reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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start cawing. [d.r. thursday]

(crow sculpture created by david)

the crows have been barking in our backyard lately. they sit high in the trees and take turns flying to prime spots, cawing and letting all other crows know that there is an invader, an intruder, something with ill intent in the area.

the hawk has been hanging out in our backyard lately. he sits high in the trees or on the neighbor’s swingset or on our chainlink fence and every so often swoops down to fetch something mysterious and unseen off the ground.

the crows do not like the hawk and make it known. oftentimes, they gather together, mobbing, protests in-beak, and chase the hawk off. although not in harmony, it is a symbiotic relationship, predation, this hawk-crow living arrangement. the crows recognize that the hawk is a predator. they do not nuance the behavior of the hawk nor do they make excuses. they have no illusions and their task is clear – to drive him out of their territory.

crows, dealing with predation of hawks and owls, do not get to just live peacefully flying about, building nests, laying eggs, raising their young, making trips to the local walmart.

instead, in examples of symbiotic parasitism, parasitic birds prey on crows and other birds, laying foreign eggs in their nests, removing the host’s eggs. these eggs often hatch sooner than those of the crows, taking over the nest. fantasies of elitism, selectionism and superiority surely brew in their agenda-driven actions.

about 100 different brood parasites show up as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” attempting to fool various host birds, lay eggs in others’ nests, avoid the work and, eventually, reap the benefits as the newly hatched offspring kill off the siblings in the nest. it is “survival of the fittest”. some hosts recognize the wolf in their nest and fling them out, but this is not a common defense mechanism. brood parasites have evolved for long term. and crows and other hosts need be savvy enough to still survive, nonetheless.

as the crows mob in the tall oak tree behind us and begin cawing i think that we, too, must be noisy.

for there is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, set on long term survival, ruthless and predatory, parasitic and dangerous. do not nuance the wolf’s behavior. do not make excuses. have no illusions. be clear. recognize that it has ill intent, fantasies of elitism, selectionism and superiority, and must be driven out.

start barking.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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wrinkles. [two artists tuesday]

barney spring 2020

in the last year of my sweet momma’s life, at not quite 94, she would say astonished things like, “i looked in the mirror and i look like an old woman!”  we would laugh together when we mentioned her age and that she had earned every last wrinkle, every age spot, every grey hair.  never have i seen a more beautiful old woman.  in a life that spanned from 1921 to 2015 her hazel eyes saw vast changes, world hurdles, family loss and strife, wild technological advances.  and love.

barney was born around the same time as my momma.  i wonder about the life he had before he arrived in the basement boiler room.  was he a honkytonk piano, a barroom upright, a sunday school accompaniment, the instrument in someone’s drawing room?  he was headed to the scrap guy when we met him and we intervened.  i suppose as he has lingered in our backyard these last five years he would wonder about the reflection in the mirror, his outer shell, those wrinkles, that peeling laminate, the keys that no longer play.  does he realize that chipmunks perch on his brow and snack on acorns?  does he realize that birds land, patiently in wait for their respective and restrained turns at the birdfeeder?  does he realize that his soul remains rich, his exterior beautiful in its aging?

i laid awake for hours in the middle of the night last night.  i looked in the virtual mirror in my mind and saw wooden stages and boom mics, big pianos and blue jeans.  i realized, suddenly, that i am older.  despite everything that would suggest to me, try to convince me of, the contrary, i have gotten older.

scrolling through social media during this time of distancing it is stunning to see all the ways people are incorporating posting with streaming, youtube, visiting with google hangout, facetime, videoconferencing with zoom, webex, as they try to be there without being there.  it’s exhausting.

my 1970s-lingering-self puts on readers and starts to read the directions.  the chipmunks are perched on my brow and i resource apps to stay in the loop and do my part to help keep people connected in a time where connection could easily fall away.

i take a deep breath and remember the day that my sweet momma’s iphone facebook status read (from her assisted living facility in tampa) that she was checked in at a miami dolphins game in miami.  i quickly and quietly fixed it for her.

and then i giggle and think, ‘heck.  if she can do it, i can do it.’

it is the symbiosis of peeling back the layers, honoring the wrinkles, relying on each other’s strengths in the mirror and working together, the virtual birdfeeder our community.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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when we all do better. [merely-a-thought monday]

we all do better when

blank.  it’s blank.  this book i carry with me.  it’s a journal, but i’ve never ever written in it.  created by sue bender, the plain and simple journal has photographs of amish quilts and the shortest snippets of writings, many gleaned from time that sue spent in an amish community.  i’m not sure why i haven’t written in it; perhaps it is a very-prolonged beaky rule – to save it.  i do know that its pages have both comforted me and made me think.  perhaps my own writing-on-these-pages would distract me or, once the pages are filled with scribble, it will detract from the printed snippets and fall out of i-carry-it-with-me grace.  either way, it’s blank.  and it’s profoundly wise.

“an amish woman told me, ‘making a batch of vegetable soup, it’s not right for the carrot to say i taste better than the peas, or the pea to say i taste better than the cabbage.  it takes all the vegetables to make a good soup.” (sue bender)

+

“to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.” (sue bender)

=

“we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone)

for where is it that we can not glory in another’s success, mourn with another’s failure, weep with another’s grief, dance with another’s bliss?  we share the space.  in community.  not division.

we share the ride – we are all vegetables in the soup – we are not one or the other – and yes, we all do better when we all do better.

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

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white rot fungi. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

nurselog in woods copy.JPG

“healer of the forest” nurselogs are numerous in the woods we hike in.  the white rot fungi grow easily in the outer bark of the tree, breaking down the structure of the wood and allowing small pockets of rich soil to form, remediating and inviting moss, mushrooms and small plants to feast on the nutrients and grow, stretching roots around the fallen tree to plant themselves deeper into the ground.  small animals find welcome in these healers and they live companionably together, each benefiting the other.  the concentric circles ripple outward.  symbiosis.  harmony.

i’m trying not to read the news as often these days.  i find it deafeningly dissonant. apparently, we, as a human race, are not naturally healers.  instead, we are creators of havoc, bullying, agenda-pushing individuals who give little care to remediating or living companionably together.  the concentric circles that ripple outward are filled with toxins; people get lost in power and control games, indeed benefiting no species whatsoever.  strident discord.

we could learn something from white rot fungi.

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

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