reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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an everyday, elevated. [k.s. friday]

“everyday, elevated.” (prAna catalog)

some days it’s an everyday kind of day. other days it’s an everyday, elevated. today is one of those.

as i watch from the sidelines, younger women around me are becoming mothers. the transition to motherhood is one of the most astounding and profound changes. it impacts every thought, every action, every decision, that moment before you go to sleep and the moment you wake up. it is life-altering and all-consuming and intensely hard and magnificently rewarding. it is full of questions and overflowing with gratitude. there is no guidebook, instruction manual or pdf that will lead you through the bewildering times…it’s like a jigsaw puzzle without a picture with which to build it. a mystery of enormous love, of incredible connectivity, of letting go.

today i will see my beautiful daughter. it won’t be for very long, just a tiny time of adventure with her and her boyfriend, but it is a giant-flower kind of day. before i know it, this littlebitoftime will be past, but i will have had a chance to hear her laughter and see her face, hug her and stoke up until the next time. exquisite anticipation all week and i cannot wait.

it is most definitely an everyday, elevated.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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more ellsworth than i thought. [d.r. thursday]

i like fine-tipped pens, both regular ink and markers, though i do love the wrinkle sound and feel of a notebook page written on all lines on both sides with a medium-tip pen…the physical-fingertip bumpy-words-on-the-page and that crunchy sound it makes when you turn it over or flip to the next. so there is definitely merit in medium-point. but fine-tip? there’s a grace and allowance of white-space that fine-tip encourages.

this tall red pole installation at the chicago botanic garden makes me think of a ball jar i have holding an assortment of wooden paintbrushes. standing and waiting. because i’m not sure if these poles are part of the lightscape show or an art piece, i am drawing my own conclusions about its presence. somehow, this striking stand of red seems to communicate an invitation to the sky and, in its simplicity, was one of my favorite pieces on our walkabout. stark color, plain. i suspect ellsworth kelly would have loved them too, regardless of their context.

there were lots of people there on sunday, a picture-perfect fall day. our drive down and our return were on the back roads, keeping the lake close, past ravines and through beautiful neighborhoods filled with sprawling yards and wise old trees touting autumn. the trip there – for us, we agreed – is just as important as the time spent at the garden. we love the-back-way and never take the interstate down if we can help it. even to visit our son, we build in the time it takes to meander to his home. we’ve encountered magical snowfly on the return home at night, flakes illuminated by our headlights and sunday didn’t disappoint, as golden and crimson leaves fell around us as we drove this windy-back-road-route.

although i prefer to walk in the woods on some trail in the quiet with hardly anyone else around, our time with our dear friends at the crowded garden was the perfect early november gift-of-a-warm-day escape. we picnicked on a blanket, chatting. we wandered, chatting. we took pictures and googled interesting plants, chatting. we admired installations and gardens with themes, chatting. there are ornate sculptures and formal walled gardens. there are fantastically groomed flowers and trees. there are preparations for an intricate holiday light celebration.

we took our time together, the four of us, promising to return again soon, and then d and i drove back on the roads through northern suburbs, wishing we had time to stop and sit at one of the tiny restaurant bistro tables we saw, spaced on sidewalks, against brick walls with the later afternoon sunlight warming the faces of many people who had chosen to dine al fresco.

when we spoke of our time at the garden, it wasn’t the intricacies i remembered, walking in beauty. it was the simplest stuff. the vertical slices of rock in a pondside rock garden. the candlepots on the rails in the lake. the lone rosebuds on a bush inviting fallow. golden grasses waving in the breeze. the evergreens up close. the past-waning bowed blooms on the hosta. the white birch calling out from the green. and the red fine-tipped pens reaching for the sky. there was definitely something about those.

though i – at first introduction – questioned his work, i guess there’s more ellsworth in me than i thought. we really never stop discovering. any.where.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

his gallery website – this link is to the EARTH INTERRUPTED series, but a cup of coffee in-hand and i know you’ll enjoy perusing around


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what we seek. [d.r. thursday]

our favorite thing in the woods, when i was about eight or ten or so, were the salamanders. red-backed salamanders had a red stripe down their spine and, back then, were all over the woods outside our rustic cabins in the upstate new york state parks.

we stayed at many of them: selkirk shores, chenango valley, watkins glen, green lakes, letchworth. my sweet momma and poppo were not tent-campers, but they fully embraced the very-bare-minimum cabins in the woods and my mom would pack for a week ahead; we had to bring everything with us, including pots and pans. the bunkbed frames and mattresses were about all you got, with basic kitchen and bathroom necessities. we’d go for a week and for that glorious week, i would roam the forest and swim the lakes and ride bikes all over the park with my best friend. we didn’t do fancy vacations, but, for me, these trips were heaven. i think about my momma now – for her it was a lot of work, but she seemed happy to be “roughing-it” as she said. and she would run around each night, can of raid in her hand, singsong voice, announcing “raid! raid!” while we buried into our sleeping bags on our bunks and tried not to breathe.

before we discovered the lifeguards, we would hike through the forest, looking for anything interesting we could find, devising paths and mysteries to solve. mostly, we looked for the salamanders. one year, we found one that was particularly sociable with us and we were convinced it would stay around and be our friend. for obvious reasons, we named him sal. once you’ve named something, it is much harder to say goodbye.

now, the thing that’s hard to say goodbye to – out in the woods, high in the mountains – is the whole visceral experience. the cool fresh air, the trail under our feet, the sun filtering through the trees, quaking aspen leaves, the absolute drop-dead-amazing smell of a pine forest, the quiet.

we haven’t found salamanders in colorado woods, though we haven’t been seeking them as i did when i was in elementary school. instead, we have sought the feeling you get after you have hiked miles and some decent elevation. that exhausted adrenaline bursted rush of ahhh. the slightly burning lungs-are-in-your-chest feeling. the your-legs-want-to-sit-down-on-a-stump-for-a-moment tiredness. a little bit of wind-sun-scorched face. and the overwhelming desire to keep going.

*****

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34 = 20 + 14. [d.r. thursday]

34 – the combination of 14 & 20 – love to cook together. they chop and laugh and saute and bake and grill, punting their way through recipes. with glasses of wine in hand (and lately, maybe old-fashioned wisconsin old-fashioneds) these two brothers-of-different-mothers gleefully prepare dinner.

twice a week we three (61 when you add us all up) used to dine together. and then covid. for well over a year, dinners stopped and phone calls commenced. but even zoom doesn’t come close to the ritual of preparing good food and sitting down all together around a table. finally, fully-vaccinated and still wearing masks out in public spaces, we are back. and so there is a piece of our world that has righted; the axis is just a little less tilted. we are grateful.

20 goes way back for me. shortly after my beloved big brother died, i believe he looked down from heaven and hand-picked out 20 to stand in for him. he didn’t expect 20 to be exactly who he was, he just expected him to be there for me. and vice-versa.

my little girl and 20’s little girl took ballet lessons together as tiny ballerinas and 20 and i sat on the wood floor with other parents just off the studio, morning light spilling in through the windows. my little boy drove his matchbox cars up and down the hall, including on and off 20’s legs, clearly seeing in him a man who adored the magic of small children and their imaginations. it was like group therapy, this cadre of parents on the wooden floor, and we still think of those times fondly. we followed ballet class with an ice-cream-sundae trip across the street to andrea’s and sitting on high stools at jack’s cafe in front of the soda fountain. cups of hot coffee and watching our tiny girls make straw dolls with paper napkins and my little toddler boy having soup-that-race-cars-eat with a side of saltines and pickles were glittery times…priceless. in the way that life and mystery goes, 20 happened to be a graphic designer at a time in my life when i needed a graphic designer. we celebrated my first album together and he designed many of the next ones. there for meetings or reviews, i watched him and justine and duke at work. i had the good fortune of secondhand learning; i still credit 20 with the way i design things now. it was inevitable that we would still be almost-brother-sister 27 years later. i imagine this will go on forever and ever, in the way that my own big brother devised it. only now, we are a trio of compadres. we’d have it no other way.

in this time of so much loss for so many, we have not gone unscathed. jobs and security, finances and healthcare, communities-within-communities, relationships – all have an iota of decimation. the rituals of our life together are the things we hold onto, the firm footing that delivers us from one day to the next. for us, resuming the twice-a-week dinners with 20, friday night potlucks with our dear-dear friends which have temporarily become happy-hours in their backyard, our familiar-trail hikes watching the seasons change in the woods…these are real, three-dimensional and steady and are evidence of life beyond these times. they are evidence of a return to some semblance of normal, though we suspect things may never actually be normal again.

we are still careful out in public. we still wear masks and use sanitizer. at OT appointments they still take my temperature, have a pile of masks at the door and ask a slew of covid questions. we are wary of too much exposure – our innermost circle demands it, for this pandemic is still alive and well and we do not wish to place our dearest close ones at any potentially devastating risk.

yesterday we passed a teen girl walking down the sidewalk, mask at her chin, with a sad, sad face. it made me think about all the people who have lost loved ones during this year-plus of covid. i wonder how they feel as they watch others, in seeming cavalier fashion, gather in crowds, throw out their masks and throw any remaining caution to the wind. i’m guessing maybe they are heartbroken. because there is no going back. it can’t be undone. and the loss of their beloveds has not changed others who do not walk in their shoes.

i guess it’s the lack of empathy, the lack of looking-out-for-each-other, the lack of small efforts of willingness to aid the big community that i find most disturbing. because, really, in the ritual-festooned-relationship-rich-shimmering-end we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

just ask 34.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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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.

*****

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like 3 seconds. [k.s. friday]

(links to these cool bookmarks and tags below)

3 seconds.

david knows that i would get in little-baby-scion or big red without hesitation and drive across the country – despite any circumstance, in rain, sleet, snow or ice, night or day, day or night, without delay – if i were to see either of my children for even three seconds when we arrived. just 3 seconds. because – yes – any time i can say “i saw you for like 3 seconds” about my daughter or my son, i can also say “and it made my day”.

3 seconds.

it can make all the difference.

my niece put my sweet momma on facetime over the phone. momma was in the hospital and things were serious. we were leaving and going to be there in just a couple days. but we didn’t make it in time. yet, i had those moments – more than three seconds but less than the years of lifetime i wanted. i saw her face for like more-than 3 seconds and it made my day.

3 seconds.

the last 3 seconds i saw my dad, i took his pale and fragile hand in mine and told him he was the best. period. and my sweet poppo, mere hours away from leaving this earth, whispered back to me, “i love you, kook.” i memorized his voice as i left his bedside. oh, those 3 seconds.

3 seconds.

it’s unusually quiet here on wednesday nights. we had ukulele band rehearsals those evenings and, since this time of virtual life, zoom rehearsals were a good bit of loving community in our week. i miss these people and i miss making music with them. i miss their conversation and the lifebits they shared each time we gathered. it’s funk-worthy, these silent wednesdays. and then…”i think of you every wednesday night,” he texted. like 3 seconds of text and it made my day.

3 seconds.

the sun came out on the trail the other day. we hadn’t seen it for days. grey upon grey, the dismal became lodged in us. it’s hard – it’s just us and dogdog and babycat. we do know even in that we are fortunate. we all desire more. to be surrounded by people we love – light itself. when the rays streamed through the trees over the trail, i felt it on my face first. we looked at each other, smiles coming to our faces, cold from the bitter dampness. “the sun!” we exclaimed at once. it stayed out for a mere 3 seconds before it slid behind the next bank of clouds. but it was like 3 seconds and it made our day.

3 seconds.

don’t underestimate the power of 3 seconds.

spend that time – together.

*****

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for information on these cool bookmarks/tags, visit the links below:

in the land of elsewhere – on etsy

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TIME TOGETHER from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood


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road shadows. together. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

road shadows

watching as the ferry arrived, we were practically jumping up and down with glee.  our up-north-gang was arriving and the ferry was taking a few minutes too long to dock.  we had been anticipating them for weeks, our company log on island too few.

it’s not like there is a ton of stuff to show them here or, really, to do.  but there are friend groups who don’t need stuff to see or do; instead they are just there to simply be together.

they are there to laugh at funny hair in the morning, sip coffee and wait in line for the one bathroom.  they are there to pile in and out of the truck, dodge raindrops, play short-list tourist.  they are there, wishing for sun but not minding the bad weather that moves in, content to just be together. they are there to make mimosas and old-fashioneds, pour wine and have more snacks than you can imagine.  they are there to take turns cooking, cleaning up, always gabbing, always laughing.  they are there in the tough moments, profound and honest conversation, balancing, disarming the sting of the sword.  they are there walking side by side, talking and being quiet.  they are there playing games in evening dark, heads drooping with sleep, wishes of sweet dreams.  they are there, together.

we watched as the ferry left, both of us feeling instantly wistful.  our up-north gang leaving for the mainland.  as always, we were ever-so-grateful to have been together.

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

k&d little lake website box


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our posse. [merely-a-thought monday]

i didn't even notice .jpg

we are five hours and a ferry ride from our basement.  but we have an amazing posse of friends back there on the mainland.  my girl has taken up residency keeping an eye on our house and our posse is keeping an eye out for her.  we know that, no matter what, someone is but a phone call and minutes away from any kind of help she – or our house, basement included – might need.  and in that, we rest easy.  such generosity.

the humidity and heat has been high in southeastern wisconsin this summer and our basement?  in a line from my big fat greek wedding, it suffers.  one dehumidifier is not enough.  worried, we texted our up-north-gang up north to ask advice:  “in a non-centrally-air-conditioned house, how many dehumidifiers would you put in the basement?”  immediately we got back answers from jay and gay, opinions from charlie and dan, and within days dan brought over a dehumidifier, installed it and checked on the one already there.  thinking about the cluttered basement, we texted to him that while paying attention to the basement to please ignore the basement.  he texted back, “i didn’t even notice the basement.”  generosity.

we ran home for a night a couple weeks ago.  we ran errands, we installed the a/c units in the windows, we grocery shopped, we weeded and vacuumed, we prepped the house for our girl’s arrival.  we picked up mail and packages from john, shared drinks and not-enough-stories with jen and brad, ate a late dinner with 20, had quick before-she-went-to-work coffee with michele.  in their busy schedules, our beloved posse dropped everything and made time to see us, time to spend together.  generosity.

we couldn’t be here without our posse there.  fact of the matter is, we couldn’t be THERE without our posse there.

because it takes a village to take care of a basement.  and each other.

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

heart in sand website box

 


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the wisdom of lester. [merely a thought monday]

i'm trending copy

we have found that little bits of wisdom are all around us.  we were on the train to chicago when we encountered a wise man named lester.  he seemed a gentle soul, a big man with soft eyes, he was sitting across the aisle from us.  he talked to us about his life, about life in general. he had had a long day already, commuting by numerous trains in a circuitous route to go to a job interview; he wanted to make some changes and the interview he had been to was part of that.

he told us of a relationship he was in – nothing that was all that serious – but there was this woman….  the thing that stuck with us was his comment that in the morning as he awoke with her, she was on her phone….scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.  the early sun bright in the room, this lovely man by her side, she was endlessly looking on various social media platforms for what was trending.  “put down your phone,” he pleaded to the side of her that had forgotten he was even there.  “i’m trending.”

we’ve talked about presence before.  we’ve talked about being in the moment and not missing it.  we’ve talked about gratitude and time together.  we’ve talked about how fleeting time really is.  we’ve talked about relationship and listening and appreciating the place you are, the minute you are in.  and yet, in six words, lester said it better – “put down your phone.  i’m trending.”  wisdom indeed.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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this bonus track. [k.s. friday]

bonus track godbewithyou songbox

this bonus track was a surprise for my sweet momma and poppo.   playing God be with you till we meet again as the last track on this, my first christmas album, seemed apropos back then.  it was a favorite of theirs, spoken to us or sometimes even sung as we left to depart to places far away or even close by.  and i get that.  goodbyes are so hard.

in the last couple of months we have been lucky enough to see My Girl, My Boy and his boyfriend, my wendy aka ben aka saul, and some dear long-time friends.  in the next month or so we will see my heather aka feath and her brian, my sister and her sweet bill.  we have communicated with holiday greetings…on the phone, via texts, emails, cards or letters sent in old-fashioned-times postal mail, sealed and seasonal-stamped, with those whom we hold close. soon, other family and friends will cross our paths; perhaps we will even drive to them or they to us.  maybe we will meet halfway.  maybe we’ll talk on the phone or facetime or text.  any way we have the opportunity to be with them, upon their departure or ours, i will quietly whisper – as i always do – God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again…by good counsels guide, uphold you….

with a shepherd’s care enfold you…God be with you till we meet again.

…till we meet again…

download THE LIGHTS on iTUNES or purchase the physical CD

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

chicago at christmas website box

BONUS TRACK on THE LIGHTS – A CHRISTMAS ALBUM ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood