reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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cheese curds and awe. [d.r. thursday]

the table is staged, ready for diners. linen napkins rolled, silverware inside. water glasses turned over and candles unlit. waiting.

block 37 on state street in chicago has at least a dozen eateries, a highrise group built post-2005 of dining restaurants with napkin rolls, bakeries with cupcakes and sticky donuts, coffeehouses and grilled cheese spots. all waiting for eaters. there are shops and there is a residential development, multi-use skyscrapers.

eighteen years ago today. block 37. the yamaha concert grand was on an outdoor stage in the sun in a tree-canopied park when we arrived. boom mics. monitors. staged. ready. waiting.

it was the tour of hope, a giant oncology event sponsored by bristol-meyers squibb. lance armstrong, a cancer survivor and chosen sports hero for those moments, was biking – with an entourage – across the country to raise awareness about cancer and survivorship and hope. and we were there to be part of the rally. the piano and boom were waiting for me.

in the way of not-knowing-when-important-stuff-is-happening, we meandered through the people getting ready for the arrival of the posse of bikers. we sound-checked, we did early photo shoots, we sipped water on a perfectly-perfect early fall day.

it was the day i met him. a dear friend who i’ve only seen in person once in my lifetime. scordskiii became the rock in my world as the years went by and, were we to sit and visit over coffee or sushi or a glass of wine, i suspect the conversation would be easy and constant, filled with reminiscing and laughter, not just a little wonder, and hushed moments in awe of it all. this would be a good thing. eighteen years is a long time.

we are slowly coming out of the cave. slowly. ever-so-slowly. we have actually been to a couple restaurants now. and this day – last week – was one of those times.

the tables at the restaurant were ready and we walked in to find david’s dear friend waiting. they have known each other for decades, though – since they live far apart – they haven’t had opportunity to see each other much. no matter. it is the gift of true friendship. the moments when all time sloughs off and, in awe of this magic, you return to the organic core of your relationship.

we had fried wisconsin cheese curds. it was a farm-to-table restaurant. we were surrounded by relics from farms and warehouses, all dating back, maybe even a century. we sat and sat, talking, sharing. people came and went around us, though no one was seated close.

i glanced at the other tables when we stood to leave. the napkins were rolled and the water glasses were turned upside down. and the dining tables were waiting for the next time people would sit and ponder life, its questions, its challenges and joys, the next time people would share a little space together. the next time people would look at the face of a dear friend before it was time to go.

the years…they fly by.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY


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a tall spikelet. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

she was a coloratura soprano. her leaps, her trills, her range were atmospheric. bell-like and of angel quality, rayna sang effortlessly.

i have no idea if she is singing now. the last i heard – after i graduated with a degree in composition – she left and was in med school, seeking a degree outside of the arts. she must have had a wise mentor along the way. someone who told her she could always sing “on the side”. like rice pilaf.

“on the side.”

it’s the ever-present albatross of artists. even those who stand out in a crowd are thrust – by a society that doesn’t place as much value on the arts – into the yin-yang of opposing forces: stay. go. full-time. on the side.

every now and then there is a whitetop sedge spikelet in the field that is strikingly more successful than the rest… the mariah carey, the ariana grande, the beverly sills, the joan sutherland. delivering exquisite bel canto, they do not render the other spikelets any less important, nor should they be. each voice is unique in the meadow and this spikelet is just a little taller.

before i finished my bachelor’s degree i was accepted into the business school at usf. “accounting,” i thought. “i love math, therefore accounting.” the “normal-job” world was taunting me. but i declined the placement and continued on my merry way, writing music. i did not have rayna’s mentor and i believed there was a way to stand out, somehow.

it took some time just to get around to writing. life and its put-the-art-making-on-the-side-and-get-a-real-job-and-make-a-living had me directing and teaching. but not writing. i dabbled a bit relatively early on, did some recording and visited nashville – but didn’t move there. i don’t think i recognized the garden there when i saw it.

it wasn’t until a decade later that the muse caught back up to me. and when it did, it was with some gusto.

and now i’ve seen “the fault in our stars”. and i’ve witnessed mortality. i have loved and lost and changed and learned and made giant messes and have ridden the tide in and out, in and out.

and i’ve written some of my best and some of my worst. and it all counts – whether i – or you – are a tall spikelet or not.

i wonder now if rayna is practicing medicine. i wonder if she is singing.

*****

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


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two or more. [merely-a-thought monday]

it doesn’t matter to us that it is a vintage windsor wheelback country kitchen chair. it’s just a sweet chair in the dining room of a little house in the north carolina mountain town we are fond of. our favorite part is the stenciled “EAT”.

my next tiny project will be to stencil this onto the old metal framed chair in our dining room. it’s the chair we grab when 20 comes over and we eat inside. we always pull it into the kitchen and sit around the small square table my dad refinished 34 years ago. we could sit in the dining room – there’s plenty of space and more than enough chairs – but it’s cozy in the kitchen and we choose cozy for sitting, sipping wine, eating together, catching up, laughing. the textures in our kitchen are the same as in this mountaintown dining room – old wood floors, thick white trim, light grey walls, black chairs. i tend to select the airbnbs that look like our own sensibility – a home away.

back in the day i had stenciled along the entire kitchen upper wall, just like in our foyer. simple checkerboxes, but that has gone the way of simplicity. one of these days i will need to repaint the foyer – the plaster in there is forcing my hand. and the last of the checkerboxes will disappear. an era. bygone.

i laid awake last night for a long time. my dear friend linda told me that when she is awake for long periods at night she will walk through their bygone houses in her mind. it calms her thoughts and brings her closer to sweet sleep. last night i walked through my growing-up house, in the front door, into the living room and the kitchen, the dining room, the paneled den with the gigantic rock fireplace, down the hall into my bedroom. i took a tour of the basement and the backyard, the woods behind our house. i moved on…to florida and the homes i lived in there. the sheep farm in new hampshire, the littlehouse on washington island. here.

although i could picture the homes and the furnishings – for the most part – the pictures – snapshots from a viewmaster – i could mostly see were the gatherings. people gathered around tables in the kitchen, people gathered for holiday meals in the dining room, people gathered en masse outside or inside, just munching on snacks or burgers or making apple pies or having shrimp boils or big parties or little parties with tables lined with foods everyone brought to contribute to the feast.

it’s been a while since we have hosted any big parties. a couple years now. when i worked at the church we hosted all the time – any excuse for a choir party, all the summertime ukulele rehearsals. we added our big dig, the slow dance party, christmas eve outdoor luminaria bonfire fests. community was built around these gatherings – people coming together to visit and share and eat, to slow down and talk and share where they are at. a community that gathers grows. a community that shares meals grows. a community that authentically cares grows. connection. comfort. contentment.

we miss those times. it came naturally to us to be the spot. job loss and covid, financial strain, caution-in-gathering – they all put constraints on the big – and small – gatherings. little by little we return around the table. literally and figuratively.

in the meanwhile, we gratefully sit in the sunroom surrounded by happy lights or in the kitchen at the table, the legs of which dogdog gnawed on as a puppy or outside on the patio by the fire.

the thing we always knew: “alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” (helen keller)

where two or more may gather.

and EAT.

*****

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


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a bottle of rosé instead. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

it’s not true.

he is actually a great chef. he loves sous-cheffing but he is never averse to preparing an entire dinner. give him a recipe and some space – and maybe the promise to clean up later – and he will take on anything. especially if he and 20 are at it together. they practically sing and dance while they cook. ok…they DO sing and dance while they cook. and soon, very soon, fall and winter will have us inside more and they will be making-up-dinners-as-they-go while i sit and sip wine and try to ignore how seventh-grade-ish they are.

not to say that we would not be above having a big mac. though we haven’t had one in literally years and years – diet choices at the forefront of reasons – sometimes “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” sounds dang good.

regardless, billy joel brings me back to luigi’s and gino’s in northport, new york pizza slices folded in half, concerts at the nassau coliseum and my sweet momma’s lasagna.

i might have to settle for a bottle of rosé.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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quilts > duvets. [k.s. friday]

…and i will comfort you…

given a choice, we will stay in airbnbs. they are homes – real people’s places where they laid their heads – and they offer a comfort that hotels just can’t.

perhaps i have never stayed in a hotel resort that reaches its arms around me, snugged into its chest. it is true. i haven’t ever been to an all-inclusive. when we hotel-it, we stay at the hampton inn, where they offer breakfast and wash the duvet cover daily. they are very clean, mostly updated, the beds are goldilocks-worthy and there is a refrigerator and microwave for the food we are carrying with us.

we arrived in richmond, kentucky on a thursday evening. a fire truck was diagonally across the road, blocking it, and my heart flipped a little, wondering what might have happened. instead, a small town, it was the night of the homecoming parade. we got to the corner by our airbnb, but only to the corner. it was the final approach for the parade route and the police officer at the corner stopped us with a sheepish smile, “just pull over and watch.” he added, “sorry”.

we weren’t sorry. it was a delight to see the parade up close and personal and we cheered and the high school football team threw us candy. after all the convertibles with king and queen candidates drove by and the final police car with lights, the police officer allowed us to turn toward our lodging.

we wrote to andrew, the host of our roomy and perfectly-appointed loft, just to let him know what a joy it was to pull into his town and find such fun. he responded immediately. a real person. a real home. he pays attention. we sat on the tiny balcony and sipped wine while the church carillon rang out post-parade. after more than eight hours on the road, we felt comforted.

the little house in brevard was known to us. we stayed there before. so we knew exactly what we would find…a home with a front porch… our window into the tiny mountain town. we chose to stay there again because it had held us the first time…in comfort. home away from home.

the ukulele band i directed played the van morrison song “comfort you”. “i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. i want to comfort you. just let your tears run wild like when you were a child. i’ll do what i can do. i want to comfort you. you put the weight on me…i want to comfort you.”

comfort, invisibly wrapping us, giving us pause.

i can think of nothing more important in these times – really, any times – but especially these times – than people comforting other people. the capacity for a human to give reassurance and hope to another must surpass all efforts to compete, to one-up, to undermine. surely as the south begins to clean up from hurricane ian, the evidence is obvious.

i will comfort you – words unspoken perhaps – but deeds spell it all out. people loving one another.

quilts > duvets.

*****

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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and the parade greets us as we arrive


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every waterfall counts. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we stood in a quiet forest, the only sounds – birds and running water.

we had taken a sketchy gravel forest service road – a single-car-width-wide – to get to the trailhead up the mountain, encouraging littlebabyscion the whole way and grateful we had gotten new tires before our trip. the brochure directions were not as straight-forward as we would have liked, and we lost signal for most of the time, but eventually the alltrails app helped us find our way.

250 waterfalls. there are more than 250 waterfalls to discover in brevard, north carolina. choosing where to go is overwhelming. but once you start laying feet on the dirt, hiking, it really doesn’t matter. we were surrounded by intensity every which way we looked. we stood by the side of the waterfall, silent.

it wasn’t one of the grand falls; it wasn’t listed on the “top 10”. but it was serene and light dazzled through the trees. millions of droplets captured the sun. a tiny miracle of beauty in the woods. haloed waterfall. stunning. perfect.

“and the moon said to me, my darling daughter, you do not have to be whole in order to shine.” (nichole mcelhaney)

we hiked on up further, a steep climb to a destination unknown.

*****

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


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stumbles and falls. [two artists tuesday]

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

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

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

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

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

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

we go a little slower.

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

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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blue, red, yellow, blue. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we were on the mountain past the junction where the blue trail met red, in the middle of the red trail, heading to yellow. it was considered “moderate” but i wondered what temperature it was outside when someone deemed it “moderate”. because at 90 degrees and humid, it wasn’t feelin’ too moderate.

the day before we had climbed to see a waterfall and then took the trail up from there. up, up and away it went and with north-carolina-mountain-summerish temperatures, we were lucky to find a cool stream at some elevation. david climbed down and dipped the bandana, which i wrapped around my neck. that helped. we got to a spot where it was purely a scramble up boulders and decided to turn around. frozen shoulder and high heat aside, it wasn’t as inviting as advertised. we hiked back down.

back on red, with a branch-ala-trekking-stick in hand, i tried to decide which way to go. back would mean a trail i already had climbed – and i knew there was a lot of up on the way back as well. forward would be a lot longer, but would also mean completing the trail.

to be clear, we were not flip-flopping it here. we had full-on hiking boots on our feet and carried small backpacks with water and snacks and our alltrails app, a wonder of science and technology. thankfully, we had the bandana and there was a stream punctuating our hike.

i’m pretty stubborn most days. if we are walking around town – our own or this mountain town we are currently in – we love to wear flip-flops. we actually haaave hiked in flip-flops, though i wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. standing on the red, even with my boots, i wasn’t sure which way to go. i was overheated and my knee was screeching a little at me. i drank some water and grabbed my stick.

we kept going.

the hike was about six and a half miles, which doesn’t sound too bad, except for the stats said we had also climbed 47 floors. mind you, those are not like the twelve levels of steps in the parking garage after the ej concert. these floors are indicative of elevation and don’t mention roots and rocks and clay and loose pebbles. and humidity. did i mention it was hot?

it’s usually roots that get me. i mustn’t pick up my feet. i don’t know. what i do know is that david – always the genteel and solicitous husband – reaches out his hand or places his shoulder at arm’s reach. he steadies me so i don’t bounce off the side of the mountain or land – never-too-gracefully – in the middle of the dirt trail. he offered to turn around, reassuring me it didn’t matter which way we finished.

sometimes he talks about my shoe choices. but on the side of the mountain, sopping cool bandana around my neck, more than halfway there, he was only encouraging. our conversation about shoes was only about finding new hikers that will take us to yet more adventures. maybe something even more sensible, even more sensitive to our foot-knee-back-hip-shoulder – full-body – needs.

the red trail met up with yellow. i was grateful. mostly, though, i was really happy when yellow met back up with blue. yeeeeeha!

we made it. the whole hike.

and then we sat on the front porch in bare feet sipping a good red watching the traffic go by.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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vertically. [k.s. friday]

they move them vertically. not horizontally. vertically.

the yamaha CFIIIs is a powerhouse 9-foot grand. a piano, it is a canvas waiting, blank, black and white.

they move it in, attach the legs. the technician shows up, tunes, voices, listens. the artist plays. the technician futzes some more. it’s a dance, making sure it is ready. the piano is patient and steady.

i have had the good fortune of being a recipient of these pianos. they have been delivered to recording studios, to stages, to televised venues, to big outdoor parks. the CFIIIs and the C7 are THE pianos. hands down.

at the elton john concert in charlotte, north carolina with d, my daughter and her boyfriend, he marveled at the load-in-load-out that it must take to move the ej piano, band, set, lighting, media show every night or so on the “farewell yellow brick road tour”. mostly, he talked about the piano, about how amazing it was, and how much it must cost, and how it must be moved, and how not just anyone gets to play that, for sure.

because most people believe it is moved as is – horizontally – i explained that it’s moved vertically, on its side.

but i didn’t explain how i knew. i didn’t talk about how many extraordinary pianos had been brought to me that way, how many on which i had performed or recorded. we were at elton john’s concert and he is – truly – a shining star.

inside, though, i knew. i could feel it, that urge to run up on stage, grab a boom mic, stand at the piano and play and sing. poking at me like a snickers bar. “i’m still standing. yeah, yeah, yeah.

the other day – at the daniel stowe botanic garden – there was a small grand in the atrium. my daughter looked at me when we walked in and said, “it says you can’t play it.” i went over to look at it. “no worries,” i said, laughing.

but at the ej concert….now that’s another story. he played and sang and i was proud to also be a yamaha artist.

“my gift is my song and this one’s for you.” (elton john – your song).

the words rang in my ears and my heart attached the exclamation mark. my gift IS my song…all of them…the ones with words and the ones without. the ones with music and the ones without. the ones written and the ones not written yet.

maybe there are still vertical pianos out there waiting. for me.

*****

WAITING (from JOY) ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

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www.kerrisherwood.com

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paddles in the water. [d.r. thursday]

vincent was there. right off the side of our canoe he swirled his paintbrush and the water canvas became starry-night dreamy. charles schulz was there too and i could see snoopy dancing atop the surface. it kept evolving, even without the help of our paddles. ever-changing.

jaxon was two yesterday. his curiosity, his energy are unmatched. he is fearless. everything is possible and the whole world stretches in front of him. his boundless zeal, like a fast paddle in the water, arranges and rearranges utterly everything-in-life continually. he is not considering how to approach life. he is simply living it. no expectations. just embracing it all – the whole kaleidoscope.

being on the road takes you away from the norm. it takes you out of the bills, the projects, day to day worries or concerns, dealing with health issues. you are suddenly on the surface of the lake – so to speak – skimming along in littlebabyscion, watching the world go by. we get to the city-we’ve-never-visited-before, a city trying to keep up with immense growth. the districts are working on revitalization. we take walks in historic neighborhoods and fall in love with bungalows and big porches. and we wonder.

we sit in a stadium – the first time in many years – surrounded by 60,000 people – the first time in many years – to see a concert – the first time in many years. we marvel at the changes we have felt in those years.

we hug her goodbye. parenthood is dynamic, never static, and motherhood is no easy trail. missing is just plain hard. i try to adjust, to readjust and readjust again, to hold it all lightly. the paddle on the surface of my heart teaches me lesson after lesson.

we wonder about all of them as we drive on – the people out there also driving, the people whose homes we are passing by, the people in the rest area, the people in the local grocery store. what is their life? who are they? what are their worries? what are their joys? sometimes you can feel it, even from the road. we both nearly wept as we passed by a very-rusty-beige-identical-trailers trailer park with maybe fifty bereft homes in an arid dirt expanse of land; treeless, shadeless, plantless, playgroundless, it felt hopeless. every shade on every trailer we could see was pulled shut. we saw no people, though each trailer had a vehicle parked nearby. it was south carolina, not at its best. no pastel-colored historic homes, wrap-around porches or coastal beaches, no palmettos, no golf courses or rolling grassy knolls. just nothing. dirt. except these trailer homes – and we had to try to wrap our heads around the fact that at least there were homes with roofs, perhaps air conditioning to ease the hot muggy heat. the empath cloud followed us for miles until we could shake it loose, putting our paddles into the water and stirring things up as we drove.

we arrive in the mountains, zigging, zagging, climbing. tall trees block the sun and suddenly we are cooler and everything takes on the color green. it keeps changing, this expanse, these days of life.

we’ll hike. every turn in the trail will be different, every view different. the elevation will give us a view of the mountains – out there – and we’ll photograph them to remember. we’ll dip bandanas in streams to cool off and stand by waterfalls taking pictures to remember.

and when we get home, it will all swirl around us – the moments. vincent and snoopy will laugh a little at our attempts to hold onto it. and jaxon will remind us of how gently to hold the kaleidoscope.

*****

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