reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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creeping pigweed. [merely-a-thought monday]

i know little to nothing about farming. driving through eastern colorado, missouri, all of kansas, iowa and across the state of wisconsin, there are patchworks of farmfields that stretch on seemingly forever. gorgeous and rich in the colors of good dirt and rising plants, we admired the quilted beauty of our roadtrip and talked about farming as we passed the lives of people we would never meet.

the billboard read, “don’t let pigweed creep back!” it was an imperative to research. pigweed is, apparently, insidious and something that hardworking people who have chosen crop-growing, stock, and all means of agriculture, have to deal with. pigweed can be toxic to livestock and will aggressively take over grain and soybean fields. it is resistant to mitigation and hard to control. it can be destructive. once eradicated, one must remain vigilant about its presence so as to avoid further damage to crops and animals.

i am struck by how this invasive plant mimics what has happened in the political arena of our living.

we had just, a mere couple hours before, stopped at a gas station to fill up big red and run into the restroom. wearing masks, we entered the convenience store where all conversation stopped as the door swung closed behind us. no one inside had on a mask and the stares at us were pointed and aggressive. it was unnerving. had we entered a miraculous-global-pandemic-free zone? or had we entered inside a building where pigweed had never left, where the insidious, toxic dis-ease of misinformation and selfishness was spreading its roots, reaching out underground and above to damage all within its cloying and suffocating grasp? is there no hope for this place with entrenched pigweed?

it would seem to me, as we read the current news of steps forward, of good intentions, of attempts to advance efforts toward equity and equality, social justice, healthcare, hunger and homelessness, of work to aid in getting past this horrid pandemic and all its fallout, that we should do all we can to not let pigweed creep back.

*****

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


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earth is weeping. [flawed wednesday]

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have just had the seventh mass shooting in seven days in this country. earth’s occupants are in danger and earth is profoundly mournful. i’m with earth.

i don’t want to think that going to the grocery store could end anyone’s life – it’s unfathomable – and yet, as i write this, we have lost another ten people – who simply went to the grocery store. last week we lost eight beautiful lives with a shooter’s ‘bad day’ excuse. time and again, time and again. why is it we cannot stop this? it is no less real if you are not directly in the line of grief in any one of these mass shooting circumstances. the line of grief is all of ours and i wonder if you will think of this the next time you are in the grocery store or the spa or at a vigil or in a club or at a party, not to mention at a mall, in a church, at a concert, in a movie theatre, at school. i read a post with the words “…cheap thoughts and useless prayers now being rushed to the scene. more on this soon-to-be-forgotten-and-then-repeated story as it develops…” earth is reeling, its heart breaking into a trillion pieces in the midst of violence people seem unwilling to cease. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have lost 540,000 people in this country to this pandemic, shy of 2.8 million across the globe. in miami’s south beach, there are restrictions that officials are begging thousands of pandemic-weary tourists to abide by. we pass folks in the local costco with masks under their noses; we see crowded bars and restaurants in our town. despite the government’s pleas for compliance and its new-administration’s plans facilitating and expediting vaccinations and aid, the level of apathy is disconcerting. wishing for everyone to believe we are all in this together doesn’t make it happen. earth is wondering what’s so hard about decent-human-behaving to save each other’s lives. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. climate change and environmental flippancy is wreaking havoc on this good planet and the almighty dollar seems to be ahead in the race against any chance to reverse the damage. we were behind a pickup truck with the sticker “i’m with earth” as we drove across town. a little googling revealed what i couldn’t see from our vehicle, what i can’t read in the picture i snapped. these stickers are available on the website http://www.ilovegurus.com. each time someone purchases a pair of gurus – sustainably-sourced flip-flops – a tree is planted. every time someone purchases this sticker a tree is planted. their site reads, “continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting change in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. it may sound daunting, but if we work together, we can plant one million trees to improve our planet for generations.” we are all responsible. we all must make decisions, choices to take part in saving the planet. being aware. being answerable. taking action. planting trees. maybe earth is cautiously clapping her hands as people become more knowledgeable, more protective, more potently effectual, watching her advocates gently plant saplings, tenderly seeding for the future. i’m with earth.

a serbian proverb declares, “be humble for you are made of earth. be noble for you are made of stars.” each and every person – yes, a balance. a coalescence of earth’s humility and stars’ nobility, both. weeping earth, lofty stars.

today, i am full of sorrow for those people who have lost others who ran out to buy chips or bananas or a gallon of milk, each of them brilliant stars. i’m with earth. weeping.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY



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accountability. [two artists tuesday]

beaky thought greg norman was pretty, well, handsome, shall we say? she was taken with his tall blondness and, though she didn’t follow golf much back then, she kept an eye on him. she would be proud of him these days as he cautions us all not to take covid-19 lightly. stricken with coronavirus, he urges, “do what is right, not just for you, but your family, friends, co-workers and other people around.” he adds, “i wouldn’t want anyone to experience this hideous virus. please take care.” i imagine she’d write him a letter.

the headlines say it all – a surge upon a surge. choices made during this holiday season will deliver blowback to people’s health and well-being, their very lives, decimating the healthcare system, and there is no one to blame for that but ourselves. every single choice impacts us all in the time of this shared pandemic. disney world and large family gatherings and traveling trips to other parts of the country all play a role; there is no escaping accountability.

i recently read of a discussion about authority and accountability. the open question was this: who has authority and who has accountability? wow. really? this seems, without any undue thought, a no-duh. those who have authority to make decisions are the same as those who are accountable for them. escaping from responsibility-taking is off the table. if you make a decision then you must support that by taking responsibility for it. in any arena. if you travel on an airplane or a train or a car to a different part of our country and you bring covid as luggage, you must take responsibility. if you gather and covid is a silent guest at the long dining table laden with treats, you must take responsibility. if you don’t wear a mask and you are with others who become infected, particularly those at high risk, you must take responsibility. and i wonder – is it worth it? we each have the authority, the liberty, the freedom to make decisions. but that also makes us responsible. it makes us accountable. in any arena.

dogdog, as we rapidly approach the end of 2020, just asks this one thing. with this two-ply cotton fabric mask on his head, he looks up at us and queries, “this? this is what all the hubbub is about? this tiny cloth mask? it can literally save lives?? pshaw!!”

as we watch him looking at us out of the corner of his eye, i imagine him adding, “just WEAR the freaking thing!”

i’m guessing greg norman and my sweet momma agree.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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covid test. the unknown. [merely-a-thought monday]

the unknown is often worse than reality. i had all kinds of monsters in my head battering my nerves, just thinking about having a covid test. i wasn’t feeling well and, with my symptoms aligning with the utterly vast myriad of symptoms attributable to coronavirus, i was checking the list and checking it twice. worried and already quarantining for 14 days since we had been exposed, we scheduled tests. and i started getting nervous. it felt like we were living inside a sci-fi movie.

my adrenaline was rushing before we left the house. i felt shaky. it was a big response to what must have been a letdown for that adrenaline rush. the test itself was easy, painless. it was a rapid test and we knew we would find out our results in a mere half hour.

david’s came – “negative,” read the email. my email asked me to come back inside for a confirmatory test, a specimen that would be sent to a lab for results that might have a slightly lower degree of fallibility. we went back in, standing on the dots stickering the floor, slathering with hand sanitizer, speaking through two-ply masks. and now, we wait.

we have been inordinately careful. we’ve been wearing masks, washing hands, our fruit, the bottles of wine gift-delivered at our front door. we’ve wiped our groceries and kept our mail separated. we have distanced and not gathered. we have worried about ourselves. we have worried about my girl and my boy. we have worried about david’s parents and all our family members out of town. we have worried about the people in our community, the customers and staff at the corner store, the people in line at the grocery. we have tried to be respectful. it has mattered.

a friend re-posted a meme today that read, “it shouldn’t have to happen to you for it to matter to you.” this feels like the baseline, a low bar of compassion, the starting gate of people taking precautions to protect other people. it has been stunning to watch people of this country ignore all cautions about a pandemic raging across the nation. a dear friend, way earlier in the year and in the early arc of this devastating disease sweeping the world, wrote that the lyrics “you would cry too if it happened to you” were on replay in her mind. a number of people were quoted as saying, “i don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”

what does it take?

there truly are no exceptions. we have been instructed in the use of masks, the advantages of social distancing, the merits of proper handwashing. as things have been escalating up the devastation scale, we have been encouraged to limit our gatherings, to not travel, to not have parties, to not make exceptions. because, truly, there aren’t any. every one of our lives is valuable. every single one. to be cavalier is to take chances. big chances. it is all an unknown.

healthcare workers and hospitals are overwhelmed. they are at the brink of collapse. yet, households of people are gathering together, playing a russian roulette covid game. citizens of this country are dying in situations that are “harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary.” yet, people are refusing to wear a simple piece of cloth on their face. the statistics of this pandemic are exponentially climbing. yet, people on the trail fail to move six feet away as they pass, people in the grocery store have masks around their chins, people regularly scoff at the science – S C I E N C E – that is guiding the medical experts.

on monday evening, in the middle of our quarantine, i had intense pain breathing. my lungs, my windpipe, my trachea were on fire when i took a deep breath. i had a video chat with a nurse who told me to go to the ER and have an EKG to rule out a heart event. i did not believe i was having a heart event. to me, it seemed pretty clear that it was a breathing issue, but there are definite limitations to having a medical visit online and i understood her desire to err on the side of caution. because of the sheer arrogance of people who scorn the restrictions to help with this pandemic, our healthcare system has been forced to regulate that only patients are allowed into the hospital. the very idea that i would be going A-L-O-N-E into the hospital, perhaps with something serious, was more terrifying than not going. thank you to all those people in this country who have foisted this gross unfairness on anyone suffering, on anyone in a medical emergency, on anyone hospitalized for absolutely any reason. the lack of compassion for others is abhorrent.

one morning we made a big pot of texas chili. we loaded a folding table into little-baby-scion. we packed plates and plasticware and cups. we drove over to 20’s and set up our folding table at least 8 feet from his folding table in his open garage. and we had chili together with our coats on and blankets covering our legs in the open-air cold garage. two days later he had symptoms and two days after that he tested positive. his covid was gifted to him from a friend of his sister’s who casually walked into his sister’s apartment while he was working there. she wore no mask and boasted of a party she had attended. she clearly did not care. it did not matter to her that 20 has chronic asthma or that his sister has a compromised immune system. her freedom to not have a piece of cloth over her face was more important.

he called us to tell us. that was the beginning of our 14 days. we didn’t go anywhere except outside to walk. no stores, no gatherings, nothing. nowhere. it was unknown to us if we were contagious. it was unknown to us if david was asymptomatic. it was unknown to us if my symptoms were covid. but it mattered to us.

meanwhile, 20, who needs a new cellphone did not purchase one. “why not?” i battered him with questions. he told us that he didn’t want to spend the money if he wasn’t going to live. the unknown. i want to shake the supposed-friend of his sister’s who just didn’t care. “what is wrong with you?” i want to scream at her.

and now. waiting. by the time this publishes i hope that i am done waiting. but in the meanwhile, i am waiting. for the unknown.

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


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over and over and over. [d.r. thursday]

although there are other tells and definitely some misses, there is one sure tell for me that someone is in the “other” camp: not. wearing. a. mask.

it is probably the most wearying part of navigating this pandemic. we have been told – clearly, undeniably, effusively – that wearing a mask will help to mitigate the spread of covid-19. over and over and over.

and over and over and over the current administration poo-poos the wearing of masks, equates it with weakness, warps it into a political statement, derailing all the good work of health care workers, researchers, scientists, medical experts. the current administration blatantly, pointedly, willfully, defiantly does not model wearing a mask as compassionate and absolute. instead, in some kind of lack-of-proper-leadership display, this self-serving-devotee models disdain and piggishness. social distancing at this white house, and the events in or out of the reigning house and around the country, is ignored. it is gut-level exhausting.

200 other countries have somehow figured out how to wear masks without whining, without carrying on about their right to breathe without a piece of cloth over their nose and mouth, without harassing people for their attempt to stop the further spread of this raging disease, without killing-dead people with requests to don a mask. i just want to scream, “grow the hell up!”

we are on a path, marching like lemmings toward more sickness, more death, more sadness and devastation for the people of this country. lives can be saved by wearing a mask, by social distancing and by washing your hands.

even i am tired of hearing myself say this over and over and over.

watch this YouTube called “wear a mask” by noah lindquist

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

SPACE INVADER copyright 2016 david robinson


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on our way. [k.s. friday]

meander – track 3 as it is

a double-haiku for today:

out big red’s window

places we pass. to loved ones’.

earth’s gifts on the way.

rumble strips stir us,

“look closer.” setting light: light.

our hearts begin to rise.

purchase music to download on iTUNES

read DAVID’S haiku today

MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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discarded. [flawed wednesday]

discarded.

i have a collection of photographs of discarded masks.

i’m hoping that it’s not because they weren’t valued, but instead, because they had run their course, or maybe, because they were in someone’s hand, along with keys and wallets and water bottles and kind bars and albanese gummi bears, and somehow, got dropped.

at this moment, when wisconsin is at one of the highest in covid-19 numbers, and the country is flailing around trying to tread water and not really holding its own against a global pandemic virus, i just want to plea with you one more time.

please wear a mask. please wear this cloth covering over your nose and mouth. please. wear it.

about 40% of the people at woodman’s grocery store the other day did not do this. ohhhhh, they wore a mask, for sure. but it was under their nose or cupping their chin; they were dedicated to the vernacular, not the actual fact that it is a protective measure. i am deeply saddened by these people. i don’t know what would prevent you from wanting safety for yourself and others, but i know that kind of ignorant move can only be attributed to the direct infusion of falsehoods, lies, misinformation, warping of the truth. and i ask the question a friend of mine posed weeks ago, leaning on the words of the song, “would you cry too if it happened to you?”

please. wear. a. mask.

until it is time to no longer do so.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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american decline. vicious. [merely-a-thought monday]

“now i can be really vicious,” the loving and enthused words of the [impeached] president of the united states at a rally saturday evening.

“vicious” is not a word you would associate with the behavior of the leader of the free world. “vicious” is not a word used by empathetic, compassionate, caring presidents about how they plan to treat their populace. “vicious” is not a word used in fair, properly and factually prepared, carefully articulated, mature campaigns. “vicious” is not an adjective used by politicians who are trying to unite, to heal, to raise awareness of inequalities, to thoughtfully bring health back to a nation, suffering from layers of dis-ease.

no. let’s face it: “vicious” is not even a descriptor used about dogs you want to be around.

and yet, there are people screaming for more at these rallies. there are people screaming on facebook, on twitter, on message boards, on signs, from stages and pulpits and country club dining rooms and the house-of-white. “vicious.”

where do we go from here? this president has given gross permission for people to be as base as possible, as vulgar as possible, as nasty as possible, as deceitful as possible, as mercilessly unremorseful as possible. he has conquered the heightened epitome of divisiveness, the “no” in no-moral-compass and has created seemingly insurmountable animosity in a country now brewing unrest between its citizens, its families, its friends, its colleagues, its communities, its states, its every-category.

“american decline” was graffitied across the bottom of a freight train. we sat and watched the cars go by, the xb in park just in front of the tracks. it was a long train, car after car, coal hopper after coal hopper, tank car after tank car, stunning graffiti on pretty much each one. it went by too fast to grab a phone to take a picture, but there it was – american decline – spray-painted across the bottom of the car. we read it aloud and then sat quietly.

what is there to say?

“at no time before has there been a clearer choice between two parties or two visions, two philosophies, two agendas for the future. there’s never been anything like this,” read this president at his narcissistic-ego-stroking-power-quenching-non-masked-socially-close-up-and-personal-maga-hat-wearing-rabid-fist-pumping-non-fact-checking-fear-mongering-descent-into-delusion-via-hook-line-and-sinker rally, a rally with an appalling lack of regard for the 194,000 people who have died of the pandemic that still rages across this country…the same pandemic he knew about in february and brutally lied to the public about. the same pandemic that has ravaged the lives of over 6.5 million families: their health, their work, their homes, their security, their futures.

there has never been anything like this. how true is that. it’s vicious.

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


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back the **** up! [d.r . thursday]

i have hugged exactly two people since the pandemic started.

two people. one is my husband, who i’ve been hugging daily. and, this past wednesday, finally, at long last, after seven months of not seeing him, and with great forethought, i hugged my son. that’s it. no best friends. no dear friends. no sweet neighbors. no co-workers. no one else. just two. matter of fact, i had an extended conversation a while back with my daughter and, in the middle of a discussion about possibly having a long-long-long overdue visit out in the high mountains and the absolute need to hug, even mask-on-face-turned, her admonishment to stave me away from the rampant numbers there at that time, “how will you not hug me, mom?”

so walking in front of the neighborhood store, about to put my mask on, imagine my astonishment when someone i haven’t seen in almost a decade called out my name, ran up and hugged me. HUGGED me.

this was an adult! an adult exhaling cigarette smoke. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement that i was in the process of putting my mask on but hadn’t completed the motion. an adult exhaling cigarette smoke with no mask on and no acknowledgement of my incomplete-mask-putting-on-action who completely ignored my stepping-back-hand-out-clear-non-verbal-please-back-the-****-up behavior.

daaaaaaamn. i was shocked. it’s a freaking pandemic. my hug-quota is sorely lacking and yet, it is i who should choose who i would like to sacrifice my safety for in order to hug. did i mention? it’s a pandemic!

when i regained my composure on the sidewalk a few blocks away, i reviewed my actions. david, who was clear i did not want to hug this person, said i sent all the right signals. i reviewed it all again. i mean, i am a huggy person and this person would likely remember me as such. this wasn’t a cold reaction to the person; it was a reaction to the social distancing guidelines that we have been encouraged to follow in order to not spread or contract covid-19. i mean, it’s a pandemic!

what would YOU do?

i suppose next time – if this happens again – i could, as fast as my mouth could manage, say, “it-would-be-nice-to-be-able-to-hug-you-but-right-now-in-the-pandemic-i-am-not-hugging-people-sorry-don’t-take-it-personally.” only this wouldn’t have worked. she came at me in a warped speed tunnel…she went directly from the curb to hugging in seconds flat without stopping, without exhaling the cigarette smoke, without donning a mask, without passing go, without collecting $200, without stopping to think, “oh yeah, it’s a pandemic! i shouldn’t be hugging her.”

or, since that likely wouldn’t work in the warp-speed version, i could say in a loud assertive outdoor voice, “back up!” or i could use 20’s spicier version of that (only i won’t print that here.)

either way, it’s alarming to be put in a position like that.

david’s momma told us about a woman who spontaneously hugged her when jeanne gave the woman tomatoes. it horrified my mother-in-law, who then went home and showered and washed all her clothes. at the time i wondered how that could ever happen. well. silly me. s**t happens.

this is such an odd time. it’s scary all the way around. we have been inordinately careful, like many of our dearest friends. we are making choices based on what are the safest behaviors. the fact that someone can just arbitrarily take away your choice – during a pandemic (don’t know if i mentioned that yet) – is bracing.

i will have to have a plan of action for the next time. practice it. evaluate it. practice it again. make it a reflex. and make it flipping obvious.

in the meanwhile, i want my hug back. i need it for people i have actually been dying to hug.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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BACK UP! from PIETA ©️ 2010 david robinson


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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