reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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body surfing. [k.s. friday]

it’s all a wave. we ride out, we ride in, the surf is gentle and easy, the surf is rough and pounding. as far as we can see into the horizon we know it will all be like this.

“frozen shoulder,” she said.

at the orthopedic specialist at the highly-regarded froedtert hospital, i blinked back tears. i have had appendage challenges the last two years. it’s a wave. in between the normal tides rolling in, we have a brush with a rogue breaker. she’s kind and explains the stages of frozen shoulder, what i might expect. it can take up to 42 months to un-freeze, she mentions, though i refuse to take that in. for nine months now, since the time of my covid booster, it has become my new normal, this painful and incomplete range of motion. she points to the deltoid and explains the vaccination – any vaccination – must go into the deltoid, not through or slip around it; if either of those happen, inflammation will result. i guess the wave of inflammation has roiled in.

the rogue wave passed by david a couple weeks ago, tapping him as it went. we rose to its challenge, just like we’ll rise to this one. it seems that the surf is not as still as we would wish right now, but there are moments of calmer waters.

we are adrift in our sea – each of us – as we go about living. each molecule of the lake party to the elements, each atom of us rawly exposed.

we are body surfing. every single day.

*****

ADRIFT from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

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moving on. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

most of my friends who are my age are retired. they have had long and dedicated careers and, at the time of retirement, chose to retire and were ready to change directions and do something new.

some of them are grandparents now and wee babies and rambunctious toddlers, children growing, growing, take up their time. precious moments spent with these tinies, indelibly etched on their hearts, both.

some of them have chosen to spend time immersed in reading. they have cultivated friend groups who share their passion for diving into books, they discuss and ask questions and share.

some of them have opted for sizing up, adding acreage and livestock to their lives. i can think of no better example of this than linda who, with bill, has adopted multiple alpaca and a horse and a goat and the-most-adorable-donkeys.

others have elected sizing down, heading south, condos and pools and beaches and sun in their future.

some, like the wander women, have chosen a plan, shedding much of the life paraphernalia we all accumulate – absolute free and loose adventure in their sixties, opening themselves up to thru-hike and bike and camp and, inbetween, live full-time in their rv.

and some feel lost, trying on various hobbies for size, seeking satisfaction and fulfillment, an elusive goal.

i am not retired. i am no longer holding a we-pay-you-to-do-this-job but i’m not retired. i haven’t quite figured it all out yet, much like, well, probably, many of you. but i spend lots of time creating…writing, cartooning, writing. i have found birds and plants are speaking to me more these days and i have also found that i don’t require being around a lot of people. i guess i’m a little bit more introverted than i thought.

people have told me that – in losing my last position in a four decades long career path of music ministry – i can redefine. they, in all innocence and with sincerity, have told me that it’s an opportunity for a new beginning. i hasten to say that they might be sighing inside to themselves as they say this, grateful that they don’t have to start anew. we’ve all done it…sometimes it’s easier to be generously gracious when it’s not your challenge. nevertheless, it does feel like a new beginning, so that part is right.

but, in seeking inspiration, coming from life, from the universe, from reading an article, from a conversation, from moments blowing dry my hair, i realize that maybe in looking forward i am avoiding that which is obvious.

linda had more time to pick up knitting needles after she retired. she uses the wool from her alpaca, which she has cleaned and spins, to create beautiful knitted gifts. my favorite fingerless gloves, the ones that always remind me of the canyonlands with my beloved daughter, were made by her. she returned – in this time of a-little-more-space – to what she knew, what she loved to do.

the map of inspiration may bring me forward. but in its forward-ness, it may remind me also of what i know. the map might point out my waiting piano, the pencils scattered on the music stand, the boom mic stand in the corner. it might point out the pieces of writing i’ve started and put aside. it might point out the glee i get from producing our cartoon. it might point out the camera and the poetry and the ahhh’s they bring me. it might connect the dots back. to me.

and in touching back maybe i will be moving on.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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a beginning. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

no book on menopause or post-menopause – that i have read thus far – really prepares us. i haven’t found a steponesteptwostepthree-handbook on how to sort this. the phases of a mom’s life intersect and overlap and are messy and as full of emotional upheaval as they are full of gratitudes for blissful. every piece, in my own messiness-of-this, is sticky and pulls at every other piece, like marshmallows in hot-off-the-bonfire s’mores. no matter the professional pursuit, the hobby, the exercise, the diet, the zen-yen, it is all interwoven with the loss of mom-identity, the constant babystep-by-babystep redefining of relationship with one’s children and one’s self.

of early days of motherhood, anne morrow lindbergh in “gift from the sea” wrote essays sparked by seashells, “eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.” she is the “still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities.” in a metaphoric nod to the shell argonauta, anne paints the picture of the mother argonaut floating to the surface and releasing the young, then floating away to a new life. sailors, she says, consider this shell “a sign of fair weather and favorable winds”. yet, she muses, “what does the open sea hold for us? we cannot believe that the second half of life promises ‘fair weather and favorable winds’.”

it is a total reorientation. it takes time to re-find the center of gravity. true center. even with a child of 32 and a child of 29, i find this not to have been or be instantaneous. one does not click off the light-switch, or touch the base of the 1980s brass touch-on-touch-off lamp, turning off the questions of identity. it’s the yarn of a new cape, from mom (and all the other titles) to woman (and all the other titles).

“whether we’re talking about giving up baby clothes, toys, artwork or schoolwork, the issue is not mere sentimentality. it’s about letting go of our children. […] we think that keeping all of those things will let us keep a little of each child who left us.” (claire middleton – “the sentimental person’s guide to decluttering”) i would guess that, even in my intentional attempts to set wind for their sails, my children would cite my fierce hanging-on to them. at the least, they would attest to my quiet weeping at their leaving, each time they leave.

i clean out the house, clean out one thread of four decades of career, glance at my piano – always whispering to me “don’t forget this is who you are too”. i write, i cartoon, i write more. and then, more. i think about composing – new simple feathers of music, pieces that would float in breezes and find center. i sit in quiet. i wonder.

is this an identity crisis?

“but there are other beaches to explore. there are more shells to find. this is only a beginning.” (anne morrow lindbergh)

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the notion of attention. [d.r. thursday]

picture-of-the-day is a driving force. every day now – straight – for over two years – i have posted a picture of the day on our thread. when covid was first present in our world, now two years and a couple months ago, my son suggested that each of us, my son and daughter and i, post a photo a day and it would keep me feeling more in the loop; the connection would be reassuring. i oh-so-agreed and have been really deliberate about these images.

no words necessary, though any kind of descriptor is welcome, these photographs are a glimpse into each other’s lives. i take it really seriously and i celebrate any time either one of them posts a photo, loving the window-in. and all day i look for the photo-capture that will be my picture-of-the-day. it’s a practice i love. intentional observing of the world around me. we all see the same things; we all see different things. i love noticing. and i have found – as in anything – the more i notice, the more i notice.

“the notion of attention … to see that the way the flicker flies is greatly different from the way the swallow plays in the golden air of summer…” (“our world” – text by mary oliver, photographs by molly malone cook)

we hiked over the weekend. we hadn’t been on any trail in a couple of weeks as the weather has been uncooperative. our hike was punctuated with my stopping and stopping again. so much to photograph, so many changes in the forest. i want to go slow, slow; this is not a get-your-heartrate-up exercise, but my heart was exercised nonetheless. so much beauty to see, so many tiny miracles within my reach.

david does not rush me. we were there – on that trail – to rejuvenate, to breathe, to take it all in. how do i capture that in a picture-of-the-day, i wondered. i photograph the new dandelion sharing gravel with the path. i photograph shy tiny pink flowers bending down toward the earth. i photograph the mayapple which has suddenly burst into the underbrush world. i photograph the trillium not yet blooming and wonder aloud which warmer day this week they will open to the sun. so many greens. full spectrum, not just the verdant new spring grass. slow, slow.

“i lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass…” (walt whitman – “song of myself”)

it rained the day of this post’s photograph. again. it had been raining for days, grey end on end. my picture-of-the-day would depict the rain, a dissatisfaction with the lack of sun. but, even in that frustration-of-waiting for the lamb days, i knew i could find something to notice about the rain, something to give pause.

the trees in the reflection – still leafless – reminded me. the rain falling here – brutally absent in drought-corners of this world – gentle and insistent, driving and adamant in turn, brings new growth, a transition to a new season, washing away the dust and salt of winter and its tears.

“it was my pleasure to notice such things…” (mary oliver – “our world”)

*****

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just like toadshade. [k.s. friday]

one of nature’s market umbrellas, this toadshade. research states that its prairie trillium leaves – in a salad – taste a little like sunflower seeds, though the idea of harvesting as we hike is not really appealing to me. in due time we will be on the trail and the sessile blooms will burst open, deep red flowers punctuating the woods. the mayapple will spread and vast areas of decaying leaves will be covered by its natural awning. it is a joy to watch the forest wake.

soon i will move into the studio to pare down and rearrange. it has needed this for some time. like decaying leaves, but without the nutrients those generate, i will put away vestiges of places or times i simply cannot tolerate thinking about any longer. a plastic bin will hold the artifacts and, in that clearing out, i suspect light will stream in. i will not merely glance into the studio. i will walk in, breathe, and step the next step of whatever the journey in that studio is. even if only to watch it wake right now.

with the cantilever umbrella of my piano full-stick, maybe i will sow mustard seeds of possibility. and, maybe, just like toadshade, blooms will burst open.

*****

PULLING WEEDS

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PULLING WEEDS from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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desi is messy. too. [k.s. friday]

because we see desi every day, it is hard to notice its growth. she is likely changed at every sunrise streaming through the window behind her, yet we can’t see it. we’re too close, sitting at the table with her every day; the changes are imperceptible.

desi is a tiny pine tree, an evergreen whose genus and species are unknown. maybe a white pine, we wonder; she’s a messy little thing. her tiny branches are not orderly; she has a bit of wild-troll or kramer-esque (“seinfeld”) hair-branches going on. but her trunk has gone from a tiny needle stalk to something a bit more solid, a bit more grounded.

we talk to desi, just as we talk to all our plants. they each have a name (plants are people too). and, though i haven’t checked on each plant’s tolerance for this, i touch each one. we talk about the sun and the spring ever-coming and their stoic thriving through the winter. i tell them i can see their growth, for i cannot imagine any one or thing not liking positive reinforcement.

yesterday, in mid-basement-clean, i called up to david in his office. i asked him if he could take just a couple minutes to come downstairs and see my progress. i told him i could use the positive reinforcement. plus, if he didn’t look at the progress along the way, he would likely not realize what it took to get there.

it will take tons more time. i have so much to go through…more than thirty years of accumulation. it’s been an ongoing project. but the space i cleared in the workroom yesterday was significant and, if you looked, you could see the change.

some clearing out will not look like much. there will be boxes or bins that i will go through and things will get messier before they get cleaner. it will be hard to discern what i’ve accomplished. it may look a little wild down there. but it’s changing, nevertheless.

not unlike the stuff going on inside. we can’t really see that growth either. we sit at the table with ourselves every single day. one day someone tells us we seem lighter, a good trend. positive – and negative – changes, both worthy of our attention, both glimpses into direction we choose to travel, the way we want to be in the world, how we want to ground, how we want to grow.

clearing out – on the inside – does not look like much. things get messier before they get cleaner and it is hard to discern what we’ve accomplished. it may look a little wild in there. but it’s changing, nevertheless.

desi nods her wild-hair-branch head.

*****

taking stock

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TAKING STOCK from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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restless and fidgety. [d.r. thursday]

and the saga continues. april. “april showers bring may flowers,” someone quips. everyone turns and snarls. that kind of positivity is just a bit much.

i looked at my weather app – again. we have several important places on there: chicago and charlotte (to see what our kids are experiencing), denver and tampa and columbia (family), breckenridge and dory (mountain towns we check in on), brevard (another mountain town we check in on), washington island (because we lived there), northport (because it was home).

the weather was iffy this past weekend (no surprises there). as we drew closer to it, i started googling real estate companies. zillow and realty.com, redfin, trulia. looking at houses in places with better weather, houses in places with different terrain, looking at house plans for places we dream about being. i’ve lived here a long, long time – longer than i have lived anywhere. it’ll be thirty-four years this year – thirty-three of them in this cherished house – more than half my life.

and like spring poking at us, teasing, causing us to be restless and fidgety, thoughts of living somewhere else do the same thing. poke, poke. prodding me…think about it. “what’s keeping you here?” someone asked me. “you grew into it because you had to,” else someone explained my midwest life.

the sky is glowing orange right now. literally glowing. there is some fog over the lake so the rising sun is diffusing into it. it’s pretty stunning. i suspect it’s supposed to be some sort of consolation prize for the rain and snow. uh-huh.

the sun pops out over the cloud of fog and streams into the bedroom. the quilt lights up, david peeks out the window, dogga stirs at our feet, the mourning dove outside coos. and one more morning – yet again – i think about how much i love this home.

*****

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little by little. [k.s. friday]

“bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air. and feathered canyons everywhere, i’ve looked at clouds that way.” (joni mitchell)

it’s march. less bluesky days than gray. more rain than sun. drear > brilliant. march in-the-north is a funny time. it’s neither this nor that. a transition zone. it’s cold. it’s warm. it’s both. it’s never consistent. you just never know.

and so, you realize that you have to grab onto the days that shake you out of cobwebs and from under the quilts of winter. you must go stare at the sky. and those clouds. they hope you.

i walked looking up. watching the play of sunlight. remembering what it feels like to have warm sun on my face and not see puffs of air in front of me as i breathe into it.

in the middle of a time of some worry i drink in the sounds and sights of normal around me. i hold tightly to the returning sound of early sparrows and stalwart chickadees and finches. i stand in blue and fluffy white, grateful for a day that is not a shade of gray.

i sat on the edge of the deck, dogga at my side. we watched two cardinals flurrying about. we listened to the crows and watched for the hawk. there was nothing that had to be done in those moments, no project, no task. it just was. it wasn’t really warm but it wasn’t really cold either.

it’s the grayness that is the challenge. sitting in the question of season. the not-this-not-that. elusive spring. the calendar reads “spring” yet the reality in these parts is not in keeping with the definition of “to leap, burst forth”. an illusion, as there is no leaping, no bursting forth here. it is more of a slow slide into the season. snowpiles struggling to remain in the shadows, shreds of ice on the pond. the good earth will take its sweet time, in bits and spurts, little by little, and, eventually, spring will have arrived and we will glance around and be surprised.

i look at the weekend weather. i’ll turn 63 on sunday. i would like it to be warm, sunny. i would like to gather my children and my family and dear friends and eat birthday cake with lots of candles and singing under a blue-puffy-cloud-sky. wishes.

accuweather tells me it will not be warm. it will be the coldest day of the weeks on either side. and, for many reasons of this time, it will not be gathered with my children or my family or dear friends and i will not be eating cake with candles. i don’t know about the singing. all…little by little.

but it’s supposed to be sunny.

and that counts. every little by little.

“i’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow: it’s cloud illusions i recall; i really don’t know clouds at all.” (and judy collins sings)

*****

little by little (©️ 2022 kerri sherwood feat. dogga)

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the glow. [d.r. thursday]

even on a foggy, overcast day, looking down from the ridge the glow was unmistakable. the everciduous beech trees stubbornly held their leaves, dying the brown woods a shade of cantaloupe or hard-to-identify pantone.

the forest floor below our feet was shuffling-full of leaves, oaks and maples and a variety of brown county timber. vines curled their way around trees in attempts to find the canopy. on this winter day, were it not for the marcescent beech, we could see further than any other season in the woods.

marcescence, i’ve learned – for this is not a word that sprang to the forefront of my mind – is the retention of leaves through winter. it isn’t until the leaves are completely brittle and wind takes them that they drop. and in the meanwhile, new growth – new leaf buds – have been protected and had access to nutrients and moisture, a sort of still-on-the-tree mulch.

it occurs to me that marcescence is like changing jobs. one generally holds onto a job until retaining the next, the security of employ feeding confidence and necessities while new awaits. it’s always a little disconcerting to leave before next is there, a leap of faith, sometimes, a premature leap, with regret.

yet sometimes, it is absolute. we drop our leaves. we stand naked in the forest, tall and exposed, willowy trees waiting for spring. sometimes we shed all that protects us and take risks and go fallow in liminal and shiver in cold winds. we gaze around and see everciduous folks nearby, confident, predictable, stalwart. we dig in, deep roots of belief in ourselves despite weather that tests us. we draw from the ground, are fed by what we know, what we have learned, what we have created. we hold onto tiny bits of light. we protect the glow. we push on.

and new buds show up. spring always follows winter.

*****

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unfinished. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

while she explained to me the presence of the cross on the back of the donkey, he explained to david how he installed the sun-seeking solar panel in the barnyard. both exist here. the old world donkey and the twenty-first century solar panel. together.

he told us that they were about our age when they started to make plans for next steps. they sorted and listed and researched and made decisions for their next phase, moving to acreage further south – in a bit more temperate clime – closer to some family, out in the woods with ridges and ravines, living their dreams for the next of life. “you should start thinking about that now,” he encouraged us. he’s right. we think about it all the time.

“the world never comes at you all at once,” john o’donohue wrote. “you are not simply here. neither are you definitively and forever ‘you’.” … “no person is a finished thing.”

things you can count on. change and change and change.

we know change is imminent. and change has already arrived. and we have exited change, taken the doorway that reads “next”. and we can see more doors and more doors. they are a little further away, like trail markers, choices to be mapped, routes to follow, narratives with gaps to fill in.

maybe a coupla donkeys, a coupla horses, dogdog, mountains, cherry tomato plants, and trees. our lives will evolve.

in our mind’s eye, we paint ourselves older – hopefully wiser, but i know there’s no guarantee of that. we paint the hue of early morning sunrises over peaks near and far. we paint old porches and adirondack chairs. less stuff and more time. old world and new world. much like now, we paint in mugs of coffee and glasses of wine bookending the day. we paint in people we love. we paint in hiking and writing and new recipes and doing the art we do. it’s unfinished, this canvas.

life is not a paint-by-number. and solar panels and donkeys co-exist in barnyards. and we are not definitively any particular colors in any particular place doing any particular thing. we are made of dreams and change.

*****

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