reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the piñata. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

middle age is called that because it is the middle of aging. with that comes a bundle of surprises that seem to arrive overnight. suddenly, new wrinkles. suddenly, crepey skin. suddenly, age spots and creeping-on lovehandles. suddenly, menopausal insomnia, achier joints, keeping track of rest areas on the way to everywhere. suddenly, jowls. it’s like a piñata that is slowly letting out candy, treats to relish with this person you are aging with.

we have decided that we simply cannot pine for what our bodies were like or could do back before we knew each other. now is now and we are lucky to have that. and so, we will celebrate the laughlines and the readers and changing bodies and funny long errant eyebrows. we’ll roll with the surprises as they arrive, with gratitude, laughing as much as we can, and we’ll stay right here in the middle of this aging thing – together.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING SMACK-DAB.

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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levels of color. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we were the only ones. the only customers in the grocery store with masks on. there was one employee we saw wearing one, but we didn’t see any other shoppers with one on. the other day, at a different grocery store, we were the recipients of a few dirty looks. but heck, we have tougher skin than that. mostly.

we sat outside while the light waned, before the mosquitoes had rsvp’d they’d be there. torches on, flame dancing from the fire column, we had a few hors d’oeuvres and a glass of wine and talked about these times. there is a wistful dividing line between before and now. the pandemic has shot a chalkline in our calendars and even now, not quite after, we can see the difference.

the books arrived in the mail. it was one of those rare days when you open up the front door and see a surprise gift parcel on the doorstep. the books, memoirs of raynor and moth. the salt path, the first, a viewmaster of days during which, through the necessity of impossible challenges, raynor and moth were hiking the south west coast path in the united kingdom. “i think they are your people,” she wrote about this couple.

we opened the first paperback. i am reading it aloud and we have a voracious appetite to keep going in between all else. i read and we digest, this tale of backpacking without the reassuring fallback of retreat or going home in the end. it’s breathtaking and stunningly candid.

monday night i read aloud the sentence, “being separate from people for large chunks of time had reduced our tolerance levels.” it was not a statement of pandemic; it was a statement of wilderness camping. yet, it hit us – it was a statement of pandemic. so relevant.

if we are all honest with ourselves, we find now that the pandemic has most definitely divided our circles into before and now . . . and hopefully, one day, after. people who are absolute, people we have stayed in touch with or who have stayed in touch with us, even spottily, people who have fallen away. people who have shown true colors, people who have been generous and compassionate. people who have jumped at the chance to help others, to abide by recommendations to ease this pandemic, people who have chosen to be cavalier, go-their-own-way, to scoff and ignore, to not be any other’s keeper.

the season/reason mantra applies, we pondered aloud at the table, talking about past friendships and working relationships. some people, there with us at some point, are just not to be dragged into now. we appreciate their presence at the time they were present and we learn we must let go. they have become woven into who we have become and those threads remain somewhere in the interior of the quilt. but, in the way that time moves on, so do attachments. and even beyond the natural attrition of relationships – just like raynor and moth, though not on a wild trail – the simplicity of who we have become, what we have seen or done, where we have gone or not gone, how we have lived through these times, of pandemic, of loss, of challenge, of grief – this simplicity has changed us and, it seems, has changed our tolerance levels. as if they were on a cmyk or rgb profile – empathy, compassion, masks, vaccines, distancing, research, critical thinking, kindness, questioning, learning, truth, transparency, loyalty, generosity, inclusivity, gentleness, agenda-ridden-less, fairness, decency, basic dedication to not being mean…a wide spectrum of color levels in humans that surround us.

we were quiet as we sat and thought about people in our lives, what has changed, what has remained the same, people we yearn to see, people we, frankly, perhaps sadly or resignedly, don’t care to see again.

we gratefully looked around at flames in torches, food on our table, the dog on the deck, the old screen door to a comfortable beloved house merely steps away. the simplest pleasures have been, are, the pleasures. we cannot think of a reason that this is not a good thing. though we shed a few tears, we held hands as we spoke, together not separate.

the mosquitoes found their way to the deck. we blew out the torches, snuffed the fire column and carried our plates inside.

*****

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


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good moments waiting. [k.s. friday]

“we’re out of practice,” writes elizabeth bernstein. her article in the wall street journal is about reconnecting with others as we move slowly and cautiously out of pandemic-mode and back into the world. since this past year-plus has levied many and varied challenges upon all of us, her words seem prudent, reminding us to realize that we are each in different emotional places and honoring those will be absolutely necessary.

as we hike on trails we are alternately silent and chatting-up-a-storm. we find ourselves reminiscing, going over the last year-plus, reviewing. we are both awed and aghast at the things that have happened through this time. simple moments of bliss and moments of raw hurt. surprise at the time flying by and impatience at the time dragging. gratitude for the generosity of others and anger and anxiety at agenda we don’t understand. much time spent as just the two of us…the two of us plus dogga and babycat. we stop – mid-river-trail – and stare at each other, remembering the time, the losses, the learnings. this moment in time – all the circumstances that have brought us to this moment in time – and we look forward, wondering.

“we’ve all been through so much. we’re all so raw. and there is a strong sense of longing,” says sociologist and yale professor marissa king. though we long to be together with family and dear friends, communities of people we have been missing, we have come to realize that we have made it through, continue to make it through, the storm of this time. we have established rituals of our own, personal reassurances, moments of goodness that have arced us into next each and every time. we have failed from time to time and we have succeeded from time to time. mostly, we have made it from Time to Time, each then to each now.

reconnecting, we understand, will be complicated, perhaps intense, perhaps exhausting, perhaps selective. but those moments will, too, be worth it, whatever concentrated effort it takes. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t shared. “reconnection is not a one-and-done undertaking,” writes ms. bernstein. like the time that has gone by and the hard work it has taken to grok the necessity of being apart, it will require some practice to be together. we haven’t walked in the shoes of others and we haven’t experienced what they have experienced. the vice-versa is also true. we all have a story to tell, narratives to share, things we have gained and lost and learned and forgotten, things we haven’t divulged, things we haven’t mutually endured. there is much ahead, likely to be profoundly emotional.

we stand on the river trail and think about belly-laughing in a circle of friends, crying in the arms of family, dancing on the patio, snacktime on the pontoon boat, ukuleles in the park, happy hour in the backyard, floating in florida pools, rooftop and mountaintop times. and we know that, though there have been many good moments and though there are many good moments right here, there are many good moments…waiting.

*****

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

GOOD MOMENTS from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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youwannabanana? [d.r. thursday]

smack-dab in the middle of the night. like every night. i lay awake listening to the peaceful, gently-breathing sighs and sounds of him sleeping. sleeping! the gall!

and so, smack-dab in the middle of the night, i wake him up. since, smack-dab in middle-age, we decided to share our lives, it only seems right that we share our non-sleep moments as well as our sleep moments.

we are not alone. it would seem, especially in these times, that there is a lot – a hell of a lot – of insomnia going on. it is likely i could, should i choose to, have a texting conversation with most of my friends in the wee hours. we’d all be completely and utterly awake, completely and utterly coherent. perhaps more coherent in the wee-wee hours than in the day, when we are weary from the night.

when one lays awake at night and ponders all of life, one uses up much energy. and thus, i get hungry. and not just a little. in the ‘olden days’ (read: when we first married) we used to get up and make pancakes. there is nothing like midnight pancakes to soothe the weary soul. but we have cut to the chase these days and choose, instead, a shortcut to satisfying midnight hunger pangs. and so i poke at his shoulder and ask, “youwannabanana?”

post-banana we sit, happy lights turned low, and chat. there are no real rules to this. sometimes we watch a trail and joey coconato ultimately tucks us back in to sleep. sometimes ‘grace and frankie’ make a middle-of-the-night cameo appearance. eventually, and it’s heavy on the eventual, we settle back in and sometimes i end up snoozing in-between hot flashes and heaving blankets and pulling blankets up and moving pillows and removing pillows. it’s exhausting. but somehow, it is not sleep-inducing.

i don’t know much. but i do know this: we’re smack-dab in the middle of middle-age. and by golly, we are going to celebrate THAT.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY** – as we introduce SMACK-DAB

SMACK-DAB ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com

** and, by the way, i don’t REALLY “guffaw”.


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maria, tennis and tow trucks. [merely-a-thought monday]

i wanted to be maria. who wouldn’t? the lead of ‘the sound of music’ was a coveted role and every girl wanted to try out for that part.

i was cast as sister berthe. reading the sheet of paper on the wall outside the music room at harley avenue elementary i was not reassured by the fantastic job that portia nelson delivered as sister berthe in the 1965 film; i wanted to be maria and i knew in my heart that julie andrews would have agreed. sigh.

but i held a double role. i was also in the chorus. and mrs. lafayette took no prisoners. she was charming and beautiful to the eyes of all of us elementary school artiste wannabes but she was also deliberate, purposeful, and intentionally firm about making sure we understood the role of the chorus. “singing together in unison,” she’d tell us, encouraging us to listen to each other and match our timbre to that of the choral line, admonishing anyone who tried to stand out. “it is a chorus together,” she’d tell us, “and there is no ‘i’ in ‘chorus’.” it was humbling for all of us, striving to be tiny stars. and yet, it was the moment during which we understood that that we, indeed, became tiny stars.

driving hours to tennis matches was a big part of my life when my son was in college. he played singles and i would sit on the sidelines, my breathing shallow when i wasn’t utterly holding my breath altogether, my adrenaline racing, making tiny motions with my hands as if i could help move the tennis ball down the court or slice at the ball with the racket in his hand. he was a good tennis player – passionate and strategic. i was an anxious mess watching but i was often lucky to be watching with another mom and, together, betty and i forged our way through. although our sons played singles and we clearly wanted them to win their matches, i was always struck by how the team came together. instead of simply zeroing in, each on his own performance, the team cheered each other on and it was how the team did – in an overall sense – that really mattered to them. that doesn’t mean that disappointment didn’t exist for individuals, but they were encouraged time and again to remember that they were on a team and there was no ‘i’ in ‘team’.

the show ‘highway thru hell‘ is kind of a masculine show. big-rig tow truck drivers in the mountains of canada pull wrecks out of ditches, out of snowdrifts and from all kinds of precarious situations drivers find themselves in. before you roll your eyes at the thought of watching this kind of show, let me just add that it is fascinating. the mathematician in any of you will revel in the geometry and physics of it all; these tow truck operators are highly skilled and often put their lives at risk doing recovery alongside icy highways. egos are definitely rampant – each wants a little piece of stardom – but in the end they never hesitate to call each other for help, for another rig, for the rotator to show up. as kevin, one of these diligent heavy rescue workers, said, “there is no ‘i’ in ‘team’.” they are all part of the milky way on those dangerous roads in british columbia.

real life doesn’t cast us as maria each and every day. real life doesn’t grant us wins every day. real life places obstacles in front of us, calamities to sort out, heavy rescue needed. together, in chorus, as a part of a team, foregoing the ‘i’ in self-agenda, the ‘i’ in selfishness, the ‘i’ in narcissism, the ‘i’ in division, we are all stars.

*****

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

happy birthday, my beloved son.


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rooted. [d.r. thursday]

i had only turned on the white branches and the little trees last night when i stood for a moment in the darkened room and looked around. this place, this same place of so many christmases past, so many trees, so many twinkling lights, so many wrapped presents and stuffed stockings. the memories kaleidoscoped in my mind’s eye, made me a bit light-headed. in a time of upheaval, a time of nothing-is-the-same, love held me rooted to the wood floor beneath my feet and grounded me before i would fly off into the outer atmosphere where sadness breathes in and out, in and out.

tomorrow, somewhere in montana, there is a church that will be using my song the lights as a part of their christmas service. in spirit, i will be there with them, strangers in the mountains. it seems odd right now to think of this – a place across the country that wrote and asked for permission to play my music – while here, in this place i have called home for decades and in a community i have served for the last eight years, my music is now silenced. the root of love is not necessarily always right there; sometimes it is far away.

in this season of difficulty, we struggle alongside you. we fail to fully understand the enormity of this year – the changes, the challenges, the chaos, the devastation.

but in this season of hope and light, we have been reminded – by family and friends near and far – to root in love. anything is possible. everything is possible. i remember a sign i saw that said: every flower must grow through dirt.

we come in from a hike outside in the cold. we light the branches and trees in the living room. we light a few candles. we check the dirt at the tiny trunk of “ditch”, gently add a little water, and flick on the twinkling lights at the base of the old clay pot. we look out the window at the inky darkness and know that somewhere out there you must be looking into the night-of-nights too. and so, we are rooted together.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

root in love – a link to chicken marsala


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the hands of community. fading to zero. [d.r. thursday]

HELPING HANDS

the hands around us changed with the zoom reading of a prepared statement.

suddenly, the community we had lovingly helped grow was gone. this group of people -from the very old to the very young- people we had stood with in their celebrations, their funerals, their births, their illnesses, their pinnacle moments, their weddings, their baptisms, their challenges, their laughter and their tears – was no longer my/our community. suddenly, in the zoom reading of one prepared statement, i/we became irrelevant. suddenly, it was as if i/we hadn’t existed, hadn’t invested our hearts in this place, hadn’t worked long hours dedicated to joy and a network of learning and caring, shared goals, the symphony of music of this place, hadn’t had dozens of gatherings with these people at our home, hadn’t stood in the middle of a large dancing circle of these beloveds – with the song “we are family!” playing at our wedding. suddenly. no hands. it’s bracing.

and so we fade to zero.

wine arrived on our doorstep. twice. so did frozen slushie and pumpkin desserts. i got a card or two, an email or two, a few texts, a phone call here or there. some hands reaching out. but i can see the fade.

there is no goodbye party, there are no thanks, there is no real [read: transparent] explanation. i/we just disappeared. erased. the community-family-tree decimated. it all runs roughshod over the very definition of community.

it just is what it is. where have i heard that before?

and so we fade to zero.

the hands in your life. we reach out to each other. we rely upon each other. the interdependency concentrics outward – people we would never recognize, will never meet, are part of the very foundation of our lives, our living. they play a part. they are a star in our shared universe. community.

the 1980s hands across america song lyrics: “see those people over there? they’re my sister and brother. and when they laugh i laugh. and when they cry i cry. and when they need me i’ll be right there by their side.” we would do well re-creating the human chain across the united states holding hands for 15 minutes on a may sunday in 1986. it’s what community is.

the brotherhood of man released the song united we stand in 1970. “for united we stand. divided we fall.
and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together, together, you and i.”
community.

hands.

fading to zero.

it is what it is.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit this painting HELPING HANDS on DAVID’S virtual gallery

HELPING HANDS ©️ 2014 david robinson


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and we give thanks. [d.r. thursday]

“the north texas food bank distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on saturday.” (cnn.com) thousands of cars were lined up at the mobile food pantry. “54 million people in america face food insecurity during the pandemic.” (aamc.org) and we give thanks.

on november 23, at the noon hour, over 12,175,921 million americans had contracted covid-19. the omnipresent global pandemic has killed 255,958 americans since january 21, 2020. (covid.cdc.gov) with a gaping hole in leadership it continues to rage. and we give thanks.

“of the roughly 20 million americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.” (apnews.com) layoffs will likely accelerate in the next weeks and months. and we give thanks.

“gaslighting is deeply rooted in societal structure and social inequalities. women are more likely to experience gaslighting both in professional environments and in their personal lives due to these inequalities.” the term “racial gaslighting” is used “to describe a way of maintaining a pro-white/ anti-black balance in society by labeling those that challenge acts of racism as psychologically abnormal.” “racial gaslighting maintains a pro-white/anti-black balance in society.” “so many of the examples of racial gaslighting we’ve experienced and looked at are embedded in the structure, history and culture of the united states.” (bbc.com) the ugly truths. social injustice. where does a country go from here? and we give thanks.

“the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people around the world.” (who.int) “capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.” (adaa.org) the struggle is real. and we give thanks.

there is so much. so much overwhelm. we look to the stars. we reel, we grieve, we ponder. we wonder how we can withstand any more.

and we are resilient. more than we can ever really know.

we surround our brutalized hearts with the love of family and friends, with memories of times past and wishes for times to come. we keep on keeping on, just as our intrepid ancestors did. we recognize the utter fragility of the moment, the immense journey we are on and the tiny bit of space we actually have on that journey. we stand tall, in the waning sun of late autumn. together. we are grateful. and we give thanks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA – PONDER LIFE mug and other products

CHICKEN MARSALA © 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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better humans. [two artists tuesday]

one of my sweet momma’s favorite stories to tell me, about me, was when i used to stand in place and bellylaugh. she said i would put my tiny hands up in the air and then deeply bend at the waist and bring my hands down, up, down, repeating over and again, all while laughing heartily. it made everyone nearby laugh, hearts-open. it made her giggle to tell me this old story. and each time she told it i felt deeply loved.

i remember my first baby’s – The Girl’s – bellylaugh. it was extraordinary hearing this wee child, knowing little about the world, laugh. it felt like the same miracle when it was my second baby’s – The Boy’s – turn to chortle with all his little body. their giggles made everything in the moment alright. they are deeply loved and their giggles still to this day make everything in the moment alright.

so perhaps that’s a good place to start in the quest to be better humans. perhaps bellylaughing first about the sheer unlikeliness, the improbability, that you get to live this very instant, in this very place, at this very time. nevermind the division, the hostility, the challenges, the histrionics of forces-human-designed. you are here. i am here. no matter how same we are, no matter how different we are. we are in this together. that’s a start. now commence betterment.

“so, i wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. we may never pass this way again. that’s why i want it with you.” (seals & crofts)

he spoke about humans today. how it all really boils down to a measure of how we live in community that is the important stuff. the never-pass-this-way-again moment-after-moment-ness of how we help each other, hold each other, support each other, raise each other up, love each other, regardless of the each or the other.

momma loved the verse “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”

maybe the beginning of being better humans is that simple. let’s share this moment. let’s be amazed we are in it together. let’s be amazed we are in it at all. let’s learn how to be in community together. even in the hardest stuff. it’s a worthy exercise to see two people or two disparate groups defuse a hot and angry moment communicating with humor, to temper down with a lightness of spirit, to divert what could divide them forever, instead focusing on how to move forward with generous hearts.

maybe “let me drown in your laughter” (john denver) is a good start. maybe love will take shape in the pause of anger overtaken by a wave of kindness and gentle temperament, an intentional defusing of heat. maybe then grace will flow in like the tide of change. maybe then we can recognize what we have been, what we are, where we want to go, who we want to become – together. mindfully knowing “we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone) maybe then we can – together – have the real conversations, sob the gut-wrenching and worthwhile cries, see our human failings. and we can take a tiny baby step toward being better humans.

yesterday a small peaceful protest drove and walked by our house. we live on a street perpendicular to the more important streets, the more likely avenues for protest. yet, right in front of us, right in front of our house, was this marvelous group of people marching and driving, chanting and beeping. we stood and clapped, joining their enthusiasm, echoing their pleas, and couldn’t have been more proud to see them go by. and we laughed in those moments of living, joining, hearts-open. not bellylaughs, but audible smiles, exulting in the baby steps, right here, right now.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY