reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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momma, poppo and dolly parton. [merely-a-thought monday]

i wish – every day – that my sweet momma and poppo were still here. that we could coffeesit with them, make them great soups for lunch, spoil them for dinner. that we could take them apple-picking and introduce my dad to a new scotch or two he hadn’t tried yet. that we could maybe adventure a little or just be quiet and listen to their old stories. i wish.

the thing i know, though, is that they would be beside themselves in this circus of a country we now have. it would make both of them irate to watch the vitriol being tossed about, the divisiveness that is being fed by rabid spewers, the lack of transparency, the lies. my daddy-o would have a few choice words to describe these folks and they wouldn’t be pretty.

and my mom? well, she would have no time for anyone who is less than kind to another. she would want nothing to do with any politician or religious leader or pundit who skips kindness in their approach to life, who excuses their own behavior, stance, agenda, platform, control tactic, extremism based on warped interpretation of law or scripture. she would point out the colossal hypocrisy. she might reiterate the story about when, in the dark night, they parked their little vw bug next to a small hill off the road. tired while traveling europe by car, they needed to rest and could find no guesthouse nearby. the little hill would serve them well, they thought. they woke up next to a gigantic dung pile, covered with black tarp held down by old tires. she would trust that we could connect the metaphoric dots. sometimes a hill is not a hill.

i think that both of them – were they here – would be ashamed of what it’s all become. my dad would wonder how his service – missing-in-action in world war II and then as a POW in a bulgarian camp – mattered now to these people who are making a mockery of democracy. my mom would be aghast at how people are being treated, marginalized, discriminated against, excluded. she, who worked hard to be kind to everyone, would worry about the popularity of this ugly trend. yes, they would both – were they here – be astonished at how, in so many arenas and in so many circumstances, people are just downright not good to each other.

i guess that – were they here – they would love a sit-down with dolly parton. they’d probably all talk at once, new yawk and a southern drawl all intermingling in conversation. and they’d all agree that they didn’t understand why anyone at all would “let religion and politics and things like that stand in the way of just being good human beings.”

and then – were they here, the three of them together – they would remind us all to stay away from dung piles posing as hills.

*****

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all we really want. [flawed wednesday]

it’s disconcerting to round the corner to your street and see five fire trucks parked there, lights on, hoses at the ready. more fire trucks continued to arrive, police cars blocking the entrance to the road at both ends. the instant we got out of the car in the driveway it was obvious. there had been a gas line puncture; natural gas permeated the air, heavy in the warm humidity. the firefighters directed us residents into our homes, our tendency, otherwise, to stand on driveways and discuss the happenings. it took a while, but the gas company came, a worker climbed into the hole (i would assume that person receives hazard pay) and, much like the story of the boy and the dike, somehow plugged up the puncture. after some time, the fire trucks left one by one and a semblance of order returned to the neighborhood, though no one was anxious to light a bonfire or a grill or cause any sparks for a while.

the news of more wildfires – again – still – in california is overwhelming to read. with temperatures hovering at one hundred degrees and drought a repeating theme, i cannot imagine the insurmountable task of the firefighters, the constant worry about loss of lives and homes and wildlife.

and then, on the other end of the wet-dry spectrum, the floods in kentucky. worried about the owner of the tiny house we stayed at south of lexington, i texted her. she and her whole family are from the hollers of kentucky, growing up near rivers that are now flooded. i didn’t hear back, but checked facebook and found that her church was underwater and she had – already at that time – devastatingly lost two neighbors.

both extremes. catastrophic.

it seems that these events never end. one morphs into the next into the next. our fragile planet suffers while politicians debate inane issues and, from all evidence, seemingly seek to stoke their own financial objectives. meanwhile, in every corner of the globe there is mighty confirmation that this good earth is in crisis. this puts each of us in crisis, our children, our children’s children, the children of our children’s children. and yet, politicians, in every corner of the globe, sneer and attend to their own shortsighted power grabs. wow.

it would be hard to choose to be a firefighter. it would be hard to work for the red cross, crisscrossing this country in an attempt to attend to the extreme needs of its populace. it would be hard to be a climate scientist, likely frustrated out of their gourds watching and listening to the pushback of idiocy.

and there are more it-would-be-hards. it would be hard to be a teacher or a school principal, as the new 2022-2023 school year rapidly approaches and the worry about potential school shootings revives after summer break. it would be hard to be the manager of a grocery store, the managing director of a concert venue, the owner of a dance club, the grand marshal of an idyllic holiday parade, the owner of a movie theater, the director of a medical facility, the leaders of a religious institution….

we-the-people face down emergency after emergency. i would think that all we really want – now’days – is to think that our safety – whether from climate crisis or gun violence or extreme aggression or marginalization – would be foremost. all we really want is to avoid catastrophe. all we really want is to believe that the leaders of our communities, our states, our country have our best interests – and not their pocketbooks or personal agenda – at heart. heart. yes.

all we really want is to not pull down our own street-that-we-live-on – wherever it is – and see a multitude of fire trucks and a catastrophe – from anything within human power to prevent – that is insurmountable.

*****

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this day and age. [merely-a-thought monday]

“will you get to watch any fireworks?” she texted.

our city has spectacular fireworks. for over three decades i have marveled at the extent of the fourth-of-july display over lake michigan, sitting on the rocks along the shore, in the parks along the lakefront, down by where they set them off by the harbor. the fantastic light show goes on for about a half hour, culminating with a finale that bursts open the sky with color.

this city has a festival down by the lake, a carnival in the downtown, food vendors and dock-jumping-dogs and lots of music. there are children with ice cream cones melting on tiny fingers, bubble machines making iridescent bubbles float all around passersby, red, white and blue tchotchkes/chotchkes/chachkis on carts and people, bike parades with flags and streamers. there are hot dogs and brats sizzling, cheese curds and funnel cakes, lemonade and icees and dippin’ dots. there is no shortage of fun celebration and it’s all right there, within walking distance.

but in this day and age…

we won’t be going to watch the fireworks. this will be the fourth year now.

in 2019 we had just moved on island and didn’t leave dogdog and babycat during the display; they were adjusting to a new house as it was and we had no idea how loud the fireworks would be.

the city cancelled the fireworks in 2020; the global pandemic was early-on and there was a healthier respect for distancing.

last year, following the insurrection at the nation’s capitol, along with little to no leadership-held-responsible-for-all-of-that or any accountability, we stayed home.

and in this day and age…

we will stay home again. for the farcical supreme court has begun absolutely dismantling the freedoms that we are supposed to be celebrating. extremism and religious right are suffocating citizens of this country, thwarting the ability to live freely and make one’s own decisions. equality is going the way of centuries ago. discrimination is rising up, like fog on a wind-shifting hot summer’s day over the great lake. gun violence is dramatically increasing and, yet, guns are not limited. the extreme climate crisis is heaved off to the side in favor of big business; the epa is undermined and our children’s futures will feature many more “air quality alerts” than we could ever imagine, not to mention the global warming fallout from fossil fuel emissions. we watch lake mead drop and drop. we read of the po river in italy receding, lives substantially and critically affected. we see that australia is under water and that there are red flag warnings across the southwest – fires will be prevalent as the heat is heating up. the relationships between countries are strained. politics are warped. politicians play on stages of self-agendized blather. there is a lack of responsibility. there is a bigger lack of looking out for the big picture, the long haul, the world that will be inhabited by the children of our children’s children. kindness, consideration, compassion are looked at as weakness. we are flabbergasted at the stupidity. more, we are incredulous at the lack of people to see the stupidity. it seems the more clownish, the more vile, the more popular. it seems that evil lurks. and i wonder about the hypocrisy of watching fireworks while there are people quietly – and not so quietly – undermining democracy. we could ignore it all and go cheer – as loud as my sweet momma used to cheer – at the fireworks. or we could take a pause.

our old backyard neighbor played two things in their backyard. one was the soundtrack for “mamma mia” and the other was an album of john philip sousa marches. never insanely loud back then, both made us smile. a relationship three decades long.

but in this day and age, there are multitudes – truly multitudes – of children in that yard out back, a yard equipped with every single thing any generous public playground might have: full-size batting cage, full-size trampoline, three soccer nets, a basketball court, zipline, fort, swingset, sandbox, large plastic toys, atvs to ride, bikes, balls, bats, rat-a-tatting big toy guns and a new mysterious large wooden structure being built back along our lot line, where they can’t hear it or see it from their house, like most of the other entertainment devices in the large yard. apparently not at all conscious of the it’s-a-neighborhood-you-live-in-a-community philosophy, surrounded by people who have actually resided right here for decades, they play loud music through outdoor speakers so the whole neighborhood can hear – though no one gets a vote on what’s played – and the children have a spicy – and foul – vocabulary and bloodcurdling screams they don’t hesitate to use. demonstrating antagonism seems the way in this land beyond the dead arbor vitae. goodness! when did the rules of neighborhood – the rules of neighboring – change? did they not watch mr. rogers? parents need remember children are always watching their lead. likewise, leaders need remember citizens are always watching their lead. and how precisely did we get here?

this day and age.

we could make a big pitcher of iced water with slices of orange and lemon and grill some (plant-based) burgers, play a little music – at an appropriate volume – and watch our new pampas grass grow. we could admire our newly-cleaned garage or the new green blades growing in the haynet out front. we could paint rocks to hide on our trail or plant a few flowers. we could speed-dial fred rogers. all are quite likely. well, except for fred.

and we could go see the fireworks.

but we won’t.

not in this day and age.

though it will be a statement we make only to ourselves, it will be comforting to dogga for us to stay home.

besides, some things are just too much. in this day and age.

*****

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it’s not the spiders. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t know when it started.

maybe the day – when i was about fourteen – when i was laying in bed, having just awakened. i was on my back and curled next to me was my sweet miniature-collie-german-shepherd-mix missi. before jumping up to get out of bed i opened my eyes and stretched. dangling right above my face – merely inches away – was a gigantic spider. gigantic: of monumental proportion.

stifling a scream, not wanting to open my mouth, i limbo-ed my way out of bed, my eyes fixed on that spider. once out, i ran down the hall to the kitchen, never thinking about the fact that it was likely crawling on my pillow after my departure.

needless to say, i have a thing about spiders.

i don’t like them.

this may be problematic as we thru-hike some day. i’ll have to wave my trekking poles in front of me as we hike. and i’m not sure what i will do in our tent. i’ve camped before, though it has been a while. and my fear-of-spiders has grown through the years. i must have spider-trauma.

the first years i taught school in florida, my classroom was a small building they called “the music shed”. it was tucked into a swampy area of the school campus and they didn’t mention, on the day of my hiring, the banana spider population lurking inside that little building. inches across, these are not for the faint of heart. he brought a shop-vac one day to rid the room as best he could, but every day part of my attention was always looking for something moving – on the walls, on the floor, on the ceiling, on my desk, in the cabinets. just writing this post makes me feel a little squirrely.

so when this big ole spider was walking on the bedroom screen the other day (fortunately, on the other side of the screen) i flicked at it and was relieved to see it gracefully fall and scurry off.

i suppose there are many people who are afraid of spiders. we all try our best to avoid them, even as spiders have virtually no interest in us. they are just going about their business, unlike mosquitoes, who are seeking us out, to torture us. i read that most spiders are as harmless as ladybugs and goldfish. somehow those don’t terrify vast numbers of people.

but spiders, like snakes, get a bad rap. we think of them, creatures that do their best to get away from us, as scary and dangerous. while in reality, it’s the mosquitoes and ticks and no-see-ums and mites, stalking us, that should be the target of our ire, their elimination our focus.

funny how that works. pests quietly, deliberately, going about making our lives miserable. there, often unnoticed, often underplayed. eating away at our comfort, the freedom of our existence, bringing disease.

i don’t know why this makes me think of today’s political arena.

*****

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blue and red and white weep. [merely-a-thought monday]

the color that is most associated with freedom is blue. it represents vigilance, perseverance, justice, prosperity, peace, and patriotism.

and, yes, freedom.

in a horrifyingly regressive turn of events – strategized and intended – the supreme court has diminished the freedom of women in this country. we have traveled backwards decades upon decades upon decades. the panting of their victory lap pales in comparison to the collective gasp heard around the world as the united states thwarts its own growth toward equality, toward being a nation held up as an example respecting human freedom-for-all. with no backwards glance of remorse, these justices undermined fifty percent of this sea-to-shining-sea-this-land-is-your-land land.

and so, it is time to climb out of the quiet shells in which we try to peacefully reside and speak up, speak out, shatter the silence. we must hold those responsible who have struck down the rights of women to have autonomy over their bodies. we are on a downhill vector and the rights and freedoms of gender identity, sexual orientation, racial equality run neck and neck in the justice-extremist-whack-a-mole, justices holding hands, religious-patriarchal-supremacist stickytape gluing them together and eroding the separation of church and state they are sworn to uphold. what deity would support such reprehensible action? the color blue – the sky, peace, true justice – weeps. democracy cracking, a fragile idea failing.

“…o say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
o’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave?…”

robins laid these blue eggs. birds. symbols of freedom. also of hope, renewal, rebirth.

blue. the color of freedom.

what color represents bravery?

oh yes. it’s red.

and then – white. purity. innocence.

red, white and blue.

perhaps they should change the flag too.

i’m thinking yellow.

the color of cowardice.

*****

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way past enough. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

way past enough.

enough was a long time ago. enough was after the first mass shooting. “enough” is no longer relevant.

i hardly know what to say. every one of us in this country should be shocked into exhausted, sickened silence and then pushed into action, no longer sloughing off of the actual responsibility to protect the citizens of this land from the barrel of a gun, from the devastation of people’s lives blown apart.

this spacious-skies-amber-waves-of-grain united states is an embarrassment. the freedom to live life – at school, at church, at a concert, at the movies, in the mall, at the club, at the grocery store – the freedom to continue breathing is usurped by powerful money-rich-control-hungry leaders – voted into office, no less – with not even a nod to the sanctity of lives taken at gunpoint.

it is utterly shameful if you are not filled with rage, if you are not horrified with the guns in this land and those who support the exponential growth and prioritizing of their presence and the power they wield. they will utter their passive “heartfelt” “thoughts and prayers” and will soon forget their “outrage”. until the next time.

there are no more excuses.

there never were.

*****

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SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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a spot of tea. [merely-a-thought monday]

care packages would arrive often from my sweet momma. a big box that, inevitably, my poppo had turned inside out so my momma could pack it up with anything and everything she could think of. macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, m&m’s, twizzlers, stickers, pa pads, andes candies, newspaper and magazine articles she read and wanted to share, coupons. the list was long and always included a new tea or two.

she was clever about packing these packages, taking the tea bags out of the boxes – to take up less room – and putting them in glad bags. but she would enclose the label from the box and sometimes, she’d enclose some other smidgen or two.

the other day, in a tea mood, while searching for the perfect tea, i came across one of these smidgens. a side of a celestial seasonings box, a harriet beecher stowe quote, perfect timing. my momma’s care package did it again. a source of comfort, of reassurance, of love, unexpectedly, in the course of a day i needed it. “…never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

our lives – in actual comparison to what else is happening in the world – seem ridiculously easy. we have had our challenges and setbacks, but i wince when i think about complaining in the middle of watching news coverage of the atrocities of ukraine or climate crisis real-time in lands of glaciers or the amazon rainforest or the overall covid pandemic decimation or the fight to maintain absolute LGBTQ+ freedoms or womens’ ability to choose what is right for them and their bodies or the continued discrimination of black lives or the economic hardship that is befalling vast numbers of people in our own country. i trust that harriet beecher stowe, a woman before her time, would shudder at ALL of this.

it would seem – even upon simply reading headlines – that this country is in retrograde. we are slipping backwards and it horrifies me. each day i read of people-with-agenda designing ways, strategizing, lobbying, legislating, to usurp the freedom of others just trying to live their lives. i wonder how these people – some with screaming loud and obnoxious voices, some with haughty, righteous, quiet intentions, some with silently evil thoughts – sleep at night. how they live with their own warped view of equality, their own bizarre view of peace, their clear disdain for the basic tenets of life, of loving one another. they become more and more powerful as we watch and i think of the work of harriet beecher stowe and i think of my sweet momma’s approach to life. retrograde, indeed.

referencing harriet’s arguably most powerful book, “uncle tom’s cabin”, it was written “the goal of the book was to educate northerners on the realistic horrors of the things that were happening in the south. the other purpose was to try to make people in the south feel more empathetic towards the people they were forcing into slavery.”

to educate. to make people feel more empathetic. the value of truth-telling, stifling deadly misinformation. the necessity of looking – really looking – at oneself. the compassion that empathy brings to the soul. these make all the difference. to bring kindness – always and under every circumstance. to not stick your head in the ground and avoid the tough stuff. to speak up, to speak out. to hold on, even in the hardest moments. to never give up. to hope. to believe. the tide will turn.

i looked up and whispered “thank you, momma” when i found the tea-box-cardboard quote. i didn’t hear anything back at that very moment, but i knew she was listening, perhaps, though, with half an ear. i suspect she was busy. there’s much to be done. my sweet momma and harriet were likely having a spot of tea.

*****

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way, way past time. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever you see a successful woman, look out for three men who are going out of their way to try to block her.” (yulia tymoshenko)

i read this quote on instagram. i hesitated to use it and then wondered why. it stated truth. it is a fact of life. i have lived it – exactly it – just as many other women have. so why hesitate?

the answer seems obvious. because that kind of blocking still exists, that kind of dominance is still valued, that kind of discrimination still squelches lives and careers, that kind of smothering effort – particularly with leading roles by older white men – is still not – really – questioned, nonetheless challenged in a big, broad way. it’s asphyxiating and it’s way past its time. way, way past time.

“it’s 2021 and we are talking about THIS!” they rolled their eyes and so did i. it is beyond the scope of reasonableness that we are – still – dealing with the devastating blows that those who lean into … or out-and-out embrace … the prejudice of white supremacy, suffocating gender bias, ruinous economic inequity, insufficient healthcare, deficient educational options, the loss of multitudes of innocent lives at the barrel of unnecessary weapons, exclusive immigration…

but here we are. 2021.

we came upon the hot-pink lighted ball of yarn in the garden and laughed. then we followed the string, the yarn that was unrolled over the tree branches, under the bushes, along the sidewalk edge, up the fence, down off the fence, and ultimately, to the end of it, the frayed edges.

it occurs to me we can trace the strings back and back. we can see the frayed edges of injustices, the repeating pattern of silencing, of stifling, of deliberate lack, of unacceptable levels of violence, of obstructive intention.

what now?

we need be stewards of worth, of mending, of healing, of forward-movement, of equal opportunity. we need to find ways – now – to weave an inclusive, equitable, generous, safe, egalitarian story for all. ungrudgingly and with abundant kindness and good will. it is indeed way, way past time.

2021. what are we doing?

*****

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i carry your heart. [k.s. friday]

i officiated a wedding last sunday. the bride and groom, their parents, twenty-one attendants and family and friends gathered on a venue patio under the sun on a stunning september afternoon in milwaukee.

reminding them to go slow and drink it all in, they celebrated in a ceremony i wrote for them, personal and intimate, with pieces of their romance and tidbits of what was mutually important to them. we had gathered together to talk, for them to answer questions and tell stories, and i searched for the right poetry, the right music, the right sentiment, the right words, and it was an honor and a privilege to stand in front of them and everyone there on this most important day for this most important ritual. i reminded those attending this wedding that their presence was not passive. they were witnessing this event and, in doing so, were promising to be there for this newly wedded couple, through thick and thin. to stand by them in all times, to help carry them through joys and sorrows, successes and challenges.

“i carry your heart. (i carry it in my heart.)”. i read the words of e.e. cummings as they stood, with tears in their eyes. it was hard not to weep with them. they danced down the aisle after the words, “the light will shine through your skin and they will ask, ‘what have you done with your life?’  and though there are many moments you will remember, in the end, you will be proud to say i was one of us.” life stretches out in front of them. they will be amazed at how their hearts will grow and hold the treasure trove of memories that will come. and, all the while, they will tenderly carry each other’s hearts.

i was supposed to fly that day. i had already purchased a kringle to bring to my sweet momma and poppo at the other end of my flight. but, just before i left for the airport, 20 called and told me to turn on the news. it was surreal and i dropped to the floor of the sitting room in front of the tv. i called my husband, called my beloved children’s schools to have someone tell each of them that i had not gotten on an airplane that morning and i watched the horror unfold that sunny september 11th in new york city.

a friend from yamaha in nyc sent me a picture of the world trade center location where i had just recently performed. it was destroyed. i stayed glued, watching, carrying the hearts of all those worried about someone in those towers, someone in the pentagon, someone on flight 93. it was terrifying to know this was real.

tomorrow is twenty years from the day of this tragedy. though i’m sure not a day goes by that survivors and surviving family members and friends do not think about this, it seems, in the middle of this pandemic and political chaos and climate-changed extreme-weather episodes on a grand scale and divisiveness in the nation, that the marking of this anniversary should remind us, should unite us instead of prompting the sneering that i am viewing on social media.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to defeat this global pandemic and cease the loss of loved ones.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to cross the aisle and embrace inclusivity and fairness and equality for all.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to confront global warming and climate change and save this planet for the children of our children’s children.

it would seem important to come together under the sun to do whatever it takes, sacrifice whatever is needed, to turn toward each other, ask questions, have conversation, seek collaboration, surrender agenda, recognize truth, work together.

it would seem important – at the very least – to remember to carry each other’s hearts in our hearts. on wedding days and days of destruction of great proportion. it should all be the same.

*****

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