reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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there. [two artists tuesday]

maybe one of the reasons i love brochures so much is the chance they give you of picturing yourself there. a good glossy pages-long-fold-out brochure can transport you, make you dream, put you there.

this morning we were talking about bus tours. not a fan of buses, i am not likely to participate in many long bus tours in upcoming days and years. i know that a bus tour will take a group of people to the highlights, the places-you-don’t-wanna-miss, the photo-ops. but i rail against experiencing those things at the same time as everyone else, in the same way, taking photo turns in front of the cliff edge, the monument, the cathedral. i realized that i would rather miss a few things along the way just so that we could do it ourselves, take our sweet time, breathe it in, immerse in our surroundings, really feel a place before moving on to the next. there may be times that a bus – for a jaunt here or there – might be necessary, but i don’t really want to see everything-on-a-big-trip out the window of a coach line.

my sweet momma and poppo, thinking ahead – and also not bus people (so now you know where i get this) – ordered a vw bug to pick up in germany back in 1971 when they went on an extended roadtrip (clearly genetic) in europe. they tooled around small towns and backroads all over, my mom in her glory with maps, my dad relying on her sense of direction. they sometimes slept at relatives’ homes, sometimes at inns, sometimes at small hostels, and even sometimes in their little bug in a field, once waking up next to a gigantic pile of dung covered with plastic tarps and tires. they adventured and missed stuff, but they immersed themselves and the stories from that time were delicious tales. the missed-stuff didn’t matter. the stuff and people they saw did.

i imagine us – as we watch pct hikers and john muir trail hikers – someday – hopefully – on these trails. i imagine us in all the national parks in utah. i imagine more time hiking our favorite trail in breck. i imagine us chatting with the owners of the general store in putney, vermont. i imagine us walking a bit of the salt path. i imagine us on the cliffs of ireland and the amalfi coast and maybe in the brilliant blue and white of santorini someday. like mr rogers’ “picture picture” i can see the video in my mind’s eye. it satisfies the yearning for now and gives me photos of dreamy quality, viewmaster brochures in my heart.

we spent an evening at the botanic garden, wandering. we didn’t sit down on this particular bench, but i can see us there, feel us there, surrounded by green.

we missed a few of the plant collections that evening, we missed the greenhouse. but we immersed in the paths winding around the garden and breathed differently upon our leave than we had upon our arrival. and that made all the difference.

*****

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parking spot swagger. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there are three parking apps on my phone. and that’s just to cover chicago.

not wanting to appear outdated (ahem!) or out-of-the-loop, just before the last time we went to visit our son, i loaded two new apps…that way, no matter where we parked i would have it covered. no matter what space – on the street, in the lot, in someone’s yard, anywhere – i would be able to -all-casual-like – take out my phone and calmly pay for our spot without a second thought. i was ready. the credit card was loaded, the apps were signed into and open. and i was both proud and brave, thinking i was on top of it. i mean, driving in the city has enough issues sans parking woes. i detest bumper-drivers and people who weave in and out of lanes, the aggression of people-trying-to-get-somewhere faster than the people in front of them. we choose the back way as much as possible.

we had picked him up and drove over to the restaurant, through a crowded wrigleyville on a cubs-home-game-day, having had someone drive right into littlebabyscion’s back bumper at a red light, arriving to parallel park on the street. i was all ready. i pulled out my phone, poised to impress everyone with my parking readiness, this new knowledge of parking spot ease.

i studied the sign on the side of the street. a little confused, i looked over at my son, who was counting his lucky stars he had survived my city-driving to arrive at lunch. alas, it was sunday. and in a moment of utter letdown-from-a-big-buildup, he announced that we didn’t have to pay to park.

as lovely as it was to park for free – imagine! – i was disappointed to not use my newfound parking je ne sais quoi. the irony.

we drove home the back way, through little towns and on country roads, with no one on our bumper, figuratively or literally, confident that we could park anywhere our little hearts desired.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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i would imagine. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

at 93-almost-94, i would imagine that my sweet momma felt much the same as she had decades earlier. i would imagine that she would have expected herself to move about the same way she had, to participate in life the same way she had, to be able to do most anything the same way she had. she was always startled when she looked in the mirror, self-deprecating her wrinkles and changed body to the end of her decrescendo. but i would imagine that inside – sans mirror – she was feeling like she felt back in the day, back in the forté of her life.

i actually get it. i, too, am in denial when i look in the mirror. i am shocked to think of myself as almost-63. i am shocked to wake with aches and pains, having had a measly amount of sleep in the night. but behind the wheel? with country music blaring or perhaps the soundtrack “about time” or a lowen and navarro cd or john denver or james taylor and carole king maybe … i am back in my skin.

we – in recent days – have made a decision about roadtrips, which we adore. we have decided that we will not drive the seventeen hour all-in-one journeys of our younger days. we will not drive through the night. we will not drive in snowstorms or fierce rain. tornadoes are another story. we will do everything we can to outrun them. but, my point, since i am getting off-track, is that we are seeing the wisdom of exercising restraint on our drives. stop at dark, have a nice dinner, get a good night’s sleep and start again early in the morning. we are trying not to be foolish. because no one wants to be exhausted or stressed on a roadtrip anyway.

so we check the weather ahead. we try to reasonably plan where we are going each day. we book an airbnb, sometimes a hotel. we keep vigil with our accuweather app. we take the back roads anytime it is possible.

we are yes – getting off the road when it’s no longer safe to be on it.

we are yes – being smart.

we are not – no, not yet anyway – succumbing to our “age”.

i would imagine that won’t be anytime soon.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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in it together. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the up-north gang makes plans that feature rest rooms. we travel distances – often caravaning – but we know that we will be stopping. no ifs, ands or buts.

the drive to cedarburg is not long, but the last thing any menopausal woman OR – let’s-face-it – man wants to do upon arrival anywhere is to desperately look for a bathroom. there is no time for that. no one wants to feel imperiled by the call of nature.

it feels somewhat irresponsible to be writing about paper bags and tic-tacs and mini-mart restrooms while russia invades ukraine and people’s lives are in jeopardy. it feels a little like it could be interpreted as not-paying-attention. we sat with our coffee this morning and talked about families packing up a few things and leaving…just leaving…with no place to really go, not knowing what to take, separating from the men in the household who have been ordered to stay, conscripted. it is nothing shy of terrifying and we wonder, yet again, how it is that this world is so conflicted and broken. yet we look around and we see evidence of division and suffering and methods of control everywhere.

and so, last weekend, our little field trip to cedarburg’s winter festival was exactly the right thing to do. we stopped at the gas station we always stop at. they had added two new restrooms, good news for a bunch of 60plussers on the move. less waiting that way. we watched the sled dogs race, we wondered about whether the river had been frozen the day before for the bedraces. we wandered in and out of shops and finished our day all together in the tiny bar of a bed and breakfast there. faces reddened from the wind, laughter up and down the table.

our up-north-gang mini roadtrip was before the invasion. i would choose it again, though. because we need to be reminded – over and over – that those are moments not to be taken for granted. the silly oh-my-gosh-i-need-a-restroom-right-freakin-now shared times of this gang as we age and age. the familiarity and ease of people you have spent time with, people you are in menopause with, people who talk about utterly anything. presence is not to be underestimated.

we are fortunate. and we know it. and as we give thanks for all we do have – including people we love and new mini-mart restrooms and winter festivals and freshly fallen snow – all under a sky of freedom – we also lift up those in a land not really so far away. and we hope for their safety, their very lives and an end to conflict they did not choose.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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pancakes! [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we are creatures of repetition. we will eat black-bean-burgers every single day for lunch until – one day – we cannot stand the idea of another black-bean-burger ever-again. and then, after some time – poof! the yen for a b-b-b comes back.

it’s like that with oatmeal too. oatmeal-oatmeal-oatmeal. oatmeal’s biggest fans. with walnuts and dates and raisins and dried cranberries and bananas. yum! oatmeal! until – ugh – we cannot stand to eat another bowl of oatmeal.

and then, in our latest obsession, there’s rye toast. now, keeping in mind that we have been eating gluten-free, rye toast is kinda out of the safety-loop. but….ohmygoodness…it’s rye toast! it makes me think of my sweet momma and her momma and long island and – this is really great – the day my daughter was born. they brought me scrambled eggs and rye toast in the hospital and now, forever, the association is sealed. so…rye toast, rye toast, rye toast!

for a while we would have midnight-pancakes. what is not to love about pancakes and maple syrup late at night when your tummy is kinda pokin’ at you?

we aren’t ihop people. i can’t tell you the last time i went to an ihop. denny’s too. the stand-out time i went to denny’s was the day we moved to wisconsin on thanksgiving day and ended up at denny’s for dinner. it was a pitiful scene, i’m sure. but it wasn’t for pancakes. my mom and dad always went for the grand-slam-breakfast, which, i think, includes pancakes. denny’s has never made it onto our list of places-to-go when we roadtrip.

there was this place – a diner – in hanover, new hampshire just on the other side of the state line from vermont. i was eighteen or maybe nineteen. a group of us had been to a drive-in movie (where the guy driving drove in the exit backwards while i worried about getting in trouble) and were properly starving at the end of the double feature. especially me. anxiety will do that. the diner served up piles of pancakes and lukewarm coffee. it’s hard to remember the details from back in the dark ages, but, somehow, i remember the pancakes.

these days we generally try to find hole-in-the-wall kinds of places. back-roads places. small-town places. and, truth be told, we never ever – and i really mean never ever – go to any thing or any where that is “all-you-can-eat”.

though all-you-can-eat-pancakes does have a certain ring to it.

kodiak cakes had an ever-present home in our cupboard for a long time. because, really, pancakes have a way of satiating all worries and bringing peace.

the world should eat more pancakes.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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no anonymity. [k.s. friday]

anonymity is not a strong suit of airbnb. and, for us, that’s exactly the point. the relational piece of staying in places other real people own does not usurp privacy. but it offers a glimpse into lives – those which you may never have peeked into otherwise. without reservation, i would say that most all of the airbnbs we have stayed at have been owned by someone with whom we’d love to be friends.

the window that opens when you unlock the front door to the tiny house, the condo, the bungalow, the loft, the cabin, the cottage is an invitation. on the most basic level, it is an opportunity to see how someone else makes a space a home, how it’s designed, how it’s appointed. it is an opportunity to reconstruct – in your mind – something about your own home, an idea to take with you. it’s a chance – for a bit of time – to experience another place as-if-you-live-there: to wander and cook and porch-sit and immerse, even a little. when you stay in the vicinity of the owner’s place it changes things, for then, on a whole ‘nother level, it’s an opportunity to see morsels of how someone else lives, their real-life. and when you have the chance to meet the person or people who host where you are staying? that is a gift.

sitting on the adobe open-air-to-the-mountains-balcony off the bedroom in ridgway, in rocking chairs on the front porch on the farm in kentucky, at the table overlooking snowmass, under the après sign in breckenridge, watching people go by in tiny brevard. it is not without wonder we think about places we will stay someday.

and, i guess, not surprisingly, there’s something about all these places that makes us say, “we could live there.” something different than what any hampton inn, our hotel chain of choice, can offer.

it is not randomly that i pick out places to stay when we travel. i carefully consider location, amenities, the presence of light, whether or not we can cook, if there is outdoor space, a fireplace, a kitchen counter where we can chat. i look at pictures and read reviews and one will always jump out as a place that looks like us. so not so random.

and i guess it is not random either that we meet people – it boils down to the people – who stand out. they are living lives and opening themselves up to others. in providing more personal lodging they are reinforcing the humanness and opportunity of travel. they remind us – again and again – to be just a little more vulnerable, just a little more open. we don’t walk in someone else’s shoes, but to stay in someone else’s home, even for a night, has given us the tiniest chance to know them and to get where they are.

we are not here to live anonymously.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

TIME TOGETHER ©️ 1997 kerri sherwood


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brochures! [saturday morning smack-dab.]

at any time, if you reach your hand down into the side pocket of big red’s driver’s door, you will find brochures. same with under littlebabyscion’s seat. brochures. colorado brochures, mostly. i am betting that, were i to go out into the driveway right now, i would find the 2020 and 2021 editions of “visit colorado” magazine. it is entirely possible that 2019 would be there as well.

i love brochures. i love maps too. real live unfold-it-and-never-get-it-folded-the-same-way-again maps. i flinched as we drove past the welcome center into colorful colorado on our last trip, knowing that there were glossy pamphlets and neatly-folded new maps waiting for me. it was not without pain and a lot of self-control that i drove on, knowing we needed to get where we were going. i sighed an “i’ll be back” to the beckoning brochure-haven as we 70mph-ed past.

there is something dreamy about brochures. the cover pictures – of places – wherever they are…not just the high mountains – entice you and your imagination is off and running as you open the booklet and page through: you are there. you are hiking. you are dining al fresco with colorful umbrellas. you are whitewater rafting. you are camping. you are horsebackriding. you’re on a train hugging the cliff. you’re angling in a stream. you are shopping at tiny boutiques with one-of-a-kind fashions. you’re canoeing in the quietest lake. you’re laying on a blanket in sunny sand. you are hang-gliding. you’re mountain-biking. you are in a hot air balloon over the desert. you’re sipping wine in a log cabin at the peak. you are surrounded by sandstone or towering pines and big granite. you’re playing guitar around a campfire. delicious!

so if you are out and about this holiday season, roadtripping long distance past welcome centers and rest areas, you might want to consider stopping. you don’t know what you’re missing. i’ve even been known to go to the wisconsin welcome center in our own town out on the i…it’s amazing the stuff – places and things to do – you find out about your own state.

there’s a drawer in the living room that holds the brochures i haven’t parted with. one needs – at least – the last year’s printed material to revisit, to reminisce, to plan ahead. don’t tell d. i don’t think he knows about that drawer.

but, i mean, how do you know when you’ll get the next editions?

*****

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the used-to-be’s. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

in the land of used-to-be, i used-to-be able to wait entire days before having to find a restroom. back in the day, i could drive in, set up product and play an entire wholesale show, all day, chatting, drinking coffee, playing, selling cds, without having to leave the booth space. thirteen hours after starting the whole process, my body would remind me that the ladies room needed to be a stop before getting back in the car to drive again.

but now…

these days are a tad bit different. i would laugh when my sweet momma would complain about this. i’d reassure her and stop and look for a restroom whenever she needed to stop and find one. i’d lightly toss off, “we’re in nooo hurry! no worries!”.

i have become my mother.

and – in the way that the universe is very, very fair – so has david.

our bladduhs are just not the same as they used-to-be.

and so, it is a given that t-h-i-s a-g-e comes with challenges we didn’t have to deal with when we were younger. it is a given that timing out a roadtrip will need take into account pitstops along the way. it is now a given that walking in the ‘hood will sometimes mean having the key ready-and-aimed for the doorknob.

and it is not a joke. i am NOT kidding.

laughing? yes. kidding? no.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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thunkthunkthunk. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the check-engine light is on. i felt compelled to explain it to my daughter and her boyfriend when i picked them up at the airport, lest they worry i wouldn’t be able to deliver them downtown – in the middle of a snowy, rainy, sleety early afternoon. “we’re waiting for a catalytic converter,” i told them and they nodded. the only saving grace to not picking them up in a horse-drawn carriage (or that ferrari that chris-the-spectrum-guy had promised me) is that i brought snacks with me, making me a “pretty good uber”. ahhh, yes, it puts a momma’s heart on steroids.

we are used to a ride with sounds and not just in littlebabyscion. big red has these running boards that rattle over bumps (for which we are seeking welding help) so it is never quiet in either vehicle. neither has the sound-proofing of vehicles for which we have seen commercials….where the mom stays out in the lincoln suv and peacefully avoids the chaos in her home. no…we bring our chaos with us as part of the travel package. but eh, we don’t mind.

it is usually me who hears the new sound first: the seatbelt in the back thumping against the window, the back seat not fully engaged and squeaking over bounces, the sunglasses on the dashboard jiggling. tiny ambient sounds. the larger ones too. the sound of the hole in the exhaust system, the metallic quaking of a truck with a blown coil. i would mention the things i sniff out first too but it just might be too much here.

regardless, there have been moments when i seem to be channeling my sweet dad as i slough off the sound and keep driving. i know the proof will be in the pudding (that is a really strange saying) and we will see, if we continue on our merry way, what happens.

changing the subject i’ll look over at d and quote my poppo, “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” “not if it’s in cans,” he quips my dad’s standard answer. we both laugh and keep driving.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.


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one giant blue notebook. [merely-a-thought monday]

when i was twelve, my parents took a six-week vacation to europe. pre-departure, they arranged to purchase a brand-new 1971 volkswagen super-beetle in germany, picking it up and then driving all over for adventures at hostels and relatives’ homes and small inns in the countryside that served family-style pork chops. they talked about this phenomenal trip for the next forty years or so, reliving memories and favorite moments. in the end, the last time i saw my sweet momma was the day we delivered her cherished blue notebook to her at the assisted living facility and she clutched it to her chest, cooing, “this is it. this is the notebook.” she had written everything down – diary entries and details to remember – and having this spiral was like re-vacationing with my poppo who had died three years earlier. we had searched high and low for it for a couple days and found it in the very last bin we opened in the garage. a treasure. the one thing she really wanted.

there were other trips – indeed, they attempted to visit each of the united states. never extravagant. always cherished.

when i was eighteen i rode in the backseat across the country with my parents in the front seat. they purchased a cb radio before we left and i spent long hours “10-4”-ing as “goldilocks” across the great plains states and up pikes peak and next to the wasatch mountain range and through the flint hills of kansas, which was clearly on a mission for spare change as they pulled my dad over twice within a half hour, deputies standing on the side of the road waving over long lines of cars they then escorted into tiny towns so that you could place money in an envelope at the post office. (i still invoke my dad when i drive through kansas, especially since we’ve had a few breakdowns in that state.) i developed a huge crush on a cute boy in colorado springs at a motel 6 and almost signed on as the touring piano player for the band that this boy and his brothers were in, their parents befriending mine poolside. i pined for days and days after we drove off with four new tires we got at sears and a broken heart i got in the desert meadows behind the motel. i clutched the record they all signed for me and stared at the cover art. no amount of stuckey’s sticky pecan log rolls helped. but my camera and gorgeous scenery were eventually soothing and, even now, as i chalk it up to opportunity not chosen, i remember my mom’s encouragement to consider an unusual path, a road rarely traveled.

in the middle 70s my mom and dad took advantage of what they called “dunphy weekends”. i couldn’t find any details when i quickly googled that, but i remember three day weekends, in places like providence, rhode island – not too many hours from new york – that hotels offered for dirt-cheap, prompting reservations. because they were thrifty, they also would sign on to drive cars to destinations and be flown back, ever the road warriors willing to take on a highway and add to their growing list of states-they-had-been-to.

when i was much littler, i climbed into the pink lilco (long island lighting company) van that my dad and my big brother had converted to a camper and rode upstate with them. never disappointing their rube-goldberg leanings, the camper would always break down on some back road near basically nothing. my dad would take out wire cutters and, clipping wire off of fencing they found on roadside pastureland, they’d figure out ways to fix the van, while i would ponder being lost and never getting home again. their laughter and bantering on those trips was the key to a successful camping trip and we beverly-hillbillied our way across the catskills and the adirondacks.

camping some, airbnb-ing lots, hampton-inning in between, i’ve spent a lot of time on the road on trips and for work, both. when my children were small, we would drive, drive, drive, hiding easter baskets in the stow-and-go compartments of the minivan and toting all the age-related child-paraphernalia we needed. living away from family means that most of your vacation trips are to go see them. as time goes on, that’s really still the case.

in this last not-quite-a-decade, we have driven together thousands and thousands and thousands of miles and snacked and laughed and sang and were quiet across the country. we’ve slept in rest areas and in mcdonald parking lots. we’ve found hiking trails all along the way and have cooked in lots of kitchens from the boundary waters of ely to the beaches of the gulf to up-north wisconsin to high elevation of colorado to the cape. we’ve raced storms through alabama and through wyoming. we’ve had happy meals in montana and california and washington and tennessee and new hampshire and new york and florida and most of the states in-between. we’ve walked through tiny towns, toasted life on long island, combed the beaches of hilton head and had coffee in unexpected places in appalachia. the four days we spent in paris, as an add-on after work in the netherlands about seven years ago now, was exquisitely low-key. we walked everywhere, training only once or twice. we carried baguettes and cheese and wine and tiny salads into parks, onto cathedral steps, up montmartre and into our boutique hotel, choosing picnics over restaurants and never feeling like we had missed out.

the list of places i’d like to go grows. from a night or two to full-immersion for a longer stay, i look forward to all of it. i’m guessing i come by it honestly.

so i’ve never been on a luxury vacation. never taken a cruise. never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. i’m 62 and haven’t done the let’s-just-go-lay-around-and-do-nothing-or-anything-we-want-and-get-waited-on thing. i don’t know if i ever will. but it hasn’t stopped me from loving vacation. it’s all really one giant blue notebook.