reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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vertically. [k.s. friday]

they move them vertically. not horizontally. vertically.

the yamaha CFIIIs is a powerhouse 9-foot grand. a piano, it is a canvas waiting, blank, black and white.

they move it in, attach the legs. the technician shows up, tunes, voices, listens. the artist plays. the technician futzes some more. it’s a dance, making sure it is ready. the piano is patient and steady.

i have had the good fortune of being a recipient of these pianos. they have been delivered to recording studios, to stages, to televised venues, to big outdoor parks. the CFIIIs and the C7 are THE pianos. hands down.

at the elton john concert in charlotte, north carolina with d, my daughter and her boyfriend, he marveled at the load-in-load-out that it must take to move the ej piano, band, set, lighting, media show every night or so on the “farewell yellow brick road tour”. mostly, he talked about the piano, about how amazing it was, and how much it must cost, and how it must be moved, and how not just anyone gets to play that, for sure.

because most people believe it is moved as is – horizontally – i explained that it’s moved vertically, on its side.

but i didn’t explain how i knew. i didn’t talk about how many extraordinary pianos had been brought to me that way, how many on which i had performed or recorded. we were at elton john’s concert and he is – truly – a shining star.

inside, though, i knew. i could feel it, that urge to run up on stage, grab a boom mic, stand at the piano and play and sing. poking at me like a snickers bar. “i’m still standing. yeah, yeah, yeah.

the other day – at the daniel stowe botanic garden – there was a small grand in the atrium. my daughter looked at me when we walked in and said, “it says you can’t play it.” i went over to look at it. “no worries,” i said, laughing.

but at the ej concert….now that’s another story. he played and sang and i was proud to also be a yamaha artist.

“my gift is my song and this one’s for you.” (elton john – your song).

the words rang in my ears and my heart attached the exclamation mark. my gift IS my song…all of them…the ones with words and the ones without. the ones with music and the ones without. the ones written and the ones not written yet.

maybe there are still vertical pianos out there waiting. for me.

*****

WAITING (from JOY) ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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paddles in the water. [d.r. thursday]

vincent was there. right off the side of our canoe he swirled his paintbrush and the water canvas became starry-night dreamy. charles schulz was there too and i could see snoopy dancing atop the surface. it kept evolving, even without the help of our paddles. ever-changing.

jaxon was two yesterday. his curiosity, his energy are unmatched. he is fearless. everything is possible and the whole world stretches in front of him. his boundless zeal, like a fast paddle in the water, arranges and rearranges utterly everything-in-life continually. he is not considering how to approach life. he is simply living it. no expectations. just embracing it all – the whole kaleidoscope.

being on the road takes you away from the norm. it takes you out of the bills, the projects, day to day worries or concerns, dealing with health issues. you are suddenly on the surface of the lake – so to speak – skimming along in littlebabyscion, watching the world go by. we get to the city-we’ve-never-visited-before, a city trying to keep up with immense growth. the districts are working on revitalization. we take walks in historic neighborhoods and fall in love with bungalows and big porches. and we wonder.

we sit in a stadium – the first time in many years – surrounded by 60,000 people – the first time in many years – to see a concert – the first time in many years. we marvel at the changes we have felt in those years.

we hug her goodbye. parenthood is dynamic, never static, and motherhood is no easy trail. missing is just plain hard. i try to adjust, to readjust and readjust again, to hold it all lightly. the paddle on the surface of my heart teaches me lesson after lesson.

we wonder about all of them as we drive on – the people out there also driving, the people whose homes we are passing by, the people in the rest area, the people in the local grocery store. what is their life? who are they? what are their worries? what are their joys? sometimes you can feel it, even from the road. we both nearly wept as we passed by a very-rusty-beige-identical-trailers trailer park with maybe fifty bereft homes in an arid dirt expanse of land; treeless, shadeless, plantless, playgroundless, it felt hopeless. every shade on every trailer we could see was pulled shut. we saw no people, though each trailer had a vehicle parked nearby. it was south carolina, not at its best. no pastel-colored historic homes, wrap-around porches or coastal beaches, no palmettos, no golf courses or rolling grassy knolls. just nothing. dirt. except these trailer homes – and we had to try to wrap our heads around the fact that at least there were homes with roofs, perhaps air conditioning to ease the hot muggy heat. the empath cloud followed us for miles until we could shake it loose, putting our paddles into the water and stirring things up as we drove.

we arrive in the mountains, zigging, zagging, climbing. tall trees block the sun and suddenly we are cooler and everything takes on the color green. it keeps changing, this expanse, these days of life.

we’ll hike. every turn in the trail will be different, every view different. the elevation will give us a view of the mountains – out there – and we’ll photograph them to remember. we’ll dip bandanas in streams to cool off and stand by waterfalls taking pictures to remember.

and when we get home, it will all swirl around us – the moments. vincent and snoopy will laugh a little at our attempts to hold onto it. and jaxon will remind us of how gently to hold the kaleidoscope.

*****

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still standing. [two artists tuesday]

“yeah, yeah, yeah!”

the most powerful moment i felt at the elton john concert sunday night came when he sang “i’m still standing”. still standing! yes!

analysis of the lyrics aside, “still standing” elicited the gigantic reverberation of 50-60,000 people singing along, all of whom, i suspect, have a “still standing” story. it’s the kind of song that generalizes – it’s about relationship, but isn’t everything in life – our relationships with our beloved, with others, with ourselves, with our life’s work, with this universe? just the sheer still-standingness of being alive made singing along worthy, no, more, a necessity. the stadium roared.

his first hit – in 1969/70 – “your song” brought tears to my eyes. in the encore set, i knew we wouldn’t see him live-in-concert again and the experience was rich, under a beautiful open-air night sky hearing my husband, daughter and her boyfriend sing along in various songs.

but that i’m-still-standing … i wrote it down in a note in my phone.

because sometimes life teeters and you are delivered boulders while you – a tiny rock of ash in a huge galaxy – attempt to precariously balance it all. and last night – well – i knew i was still standing.

and i suddenly knew that i would do all i could to make sure that my tiny star is dancing inside and out, that all the notes count, that it’s all silently and roaring out-loud. yeah, yeah, yeah.

elton john somehow reminded me that i’ve been standing all along.

*****

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we got us some sense. [merely-a-thought monday]

i can’t remember what state we were in, but it was on the back of an suv.

“act like you got some sense.”

it should be a road sign. posted every ten miles or so. a reminder.

we have turned into backroads people. ok, well, we were always backroads people but now it has been cemented, etched in stone, made immutable. we would rather be on a backroad than any interstate, freeway, multiple lane expressway.

driving down toward chicago on i94 we were surrounded by semis and vehicles zipping in and out, 80+ mph in a 55 zone. it’s craziness. frantic. though it’s clearly worse on expressways, we’ve encountered our share of aggression on regular around-town roads as well. what is WITH people?

we have kind of made some new driving decisions. the two people – who would drive 15 hours, 17 hours, straight-thru 22 hours – have got themselves some sense. our journeys and roadtrips will be a little less pushed, a little less arduous, a little less long each day on the road. the frenetic days – driving, driving, driving – are over. and we bid them adieu without regret, looking back fondly and with not just a little awe.

in this new got-some-sense era of our lives, each step counts, each mile an opportunity to see something new or different, beautiful or funny.

yesterday, while driving down a not-extraordinarily-busy-but-still-busy-enough road, we came upon a bar on the side of the road with a slewww of motorcycles parked outside. in front of us, standing in the middle of the lanes, scarily exposed, was a biker-dude-sans-bike, leather jacket and all. he pointed at us. i slowed down and stopped. from the side of the road came another biker, this one on a big motorcycle. he roared into the lanes and took off like the infamous meatloaf batoutofhell. i resumed driving, without pausing for reflection.

sometimes got-sense means deferring to those – even temporarily – without it.

*****

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body surfing. [k.s. friday]

it’s all a wave. we ride out, we ride in, the surf is gentle and easy, the surf is rough and pounding. as far as we can see into the horizon we know it will all be like this.

“frozen shoulder,” she said.

at the orthopedic specialist at the highly-regarded froedtert hospital, i blinked back tears. i have had appendage challenges the last two years. it’s a wave. in between the normal tides rolling in, we have a brush with a rogue breaker. she’s kind and explains the stages of frozen shoulder, what i might expect. it can take up to 42 months to un-freeze, she mentions, though i refuse to take that in. for nine months now, since the time of my covid booster, it has become my new normal, this painful and incomplete range of motion. she points to the deltoid and explains the vaccination – any vaccination – must go into the deltoid, not through or slip around it; if either of those happen, inflammation will result. i guess the wave of inflammation has roiled in.

the rogue wave passed by david a couple weeks ago, tapping him as it went. we rose to its challenge, just like we’ll rise to this one. it seems that the surf is not as still as we would wish right now, but there are moments of calmer waters.

we are adrift in our sea – each of us – as we go about living. each molecule of the lake party to the elements, each atom of us rawly exposed.

we are body surfing. every single day.

*****

ADRIFT from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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myths. [d.r. thursday]

he reassured me that – were we to be lost in the woods, deep in the forest, without our alltrails app, without google maps, without a gps of any sort – we could determine north by the side of the trees on which the lichen was growing. “that will be the north side,” he told me, adding, “and with that important information, we would be able to find our way.”

uh. nope.

i just looked that up and it is a myth. whattheheck?

just exactly how are we to know which things we have learned are myths and which things we have learned are not? this is a confusing and complex problem. particularly at moments – like in the woods, lost – when one would think, “wait! i can help! the lichen! look at the lichen! it grows most profusely on the north side. we can find our way out!”. which old wives’ tales are true and which aren’t?

we have found, lately, that the real truth of the matter is that everyone is pretty much making up everything. it’s all on-the-fly. wives’ tales and all.

the monsoon rains came on sunday after a perfectly-perfect day on saturday. “seven inches of rain possible,” the accuweather app read, “areal flooding. flash flooding. turn around. don’t drown.”

we hoped it would go around our town, just a bit to the west (or the east over the lake) and just skirt around us. but no such luck. it downpoured. at exactly the wrong angle and velocity for our house. in the middle of gathering chimney-work estimates, the rain battered the compromised chimney. in the basement, i made it up and laid towels to direct the rivulets of water (complete understatement) that were coming in, hoping i was making a difference. we crossed our fingers and wished for the storm drains to keep up. we turned to the north, looking for the way out of the forest.

because it was truly torrential, everyone around us was having issues. the huge tree in our neighbor’s yard fell and we kept looking up, standing out in the rain, waiting for the city to come and help them. the trees to our north are the ones that worry us the most in our own yard. there is no lichen on them. we laid down tarps on the deck along the house trying to keep the water from pooling along the siding and foundation. we got sopped in all our making-it-up. i wondered what else we could do, besides wait. but there wasn’t much. we kept vigil on the basement and on the trees to the north.

and we didn’t get a cold from standing out in the rain. another myth.

*****

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cabbage fields. [two artists tuesday]

in the age-old tale of things-are-often-not-as-they-appear, this beautiful almost-transparent white moth flits from lavender bloom to lavender bloom. in certain moments it is even hard to see, its translucent wings disappearing and then glinting in the sunlight. against the dark background of the deck, it is easier to see as it feeds on the nectar of these deep purple blossoms. it’s a cabbage white butterfly. and it is likely responsible for the tiny holes in the tomato plant leaves. it’s fortunate we do not have a cabbage patch as these little guys have the capacity to destroy it. such a beautiful little creature and so much potential for destruction of goodness.

i’m writing this (ahead) on a rainy sunday morning and it’s too easy on sundays for my mind (and heart) to jaunt over to the things-are-not-what-they-appear heading.

