reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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toddler tizzy. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

they were perfect little travelers when they were little – my children – seasoned roadtrippers happy-as-clams as long as there were snacks.

not unlike the kiddos, we simply cannot get from point a to point b without snacks. roadtrips are synonymous with non-stop grazing, all bets off, things we don’t usually eat at home. though i’d like to say it’s all about trail mix and flax seed bars, the reality is that twizzlers and munchos and peanut m&ms sometimes make their way into the bags easily accessible from the front seat. carrots and grapes and cut-up apples and water bottles are in the cooler. and coffee. there’s always coffee. hydroflasks filled at home followed by cardboard starbucks cups of the boldest pour. back in the non-gluten-free days there would be those amazing lemon loaf slices too – the ones with the slightest schmear of frosting. and we’d bring along schmearless plain panera bagels, just to chew on. yes, yes, we know how to rock the highways.

lately, we’ve tried to be more – conscious – of our choices, tried to eat healthy snacks – even in the car – more kind bars, less pringles, more gf granola bites, fewer hostess cupcakes.

but then there’s david. trying to be all healthy-like, waxing poetic about the glorious bags and coolers full of nutritious, wholesome foods, robustly clapping at our roadtrip fare.

he’s all-in, a clean-snacks, upbeat good-food-eater until…that toddler-award-winning-tizzy-moment he completely loses it when he realizes that, indeed, we have not included peanut m&ms.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

*using an apostrophe in a non-possessive plural really gets my inner-grammar-nerd going, so much research went into whether there is an apostrophe referring to the plural of these candies. since m & m are names and the candy is actually called “m&m’s”, i decided to go with the apostrophe referring to the complete name, but not without cringing at the use of an apostrophe sort of doubling as a plural. ugh. blame my sweet momma. 😉

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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the gift of a gift. [merely-a-thought monday]

and, of course, i wonder who found them.

the hike to looking glass rock is uphill. not a little uphill. reeeally uphill. the view through the trees, sans leaves, reveals mountains close-up, mountains out in the distance. it’s a gorgeous trail.

we started later than we had planned. and so, we had to turn around before we made it to the top. because once the sun goes down – and it goes down fast – it is next to impossible to safely navigate the trail back down. roots and rocks and twists and turns could turn it into a crisis. and we have watched everest enough times to remember professional guide rob hall’s words: it’s not my job to get you up the mountain…it’s my job to get you safely back down. pisgah national forest is – clearly – not the intensity of everest, but the same rule applies anyway.

and so – this time – we missed looking glass rock, an amazing formation, its sheer stone face rising above the trees. there will be a next time; we’ll start earlier, carry some lunch and more water and we’ll get there and back before darkness falls.

i had tucked a package of our “be kind” pins into my bag. i thought that there might be a place i could leave them. each time we have passed a little trail magic – a painted rock, tiny gift – it has lifted our spirits. i couldn’t think of a more beautiful place to leave these pins than this forest. the knot in the tree seemed perfect – at the right eye level for those hiking up. my only regret is not being able to go back and see that they are gone.

for each time i have left a rock – with a heart or a peace sign or a tiny message – on our local trail tucked into the notch of a tree, on an obvious branch or perched on a burl – i have had the opportunity to go back a next time and see that it has disappeared. it’s the gift of a gift.

i can only assume that the little cellophane bag tied with green curling ribbon in brevard is gone. i can only assume that someone has given out all the “be kind” buttons. i can only assume that as the recipients wear them or put them on their backpacks or their purse or hang them on the visor in their car they smile and pay it forward just a little.

the gift of a gift isn’t always known.

*****

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


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betty’s right. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

each of us can rack up the could-haves, like in a pool triangle, all stuffed in next to each other and ready to break with a cue. fragile, though. we can look back and think “why didn’t i…?” time and again. we can regret.

i suppose the gift of a new year – and those dang resolutions – is to sort and reevaluate the things that you consider important, the things worth continuing, the things worth letting go, the things worth learning. new practices of things-to-do and new practices of things-not-to-do. the lists permeate our brains and hearts, nagging, nagging.

there is a meme, well, many memes, circulating about betty white. it states something like “you have lived a really good life if, at 99, people say you have died too soon.” i realize that betty was inordinately popular, successful, always at the top of her game. but she was a real person, too. and she had to decide how to live. her positivity and laughter gifted each of us who have watched her or listened to her. in a recent interview she recommended, “taste every moment”. mmm. not at all corny, just a simplicity, a reminder.

we carry this pop-up-dinner table and stools around with us, switching from big red to littlebabyscion and back, depending on which vehicle we are driving. when big red refused to start for our road trip over christmas, we transferred the pop-up stuff into littlebabyscion and packed up to go.

we know we could have eaten at the sweet dining room table in our airbnb in the little mountain town. we ate there several times. but that last evening…we needed just a bit more time on the front porch, a bit more time outside, a bit more time admiring buffalo-plaid-man’s holiday decorations across the street, a bit more time in that town. we set up the pop-up table and stools, put up the luminaria again, lit a candle, brought out hors d’oeuvres for happy hour and, later, dinner. a little more effort, but not really much. everything tasted better out there. each moment.

before we even left home and while we were hiking in those north carolina mountains i thought about the new year approaching. i thought long about grasping onto the opportunity to just go, roadtrip to a new place, changing pattern. i thought about chances to amend, to let go, to reach out, to break the racked-up could-haves. big ways and little ways. i tasted a few resolution-ish moments, trying on for size – acting on – some of those thoughts-i-had.

and even in my first meager efforts – nothing earthshattering, nothing that will likely change the whole wide world – i must say, betty’s right.

*****

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


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thunkthunkthunk. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the check-engine light is on. i felt compelled to explain it to my daughter and her boyfriend when i picked them up at the airport, lest they worry i wouldn’t be able to deliver them downtown – in the middle of a snowy, rainy, sleety early afternoon. “we’re waiting for a catalytic converter,” i told them and they nodded. the only saving grace to not picking them up in a horse-drawn carriage (or that ferrari that chris-the-spectrum-guy had promised me) is that i brought snacks with me, making me a “pretty good uber”. ahhh, yes, it puts a momma’s heart on steroids.

we are used to a ride with sounds and not just in littlebabyscion. big red has these running boards that rattle over bumps (for which we are seeking welding help) so it is never quiet in either vehicle. neither has the sound-proofing of vehicles for which we have seen commercials….where the mom stays out in the lincoln suv and peacefully avoids the chaos in her home. no…we bring our chaos with us as part of the travel package. but eh, we don’t mind.

it is usually me who hears the new sound first: the seatbelt in the back thumping against the window, the back seat not fully engaged and squeaking over bounces, the sunglasses on the dashboard jiggling. tiny ambient sounds. the larger ones too. the sound of the hole in the exhaust system, the metallic quaking of a truck with a blown coil. i would mention the things i sniff out first too but it just might be too much here.

regardless, there have been moments when i seem to be channeling my sweet dad as i slough off the sound and keep driving. i know the proof will be in the pudding (that is a really strange saying) and we will see, if we continue on our merry way, what happens.

changing the subject i’ll look over at d and quote my poppo, “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?” “not if it’s in cans,” he quips my dad’s standard answer. we both laugh and keep driving.

*****

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


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the banana in cherrytomatoland. [two artists tuesday]

keeping the late late summer cherry tomatoes together will stimulate their ripening, i read. the ethylene emitted by them will urge them from green to pale yellow to orange to red. putting them in a brown paper bag with a banana or an apple would speed things along. right now, they are on the counter in a plastic, hopefully bpa-free, container, lidless, soaking up the sun. somehow, these tiny little tomatoes, regardless of size or shape or green innocence or red wokeness know all about impact on each other and a banana or an apple entering their tomato-only-zone would only help them.

that’s the kind of community we should all live in, work in, play in. because as barry manilow, yes, the guy who writes the songs, said, “everything you say and do is having an impact on others.”

it’s not like we are not aware of that. simple kindnesses as we go about our day make a huge difference – the concentric circles ever-widening, cherry-tomato-land goodness spreading, stimulating ripening, encouraging more goodness. it’s not as pollyannaish as it sounds. in every interaction we have a choice. the expression “there are a hundred ways you could have answered that/handled that” is worthy of our attention.

i’m from new york. growing up on long island is different than growing up in the midwest or the south or even the west coast. there is a rat-a-tat kind of rhythm to conversation there. lots of questions, lots of words. it seems aggressive, but it’s really not. it is, however, easy to interpret it that way. if you want to know about something, you ask. it’s a kind of pummeling with questions; you don’t ask one gentle question and patiently wait.

take the cherry tomatoes, for example. you could ask, what kind of cherry tomatoes are those? (and then wait.) or you could ask: what kind of cherry tomatoes are those?where did you get them?were they from seeds or tiny plants?how did you plant them?did you have to use topsoil?how much water did you give them?how often?do you have to fertilize them?what about sun?do they need to be in the sun?how long did it take before they bore fruit?do they only produce one set of tomatoes or do they keep producing?are they sweet?did you pick them before they were ripened?what about when it got cold?when did you pick the green tomatoes?how did you know what to do with them?can you still eat them?will they ripen?

i’ve had to tone down the newyork in me, slow down the question-pummeling (this is not as easy as it sounds), soften the edges of speech a little. the accent has mostly disappeared, but the rhythm is ever at-the-ready, prepared to garner answers or information or directions, not willing to miss the details. and those details…ever-important. my big brother could tell a story with more words than you can imagine; his details were picture-painting and precise and i loved every minute of his newyork style of storytelling.

we were on long island with my dear friend crunch when he was ordering a pizza. he said: “do you want gahhlic knots with the pizza?whatdyathink, gahhlic knots too?yes or no?are you hungry for gahhlic knots?they make great gahhlic knots at luigis. do you want some?tell me, i gotta awwduh. hello?” and then, in the car on the way to get the pizza and the garlic knots: “ya gotta turn up here.yeah, turn left.yeah after the driveway, turn left.here.left.ok.in about two blahhcks you’ll turn right.right.yeah, about a block now.right.uh-huh.right.yeah.hee-uhh.right.turn.ya gotta turn!”

david was losing it in the backseat. i had jumped right in. suddenly the impressionable pattern returned and i was also speaking, stepping all over crunch narrating where i was to turn. allowing no time for him to keep talking or answer anything i was saying – and vice-versa – we both just kept tawwwking and tawwwking, over each other. david’s laughter was contagious.

there had been (and have been, who am i kidding?) times – admittedly – when, in the middle of a more shall-we-say “heated” discussion d has looked at me and said, “let me finish.” hanging out on long island in the middle of pummeling vocal patterns has helped him realize i mean no harm. and i have adopted his “there are a hundred ways you could have answered that”. because it has an impact – the way we answer, the way we handle stuff.

we both try to be aware, in this still-covid time of much-togetherness and less-time-with-others, of our interactions, knowing that even the slightest acidity can affect things and will ripple outward in our day. instead of leeching negativity into each other, in the most intimate and the most community of interactions, i would rather encourage ripening, blossoming, flourishing.

i want to be like the banana in cherrytomatoland.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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one giant blue notebook. [merely-a-thought monday]

when i was twelve, my parents took a six-week vacation to europe. pre-departure, they arranged to purchase a brand-new 1971 volkswagen super-beetle in germany, picking it up and then driving all over for adventures at hostels and relatives’ homes and small inns in the countryside that served family-style pork chops. they talked about this phenomenal trip for the next forty years or so, reliving memories and favorite moments. in the end, the last time i saw my sweet momma was the day we delivered her cherished blue notebook to her at the assisted living facility and she clutched it to her chest, cooing, “this is it. this is the notebook.” she had written everything down – diary entries and details to remember – and having this spiral was like re-vacationing with my poppo who had died three years earlier. we had searched high and low for it for a couple days and found it in the very last bin we opened in the garage. a treasure. the one thing she really wanted.

there were other trips – indeed, they attempted to visit each of the united states. never extravagant. always cherished.

when i was eighteen i rode in the backseat across the country with my parents in the front seat. they purchased a cb radio before we left and i spent long hours “10-4”-ing as “goldilocks” across the great plains states and up pikes peak and next to the wasatch mountain range and through the flint hills of kansas, which was clearly on a mission for spare change as they pulled my dad over twice within a half hour, deputies standing on the side of the road waving over long lines of cars they then escorted into tiny towns so that you could place money in an envelope at the post office. (i still invoke my dad when i drive through kansas, especially since we’ve had a few breakdowns in that state.) i developed a huge crush on a cute boy in colorado springs at a motel 6 and almost signed on as the touring piano player for the band that this boy and his brothers were in, their parents befriending mine poolside. i pined for days and days after we drove off with four new tires we got at sears and a broken heart i got in the desert meadows behind the motel. i clutched the record they all signed for me and stared at the cover art. no amount of stuckey’s sticky pecan log rolls helped. but my camera and gorgeous scenery were eventually soothing and, even now, as i chalk it up to opportunity not chosen, i remember my mom’s encouragement to consider an unusual path, a road rarely traveled.

in the middle 70s my mom and dad took advantage of what they called “dunphy weekends”. i couldn’t find any details when i quickly googled that, but i remember three day weekends, in places like providence, rhode island – not too many hours from new york – that hotels offered for dirt-cheap, prompting reservations. because they were thrifty, they also would sign on to drive cars to destinations and be flown back, ever the road warriors willing to take on a highway and add to their growing list of states-they-had-been-to.

when i was much littler, i climbed into the pink lilco (long island lighting company) van that my dad and my big brother had converted to a camper and rode upstate with them. never disappointing their rube-goldberg leanings, the camper would always break down on some back road near basically nothing. my dad would take out wire cutters and, clipping wire off of fencing they found on roadside pastureland, they’d figure out ways to fix the van, while i would ponder being lost and never getting home again. their laughter and bantering on those trips was the key to a successful camping trip and we beverly-hillbillied our way across the catskills and the adirondacks.

camping some, airbnb-ing lots, hampton-inning in between, i’ve spent a lot of time on the road on trips and for work, both. when my children were small, we would drive, drive, drive, hiding easter baskets in the stow-and-go compartments of the minivan and toting all the age-related child-paraphernalia we needed. living away from family means that most of your vacation trips are to go see them. as time goes on, that’s really still the case.

in this last not-quite-a-decade, we have driven together thousands and thousands and thousands of miles and snacked and laughed and sang and were quiet across the country. we’ve slept in rest areas and in mcdonald parking lots. we’ve found hiking trails all along the way and have cooked in lots of kitchens from the boundary waters of ely to the beaches of the gulf to up-north wisconsin to high elevation of colorado to the cape. we’ve raced storms through alabama and through wyoming. we’ve had happy meals in montana and california and washington and tennessee and new hampshire and new york and florida and most of the states in-between. we’ve walked through tiny towns, toasted life on long island, combed the beaches of hilton head and had coffee in unexpected places in appalachia. the four days we spent in paris, as an add-on after work in the netherlands about seven years ago now, was exquisitely low-key. we walked everywhere, training only once or twice. we carried baguettes and cheese and wine and tiny salads into parks, onto cathedral steps, up montmartre and into our boutique hotel, choosing picnics over restaurants and never feeling like we had missed out.

the list of places i’d like to go grows. from a night or two to full-immersion for a longer stay, i look forward to all of it. i’m guessing i come by it honestly.

so i’ve never been on a luxury vacation. never taken a cruise. never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. i’m 62 and haven’t done the let’s-just-go-lay-around-and-do-nothing-or-anything-we-want-and-get-waited-on thing. i don’t know if i ever will. but it hasn’t stopped me from loving vacation. it’s all really one giant blue notebook.


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the quest for munchos. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

what is it about munchos?

they are addictive, particularly on the road. we will be innocently driving along and, suddenly, one of us mentions munchos, those doggone salty dehydrated potato chips, and we are instantly on a quest. maybe it’s the ferrous sulfate, niacin, thiamin mononitrate and riboflavin, but i’d prefer to think that it’s all about the “light-tasting crispy snack” that’s not greasy like other chips. there are 160 calories in about a quarter of the bag, so that’s a significant snack and salt-fix when you need it without a vast amount of guilt, despite the fact that it would take 45 minutes of walking to burn off those 160 calories. like teenagers and skittles, when we need it, we are singularly focused. we have driven in and out of mini-marts and convenience stores and service areas looking for munchos, sometimes to no avail, leading to desperation. i wonder what the looks on our faces say. i’m guessing they belie the calmness we are trying to exude.

our dogdog is food-driven. we laugh about it all the time. he will do most anything for a treat, learn any new trick for a tiny snack. i bet he snickers at us from the back seat watching us on our munchos-hunt.

ps. david’s story is completely false.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SMACK-DAB SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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in the spirit of competition. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

in case you are wondering, i won.

the truth is, i’ve had a lot more experience in twizzler-eating, so i have an edge. my twizzler days go way, way back to earlier times. to get me through driving all over the country loaded down with cds and maps, my sweet momma would send twizzlers in care packages, along with peanut m&m’s and those lance peanut butter crackers in the cracker-color that does not naturally occur in nature. some things never change, regardless of age.

we basically eat our way across the country. the roadtrip feeding frenzy pauses but every couple hours revives with a vengeance. twizzlers fill in the gaps between more nutritious snacks like bananas and halos and real sandwiches, double espressos and, yes, some of those chia-flax-millet-quinoa-amaranth late july chips.

and when conversation has ceased and we’ve solved all the world problems, the road is straight and the highway is lulling, it’s time for a little competition.

suffice it to say: he needs more practice. as my poppo always said, “practice makes perfect.”

ha! good luck with that.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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hearts in kansas. [d.r. thursday]

we broke down just past hays, kansas. big red just didn’t want to go uphill or accelerate without some violent shuddering and, as i drove, i worried it – in the middle of nothing-around-this-part-of-kansas or nothing-around-this-part-of-colorado – would refuse to go on. we turned around and slowly went back to hays.

the ford dealer service department was swamped. the manager talked to us for a few minutes and then he pointed us onward – to a privately owned service center on the other end of town, the one to which he assured me he would send his mother (who he likes) or his sister.

we limped over there, middle-afternoon turning to later-afternoon, crossing fingers, and dallas and casey listened to us describe, naturally in purely automotively-correct-terms or maybe some jibberish with automotive sound effects, what was happening with our old truck. we told them our plight so they knew time was of the essence and we needed to be across their fine state and to denver by early thursday, the very next day.

a short diagnostic and dallas told us that a couple of the cylinders weren’t firing and that they were both on the same coil; he suspected that coil was the culprit. because hays, one of the few towns in that neck of the woods, is big enough to have a few auto part stores, they were able to get our new coil and install it right away. dallas said we should give it a go on the highway, though he wished he were able to do a more overall diagnostic to determine if there were other problems.

a few hours after it all started, we were back on the road, with every appendage crossed. we held hands on the first hill we encountered, climbing elevation not far from the hays exit. i literally held my breath. big red was a champ on that hill. we cheered – aloud – and waited for the next one and the next.

the first couple hours post-coil-replacement went like that. waiting and then climbing and then breathing. and repeat. big red accelerated with no problems across the rest of kansas, through a weather front with 50mph winds into colorado and in front of a threatening thunderstorm from the south. a few challenges today in roadtripland.

and so, though i would have suspected that this post would have been about something different because of the prompting photograph we had chosen, i have found that it actually prompted me to write that the people we encountered today in kansas had heart. i – no, we – really appreciated it. ever so much.

and so did big red.

***

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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no time to spare. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

this doesn’t really need a whole heck of a lot of other words. suffice it to say, we’ve been there. the days of old – or is it days of yore? – are over. the days of driving with venti starbucks at our sides are over. the days of driving without stopping are over. the days of toodling along with no cares in the world are over.

we are rest area junkies. we know where they are – those familiar blue signs on the interstate. we know which rest areas have the nicest bathrooms. we know the gas stations and convenience stores that have the nicest bathrooms. and we have – more than once – exceeded the speed limit on the exit ramps to these fine amenities. there is no time to spare.

we know that the busy bee in live oak, florida on i-10 rocks and that the sphagnum-moss rest area on the way to door county is clean and safe. we know also that we will “hold it” across montana unless we can find a mcdonald’s and that, even in snow, there are portapotties in the rest area just up the road after frisco before vail. in other news, we know the best back roads and where corn grows high, but we won’t talk about that.

i’m guessing, if you are reading this, you get it. there is nothing worse than an hugely-anticipated rest area under construction.

read DAVID’S thoughts this SMACK-DAB SATURDAY

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