reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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vulnerable. [d.r. thursday]

helen’s words have stayed with me for a few years now. we had told her of various frog encounters we were having including the time the frog jumped out of my sweet momma’s toilet (!) when we opened the lid and the first surprise frog at our little pond. “frog,” she quietly pointed out in a slight southern drawl, “is simply an acronym for fully-rely-on-god.” there was something stabilizing in her tone, something full of wisdom and experience and the flow of life. in her words there was reassurance. in her words there was encouragement.

magic appeared earlier this summer. we check for him pretty much every day. at some point one of us meanders out there and walks slowly around the pond, studying the places where a sweet frog can linger, sun, or hide. some days he isn’t there and we worry about him. when you name a frog in your pond, he becomes part of your family and pando and epic and tiny were no exceptions. we celebrated the day magic suddenly poofed into our pond. i’m certain we both heard helen’s words whispered in our ears.

i know that magic is vulnerable and yet, he sits in it. this pond is tiny and he would be hard-pressed to evade the neighborhood hawk should it decide froglegs were on the menu. the sun warms the pond each day and the rocks around it are hot to the touch, but magic has apparently figured all that out, afternooning in the shaded garden bushes, i suppose. he doesn’t seem to be scared of a big black furry dogdog running around the pond incessantly; i imagine he rolls his eyes, giggles at the visual absurdity and somehow knows dogga would never hurt him. he seems pretty secure. maybe he knows the f-r-o-g thing. no matter, taking chances, he sits in his vulnerability.

these two days – thursdays and fridays – are dedicated to our artistries. dr thursday and ks friday offer specific chances for us to dive into our craft, to talk about it, to divulge.

i have found, in these last years now of writing, that we are much like magic. the more we write, the more we divulge of where we are. our vulnerability is not just limited to artistry days. instead, we take chances each day of the week, writing where we are, where we have come from, where we may be going. we click ‘publish’ and sit in it.

at points in time, the neighborhood hawk somehow removed us from facebook for unknown reasons – a hankering for froglegs, i suppose – and trashed our youtube – burning hot reasons we will never know. it is hard to evade the acts of close-mindedness, of conspiracy theory, of damaging rhetoric, of exclusion. but we just keep writing anyway.

it was late evening when i went to look for magic. the air had deliciously cooled and we were outside – just with the pondlight and bulbs strung over the yard. there he was. in the spotlight of the pond, confidently on the edge of the rocks, breathing deeply – or however it is frogs breathe best. he didn’t move as i approached and he stayed right there, inches away, for the photoshoot. unafraid and in his own skin, he didn’t flinch. he just stayed right there. in the middle of his vulnerability.

it made me wonder if he has a blog.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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eleanor’s tea bags. [k.s. friday]

she was a rebel. radical and progressive, eleanor pushed with all her might, a rogue in a traditional world. eleanor roosevelt is held in high esteem, a social justice mover-and-shaker, deliberate and smart and very, very strong. she wasn’t afraid of hot water. she often dove right in.

we women all know eleanor. oftentimes, intimately. for she resides in each of us – that spirit of strength and fortitude, bravery and courage, mighty in beautiful bodies.

forest trillium, in all its slender elegance, takes quite some time to mature. after years of growth, it will eventually bloom, its three leaves gently cupping the blossom. an early spring flower, white ages to pink, a color often associated with softness, perhaps even meekness. but in its ever-present flower-wisdom, trillium is anything but meek. it is particular and ephemeral, stunning as a star of the woodlands. its bloom scents as fruit or decaying meat to attract pollinating insects, its attempt to ensure its propagation. heralding spring, trillium is fragile and endangered. in new york it is labeled “exploitably vulnerable.”

the path we each choose differs. our goals, our intentions, our dedications, our wishes and dreams run a vast spectrum. we have different journeys; we have different origins. we are quiet; we are noisy. we go with the flow; we make waves. we may not agree, but we are zealous.

we are the guardians of our ambitions, the preservers of our pilgrimages, the shielder of our adventures, the great protectors of our beliefs, the fuel of our passions, the champions of our beloveds, mama bears with or without cubs. we are fragile; we are damn strong. and we are most definitely exploitably vulnerable. yet, in that vulnerability, in those moments of hot water, each and every woman i know is eleanor.

i say we tea bags stick together and celebrate each other.

*****

from my seat in 2021 sharing with you the stay strong/strong-woman song i wrote in 2002 for the album AS SURE AS THE SUN: COUNT ON YOU:

COUNT ON YOU (kerri sherwood – from the album AS SURE AS THE SUN)

listen to my music on my little corner of iTUNES

tune to my growing library on PANDORA

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

COUNT ON YOU ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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from a distance and up close. [two artists tuesday]

from a distance they stand tall, leaf-arms open to the sky, drinking in tree-dappled sun. they are stalky and strong and seem confident and independent, yet living in community with other woodland plants. at this moment in early spring they are positioned in mostly-monochromatic villages, begging my camera. it isn’t until i get closer that i see all the pointy hairs on the leaves, on the stalk, all over. from afar these were not obvious, but, apparently, this plant was not exactly what it seemed. the fuzzy hairs – trichomes – protect the plant from dehydration, from insects, to keep warm and keep cool, and upon close inspection, are everywhere, too numerous to count. they are an integral part of the plant and its ability to thrive in the woods.

the obvious comparison – the good outer protection our own epidermis provides us – is too blatant. instead, as i got closer to this plant and focused in on its outer shell, i couldn’t help but realize the running parallel, the only-seen-up-close-and-personal mechanisms of protection.

from afar we stand tall and strong and confident and independent, though living in and, indeed, dependent upon, community with others. but upon close inspection, upon threat, we are always protecting our own vulnerability. if needed, we rely on our spiky and resistant shell, closing off to invasion of hurtful infestation or blight, guarding against negativity. we survey change and transition, ready to rely on our armor. we puff out our thorns and avoid humility. we stand firm, stalky and unwavering in our opinions. we resist forceful wind, preferring to root in the known. we sway in shifting breezes, ever-hopeful for good. and the tiny hairs of our exterior stand on edge, spiky and ready, the mama-bears of our integrity, our fragile good natures, our open hearts.

there is no real difference. these lush green plants and us. we stand with our arms open to the sky, drinking in the sun, independent and dependent, living together. from a distance and up close.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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peeled back. [k.s. friday]

time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.

artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.

the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.

each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.

now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.

each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.

*****

that first album – 1995

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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butterfly, butterfly. [two artists tuesday]

butterfly butterfly

this butterfly must have known.  my heart was aching and the steps i was taking down the trail were heavy.  and then it appeared.

the glimmer of its wings caught my eye, this iridescent blackish-blue, a red-spotted purple butterfly, inviting me to stop, watch.   it flew around me and i twirled in place watching as it circled.  it landed on the trail time and again, close enough for me to video it opening and closing its wings, a greeting of sorts.  my breathing slowed down.  beauty exists.

even in the midst of everything negative, even in the midst of worry, angst, missing, deconstruction, transformation, reinvention, heartwrenching choices, beauty exists. even in the midst of a pandemic and unrest and a country in chaos, beauty exists.

a little research:  apparently, my little friend, the red-spotted purple butterfly, looks much like a pipevine swallowtail.  the swallowtail butterfly deters predators by being mightily distasteful.  the red-spotted purple butterfly has piggybacked onto the swallowtail’s predatory resistance by its similar markings, albeit without a tail.  predators sometimes shy away from this butterfly based on the vulgar taste of its close-but-not-related twin.  a good scheme.  and yet this butterfly – beautifully exquisite, and, although somewhat protected, is still vulnerable.

this red-spotted purple butterfly visit was serendipitous.  i needed to slow down.  i needed to watch this creature as it invited the sunlight to warm its wings and aid in its nectar-picnic.  i needed to be reminded of the butterfly in all its transitions – its metamorphosis through life, its graceful acceptance of its own life-arc, its changes, its patience, its endurance.

the next times i walk on this trail i will likely think of these two butterflies:  both beautiful and both trying to sustain, to gather nectar, to complete their own circles of life.  but one with such a vulgarity to it, such an acidity that predators stay away.  very few are lost in the lesson that predators are quickly taught about its toxicity; animals learn to avoid them.   i wonder about these swallowtails in community with other butterflies.  and i think about the red-spotted purple, sans toxicity, trying courageously to protect itself in its habitat.  it looks a little like a swallowtail, but it’s not.  it doesn’t poison the animal who consumes it.

much like people.  we look much the same.  each of us, beautifully exquisite.  and yet.  some pipevine swallowtails, toxic and cunning.  some red-spotted purples, pure and vulnerable.

beauty exists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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two broken wrists. [k.s. friday]

two wrists

day 4

it broke more than both my wrists, that snowboarding fall last monday.

it broke my ability to do many things for myself.  it fractured my independence.

it exploded my previous gratitude of those around me, loving and caring for me.  it expanded a dependence on others, particularly david.

it broke through my vulnerability threshold.  it made me acknowledge my modesty and encouraged me to try to stand tall in my new temporary disability.

it broke what i knew about others around me.  it both surprised me in all the best ways and surprised me in all the worst.

it broke my assumption that all things – all my relationships – all my work – would stay the same.  it shattered any sense of security.

it further broke my trust in our country’s healthcare coverage.  it pointedly drove home that point.

it broke through any calm-in-the-storm-around-us i had found.  it exacerbated a profound sense of worry.

it broke my muse.  it scared me, really scared me, and it made me wonder if i would play again, write again, perform again.

day 5.  my quiet piano welcomed me into the studio.  i stood in front of it.  determined.  and i played.  nine fingers, not ten.  not the hand-span of all other days, but never mind.

day 12.  eleven days after breaking them i still wake up, after night’s elusive sleep, surprised to see my wrists, well, more accurately, my cast and hard splint.

i think, “here we go,” and i set out to see what’s beyond two broken wrists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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in the gray. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

stripes of grey

grey/gray rarely has such a line of demarcation, rarely has distinctive texture such as in this picture beyond our littlehouse yard.  grey is simply gray.  it is the zone of not right/not wrong.  it is the living in-between-ness of doing life this way/that way.  it is the space of not-knowing, asking questions, learning, being vulnerable.  it can be uncomfortable.  but it is necessary.

the most growing i have done has been in the grey zones.  the times when i did not know, the times i made mistakes, the times choices were confusing, the times devastated by life events, the times moving forward meant tiny baby step by baby step, the times i was vulnerable.

last night there was an artist, an author, at TPAC who spoke of vulnerability.  he said that vulnerability leads to gratitude.  it is the path to grace and mercy.  i agree.

i would add we can never know, or even approximate, what someone else is feeling without being unguarded ourselves.  we can never know the unanswered questions, the struggles, the amorphous-ness of life without the grey.  we can never create without the grey – for an artist languishes in grey, if for no other reason than to seek the color within himself.

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

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underpainting. a solid foundation. [d.r. thursday]

underpainting

when we moved into this house 30 years ago the kitchen floor was an old green and orange linoleum.  needless to say, this was not my favorite color combination nor was it my favorite floor.  we laid a clean white tile floor on top; a temporary fix to hold us over.  a couple years later we chose to put hardwood down,  mimicking the rest of the house.  that required stripping off the old floors – the white one and the green and orange one.  weren’t we surprised at how many layers we found!  but below all that mess was the sub-flooring, a solid foundation on which to lay new hardwood, a new start for the little kitchen.

peeling back the layers to expose what’s beneath it all can be exhilarating.  but it can also be intimidatingly revealing.  we are nervous to find what is below the surface.  we feel  trepidation about the underlayment; should we rip out and replace? what will we need to do to shore it up?  can it withstand this?

it’s the same for each of us.  we feel vulnerable letting others know what is underneath it all, this positive front of ours.  the complexity of sedimentary-life-layers is confusing and we seek ways to not feel them, not acknowledge them, not share them.

but the firm subfloor is there.  we are resilient and fluid.  we have been shored up by the obstacles we have climbed, by the challenges we have surmounted and we are surrounded by others who all can relate, were we to tell them.

the orange and green linoleum of our lives is still there, underneath, but it is now serving us, either as the underlayment of our ever-learning-ever-growing-future or part of what we found, dealt with, ripped out and replaced.  either way, there is room for the hardwood.  the foundation is solid.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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divine intervention. [k.s. friday]

divine intervention song box.jpg

divine intervention. from whence it all comes…

right at 2:08 in this recording is an ambient sound.  it is a sound that my producer and i deliberately decided to leave in the recording, an audible sound of divine, a tiny punctuation in our project from across the barriers of physical being-ness.

we were recording remotely on one of the northwestern university stages, ken (my amazing “it’s fine” producer) having built a small studio off in the green room, separate from the stage space where the piano was.  everything was moved or padded so as to avoid interruptions or rattling or vibrations or overtones, anything we didn’t want included in this solo piano album.  it was a tedious process and we recorded straight through a twenty-three hour stretch.  with me were items – totems of a sort – to keep me company as i recorded this first album.  one was a stuffed animal i had given my beloved big brother during his chemo treatments, three short missing-him-years prior.

divine intervention was the last piece up.  the last piece of the very first album i was recording, released 23 years ago november 11 on my sisu music productions label.  teetering on that balance point, no idea of where i was to go next or what would become of this album, i was emotional and exhausted, determined and vulnerable.  i spoke words of prayer and began the next take of this piece.

at 2:08 i heard a sound.  it sounded like an old wooden screen door closing, but i didn’t really know what it was.  i was sure, however,  it would be on the recording since i could hear it on-stage.  i kept going anyway, thinking we’d go back and re-record the piece. when i finished playing, tired tears in my eyes, i walked into the green room to find ken standing in astonishment.  there was an empty can of pepsi in that little studio, one i had put in there and secured by towels deep onto a shelf.  at 2:08, the can somehow moved out of the spot it was nestled in and clattered onto the floor.  the sound.  even without listening to the cd i can hear this sound in my head every time i play this piece.

we listened back to the raw recording.  sure enough, it was there.  and so was something else.  a feeling that somehow, some way, the divine interrupted.  intervened with a small nod.  perhaps it was my big brother, in jest, stopping by in the middle of the last take of the very last piece of my very first album, to make a little noise.  perhaps it was something else.  either way, we knew.  and we left it in.

i still have the can.

15. divine intervention (3:16):  the feeling i have about this whole project.  there really isn’t any such thing as chance.  those who are just on the other side sometimes help us to sort and place the clues of our life’s story. (words from released from the heart jacket)

purchase the CD RELEASED FROM THE HEART or download on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

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DIVINE INTERVENTION from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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i didn’t know. [k.s. friday]

i didn't know song box

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 12.03.36 PM

yesterday, the senate passed the Music Modernization Act, a complex bill that is supposed to help songwriters in these days of streaming.  as quoted in one article questioning the feasibility of pushing through this bill as is:  “…niche labels and independent musicians face either a zero, or statistically insignificant, chance of a return on their investment through streaming. many report barely paying for a sandwich with their royalties.” (maria schneider, musicanswers.org) yes. creatives are still facing a grotesque misalignment of power and income despite an effort to supposedly be “helped”.

i didn’t know, back when i released my first album, that there would be another…and another…and another…

i didn’t know how vulnerable i would feel each time i released a collection of my soul, turned into tracks of music.

i didn’t know how grateful i would feel each time i stood on stage and spoke to an audience that was there to hear this music – my music.

i didn’t know how many stores, in the early days, would carry these cds (and cassette tapes, way back when), how many times i would be live on QVC-TV, how many radio interviews i would be relishing.

i didn’t know how humbling it would feel that many people would respond to something in my music, something would resonate with them, something would be healing or heartening or touch them.

i didn’t know, through the years, how many thousands of cds would sell, how many boxes i would carry, how many wholesale shows or retail shows i would be present at or how many phone calls i (or wonderful people who worked with me) would make or receive, taking and shipping orders.

i didn’t know that the BMI royalty statements i was getting earlier would soon decline as our world and the internet changed them drastically.  the one i got two days ago for a period of the year included 59,000 performance counts and a $47.47 check.  streaming has made it unnecessary to purchase a physical cd or even pay for and download an artist’s music and so i agree with the writer who said: “streaming revenue for most independent musicians doesn’t even amount to pocket lint.” (m.schneider)

i didn’t know that the yearning inside me to compose and record more music to be released on cds would be stymied by the cost vs earnings debacle that has been created by an industry that doesn’t lift up the independent, while the behemoths remain behemoth.

i didn’t know how sad it would make me.  i didn’t know how it would change me.  i didn’t know i would keep wondering ‘what next?’  i didn’t know i would be seeking answers to where i stand as a composer.  i didn’t know my piano would call from my studio and i would ignore it, feeling betrayed by a profession that should pay my bills like any other.

i just didn’t know.

purchase the physical cd THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY or purchase a download of I DIDN’T KNOW (track 4) on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood