reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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something so delicious. [d.r. thursday]

it was the perfect “welcome home”.

there is something so delicious about going away. we left town and the cold north for florida. it was just for a few days, but the difference in climate is stunning. when you are not – in general – wearing your 32 degrees base layer or your earmuffs on a walk or your furry boots and you have traded it all for cropped jeans and flipflops and no-sleeves, it is a joy. the sun shined down on us as we visited together – our family – a ridiculous and unbelievable four years since we had seen them. we stuffed conversations into nooks and crannies of time and cheered glasses and cooked and took walks and played thomas-the-tank-engine with the tiny two-year-old-miracle who is now in the fam as well. in the middle of it, we suddenly realized how fast it was all going. and then, it was time to board. masks on – two of like four people in the entire tampa airport – we got on the plane and zipped through the air back home.

there is something so delicious about getting home. behind us we had left dogdog in the ever-capable hands of our 20. behind us we had left the worries and angsts of the moment, of this time. behind us we had left our 32 degrees base layers and hats and gloves. behind us we had left all vestiges of our normal schedule and normal routines.

we exited the plane, stopped at the meditation room at milwaukee airport and got into a cold but completely happy-to-see-us littlebabyscion (i may be projecting here) and drove home, getting more excited each minute. 20 had soup and bread ready for us when we got there. he knows how to tend to those basic comforts – those things that reassure when you have left part of your heart behind somewhere else. and then…that deep tiredness – that happens after you have been away and have arrived back home – sunk in.

sleep came early and then we woke early. looking out the window we watched the snow fall. it’s winter in wisconsin and it looks like winter. i like that. i need the seasons to go by…it’s part of my own process as well.

as the flakes get larger and i write this i know that today is a home-day. i just need to stay home, do the laundry, look at the lists i left, process leaving family-i-love behind. tomorrow i will go out. tomorrow is soon enough.

today i just need to absorb the “welcome home” and listen to the quiet snow fall.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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buffalo plaid and stardust. [d.r. thursday]

tucked in my mind’s eye, along with sugar plum fairies and gingerbread houses, twinkling lights and sleigh bells and tiny trees, are matching red buffalo plaid pjs.

old navy made it happen.

for a few days now we have worn our matching red buffalo plaid pj pants. flannel and cozy, we knew better than to purchase long flannel pjs for our kiddos. old navy had already thought this out – they also had flannel red buffalo plaid pj boxers. score! we bought them and wrapped them into stockings. we have no idea if they will wear them or not, but my momma-heart knows we all have them – match-the-family pjs – and just the knowledge makes me happy.

the other day – on christmas evening – they made their first appearance, under a sherpa blanket on the couch watching “love actually”. since then they have appeared under a different sherpa on the couch in the sitting room, dogga curled up on the rug, reading a book together. we are reading aloud the third bestseller by raynor winn, “landlines”, a tale of two long-walkers hiking through scotland, a tale of hope and renewal and restorative juju for them. it’s descriptive and we find ourselves lost in the highlands, step after step in the rain, with them.

our new year’s eve was quiet. we ran a few errands and settled in on the couch to read, had a couple phone calls, prepared a late dinner and settled back on the couch. but our smack-dab cartoon had told a different story. though sometimes-but-not-always a straight-line-to-us-autobiographical middle-age-cartoon, it told the story on new year’s eve of two people who had to get outside and who went walking before midnight so as to be outside – along the lakefront and under the stars – at the turn of the year.

we were having trouble staying awake. it did not seem likely that we would actually see the new year arrive, sleepy eyes and all.

but then – somehow, the two of us, who are now earlier-to-bed-earlier-to-rise, got to the 11 o’clock hour. and we knew – prepare yourself for the double negative – we could not not do it.

hats and gloves and down coats and boots and the night wasn’t as cold as it seemed at 7 or 8 or even 9. the lake is a block away and we walked along it, enjoying the holiday lights still up and lit on our route. we cut in to the path that is right next to the shore and strolled slowly, watching the fireworks in the sky around us.

and, though it was cloudy and we could not see the moon or the stars, we could feel the stardust falling on us, with the promise of a new year.

surely the stuff of sugar plum fairies and twinkling lights, gingerbread and sleigh bells and red buffalo plaid flannel pjs.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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maraschino dreams. [two artists tuesday]

and they dreamed dreams and waited in the woods…winterberries with visions of becoming maraschino cherries in their mind’s eye…actualizing with starring roles in traditional wisconsin brandy old-fashioneds…

no, no. do not put winterberries in your old-fashioned. they are completely toxic. but they are striking and unexpected. and the color in the woods is intoxicating. gorgeous red punctuating a dim brown-grey, save for a few evergreen, they are clustered beautiful.

it had been a while, what with the freezing temperatures and snow. we finally made it out to our favorite trail and it was – truly – a breath of fresh air. there is nothing quite as restorative as hiking, surrounded by stillness and the sound of wind rustling through the tops of trees. we needed to get outside. we slogged through the trails, getting a better workout than usual. the mud splashed up onto the back of our jeans, like when you ride your bike in the rain. we reveled in it.

the deer tracks went across the path. they hadn’t been there the first time we passed through. it was early in the day, early for the deer to be moving around, but we started looking through the brush.

her sweet face was staring right at us, her body blending into the scrub and trees around her. we stood, gazing at each other, none of us moving. i slowly took my phone out to capture what i knew would be hard to discern in a photograph – this deer in the woods, this shared moment of time. she didn’t move, but her tail wagged and her ears pitched forward and back, listening. i was hoping she could hear the words i whispered to her – telepathically, a little dr. doolittle-ish. her continued gaze at us, grace for our presence, her head held high, no obvious fear. unexpected.

she never left the spot while we were standing there. she took a few steps but didn’t flee, as so often happens when you start to move in the forest. we blew her a kiss and continued on, feeling lucky to have seen her and to have spent a few minutes with her.

we passed more winterberry holly as we hiked, laughing about old-fashioneds and marveling at our new deer friend in the woods.

we exited the trail, none too anxious to leave, wanting to just linger.

“sometimes,’ said pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” (a.a. milne)

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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section-hike to chicago. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

over here, by one of the great great lakes, it is mostly flat. when you drive a bit south – toward chicago – particularly on the back roads – you will find ravines punctuating the landscape, gorgeous woods with deep cuts, gullies likely carved by streams into glacial moraines with bluffs high above the lake. i can’t imagine choosing the interstate over these roads and, if time allows, we are avid believers in the back ways.

most of the places we hike in our area do not present elevation gain as a challenge. instead, we have to do distance to make up the exercise gap. i’ve been a sea-level-girl pretty much my whole life – from a where-i’ve-lived standpoint – so when we are faced with elevation gain i have to do a bit of acclimatizing to get any kind of mountain legs or lungs. long island, florida, wisconsin – clearly, none of these are known for their mountain peaks.

we hadn’t ever walked the bike trail on the south side of the illinois border. we parked littlebabyscion near the entrance of the bike trail in some neighborhood – much to the chagrin of a woman walking her dog who – clearly – immediately had her suspicions about these two people exiting their vehicle – having parked their good-grief-it’s-a-2006-vehicle-ewww on the end of the road in this upscale ‘hood – for the trail. i started to walk to the trail and went back, wrote a cheery note “hi. we are just walking on the bike path,” finished it with a happy face and placed it in full view in the windshield. for the first hour or so of hiking i worried if we would get back to an empty space where our sweet littlebabyscion had been and a note to call the tow company. (it was with relief we later returned to find our little vehicle and another parked there as well.)

we crossed the wisconsin-illinois border and found the straight and narrow. illinois does a remarkable job of trail upkeep, no matter where we have found one, no matter the terrain. we kept walking. and walking. and walking. it was a beautiful day and easy to lose sight of the time or distance. we had water and halos and lemon lärabars. we were set.

we looked at the bike trail maps. though there are sections that are harder to define – one must find one’s way from one defined trail to another – you can pretty much walk or bike all the way to chicago.

we giggled and decided we would section-hike to chicago. it will be practice for the possibility of section-hiking or thru-hiking the john muir trail or the PCT. uh-huh. because walking on a bike trail – near civilization, without elevation gain, without 30 pounds on our backs, with littlebabyscion patiently waiting for us and our kitchen and comfy bed at the end of the day – is definitely good practice for say 211 miles or 2650. oh ye of little faith. whatever.

we turned around after checking time and the mileage and the forecasted hour of sunset. the way back – like the previous day on the des plaines river trail – i thought about how many miles we would complete that day, in a few hours. i doubled it and tripled the time and pondered doing that day after day for weeks or – in the case of the PCT – months.

it has a magical dreamy lure. there is no straight and narrow out there. there is hard work and perseverance. and we – watchers of more youtube video accounts than most – ponder if we could do it. we are fueled by people like the remarkable (!) wander women and, really, anyone, say, over 60 we watch successfully navigate the challenges. we think aloud – “maybe someday.”

in the meanwhile there is work to do, a plan to piece back together again post-implosion, and section-hikes to chicago.

*****

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


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caaa-rits! [d.r. thursday]

stri-ped. two syllables. not one.

i moved to wisconsin and found out that there was a whole ‘nother way of tawwwking here.

acrosst. add the t.

turn-ament. no tour here.

rowwwt. not root (route).

the i. not the interstate.

highway. not freeway. not even expressway. or parkway. just highway.

brahts. not bratwurst.

slowww cooker. not crockpot.

carrots. not caaa-rits.

and the list goes on…

i did not adhere to these right away. some of these are things i still don’t utter, pronunciations that don’t make it into the air.

i really have no idea how this state (or state of mind) has changed my patterns of speech. i know that i can easily – way easily – slip back into my long island roots. and that, if i am talking to the right person, i will instantly have a drawl. my voice and vocal patterns tend to be impressionable.

when heidi and i worked together all the time in performances, i picked up the vernacular of hers that emphasized the THANK of “thank you!”. the “thannng” was forward and “kwew” was in the back. i think of her probably every time i say “thank you” for just that reason. i think of carol when i say “turnament” and 20 when i talk about the slowww cooker.

so it stands to reason that we have fallen in love with jim and sipandfeast. ohmygawwwwwsh!!!! delightful in every way, sipandfeast is a youtube channel (and an IG and a website and whatever else). jim and tara, their son and daughter live on – wait for it – long island. it makes me instantly adore them. he cooks. with the greatest of simplicity and in the gentlest way, he demonstrates amazing italian (and other) recipes, many of which were passed down by his grandmother. his accent, his delivery, the way he just tawks to the audience, the fam are all the sweetest and we find ourselves searching for the right dutch oven to start making these meals. but have i mentioned the way he tawwwwks? caaa-rits!!! i feel like just because i am FROM there we should hang out. (preferably at their dinner table post-cooking show.)

i really have no idea what this image is. i somehow shot this photograph without knowing. it could be my neighbor’s fence…we were taking a walk and i was putting my phone in my back pocket when i guess it snapped a pic. it looks a little like a flag, but it’s not. trust me on that. i’m not a big flag person these days.

i have to say, though, that as i looked at it, studying and wondering, i could hear someone in my head say, “it’s stri-ped!”.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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drum roll, please. [d.r. thursday]

we have waited.

it’s not like we will get a medal or a certificate or a trophy. we will not be featured in a newspaper article we can clip and put on our fridge with the pizza-place-magnet. we won’t be acknowledged on a who’s who list nor on a marquee.

but we waited anyway.

the fuel and heating company is coming on friday to do a check-up on our boiler. in the meanwhile, we have waited.

until now.

it is with a mix of pride and trepidation that i will approach the thermostat. under the flannel sheets and the comforter and the quilt all is well. but step out and whammo! the cold is biting. and that’s IN the house.

one glance at the grasses out front – oddly looking like a packer-backer display – and you know it’s fall. no doubtaboutit.

the weekend before this just-past weekend – that would be two weekends ago just to be clear – i pulled out a pair of boots with fake fur in them. the fur was visible at the ankle. i wore them out. and it felt completely wrong. it was too early. i put them on the steps to go back upstairs into the winter shoe bin.

but they never made it up there. because – suddenly – in the briefest of days passing – it was no longer too early. the autumn winds have found their way here and fur is in order.

so, today as i type – a few days before the day that this post publishes – my nose is cold and my hands are freezing. and i have to give in.

i need to turn on the heat.

there is something wistful about that. the end of summer. a time of fallow to come. it was christmas in the home improvement store the other day and it’s not yet halloween. for a few moments, i panicked, thinking about how i had not completed or even started any presents-shopping. i mean, whattheheck, i just started wearing furry-ankle-boots. i relaxed as we passed the trick-or-treat candy display and the plastic pumpkin pails and perspective returned.

so – though i am hoping the fuel and heating company might come a little sooner – maybe someone will cancel their check-up, deciding to tough it out ala life-below-zero folks, deciding that mr. we (as 20 calls the electric and gas company) won’t be racking it up – atleastnotyet – on them, deciding it’s not that bad and wearing one of those snuggies – the official blanket with sleeves – all day – i think that it just might be The Day.

at the very least, maybe we could have a drum roll.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

earth interrupted vii (48″ x 36″)…the colors of deep fall
(the snuggie from my sweet momma)


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windows-open. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we never put the air conditioners in. all summer. it’s been windows-open. summer two.

granted, there were a few days that were a little brutal, the humidity high, the breeze slight. we all melted a little.

but we survived. and, as i sit here, knowing that there are whirring central systems all around us, i can feel the breeze coming in from the east, the sun is gracing the comforter, the chippies are out back trying to dissuade the squirrels from eating at the birdfeeder and it is mostly quiet. our old house breathes and the outdoors comes in.

i guess i know people who spend scarcely any time outside. i personally can’t imagine it. we spend as much time outside as possible. even deck time counts. moments that we get to be up-north are exceptional and this time was no different. it doesn’t matter the weather, though sparklingly sunny days are truly impossible miracles of beauty. but even the rain, falling on the woods and lulling us all, doesn’t deter us and we sneak out in-between to take a walk and find wildflowers on the side of the road.

there is a chipmunk – and i am assuming, with no real basis for it, that it is always the same one – that comes to the fence across the driveway outside my window almost every day. it sits atop the fencepost and chirps loudly, stopping only when i call out the window to him, “hi little guy! hi chippie!” and make conversational chippie noises back at him. satisfied he said good morning (again, an assumption) he scampers off the fence and on to his next task-at-hand. were the window to be closed, i would miss it.

there are trips we want to take – to gorgeous high mountains and red rock canyons, to the atlantic coast, to smoky mountains, to cool canadian provinces, to faraway places overseas. we’ll spend as much time outside in those places as we can, drinking it in.

that window is big and wide open. and there is wild and sensational beauty out there.

but it’s even in our own backyard. and i don’t want to miss it.

*****

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


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until the next time. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“wherever you go, go with all your heart” (confucius)

this is not hard in the quiet bow of a canoe on a pristine dark aquamarine lake under a baby blue sky. my heart is all in.

from one time to the next you forget a little how the paddle fits in your hand, how it easily skims through the water, how it rubs that spot under your thumb. you forget the sound of water droplets hitting a quiet surface as you raise up the paddle, the swoosh of the oar back into the water, the peace. no real destination. just point the bow and paddle.

if we have a thought in the world, it is only about beauty and fresh air and a breeze in our favor. we pass water lily pads and, every so often, a lily gracing them, pink pondweed above flat vases of gathered rhododendron-looking leaves. it’s serene. it’s quiet.

there is no race, so set time limit. we simply go, aware of how full our hearts feel. we paddle back only when it seems time.

the walkie-talkie crackles, “happy-hour-snack-time-tchk.” we laugh. and turn the canoe. no pressure.

we make our way back past the fisherman, the floating mats waiting for kids and splashing and laughter, the island created by the rising lake level. past the place we saw the porcupine, past the place the turtles were swimming, past the place someone caught a giant bass some time ago.

they wave from the dock and tease over the walkie-talkie that there is nothing left.

we paddle to shore and climb out.

part of my heart stays – quietly – for a moment – in the bow and memorizes the way it felt. until the next time.

*****

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


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snide little biters. [d.r. thursday]

the height of mosquitoes. the height. and the height. both definitions.

ankles, necks…it matters not. right now our favorite river trail hike is swarming with them. if i thought that mosquitoes had any good will toward others, if i thought that mosquitoes served a truly individualized and specialized useful purpose, if i thought that this being – a tiny species that causes infection to millions of humans – was not evil itself, well, i would be deluding myself.

they are dreadful.

this trail now – dressed in all shades of lush green – is only accessible to the deet-doused, unless you are one of those people who are immune to their snide little biting proboscis. and, in other news, there is no limit to how many times one mosquito can bite you – it bites until it is full. just yuck.

we missed our trail so we went earlier in the day. it was to no avail. there they were, laying in wait. long trails of mosquitoes following us and our carbon dioxide trails as we sprinted through the woods, thinking, foolishly, that we were evading them.

they do not amuse me. they ruin everything. i do not like mosquitoes. at all. not that you haven’t noticed.

i read, “mosquitoes hate the smell of lavender, citronella, clove, peppermint, basil, cedarwood, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and rosemary.” (homesandgardens.com)

i am looking for a new perfume or, perhaps, moving to iceland, which is reportedly mosquito-free.

or, i will practice not exhaling.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

peruse david’s gallery – while lingering inside, away from mosquitoes


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that lake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

whether we acknowledge it or not, it sits next to us, powerful. some days it forces us to pay attention. the waves roar, the wind blows, it is colder near the lake. other days, it is silent, just a presence, like something you feel but can’t see.

i remember when we first arrived here – 34 years ago. the lakefront was different. there was a big engine plant in prime real estate on the lake. it all looked drab and run-down and giant smokestacks lined the sky.

when they didn’t call my husband back for weeks about the position he had interviewed for, i felt lucky, like i had escaped. wisconsin wasn’t on my radar much back then and i wasn’t so sure i wanted it to be.

but, in the way of irony, after six or seven weeks, they did contact him and offered him the job. and the rubber hit the road. i left florida – where we were living at the time – pretty much kicking and screaming, though silently, inside.

eight to nine months later we moved into this house. and, as a dear friend wrote to me, [my] “dna is probably embedded in almost every inch of it.” wisconsin, indeed. 34 years.

as life goes and time moves on, it’s a little uncertain where we will be in years to come. as an ever-increasingly ominous climate change rears its ugly head, we see the potential wisdom in remaining where we are – close to a huge fresh water source in a place where most weather is not too extreme. we have only a short list of places we’d move, a couple of them in a heartbeat.

and then we take a walk. it’s very early morning and we are returning from dropping off littlebabyscion at our mechanic’s shop, choosing to walk home. he’s an early bird so we are walking before a lot of the town is awake for this summer dawn.

the lake is mostly still. it blends into a cloudy sky and takes our breath away. we’ll turn right – west – and walk a block to home. the lake will stay where it is.

and a little while later, over a fresh pot of coffee, we will look at the photographs. to our side, the lake will be quiet as we comment on its stunning personality.

i’m still not sure if i’m crazy about wisconsin. i’m not from here. and that changes things in this town.

but lake michigan – just steps away – knows that. and every now and again that lake, while we are walking in our old neighborhood along its shore, nudges me and makes me pay attention. it pokes at the heartstrings that are tied to this place – through the good, the bad, the ugly, the marvelous – and reminds me of its presence.

*****

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