this translucent butterfly has specific markings (a black spot on the upward front side of its wings), a specific size just over an inch, markings that depict the gender, making it easier to identify and, if necessary, prevent or eradicate the damage it can do to a hard-earned crop. if it were to look like any other butterfly – or say, a beautiful monarch – it would be much more difficult for gardeners to recognize the peril, much more difficult for farmers to stand firm and work at keeping the crops safe that they have nourished so carefully, for so long, with so much dedication.

sitting on the deck watching this butterfly flit about, the sunlight catching its gentle wings here and there, i never suspected it might be at the root of the problem i am experiencing late in the season now with our cherry tomatoes. under a cloak of not-knowing and not-asking-enough-questions or googling enough, i didn’t know to point at this gentle creature. but the act of googling has given me information. i can look for larvae on the tomato leaves and examine the damage with a plan for it.

were it to be a full field of cabbage, like out in the county here, it would seem imperative to act upon this. a whole field of cabbage – a field of potential abundance – can be destroyed by the existence of something that people might never question. research says an infestation of the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar can destroy all cabbage growth, and prevention is said to be imperative to avoid the ruinous nature of such an aggressor. that way “you’ll have less work and damage later on.”

this butterfly has been here since the 1860s so its presence seems pretty solid and unshakable. i guess you have to pay attention to damage being wreaked around you in your tiny tomato garden, delve into it, gather information, ask questions and stop the quiet chaos from happening.

it’s easier when the wings are transparent, when the markings easily identifiable and when the community of gardeners and farmers are seeking the goodness of the cabbage field.

metaphors are everywhere.

*****

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vici, the caterpillar. [merely-a-thought monday]

perseverance is an understatement. the fuzzy caterpillar patiently and laboriously walked the tightrope above our garden, strung as a straight snap-line to lay bricks along the garden edge. his destination was unclear; i hardly think he could determine – ahead of time – which daylily leaf upon which he wished to land. perhaps he wanted to cross the whole expanse; maybe he wanted to travel clear across the yard in front of the old brick wall, but, along the way, tired and out of energy for further travails, took a side jaunt onto the nearest leaf.

we stood and watched him – he would scooch on the string and then his entire body would flip upside down. he – with every suction-cup-footed leg of his tiny body – would lurch back up on top of the string and continue slack-lining his way for maybe an inch and then – to our despair – he would flip over again, his legs holding him onto the string as he – upside down – continued on – what appeared to be – his merry way. he never appeared frustrated, though he flipped over constantly, alternating from side to side. he just kept going. and going. and going. surely, had he been human, he would have called an uber, a lyft, or given up. he was getting nowhere fast and the road had to be excruciatingly wearying. the tenacity was laudable. his journey, auspicious. he had chutzpah and sisu rolled into one.

we videoed his movement along the caterpillar slackline. and marveled.

ken called and david told him of the previous week, a week in which he had been on the slackline, not sure of the destination, but absolutely aware of the challenges. listening intently, asking questions, teasing a bit, and being a sweet big brother to his little brother, ken lamented, “life’s vicissitudes, eh?”. ah yes. “surviving life’s ups and downs, with special emphasis on the downs”, vicis, the root descendent of the word “vicissitudes”, is latin and means “change”. you betcha there’s change.

i’ve decided we are all on some kind of slackline and out in the farthest galaxy someone or something is watching us as we flip over to the left, upside down, right ourselves, flip over to the right, upside down, right ourselves and make the tiniest bit of progress as we go.

they take a video and they blog about us.

just like we blog about vici, the caterpillar.

