reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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flipflop parking lot. [two artists tuesday]

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the sand was ridged pointy and very hot to the touch, but this is the place we had already chosen to park our flipflops.  each time we all walked down to where the waves hit the shore we wore our flipflops through the dune seagrasses, punctuated with sand spurs, trying to avoid the inevitable.  the horseshoe crab shell was our marker…the place we would leave off our shoes and venture to the water over sand that had been warmed by extreme-heat-wave-induced temperatures. The Girl said we needed to be zen, as if we were walking on hot coals.  and so we scrambled over the blistering sand, all zen-like, as we walked and then, quickly, ran asfastaswecould down to the water or back to our shoes.  we became creatures of habit.  no matter how far we walked along the beach, this horseshoe crab signaled home.

until.

the feels-like temperature was about 106, the sun beautiful and bright but dangerous.  the sand….was brutal.  i started to leave my flipflops by the horseshoe crab and make my way again across the pointy-burning-the-bottom-of-my-feet sand when it suddenly occurred to me that we could wear the flipflops further.  that we might c.h.a.n.g.e. where we were leaving them.  that there may be other places we could all park them.  there could be another horseshoe crab parking lot.  or some other marker.  we could actually wear them across the pointy-burny sand, all the way down to the damp sand cooled by the ocean.  brilliant!

The Girl and The Boy immediately followed, no second thoughts for them.  change must be easier at 29 and 26 than it is at….our ages.  we laughed aloud at this habit, this ritual, that we had created, that we were adhering to, d and i.  we wondered aloud why it hadn’t occurred to us sooner to just leave the flipflops on till we were closer to the water’s edge, to avoid the pain.

i’d like to think it was because it was held over, from way-back, when our ability to zen-ly walk across burning coals excelled.  and habits were easier to break.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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dogga-chip-head [two artists tuesday]

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what you can’t see in this picture of dogdog, his gaze intent on me taking his picture, is that he has a chip on his head.  a tortilla chip.  a mission tortilla chip, to be specific.  gluten free.  dogga loves chips.  he loves to have chips on his head, staying perfectly still with the “leave it” command issued.  even more, he loves when “leave it” is released and he can bend his head down and eat his treasured chip.  he prefers it sans salsa.  good thing, because his aussie hair would be a total mess WITH salsa.  and i hardly think salsa is on his doggadiet (for that matter, neither are chips.)

i have to say, dogdog and babycat pretty much run the show here.  not just merely sponsors, they are producers, directors, screenwriters, actors and extras.  we laugh every time we wake up after a fitful night sleep because babycat has taken up 2/3 of the bed, snoring his way through his peaceful slumber.  we could move him, wake him up, nudge him, anything…but instead he just rules over his two-thirds and we deal with it, yawning and complaining about cramped legs all the next day.

dogdog, on the other hand, sleeps in his crate next to the bed.  he loves loves loves sleepnightnight (his word) time and makes sure that everything happens in the “correct” order.   he goes out.  he runs back in.  jumps on the bed.  and listens.  he waits to hear the water-in-the-fridge spigot filling the coffeepot.  waits to hear the coffee grinder.  waits to hear d put a small amount of nighttime kibble in babycat’s bowl.  waits to hear the container on top of the fridge opened from which d gets his cookie.  waits for his bellybelly (also his word) on the bed and kisses on his sweet head, chipcrumbs mixed in with his messy fur.   day’s end for a dogdog.

i don’t know about you, but i don’t know what i’d do without them.   our sponsors.

read DAVID’S thoughts about this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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always an honor.

img_3625.jpgi played for a funeral today. the family celebrated the life of a beautiful young woman who i didn’t know, but who, through the stories told, sounded lovely. the sanctuary was full and boxes of tissues were numerous throughout the pews. my heart hurt for them; i was upstairs in the balcony, separated from this family, but joined in the feeling of what grief can do.

someone asked me if it was hard to play for funerals, if i would prefer not to. completely opposite of that, i am honored to play for a funeral. it is the last public celebration of someone’s life; it is sobering to think that you can play a part in maybe, just maybe, providing something that might be comforting to people in pain. as a minister of music i often play for funerals and for weddings as well; both are gifts, reminders of holding on to the people we love, letting these people know we love them. trite, maybe. but sitting in a balcony gazing down at those who have gathered to celebrate the coming-together of two lives or the time a person has spent in their midst cuts to the core of my soul and i always find myself weeping. i am fortunate to work with an amazing pastor whose extra-tall physical presence belies his soft heart. his voice cracks in emotional response in these difficult times. i feel lucky to be around someone who has so much empathy and compassion; our world truly needs more pToms.

years ago i played for my brother’s funeral. in recent years, my dad’s and my sweet momma’s. they were devastatingly hard to play for, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. i chose music i knew my dad and my mom would want, hymns that were their personal favorites, melody and lyrics that have meant something to them. i played a song i wrote for each of them. it was an unbelievable honor to have this important role in the celebration of their lives.

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my big bro and me. way too long ago.

today is my big brother’s birthday. wayne would have been 67 today.  i have often spoken of him in my writings. i don’t think there is a day that goes by without my thinking of him. i miss him. i say that each year. it never changes. grief is like that. it’s just there. the desperate moments, well, they ease up. but the i-wish-he-was-here moments – they keep coming.

today i sat on the organ bench and, in a moment of overwhelm, dug my phone out of my bag. i texted d…that this young woman was so…young. and that it took my breath away. it made me want to hug both of my children that very moment. impossible, with the girl in the middle of a move from one mountain range to another, and the boy in the middle of a beautiful boston day. so i texted d, who i knew understood all the layers of heart that playing for this service today touched. hard. not my favorite thing to do. but always, always an honor.


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don’t get losted.

img_2688he said it to me every time i left the house or hung up the phone…”don’t get losted, brat.” i smile every time i think of this and i talk to him. i know he can hear me. i’m not sure if he is saying anything back, but i’m sure he’s there. my poppo taught me so much…i find myself quoting him often, using the knowledge that he somehow conveyed to me, even when i didn’t know that i was absorbing it (ie:  listening.)   he was a real rube goldberg kind of fixer….he could fix anything. i find myself trying to follow his lead. every time i fix something or devise some sort of daddy-o kind of method i say, “my daddy would be proud!” he’d be 96 today. he would be an awesome 96. and i wish that he and david could hang out together, because david would have loved him. no doubt.

momma-daddy-and-metoday is also my mom and dad’s anniversary. (momma married daddy on his birthday “so he wouldn’t forget”.) they would have been married 73 years today. “wow-ee,” she would have said. i celebrate their love, their joy with each other, their tenacity, their patience, their steadfastness, their being-my-parents.

last week was our anniversary. the first. kind of odd when you consider our ages. it’s been a fast year. it’s been forever since that day. what is it about Time?

with early morning steaming mugs of strong coffee, we walked to the rocks to watch the sunrise over the lake. there is nothing like a sunrise to make you feel alive in the morning. we had wanted to watch it the day of our wedding, but we were both exhausted from five days of great fun with family and friends who had gathered around us and we missed it in lieu of warm blankets and a few more minutes sleep.

sitting there, we decided that we wanted to catch the sunrise every anniversary from now on…to welcome in a new year of adventures, a new year striated with sun and clouds and blue sky and grey days, warm air and freezing toes…new years to come and past years to celebrate.photo-3

later that anniversary morning, we sat on the deck and read our wedding aloud to each other. the readings, the poems, our roadtrip email entries, our vows. we are both, as it turns out, pretty ritualistic so this was powerful stuff. if you ever want to really remember why you got married, i’d recommend doing this. there is nothing like threading together.

this morning we talked over coffee. we talked about the last few years and the stuff of them. the ups and downs that we rode together, the joys and sorrows we felt together, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. we celebrated dogdog and babycat laying on the bed together with us. we talked about our anniversary. about what is actually important to us in this world. and what’s not.  and today….about my momma and my daddy.

and about one sure thing…that we both know…

together…hanging on tight…just like momma and poppo…we won’t get losted.

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