reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

much like the teacher in the peanuts cartoon (do not pass go until you watch this!), sometimes when people around us speak – even people we love dearly and eternally, even people who are wise and whose opinions and advice matter, even people who are thinking of our and their best interest, even people who are well-intentioned, even people who want to have thoughtful shared-planning-the-future discussions – we hear “wah-wah-woh-wah-wah-wah”.

we are the victims. we are the perpetrators.

the blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. the eye-rolling moments. the oh-geez-good-grief-criminy. the if-i-sigh-will-they-hear-me-and-stop. the maybe-yawning-would-work. the what-can-i-say-to-bring-this-overkill-conversation-to-a-screeching-halt. the distract-distract-distract. the load-up-the-cleverly-snide-remark-and-shoot.

ahhh yes. and then there’s the faux-innocent-smug-comeback.

and no thanks to cervantes here. clearly, he was full of double-talk.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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back window. front window. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t think that i will ever be able to have a kitchen sink placed without a window above it. in all the homes i have lived as an adult – every single one – both houses in florida, in wisconsin, even on island – there has been a window over the sink. working at the sink, gazing out – a time for pondering, reviewing, sorting. it is the place to watch the world go by, the seasons, time.

the big plate glass window over the sink in our home has given me a view into the flow – filmy strands of babies growing, toddlers on swings, snowmen on the deck, cherished dogs romping, snacks in the fort, oversized plastic t-ball stands, basketball hoops, a bright yellow slide that attracted a bazillion tiny gnats at a certain time in the spring. i’ve watched trees grow and shed and bud and shed, plants planted, transplanted, re-planted, snow fall and cherry tomatoes flourish. there’s been grass and no grass and dirt and grass again. i imagined the patio – where people would gather, play ukulele, dance, laugh – before it was there. and the little pond has been a treasure, inviting birds and squirrels and chipmunks and frogs to its little rock bank. i’ve stared out that window with great appreciation. i’ve stared out that window, wondering.

in this time of covid, lots of our time in the winter is spent looking out. we are not really participating in gathering, trying to minimize risk to ourselves and others. even vaccinated and boosted, we know that so many around us have taken ill, have fallen to the highly contagious pandemic. so it has been rare to see even our neighbors. sightings of them, as we stroll the ‘hood or they walk by, past our front windows, have been about it.

but monday afternoon they all gathered in our driveway. just before 4:30 there were two loud bangs outside. directly across the street, in the driveway, tucked up by the garage and right next to the house, the neighbor’s jeep exploded. the firetrucks were here seemingly instantly and the road was closed off by police cars that came from all directions. and all the neighbors stood together on the apron of our driveway. for the while that it took to extinguish the flames, we had time together. we could see each other’s faces, exchange a few words, exclaim about how scary it was and express relief that our neighbors-across-the-street were safe and unharmed.

a police car or two began to leave. one of the fire trucks left. the neighbors began to disperse. after some time the tow truck came. the tiny bit of time that we were all out there, mostly coatless in the cold, was over. but i could feel something else…the reminder that we are all here.

someone spoke the words: “i hardly ever see or talk to anyone in the neighborhood, but do you remember after the derecho that came through? everyone was out, walking around. eight hundred or so trees down, sidewalks heaved, power out…all in the matter of less than five minutes. and we were all walking around. together. and now…here we are.”

out the big kitchen picture window looking over the backyard are reminiscings, fallowed and growing plants, a bubbling pond fountain, massive trees, tiny creatures, dreamy summer nights, barney, bonfires, grilled eggplant, snowfall.

out the front window is community.

*****

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temporary. [two artists tuesday]

we have a ridiculously high level of dedication to this. despite the fact that no one is requiring it, no one is requesting it, no one is paying for it. every weekday, for one week shy of four years, we have written a post. i guess it’s part of the autograph we leave on the world, whether or not anyone reads it.

they poured the last bit of temporary sidewalk this week. it’s there till spring when it will be replaced by something permanent. i stood at the front door and chatted with the guys, who told me we should sign our names in it…after all, it is temporary cement. i did have this fleeting thought that, even if it were permanent cement, it is still temporary, but i didn’t think they wanted to have an existential conversation so i said nothing.

i went upstairs to get d from work. “we have to sign our names in the sidewalk. the guys told me to,” i pulled him away from his desk. he grabbed a yellow craftsman screwdriver from the kitchen drawer – where we keep one to tighten the door handle and that thingy on the door jamb that the lock slides into…what is that thingy called…oh yeah, strike plate….that.

it wasn’t too cold out – which is why they poured – so we went outside, stared at the open, undisturbed, perfectly raked canvas of wet cement and … drew a blank. the possibilities were endless. a peace sign? a heart? flowers? a mountain sunrise? paralyzed with uncertainty and too many choices, we decided on our names, which presented its own set of problems.

for we never really call each other our names. of course we will reFER to each other as kerri and david to others, but saying the name david TO david feels funny coming out of my mouth. and hearing david say kerri to me is just weird.

because a long time ago now we found out that we had the same middle name. in the very early stages of our relationship – when all we did was write emails and then texts – before we had met in person and before we had much voice-to-voice conversation, we discovered that, in the oddest of odds, our middle names are – for all intents and purposes – the same.

erle.

and

earl.

mine is the feminine version (that’s what my sweet momma would try to have you believe. having been named after my dad erling, she tried to convince me that e-r-l-e was soft and girlie. mm-hmm.) david’s was “the sound that bears make” – according to him; he was named after his grandpa.

regardless of the obvious chatter this will create as you try to discern if it is indeed soft and girlie or more of a gutteral utterance of a grizzly bear, it was decidedly a unique moment to find out we had somewhat rare names as our middle name.

and so, i started to call him david earl. (and similarly kerri erle.) soon, the formality dropped to d.earl – which is pronounced d-dot-earl. and this was shortened to d.dot – which is pronounced d-dot and does not include the obvious redundancy (d-dot-dot), because, heaven knows, we would not want to be redundant.

most of the time now, i just call him “d”.

so…standing there…in front of cement just pining to be written in…we had a decision to make. what.to.write.

and there you have it. the absolutely unnecessary story that you can’t believe you just read to the end. k.dot and d.dot in the cement sidewalk. temporarily.

the next morning – the morning after the installation – i stepped out to look at our handiwork. the sidewalk had cracked in the bitter overnight cold.

but they’ll be back, like they said. in the warmer spring or early summer days. and they’ll pour the next.

there’s a good chance we will write in that permanent sidewalk as well. our autographs.

those, too, will be temporary.

*****

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backwards. [merely-a-thought monday]

maybe it was the glass of wine in my hand, but i doubt it.

we sat at the table in our sunroom, happy lights on, gazing into the inky blackness of the backyard. it was still rather early in the evening but, these days, dark happens early. it suddenly caught my eye and it made me laugh. the backwards “let the adventure begin” seemed just about right, right about now.

we bought ourselves this little wooden sign a few years ago now, for the littlehouse on washington island. it graced the table that looked out on the lake and was the opening line of our time with TPAC, a magical performing arts center on that tiny island. a treasured adventure. and then covid. we packed our sign into a bin and brought it back home.

it sat in the bin in the basement, quiet, for months or so, i guess. then we redid the sunroom…more plants, our table, a new rug, an old door on horses, happy lights, an old suitcase. a few more adventures later – and i went downstairs, seeking the sign.

it sits on the old door in front of the old suitcase that holds the old cd player and lost-man, who is a stuffed mountain goat that reminds us of an amazing hike our intrepid girl took us on – to lost man lake on independence pass, with exquisite high elevation views and tufts of mountain-goat-fur snagged on the branches of bushes along the trail.

“let the adventure begin” makes me smile every time i see it. for it has already begun. we are in the middle of it. covid and wrists and job loss and angst and incredible-joy-times and glasses of wine and dogdog moments and new work and questions and hikes and dancing and music and plans and tiny trips and big trips and grief and laughter and babies and water and cartoons and writing. the middle of it. no re-sets necessary. like the tide, it ebbs and flows, but it’s ever-present, this adventure. like john lennon said, “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” while you are waiting. it’s right there.

when i was in junior high or maybe early high school i had to do a project for science class. i had this clock that, for some reason, ran backwards. a big round face, the second hand ran backwards, which pushed the minute hand backwards, which pushed the hour hand backwards. with a master bulova watchmaker as my dad, we collaborated on this mysterious phenomenon: time running backwards. we researched and experimented, asked lots of questions, tried to get the clock to go forwards. it never did. instead, we devised a new face for the clock. and we learned how to read the time as it ran backwards. it made us think and laugh and think more and, also, gave us an interesting perspective on time. it’s happening. whether it’s forwards or backwards, it’s marching on. we simply need to adjust and adapt. at dawn, in midday, at dusk, in the darkness.

it was particularly funny to me when this sign – “let the adventure begin” – was backwards in the window reflection. well, maybe not really funny. maybe just really, really wise.

it feels like it might have been an even-greater little sign painted that way.

*****

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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.

*****

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donkey love. [two artists tuesday]

elfie and adaline grinned at us over the fence. clearly they thought we were kindred spirits. or maybe they just wanted one of the treats we held in our hands. either way, they were cute as all get-out and my heart was happy-happy to be heehaw-hanging out with them.

i do have a thing about donkeys. horses, too, as you know. but donkeys, like giant dogs, seem really doable. sweet expressive eyes and much shorter and more containable than horses, donkeys tug at me. i guess we’ll see. maybe one of these days. obviously, this town we live in won’t be the place. i can’t imagine our perfectly-yarded neighbors-to-the-east thinking that donkeys-next-door would be ok, though our neighbors-to-the-north are overrunning their place with all kinds of non-organic-non-living-plastic-rubber-battery-run-powered-by-electricity-noisy stuff so what’s a coupla donkeys in the ‘hood-mix?

a long time ago – over twenty years now – when i was directing a christmas cantata at a church i decided to go out on a limb and use a live donkey in the production. i made arrangements with a local stable and they were bringing out the donkey the morning of the cantata. we, necessarily, rolled out a plastic runner and i started the overture. ‘mary’ had to duck under the door frame as the donkey was led in by ‘joseph’ and started toward the chancel. the biggest-donkey-on-the-planet, it seems, carried in the star of our cantata. it took very few lanky strides to reach the front of the church. the donkey took its place next to the choir, shoving a few people over as it positioned itself before ‘mary’ was helped down and it was led out. giggling is good during cantatas, i reminded myself, as the giggle spread through the pews. apparently, there are donkeys and then there are donkeys. and this one – was actually a mule – much larger than its donkey-parent. a little bit of false advertising on the part of the farm, but what-the-heck. maybe i should have been a little more specific: no hybrids.

so elfie and addie, regular-sized donkeys, were pretty cute. watching them renewed my i-want-a-donkey and i looked at websites that even advertised miniature donkeys, so as to avoid cantata ptsd.

donkeys are smart creatures. it is said that you have to be smarter than a donkey in order to train it. it’s also assumed that they are dumb-as-rocks because they are rather stubborn. in researching i read, “things need to make sense to a donkey, they aren’t just willing to obey blindly.” ahhh. i can relate.

and they really were big grinners, those cutie-pies. though they don’t look like they have a sarcastic bone in their bodies, i did wonder if they were smirks and not grins. because they looked at us over the fence as if they recognized us. like they were saying, “yeah. we get it. you guys are artists. we’re donkeys. uh-huh. kinda outliers. samesies.”

heeeehaw.

*****

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wishes and dreams. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s completely mind-boggling how you can be totally exhausted at the end of the day and, yet, be totally awake as soon as laying your head on the pillow. what IS that?

as this year ends, i read an article that impresses upon you to choose a resolution you are capable of keeping. i suppose that’s a good idea … i mean, why set yourself up for failure when you can set yourself up for success?

my new year’s resolution, thus, will be this: i wish to sleep and i wish to dream. and i hope to succeed at it.

history shows this would not be a good resolution. but i am determined. after leaving everything of concern back in the waterfall, i am hoping for my peaceful slumber.

so’s david.

sweet dreams, y’all.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the orange blazes. [d.r. thursday]

there is this thing about being on a mountain in the woods. you don’t realize you are there – on the mountain. oh, you know you are going uphill and downhill and some of it is extreme, but being ON it is different than looking AT it. you are immersed in the scents and sounds and each step you take on the trail, over tree roots and slippery fallen leaves, is a really glorious celebration of being outside.

and then, in-between the branches devoid of leaves and over the tops of pine, you catch a glimpse. it takes your breath away, as do things that you love, things that are beautiful, things that remind you to “be here, now”.

the days were warm and the sun was amazing. it burned off a bit of fog early as it rose over the mountains and drew us outside. to drive down the road a bit meant getting to the national forest in a matter of minutes. hundreds of waterfalls and innumerable trails awaited. with only a couple days, we wondered where to start.

the orange trail blazes were on the trees as we hiked. it was supposed to be a relatively short trail, so we decided to turn off and take the faintly-traveled blue up the side of a steep ridge a good ways as well. we need new hiking boots it seems; the hundreds and hundreds of miles we have hiked in these over the last years have worn down their tread and traction on the leaves was a challenge. i found a stick on the side of the trail and that helped. trekking poles are also on the list. we saw no one on the blue. it was quiet and immense and the babbling stream below us was serene. the mountains around us peeked through branches on our way, more so the higher we got. we watched the sun as it got a little lower in the sky and turned around.

joining back up with the orange we started to hike back toward the lot. or so we thought. it seemed far, much farther than we had thought. the trail app wasn’t cooperating and we began to wonder if we were heading the wrong way. that made us the tiniest bit cranky, though we tried to laugh it off, even as the sun was slipping.

we passed a few people, also confused by a couple signs propped up by rocks that didn’t seem to correlate with the blazes. i took stock of our rations: a mini kind bar, a bottle of water, two halos, one sweater poncho and a thermal shirt tied around d’s waist. though i didn’t actually doubt that we would find our way out, i could imagine what it would be like to truly get lost and be unsure of the way out of the forest. “before we do the pct some day in the futuring-future, get a trail gps,” i made a mental note.

since orange was a large looped trail – and a smaller interior loop choice too – we knew we’d eventually get somewhere, though it did extend to two different parking lots, separated by a whole lot of what-would-end-up road walk. we kept hiking. at one point david thought we should turn around and go the opposite direction. happily we didn’t follow that naggy doubt he had in moments of what-the-heck. littlebabyscion was patiently waiting in the lot at the end and we loaded my stick in the back, checked our mileage – about 8 – and drove down the national park road in the last of waning light.

we hiked up another ridge the next day. we got a later start after a wonderful morning wandering in town. we didn’t make it to the peak. we were told the view was spectacular. but the hike was quiet and the brook babbling, birdcalls plenty and that smell of deep-in-the-woods like the best candle you’ve found.

before the sun set we turned around.

but it’s ok. we’ll be back.

*****

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on the front porch. [two artists tuesday]

an older gent, bearded and white-haired, he has lugged a lighweight rocking chair out his front door to sit in the sun and watch the traffic go by. we are across, on the front porch of this sweet house in this hallmark mountain town, doing much the same, chatting with people as they pass by.

each day now we’ve waved at the man-wearing-the-buffalo-plaid-shirt across the street, called over greetings. he holds up his hand in “love ya” sign language; we return the same. sipping coffee in the morning in bag chairs and tipping a glass of wine in the evening at our pop-up-dinner table. the luminaria are lit and i know my mom and dad – in a place where luminaria must always be lit – are close by, watching also.

we walked later at night on christmas, after arriving and unpacking littlebabyscion, after setting up our tiny tree with seed lights and draping a strand of happy lights over a cabinet and lighting the cypress-pine and balsam candles, after snack-time-happy-hour and before making dinner.

the middle of town is close by. in front yards on our walking-way there are posses of snowmen and herds of deer and the trees along the sidewalks of this tiny bustling place are wrapped in lights. we slow and look in every store window. christmas trees and stars and wreaths and snowflakes, santa stuck in a chimney and candy canes and a big town tree in the center at the top of the hill where, if you pause in the middle of the street while crossing, you can see a big range of mountains as you look north.

it was enchanting. no need to walk fast, we strolled the sidewalks and absorbed the spirit. different than any other christmas, it was just us. but this little town and these mountains embraced us and we immersed in it to help holiday wistfulness.

we went back into town in the daytime and wandered the shops. we found texturally-delicious cloth napkins to add to our collection and i imagine next week – or maybe this weekend – we’ll use those and they’ll bring us back here, to this place and to the peace we have felt here.

and the man with big metal sasquatch figures and lots of white christmas lights will likely sit outside in his rocking chair just off his front stoop again today. it will be unseasonable, another beautiful day, the sun over the mountain warm on his face.

we wonder if he’ll miss us.

*****

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the best part of waking up… [merely-a-thought monday]

the conversation started just over nine years ago. emails back and forth and then texts. going back, reading, it is stunning to see how many times coffee entered the stage of our new relationship then, as if it were anxiously waiting in the wings or in the green room, one of the stars of that friendship that grew into love. we would send photos of mugs or cups full of coffee across the country, finding each other in our respective days, the places we were sipping, where we were headed. coffee became a locator. and still now, it was one of the joys of those early days, months and months and months of writing and wondering what it might be like to have a coffee together.

the tiny house had a coffee station. nothing run-of-the-mill and industrial, instead it was a sweet spot along a bit of wall bespeckled with signs about coffee. certainly this was an airbnb owned by someone who appreciates the finer points of first-thing-in-the-morning brew.

i think coffee is one of those things you either love or totally dislike. it’s not really a take-it-or-leave-it kind of beverage. my sweet momma and poppo could sit over coffee for hours. it wasn’t the cup of java that lasted that long; it was the coffee-sitting. it was conversation and quiet, it was waking up and catching up. it was at breakfast, at coffee-break time, maybe a cup after a celebratory dinner. i learned the goodness of coffee-sitting from them and miss those times around their table. coffee makes me think of them.

i know that, although my dad never met david, he is rooting every day for him. i’m sure he watches each evening as david sets up the coffee for the morning, his own practice back in the day. i’m sure he approves heartily when d pours mugs early in the morning, adding no sugar or creamer or milk or sweetener; he was a black-coffee drinker too. i’m sure he smiles and nods when d walks steaming mugs in to me, still with my head in the pillows. he is likely whistling, “the best part of waking up is [coffee] in your cup.” it took a long while for me to convince him that there was coffee that wasn’t folgers. we are big bold coffee fans. but when there was a ball jar sitting on the counter in our tiny house with the words “fresh folgers” on a lid it was me smiling, positive of the presence of my mom and dad.

it is the wee hours of the night as we write today’s post. i couldn’t sleep, so we decided to sit up and compose our blogs. david said, “should i put the coffee on?”. i emphatically replied “no!” as i have every intention of trying to sleep again once we have written and my insomnia turns to sleepiness.

besides, i so look forward to a bit of mountain-town light streaming in the windows in a few hours and hearing david’s voice as he offers me a mug, a cuppajava, as i pick my head up from the cozy pillows. and just like my dad, i can hear it: “the best part of waking up is [coffee] in my cup.”

*****

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