*****

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remotely intuitive. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we have a basket under the tv on the tv stand. in it are all the associated remote control devices. remote for the tv, remote for the cable, remote for the firestick, remote for the dvd player, remote for the older chromecast, universal remote, remote for the ipod dock and a remote for the standing fan, because it seems to be in good company there.

i remember the days – way way back in my growing up house on long island – when we would be sitting and watching our blackandwhite tv in the den. you had to turn the dial to switch the channels and turn a different dial to raise and lower the volume. pretty straight-forward. a product of older parents, i would watch doris day/rock hudson movies and mash and petticoat junction and gidget together with them, never feeling like we were underserved, never thinking we didn’t have enough choices.

and then there’s now. an infinite number of choices.

and yet, we look at each other and ponder when we should cut the cable and minimize – slightly – the cost of all these choices. we know that wifi will connect us to the firestick thing or the chromecast thing or – should we decide a smarter tv is in order – the roku thing. as it is, there are already too many remotes. i personally have lost track of how to access all of it. i think a smart tv would make tv-viewing-life easier that way. but, when is enough enough?

i remember when i wanted to watch a movie – a dvd – after my son left for college and i was an early-on empty nester. i had no idea how to set up the tv (you know, that bottom left button on the tv remote – nonotthecableremotethetvremote! – that sets things to av or something like that) so i called the boy. he patiently walked me through the process, which i wrote down in an effort to not have to call him again.

yikes. it is not necessarily intuitive. and now, with all the paraphernalia and a non-smart tv that’s rapidly approaching “vintage” (even though it is a flat screen and cost a bazillion dollars back in the day) it’s even less intuitive. middle age has its technological challenges. i don’t feel like anyone warned us.

add to that the fact that it is difficult to find something worthy to watch. we roll our eyes as we roll through the viewing guide. and keep a list of things people have recommended you can find elsewhere without all the accessories or, perhaps, with a few less. there’s really a short list of the things we care to view anyway.

goodness! ikea has the right idea. draw pictures and people will figure it out. simple. intuitive. they’ll get it.

my intuitive reaction is to just turn off the tv.

*****

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the stars are watching. [k.s. friday]

littlebabyscion is ready. i washed it and vacuumed it and wiped out the inside, reorganizing its small storage spaces, checking to make sure the necessities were there. we travel always with a small tool kit, duct tape (this is from experience), twist ties, rubber bands of all sizes and a big maglite flashlight. light is always good on a dark highway, but the light was barely discernible when i checked it, so i changed the batteries and put extras in a small bag that also has jumper cables and a quart of oil, things we have determined to be practical. in the winter there are a few additions, a few things that my sweet poppo always made sure i carried along. but it’s still late summer, so the extender snow brush/scraper can hang in the garage just a bit longer and the kitty litter doesn’t need to come along. littlebabyscion is ready to go to the shop today and come home later with a muffler that doesn’t make noise. (to muffle: to make quieter and more difficult to hear; muffler: a device fixed to the exhaust of a motor vehicle to reduce engine noise.) it waits patiently in the driveway until The Time.

the people who know – like our mechanic, the exhaust system shop, our plumber, our electrician, the drain experts, tree services, gardening wizards, the company we will choose to be our mason – they are like lights in the darkness. along with their expertise and the wisdom of friends who have beentheredonethat we survive the normal – and not-so-normal – challenges of home and car ownership. it would seem rare – a person without some sort of concentric circle of informants surrounding them in problem-solving and decision-making. asking questions, asking for advice, seeking information are the basis for learning and, it seems, every day is an opportunity for that. (and we haven’t even mentioned the whole changing-bodies piece of this life-thing.)

we stood outside on the deck, the only light from a few torches and the bonfire across the yard; we gazed at the sky. it seemed thousands of stars gazed back at us. the james webb telescope has delivered photographs of space back to us here on this planet, a place that feels big but is merely tiny in the vast. seeing billions and billions of light years away, i read that the webb captures not just the birth of stars but, also, their last dances. it is hard to wrap your head around looking back in time in such a profound way. the light goes on and on. and on.

we each build a framework around ourselves. none of us exists without the other, really. at a time when our purple-mountain-majesty-land continues to be divided and people fight for control and power and are practicing efforts serving to undermine, marginalize, divide further, it would seem prudent to remember the tiny-in-vast. transience.

we can be the light for each other…in so many ways. or we can snuff it out and try to go on without. the stars are watching.

always prepared, always planning ahead for possible big bangs, my poppo would vote for light.

*****

TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

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