reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the mission of goodness. [merely-a-thought monday]

when a business is transparent, it is not afraid to put it out there. it’s not afraid of feedback – good or bad. it only wants to be the best it can be, its actions to be the most positive. this automotive shop was up-front, honest and did the best they could in a short period of time with circumstances for which they clearly had heart. davis automotive in hays gets our recommendation and – if you find yourself in need of car repair in the middle of kansas – we suggest you go there. they stepped up and helped when we really needed it. and the sign above their door was sincere.

it is important for a business or organization, its mission statement and its actions, treatment of customers, employees and its community to be in alignment. i’m thinking that’s why people go to the trouble of writing such declarations. to have intention and to courageously be accountable to that intention.

lately i’ve taken particular interest in reading posts, brief mantras, vision statements or supposed purposes. more than once i have found these to be askew of the organization and its reality. more than once i have found posts about listening and compassion, assertions about avoiding harsh words and falsehoods, pronouncements about lifting others up and statements about participating in generosity – lovely words but, often, empty words of hypocrisy.

so when we drove up to this small automotive shop in hays and they wanted to know, post-repair, if we were satisfied, i had great appreciation for them, for their dedication, their compassion, their service, their courage and their – yes – transparency. they are indeed participating in the mission of goodness.

*****

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


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old linoleum tile. [k.s. friday]

i’m generally a floor-noticer.

i, intimately, know the wood floors in our house. i know where they creak, where they are silent, where they are slightly uneven, where the floorboard gaps are smaller and where they are bigger. i know where the stains are and where there are holes that were drilled into the floor to install a christmas tree – a silly tale from decades before we lived here. i adore the wood floors in this house.

a year ago today i connected – for seemingly forever – with the floor at my place of employment at the time. i knew those floors well also, having been there for a full eight years…the stuff of old-building linoleum tiles, looking polished and shiny from time to time, committees always pondering the next waxing, the grungy it-needs-to-be-washed. we had a similar floor in our basement growing up, darker in color, but the same stuff. that floor at work used to bring me a sense of comfort, the recognition, the familiarity, the place.

that day was much the same. perfectly at home there and proud of the work i was doing, i was simply walking down the hall. it was unfortunate that someone had washed the floor and had not put up any signage to indicate that caution was needed, that the floor was wet, and, thus, i was unaware. i was almost at the office – where i was headed – when my feet slipped from underneath me and i fell, landing hard on my right hand. and now, that floor will ever be a part of me.

i’ve worked very hard to regain the use of my wrist since tearing my scapholunate ligament that day and i was up to 60 degrees of forward range-of-motion when they stopped covering treatment a few weeks ago. the mri, weeks after my communion with the floor, showed definitive tearing – a “high grade partial or complete tear” – and, just mere minutes into online research, the nih (national institutes of health) states “proper ligament repair is recommended within four to six weeks after trauma” which includes arthroscopic surgery, reconnection of torn ligament remnants and pinning. they continue, “….all intrinsic carpal ligaments tend to undergo rapid degeneration in as short a time as two to six weeks, after which primary repair may be difficult or even impossible and ineffective.” continued degeneration, serious arthritis, ever-decreasing range of motion are the hallmarks of an s/l tear gone untreated in a timely manner.

i suppose that there is a reason why the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork just put the accident report in the drawer. i suppose that there is a reason why that form-in-the-drawer was a random incident form off the internet that the person printed and filled out without communicating with me about my fall, though there are specific proper-process official-wisconsin-employer forms also accessible on the internet. i suppose that there is a reason i had to do a little preemptive googling and let them know that sans-official-proper-process-timely-reporting there could be a steep fine for this [formerly] cherished place in which i worked. i suppose that there is a reason why they, then, a week later, decided to officially report my injury, ultimately pushing medical intervention coverage back and, also ultimately, in a snowball effect, delaying an mri until six weeks later. i suppose that there is a reason why the physician in my own town read the mri report and flippantly said, “i believe for the most part this should improve”, adding, “i do not believe i will be able to make her scapholunate ligament better than what it is right now,” and, though 3.6mm (my measured interval) > 2.0mm (normal interval), stated “i do not believe that these [results] are going to be clinically relevant.” i suppose that the froedtert hand specialist would disagree heartily with that local doctor when he told me, at a requested-second-opinion appointment, that this injury – the s/l tear (concurring with the mri) – should have been addressed at the very beginning, that lost time was irretrievable. he stated that these injuries are the bane of hand specialists’ existence and that months later – by the time of the second opinion – i had crossed over into territory where complete healing would be impossible. i suppose it would be naive for me to think that requiring an IME-outside-opinion-by-a-doctor-chosen-and-paid-for-by-the-insurance-company was on the up and up and designed for my health, well-being and long-term healing. i suppose abruptly ceasing treatment would, well, i don’t know; it can’t be anything good. i suppose it all didn’t really matter to the person-in-charge-of-the-paperwork back a year ago. i suppose it still doesn’t. it wasn’t that-person’s wrist. that-person wasn’t a lifelong professional musician. neither were those on the rest of the decision-making-committee. why would they care or be compassionate or concerned? perhaps those words were not in their job descriptions, though that seems preposterous considering the place of my employ. whatever-that-person’s-deal was, whatever-their-deal-was, it devastatingly got in the way of protecting me, their employee, from harm and from doing whatever was possible to aid me, their long-term-employee-aka-fired-employee-eight-weeks-after-the-fall-on-the-floor, to heal properly and to be able to normally use my wrist – an imperative for a musician – for all time to come.

i suppose there must be reasons. i just, for the life of me, can’t figure out what they are.

maybe someday, when i feel less indignant, less disheartened and far less disappointed, i’ll forget about those old linoleum tiles.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts K.S. FRIDAY

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UNTITLED INTERLUDE from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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initiative. [flawed wednesday]

(sign on the door of the milwaukee institute of art & design)

a year and a half.

jen told me yesterday that the 1918 pandemic, though most often referred to as a two-year pandemic, actually lasted two and a half years.

two and a half years.

i shudder to think of the toll this pandemic will have taken if it lasts yet another year or more. we have learned so much; we have learned so little. the pandemic has been like a kaleidoscope and like a microscope, both. it has scattered us into constantly changing patterns and it has brought everything into minute focus. yet i wonder where this will take us.

artists aren’t typically conservative in-the-boxers. we take risks, live gig lifestyles, put ourselves out there, are vulnerable and push back against things we consider inequities, ironic double-talk, disinterest in humanitarianism, opacity where transparency is touted. we aren’t quiet, for it is our job to speak – in whatever medium our talent. we are, as artists, there to raise questions, to promote pondering, communicate ideas, tell stories, express emotion, encourage engagement, inspire connection and collaboration, reiterate interdependence of all people.

though this burden does not remain singly on the shoulders of artists, even banksy has participated in making statements about safety and guidelines in this pandemic. i’m not sure how much more blatant it needs to be. encouraging covid-19 responsibility, his work in the london tube in july 2020 was titled, “if you don’t mask, you don’t get.” he spray-paints the words, “i get lockdown, but i get up again” at the end of the video featuring his rats on the tube.

though attendees were 100% vaccinated, the invitation read, “masks required at all times unless actively eating or drinking.” they provided masks, sweet ones with the initials of the wedding couple and a heart. the venues had high high ceilings, exposed rafters and ductwork. the wedding was outside, cocktail hour was outside, dancing was outside.

when the rain came, we all kept dancing. outside, twinkling lights all around, we breathed in fresh air. even with masks on.

“a lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” (banksy)

initiative (noun): the ability to assess and initiate things independently; the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.

the milwaukee institute of art and design has posted signs on all their doors. they have taken a stance.

wearing a mask in public spaces – and vaccination – have been scientifically proven to lower the rate of transmission, sickness and death of a deadly global pandemic. already a year and a half.

exactly what additional kind of initiative do you need?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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ten thousand wishes. [two artists tuesday]

“it is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” (mary oliver)

really, truly exquisite. the last few mornings have been exquisite. we woke up early-early on saturday and sunday morning, nowhere to be, sat and sipped coffee and listened to the quiet world outside. our impulse was to be home, to read together, to write, to go slow, to exercise in the basement, to sit on the deck and watch the birds, the squirrels and the chipmunks, to cook good meals. we felt no need to go anywhere. instead, feeling the sun and breathing in a cool breeze, we reveled in the staying-here.

as headlines point out, the pandemic is heating up. again. the prediction that there will be 300,000 diagnosed daily in mid-august is stunning. so much sickness, so much loss. we feel fortunate to be vaccinated and we are dedicated to continued safe practices. we want at least ten thousand more exquisite mornings, at least ten thousand more days, ten thousand more sleeps. to sacrifice now, we feel, is to bestow upon ourselves a chance at those ten thousand wishes. it IS a serious thing just to be alive. and, even in moments of taking it for granted, we don’t take it for granted.

if i could find a four-leaf clover or blow the puffball off a dandelion or spot a shooting star or spy a haywagon from the back, i would issue a hope for each of us to recognize the gloriousness of this very day, each very-day. to stand in responsibility for each other and to seriously choose to mend the tiniest piece of this broken world for the rest. to stitch together the biggest quilt honoring the inhabitants of this good earth, each thread an acknowledgement of gratitude, each piece of fabric a choice to take care of each other, to live in community the best we can, to do everything possible to keep each other healthy.

just to be alive in this broken world takes some chutzpah. sacrificing for the whole takes some humility. bowing to safety guidelines in a pandemic takes some love.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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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?

*****

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


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hopscotch. [two artists tuesday]

susan and i played hopscotch for hours. we’d toss a bobby pin or a rock and hop to our heart’s content, nothing else pressing on us in the summer sun.

the summer sun seems a bit escalated now. temperatures are soaring across our country. it is astounding to open the accuweather app and see places i have saved having highs in the upper 90s or even topping 100 degrees. extreme weather. it’s only june. summer literally just officially opened its season. and yet, there is article after article about drought and rapidly dropping water levels and severe storms and the beginning of oppressive fires and people evacuating.

this morning i awoke to an alert on my phone. pitkin county in colorado sent out an emergency message about a wildfire. i didn’t remember having these alerts but, now that i think about it, i must have initiated something either during avalanches over the winter or maybe when the high mountain county was sending out news about covid. either way, my beloved girl is up there in those mountains so i will not be likely to take the alerts off now.

climate change in all its iterations is upon us. weather pattern changes and global warming are pressing in on us. it would seem that we should pay attention, especially if we want this world to continue into future generations.

yesterday i was forwarded and read an article in the new york times about the giant redwoods and sequoias, trees that have been individually standing for perhaps as long as 3000 years, as a forest for millions of years. the peril faced by these enormous and wise giants of the forest is imminent. old-growth forests are critical, yet there are now less than 10 percent remaining in this country. we are stewards of the future earth. we need pay attention.

summer stretches in front of us now. the stuff of outdoor adventures, barbecues in the backyard, camping in national and state parks, faraway roadtrips and lazy beach days. coming upon the hopscotch chalked on the sidewalk i couldn’t help but hop. the joy of remembering, the muscle memory of the 1-2-3-45-6-78-9-10 or 1-23-4-56-7-89-10, whatever the template, hopping, hopping.

for that same delight, that same closely-held set of childhood memories, it is my hope that concentrated effort and dedicated budgeting is placed upon incredibly important research, on the threat of climate change, on the sustaining of our environment. we must pass on – to our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children – a world that is healthy, an earth that can support the drinking water needs of its people, a country that takes responsibility for its ecological challenges.

in the old-growth forests, the trees have somehow survived “fire and clear-cutting, new growth…death, death and life again.” the author continues, “the power of the tree isn’t in forgetting, but remembering.” (nytimes, lauren sloss)

maybe we need grab a bobbypin, toss it into a chalked hopscotch and hop. maybe that will remind us to remember.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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arrive alive. [flawed wednesday]

once upon a time a little boy sat in the backseat of his family’s car on his way to kindergarten. as we can all imagine, he was excited and maybe chattering about the upcoming day. he was likely looking out the window at all the other cars and trucks and maybe having a little snack as he was driven to school by his mom. he was alive. and then he was not.

i don’t know all the details of this story, but the root cause of the catastrophic death of this little boy on his way to fingerpaint and hear stories and maybe jump rope or play 4square and practice letters with thick pencils on widely-spaced lined paper was road rage. no matter who was at fault, no matter what happened on that highway, no matter really anything, this little person lost his life on a freeway because of anger that had nothing to do with him.

i was stunned the first time i saw the signs on highway 82 in the roaring fork valley of colorado. “road rage – call *277.” but we have all been privy to at least one incident of raging road behavior so that there is a mechanism in place to report it is actually a progressive step forward. i was simultaneously disturbed to think that road rage was so prevalent in this gorgeous place and yet glad to see that the authorities had a mechanism in place to try and help dissuade it.

we recently left the park in illinois where we often hike. it’s a left turn out of the park with no traffic light onto a two-lane road. checking both ways carefully, as there is a bit of an uphill to our right as we exit, i pulled little baby scion out into the eastbound lane to drive home. suddenly, just as a semi approached from the east in the westbound lane, an at-least-80mph audi screamed past on the small shoulder on our right. i was startled, but luckily did not wrench the wheel either direction, for both would likely have had devastating consequences for more than just us. what kind of person passes on the shoulder on a 45mph road for absolutely no reason except that they are raging? what kind of all-consuming lack of regard for others does it take to drive a machine capable of great injury in such a monstrously irresponsible way?

we evaded tragedy that day, but how many examples do we each encounter every day? sometimes it is only with luck and defensive driving we safely arrive at our destinations. safely at our destinations. it doesn’t sound like too much to ask for. we need check our anger as we click open our car doors to get behind the wheel. the tag line of illinois tollway’s speed awareness day has been, “slow down. arrive alive.” yes. we shouldn’t need an awareness day or signs emblazoned with lighted letters to remind us. we shouldn’t need * numbers to call in times of raging road peril.

we pulled up to the red traffic light a couple miles down the road. the audi was stopped right in front of us, a mere one car-length gain. a tiny gain when so much could have been lost. like the life of a little boy on his way to kindergarten.

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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and then mother earth will dance. [d.r. thursday]

dancing in the front yard – mixed media 24″ x 24″

how many times we have danced there. in the front yard. with abandon.

how many times we have danced there. in the back yard. with abandon.

how many times we have danced there. in the kitchen. with abandon.

how many times we have danced. with abandon.

this morning, the sun streaming in through the windows mottling the old quilt with warm bright light, the birds singing in tall trees, the sky azure blue with promise of a crisp spring day, and i am reminded that it is earth day. penzeys, a company hugely invested in the people and endurance of this good earth, reminded me in an email, “time to breathe in all the goodness this world gives us and rededicate ourselves to not destroying that goodness for all the generations that come after us.” this year’s official earthday.org theme is “restore our earth” which “focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.”

this focus – moving us all toward responsibility – learning, growing, changing, restoring. necessary. vital. life-giving. every little action requires thought. every little action requires accountability to this place we call ‘home’.

yesterday i drove past somers house tavern in kenosha. it’s merely four miles up the road from here on the lake route we often take. leaving to drive north i wasn’t really thinking about anything. but suddenly there it was, on the left side of the road. the feeling of devastation – this was the place that three people’s lives had ended just a few nights ago. their end. the moments that day that got them to that place disappearing into a void. suddenly, tragically, they were no longer on this earth. someone with a gun walked into that tavern and took their lives. and i couldn’t shake it as i drove. i called david and wished i could turn around and go home and take a moment, in the middle of our own patchwork of challenges and joys, to remember to dance.

“world climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and the leaders of tomorrow will come to push us towards a better world” at the earth day live event today.

head-on, with our future at stake, we must also address issues of gun control, social justice, police reform, inclusivity, healthcare, hunger, homelessness, a seemingly endless list. so much responsibility. on each of us. we need not fear the other’s opinion; we need address the needs of living together on this earth.

“we can’t just hope for a brighter day; we have to work for a brighter day.” (dolly parton)

and if we do, then mother earth will dance too. with abandon.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

DANCING IN THE FRONT YARD ©️ 2013 david robinson


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the long view. like the rain. [merely-a-thought monday]

the catalogs accumulate in the rack in the bathroom. every so often i go through them and ferret out the ones i want to keep, the ones to hold onto for just a bit longer. it isn’t likely that i will purchase anything from them right now, but perusing them is like shopping, even a bit like buying in an odd way. i have found that if i look at something in a catalog often enough, long enough, the desire to have that item is somehow satisfied and will eventually go away. of course, this isn’t always true and some things have cut through the noise of all-those-pages, risen to the top and, after much internal debate, have been ordered. just not so much in recent days.

some catalogs pay close attention to the beauty of the whole. catalogs like patagonia, stio, sundance. pieces written by brand ambassadors, stunning photography, they are like picture-books and beg your attention. some catalogs stress a narrative, the story that makes you want an item; j.peterman rules at this, but soft surroundings creates story as well. some catalogs tell the back-story, personalizing the company, like karen kane. many are aware of their social impact, like LL bean. some catalogs just stuff asmuchinformationastheycan into their pages. those don’t make the magazine-rack-cut and are promptly recycled when they arrive.

i took photographs of many stormy skies, wet grasses, and drips dripping this past week, grumbling a bit about the weather. i would have rathered that the sun of the earlier part of that week had stuck around, the 70 degrees had lingered, the i-am-about-to-put-on-flip-flops temptation. instead, it rained and stormed and drizzled and fogged and rained again.

then i flipped open the january stio catalog on the rack, on the cover a long line down a powder slope created by a skier, always making me think of my daughter. every other page had a gorgeous photo; this company, birthed in 2012 and stewarding responsible outdoor lifestyle, is based in jackson hole, wyoming, so there is much appreciation for high mountain vistas. i perused the photos and the text, glancing at the gear. and i stumbled across the words, “the long view…think for the future.” it was an ad for recycled fleece clothing and their ethical stance, much like the powerhouse patagonia, to “reduce impact and waste and consume less energy – which is all better for this closed loop system we call earth.”

the long view. think for the future.

like the slow and steady turtle. like the fallow of the winter. like the tiny five degrees a month i hope to regain in my wrist. like the first words on a page, the first strokes on a canvas, the first notes in the air. like the extended-term wearing of masks to mitigate a mutating pandemic. like the temporary suspension of dinners in restaurants, live concerts, large gatherings in respect for each other. like the absence of normal, of security in a time of rebuilding. like time-without to remind you to appreciate time-with. like the incessant rain on an april day.

*****

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