reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the lateral list. [merely-a-thought monday]

it’s on the list. i explained to d yesterday that i have a lateral list of things that need my attention, in addition to a vertical list. cleaning the attic, sorting through the basement, going through the closets, these are all on the lateral list somewhere vertically among a number of other things that need to be done. every so often, this lateral push-pull bobs to the top. but procrastination is a fierce reactor and readily slaps the bobbing tedium down.

lately, though, it has risen – triumphantly – and called my name. since the attic is hotter than heck right now, the basement will be first up. it may take me weeks just to decide what to wear down there – how to dress for the plethora of memories mixed with spider carcasses and a whole bunch of sunflower seeds i noticed a while back in the storage room. at the time i wondered why the boy had eaten sunflower seeds and disposed the shells in the storage room and how i hadn’t noticed these and cleaned them out years earlier. the realist raised her hand, shooing off the ridiculous and suggested that cute little mice had made the mess. the boy is now off the hook and there will be a broom ready. so, yes, the outfit might be important…something i might leave down there to specifically don for the lateral look-through. as chores go, this one will be to leave no stone unturned, to peer into every box, unearth each bin, gingerly throw away every spider and centipede carcass. there is no telling what treasures we might find. if it wasn’t so much work, i would be totally looking forward to it. ok, admittedly, part of me is happily anticipating it. because – it is rich in memories. and therein lies the root problem.

i explained to d that this will take some time. that he should not be thinking that – poof! – it will be done quickly. oh no…every single everything down there has a story. and, to jump on ann landers’ bandwagon, some things have words. lots of them. like old greeting cards, stories my children wrote when they were little, scrapbooks of adventures, brochures saved from, well, everywhere. not to mention old report cards, newspaper clippings, letters penned by my sweet momma, tiny notes on pa pad paper written by my poppo. so, draw up a chair, d, this could take a while. but, hey, don’t go away, because i’d love to share it all with you.

we recently brought home a bin from colorado in which david’s mom and dad had saved miscellaneous clippings and photos and playbills about him. we combed slowly through it; for me, it was my first viewing of many of these pieces. articles and wedding invitations, school letters and the note that the man in the neighborhood wrote to the editor of the paper bragging about what “a little gentleman” david was as his paperboy. sitting at the table going through all these was like having a viewmaster toy full of different slides, snippets of his life during which i wasn’t there.

though i may have a few more slides, bins full, shall we say, it will be a chance for him to peek into the viewmaster and see me as a little girl, a teenager, a young woman, someone who wore a bikini and went water-skiing and sought out all the lighthouses on long island. to see the tangible evidence of me as a young mother: art projects and cheerios containers, favorite rattles and the tassels of high school graduations. so many artifacts, so many stories to tell.

this might be the right week for that. the temperatures will be in the high 80s, the humidity will be drippy and this-old-house-with-no-central-air will be cooler in the basement.

i need to plan my basement work clothes. cue-up the lateral list. full-speed ahead.

*****

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


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the last time. [two artists tuesday]

we knew it was the last evening we’d sit out on that big patio under the awning next to the garage in the backyard. and so, with a glass of wine in hand, we got a couple chairs and cushions and walked out into a gorgeous denver night. we watched as the light waned and talked about this house, the home in which david mostly grew up. i remembered the first time i was there, years ago, and how much time we have spent out on the patio, visiting, in years since. my favorite spot at that house, it’s an early-morning coffee place, an eat-dinner-out place and a late-night nightcap place. and this was our last time.

soon this house will be sold and a new family will patio-sit. a new family will plant in the garden out back. a new family will fill the old shed and park their cars in the garage. a new family will cook meals in the kitchen and play in the playroom downstairs. and this sweet house, sturdy and steadfast, will hold them safe and keep them warm and ground their dreams with the security of home. simple and mostly unadorned, it will, like it has always been, be embellished by the love of people together. but this was our last time.

driving back down from the high mountains we passed the exits that easily would take us there. in those minutes we knew that it was the last time we had the option of taking those exits to lead us to their home. we did not exit. they were not there. the time of life has flown by and new chapters were opening for them; out of necessity his mom and dad have flipped the page over and we start new times with them. change is never easy, but we seek the positive in it and lean on trust. the next time we drive down from the mountains we will take different highway exits. this was the last time these two could take us there – to what was home.

i have been past my growing-up house maybe five times in the last forty years or so, once, maybe twice, in the last decade. one time, about twenty-five years ago, i actually went inside. the owners pulled into the driveway while i was gawking at their house from the street. in an effort to help them feel safer, i explained why i was staring at their house. they invited me inside, showed me the main part of the house, brought me into the garage where my brother’s peanuts drawings still graced the walls. i can’t remember the changes they made; it’s all blurry now. i just know it was a gift to be able to step on the wood floors of that house, to touch the walls once again. it would be yet another gift to be able to show david that house, then all the stories would have a base-place, and i could linger for a few moments in the what-was.

i wonder if someday we will take the exit to his old house again. if we will drive in the double-concrete-poured driveway and walk up to the front door, trellis gracing it. i wonder if some new owner will invite us in, to peek at some of the renovating they have done. i wonder if we will step out back onto the patio, a place of so many memories.

or if the last time was the last time.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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chi’hood home. [d.r. thursday]

a haiku quad

wand’ring through the house

he took photos of distant

memories he had.

they flooded his heart

his mind full, awash, the past

playing again – now.

and i find myself

wishing i could go back there

to my chi’hood home

to relive it all

to remember, to process

life as it marches.

read DAVID’S D.R. THURSDAY HAIKU


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wishbones in the woods. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we received a letter from the energy company that tree pruning may be required on our property. there is one tree that is closer to power lines than any others. this tree is out front and has been there the entire three decades plus that i have been here.

this old tree invited my children to climb it, was the source of limbs we used for christmas trees, shaded the front yard and gardens through the years. i watched this tree change through the seasons out the window as i rocked my children in the nursery; i’ve taken pictures of it with snow stacked up against its trunk. i’ve pondered what to do in the area around its roots, which rise above the surface of the ground; i’ve given up planting around it and allowed it to just co-exist with the dirt and scant grass. this tree has lost limbs in recent years and has some interior rotting causing some breakage to bear no leaves. but this is the source of long-time wisdom which has welcomed me home each time i’ve pulled into the driveway. each time i silently thank this tree and breathe a little bit easier to be at this place so familiar to me. i am wondering now if this is the tree. it pains me to think of this old tree pruned beyond recognition or, worse yet, taken down entirely. if indeed this is the case, i would hope to have pieces of this tree to save – slices as chargers for under dinner plates or even just simply a limb to wrap with happy lights and place in a spot of honor inside. yes. i am wondering if this is the tree.

the tree in the woods off the trail we follow was one that collected snow, its face to the wind. we hadn’t noticed it before; it blended into the rest of the woods and fallen trees. but, with snow on its bows it was clearly a wishbone, and, obviously, making a wish, i hiked into the underbrush to get a closer photo.

i wonder how often we pass by trees – and perhaps every living thing and perhaps people – without noticing them for what they are or who they are. how often do we turn a blind eye to that which is familiar or that which blends without any outstanding characteristic? it is possible that we participate in life more peripherally than we ought, more aloofly than the stuff of life deserves. the merit of each bow, each limb, each living thing, each person, is lost in our pursuit of next.

in the still threadiness of our hearts, perhaps slowing down and looking more closely might yield stronger connection to that which we understand, that which is familiar, that which we know well. more importantly, perhaps it might yield stronger connection to that which we don’t understand, that which is not familiar and that which we don’t know well. an opportunity to discard apathy and discuriousness and embrace old trees by the driveway and wishbones in the woods.

*****

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


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the gallery on my phone. [two artists tuesday]

the gallery on my phone: there are photos of any minutes any where with or of my children. there are photos of trails and woods and my husband’s face and heart-shaped leaves. there are photos of dogdog and babycat, family, friends, photos of wildflowers, bushes, gardens and happy lights, recipes, screenshots of funny snapchat-filtered faces, cairns, and mountains, lots of mountains. there are photos of our feet, laughter, redrock and snowmen, lakes and oceans, streams and frozen ponds, birds and butterflies and preserved text messages, trail magic greenery, sunrises and sunsets, the sun and the moon. there are photos in the united states and photos abroad. photos in canoes and fishing skiffs, on pontoon boats and stand-up boards, riding ice-cutting ferries. there are photos of pianos and pipes and pumpkins, wooden stages, stages of rock, prickly cactus and my casts. there are quaking aspens and forests of pine, wizened old trees, towering oaks and radiant maples, highways and back roads. there are squirrels and deer, raccoons, horses and heart-shaped rocks. there are snow pictures and desert pictures, sandy pictures and muddy pictures, city skylines and small town main streets, wine glasses, thoughtfully-prepared meals, candles burning, bonfires, and masks littering the ground iso faces. there are tree stumps, tree trunks and bark and branches, interesting shapes, shadows, buildings, sayings emblazoned anywhere, articles to remember to read later, signs and designs, horsehoof and deer and bunny tracks, and heart-shaped designs that waited in the dirt, in the snow, in rock formations.

there are thousands of photographs. thousands.

i look back on them often. there are times i will select a whole bunch and transfer them over to my laptop so that i can print them and put them up on a bulletin board in our hallway or on the big piece of tin in the kitchen or frame them for one of the flat surfaces that doesn’t already have a photograph. but mostly, i look back on them to spend time – again – right there.

right now, in a country devastated by a raging pandemic and out-of-control political chaos and violence, in a town riddled with inordinately tough emotional disparity and a lack of social justice over the district attorney’s ruling in a case involving a police officer who shot a black man in the back seven times, now on the outermost fringes of what was an up-close-and-personal community lacking transparency to its members, in sadness and angst, i need to be back there.

back with people i love who love me back.

back at places that brought me peace or laughter, challenged me or rewarded me with a sense of calm.

back where every heart is noticed, whosever it is, wherever it is, even whether it be a rock, a leaf, a knot in a tree in the woods, or the funny way that the ice melted on the deck.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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paint-by-number. [two artists tuesday]

paint by number .JPG

some things just stop me in my tracks.  strolling through school days antiques mall i turned the corner and screeched to a halt.  familiarity swirled around me as i stared at this painting – a paint-by-number.  my breathing slowed.  the scene, the hues…all made me feel like i was embraced.  by my sweet momma.  i texted a picture to my sister, to check in, to see what she said.  she texted back that it, indeed, felt familiar and we tried to remember what happened to this painting of my mom’s.  every time i look at this photo on my phone i feel ‘home’.  even right now.

this wasn’t the first time this happened.  back a couple years ago ON mother’s day we were tooling around an antiques store in woodstock, illinois.  we had taken a ‘sunday drive’ (i am turning into my parents!) and looked for antiques stores to visit.  as i turned the corner from one booth to the next it was there, staring at me.  the paint-by-number-jesus that my mom had painted.  i photographed it and called everyone that day.  this painting was hung somewhere in our growing-up house that we can’t all agree on.  but we know it was there.  i turned the painting over looking for my mom’s signature on the back, but didn’t find it.  i studied the frame, one that was identical to a frame that my sweet poppo had made on a paint-by-number-nude (yes, it’s ok to laugh aloud here) my mom had painted and hung in their bathroom (which i know i have written about before).  i pondered how it might have gotten to woodstock, if indeed this painting and truly-identical-wooden-frame might have been my mom’s paint-by-number-jesus.  it wasn’t likely.  our growing-up-house was on long island and then my parents moved to florida so illinois was a bit off the mark (unless she had given the painting to my brother a million years ago and he “generously” donated it, which would make me laugh aloud.)  we left and went home and a few days later drove all the way back, just to study it a little more, to touch it again.  i thought holding it in my hands might tell me if i should buy it and bring it home and, well, i had no idea what to do with it then.  i mean, what does one do with a paint-by-number-jesus?  i didn’t buy it.  i left paint-by-number-jesus in woodstock and i gratefully welcomed my mom’s embrace from afar.

so the other day, in the midst of the stresses of life, we took a stroll in one of our favorite antiques stores, chatting and reminiscing and laughing about all the stuff we used to have growing up and all the stuff that we still have in our cabinets that are now considered antiques.

we tried not to talk about the things that were nagging us, the things we are worried about, the things that seem insurmountable.

and my beloved sweet momma showed up.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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memories you can touch. [two artists tuesday]

TV Trays This One copy

he stopped.  walking in the top floor room of a nearby antique mall we love to visit, david was struck suddenly by – of all things – tv trays.  “we had these!” he exclaimed. “growing up, we had these exact trays!” i immediately took pictures.  i knew i would send them to his sister later.  for a few moments, he was back in colorado, clipping the tv tray into place, surrounded by his sister, his brothers, his mom and dad.

when we have free time, we peruse antique stores.  sometimes we are lucky to amble with our dearest friends.  it takes time to walk through antiques – old stuff that connects us to a galore of stories.  we stop and tell tales, sharing, laughing, amazed at how long ago are the moments we are speaking of.  pole lamps that reach floor-to-ceiling, games, figurines, wooden crates, orange and turquoise vinyl furniture, dolls and toys, china, record albums, ancient suitcases with no wheels, teapots and patterns of corelle-ware, mixing bowls and corningware…everything is part of some moment we have passed through, maybe forgotten, but now surfacing with the touch of some item.

i am really thready, without physical reminders.  but with them i can literally touch yesterdays…full of emotion, sometimes pining for times-gone-by.  i relish the stories, the re-visiting.  i can almost, just almost remember our tv trays.  but not quite.  i can’t quite put my mind’s-eye-finger on them.   maybe we will stumble across them one of these days.  and i will stop short.

in the meanwhile, just wondering…what did your tv trays look like?

tvtraywebsitebox

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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

 


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in the night. [k.s. friday]

inthenight song BOX

i am writing this ahead of time…in anticipation of a so-much-looked-forward-to trip to the high mountains to spend time with The Girl and our new granddog lumi.  when you read this, we will be almost home.  and there are a few things i know for sure.

that i will -for sure- awake at night, as i often do, and i will relive the time we spent in those mountains.  i will relish the time i will now have in my memory bank, the visions in my mind’s eye.  i will cherish the bits and pieces i will have brought back for our special box.  i will hold dear the photographs i will have taken.

when the moon wakes me, i will be endlessly grateful for any and all moments in the little town she  calls home.  i will run conversations and laughter through the middle-of-the-night quiet.  i will catch a hint of the cool midnight colorado air on the breeze through the window.  i will feel what it feels like to, once again, hug my beautiful daughter.  and i will store it all away.  so that in the night – any night – i can recall all of it.

 

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IN THE NIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood