerning numbers. i scrolled around as there is much information available on this government site. i noted that our county has a 40-49% rate for folks having at least one dose of the vaccine. i’m a bit surprised by this number. this county has made it inordinately easy to be vaccinated. it is hard for me to wrap my head around why so many people have not gotten even one dose of any of the readily accessible shots. 47.9% of the state of wisconsin is vaccinated. 45.7% of the country. the whole united states. a population clearly not united in covid-vaccines. it’s perplexing. once again, i am at a loss as to why a larger percentage of this country is not vaccinated. surely there are flipflops in the lives of the 54.3% ‘out there’.

our social experiences over the last year plus now have been pretty minimal. we’ve seen our girl and our boy and their boyfriends. we’ve seen a bit of colorado family and a bit of missouri family. we’ve seen the up north gang on the deck once and, with great celebration, in the dining room once. we’ve gone back to weekly dinners with 20, post daily-phone-calls through the time we couldn’t gather. and we have been with the owners of the flipflops – our dearest friends who have happy-houred with us into late fall and as early as possible this spring – with a firepit and blankets – in their backyard. we know that it is risky for someone vaccinated but with a suppressed immune system and we join force with them in being careful so that we might be with them.

it isn’t a big sacrifice to wear a mask in the grocery store or in the big box stores. we are definitely in the minority. we definitely get looks sometimes. we are quite sure there’s a bit of scorning going on. but these flipflops are worth it. i mean, what’s a little piece of cloth over your nose and mouth to keep loved ones safe? just a little bit longer, we think. we are hoping that the 54.3% will head to a vaccination site and do their part to save lives – of those who they love and those who they do not know, of the lives of children. perhaps the population of this country will heed the cautionary words of dr. leana wen: “there are more contagious and virulent variants emerging that could lead to a surge in infections, especially in parts of the country with low vaccination rates. those unvaccinated, including our children, remain at high risk. (washington post, june 14, 2021) dr. wen concludes, “different families have different perceptions of risk as it applies to the virus and the necessity of the vaccine. for our family, it comes down to this: if you have the option to reduce a low risk of something awful happening to your kids to essentially zero, would you take it?” i would add, if you have the option to reduce risk of something awful happening to any one you love to essentially zero, would you take it?

what flipflops influence your decisions in these times?

*****

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ghrelin’s fault. [saturday morning smack-dab]

here’s something to consider:

“as estrogen declines in perimenopause and menopause, appetite ramps up. … hormone weirdness can impact your sleep (night sweats, for example). insufficient sleep can further elevate sensations of hunger.” (gennev.com)

and this additional news:

“the decline of sleep-promoting hormones including estrogen and progesterone is one big reason for disrupted sleep. and the other symptoms of menopause—from mood swings and anxiety to night sweats—also contribute to sleep problems for women. production of another critical hormone for sleep—melatonin—also decreases with age, which can compound sleep problems for women during menopause and beyond.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

shocking, isn’t it? it makes you want to sign up, doesn’t it? huh?huh?

as one who is smack-dab in the middle of this estrogen/progesterone/post-peri-full-blown-meno fun, i know i am not alone. there is nothing like lying awake in the wee of the night, filled with swirling angst-filled thoughts and lists and no shut-eye, listening to david gently snoring and dogdog running in his sleep, blanket on-blanket off-blanket on, grateful-for-each-moment-crabby-as-all-get-out, melatonin-deprived and starving. i can’t count the vast number of bananas and bowls of cereal we have eaten smack-dab in the middle of the night.

“levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin increase, a reason why many women find themselves frequently hungry during this phase.” (psychology today, m.j. breus, phd)

i blame ghrelin.

and david. of course, david.

during menopause and beyond.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

34 – the combination of 14 & 20 – love to cook together. they chop and laugh and saute and bake and grill, punting their way through recipes. with glasses of wine in hand (and lately, maybe old-fashioned wisconsin old-fashioneds) these two brothers-of-different-mothers gleefully prepare dinner.

twice a week we three (61 when you add us all up) used to dine together. and then covid. for well over a year, dinners stopped and phone calls commenced. but even zoom doesn’t come close to the ritual of preparing good food and sitting down all together around a table. finally, fully-vaccinated and still wearing masks out in public spaces, we are back. and so there is a piece of our world that has righted; the axis is just a little less tilted. we are grateful.

20 goes way back for me. shortly after my beloved big brother died, i believe he looked down from heaven and hand-picked out 20 to stand in for him. he didn’t expect 20 to be exactly who he was, he just expected him to be there for me. and vice-versa.

my little girl and 20’s little girl took ballet lessons together as tiny ballerinas and 20 and i sat on the wood floor with other parents just off the studio, morning light spilling in through the windows. my little boy drove his matchbox cars up and down the hall, including on and off 20’s legs, clearly seeing in him a man who adored the magic of small children and their imaginations. it was like group therapy, this cadre of parents on the wooden floor, and we still think of those times fondly. we followed ballet class with an ice-cream-sundae trip across the street to andrea’s and sitting on high stools at jack’s cafe in front of the soda fountain. cups of hot coffee and watching our tiny girls make straw dolls with paper napkins and my little toddler boy having soup-that-race-cars-eat with a side of saltines and pickles were glittery times…priceless. in the way that life and mystery goes, 20 happened to be a graphic designer at a time in my life when i needed a graphic designer. we celebrated my first album together and he designed many of the next ones. there for meetings or reviews, i watched him and justine and duke at work. i had the good fortune of secondhand learning; i still credit 20 with the way i design things now. it was inevitable that we would still be almost-brother-sister 27 years later. i imagine this will go on forever and ever, in the way that my own big brother devised it. only now, we are a trio of compadres. we’d have it no other way.

in this time of so much loss for so many, we have not gone unscathed. jobs and security, finances and healthcare, communities-within-communities, relationships – all have an iota of decimation. the rituals of our life together are the things we hold onto, the firm footing that delivers us from one day to the next. for us, resuming the twice-a-week dinners with 20, friday night potlucks with our dear-dear friends which have temporarily become happy-hours in their backyard, our familiar-trail hikes watching the seasons change in the woods…these are real, three-dimensional and steady and are evidence of life beyond these times. they are evidence of a return to some semblance of normal, though we suspect things may never actually be normal again.

we are still careful out in public. we still wear masks and use sanitizer. at OT appointments they still take my temperature, have a pile of masks at the door and ask a slew of covid questions. we are wary of too much exposure – our innermost circle demands it, for this pandemic is still alive and well and we do not wish to place our dearest close ones at any potentially devastating risk.

yesterday we passed a teen girl walking down the sidewalk, mask at her chin, with a sad, sad face. it made me think about all the people who have lost loved ones during this year-plus of covid. i wonder how they feel as they watch others, in seeming cavalier fashion, gather in crowds, throw out their masks and throw any remaining caution to the wind. i’m guessing maybe they are heartbroken. because there is no going back. it can’t be undone. and the loss of their beloveds has not changed others who do not walk in their shoes.

i guess it’s the lack of empathy, the lack of looking-out-for-each-other, the lack of small efforts of willingness to aid the big community that i find most disturbing. because, really, in the ritual-festooned-relationship-rich-shimmering-end we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY