reverse threading

the path back is the path forward

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under one sun. [d.r. thursday]

we went back to the beach. it was only our third time there but it’s beginning to feel familiar. we know the driftwood to lean back against, the curve in the shoreline where the waves break. the sand is warm, the breeze off the lake is cool; it’s a perfect combination and we’ve brought sandwiches along. we walk with our heads down, searching for hagstones and beach glass. it’s a sanctuary minus the trappings – physical and emotional – one often finds in buildings with sanctuaries.

each rock is intriguing. there are infinite shapes and sizes, rocks of all imagination. i pick up more than i tuck away, but i appreciate the spectrum of diversity and i wonder where they have been before they arrived on this lake michigan shoreline. what’s the story behind each stone, behind the tiny bits of glass, behind the wave-beaten-smooth pieces of brick. each narrative counts.

we brought a book but we didn’t read it. we hadn’t started it yet. we do that later in the day. rebecca makkai’s “the great believers” – a good read for pride month, a profound novel highlighting the aids crisis starting early to mid 1980s. there are places familiar to us in this book – chicago, boystown, door county – we find it easy to immerse as we read aloud. we are transported in time – back to those days of early recognition of this dreadful viral infection. human immunodeficiency virus has not ceased and there are still millions of people with life-threatening and chronic symptoms. there are stories familiar to us in this book – for we are both artists and we both finished our undergrad work in the early 80s. there are people familiar to us in this book – though these are characters, in life they have been our friends and, now, they are the friends of our son, the tight-knit unconditionally-loving LGBTQ community. they are all treasured and unique hagstones and beachglass – gorgeous in human form.

the stash of rocks ended up on the dining room table, all fanned out on its worn surface. they are glorious bits of a stunning day. the stone that looked like a guitar pick with a feather beret cap stayed on the beach. i took it home in my camera instead.

we have plans for the next time. more snacks. maybe swimwear.

we have plans for pride in chicago. more compassion. maybe tie-dye.

we are merely two people walking on a vast beach, among zillions of beautiful rocks of all sorts, zillions of people of all sorts. it’s all familiar. it’s all unfamiliar. but it’s all a sanctuary under one sun.


read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

surrender now, 24 x 24, acrylic, framed

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wild giraffe flower. [two artists tuesday]

and it grew and grew. up from the forest floor, where it was surrounded by decaying leaves and bits of branch. next to the big meadow and not far off the beaten trail, it pushed its way past the low grasses next to it.

this wildflower – a somewhat historically unloved taproot – with an abundance of early spring juju, kept sprouting up, up. it looked around to see many just like it. suddenly, it was surrounded by a village of yellow flowers – each maybe a bit hard to discern from the other.

but the flower still knew it had a place in the world.

and so, it held its bloom until it was time to close and then it grayed. it stoked up seeds and waited for the right time to release them, a puff of magic.

and then it bent its head to the sun, content in its cycle on earth, knowing it would be back and that – for a time – it had been a wild giraffe.


read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

magical time-lapse by neil bromhall

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“post-old-fashioned”. [merely-a-thought monday]

surely it would garner a bidding war. “post-old-fashioned” – a contemporary art piece. a beguiling installation.

how could it be any less engaging, any less valuable, any less a statement piece, any less desirable than the fresh banana duct-taped to the wall? the first banana (with the used duct tape, i’m guessing) sold for $120,000, followed by more bananas and rising prices. and – it expires! one cannot keeeep the banana piece (called “comedian”) around unless one loves fruit flies and smush.

instead, “post-old-fashioned” is meant to be enduring. the orange peel will shrink and dry, but will remain – likely – bug-less. and the cherry stem…..well, it is likely to outlive all of us.

“post-old-fashioned” is a work of active art that is conceptual and timeless and we could certainly provide a certificate of authenticity and directions for proper display. i cannot imagine any true wisconsinite without this piece or, perhaps, any wisconsin bar without it.

any curator who can go on and on about the benefits of purchasing the long strand of jute with the kitchen sponge hanging off of it should surely be able to conjure up the joy of owning “post-old-fashioned” in its three-dimensional option or a limited edition print of the work.

were it not for the teasing of the hike&spike foursome – and, also likely, the up-north gang – renowned experts in the field of old-fashioneds – i would list it, enter it in contests, send it to galleries. each week – post-hike – in the spike section of our hike&spike – i could add to a burgeoning collection of pieces dedicated to the afterglow of the old-fashioned.

watch out. i’m about ready to follow in the clearly-brilliant footsteps of italian artist maurizio cattelan, who explains, “the banana is supposed to be a banana.”.

it’s simple. there’s only one pertinent question about this work, an old-fashioned supposed to be an old-fashioned.

sweet or sour?


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

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flowers in the sky. [two artists tuesday]

were i to be on jeopardy – and were there to be a topic called “agriculture” – and were i forced to try and answer any question at all – $1000, $800, $600, $400 or even $200 – i would fail miserably. the tools of the trade are foreign to me, just as, i suppose, sheet music for the rachmaninoff piano concerto no.2 in c minor might be for the farmer skilled at using the farm implements. different languages entirely.

so, for us, sitting outside the iowa farmhouse, gazing around at the unfamiliar, it was both mysterious and magical. interesting textures and things with wheels had us guessing and googling. everything begged to be photographed. for us, the unfamiliar is novel and, through our eyes, doesn’t represent the hard work it actually stands for. instead, the wheel hay rake is flowers in the sky, metal petals reaching out from the center on thick metal stems connecting to the machine. the tractors and disc cultivators and harrows and silos – all unknown and a little exotic. it is easier to see beauty in that which is simply shape and texture than when it is the embodiment of the toil and worry each farmer faces each and every year.

i suppose that should make it easier for me to understand why others can generously send notes and email messages to me about my music, about how the piano piece or a song resonates with them, yet i – at this moment in time – see toil and worry. worry about how – in a new world – to put out new music. worry about how to sustain it all financially. worry about how – with a significantly-reduced wrist – my music may differ from what it has been. new crops, new agricultural costs, new limitations. what is that expression about perception? one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. that might be true also as – one man’s albatross is another man’s beauty.

yet, despite the decidedly different ways we perceive things out of our realm of familiarity, we are all spokes in the big wheel. we honor all the tools of our different trades, the languages, the expressions of work, the products of toil.

to be fascinated by another’s work is to appreciate it. to appreciate another’s work is to respect it. to respect another is to live together, under one sun … flowers in the sky.


on this two artists tuesday, we’d like to make a clarification. i received a text asking me about what “buy me a coffee” meant. just as i was given to misunderstand this platform, i’m not sure we have done an adequate job of explaining it. so, please forgive any redundancy as i take a moment to clarify:

the arts don’t generally have the same avenues for payment as other professional routes, so there has been an effort for more crowdfunding types of options. both BuyMeACoffee and Patreon are platforms in which content creators can receive support from people who appreciate their work. is a casual way to support creators. when you “buy a cup of coffee” it transfers $5 per “cup” (minus a small percentage) directly to an account for the artist you have chosen to support. it is called a virtual tip jar because it is not a recurring payment – it is a one-time tip for something that has resonated with you. you can opt for 1, 3, 5 “cups of coffee” or any number you wish (in the square box) and the application will do the math. when i first encountered it on a site of wonderful thru-hikers we follow, i mistakenly thought it literally was sending them coffee – or – sending them money they needed to use for coffee-and-only-coffee. silly me. it is simply providing helpful funding – a lovely way for us to tell them “thank you” for inspiring us. a “cup of coffee” is a way to support them in any number of five dollar increments.

patreon (which we will have shortly) is an opportunity to subscribe to an artist’s work on a monthly, recurring basis. people who wish to support the arts have an ongoing and dedicated way to do this through patreon, choosing a monthly dollar amount. again, a small percentage is taken out and the rest is made available to your chosen artist(s).

either way, artists everywhere appreciate the generosity of those who take the time and the resources to help them keep doing their work in the world. all spokes in the big wheel.

that gratitude goes for us as well. we appreciate you and are grateful for your support of our work. you are flowers in our sky.


read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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so wilty. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

somehow i’d like to think of myself as anything but wilty. only i’d know it wasn’t so. i am. wilty. so is he. we are both wilty. not quite the same as the wilty kale we put out next to the garage for the mama bunny and bunbun, but most definitely wilty.

and so, as we drove away, with our cut-in-half halos for the off-trail “ammals” (thank you, jaxon, for this most-adorable non-wilty pronunciation), d said – in his i’m-enlightened-now-and-want-to-share-it voice, “that’s it!! they’d hire us if we weren’t so wilty!!!”

we laughed and he guffawed at his wit and utter sidesplitting jocularity and then we looked at each other – we neeeed to write that down!! so i grabbed my iphone and summoned siri, the great goddess of handless note-taking.

“what would you like it to say?” she politely asked. i answered and she dutifully jotted our note.

and then we looked at it.


“they’d hire us if we weren’t so wealthy,” she transcribed.


goddess-schmoddess. siri has her own unique wilty sense of humor.


read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2023

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old friends in the garden. [k.s. friday]

back home-home, my sweet momma had planted bleeding hearts on the east side of our house. there were four-o-clocks there as well; old-fashioned flowers in her garden. we didn’t have any fancy plants – it was otherwise hosta and day lilies, rose of sharon and hydrangea, azalea and forsythia. but, in thinking back, i love her sensibility of these old-timey plants, steadfast through the ages, and anytime i see or plant any of them, i think of my momma.

our trail takes us through the woods. the honeysuckle lines the dirt path and its sweet aroma wafts around us. there’s pink and white, both. and, as i glance over, there is something that makes me think of my momma’s bleeding hearts. we’d plant them in our backyard but for the fact that they are toxic and we don’t want to take any chances with dogdog. so simply being reminded of them will have to suffice.

maybe today we’ll go and get a few flowers at the nursery. we need some to put in a planter on the old chair out back and in the retired firepit vessel. i suppose it’s time – already! – to pick up our basil plant and the cherry tomatoes we love to have on our potting stand. we are heading into summer soon and caprese salads and skewers are beckoning.

honeysuckle is a symbol of pure happiness. i’m pretty sure that four-o-clocks and hosta and day lilies and rose of sharon and hydrangea and azalea and forsythia are as well, though i haven’t looked them up and i’m guessing there’s more meaning for each.

for me, they are walking in my growing-up yard. for me, they are my momma, bent over the garden, deadheading the four-o-clock blossoms and loosening the leathery seeds. for me, they are the light purple buds of the hosta heated by the sun – the ones planted by the garage just off the one-car driveway – just begging for tiny hands to pop them at the end of the afternoon when they were filled with air. for me, they are the giant flowers of my sister’s name (though spelled differently, she would quickly add). for me, they are sitting up in the maple tree with my notebook, writing, gazing down at the garden on the shady side of the house. for me, they are big bunches of dried hydrangeas in the fall. for me, they are delicate hearts lined up on a stem, for i was always fascinated by these. for me, they are so much more than old-fashioned flowers.

for me, they are comfort. for me, they are like old friends.


OLD FRIENDS REVISITED ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY