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uff da! [not-so-flawed wednesday]

bumper sticker on the car in front of us

every week we would drive to st. james so that i could take norwegian lessons. my sweet momma and poppo took them too. i had no idea why i was taking these lessons, but far be it from me to question the stubborn pull of the sons of norway lodge for my parents, who loved their membership there, a little inland from the north shore of long island. i belonged to the sons of norway youth group as well. one of my really close high school friends belonged to the greek youth group, so my membership at the loyal lodge didn’t seem quite so weird, but the greek youth group was way more lively than the norwegian’s, with many festivals and dances. i mean, just think of the food alone: norwegian fish pudding vs. greek moussaka, lapskaus vs. souvlaki, krumkake vs. baklava, akvavit vs. ouzo…there is a different level of excitement and celebration. anyway, i felt less like an anomaly going to norwegian lessons because angela went to greek school.

not much of the norwegian tradition has carried on. there have been times when we have made krumkake, filling the plain waffle cookies off the iron with fruit or whipped cream. there have – never – been times that we have sought out norwegian fish pudding nor lutefisk. never ever. i have never – ever – used my norwegian lessons. sadly, even if i went to norway, which is most definitely on a bucket list, i would not understand any of the language now’days.

but “uff da” has endured.

my dad used the expression often. it was a substitution for “oof!” or “oh geez!” to express surprise or dismay or just to buy a moment of thinking-time. “uff da!” is synonymous with him in our family. so it is likely if any of us sees a bumper sticker or what-have-you that says “uff da!” we will send it on and around. it’s like we have had a tiny visit from my dad; erling has spoken.

we have a couple “uff da” magnets on our fridge that came from their fridge. and my nephew named his children beautiful and unique heritage-rich norwegian names, carrying on legacy my dad passed down. i get to carry my dad’s name with me (as well as his jowls). and you can sometimes – though not too often – hear me say “uff da” out loud.

my sons of norway days are no longer, but i remember fondly the cute boy “j-r” in my class, the norwegian dancing instruction, the man from the lodge who built our stone fireplace rock-by-rock, the miss norway pageant in the city and the marzipan.

always the marzipan.

uff da!!

*****

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


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the holidays. messy. [merely-a-thought monday]

we have a small stack of unopened envelopes on the counter. it’s a stack of holiday cards and we’re saving it for closer to christmas. opening these while sitting together will seem like a visit from these people we care about at a time when visits are scarce and time together is minimal. these cards will help.

because these holidays are messy.

we’ve been succumbing to the hallmark channel. it has been both delightful and a disservice, a bar we cannot touch, with families gathered around roaring fireplaces with cocoa, around kitchen counters icing cookies, around the town square christmas tree singing, around the tree farm choosing the exact right tree to cut down, dancing at the christmas ball. our hearts soar with these picturesque modern-day norman-rockwells and yet…

because the holidays are messy.

in my mind’s eye i can create all kinds of wondrous times – with our children, our extended families, our friends. i envision everyone here at home or at a giant cabin in the mountains with snow gently falling outside, arriving at the door with ecstatic hugs of anticipation. i can hear laughter and records spinning and song and many shared old stories. i catch a whiff of the fireplace and the cocoa, early morning coffee brewing like in all the old folgers commercials, the turkey or ham or lasagna in the oven, snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies with hersheys kisses and krumkake baking. i can feel the excitement with everyone throwing wrap on the floor, bows and ribbons flying, opening thoughtful gifts. i can see evidence of our angels in the air, my sweet momma and poppo, columbus, my big brother, grandparents, even our babycat. i blink and i’m back. like many of you, i know this wondrous time, though perhaps entirely possible someday, is – again – not reality.

because the holidays are messy.

in this final stretch to christmas i know that expectations are high and disappointment is higher. the simplest moments that our hearts desire are somehow unattainable and complex. it is not an easy time and it is on the heels of a not-easy year for so many, including us.

the holidays are messy.

so we keep the small stack of cards and wait to open them. we sit at the end of the evening in the living room lit by the lights of our tree and the white branches of previous years. we write cards and sticker envelopes and wrap packages and ship. we, like you, try to immerse in both memory-rituals and new traditions, try to make-the-best-of-it. we know that time marches on, too quickly-quickly. in looking back we all know how fast ahead goes. we wish for the holidays we can see – but not quite touch – in our mind’s eye. we know that angst and worries and loneliness and exhaustion and issues and comparisons and striving for perfection and dismaying sadness are not supposed to be a part of the holiday spirit, yet we see tidbits of these shades of blue as we look around. we work to move in grace and trust and hold unconditional love as guiding forces.

we hope for less-messy another year.

i believe the cardinals out back at the pond came to reassure me.

*****

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


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not so ruthless. [two artists tuesday]

i dare not hang them inside (or even on the actual front of the house, for that matter). but they will find their place. my mom and dad’s old christmas lights were in the bottom christmas bin in the storage room in the front of the basement. all bins had to be moved for the water utility folks to replace our water line so it seemed a decided task to go through the bins and, maybe – if i could find any ruthlessness – pare it all down a bit.

this is not a task for the nostalgic.

my digging and sorting and organizing and paring-notparing-paring-notparing down was like listening to all the old christmas record albums at once. it was frank sinatra and the carpenters and jim nabors and the firestone orchestra and chorus and herb alpert and the tijuana brass and dean martin and john denver and bing crosby and julie andrews and burl ives and doris day. it was old glass ornaments sprinkled liberally with glitter and felt cut into homemade trees with elmer’s-glue-laden-decorations. it was golden angels and hardened flour-water wreaths and crocheted bells and plastic poinsettia corsages and thick red yarn for stringing. it was cloves and pomegranate seeds and macaroni and tinsel and sugar-coating and silver sleighbells and styrofoam snowmen. it was crayon-printed “kirsten” and “craig” signatures, old red stockings-to-hang and fuzzy santa hats. tree skirts and tablecloths. rogers’ christmas house treasures and andrea’s christmas candle bubble nightlights. gift tags with long stories in a simple “from”.

as i was standing over those bins on thursday and friday, half my body buried deep into the bottom of the piles, i came upon a snowman ornament. “to kerie, from patrick” read the gift tag i had saved in the box from circa 1982, a gift from a piano student to me, his teacher. i took a picture and sent it to patrick, now my friend across the country on instagram. instantly, i had one of those heart rushes you get when you stumble across something tiny yet just simply precious. reaching out and letting him know seemed obvious. (not to mention a distraction when i needed one.)

i pulled my sweet parent’s vintage lights out and, because of that way that wires entangle even in the best of circumstances, i took my time detangling. i plugged each strand in, tightening the bulbs and removing the ones that had burned out. on the dining room table, i put together one long strand with working bulbs and made a decision. this year – as opposed to most all other years – i would wrap our front porch rail with memories. i would carefully place each old bulb so everyone passing could revisit a time long ago, decades in fact, a simpler time. i would succumb to the multi-colored-lights this year. on purpose. and after the new year, i will gently place them back in one of the bins, next to the painted-glass ornaments and the trees made of construction paper and paste.

and though next year we’ll likely go back to white twinkling happy lights out front, i will always remember the multi-colored lights and the enormity of love-filled stories and i will – just-as-always – know they will be a treasured part of my heart.

there were three overstuffed bins when i started. with a few things to donate and much in bags to dispose of, there are neater, tidier, more organized bins now. but there are still three.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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like it was. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

i honestly don’t think i can – or need to – add much to this. this is not uncommon.

wistful. melancholy. reminiscent. lonely. overwhelmed by a lack of the busy and social holiday celebrations portrayed nearly everywhere. drowning in comparisons.

life changes and, it appears (yes, yes) we need to change with it. the holidays are a tough reminder.

in the middle of the trail we hiked on thanksgiving we talked about this. we had decided a big pot of pasta sauce would be our thanksgiving meal. comfort food. i, especially, needed that. the day was overcast with snow flurries and a mist gently coming down around a few bends on the path. damp and cold but familiar and reassuring. three deer were startled by our arrival. we watched them as they gracefully bounded away.

we came home and lit all the happy lights in the house. poured a glass of wine and got to the sauce. lit candles, took out thanksgiving napkins, set the table simply. our pumpkin pie was vegan, plant-based, amazing.

yesterday someone ordered 40 “be kind” buttons. it prompted me to suggest that we take a hundred – or a couple hundred – of our buttons and go somewhere and just give them out. sometime in the holiday season. plant a new tradition. start a new ritual. we’ll see.

demographics have spread families out across the globe, work responsibilities make time off a challenge and the pandemic makes travel questionable. we age and lose grandparents and then parents and loved ones. the holidays take on more blue than iridescent tinsel-silver. so many reasons why people find themselves awake in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling, wishing it was like it used to be. visions of large meals and preparation and trees and grand shopping and piles of presents and family-all-around and parties and fancy dress-up clothes all dance like sugar plums in our heads. things that used-to-be.

finding things to assuage the used-to-be’s might help, might fill in the gaps. gathering with others in like circumstances, empathizing, might be reassuring. having a little visit with dear next-door neighbors later in the night is a bit of fondant on a layer-cake day. planning an adventure or two for coming days brings sweet anticipation.

holding space for the wistful is truth.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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2020. and black-eyed peas. [d.r. thursday]

black-eyed peas. we are iso a recipe for black-eyed peas. we read that eating black-eyed peas on new year’s day brings general good luck and financial good fortune to the eater-of-the-peas.

we also read that we should eat pork – which might explain why my sweet momma often insisted on pork for new year’s day. apparently, the fact that pigs root forward suggests that the eater-of-the-pork will indeed move forward as well in the new year. we will stay away from chicken and turkey on new year’s day because chickens and turkeys scratch in the dirt and we have done enough dirt-scratching this year so would like to avoid that at all cost in 2021.

at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we are going to open both doors to our house – the front and the back – to allow the old year – the mighty-roaring 2020 – to leave, exit, escape, make an exodus, get the heck out.

at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we will have the stockpots ready and the big finnish wooden spoons. we’ll bang lids and pots together and drum on the metal as loud as we can. (i know it’s “loud-ly” but we are just going to be utterly loud!)

we are heeding any and all suggestions, any and all superstition, any and all custom so as not to impede 2020 and its mean-spirited-spirit to leave and also generously allow for a kinder 2021 to arrive. our list goes on…

yes. tonight we will usher out this year-of-years and, maybe like you, smooching with great expectation, we will greet the new year.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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little did we know. [two artists tuesday]

on november 19 i wrote about the lights and decorations in our neighborhood. filled with the possibility of this light, these traditions, i pondered that we might get a “regular” tree this year, that we might splurge on a tree of traditional shape, traditional size.

but we didn’t.

the next morning i lost my job. little did i know, as we wandered through our neighborhood, twilight falling fast in our eyes, full of the hope of the season, that all would change the very next day, a “regular” tree rapidly slashed out of the budget.

the white branches have lingered in our living room all year long. lit with twinkling lights and adorned with silver balls, it seemed, by mid february or so, that it was time to put them away, to perhaps burn them in the fire pit.

but we didn’t.

the spring slid slowly into summer which slid into fall and the pandemic scorching our nation relentlessly continued. the white branches, the lights, the twinkling reflection off the silver balls suddenly seemed necessary, a beacon in a dark world of change. little did we know we would be relieved to have kept those branches up, to brighten our living room.

we hiked in the high mountains of colorado. the ditch trail in aspen became our favorite go-to, in-between the times of seeing my girl. a little over 4 miles, this trail was perfect for altitude acclimatizing and the vistas were amazing. there was a tiny pine tree on that quiet trail, an orphan that wasn’t going to make it. we thought about the struggles of this little tree and could have just kept trekking.

but we didn’t.

“ditch” rode home in a water bottle full of dirt and we planted it in an old clay pot with some good soil and a few red rocks. little did we know how we would cheer on this little tree. little did we know how tenderly we would feel about this tiny pine, a piece of our time in the mountains that we adore, the mountains that make me cry. a strand of white lights wrap around the old pot, a small silver ball and the tiniest pine cone now sit next to the base of “ditch”.

little do we know what is to come.

the white branches grace our living room in this season of everything unexpected, everything changed, everything different. the collection of small trees i’ve gathered through the years decorate our home; the silver balls from the bins in the basement are scattered to catch the light.

and a tiny pine tree named “ditch” is our christmas tree.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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heart. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

heartlights

“and now.  you’re here. in a world of hypocrisy.  and your love can heal us all.”  (you’re here ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood – see this friday’s post)

day’s end is close.  today was christmas.  between last night’s eve and today we sang songs.  we played carols.  we lit luminaria in the backyard under an oddly warm midnight sky.  we hiked in twilight woods.  we gazed in the dark at trees we decorated and lit with strands of lights and glinting silver ornaments.  we cooked meals and sipped wine.  we watched as The Boy and The Girl opened gifts.  we unwrapped presents and cards sent to us, set aside, waiting for today.

and in all of that?  the common denominator?

love.

surely the spirit of the holiday season can help to mend all rifts, help to inspire goodness, help to heal us.  in this world of hypocrisy, we can be united.  it matters not which holiday we celebrate.  what matters is heart and the rich universal tenets that march hand in hand with love.

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

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o christmas tree, o christmas tree

three years ago the boy and his best friend and i went to the christmas tree farm. there was a lot of snow and we ran through it, dodging each other’s snowballs. plodding around, we found the ‘perfect’ tree and an extra little one to go upstairs as well. the boy and pierre sawed them down, we loaded the big tree on top of the car, drove home and had hot chocolate before digging out the tree stand from the basement. this ‘perfect’ tree held white lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

IMG_2828two years ago d.dot and i were standing with the boy in the snow out in the field and the boy said, with disdain, “not THAT one!” he was talking about a christmas tree we had moseyed over to, a christmas tree that was speaking to the ‘youtwoarenotnormal’ in us. the boy wanted a ‘normal’ tree – one that had a ‘normal’ shape – one that looked ‘normal’ – the kind of tree that everyone associates with all the hallmark movies and norman rockwell christmas plates. and so, since we had driven in his car and he vowed to make us walk home from the christmas tree farm in freezing temperatures, we obliged his wish for a ‘normal’ tree. and it was beautiful. it had ridiculously sharp needles (we later named it ‘satan’) but it held white christmas lights proudly and it felt like a celebration.

last year the boy wasn’t there when we went to the christmas tree farm. so that meant that two artists were let loose in the fields. dangerous. we stomped through the snow and mud, laughing and looking at every single tree there. it wasn’t all that cold out, and the light was streaming throIMG_3997ugh the fir branches. it was glorious. we found our tree in the back of the farm. we nicknamed it ‘christmas-tree-on-a-stick’. (if you ever go to the minnesota state fair, as the boy and the girl and i did a few years back, you will find literally everyyyything on a stick.) this tree had a long trunk with no branches – about 3-4 feet up- and then the tree part started. everyone who saw it, loved it. it was a ‘perfect’ tree…a ‘perfect’ tree on a stick and it held white christmas lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

this year we drove past the christmas tree farm to see if it was still there. the land is for sale – 34 acres of oasis in town – but it is still there for all who want to have an adventure and find their ‘perfect’ tree. we didn’t stop right then; we planned on coming back another time. we laughed, pondering what this year’s tree would look like. it was likely we would pick out something even more ummm….artsy….than last year. we knew the boy would be thrilled. ha.

one morning, a few days after that, we took a walk. as we approached our home there was a big branch in the street that had somehow been knocked off the big tree in our front yard, a tree that has been there forever. this tree has been in so many pictures through the years. it has towered over the girl and the boy as they grew. it has been the base of snow forts, the shade for the summer, the harbinger of budding spring coming, the last tree to lose leaves in the fall. when i rocked the girl and boy as babies in the nursery, it was this tree i could see out the window, this tree that i see in my mind’s eye, this tree marking the changing of the seasons, the growing of children, the movement of time. i looked over at the branch in the street and then ran to get it. looking at d.dot i said,”what about this? this could be the perfect christmas tree for us this year.” we laughed and brought it inside so that it could dry out a bit. a couple of days ago, we placed it in the christmas tree stand, wrapped burlap around the bottom, aphoto-3nd stood back to look.   this branch, this piece of history, this year’s christmas tree – is holding white christmas lights -and a little metal star- proudly and is a celebration.

sometimes it is the simplest things.

 

 

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