reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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every sanctuary needs a crank. [two artists tuesday]

it’s all about the crank. it’s one of those unremarkable-yet-remarkable imperative gizmos that makes all the difference.

we’ve had an umbrella. it was 9′ in diameter and dark green in color. but there was no crank and it was – now – in the departure of having a “normal” wrist and the genesis of a we’ll-work-this-as-hard-as-we-can-and-see-where-we-get wrist – literally impossible for me to open or close it. i would huff and puff and stand on a chair, but even in the good old days of normal-wrist, i was hard-pressed to open it. and so, it would remain closed. and closed is not the life-goal, not the self-actualization of an umbrella. so it was time for the big-green-umbrella to move on, to be loved by someone else…someone with two normal wrists. we put it out by the big tree between the sidewalk and the street with a sign that said “free” and it was gone within fifteen minutes. that made my heart happy. but it left us with a challenge: to find another umbrella.

now, if you haven’t been out there looking – in brick and mortar or online – there are a LOT of umbrellas. they come in all different sizes and shapes and with all different purposes. there are umbrellas that tilt and market umbrellas and patio umbrellas they have named cantilevers – which stand next to chairs or outdoor settees and gracefully shade you from the side or the back, not just the middle of a table.

we wanted one for the middle of the old wrought iron table and found one – after much research (as you might guess) – that we really liked. i did all the proper investigating: does it have a crank? is it heavy enough to stand in the wind? does the diameter of the pole fit properly into the stand we already have? will it match or complement our deck and patio? is it spf friendly?

the umbrella we found was just lovely. off-white with a floral print of black flowers, some of which are faded to a deep gray. that may sound weird, but it was really pretty and somewhat unusual and matched our vision of the deck…a little pattern in what was mostly solid or simple design.

we ordered it. we picked it up. we glanced at the outer covering, a sheath with a photograph of the umbrella set up in some faux-yard. we were pretty excited -like when we got our fire column (for this umbrella preceded it) – when we opened it up. we were setting the stage for our backyard sanctuary, this place of peace, with much planning and as few expenditures as possible.

we slid it out of the sheath we would later store it in during cold winter days as it waited to be used once again in early spring.

we brought it outside to the deck.

and we started to open it up.

and. . .

there was no crank.

none.

not a handle to be found.

though the photograph and the description depicted a crank handle, it was a misnomer. false advertising. someone mightily slipped up.

and though it was quite lovely, i could not open it alone. what good is an umbrella you can’t open? we had just given one of those away.

a couple of umbrellas later and in umbrella-information-overload, we settled on this one. it’s not perfect. it’s not exactly the color tone i wanted. the pole is not black as it was advertised. it doesn’t have a self-tie. but it was on a terrific sale and – – – it has a crank.

i thought i was over the lovely off-white-black-flower-patterned-umbrella until i saw it in a yard in the ‘hood. i stopped in my tracks and stared, poking david in the arm and pointing, speechless. i wondered if they were also surprised by its no-crank-handle-ness. i wondered if they ever open it. i wondered if they have normal wrists.

but i’ve moved on. i no longer think about the off-white-black-flower-patterned umbrella. because there are some things that a sanctuary really needs.

a crank is one of them.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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these flipflops. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we still wear masks. at festival, at target, at lowes, at costco, at woodmans. these flipflops are one of the reasons. though we have been totally vaccinated and, according to the cdc guidelines, could discard the masks – like most people in these parts – we are still vigilant. this is not because we don’t want the pandemic to go away. oh no. we would love to think that it’s over. but we know it isn’t. because, well, science. and these flipflops stop us from any cavalier disposal of all the masks on the hook on our refrigerator.

we have only eaten in one restaurant now since march of 2020. it was about six weeks ago and, admittedly, wonderful. phat thai in carbondale, colorado and our girl and her boyfriend. priceless. we were nervous – being newbies back at a restaurant – but the benefit/risk factor was obvious, the reservation was later in the evening when there were not as many diners there. we pass many restaurants in our own downtown area and they are often mob scenes of patrons. we couldn’t do that yet; it would make us uncomfortable. phat thai was relaxing and truly a lovely evening. we remain cautious though. because of these flipflops.

i just checked the cdc website. since covid statistics are no longer posted as chyrons we have limited exposure to the toll of deaths from this pandemic or other such concerning numbers. i scrolled around as there is much information available on this government site. i noted that our county has a 40-49% rate for folks having at least one dose of the vaccine. i’m a bit surprised by this number. this county has made it inordinately easy to be vaccinated. it is hard for me to wrap my head around why so many people have not gotten even one dose of any of the readily accessible shots. 47.9% of the state of wisconsin is vaccinated. 45.7% of the country. the whole united states. a population clearly not united in covid-vaccines. it’s perplexing. once again, i am at a loss as to why a larger percentage of this country is not vaccinated. surely there are flipflops in the lives of the 54.3% ‘out there’.

our social experiences over the last year plus now have been pretty minimal. we’ve seen our girl and our boy and their boyfriends. we’ve seen a bit of colorado family and a bit of missouri family. we’ve seen the up north gang on the deck once and, with great celebration, in the dining room once. we’ve gone back to weekly dinners with 20, post daily-phone-calls through the time we couldn’t gather. and we have been with the owners of the flipflops – our dearest friends who have happy-houred with us into late fall and as early as possible this spring – with a firepit and blankets – in their backyard. we know that it is risky for someone vaccinated but with a suppressed immune system and we join force with them in being careful so that we might be with them.

it isn’t a big sacrifice to wear a mask in the grocery store or in the big box stores. we are definitely in the minority. we definitely get looks sometimes. we are quite sure there’s a bit of scorning going on. but these flipflops are worth it. i mean, what’s a little piece of cloth over your nose and mouth to keep loved ones safe? just a little bit longer, we think. we are hoping that the 54.3% will head to a vaccination site and do their part to save lives – of those who they love and those who they do not know, of the lives of children. perhaps the population of this country will heed the cautionary words of dr. leana wen: “there are more contagious and virulent variants emerging that could lead to a surge in infections, especially in parts of the country with low vaccination rates. those unvaccinated, including our children, remain at high risk. (washington post, june 14, 2021) dr. wen concludes, “different families have different perceptions of risk as it applies to the virus and the necessity of the vaccine. for our family, it comes down to this: if you have the option to reduce a low risk of something awful happening to your kids to essentially zero, would you take it?” i would add, if you have the option to reduce risk of something awful happening to any one you love to essentially zero, would you take it?

what flipflops influence your decisions in these times?

*****

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


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pick a tissue box. [two artists tuesday]

tissue box copy

i am difficult in the facial tissue aisle.

it seriously makes me cringe looking at the little square boxes of tissues (the size that will appropriately fit in our bathroom.)  most of them, in my humble opinion, are ugly.  i wonder who designs these boxes and i wonder why anyone purchases them who doesn’t have one of those crocheted-tissue-box-covers that you could purchase at any church bazaar in the 90s.  (we don’t have one of those.)  the color choices, the patterns (or i should say the lack thereof) are really disconcerting to me.  someone is clearly getting paid to design them and they are dull and uninspired.  target used to have a solid-color-series of tissue boxes; maybe they still do somewhere, but it isn’t at our target location.  choosing a solid color is much better than a pale-skin-tone-dot-pattern-on-cool-light-beige box.  i mean, really?  i suppose if you want your tissue box to blend in with the environment that would overly-work, but what if you want your tissue box to be a statement piece?  or at least be attractive?

so by now you are rolling your eyes at this, a clear first-world-problem-meaningless-rant.  and i understand that.  but my question remains…a question i quite often wonder about with many different products…who designs this stuff?

we were at festival recently (one of our grocery stores) and stumbled across this tissue box.  we purchased this one.  although the band of mustard gold at the bottom edge with advertising seems unnecessary, the font is mostly acceptable, the colors are not simply muted non-shades.  and the saying is a good, albeit trite, every-time-you-are-in-the-bathroom reminder, “the best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen and the memories you’ve made along the way.” 

i don’t suppose everyone ponders tissue boxes.  but two artists living in the same household pretty much ponder everything that will sit out in view.  although i have to admit, david is not as zealously-picky about tissue boxes as i am.   maybe, just maybe, i should have been a tissue-box-designer.  or maybe i was one in a former life.  either way, it makes me a critical-kleenex-consumer.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

wideopenmouths website box copy


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paintings and products.

and now painting copy

50% off sale on paintings

i have stood many a time in pier one or target, or many other retail stores, staring at a canvas print or glass-framed picture wondering if i should purchase it.  the prices at pier one and target are pretty good, not to mention any additional sales and coupons.  they have great buyers and often the words-only pieces or artwork speak to me.  and so i vacillate (cause that’s what i do about buying stuff…ask especially linda or carol about my buying history or, of course, david.)  the thing i know is – i can always return it.  pier one or target won’t take it personally, and then they can put it back into the mass-produced inventory knowing someone else will buy it.

many many years ago i stood in a gallery staring at a piece of sculpture.  it completely spoke to me.  it is a figure bowing and was sculpted by duke kruse, the father of 20, our dear friend.  i did not have any extra money at the time but this piece was wrapping itself around my heart.  i wasn’t sure what to do.  i ended up splurging and purchasing it.  i have never looked back.  this figure graces my studio and i see it every day.  every day i know that duke’s hands shaped this clay, duke’s heart designed this, duke’s artistry lives on in my studio.  i always always feel good looking at this, touching it, watching it grow as i grow.

although i own some mass-produced pieces and love them, with exception (like the mass-produced beautiful print i own that an artist friend of mine drew and lettered) i don’t think that physically touching a mass-produced piece connect me to a real person like The Bow does.  or like the paintings in our home that david painted.  or the little clay house or the beautiful vase that jay made me a few years ago.  or all the pieces of The Girl and The Boy childhood art still out.  not that it’s always necessary, but there’s something about real.

david’s paintings are on a big sale right now.  50% off.  we want them to be in homes where they resonate with the people living there, where they will grow with the family and where they will be touched.  sometimes that’s not an easy decision to make – to purchase a painting; there are always other bills or things to spend money on.

it is for this reason -even-more-budget-friendly- we are also creating products, although not mass-produced, that represent each of the days of our studio melange, our weekly assortment of cartoons, designs, photographs, paintings, words, songs….products that have secondary practical uses like mugs, cards, tote bags, throw pillows, and yes, the leggings facebook seems to want to feature with my blog posts, overriding the actual primary purpose of these posts and products- a little teeny message in your day in this chaotic world.  we offer these with as much sincerity as our original pieces; we hope those of you who have ordered products can feel our good wishes.

the thing i can tell you about these real paintings, though, is how they make me feel.  the brushstrokes are tactile, the color right under your fingertips, the heart obvious.

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