reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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way, way past time. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever you see a successful woman, look out for three men who are going out of their way to try to block her.” (yulia tymoshenko)

i read this quote on instagram. i hesitated to use it and then wondered why. it stated truth. it is a fact of life. i have lived it – exactly it – just as many other women have. so why hesitate?

the answer seems obvious. because that kind of blocking still exists, that kind of dominance is still valued, that kind of discrimination still squelches lives and careers, that kind of smothering effort – particularly with leading roles by older white men – is still not – really – questioned, nonetheless challenged in a big, broad way. it’s asphyxiating and it’s way past its time. way, way past time.

“it’s 2021 and we are talking about THIS!” they rolled their eyes and so did i. it is beyond the scope of reasonableness that we are – still – dealing with the devastating blows that those who lean into … or out-and-out embrace … the prejudice of white supremacy, suffocating gender bias, ruinous economic inequity, insufficient healthcare, deficient educational options, the loss of multitudes of innocent lives at the barrel of unnecessary weapons, exclusive immigration…

but here we are. 2021.

we came upon the hot-pink lighted ball of yarn in the garden and laughed. then we followed the string, the yarn that was unrolled over the tree branches, under the bushes, along the sidewalk edge, up the fence, down off the fence, and ultimately, to the end of it, the frayed edges.

it occurs to me we can trace the strings back and back. we can see the frayed edges of injustices, the repeating pattern of silencing, of stifling, of deliberate lack, of unacceptable levels of violence, of obstructive intention.

what now?

we need be stewards of worth, of mending, of healing, of forward-movement, of equal opportunity. we need to find ways – now – to weave an inclusive, equitable, generous, safe, egalitarian story for all. ungrudgingly and with abundant kindness and good will. it is indeed way, way past time.

2021. what are we doing?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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grrreat??? [merely-a-thought monday]

when tony the tiger said it, it was true. “they’re grrreat!” he growled. and yes, frosted flakes ARE grrreat. that sugary coating, that crunch, perfect with milk or almond milk. yum. he was not steering us wrong.

we were behind a pick-up on the way to the grocery store. the open bed had two huge flags, both of which said that which you might be able to guess. it was embarrassing even to be behind this truck.

“keep america great” the can’t-be-creative approach to the incumbent’s election makes me (and tony) stop in our tracks.

keep america great? for what, exactly, is great about america right now?

is it the political chaos, the mind-numbing cruelty of an incumbent president with no compassion, no moral compass, no honesty, no real concern for the populace?

is it the way that this nation has failed to appropriately respond to the global pandemic that is careening about our country, striking down families, afflicting old and young, decimating households, killing people? a wanton disregard of science, medicine, safety in the name of what? freedom? freedom of exactly what? is it the obvious choice of the leadership and its complicit minions to be unjustifiably and blatantly uncaring? the freedom to not care about the populace?

is it the social injustice and inequality that has been a part of the fabric of this nation since, well, forever? is it the racial tension, unrest, deeply rooted and devastating to the core of this crumbling democracy? is it the inability of this country to guarantee the provision of indistinguishably equivalent educational, career, earning potential, medical, banking, mortgage, legal, policing and judicial protections and opportunities?

is it the reprehensible wish to return this country to the ignorant, destructive ways of decades earlier, extinguishing the rights and equality of women, of LGBTQ, of any race that isn’t conservative-pearly-white?

is it the lack of affordable and equitable healthcare for all the people in this country? far be it from the united states to embrace the idea that all of its citizens – regardless of their place on the economic ladder – should have affordable and uniform healthcare as a basic right. instead, is it bankrupting its people when they seek care that this country is after?

is it the exclusivity of the wealthy, their insatiable hunger for more money, more money, the inability for the country’s peoples to rest easy at night, worried about their finances, their futures? is it the fact that the stock market is held in higher regard than the food line, that less in this country is never more, that it matters not who suffers, what little person or small business, as long as the corporations are benefiting? is it the disparity, the immovable wedge between wealth and not, the chasm of economic despair in which families all over this country are flailing?

is it the propensity of violence that is wracking these united states? is it the gun laws that allow regular folks to brandish weapons of mass destruction in the street? is it the killing and maiming of children in schools, movie-goers in theatres, concertgoers at venues, shopkeepers asking patrons to wear masks?

is it the extreme nationalism that seems to be seeping into the pockets of many citizens, diluting their compassion, stoking their fury, wrapping itself around their roll of dollar bills they hold closest to their hearts?

is it the way this country’s current leadership and legislature are failing to recognize that we – the – people are the very ones destroying this earth we share with 200 other countries’ residents? is it the way this country is shunning all the goodness that has been done around climate change, all the stopgaps that have been in place, all the earth-communal gathering-together of the most brilliant minds in an effort to heal the damage we have already done, slow the continued harm, avoid future desecration?

is it the palpable rage? the mind-blowing lack of empathetic, nonetheless sympathetic brotherhood/sisterhood of all? the nonsensical lies and warping of truth and justice, values tossed to the wayside? the ignoring of work that must be done?

keep america great? this “perfect union” securing the “general welfare” of all and reaffirming “domestic tranquility” and the “blessings of liberty”?

tony looks up from his bowl of frosted flakes, lays down his spoon and mutters with his mouth full, “keep??? america??? grrreat???”

“not so much,” he scoffs.

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


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the pied piper. [flawed wednesday]

“while some will see the pied piper and his power as the devil, an evil entity that lures innocents away to their death, other interpretations see something entirely different: a christ-like savior.” (aimee h)

and there we have it.

this country has its very own pied piper. and in no way can this be a good thing.

“the term “pied piper”: … someone who, by means of personal charm, entices people to follow him or her, usually to disappointment or misfortune.” (maeve maddox)

without evidence nor using factual information, as is his unfortunate and biased practice, back in the early stages of this pandemic, the president of this country belittled others for wearing masks, and did not publicly himself wear a mask until mid-july, despite his presence in public places amongst citizens of this country deserving of respect and safety. his failure to make mask-wearing a national mandate in those earliest days of disease undermined the efforts of pandemic-fighters-treaters-sufferers across the country.

thus set the stage.

he pied-pipered his way all over fox news and media-biased outlets; he tooted his pipe into conspiracy theories, never taking responsibility for the safety of his populace. instead he led millions of people over the cliff and almost 190,000 people into death, simply by denying the very thing that could have minimized loss: a mask.

wearing a simple piece of cloth across your nose and mouth seems a small price to pay for a significant amount of safer passage through this time of pandemic. so it seems ludicrous and disgusting to go to the local grocery store and watch people arrogantly walk about with their masks firmly planted around their chins, just begging for someone to ask them to wear it properly. yes. the declining vigilance of the public.

the pied piper’s acolytes are everywhere and his followers are marching, goose-stepping toward what? the story of the pied piper relates that the followers – in the piper’s return to the village – were children and that those “children died of some natural causes such as disease or starvation and that the piper was a symbolic figure of death.” in easy metaphor, our very own piper, without evidence, has distilled the importance of masks to the point of dangerous disregard, pitting side against side, blather against facts, non-actions against actions, subjugating the very economy to disaster, costing jobs, homes, safety, the feeding of families, and has led this country to the brink of death.

is it his personal charm? i think not. the anger he has unleashed, the lack of moral compass, the lies, the rhetoric, the violence…his pipe-tooting seems limitless. instead of unity he chooses division. instead of health he chooses disease. instead of love he chooses hatred.

the pied piper, a self-described rat-catcher, piped to eradicate a poor town from an infestation of rats. ahhh. the metaphor continues. for, tucked into his own house-of-white, while tooting the ever-increasingly-ironic “draining of the swamp,” he and his minions have the best of the best pandemic tools and aids at their bidding. the 2000 people at the lawn rally bestowing accolades upon his every word and gesture have, likely, slightly fewer tools and aids. the millions of those watching fox news, tucked into living rooms across this country, have, likely, far fewer opportunities and far less resources to avoid or combat this coronavirus, this disease, this death.

but the one thing they could have? the one thing that is accessible to most anyone? the one thing that thousands of people sat in front of sewing machines making in the early part of this year, that are available most anywhere, from organizations or religious institutions or individual donors? the one thing that could have saved thousands of lives to date? the one thing that purportedly could still potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives?

masks.

please – vigilantly – wear a mask.

because the pied piper truly does not care if you live or die.

pied piper (noun): the hero of a german folk legend, popularized in the pied piper of hamelin (1842) by robert browning. a person who induces others to follow or imitate him or her, especially by means of false or extravagant promises.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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“hope.” so do not come. [merely-a-thought monday]

hope

do not come.  president of this aching, grieving, diseased, severed, chaotic country, do not come to kenosha.  for you have missed the glimmer of hope on our horizon.  you have ignored the pain of a family wracked with the police shooting of their son.  you have minimized the impassioned pleas to live in a world where black lives matter.  you have distorted the value of lives lost on the very streets of kenosha, lives taken by a little boy with a big gun.  you have stoked the flames of violence and are inciting division in all the ways your cold soul knows how.

do not come.  we do not need a rally for your ego.  we do not need your smug law and order wagon to come through.  we definitely do not need you to instill further tension and fear in the residents of this small city by touting approval of civilian militia groups or extremist patriots.  do not start fires so that you can take credit for putting them out.  we do not need your arson.

do not come. we have been through enough this past week.  we are trying to pick up the pieces from violence and injustice and unrest so that we might move into the winds of change, so that we might listen and, with all good intention, step forward into a place of unity, of healing.

do not come.  politicizing death and destruction and vengeance and ratcheted ferocity have no place on the streets of a community that wants more than that.  we the people desire a more perfect union and domestic tranquility and it is becoming clear that unity is not your ultimate goal and that domestic turbulence and divisiveness are your weapons of choice.

do not come.  for our city needs level wisdom, calm compassion, fair and candid conversation, truth, not your screaming vitriol, your punting self-agenda, your endorsement of hatred, your lies.

do not come.  for your intentions are not with hope in your heart.

and without you, in the heart of kenosha, there is the glimmer of hope.

do not come.

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

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we hold our heads. [d.r. thursday]

morsel

our go-bags are packed.  the dog crate is in the car and the cat crate is in the sitting room, ready.  important papers are in a tote bag and the backpack awaits our laptops and all the related power cords.  one more bag sits open for a few clothes and toiletries.

i feel unhinged.

i wrote to my children that it is unbelievable and real at the same time.  this is true.  we have no idea what dusk will bring, what the dark hours of the night will be like in our downtown, in our neighborhood, a city wracked in pain and fraught with the tension of social injustice gone exponential.

we sit.  holding our heads.

we drove through downtown today for the first time.  it was the first time since sunday that we had even been out, beyond taking a short walk in the neighborhood.  we went to the grocery store where they had humongous stacks of water bottles near the door, ready for protesters, first responders, law enforcement, anyone thirsty in near 100 degree feels-like temperatures.  we picked up a few things and headed home, taking a slight sidetrip through our very-nearby downtown.

it was stunning.  heartbreaking.  it made me cry.

we had seen pictures of the downtown all boarded up, but we had not been there yet.  we did not ambulance chase nor were we there to help board up or bring food or water in the last few days.  we, paralyzed and from our home, wrote about this experience, wrote about the surreal feelings we had listening to the sounds of inequality, the smoky smells of injustice, the taste of fearful adrenaline all must feel in the situations that have brought us here.

and so we hold our heads in our hands.  we weep for the families of every person victimized by violence.  we stand in the muck of a society that has perpetuated this unfair treatment, that has made excuses for it, that has steeped itself in hatred and bigotry.

and we fear what is to come when the sun sets.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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THREE GRACES ©️ 2012 david robinson

 

 


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the boulders. [two artists tuesday]

IMG_3933

8pm curfew and we can hear car horns and sirens blaring, smoke is in the air.

midnight and we hear gunshots, loud booms, sirens.

4:30am and the sirens continue.  a storm arrives; the thunder adds to other unidentifiable sounds and is unnerving.  we sit, awake.

early morning and the sun has risen to a stormy day.  smoke fills our house from buildings, structures, vehicles burning in downtown and uptown kenosha.  it is hard to breathe.  but we are very much alive.

the town is shoring up the lakefront.  the bedrock is crumbling.  every time a storm comes, particularly from the north or northeast, the erosion is profound and feet are lost along the shore.  enormous boulders are being brought in to nest next to the smaller granite boulders already in place, to protect lives and property.  the theory is that these granite boulders will buffet the shoreline against the raging winds, the elements, the squalls, and the resulting rocks flung westward when those aggressive storms come.

the tempest of social injustice is railing.  the coastline between white and black is hot and the fire of anger is raging.  jacob blake, an african american man, who is right between the ages of My Girl and My Boy, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on sunday.  he is fighting for his life and the community is fighting to be heard.

what will tonight bring?

as the bedrock of this community crumbles we wonder what seawall will be built to protect all, to guard against inequity, to keep everyone safe from violence, to stop the injustice against black members of our community, our state, our country? what intelligent, articulate conversation will take place?  what questions will be asked; what wisdom will be proffered?  what compassion and generous action will be offered?  how will we buffet against the rocks of hatred and bigotry flung by aggressive hostility?  what will the boulders of change look like?

“the wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock.  the wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.

the foolish man built his house upon the sand, house upon the sand, house upon the sand.  the foolish man built his house upon the sand and the rains came tumbling down. 

the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up.  the rains came down and the floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!”

we have some decisions to make.  as a community, a state, a country.  what will we do?  will it be sand?  again?  or will it be rock?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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enough. [flawed wednesday]

give peace a chance

enough.

on the back of the vehicle’s window we just passed the other day there was this sticker:  “you can give peace a chance.  i’ll cover you if it dosen’t {sic} work out.”

the mantra “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion” screamed its head off at me as i read this with distress.  but there’s this:

mass shootings in public schools, killing people

mass shootings at colleges, killing people

mass shootings at concerts, killing people

mass shootings at nightclubs, killing people

mass shootings at places of worship, killing people

mass shootings at movie theatres, killing people

mass shootings at malls, killing people

mass shootings at stores, killing people

mass shootings at restaurants, killing people

mass shootings at bases, killing people

mass shootings at post offices, killing people

enough.

peace deserves a chance.  the gun-law-less-ness-populace has had its chance.  it has failed miserably.  it is still failing.  it is breaking hearts and lives left and right.  it is placing the value of life below the value of a semiautomatic weapon.  what have we come to?  what horror must happen before legislation is put into place that considers the actual lack of need, the lack of appropriateness, the sheer lack of respect for human life for these weapons of mass destruction to be removed from day-to-day life?

“guns don’t kill people.  people do.”  yes, people pull the trigger.  yet, without guns, what would those trigger-hungry people do?  “pew, pew, pew, pew,” they would yell out while running with their pointer finger aimed at the ‘enemy’.

“you would cry too if it happened to you, ” my wise friend jotted the lyrics of this song to me.  in this country of little-to-no-community-empathy, she was making reference of these lyrics to the pandemic.  yet, they apply to any despicably irresponsible act by leadership – the lack of leadership for the covid-19 pandemic, the lack of leadership for gun control, for banning assault weapons, the lack of leadership for racial equality and addressing unrest, the lack of leadership for social justice and safety of all peoples, the revoltingly vigorous encouragement of a society to pine for more of the second amendment.

it only took new zealand six days in 2019 to announce a new national gun policy.  weapons of mass destruction (all military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines and modification parts to morph guns into semiautomatic status) were banned merely six days after a mass shooting.  it is assumed that gun ownership is a privilege there, not a right.  gun homicides there have been in the single digits, with the highest number of 11.

and the united states of america?

enough.

i might add:  anyone  who purchases a sticker announcing their dismissal of peace as an option should spend a little more time reading it.  “dosen’t” is spelled wrong.  perhaps that is one of the problems.  little to no thought, little to no investment in critical thinking.  little to no conversation or use of intellect.  no refrainment of an overabundance of anger and reactionism.  just a blunt declaration of violence, a creed to evil.

enough.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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i don’t understand. [two artists tuesday]

canoe and dock

ahhh.  early morning.  it is sunday and we are writing a couple days ahead for a busy week.

as i sit here, in this beautiful “idyllic” place, i hear the rapid fire of gunshots.  i google, looking for a shooting range i have heard about, but to no avail.  sunday morning.  a time of reflection and peace.  and, apparently, gunfire.  i don’t understand.

a couple nights ago i woke up and could hear the sound of two men talking.  we rarely hear people talking here, at any time of day or night.  i didn’t know where they were, and i couldn’t understand what they were saying, but the last thing i heard was a gunshot.  nothing else.  why, on earth, would someone be shooting anything in the middle of the night?  i’ve been told that there is poaching and shining and that hunting is a big part of this place.  hunting what?  what season is this?  are people’s kitchen tables truly dependent on this?  there’s a grocery store.  i don’t understand.

this week, just one week, as you know, our country suffered four times at the hands of someone who chose to brutally end the lives of others.  intentionally.  with assault weapons.  my heart breaks.  again.  and i don’t understand.

it appears that we are on a path of self-destruction.  a garlic festival, shopping at walmart, enjoying a saturday evening downtown in a small city…these are normal activities.  these are opportunities for human beings – like you and me – to do the stuff of life or to gather together.  partners, families, children, friends.  people we know, people we do not know, all breathing in and breathing out just like we do.  life-doing and gathering together should not include terror.  it shouldn’t even include fear.  i don’t understand.

where are we headed?  will we continue to perpetuate hatred?  will we continue to feed division?  will we continue to kowtow to big money, to the needs of a few instead of the needs of many?  will we care?  will we continue to taunt and bully and fight?  will we continue to kill each other?  i don’t understand.

as i sit on the dock of the bay, looking at the horizon blending with the sky, one little tiny being in a vast universe, i just don’t understand.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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on the dock of the bay ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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rogers park. [flawed wednesday]

Roger's Park Feet

on the platform at rogers park

we didn’t give it a second thought when The Boy told me that he was going to be traveling to the rogers park neighborhood of chicago. of course we were going.  we got out the metra train schedule and looked at the sunday trains from waukegan to rogers park, looking at our google maps to see where the restaurant we were meeting him at was located and how to get there from the train station.  we will literally trek anywhere if My Boy or My Girl are going to be nearby (or even far) and we have a chance to see them.

we jumped off the train at rogers park and made our way through the streets, enjoying a nice walk, through residential and commercial areas.  we turned down clark and then devon and had lunch at uncommon ground, a place known for its rooftop organic farm.   when he had to leave, The Boy suggested that we go tour loyola’s lakefront campus before we headed back to the station.  we were glad we did; the area was beautiful and we liked rogers park.

six sundays later a beautiful young man had flown out to chicago from new york to pursue his doctoral degree at northwestern university.  he moved into a place in rogers park and, four hours after he arrived, took a stroll on clark street to buy hangers at a local store.  this aspiring student – just 25 years old – the same age as MY Boy- got caught in the crossfire of two men.  he was shot and killed.  a mere four hours after his full-of-dreams arrival.  i don’t even know what kind of flawed earth we live on when a mom has to learn that her child, following the direction and hard work of his life, has lost his life.  my heart breaks for her.

indeed, my heart breaks for every mom, every parent, every human, who has been touched by needless, unwarranted, tragic violence in this world.  such despair.  where is it safe?

on google maps, there is a small exclamation mark with this caveat:  “use caution – walking directions may not always reflect real-world conditions.”  i never noticed it before.  it’s quite the understatement.

Sign at Loyola - Thoreau

painted on a wall at loyola university in rogers park, chicago

 

read DAVID’S thoughts on this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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rogers park. ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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two artists tuesday #3

CHILDRENarethebestwithframe jpeg copymay 15, 1990.  the day my life took an unchangeable turn.  the girl was born.  i became a mother.  nothing would ever be the same.  and i am beyond infinitely grateful.  love became more than a noun and a verb – it became a person in my arms.  every fibre of me was in love with this little wonder.  i still am.

nothing can really prepare you for this feeling that is undeniably the most intense thing i have ever felt.  i had my first taste of this when my niece wendy was born…the first of my niece-nephew-niece trio.  i was young then – just eleven (sorry, ben…that really dates you ;)) i fell in love with each of them and, to this day, i’m quite sure they have no idea how much they are loved.  but motherhood was different.  it took my heart to a different plane entirely.  i wondered how it would be -how i could love any more- when i was expecting my second child.  when the boy was born i felt as if i had grown a whole second heart, as bottomless as the first one.

i am so very fortunate to be the mother of these two amazing people-in-this-world.  my daughter ‘the girl’ is beautiful and fiercely independent and talented and smart and funny and -will always be- one of the reasons i breathe.  my son ‘the boy’ is beautiful and fiercely independent and talented and smart and funny and -will always be- one of the reasons i breathe.  i have been moved by their presence in the world.  i have learned in countless ways.  i have struggled with the balance of  wanting-them-near and having-them-far-away.  i know that there is not anything else i have done that is more important.  they are the first thoughts in my mind in the morningtime and the last at night.  i have been changed.  i will never be the same.

this past week, like too many times in recent years, has cut to the core of my heart.  i have felt overwhelming empathy for mothers (and, of course, fathers) who have lost their child to violence.  i am not protected so much that i believe the events of the past week are the only children being lost to violence.  i am no less appalled by the loss of a child to famine or war or domestic brutality.  i just can’t imagine it.  the raw brokenness-of-heart is unfathomable for me.

our children, like anything else that really counts in life, do not come with a manual in which you can look up ‘how’.  we can read and study and research and google, but every situation is different and caring for and raising children is – and, by sheer importance, absolutely SHOULD be – the toughest thing you have ever done.  and, if you have chosen it,  the most momentous. it counts.  it is the shepherding of life.  it is life begetting life.  children are the breath of the (what-kind-of-world-do-we-want?) world that continues. not just for their parents.  but for all of us.  because it doesn’t just take a village; it takes a world to raise a child, to raise children.  they ARE the best thing.

CHILDREN ARE THE BEST THING – MERCHANDISE

TwoArtists ChildrenAre MUG copy                TwoArtists ChildrenAre FRAMED PRINT copy

TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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 children are the best thing ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson