reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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

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

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

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

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

the long view. think for the future.

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

*****

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


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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

someday?


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a clinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i am a clinker. i simply cannot take a sip of wine without clinking.

last week we rediscovered that three wine glasses clinking sound infinitely different than two. for the better part of a year we have only clinked two, never a third, never a fourth. like many of you, the pandemic has prevented us from sharing a few moments with others, having a toast, sipping and talking together in the same space.

last spring, summer and fall, out in their backyard distanced by about ten feet, we had happy hour with our best friends. we sat in adirondack chairs on the patio or in the grass, under the setting sun or the giant-sized umbrella, hoping for a cool breeze or warming by the bonfire. we talked, we laughed, we visited in our little pod from far away. but we never clinked.

i clinked in october. we were in the high mountains at long last and my girl was holding a wine glass in the same space and we clinked. tiny cherished moments and glittering in their rarity. and then, just as there were months before, there were months after. the clinks-of-aspen have been ringing in my heart since those crisp fall days.

so the fact that this past week we clinked is a big deal. we have had both our vaccines and so has 20. we are all meticulously careful. and so, after much research, for the first time, he came over for dinner. inside. in our kitchen. it felt surreal and took a little getting used to. oddly for us, it’s been a long time since anyone was in our house besides us. it was a special clink and we laughed at how normal and abnormal it was. and then, the same story only different, after way too much time, we clinked with my boy. at his spectator counter in their beautiful kitchen, steps away from a table set for a dinner we would share. clink.

three more-than-two-glasses-clinks in about a year.

although there are several outdated and somewhat dark ancient and medieval reasons for clinking, the farmers’ almanac states that, “it is believed that clinking glasses was done during toasts, because sound helped to please all five senses, completing the drinking experience. drinking is also a coming together of friends, so by physically touching glasses, drinkers become part of a communal celebration.”

a communal celebration. the sound of community. things that have been missing this last year. it is clear we are all starved for time together. it is also clear that some people are just throwing in the towel. fatigued with isolation, tuckered out by a piece of cloth across their faces, they go and do whatever they please, scorning the wise advice of medical experts who warn of the possibility of “impending doom” and beg this country to abide by covid-19 safety parameters just a little longer. it’s hard to understand – the lack of concern for the collective. we do not exist in a vacuum, though it would seem that there are those out there who believe we do.

as we – d and i – gently and very slowly add to our experiences with others, i want to celebrate each and every one, never taking for granted being seated around a counter, never taking for granted what it feels like dining around our tiny kitchen table or with a fancy setting in the dining room, never taking for granted a houseful of people milling around eating and drinking, never taking for granted what it feels like for those dear to you to walk into your house and enjoy the presence of others, never taking for granted basking in community.

“i have big ears,” one of my long-lost-but-now-found-cousins said on the phone when we were talking, trying to catch up on everything since around 1970. i tried to reassure him i would not talk his ear off each time we spoke; it takes so many words to try and catch up, to reconnect, as i am discovering in conversation with him, another of my cousins – his sister – and my almost-99-year-old aunt. he laughed and reassured me, “no, no. it’s all good. i have big ears.”

were he here, my cousin tony standing in the kitchen with a glass of wine, i would clink with him and celebrate mightily that my community is growing in ways i would not have expected.

*****

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


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the color of new growth. [two artists tuesday]

desi is growing up. suddenly, seemingly overnight, there is lime-green new growth rising toward the sky in the way pine trees reach up, up, up. this seedling we adopted has beaten some odds and its tiny shoots show promise.

we’re not sure what kind of evergreen it is. maybe a white pine? though we are curious and want to be sure to tend to desi properly, it doesn’t really matter. we share our table at the window with her every day, watching for changes, carefully rotating her pot. she is present with us in all our lunches and dinners, with glasses of wine and snacks, surrounded by happy lights and joined in potted life next to various succulents, a fluffy ponytail palm and KC, my new adorable birthday gardenia bonsai from my girl and her sweetie.

a little research on firs reveals a plethora of trees i did not realize even existed. fantastic specimens of hardiness, each kind of tree reveals new growth in a different color, in a slightly different way. desi’s lime-green is a stunning color and we wonder what these new shoots will look like as time goes on.

before we rescued her from being mowed over, desi lived in a place of much diversity. pines and oaks and maples and hickories, all living in harmony, co-existing. tall trees reaching for the sun, hardy and stoic through thick and thin, symbiosis at its best. downed trees, decaying leaves, rich soil ingredients for strength, a diet for underbrush and trees alike, no boundaries drawn.

sunday we drove big red to chicago. we like to take the back way, through smaller towns and past homes built on the edges of ravines and lake michigan. it slows us down and keeps us off the anxious interstate. we were on our way to my boy’s new place where he and his boyfriend waited to serve us an amazing four-course dinner for my birthday. my girl and her boyfriend had sent lovely bottles of wine for the occasion, to be there though they could not be there.

on the way down, as we got into the city, a few police cars with lit light strips caught our attention. and then, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people marching, “stop asian hate” signs leading the way. horns blowing and demonstrations of support rang out as they marched in protest and we were proud of their efforts to raise awareness, to alleviate – stop – this prevailing and abhorrent hostility, violence and discrimination committed against AAPI people. the quiet suffering is no longer quiet. what will it take for us, for this community, this country, this world, to achieve healthy symbiosis?

i wonder what color my new growth is. i wonder if it’s visible. i wonder what the shoots will reveal. like desi, i hope, in my tiny spot in this universe, i will turn toward the sun, ever-stoic, ever-inclusive, ever-present, surrounded by happy lights and full of promise.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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chipping away, i suppose. [merely-a-thought monday]

long island has nicer springs than wisconsin. considerably warmer temperatures, more consistent sunshine, earlier flowers, i remember my birthday in late march as sweater-weather, with many birthday pictures taken in front of the yellow forsythia at the front corner of our yard where the grass met the curb of the street. not so much in wisconsin. it’s still cold, still windy, still cloudy, still rainy, even still snowy. as my birthday rolls around i am always hopeful that it will suddenly change and there will be 60 degree days and we will hike with no coats and no 180 earmuffs. invariably disappointed, we layer up and hike anyway. saturday was no exception. no in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb for this state.

birthdays always seem to be a time of reflection. the generosity of wishes texted, emailed, called, zoomed, facetimed, mailed, shipped and wrapped on the doorstep are a heaping portion of goodness and they enveloped me in warmth all day. the lion of march did not reign the day. instead, the only roar i heard was laughter on the trail, on facetime with my niece, on zoom with best friends, reading the glittery-unicorn-poop card from my other niece, the lingering echoes of my girl and her boyfriend singing to me, my son’s voice on the other end of the phone, a dinner invite from him and his boyfriend, singing memojis, exploding confetti on a text from crunch, music and spattered painting in an ecard from my mother-in-law, words in messages penned or typed, thoughtfully chosen. i lit my new candle, named my adorable new gardenia bonsai, and pulled my concentric circles ever tighter to me, hugging them back. there are days i think that every day should absolutely be lived like a birthday.

there was a common denominator in messages. my husband cleverly made a birthday book about life and love from a pa-pad, pads of scrap paper cut and glued by my sweet poppo in his effort to save trees and the environment. a dear friend from elementary school wrote that she hoped all my wishes come true. my oldest friend ever, a cherished friendship that has sustained through the years, wrote that she hoped i was celebrating. in one card that wished me “all things beautiful” i read, “may you always see the beauty in this world and be encouraged to keep pressing on, regardless of the stumbling blocks or hurdles that stand in the way.” in another was simply the word “forever”. another made me laugh aloud, poking fun at growing older. another wished me a better year. and one reminded me that “we are all works in progress.” in that card, my wise friend added “to ever evolving you” to the message “to another good year of chipping away…”

ever evolving.

the spring rains gather on the deck. they clean off the last of the snow and dirt that have been left there through the winter. like periods on sentences, they mark a new time of growth, an end to fallow, warmth on its way. there have been so many periods on sentences this year. too many. it is a time of wondering. clarity is elusive. it is a time of giving over to not-knowing.

i suppose it is possible that this is the lesson after all. not-knowing. ever. i suppose that spring – even in wisconsin – could surprise me. i suppose no time is really a time of stasis. i suppose that is why riverstones are so smooth. i suppose that, no matter what, the promise is to be ever evolving.

*****

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


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a bit damaged and blooming. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

spring? is that you??

the snow was piled high on our walk around the ‘hood. stepping carefully around icy patches and those unsightly mountains of dirty snow next to the road, we strolled for a couple of hours. it was still freezing-cold out and the wind on our faces was biting. but the sun was out and, with icicles hanging off houses and treacherous sidewalks, we were stunned when we came upon this sight – early bulbs rising out of frozen ground, in a sheltered and sunny spot on the south side of the street. a signal that there is a new season to come, we practically danced on the sidewalk.

i texted her a photo and asked linda what these bulbs were. a lover-of-all-flowers, she immediately wrote back, “daffodils, i think. they look a bit damaged. like they came up and then got snowed on.” i replied, “aren’t we all? a bit damaged?”

it’s been a long hard winter. a long fall before that. a long summer before that. and, well, you know about last spring. today, scrolling through facebook, i saw a post that read, “a year ago this was our last normal week and nobody knew it.” wow. we can’t help but be a bit damaged.

but now, we look to the sun each day and note the rising temperatures, little bit by little bit. we think about coffee on the deck and a glass of wine on the patio. we look forward to the muddy trails in our favorite parks. we know that, though some things haven’t changed and the bit-of-damage is still present, there is a horizon and we are headed that way.

the bulbs will bloom, no matter how much they get snowed on. and so will we.

*****

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


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sunglasses and gunfire. [two artists tuesday]

Sunglasses

we took a hike on easter sunday afternoon.   it was just warm enough to shed my coat in the woods; spring hiking is better without the shush-shushing sound of a down coat while you walk.

we went to our bristol woods, masks in pockets as we jumped out of big red, eager to get into the trees, onto the paths that have soothed us.  there were a few people there; most of them abided by the six-feet-apart rule, although admittedly, there were a few who caused us to roll our eyes in an astonished unspoken question wondering if they lived in a cave somewhere and had no idea that there was a global pandemic.

the familiar paths did their job. we quietly noticed green sprigs springing up between the leaves, a tonal green as you looked off-path from budding underbrush.  here and there forest daffodils at the brink of opening to the world; here and there small white flowers nestled between fallen logs.

the soundtrack of the woods was awakening to spring – orioles’ songs, chipmunks scampering, birds we couldn’t see high in the trees singing arias to the sky, the sound of our feet on the trail.

the gunfire in the background was unwelcome in this reverie of renewal, of spring-really-on-its-way, of escape-from-thoughts-of-covid-19.  it was an automatic, a gun designed to kill, single shots punctuated by the rapidfire of a clip.  it is always unnerving; yesterday it was particularly so.  it seemed mindless to me, paying no homage to these very times, these very days.

in the middle of thousands of people who are desperately trying to save over half a million others’ lives in this country alone, thousands of people who are extending helping hands to countless others, thousands of people who are dedicating resources to feed, mask, shelter thousands of others, thousands of people who are reeling from a loss of life, of job, of any security, of any sense of normal, thousands of people who are frightened to their core that they might be the next to succumb to this pervasive illness, the next to struggle to breathe, i couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out any good reason to be shooting an automatic weapon.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

white flowers website box

 


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and then it snowed. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snow in evergreen

i was really, really happy when it started snowing.  not only was this softly falling snow beautiful, but it placed me back in time.  although listing toward spring, it is, actually, mostly still winter.  it is march.  it is wisconsin.

time is warping and it is difficult to remember what day it is, nonetheless what month it is.  the stress of worry, of deep concern for our children, our families, our friends, of social distancing and isolation, of working remotely – all of it has taken us out of time.

although there were many negative social media comments about it snowing, i was grateful.  we went out and walked in it.

snows are different.  there’s the light snow that blows across the sidewalk as you walk.  there’s the heavy snow that invites you to make snowballs and greet snowmen as you pass them in the neighborhood.  and then there is this – the magical snow that feels and looks like stars falling from the sky.  we walked in quiet, mostly.

march.  wisconsin.  winter poised on the birth of spring.  snow.  it grounded us back into right now.   we believe all things will come.   in time.   we are all marking time.  one day we will sit in the warm sun.  one day this worry will lessen.

in the meanwhile, i say let it snow.

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

our snowman feb 14 2019 'valentino' website box copy


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the biding of time. [two artists tuesday]

birch in winter

i’m writing this as i listen to the loud interruption of wind machines and a large lawnmower/mulcher behind our yard.  a family with many children (6 or maybe 7) is having their yard spring-cleaned up and it makes me nostalgic for the days we, as kids, as families, cleaned our own yards.

the feel of the rakes in our hands, the smell of leaves, the chill in the air and the anticipation of spring-on-its-way, the promise of hot chocolate.  the quiet.  i can hear the sound of the metal tines of the rake, many bent out of shape, as i attempted to make piles of leaves.  my dad would later clean up my messy attempts but in the meanwhile i knew i was helping.  i was outside and the sounds of birds-early-on-the-wing and rustling squirrels, the wind whispering high in the oaks of our yard, these were the sounds of march.

ahhh, the blowers and the large-engine machine just stopped for a moment and i took a deep breath before they started back up again.

in these days of unsettling and increasing isolation we are challenged to find ways to calm our souls.  recently we took a long walk on the frozen lake up north.  all around us nature was quietly waiting.  gracefully bending in the cold wind, birch trees wait.  grasses, browned from fall and a long winter, sway in pause.  all around us you could feel it; anticipation of what is to come and the quiet biding of time.

in between all the remotely-done work-of-the-day tasks, maybe later today we will take a walk.  we’ll put on our boots and drive to the woods.  we’ll feel our breathing even out as we step from little-baby-scion into a hushed space, a place of waiting.  we’ll likely walk in silence.

there’s so much noise around us these days.  angst and anger, concern and contention, rhetoric and reason, pomposity and push-back.

we have no choice but to wait.  to be respectful of each other, of the time it will take.  to do what we need to do in order to survive as best we can with as few dire repercussions as possible.  to be responsible and proactive.  to do the right thing and honor health and life in the none-too-steady heartbeat of the world.  to wait.  like the birch trees and the grasses on the edge of the lake, bowing to the wind and rising to the sun.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

black boots on frozen snowy lake up north website box

 


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spring stripes. [two artists tuesday]

nature's stripes copy

stripes copy

you have to admit – the first set of stripes is way more interesting than the second.  the first set. in the woods.  the color combinations.  all alive with hue and subtlety.  the second set.  static.  no air.  no depth.  no variance.

this weekend, on a warm-day hike along the expanding des plaines river, the colors were spectacular.  the blue-purple of the water late in the afternoon.  the fresh-baby-grass-green of the small island across the river.  sky blue, white clouds, golden sunlight.  it wasn’t capture-able on film.  you just had to stand there and breathe it in.  stripes, patterns, shadows, delicate light, elusive dark.

by hiking often on the same trails, we can see the minor changes along the way.  we take note of them, commenting on a felled tree or more water in a pond or a new nest high in some branches.  there’s more mud, there are goslings, the daffodils are in full bloom, the groundcover is rich.  the earth coming back out of fallow.  winter’s rest is over; spring’s explosion has arrived.

for us, these winter-spring-summer-fall hikes are necessary.  they allow us to see, outside of ourselves; they allow us to process good earth growth and change and color.  for us, these hikes are like a security blanket.  they soothe worries, sort problems, wrap gently around us.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

megaphones website box