reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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and the gasket smiles. [d.r. thursday]

every day i hold my breath and touch it. i slowly open the closet, bend down and approach it. i nudge the tiny trap door over to allow space for my hand. the coupling has no idea it wields such power, such angst. but it does. it is disconcerting what 1/2″ pvc pipe can do to your psyche. and so… i reach out and grasp the connection. i daresay i even close my eyes. and every time it is dry i thank our lucky stars. a search of great proportion, text messages and voicemails from our “village” and treks to every plumbing supply house in the area later, we seem to (knock wood!) have solved the problem with a 99¢ rubber gasket and a little repositioning of the pipe. and so we attempt to move on. the ptsd of waterinthebasement demands i test it often; i am trying to release some of this and move from every day to maybe every other day. suffice it to say, the big black plastic bin remains – and will remain – in its spot directly below the offending coupling for some time to come.

this little adventure has set us on a course in the basement. the havoc created a ripe invitation to sort, to clean, to reminisce, to give away. a task undeniably time-consuming and cumbersome, but gratifying nonetheless. the leak itself was smack in the middle of david’s studio, but fortunately had not affected any canvasses. now, at last, as he puts his studio back into place, he will dance with the black bin and his patina-rich easel.

we love patina. perhaps it is because we have patina ourselves. at 60 (whatever) you have no choice but to own it, this “gloss or sheen on a surface resulting from age or polishing”. i never thought of it as “polishing” before. age, yes. polish, no. it seems the opposite. it seems that one removes patina with the act of polishing, an action misguided and not recommended by antique collectors everywhere. which does make me think about all the work we do in this country, in particular, to avoid ‘looking our age’, to eliminate wrinkles and age spots and the bumps and lumps of time-spent-on-earth. seems contrary to the upholding of patina, the celebration of the worn, the shabby-chic, the tattered, the threadbare, the velveteen-rabbit-ness. let’s just call it all wizened-beauty.

much of the basement is dedicated to glorifying wizened-beauty as this is an old house, 93 years worth. in the section of the basement where it is studio, all the pipes and walls are painted bright white. there are spotlight tracks in each area. it does not feel old-basement-ish. instead, it feels to us simply a cozy space, inviting our presence. the studio that holds david’s standing easel, the space that holds paintings-waiting-for-homes, the storage that holds boxes of my cds, all analog in a digital world. that studio also holds two rocking chairs, both with treasured history. one from spaces-of-painting past and one from the nursery upstairs that only exists in memory now. how often we have each rocked in those respective chairs. how much time has gone by. not fancy and definitely sans polish, they hold steadfast. they are there for the times of muse and the times-in-between the muse. and times like now.

the studio in the basement waits, just as my studio where my piano waits. raw opportunity, beckoning each of us as we rearrange, store away, go through, readjust and re-enter.

the gasket, up above and comfy in the coupling, looks down and smiles at what it started.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the waxing moon. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“the beauty of the earth is a constant play of light and dark, visible and invisible.” (beauty – john o’donohue)

i prefer to think of it as waxing, not waning. growing in illumination, not heading toward darkness. the moon on our ceiling just above the crown molding shows up from time to time. the conditions need be right, the lighting need be perfect. and then it’s there, waiting to be noticed. i ran for my camera the first time i noticed it, afraid the shadow-and-light interplay would quickly disappear.

like everything else around us – waiting to be noticed – we are always in choice about noticing or not. we can take the time or not. we can nuance our time to scurry past or we can slow down, just a little, to see.

i recently saw an article about spain, a country that embraces the siesta, a time of rest within the day. there is consideration there to move to a four-day work week in an effort to balance work and life. it is hard to imagine that there is much more important than paying attention to that balance. what else is living? why are we rushing through it?

i really love to take photographs. our hikes in the woods and walks in the ‘hood and time-just-being-time are punctuated with my stopping-stopping-stopping to grab a photo here or there. some things are just blatantly beautiful, visible and full of light. they need not beg to be captured on film. others are not so obvious. they are not so visible, darker, perhaps even invisible, courting imagination. on the trail they disappear silently behind the woods-models, the fashionable haute couture of the forest. instead, they are quiet and steadfast. they have a certain je ne sais quoi that cannot be easily named. and they are indeed beautiful.

on the trail, the tiniest pink petals rising from the decayed leaves, the green-and-green variegated leaves tucked behind the flowering shrub, the fallen tree – home to symbiotic white rot fungi – in and amongst the stately, the healthy. the thistles, dried and browned wildflowers, inosculated trees sharing soil, underbrush, like understudies, taking their usual back seat to the crowns of the woodland.

in our daily routine, the way the spring rain forms a heart-puddle on the patio, the way the snow piles on the wrought-iron table, the way rays through the miniblinds shadow the wall, the way barney ages in the backyard, the way wine glasses clinking catch the light, the way the quilt gathers the morning sun, and the way the light in the living room gifts us a waxing moon.

the balance of the obviously beautiful with the less-obviously, less-definitively beautiful.

we take a bit of time as we can – we slow down just a little as we are able – to make sure that we notice the play of light and dark, visible and invisible.

we look around us, through waxing and waning, standing in the light and the dark. to make sure we notice all the beauty of the earth.

*****

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


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in KC’s family. [two artists tuesday]

just past the eyelash phase, in a tightly woven and protected calyx of green sepals (leaves), the gardenia bonsai flower waits. a little research reveals that it will take about two months of growing to reach the point of a cracked bud, hopefully flowering after. KC is reportedly “one of the most loved and challenging plants in the bonsai world” and i hope that i am up to the task. these beautiful and somewhat-difficult-to-grow plants offer “a unique opportunity for anyone who wishes to take the time to attend to their needs.” they are particular about sunlight, particular about direction of window exposure, particular about temperature, particular about humidity, particular about watering, particular about feeding with fertilizer, particular about shape and pruning, particular about training, particular about insects and mold, particular about repotting, particular about touch. they do well without any negative stressful environmental factors. it occurs to me that perhaps i am in the bonsai gardenia family.

KC sits together with some other lower-maintenance plants (read: succulents you can’t really mess up) and is clearly different than them. its leaves are rich in color, two whorls protecting promising buds, and its presence demands to be noticed. i talk to it every day, encouraging it, paying attention, hoping i am tending to it properly. i truly cherish this little bonsai; my beloved daughter and her boyfriend sent it to me for my birthday and it was a joyous and glittering moment to receive such a beautiful gift. i want to do my best helping this little gardenia along. and, in light of the last year, the last couple years, i can understand and relate to its eccentricities. mmm, can’t we all?

in the evening KC is bathed in the sparkle of the sunroom’s happy lights. proudly in the spot it has claimed on the table, it sits, basking. it is one of the sparkles of the year. there have been many, despite the difficulties, within the difficulties, despite the challenges, within the challenges, despite these times, within these times. if it were possible, i would set each around us in the sunroom, also bathed in happy lights, like laundry clothespinned to a clothesline, reminding us of the best times, the memorable times, the happiest snapshots, the most poignant moments, the yin-yang of relationships, reassuring love in trying-to-stay-centered, the times we balanced stress and the times we succumbed to it, successful and unsuccessful zen, and exhausted times of rest.

i would place the clothesline in the middle of the room so that you could not help but see each item, each old wooden clothespin, memory-laundry crowded onto a timeline, reminding us that the minute does not stay. that whether the minute is feverish or beauty-laden, it moves on.

we are all particular; we are all particularly needy. our lists and our baggage surpass that of the little bonsai gardenia. we are all up to the task. we do our best in each moment, whether it is dark or sparkling. and we remember we can try again. we can help each other; we are “most loved and challenging”. KC already knows that.

i am excited to see KC bloom. i wait patiently for this amazing flower to arrive. in the meantime, i light the white gardenia candle, talk to my plant and drink in the glow of the happy lights, trying. each day. living just past the eyelash phase.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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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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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

someday?


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putter-putz-tinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

happy

20 calls it “putzing”.  “what did you do today,” we ask.  he says, “nothing.  i just putzed.” putzing has a way of taking up the day.

my sweet poppo was a world-class putterer.  he was happy doing something and happy doing nothing.  he’d spend hours at his workbench in the garage in florida, cool damp towel wrapped around his neck.  he could fix or make just about anything.  hours just puttering.  the whole day could go by.

my big brother could tinker in competition with the best of the tinkerers.  he would tinker on building projects, home improvements, engines, motors, and all good assorted tinker-able sources.  his adoring little sister, i was happiest when i got to sit and watch him tinker.

we road-trip-traveled down south, two friends and i.  it was -wow- many years ago now.  fans of the paint-a-picture-of-sweet-idle-and-wild-adventure-living j. peterman catalog, we went to the j.peterman (of seinfeld fame) retail store in kentucky.  walking in, time slowed down.  quiet piano music played overhead and the cool air conditioning of the store was a welcome change from the humid heat outside.

there was an associate acting as hostess who approached us drawling, “good afternooooon. welcome to j. peterman.  would you lahhk an ahhsti?”  “an asti,” we thought, “would be remarkable!”  who wouldn’t like cool bubbly asti spumante on a hot steamy day? we graciously accepted and browsed around the space waiting for our wine glasses to appear, admiring the there-was-a-gentle-breeze-off-the-starboard-side-catching-the-silken-folds-of-her-aqua-dress-as-she-stood-watching-the-sail-raise sundress for $279.  time slowed down.

the hostess-associate returned, three tumblers filled with – iced tea- and topped with a lemon wedge.  ahhh.  ICED TEA.  not ASTI.  our lounge-y afternoon puttering about the shop with asti in our hands vision disappeared in the breeze off the starboard side (or was that the ceiling fan overhead?)  we left, post-beverage, and drove to the j. peterman headquarters where i managed to talk our way in to meet with THE j. peterman in a messy office filled with thoughts and dreams of his company.  we entered and he apologized for the mess, telling us he was “puttering” and hadn’t had a chance to pick up.  putterers shouldn’t apologize.

i’ve come by trifling with my day honestly.  a list-maker, my brain tends to be consumed with lists-of-things-to-do, neatly under different headings, highlighted in order of import.  they wake me up at night; they are consuming some days.

but there are some days that lists are not relevant.  life days.  putzing-puttering-tinkering days.  days when frittering time away is the right thing to do, really the only thing to do.  you loiter in your happy-doing-something-happy-doing-nothing.  and you sit and have an iced tea.

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

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quote from AUGIE THE DOG’s 20th BIRTHDAY

 

 

 


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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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“staying more or less sane…” [merely-a-thought monday]

sane

it’s a wave.  and, like the tide, we ride it out to sea and back in to shore.  we grab handfuls of sand when we hit the beach, to remind ourselves that we are indeed of this earth and this is real.   and then we read or watch the news and see the charts and the numbers-who-are-people-not-numbers and we are back out to sea, on precarious standup boards.

it’s almost a mantra “staying more or less sane.”  we wake in the morning and, for the first few delicious seconds, we don’t remember.  but as we share dreams – the dreams we can remember – we know that even our subconscious are trying to process all this.

we compare notes with others:  what is acceptable to do in these restricted times, what is not.  we are aghast at the impropriety of the suggestion of large gatherings, no matter where they are.  even small gatherings of people not isolating together are questionable. we wonder if we will all be agoraphobic when it’s time to cease restrictions.  we worry that this decision will be made irresponsibly, skewed in the direction of the ever-important dollar and not in the interest of people being healthy, getting better, staying alive.  we are afraid.

we do whatever we can, whatever works; we are all in different places on the what-works-for-you continuum.  outside of working we struggle to fill in time.  we take on new projects; we sit quietly.  we bake loaves and loaves of bread and test new recipes; we cook just whatever is necessary.  we obsessively deep clean the closets, the cabinets, the basement; we pick up around ourselves and disinfect what needs disinfecting.  we organize, organize, organize; we have trouble paying attention, finishing going through the piles.  we watch movies and binge on sitcoms; we look out the window and get lost in thought.  we spend time on our muse; we stay away from that which makes us feel more deeply.  we spend vast amounts of time on social media and video-conferencing apps; we desperately miss those we love and yearn for them.  we get impatient; we wait.

we are a world of people-people, broken and reeling, and we are all trying to stay more or less sane.

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

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and then it snowed. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snow in evergreen

i was really, really happy when it started snowing.  not only was this softly falling snow beautiful, but it placed me back in time.  although listing toward spring, it is, actually, mostly still winter.  it is march.  it is wisconsin.

time is warping and it is difficult to remember what day it is, nonetheless what month it is.  the stress of worry, of deep concern for our children, our families, our friends, of social distancing and isolation, of working remotely – all of it has taken us out of time.

although there were many negative social media comments about it snowing, i was grateful.  we went out and walked in it.

snows are different.  there’s the light snow that blows across the sidewalk as you walk.  there’s the heavy snow that invites you to make snowballs and greet snowmen as you pass them in the neighborhood.  and then there is this – the magical snow that feels and looks like stars falling from the sky.  we walked in quiet, mostly.

march.  wisconsin.  winter poised on the birth of spring.  snow.  it grounded us back into right now.   we believe all things will come.   in time.   we are all marking time.  one day we will sit in the warm sun.  one day this worry will lessen.

in the meanwhile, i say let it snow.

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

our snowman feb 14 2019 'valentino' website box copy


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each new day. [k.s. friday]

each new day songbox

my sweet momma would start the day by chirping to me, “good morning merry sunshine!”  what a gift to consistently start the day that way.

i wrote this piece at a difficult time in my life.  the titles on this album somewhat tell the story:  boundaries. scattered. pulling weeds. holding on, letting go. it’s not black and white.  figure it out.  taking stock.  baby steps.  each one a descriptor of that time;  each title written for the album before the music.  i composed to each word.

but the most important title on the album, the arc that reigns over the gut emotion of the rest, i realize now is ‘each new day’.  for we are granted yet another chance….to choose to live the day well, to embrace the new, to walk in tomorrow’s grace, to love, to choose kindness, to say we are sorry, to recuperate from something that has hurt us, to work toward balance, to forgive, to model goodness, to help someone else in pain, to learn something new, to listen, to laugh, to hold someone’s hand or share a hug, to do better…

time really does move breathtakingly fast.  each new day counts.  good morning merry sunshine.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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EACH NEW DAY from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood