reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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momma birds. [k.s. friday]

the cicadas are loud outside already. the windows are open and, though it will be ridiculously hot today, tomorrow will be their field day. it’s the end of august and, no matter who i speak to, the common marvel is how quickly summer has passed. a dear friend wrote to me, “it is the clove of seasons.”

i was behind him at office max. waiting in line six feet back, he was checking out. the checkout gal was pleasant but uninterested as the enthusiastic dad chortled about how his wife had forgotten to buy sharpened pencils for their children going back to school. he asked for separate bags so that he might bring them home to his kids in individual packages to add to their school supplies. he was excited, so excited, telling anyone within earshot of his errand to finish up prepping for the beginning of the school year. i couldn’t help but smile back as he walked past me with an elated look on his face.

i checked out and intended for the exit. it was the backpacks that got me first. the big four-sided display drew me over. there was this great floral backpack. . .

i started to wander a bit more, the calendars and notebooks and mechanical pencils making me wistful. stickynotes and highlighters and packs of gel-tip pens and fine-line sharpies beckoning.

these people knew how to place things in the store. i was not quite leaving.

i was catapulted back in time and meandered a little lost in thought about days – years – gone by, an empty nester’s trap of remembering with both joy and sorrow. all those years of school lists and target runs and picking out backpacks and first day of school walgreen’s or back-to-target fill-ins, things we hadn’t anticipated needing or somehow forgot. the piles on the dining room table as my beloved girl and boy selected their supplies and maybe their pencil case. they put looseleaf paper in their trapper-keepers and loaded up spiral notebooks and the required box of tissues, a few dry erase markers, a ruler and maybe a calculator. absolutely heavenly to be surrounded by school materials, stationery supplies, new reusable lunchbags and two mostly-excited children.

this time of year does it every time. even though it is extraordinarily hot i can feel it knocking. and i can feel the sadness of letting go of summer freedoms, of children, late-morning, still in pjs, of no alarm clocks and no dread of early morning crabbies. i can feel the elation of the bus arriving at the end of the day or sitting outside the school watching for a glimpse of my own beautiful children in a throng of beautiful children.

every year i feel it. that feeling watching them walk out the door to go to school, to go to college, to go into the world. even now i am immersed in it. i miss them.

i’m sure the momma bird was elated too when the eggshell cracked open and her tiny baby bird was born. she probably chortled to her bird-friends about her little miracle and its entrance into life. and then, after a time, bird-school over, she realized she was suddenly an empty-nester, her sweetest with wings that would carry it into the world to adventure and explore and conquer abounding opportunities. though the nest would remain, and would always be there, rooting and rooting, both, it was merely a launching pad to everything else.

and one day, as she was waiting in line at office max, as tears threatened to roll down her face, she would be grateful for all those times before and she would wrap herself in the memorized feel of freshly-sharpened pencils, late-summer cicadas and small hands in hers.

*****

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GIVE ME ROOTS, GIVE THEM WINGS from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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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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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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


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the ice cream truck. [merely-a-thought monday]

“stop!!!!” we’d yell at the top of our lungs.

it didn’t happen often, but every now and then, we got to stop the ice cream man as he jingled his way around the neighborhood. then began The Choice. toasted almond bars or chocolate eclairs or or creamsicles or nutty buddy cones or italian ices (although we most often got those on the way out of modells sporting goods store, which, for some reason, had a stand by the doors). my momma would buy fudgsicles and ice cream sandwiches for in the freezer, so those weren’t viable options. and we would never-ever just buy a cup of ice cream with those wooden spoon things you got in elementary school or with your modells italian ice. that would be lame. it seemed important to get something more novel than what was inside your own house. particularly if it was ice cream on a stick. we knew, at the time, that it was a splurge and we loved every single second of it. we’d sit on the curb or on the grass or on the stoop and relish whatever treat we picked. summer in east northport. summer on long island.

you can hear it coming – “pop goes the weasel” playing incessantly around the ‘hood. it used to drive both my girl and my boy crazy as it approached and passed by – the pitch of the ‘song’ changing keys as it approached, drove by eventually and was in the distance. we laugh now as it passes us these days, for the same reason and because it would likely take a small mortgage to feed ice cream treats to a family from the ice cream man these days. we have marveled at watching families with small children gather together in the park eating dairy queen. a medium blizzard is $4 so a family of five would be $20 just for an afternoon carry-out treat. i don’t know but, to us, that seems like a lot.

harry burt, the founder of good humor, apparently stumbled into ice cream kingdom rule when he froze chocolate topping to use with ice cream. it turned out to be a messy affair so his son suggested using the sticks from his previous invention (jolly boy suckers) and – voila! – the ice cream bar was a hit. his decision to start the ice cream truck/wagon/push-cart was on the heels of his treat-success and, believing that good “humor” had everything to do with the humor of the palate, he had his company name picked out. good humor is synonymous with yummy ice cream and childhood. what a legacy!

a few days ago, 20 went to his freezer after we finished a scrumptious dinner with him. he gestured to 14 to be quiet and reached his hand in, pulling out a container but shielding it from my view. it turned out to be a half gallon of coffee ice cream, which is my favorite tied with mint chocolate chip. it was not cashew or almond; this was straight-up ice cream, which he guiltily knew i couldn’t have. he and 14 enjoyed bowls of this dessert. i had two tiny bites, which were amazing. coffee ice cream always makes me think of my big brother who, night after night, would load his bowl up and eat to his heart’s content. after my minuscule taste-test, i googled cashew/almond coffee ice cream and have a photo of a couple options saved on my phone so that i might seek them out.

someday when i pass a freezer with talenti dairy-free-sorbetto cold-brew-coffee displayed, i will literally yell, “stop!”

it won’t be the ice cream truck ringing bells or playing “it’s a small world” or “pop goes the weasel”. it won’t be standing at the side of the road in the hot sun with a dollar held tightly in my hand in line behind other sweaty, excited kids. it won’t be staring at the poster on the side of the truck with too many choices, the scent of coppertone wafting through the air. but, like all the children gathered around the proverbial ice cream truck in full glorious summer, i will be filled with good humor.

*****

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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art is like that. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t understand this painting. nor do i feel connected to it. art is like that. sometimes it resonates, sometimes it does not. and in just the way that it does not vibrate within you, it still stirs something else.

for me, this has stirred up images of one of my beloved nieces. her wedding, now years ago, was a blur of blue sky, warm sand, rich brown gowns, the setting sun and her, in stunning white. her home combined these tones; it echoes the sentiment of that landscape and never will i see blue and brown together without thinking of her. art is like that.

we each carry a palette of color at our hips. we carry tunes of music in our hearts. snippets of image, of music that evoke memories of other times.

right now, in the middle of this raging pandemic perhaps this is most important. we have nary a chance to have new treasured times with our loved ones. we face quiet thanksgivings, quiet holiday seasons. we wonder what it will be like, we wonder how we will get through it.

walking through the neighborhood yesterday, we took note of how many people had already decorated for the holidays. lights and giant hard plastic snowmen, candy canes adorning sidewalks, stars lighting up gardens. there were yards that looked like a cacophony of giggling sound, competing with other yards for attention. while this seems early for all that, it made us smile.

for, in all that wiring and plasticware, was a trove of memories. each homeowner must have yearned for the resonance of that magic. each homeowner must have had stories of years-past echo through their heart and mind. each homeowner created art – their own art – chronicling their life and experience through time, re-telling a story, expressing what they feel and creating a rich offering for others.

grateful for their gift as we wandered home through the darkened streets, i thought about holidays past, traditions on hold, gatherings at bay, much longing. it stirred a deep store of memories, made me hope yet even more for the pandemic healing of the world.

and it made me wonder if this is the year to consider having a “regular” christmas tree, bright with lights. if this is the year to respectfully light a menorah, tend a kinara, break open a star pinata…

i wonder if this is the year to celebrate the story of life with the whole world, full of color and sound, vibrating loudly and ever so quietly. art is like that.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the blue notebook. [merely-a-thought monday]

why?

a text from 20

my sweet momma was an optimist.   growing up, she’d wake me up in the morning with a cheery, “good morning, merry sunshine” and she would happily start her day.  she would jot everything on her desk calendar (the kind with the base, two metal rings and sheets for each day that were replenishable yearly.)  for her, everything counted.  she would write down all of it, in her personal shorthand.  to read her calendars now is to see all parts of life – the magical parts and the painful aspects.  but momma? she just had a way of listing to the magical side.

we drove down to florida nine to ten times in the last couple years of her life.  we’d visit and laugh and listen to stories and catch her up on our life.  she was in assisted living then so we would listen carefully if she mentioned something she clearly wanted from the home she and my dad had shared.  her finnish wood carvings, a certain sweater, a jacket, a movie in the entertainment center…all things back home.  we all worked to be sure she was surrounded by things that meant a lot to her.

one day momma started to recollect another of the rich stories she and my dad had experienced on their trip to europe decades earlier.  she spoke of the brand new vw bug they ordered ahead and picked up in germany.  she spoke of roadtripping for six weeks around the countryside.  and she spoke of a red notebook in which she wrote down all her impressions, all their doings, all the adventures during their trip.  she wrote of tender moments and of the simplest of pleasures.  she wrote of what made that trip magical and painful challenges they had.  she didn’t write of the grandiose or the impactful tourist spots.  she wrote of what made that trip theirs and theirs alone, a deeply personal account.  and as she spoke of it, you could feel the presence of my dad by her side.  these were cherished stories and precious time she spent with her beloved husband.  clearly, she pined for this notebook – written memories of that magic.

we went back home that evening to my parent’s house with a mission – find the red notebook.  we started in the office, scouring the desk and the closet, going through bins and boxes, our eyes searching for a red spiral.  defeated in the office, we moved on.  every nook.  every cranny.  we opened every bin and box in the house, rifling through, trying to find it.

we moved on to the garage.  tall filing cabinets stood against the wall (for basements are somewhat inconceivable in florida).  i started pulling out drawers.  david headed for the stacks of plastic bins, piled in another part of the garage.

we kept at it.  determined, but losing some hope.

david opened the last plastic bin, the one on the very bottom of the piles.  he shuffled through the papers in the top; his eyes fell on a brochure.  a travel brochure.  from europe.  his pulse racing, he continued to dig through the bin.

and then he saw it.  a BLUE spiral notebook.  on the front was penned the word EUROPE.

the last time i saw my momma – ever – was the very next morning.  when we left her, she was clutching the blue notebook to her chest, tears in her eyes.

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

 

thebluenotebookproject

a sweet momma inspired project

momma, d & k website box copy


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missing. [k.s. friday]

MISSING song box copy

it comes in waves.  in less than two weeks i will be 60.  i’m not a consumed-with-my-age-person, but this particular birthday is proving me different.  without any prompts, i find myself sorting through my life, the six decades that lead me to right now.   memories flow in and ebb out like the tide on a surfboard of emotions.  trying not to resist, i ride the wave as it brings me growing up times on long island…my nuclear family all together, all alive, gathered in our dining room on abby drive or up in the catskills in a rustic state park cabin….bike hikes and carvel….simple times of arguing for john denver over bob dylan….time walking or sitting or playing frisbee on crab meadow beach…late sunday morning mc-arnson sandwiches or waffles and ice cream around my sweet momma and poppo’s table in florida…the time of building the first home i ever bought, a big choice for us as a young couple…the sheep farm in new hampshire….moving to wisconsin away from family and the challenges that raised…celebrating the amazing birth of our daughter and son and watching them grow into the people they are….recording my first album and what that meant….letting go of the day-to-day mothering as my children became adults and still being an every-single-day mother….balancing the impact of good decisions and bad decisions….times of intense grief….choosing love….starting over….wondering what is coming next….

the inner monologue chronicles through all of these years…i sit in quiet watching the slideshow in my mind’s eye and ponder.  what was most important, what is most important, what will be most important.  what it all means.  and it’s clear most of the time.  the people who have surrounded me, who have loved me, who i have loved.  the people i am missing – and will always miss – as well as the people who are right here.  the times i am missing – as well as the times -moments- i could miss right now were i to be too engrossed in something else.

on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART, the track that i selected to follow MISSING is called CONNECTED.  because it all stays a part of the vast ocean that is each of our lives.  the missing and the now and the wondering, all part of the whole.  all waves to ride.

theocean

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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the storage unit. [two artists tuesday]

storage unit copy

on my nightstand next to the bed are two frames.  both written in little-kid-writing, they are notes i saved from long ago.  one is from My Girl and it reads, “goodnight mom” surrounded by hearts.  the other is from My Boy and it has two words on it, “craig” (with a backwards g) and “mom” and has hearts filling up the rest of the notepaper.  each night i see these as i wish them both, from far away, goodnight, sweet dreams, restful sleep.

i come by this threadiness honestly.

we were in florida visiting; two of the days we were there, despite bright sunlight and temperatures in the 80s, we spent in a storage unit.  what was left of my parents’ belongings was packed in boxes, stacked in a unit, waiting for us to put our eyes on all of it and decide what to do with each of these things.  my mom’s impulse was to keep things, especially paper.  photographs and slides aside, there were files and files – some of which we will wade through later.  there were boxes of mugs and baskets and trinkets, a kaleidoscope of the pieces of life, carefully packed by my sister and brother-in-law during a time of sadness, a time that was not ripe with paring down or organizing, a time that is difficult for anyone who has packed up a house. larger items were already distributed – furniture given away or passed down to the next generation.  but these boxes….

i was quite sure that, even if i hadn’t seen anything in any of the boxes, i had all i needed….my treasures of my sweet momma and my poppo are tucked in close to my heart and i have physical memories of them around me in our home.  they are not the high-priced treasures you might think people would save or claim.  instead, they are small, meaningful, invaluable and thready things that speak to me.  old calendars of my mom’s, my dad’s small rickety wooden boxes from his workbench, glasses from which my dad sipped his scotch, a flannel shirt my mom wore that matched my dad’s, a board with hooks that is wood-burned with the word “keys” and hung in our growing-up house for as long as i can remember…

spending time in the storage unit, surrounded by memories and the fading scent of my mom’s perfume and their house, i was heartened to see that i actually could go through and pare down.  it gives me hope about our own basement.  the real things of our past – sweet treasured memories – are not things.  everyone gets meaning from and sees value in different stuff.  two days in the storage unit reminded me again of that.

this time i didn’t cry.  i laughed with my momma, who, no doubt, was rolling her eyes in heaven over the fact that she had saved sooo many pieces of paper…paid bills, old house contracts, warranties from appliances long gone, car receipts from several cars ago.  a collection of life gone by, i know she smiled when every now and then we stumbled onto something i loved to touch….i kept the little scrap of paper that fluttered to the floor that my mom had written my full birth name on…i kept a couple calendars with my poppo’s handwriting…i kept a tiny folder of maps my mom collected in her curiosity about the changing world…i kept my dad’s brown suede cap, the one i bought him a million years ago…i kept a manila folder of letters i had written to them over the years – that my momma saved…these pieces of evidence of who they were, heirlooms of what was most important to them.

i vowed, once again, to go through, give away, sell the things in our own home that are not necessary.  but those bins in the basement labeled “kirsten” and “craig”?  those will stay.  i will delight in going through the artwork and stories and notes and school projects from their childhood and growing up.  and some day, maybe they too will see how infinitely important each of the baby steps and adult steps they have taken are to me.  and maybe some of the thready treasures i have left behind will give them pause and, maybe, they will save a scrap or two, a calendar, a notebook of unpublished songs, photographs, something that reminds them of what was most important to me – the thready things that are memories of love, of family, of them.

it wasn’t sunny or 82 degrees inside the storage unit.  but it was warm in a whole other way.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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