reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the other 89%. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

david said, “really, it’s probably the 5% rule. there are about 5% of people who are not good people.” i answered, “eh. i think it’s more like 10%.”

glancing to the side of the road leading out of the trail i watched a guy in the parking lot duck into his shiny pick-up truck. he pulled out a floor mat as i stared and dumped its accumulated dirt and wrappers and garbage on the ground. “make that 11%,” i grumbled.

though i no longer would do this – i have, in the past, pulled up next to someone or walked up to someone, depending on whether on a road or on a walk – to tell them – in an innocent and informative voice – that they “dropped something.” i usually add i’m not sure if they need it but it’s just “back a ways” if they do. sadly, this did not usually culminate in their retrieval of their garbage, but there was something about letting them know it did not go unnoticed that was helpful. probably more helpful would be if i just followed and picked up the garbage that others are dropping.

“earth is neat,” says the wrapper of the justin’s dark chocolate cashew butter cups. to jaunt through the justins.com website is to read the story of a guy with a passion for peanut butter take it all to the next level. his company is self-built and completely and utterly responsible to people, food and the planet we live on. it makes me want to eat more nut butters, make his 4-ingredient-peanut-butter-banana-oatmeal-cookie recipe, support his obviously-boulder-colorado-beginning efforts. bravo, justin.

the trail on saturday was warm. the first day in months. even the vests we wore were too much, so we peeled them off and relished hiking jacketless, even for a day. i suppose that we will take a couple pairs of gloves and a few garbage bags and go back one day without hiking in mind. it might do our hearts good to pick up the stuff that the 11% has left behind.

because earth IS neat. and it takes all of us to keep it that way.

*****

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


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vintage. [two artists tuesday]

the last time i bought a brand new car – right off the lot – was 2003 or 2004. littlebabyscion was almost brand new – with 250 miles on it and that was in 2006. the new-car-smell and negotiating with salespersons and then, of course, their managers…both memories in the distant past.

littlebabyscion is getting up there. 260somethingthousand miles on it now. wrinkles and groans and a little rust here and there and a few mechanical issues here and there, it’s a workhorse that just refused to start last friday. dashboard lights i don’t think i have seen before appeared right before my eyes. we suspect the alternator.

but – in our one car driveway – there LBS sat…in back of big red, blocking the path out.

the jumpstart hooked up to big red made LBS chortle. starting for a moment and trying to chug the engine alive, it stalled and the handbook and google informed us to “go to the scion dealer” and do not pass go. our truly amazing mechanic steve will be its destination when the tow truck comes.

but – on friday – we were left without any transportation.

saturday we pushed the scion down the driveway toward the apron and managed to thread big red through the space between the old brick wall and the front of LBS. the only way out was across the yard, but the yard – all trenched and mounded up from the water line replacement – has seen better days anyway. we rolled our eyes looking at the tire tracks across the snow in our front yard. david suggested moving the couch out front.

we have some real old stuff. between a 1998 ford f150 and our xb and our vw and our stove and mixing bowls and corningware and this very laptop – not to mention hand-me-downs and never-been-replaceds, we qualify as our own antique shoppe. when seeking a replacement adapter cord, the woman on the apple support line told me that my computer was “vintage” and that they didn’t even carry the cord for it. (she was actually wrong about that part as i directed her attention to the correct cord on the apple store.) see…you can rube goldberg things and keep them going when need be.

and as two artists for the majority of our lives – in between and in conjunction or simultaneously with other positions and career arcs – rube goldberging is of necessity. i’d like to also think of it as having a smaller carbon footprint. admittedly, the efficient energy consumption of a new stove vs the half-life of a decomposing stove in a dump somewhere leaves much room for debate. but we, as artists, don’t always have the luxury of replacing things at whim – or even in a longer term plan – and we try to do our best at being responsible citizens of this beautiful world.

i asked steve once what we were going to do when littlebabyscion reached 300,000 miles. he looked at me, surprised, and said, “keep driving it.”

yes, yes. i suppose we will.

we pushed littlebabyscion back up the driveway so big red could fit.

it may be time to start planning for new grass.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the gov-of-georgia and plant-based foods. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i woke up thinking i could have done a better speech. one does not run for the governor-of-georgia without a good speech. but the constituents at the rally seemed to appreciate it anyway, so i shrugged and promised myself to write a better narrative the next time. “they need to know the intentions i have for the office,” i told d, after sipping a few sips of coffee. he stared at me, likely envisioning what a move to the georgian governor’s mansion might look like, or, maybe what it would be like to be first-husband-of-the-gov.

alas, though it sure looked real for a while, things were not as they seemed and the details all started fading away the more coffee i sipped.

we are eating many plant-based foods these days. admittedly, not every day, but often. we looked back a few weeks and there were only three or four evenings our dinner was not plant-based. as we take this path, we’ll see if it’s entirely to the vegetarian-way-of-life. in the meanwhile, we are on a big learning curve. we have punctuated our veggie soup and plant-based sausage veggie hash and impossible burgers and red pesto pasta with a chicken soup here, one ribeye-split there. it is truly amazing what you can purchase now’days when you are trying to eat significantly less meat. you CAN buy anything that looks like something.

we bought the impossible burgers with some doubt. we’ve eaten black bean burgers for years – which taste like black beans and spices – so we figured that these burgers would also taste like something else other than a burger-burger. i wondered how plants-as-a-burger would taste grilled and salt-and-peppered. i had some trepidation. plus, the whole30 had encouraged us away from processed foods.

we were astounded upon first bite. we know these are not whole foods. there is a list of ingredients, some of which are those things difficult to pronounce, but all the ingredients are “derived from plants”. the beyond-meat sweet italian sausage in our veggie hash was pretty amazing, with seemingly a few less hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

i don’t know where this is all headed. we are experimenting with our diet and recipes and we are trying to be environmentally and animal conscious. we do know we love vegetables and fruits and can figure out ways to be more responsible to our world and all its inhabitants. more conscious consumerism.

if you have any recipes to share – or gubernatorial speech thoughts – please don’t hesitate to jot them to us. we’d love to hear from you.

*****

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


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better. [two artists tuesday]

if you are wondering which type of heater is warmer – the standing-propane or the pyramid-propane – we would have to answer specific to one experience where we were surrounded by both. though i don’t believe the standing-propane was functioning 100%, the pyramid-propane on our end of the table seemed much warmer. nevertheless, we would likely purchase the more highly-rated standing propane. i guess. visually, this pyramid is kind of like watching a fireplace, so there is that to consider as well.

the windchill dropped to about 17 degrees in the courtyard, yet, there we sat, with big blankets and glasses of wine, between the two heaters. we weren’t the only al fresco table in the outdoor space of this restaurant just north of chicago. another table of patrons was also doing the safe-thing and had gathered outside to dine together post-holiday.

we were there with our son and that in itself kept me warm. it was time to celebrate and we had bags of gifts for him to open. i cannot tell you – though i suspect i needn’t try as this is a universal feeling – what it felt like to hug him when he walked through the back door to join us. it had been kind of a long while and i was kind of giddy. wine and soup and good food, even dessert, and hours later we parted. glenn – the maître d’ – held his hand over his heart on our way out; i did the same. these times. “strange times call for strange measures,” i texted a friend. we three laughed together at the-table-in-the-snow-shoveled-courtyard about how indeed strange. and i was inordinately grateful.

these strange times continue and continue, it seems. here we are – rapidly approaching two years of this pandemic affecting our behaviors, our actions, our plans, our health, our travel, our work, our safety and security, our relationships, our out-and-aboutness-in-the-world. we have been vaccinated and vaccinated and boosted. we have worn masks – better and better and better ones – everywhere, even when barely anyone else has. we have distanced and isolated and avoided crowds. we have gone through a lot of hand sanitizer.

and yet.

as the new variant explodes around the world, we watch various stories play out. the tennis player – a gigantic role model – who refuses to get vaccinated, expects to play in the international arena, receives an exemption from a locale but not from the country of australia – has a hissy fit. i suppose i wonder why he, a breather-of-breath-in-and-out-the-same-way-you-or-i-breathe, feels he is above doing what-is-best-for-the-world. for that matter, i wonder why anyone feels that way. truly. a moot point at this juncture. it is two years – years – now.

in the meanwhile, we do the best we can. we are missing a lot. we know that. there is a precious great-nephew i have not yet met. there are indoor/in-the-car/in-restaurants/at-our-home/at-their-homes/up-close-and-personal moments we are not sharing with others we love, with others who make our personal world what it is. most of our spare time has been outside or alone. we wonder how and when this will change.

i write “better” on our flying wish paper, crumple it up, uncrumple the crumpled, shape it into a cylinder and light it. the wish for “better” flies off to come true, tiny bits of ash floating.

*****

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blather. [merely-a-thought monday]

though the alpaca is considered to be a docile creature, it can get spitting mad. i suspect that if one were to flip “look, i get it” over to an alpaca, it could get a rise out of the lanky, fuzzy one. intelligent and observant, alpacas are known for their quiet. their nonverbal behaviors and the sounds they make belie what could be thought of as non-emotive. on the contrary, they communicate their concern and stress, affection and indignation. linda’s alpaca are a tiny herd among themselves and are magical to watch. i did not toss “look, i get it” over to any of them, knowing it would insult their intelligence and likely make them a bit snarly, as really anyone to whom that is tossed – in any way other than joshing around – should likely feel.

“look, i get it” is just like the expression “i’m sorry you feel that way”. neither is true empathy. both are dismissive. the quickest way to damage a relationship is to wing “look, i get it” over just as someone is telling you something deeply important. or, in a leadership position – let’s just saaaaaay – to flippantly respond “i’m sorry you feel that way” to an employee who has clearly been wronged by some circumstance(s) or policy-thwart. in their succinctly powerful way, inc. magazine has come through again in an article written by jason aten. he states when you say “i’m sorry you feel that way” (or “we apologize for any insensitivity” or any other variation on the theme) you are “trying to absolve yourself of any kind of responsibility or fault for whatever went wrong.” he adds that the (respectful, compassionate, mission-driven) company instead say, “i am really sorry that we didn’t live up to our promise. i know that is so frustrating. here’s what i’m going to do to try and make it right.” mmhmm. my personal experience would suggest that doesn’t always happen.

and “look, i get it”??? bill murphy, jr. in another inc. magazine column calls it a sign of “low emotional intelligence”. i would have to concur. just because they are words – individually and as a sentence: look, i, get and it – doesn’t mean they should come out of one’s mouth at a moment of import. there are a hundred ways to say everything we are trying to say. and sometimes – and we are all guilty of this, including me – we need to take a moment or two before the sentence hits the talk bubble outside our lips.

perhaps this is why alpaca are considered so intelligent. they are quiet, discerning critters who are affectionate and gentle but don’t spew emotionally-disconnected blather.

*****

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


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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.

*****

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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