reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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LBS. [two artists tuesday]

another post paying homage to littlebabyscion.

we were driving south and the real only-way-south when you are trying to get to distant points, is to go through chicagoland, along the garyindiana mess and down i65 through the midwest’s collection of orange barrels. the speed limit varies – anything from 55mph to 70mph, though there are measures of highway in work zones that are 45. you wouldn’t know it. it is a speedway and not for the faint of heart.

littlebabyscion reared its little head and took off. “i got this,” i could hear its heart call to me as i drove. i looked down and, though i was being aggressively passed left and right, LBS was steady at 80mph. a proud momma moment. i said something to david who concurred that this little vehicle was – indeed – amazing. i said – and i have no idea where this came from – “littlebabyscion is hard-tootin’ down the highway!!”

“hard-tootin’.”

where does this stuff come from?

truth be told, however, littlebabyscion WAS hard-tootin’. it easily crested big hills and drove on forest service gravel roads. it hugged the curves in the mountains and glided down the interstates. and, in a moment we both watched, it crossed over to 260,000 miles. a proud parent moment – yup.

we were in kentucky on our way back home when it rolled over to 260. we had laughed – well, sort of laughed – on our way down south, talking about how most people we know don’t have to wonder about their vehicle on a roadtrip. they simply get in and go. we – well – we wonder a little. both littlebabyscion and big red have given us more than a few reasons to wonder. but i quietly talked to LBS before we left and cheerleaded it on, telling it i believe in it and finishing with, “you GO, little baby scion!”

we have animated our vehicle, humanized it. yes, i know. it means that we now have to find someone to address a littlebitta rust under this intrepid little car, the peril of northern living. a welder or a magician. either would work for us. it’s not part-of-the-plan to purchase a new vehicle right now or anytime soon, so if you know a welder or a magician, please let us know. i got wind that littlebabyscion was seeking a patreon account; i reassured our tiny xb that we are working on its concerns.

260,000 miles is a lot. LBS had only 250 miles or so on the odometer when i purchased it. 260k is equal to 87 times across the united states. we are – not surprisingly – bonded. we truly love LBS.

with a definite nod of gratitude to steve, our fantastic mechanic, to jeff’s exhaust system shop, to kenosha tire, we will keep going.

300k is merely 40,000 miles away. i hope to post that picture one of these days.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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stumbles and falls. [two artists tuesday]

and in the same way that my palm is a picture of life, so was this trail.

roots everywhere. trippables. this north carolina forest, a temperate rainforest, was a palmistry dream. rhododendron bushes and tree roots criss-crossing, superficially close to the surface, looking unlike the high colorado mountain woods, full of pine and aspen, spruce and juniper.

i must not lift my feet up all the way when i walk. because – every so often – i stumbled and caught myself with my walking stick. shuffling along is not in order. in metaphor-land, that’s much the same as life too. no shuffling. pick your feet up and step…even baby steps.

years and years ago, decades really, i remember being in the car with my former husband. he was driving and there was someone crawling along…shuffling, if you can imagine that in a car with tires. “do something!” he muttered. “even if it’s wrong!” he added. it was the first time i can remember hearing that expression. it made me laugh aloud. the “even if it’s wrong” part. i still think about that when i drive. it’s the you-can-always-turn-around and find the right route. you are not stuck on the road you are on for always. i refuse to cut across lanes of traffic just to make a turn i didn’t realize was coming up quickly. there are other ways of getting there.

we took it slow…my lesson from vacation, the essay i would write were i tasked the proverbial what-did-you-do-on-vacation assignment. we talked about it in littlebabyscion as it crossed to 260,000 miles on the odometer. “slow and steady and we’ll get there,” i said. “there?” d asked. “anywhere we need to be, any decision we need to make, any challenge we need to forge through,” i replied.

somehow, despite the roots and the shadows and the stumbles and falls, we manage to rise up again. the trails all have them. so do the roads and the choices and decisions and relationships. smooth sailing is a myth. it’s all a little bumpy.

we go a little slower.

and there is grace in the air. we need extend it to each other and to ourselves.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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still standing. [two artists tuesday]

“yeah, yeah, yeah!”

the most powerful moment i felt at the elton john concert sunday night came when he sang “i’m still standing”. still standing! yes!

analysis of the lyrics aside, “still standing” elicited the gigantic reverberation of 50-60,000 people singing along, all of whom, i suspect, have a “still standing” story. it’s the kind of song that generalizes – it’s about relationship, but isn’t everything in life – our relationships with our beloved, with others, with ourselves, with our life’s work, with this universe? just the sheer still-standingness of being alive made singing along worthy, no, more, a necessity. the stadium roared.

his first hit – in 1969/70 – “your song” brought tears to my eyes. in the encore set, i knew we wouldn’t see him live-in-concert again and the experience was rich, under a beautiful open-air night sky hearing my husband, daughter and her boyfriend sing along in various songs.

but that i’m-still-standing … i wrote it down in a note in my phone.

because sometimes life teeters and you are delivered boulders while you – a tiny rock of ash in a huge galaxy – attempt to precariously balance it all. and last night – well – i knew i was still standing.

and i suddenly knew that i would do all i could to make sure that my tiny star is dancing inside and out, that all the notes count, that it’s all silently and roaring out-loud. yeah, yeah, yeah.

elton john somehow reminded me that i’ve been standing all along.

*****

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cabbage fields. [two artists tuesday]

in the age-old tale of things-are-often-not-as-they-appear, this beautiful almost-transparent white moth flits from lavender bloom to lavender bloom. in certain moments it is even hard to see, its translucent wings disappearing and then glinting in the sunlight. against the dark background of the deck, it is easier to see as it feeds on the nectar of these deep purple blossoms. it’s a cabbage white butterfly. and it is likely responsible for the tiny holes in the tomato plant leaves. it’s fortunate we do not have a cabbage patch as these little guys have the capacity to destroy it. such a beautiful little creature and so much potential for destruction of goodness.

i’m writing this (ahead) on a rainy sunday morning and it’s too easy on sundays for my mind (and heart) to jaunt over to the things-are-not-what-they-appear heading.

this translucent butterfly has specific markings (a black spot on the upward front side of its wings), a specific size just over an inch, markings that depict the gender, making it easier to identify and, if necessary, prevent or eradicate the damage it can do to a hard-earned crop. if it were to look like any other butterfly – or say, a beautiful monarch – it would be much more difficult for gardeners to recognize the peril, much more difficult for farmers to stand firm and work at keeping the crops safe that they have nourished so carefully, for so long, with so much dedication.

sitting on the deck watching this butterfly flit about, the sunlight catching its gentle wings here and there, i never suspected it might be at the root of the problem i am experiencing late in the season now with our cherry tomatoes. under a cloak of not-knowing and not-asking-enough-questions or googling enough, i didn’t know to point at this gentle creature. but the act of googling has given me information. i can look for larvae on the tomato leaves and examine the damage with a plan for it.

were it to be a full field of cabbage, like out in the county here, it would seem imperative to act upon this. a whole field of cabbage – a field of potential abundance – can be destroyed by the existence of something that people might never question. research says an infestation of the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar can destroy all cabbage growth, and prevention is said to be imperative to avoid the ruinous nature of such an aggressor. that way “you’ll have less work and damage later on.”

this butterfly has been here since the 1860s so its presence seems pretty solid and unshakable. i guess you have to pay attention to damage being wreaked around you in your tiny tomato garden, delve into it, gather information, ask questions and stop the quiet chaos from happening.

it’s easier when the wings are transparent, when the markings easily identifiable and when the community of gardeners and farmers are seeking the goodness of the cabbage field.

metaphors are everywhere.

*****

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different. [two artists tuesday]

my wristlet wallet was different.

circa 1968/1969 and EVERYone – literally everyone – at least in MY mind – had a wristlet wallet. long rectangular leather wallets on a wriststrap, they opened to reveal a couple places for pictures and change and dollar bills. a clutch, the style was s.p.e.c.i.f.i.c. they were s.p.e.c.i.f.i.c.

christmas rolled around and i, in great anticipation, opened my presents. untucking the used tissue paper, i got excited to catch a glimpse. the box revealed a wristlet wallet.

wrong. it was wrong. it was faux leather. it was not rectangular. it had different compartments, a different strap. not specific. it was different. i was a misfit.

my 1970 construction boots were different too. so were my earth shoes, an off-brand. i wore pants from the boy’s department – my sweet momma thought they fit my – whatwasslimbackthen – body better. and my white cable-knit v-neck sweater with maroon and navy stripes at the v was – waitforit – a boy’s handmedown. i ate cucumber sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into repurposed hallmark card store bags with pleasesayitisn’tso sandwich bags of chips – not individual commercial bags – and wore homemade crocheted ponchos with fringe. different. i took organ lessons as well as piano and i loved to sit in my maple tree, writing. i had a cb home-based radio on which i spent hours chatting with crunch, merely a few miles away. i had nieces and a nephew way before anyone else and i loved mathletes. different.

i guess my sweet momma was getting me ready for the world, after all. the wristlet wallet – though a disappointment at age 12 – was just the tip of the iceberg.

as i go about throwing on jeans and a black top – what other color IS there anyway? – i wonder whatever became of that wallet. i wouldn’t mind using that right now. i look around at the repurposed stuff in our house and, though my momma hasn’t been here in over fifteen years, i know she’d be nodding her head in approval.

i suppose she knew what she was doing back then.

“different,” she encouraged. “be different.”

2022. i’m good with it.

*****

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ithinkican chandelier. [two artists tuesday]

it’s glittering.

the crystals on our outdoor chandelier are catching the sunlight, their exquisitely-cut facets sparkling toward the sun, the clarity of spheres throwing prisms of light and, in the dark, casting intricate shadows – strung pendalogues with silhouettes illuminated by moonlight.

uh-huh.

ok. i give. it’s plastic. all plastic. except for a couple metal strap parts and the solar pack.

so when we ordered it – this solar chandelier – we expected some heft and prepared how to hang it on the old door that sits behind the glider on our deck. we talked to jeff at the ace and decided upon a hinge we’d attach to the door with a wrought iron arm that we could move in an arc, depending on how we wanted the chandelier to be hanging. we had wanted to hang it over barney – for that old piano in our backyard deserves a chandelier – but it turned out that the chippies and squirrels and birds won over a lighting fixture, regardless of its beauty.

the box came. lighter than, well, we expected.

and when we took it out of the box and attempted to unwind it from itself, we were a little skeptical that it would fulfill the lofty dreams we had for a chandelier outside.

nevertheless, we are not the kind of people who give up on something before we give it a chance. we decided to try it on for size before packing it and shipping it back.

we hung it on one half of the birdfeeder’s shepherd hook. turned on the solar pack and waited. night fell and this earnest little ithinkican-chandelier lit up. “sweet,” we both thought aloud. we hung it under the umbrella over the table and it cast ridiculously interesting shadows up. then we hung it on the awning and wondered if it would ever make it to the door and the hinge-arm-shenanigans we had ready for it.

plastic or not, it has us intrigued.

this morning i can see it out the window of the bedroom. the eastern sky is full of warm summer early morning color. as the sun rises, the crystals catch it. they glitter.

and the little chandelier grins.

*****

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the miracle bra. [two artists tuesday]

i cried in victoria’s secret.

it was the early 90s and my girlfriend carol and i were shopping in the mall. there was a new bra out at the vs store – the miracle bra – and we were fixin’ to get us a couple.

we wandered in, chatting and laughing, our modus operandi no matter where we went those days, and went directly to the miracle bras. we were gonna buy these miracles and just shock the living heck out of our husbands and, really, everyone else. because, lord knows, everyone cares.

we selected a few different colors and looked for our sizes.

that was when the problem started.

i have not been graced, let’s just say, with a vast bosom. on the contrary, i take more after my …waitforit… father. nevertheless, “the secret” had promised me a miracle and i was after it.

however…there was no miracle made in my size.

i – with great hope – carried in a few other sizes and tried them on. it didn’t help that in the fitting room next to me carol – supposedly the best of friends, supportive in every moment and situation – was ooh-ing and aah-ing over HER new miracle.

in MY fitting room, i was wondering who else might want to share the bra i was trying on; there was extra space, extra fabric, extra everything. well, everything except the miracle.

the sales associate tried to assuage me by lofting into the fitting room various other bra styles and sizes. it was all to no avail. i literally cried.

victoria’s secret had not created a miracle. it had created a soul-wrenching sense of humiliating failure. my breasts did not measure up. “the secret’s” standards of beauty…oppressive. what the hell. we are talking about bras here.

with that in my history-dna, i was ultra proud of jax, a singer-songwriter, who flash-mobbed VS with her new song about their body shaming. i felt just a little sense of satisfaction. it WAS made up by a dude, and dudes everywhere, despite their own body-imperfections, seem to buy into it. the really, really sad part is that women have too. and i had been one of them. jax’s actions and song earned millions of hits. i say, “you go, sistah!”.

this amazing daylily caught my attention out front of our old brick wall. i named it the “i-wanna-be-a-bird” daylily. gorgeous, it reminded me also of origami cranes and its graceful curves were beautiful. i whispered to it, “you don’t have to be a bird. you are a stunning daylily, so be a daylily!”

it whispered back, “but, but…” and i shushed it, “you’re perfect the way you are.”

*****

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quaking aspen dreams. [two artists tuesday]

we have our own personally-funded go-fund-me for this dream. it buys time for the bigger dream.

the tiny stand of quaking aspen trees beckoned to us. it was instant love. at first sight, no less. tall, willowy, silvery-white bark, the stand transported us to high mountain forests, to trails in breckenridge, to the first ahhh moments coming over the pass.

we took a breath and asked the price.

the nursery is an oasis. in the middle of our town, we sank into it for a few hours, just strolling about and imagining. these trees brought us to center.

our real landscaping need, right now, is for tall grasses along our new fence. we studied each variety and its characteristics – upright and erect or billowing and rounded, low to the ground or reaching to the sky with plumes, feathery in the light. i visited again during the week, asking questions and spending an inordinate amount of time staring at the aspen trees, photographing from different angles and surprised, soaking, by a full-on sprinkler. we’ll go back and purchase a few grasses.

we’ve run the numbers and the stand of aspen must wait. our tiny aspen tree, delicately brought home from the high mountains, aptly named “breck”, is in our backyard and would love the mentoring of a taller, more established stand. with us five years now, we don’t want breck to feel lonely. but, numbers don’t lie and a stand of aspen, along with planting it, is a little bit expensive. the immediate-gratification toddlers in us want it now, but the adults know it needs to wait. there are other priorities. sigh.

we’ll visit the aspen again. and i’ll visit it while david is working, again. and we’ll save up and keep on designing what we want the next phase of our backyard, our sanctuary, to look like.

in future days, our – still-imagined – tiniest “pando” (latin: i spread) of aspen in our yard will grow and remind us of the interconnectivity of all. the canopy-to-come will bring us to places we cherish, dreams beyond the dreams. we will keep saving, a deliberate stand-fund.

we are aspen-dreaming.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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walking sunsets. [two artists tuesday]

there are days that go by that we don’t notice. we hear the waves crashing or the wail of the foghorn, we feel the wind shift over the cool water surface, we listen to seagulls over our house or boats racing the shore. and, though those are all familiar to us, we don’t notice.

we walk the sunset along the lake, night dropping in around us. it’s quiet but we hear faint strains of music from the harbor and the festival on the channel. the lights to our left balance out the ever-diminishing clarity of view to our right. it is pretty exquisite. we are lucky, we repeat.

we live in an old house with an old garage and an old yard in an old neighborhood. we are steps from lake michigan and its glorious power, its ferocity, its smooth-as-glass silk, its wide spectrum of personality. and, sometimes, we don’t notice.

because sometimes, like you, we get caught up in the stuff of life, the challenges of life, the confusing relationships of life, the weariness.

those are the days we should walk the sunset.

for there is not much that reminds you of time passing like watching the giant eastern sky answer the western setting sun. there is not much that reminds you of your absolute tiny-ness in the overall scheme of things. just shy of eight billion people on this good earth and everyone shares this one sun, able to watch colors over lakes, deserts, meadows, cityscapes, neighborhoods, ballfields, cornfields, highways, bayous, mountains.

to sometimes notice, sometimes pay attention, gives us petite pause, like the air you feel staring at a richard diebenkorn ocean park painting, the all-over softened loll of arvo pärt’s music unwinding you, slower-than-slow-dancing on the patio, the hush of a hammock.

“we think we have about twenty good summers now,” the wander women talk about choosing their adventures. we are the same age, so it’s a little bit bracing.

but a good reminder. even from the very start. if we only have about 70 or 80 good summers in all, if we are fortunate, it would seem each one really, truly counts. and, if the height of summer is – in most parts – about three months long, then that’s about ninety days. that means somewhere between 6300 and 7200 good summer sunsets in all, possibly more, possibly less.

it makes me wonder how much i noticed in the first 5670 summer nights to date.

i’ve got some work to do.

i’ve got some walking sunsets to pay attention to.

*****

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like loons. [two artists tuesday]

i wonder if they wondered.

we had stopped right in front of their front steps. like came to a dead stop. and just gazed.

but their blue eryngo had called to us, their seafoam green step risers, the perfect backdrop. a dead stop. full immersion. color – like the sound of loons on a quiet lake. so beautiful.

i took just a few pictures, knowing we should keep going on our sidewalk-amble, breezes off the shore beckoning us to walk through the park.

saturday we spent the day in our front garden beds. we transplanted the sedum being overrun by the tall ornamental grasses marching toward the old brick wall. we cleaned up the daylilies, proudly wearing their glorious orange blossoms, high above the green leaves. we – well, he – dug out a line all the way across the front, so that we can place a stone wall of sorts. nothing fancy and certainly nothing measured or pristine, a wall that will mark where the lily garden and the growing-grass meet.

ornamental grasses love this yard and the beachy feel suits this house. we know there are many fancy-plants out there, but we have learned, through experience – finally – to not fight with what works. ornamental grasses it is.

as we walk the ‘hood we try to get some ideas. our neighbors own a garden business and are gifted gardeners, so their yard is precise and, elegant and, well, pretty perfect. we are not making an effort to achieve perfect. we’re artists. we know there’s no getting there from here and we kinda like it that way. our yard is less magazine-like and more a folksy invitation to hang out, kick off your shoes, tell a story, laugh, sing, dance.

but it’s a treat to wander in this neighborhood, every house different than the next. there is no sameness here and there is no real garden or lawn-olympics. there are gorgeous ideas and there are misses. there are old hedges and new wildflowers. there are yew and big stately oaks and pines and delicate daisies and coneflowers, and there are hosta and ferns and container gardens and raised beds we can see peeking down driveways and around the sides of houses.

i suppose that there is an hoa somewhere that would cite the homeowner with the seafoam green step risers. they’d get a note that would give them a certain amount of time to re-paint those risers, wearing from weather and the front of many shoes climbing to go inside and be home or go inside and visit.

i’m glad we don’t live where this would be cited. because the day i took this photo all i could think about was what an eye – an aesthetic – the owners must have who put blue eryngo next to their seafoam-green-weathered steps. and what a gift it was to those of us wandering by who noticed.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY