reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the broken salad bowl. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i broke my mom’s salad bowl last night. it wasn’t fancy; it was a simple glass bowl, shaped in the letter v. but i loved using it for salads and quinoa tabouli and all kinds of fruit. it slipped from my grasp in the sink and, despite my best efforts at rescue, broke in two large pieces. i was instantly saddened, not because i get upset when things break, but because it was my sweet momma’s and using it was a silken connected tie.

we were on i-70 driving across denver and stuck in traffic. we played leap-frog with several vehicles as we inched forward. one of them had a sticker that read “extreme rightwing” and another had this sticker “humankind. be both.” i am betting you can guess the one with which i felt in alignment. i wanted to roll down big red’s window further than i already had it and call out the window, “love your sticker!” but i didn’t. instead, i photographed it, trying to look casual, like i wasn’t taking a picture of their vehicle, and thought about how i instantly liked them.

my sweet momma, the former owner of the now-broken salad bowl, was a firm believer in kindness. her favorite saying, “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can,” was a john wesley quote. this is not the first time i have told of her kindness to others…all others.

as my mom prepared to move into assisted living she started giving away things she wouldn’t be bringing with her. she gave away her couch to a neighbor who needed one; she gave her dining table to another neighbor without a place around which to gather her family. she let things go, with love and caring moving them out the door to their new homes. she didn’t hesitate. it wasn’t about the stuff; it was simply about helping those in need of something she had. we just heard that many of the things in david’s parents’ house, that is being emptied now, have been given to neighbors and people who need particular items. a gesture of paying the generosity we are afforded forward, i immediately thought back to my mom’s own altruism in her time of transition.

these last months have been very challenging for us. i was devastated when, in this time of pandemic and after losing our other two positions, and at the start of my ninth year there, i lost my job. confusion and fear and dreadful sadness at losing my living, all the effort and love i had put into growing a music program, the loss of my dear community, all ran rampant in my heart. the stages of grief, including anger, lined up and for the last five months, i have tried to sort through all of what i have felt. the other day i drove past my former place of employment and just was overcome with how intensely weird it felt, how intensely weird the whole travail has been.

but in the middle of all of this weirdness, the lack of communication, the non-effort at mitigating whatever was seemingly accepted as an ousting-reason, there have been people. humans. kind humans. little by little people have reached out – in generosity and kindness. and, for that, the way has been a little less scary, a little less painful. the ties to the place, astoundingly, considering the place, are broken – irretrievably – shattered into a dark hole in a million shards. but the silken connections of people – from a full compass of our lives – extend in warm embrace. humankind. be-ing both.

i guess the next time i make salad or tabouli i’ll use the big stainless steel bowl – the one that also used to be my mom’s. it’s unbreakable. just like my tie to her.

*****

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


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what is really real? [flawed wednesday]

back in the day, my sister drove a dodge charger. it was a pretty sporty car then, the 1974 model, and, as a driver on long island’s expressways, she was up to the task. she is still much a new york driver, conversation while driving in the car punctuated with relevant muscle-car-language. it was always an adventure being in the car with her. i am eleven years younger so i learned road-talk sitting in her passenger seat.

when the commercial came on for the dodge challenger i had to laugh. they have been pretty similar vehicles through the years. and the commercial made me think of my sister. until i saw the little boy driving it like a road-maniac. right smack dab in the middle of all the fancy muscling around, the commercial pauses and the little boy turns and says, “our lawyers just want you to know that this isn’t real.”

duh. it’s a commercial. is anything real?

the disclaimer at the end of pharmaceutical company ads listing possible side effects – though it is announced that it is not an all-inclusive list – is always bracing…especially the “do not use this drug (fill in the blank) if you are allergic to it or the ingredients in it…” seriously? what is real?

in our litigious country it is remarkable that you don’t have to sign a waiver no matter what you do. so many potential lawsuits, so little time. everything everywhere is closer than it appears in the mirror.

i had to text my sister and ask her what year her charger was. i remember clearly how much she loved that car – i remember it as butter yellow with a white vinyl top. when she texted me back i found out that she had purchased that very car because a playpen fit in the trunk. it was after her daughter was born so playpens and toting baby stuff was real for her. muscling on highways not so much.

my first car was my volkswagen. it was a 1971 super beetle and i adored it. my dog came with me everywhere and sat in the well. i toted my little niece all around, windows down and singing songs on our way to the beach or to feed the ducks or to play in the park. it was not a muscle car, it had zilcho storage capacity and it was not featured in cool cream puff commercials then or now. but it was real and it was a steadfast little bug.

pre-pandemic we loved to explore antique shoppes. we would stumble upon so many relics, so many memories, so many we-had-this moments. often, we would find things we still have, which made us laugh aloud that our possessions – the ones not obvious vintage treasures – were considered antiques. the mixing bowls, the salt and pepper shakers, the corningware, the irish coffee mugs. wandering through the aisles of antique shoppes, i have been known to exclaim, “people shouldn’t be able to purchase new glassware or mugs or plates or china! it should be a requirement to purchase from a secondhand store or an antique shoppe!” i am overwhelmed sometimes by the vast amount of wasted products, the vast amount of new choices, the vast amount of value people place in the stuff they have. what is really necessary? what is really real?

as the proud owners of stoneware i bought for 25¢ a piece at a wholesale show, passed-down corningware, a stove/oven circa 1980, a scion xb with 247,000 miles, an old 1998 ford f150 pickup truck and, yes, a 1971 vw bug, we are not the audience for the new dodge challenger commercial we saw.

because the little kid was right. it’s not real.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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“the pace of nature.” [merely-a-thought monday]

“…adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” (ralph waldo emerson)

no matter how hard we try, there is not one thing we can do to make the sun appear or the day warmer or the moon to rise or the snow to fall. we accept that time will come, time will pass, time will form and time will destroy. we give over to nature, anticipating that which we know, expecting the unexpected. we baby-step through this very time in the universe, our footprints barely visible on the timeline that is forever. we learn that no matter our stride, we are simply tiny beings. eventually, we learn, after giving over to patience, that that is enough.

the john denver sanctuary in aspen is a treasure trove. we have been there three times now. a garden of trails and large river boulders etched with lyrics and quotes, perennial daisies and aspen trees, it is a gentle sinking into peaceful. the city sounds of aspen fall away and the river and streams are lulling.

we wandered for hours, reading, sitting, pondering, the sun on our faces, the sound of quaking leaves slowing us down. i stood on a giant rock, like a stage under my feet, and bowed deeply to no one and to the brilliance of a man who knew how to tenderly shape melody and weave lyric into a fabric like a soft blanket.

we were immersed in poetry, in words, delicious to read aloud. we were quietly taking it all in, i in all my john-denver-glory, reliving the cassettes i wore out, rewinding, rewinding, listening again and again. this exquisite place, tempting all-day-hooky-playing, wielding a magic defined by thought, encouraging reflection, softly begging you to tumble in your own thoughts. this place slowing you down, reminding you that it is not stuff that defines you, it is not the stuff-of-you that will remain with others.

we wrestle with timing, with suspense, with expectation and disappointment. we measure against ladders of success and hold ourselves to higher higher higher standards of accomplishment.

nature quietly treks on, luminescent and glorious, patiently acknowledging every babystep moment of its impact, surrendering judgement and secretly, from the heart of the universe, signing its autograph on all of us, whispering to us to slow our pace.

*****

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


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not the fancy stuff. [two artists tuesday]

coffee pot copy

maybe we’ll go back.  this sassy coffee pot sits at one of our favorite antique shops and drew my eye.  we’ll be sure to know where to put it and, perhaps, how to use it before we maybe go get it.

we were on our way to cape cod and the sign salvage chic antiques stopped us.  four old aluminum coffee pots later, we left the store.  they are now part of a five-aluminum-coffee-pot collection on a shelf in our kitchen; instead of a canister set, these coffee pots keep all our different teas easily accessible.

anyone who knows us knows that we love our coffee.  anyone who knows us knows that we also love re-purposing old stuff.  but not the fancy stuff.  old aluminum coffee pots, old black vintage suitcases, old wooden boxes.  they are the treasures around us.  they hold special mementos, nespresso coffee pods, clothespins for the ukulele band, art supplies, rocks we have collected on beaches, in woods, from high sandstone precipices or red rock canyons deep.  they are history and they are new.  both true.

when we need a break, a few moments to lose ourselves, we will either hike or go to one of our local favorite antique shops.  things of worry will gently fall off as we walk through woods or aisles of things-that-remind-us of other times, memories, or maybe inspire us with a beckon to be brought home.

we choose carefully and deliberately.  for ourselves and for the gifts we get others.  it’s never the fancy stuff, but it’s the stuff that stops us, draws our eye, beckons to be purchased and re-treasured.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

coffeepots website box

photo by 20

 


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old dogs. [merely-a-thought monday]

button to button copy 2

a couple years ago our CHICKEN MARSALA went with us everywhere.  i mean literally everywhere.  FLAT CHICKEN traveled across the country and we have pictures of him in the scion, in front of the ‘welcome to colorful colorado’ sign, with rest area volunteers, sitting with family at an outdoor bbq.

we had submitted CHICKEN to all the major cartoon syndicates with some interest on their part and so we were bringing him with us, to document his travels and keep our hopes up.  ultimately, CHICKEN MARSALA, the strip, was not syndicated and we ended up concentrating our efforts more on short bursts of wisdom and thought in one-panels of CHICKEN in life.

CHICKEN MARSALA and another one-panel cartoon named FLAWED CARTOON, graphic designs we were making or photographs we were taking, david’s paintings, my music – all were fodder for what became a melange, a mixture of it all, the crux of what we would write about each day.  and so THE MELANGE, offered monday through friday,  was born.

it has – this week – been a year since the first MELANGE was published.  and monday through friday since, we have had an image that we each have used as a jumping-off ground for our blogposts, the chute through which we have funneled our thoughts.

i was a crazy person designing products for each of these days…mugs with our sweet CHICKEN MARSALA on them, BE KIND tote bags, FLAWED CARTOON prints, painting morsel throw pillows, what-seems-like a zillion leggings with song lyrics. we posted links for our product lines and re-assessed things daily – placement of images in the blog, placement of hyperlinks, whether or not to include FB ‘like’ buttons….it is an endless list.

somewhere along the way we realized that it was possible that other people might not be as invested in our CHICKEN MARSALA as we were.  he wasn’t their imagined little boy; he was ours…

i have this great tear-off calendar i enjoyed every day last year.  it sat on my dresser and had a unicorn on every page.  it also had a saying of some sort…some words of wisdom, some tongue-in-cheek, some downright sassy.  although i love unicorns, for obvious reasons, i found that i could not tell you what the unicorn was doing each day; i barely looked at the unicorn.  for me, the important part was the saying.  when i realized that, i also realized that was possibly the same reason people were not investing in CHICKEN.  it was whatever the panel said, the words, that held the interest.  when someone would randomly come upon the image of CHICKEN MARSALA, no matter how adorable the drawing, they wouldn’t ‘see the unicorn’ so to speak, but instead would read the words, the starting gate for our posts.  ahhh.  we are ever-learning.

and so, we changed our MELANGE monday from CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY to MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY.  and i stopped, for now, designing more CHICKEN products for a society6.com store that was already full of products.  CHICKEN MARSALA will have his time in the light; it just isn’t right now.

the same thing happened for our FLAWED WEDNESDAY.  as funny as those single panel cartoons were, we found they weren’t necessarily connecting in-a-big-way to our audience, so it was time to re-evaluate our posts for wednesday.  FLAWED WEDNESDAY became NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY with interesting tidbits we encounter in life.

today (ok, technically calendar-tomorrow but alas let’s not be too detailed) we celebrate this monday in february a year ago.  a year of our MELANGE.  a year of selecting images we would feature.  a year in which we have we have blogged every monday-friday.  a year of designing websites, blogsites, products.  a year of questions and thoughts.  a year of assessing and re-assessing.  a roller-coaster of learnings.

who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

thank you for riding along with us.

love needs no words jpeg copy 2

chicken marsala love phonecase

chicken marsala create phone case

 

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

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

chicken and dogga roadtrip website box.jpg

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 


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the storage unit. [two artists tuesday]

storage unit copy

on my nightstand next to the bed are two frames.  both written in little-kid-writing, they are notes i saved from long ago.  one is from My Girl and it reads, “goodnight mom” surrounded by hearts.  the other is from My Boy and it has two words on it, “craig” (with a backwards g) and “mom” and has hearts filling up the rest of the notepaper.  each night i see these as i wish them both, from far away, goodnight, sweet dreams, restful sleep.

i come by this threadiness honestly.

we were in florida visiting; two of the days we were there, despite bright sunlight and temperatures in the 80s, we spent in a storage unit.  what was left of my parents’ belongings was packed in boxes, stacked in a unit, waiting for us to put our eyes on all of it and decide what to do with each of these things.  my mom’s impulse was to keep things, especially paper.  photographs and slides aside, there were files and files – some of which we will wade through later.  there were boxes of mugs and baskets and trinkets, a kaleidoscope of the pieces of life, carefully packed by my sister and brother-in-law during a time of sadness, a time that was not ripe with paring down or organizing, a time that is difficult for anyone who has packed up a house. larger items were already distributed – furniture given away or passed down to the next generation.  but these boxes….

i was quite sure that, even if i hadn’t seen anything in any of the boxes, i had all i needed….my treasures of my sweet momma and my poppo are tucked in close to my heart and i have physical memories of them around me in our home.  they are not the high-priced treasures you might think people would save or claim.  instead, they are small, meaningful, invaluable and thready things that speak to me.  old calendars of my mom’s, my dad’s small rickety wooden boxes from his workbench, glasses from which my dad sipped his scotch, a flannel shirt my mom wore that matched my dad’s, a board with hooks that is wood-burned with the word “keys” and hung in our growing-up house for as long as i can remember…

spending time in the storage unit, surrounded by memories and the fading scent of my mom’s perfume and their house, i was heartened to see that i actually could go through and pare down.  it gives me hope about our own basement.  the real things of our past – sweet treasured memories – are not things.  everyone gets meaning from and sees value in different stuff.  two days in the storage unit reminded me again of that.

this time i didn’t cry.  i laughed with my momma, who, no doubt, was rolling her eyes in heaven over the fact that she had saved sooo many pieces of paper…paid bills, old house contracts, warranties from appliances long gone, car receipts from several cars ago.  a collection of life gone by, i know she smiled when every now and then we stumbled onto something i loved to touch….i kept the little scrap of paper that fluttered to the floor that my mom had written my full birth name on…i kept a couple calendars with my poppo’s handwriting…i kept a tiny folder of maps my mom collected in her curiosity about the changing world…i kept my dad’s brown suede cap, the one i bought him a million years ago…i kept a manila folder of letters i had written to them over the years – that my momma saved…these pieces of evidence of who they were, heirlooms of what was most important to them.

i vowed, once again, to go through, give away, sell the things in our own home that are not necessary.  but those bins in the basement labeled “kirsten” and “craig”?  those will stay.  i will delight in going through the artwork and stories and notes and school projects from their childhood and growing up.  and some day, maybe they too will see how infinitely important each of the baby steps and adult steps they have taken are to me.  and maybe some of the thready treasures i have left behind will give them pause and, maybe, they will save a scrap or two, a calendar, a notebook of unpublished songs, photographs, something that reminds them of what was most important to me – the thready things that are memories of love, of family, of them.

it wasn’t sunny or 82 degrees inside the storage unit.  but it was warm in a whole other way.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

mommaandpoppo deer ridge website box

 


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not our heap. [flawed wednesday]

HippieTomChairs cropped copy

1. this is not our heap.

2. these are actual chairs selling in an actual barn at an actual farm where actual people go for an actual sale.

3. this is chaos to me (and maybe you), treasures to the owner.

4. i could only stare at this for a few minutes before i got uncomfortable.  i felt like i had  literally crawled inside the commotion-filled-clinging-onto-everything-psyche of someone who hoarded everything.  it was just moments before i had to breathlessly leave the room.

5. the swedish death cleanse is not a bad idea.  (from the book the gentle art of swedish death cleaning (margareta magnusson) “a charming, practical, and unsentimental approach to putting a home in order while reflecting on the tiny joys that make up a long life.”) clearing out all unnecessary items.  putting things in order.  learning to let go. sounds lofty.  but, heck, we can try it.

6. so we’ve started purging, baby-step-by-baby-step. #purgingsoourchildrendon’thaveto #lessismore #notaseasyasitlooks #wholooksinthebasementstorageroomanyway #thready-nesshasitsdrawbacks #thedeathcleansemightbeoverrated #meh,atleastourhousedoesn’tlooklikethisphoto #we’lltryagaintomorrow

with the ad-campaign-delivery of beautiful jennifer garner, what’s in YOUR basement?

we hate to leave paris websitebox croppedcopy

read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

 

 

 

 

 


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memories you can touch. [two artists tuesday]

TV Trays This One copy

he stopped.  walking in the top floor room of a nearby antique mall we love to visit, david was struck suddenly by – of all things – tv trays.  “we had these!” he exclaimed. “growing up, we had these exact trays!” i immediately took pictures.  i knew i would send them to his sister later.  for a few moments, he was back in colorado, clipping the tv tray into place, surrounded by his sister, his brothers, his mom and dad.

when we have free time, we peruse antique stores.  sometimes we are lucky to amble with our dearest friends.  it takes time to walk through antiques – old stuff that connects us to a galore of stories.  we stop and tell tales, sharing, laughing, amazed at how long ago are the moments we are speaking of.  pole lamps that reach floor-to-ceiling, games, figurines, wooden crates, orange and turquoise vinyl furniture, dolls and toys, china, record albums, ancient suitcases with no wheels, teapots and patterns of corelle-ware, mixing bowls and corningware…everything is part of some moment we have passed through, maybe forgotten, but now surfacing with the touch of some item.

i am really thready, without physical reminders.  but with them i can literally touch yesterdays…full of emotion, sometimes pining for times-gone-by.  i relish the stories, the re-visiting.  i can almost, just almost remember our tv trays.  but not quite.  i can’t quite put my mind’s-eye-finger on them.   maybe we will stumble across them one of these days.  and i will stop short.

in the meanwhile, just wondering…what did your tv trays look like?

tvtraywebsitebox

read DAVID’S thoughts on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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two artists tuesday

typewriter copy 2anyone walking in our home knows this is true:  i’m a vintage type.  our home is not populated with new things fresh from the pottery barn catalog.  instead, it is filled with things that are re-purposed, things that are old, things that have some history, things we haven’t replaced with new things.  even our manner of work is kinda vintage, although this blog and our online product lines aren’t evidence of that.  but as an acoustic-analog-type musician and a brush-to-the-canvas painter, we pretty much scream
“vintage”.

one of my most treasured physical memories of my poppo are a few old small wooden boxes we found next to his workbench.   they would likely have been thrown away, but i knew he had “saved them” for some future purpose – perhaps holding random fasteners or nuts and bolts.  we carefully wrapped them and brought them home and they now sit in our sunroom (next to our not-so-vintage-and-really-awesome nespresso machine) and they hold nespresso capsules (which are recycled) and a collection of old clothespins my sweet momma used to use on the old clothesline in our backyard growing up.  it’s not the fancy stuff.  it’s the vintage stuff.

i lusted over this typewriter in the antique store.  i’m still thinking about it.  if it’s still there one day when we are visiting that shop and i have a little bit of extra spending money, i will buy it.  i’m not sure what i will do with it, but it speeeeeaks to me.  my sweet momma loved typewriters too.  what is it about those??  i think correctotype and purple carbon paper, the workout your fingers got, how it feels when you take the return handle to move to the next line down of type, and that really great sound -think of it…hear it- when you pull the paper out of the roll.  it’s visceral.

the stove/oven in our kitchen is, ummm, old, and, although i prefer to think of it as ‘vintage’, it doesn’t necessarily count as  romantic ‘vintage’.  it was here when we bought the house in 1989 and had likely been here at least ten years at that point; the people who owned the house before us were not the buy-new or even fix-it-up type.  matter of fact, they took it to a new level, putting contact paper on the countertops and backsplash and offering to teach us how to replace it.  (eww.  the sheer bacteria-breeding-ground-ness of that makes me shiver.  one of the first things i did was remove that stuff.)  but, back to the stove/oven.  it continues to work and i can’t tell you how many meals i have cooked on it and how many people have eaten those meals.  (if you merely consider almost 29 years and maybe just one meal a day, that is 10,585 times that this appliance has served me and my family and it is likely about 40 years old.)  my sister has had multiple stoves/ovens in the time i have had this one.  granted, she has enjoyed lots of updated features i haven’t had, but i haven’t (knock wood) spent anything to date on a stove/oven since 1989.  amazing.  it’s a testament to kenmore’s older appliances.  someday i know we will have a new one, but in the meanwhile this workhorse is not taking up room in a dump somewhere, with a half-life of a billion years (ok, slight exaggeration) and i feel good about that.  it’s not pretty, it’s not high-tech; i feel it has earned the label ‘vintage’ and no one seems to run – aghast- out of our kitchen because it graces the spot for ‘stove/oven’.  there is something to be said for that.

we just had breakfast; d made it as he does each morning these days.  he cooked it on that stove and it was deeeeelicous.  and me?  i’m going to get out our coin jar and count what’s in there.  maybe there will be enough to go back to that antique shop so i can bring home this typewriter.

I’M A VINTAGE TYPE – this link will take you to wall art, cards, leggings, throw pillows, bags, fun stuff

 

society 6 info jpeg copy

 

vintage type FRAMED ART PRINT copy

framed art prints, metal wall art, cards

 

vintage type SQUARE PILLOW copy

throw pillows all shapes & sizes, floor pillows, clocks, rugs

 

Vintage tyoe LEGGINGS copy

leggings/yoga pants

 

vintage type COFFEE MUG copy          Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 10.49.14 AM

 

vintage type TOTE BAG copy

tote bags, phone cases, laptop sleeves

 

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – ON OUR SITE

 

 

read DAVID’S thoughts on A VINTAGE TYPE

i’m a vintage type ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

 

 

 


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i already have them.

fullsizerenderbeing an artist means many things to many different people, but the one thing that i am certain of that is unifying among artists is that there is a budget. hmm…a challenging budget. not a lot of space to splurge sometimes. and other times, maybe some space to splurge. but always an awareness that, although art forms are the things that people gravitate to in times of bliss and utter grief, in times of celebration and quiet, in times of unity and division, in times of conversation and reflection, these ways of making a living are way less sure (understatement) – in a budget kind of way – than most others. and so this is how we live. always aware.

he said he was about to click on the “buy it” button and complete the purchase online when he noticed an additional $10 administrative fee. it made him reconsider; it made him think of other things we might do/purchase/pay for/experience with that extra $10, not to mention the whole purchase price.   and so, he thought about it and, reluctantly, he stopped and cancelled his order.   he seemed sad to tell me this story and prefaced it with an apology. he was ordering flowers. online. to be delivered on valentine’s day. which, might I mention, is really a made-up holiday. (why shouldn’t every day be treated as valentine’s day? i choose him each and every day, not just as my valentine on valentine’s day.)

this morning he brought the newspaper along with steaming mugs of bold coffee when he woke me. we sipped coffee together and chatted as the sun moved into the sky. i found his homemade valentine’s day card that he had tucked inside the paper and felt my heart beating as i read it, tears easily coming to my eyes. it was exquisite.

knowing how he was feeling about the story he had just told me, i asked him what kind of flowers he had been ordering. “daisies and one red rose,” he said.

there’s no need to receive these at our front door. i can see them.

they are the daisies from our wedding and a long-stemmed red rose – the traditional flower of Love – the very thing that he shows me every day, in so many ways.

i already have them.