reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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greenery and pine cones. [k.s. friday]

i started noticing while hiking on one of our favorite local trails. greenery and pine cones sharing space. a visual backdrop for hallmark holiday movie escapism, the repetition of these simple symbols of the holiday season over and again on trail brought my camera to hand time after time. capturing these photos has been decorating my mind with fancies of christmases-past and brightly wrapped packages and trees of all shapes and happy lights galore and times spent with my children, my family, my friends. the trail’s gift has inadvertently set me on the path toward light, my spirit breathing with each snap of the iphone.

a week before thanksgiving my son sent me a photograph of the christmas tree in their apartment. with garland strung and lights and soft holiday-themed pillows, it was straight out of a magazine. “a classic look,” he told me. yes. beautiful and classic, welcoming winter. my daughter’s photographs are snowy and crisp, crystalline and inspiring. winter is coming on in the high mountains. it dresses them with idyllic wonder.

we haven’t started listening to holiday music. it’s too raw at this point. but we will. i will climb out of this cavern, aided by every gift of nature as it heads into this magical season, and i’ll soon turn it – music – on. in the meanwhile, slowly, we have strung some new white twinkling happy lights, we have brought up a couple trees from the corner of the basement storage room. maybe we’ll bring up the big bins and we can step-by-step-forward turn our home into a celebration of what-is and not a daily reminder of what-was. walking toward light. each silver ornament a coaxing, each strand of lights an urging, each tuft of greenery an encouragement. all seasonal prompts, that out of the dark there is light. indeed, in the dark there is light. “nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” (john muir)

john muir also wrote this: “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” maybe that’s somehow why i am noticing. the greenery. the pine cones. laying on the trail, juxtaposed yet clearly related. dark and light, juxtaposed, yet clearly related. a new world, a doorway.

no wonder i keep seeing these sweet moments in nature. no wonder i keep searching. no wonder i have my camera out on the trail.

*****

if you are ready for holiday music, i have three christmas albums to help you celebrate and welcome the return of light – click on this link

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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the hands of community. fading to zero. [d.r. thursday]

HELPING HANDS

the hands around us changed with the zoom reading of a prepared statement.

suddenly, the community we had lovingly helped grow was gone. this group of people -from the very old to the very young- people we had stood with in their celebrations, their funerals, their births, their illnesses, their pinnacle moments, their weddings, their baptisms, their challenges, their laughter and their tears – was no longer my/our community. suddenly, in the zoom reading of one prepared statement, i/we became irrelevant. suddenly, it was as if i/we hadn’t existed, hadn’t invested our hearts in this place, hadn’t worked long hours dedicated to joy and a network of learning and caring, shared goals, the symphony of music of this place, hadn’t had dozens of gatherings with these people at our home, hadn’t stood in the middle of a large dancing circle of these beloveds – with the song “we are family!” playing at our wedding. suddenly. no hands. it’s bracing.

and so we fade to zero.

wine arrived on our doorstep. twice. so did frozen slushie and pumpkin desserts. i got a card or two, an email or two, a few texts, a phone call here or there. some hands reaching out. but i can see the fade.

there is no goodbye party, there are no thanks, there is no real [read: transparent] explanation. i/we just disappeared. erased. the community-family-tree decimated. it all runs roughshod over the very definition of community.

it just is what it is. where have i heard that before?

and so we fade to zero.

the hands in your life. we reach out to each other. we rely upon each other. the interdependency concentrics outward – people we would never recognize, will never meet, are part of the very foundation of our lives, our living. they play a part. they are a star in our shared universe. community.

the 1980s hands across america song lyrics: “see those people over there? they’re my sister and brother. and when they laugh i laugh. and when they cry i cry. and when they need me i’ll be right there by their side.” we would do well re-creating the human chain across the united states holding hands for 15 minutes on a may sunday in 1986. it’s what community is.

the brotherhood of man released the song united we stand in 1970. “for united we stand. divided we fall.
and if our backs should ever be against the wall, we’ll be together, together, you and i.”
community.

hands.

fading to zero.

it is what it is.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit this painting HELPING HANDS on DAVID’S virtual gallery

HELPING HANDS ©️ 2014 david robinson


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if i was the rain. [two artists tuesday]

eric lowen and dan navarro (lowen & navarro) are two of the most in-sync singer-songwriters i have ever known. with lyrics to break your heart and voices and guitars that complement each other perfectly, you would think there would be no outer limits for them, no bounds. but.

if you need a good cry, an absolute raw moment, you should watch the video of eric’s last time on stage. at 60, devastated by ALS and with his children gathered around him and his guitar, he speaks the words of this amazing song of healing from his wheelchair. if i was the rain. it dives in and both destroys and rejuvenates my heart every single time.

the rain. if i was the rain.

if i was the rain
i’d have no reason to explain
i’d fall between the fireflies
i’d never dampen any light

i’d strike a chord within each heart
wherever they were torn apart
and if that helped them heal themselves
maybe we’d find out where forgiveness starts

if i was the rain
i’d choose forever to remain
i’d add a sparkle to the night
and marvel at the morning bright

if i was the rain
i’d bless each blossom to unfold
and i’d turn each one of them to gold
if i was the rain
if i was the rain
if i was the rain…..

(charles john quarto, eric lowen, dan navarro)

we sat for a few days straight at the table in our sunroom. watching out the window at dreary weather, non-stop rain, we pondered all that was happening. the rain-soaked screens unintentionally made abstract art while we tried to make sense. even with happy lights on and the company of our little pine tree from the woods of the high mountains, it was hard to balance it all.

“and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped, i stopped.” (no balloons, kerri sherwood)

i can’t really say i stopped abruptly. i wish it were that easy, a faucet to turn off, a switch to throw, a circuit breaker to reset. there has just been so much.

we know we are not alone in that.

in the middle of the night last night – wide awake around 2am – we sat in bed and talked. this year. broken wrists. a raging global pandemic. fights over face masks. covid-loss of jobs. exorbitant healthcare costs. a city on fire, social justice riots and deadly shootings blocks away. city-wide curfews. a country divided. political chaos. communities, families, friends on different sides of aisles that seem more like moats filled with crocodiles. isolation. family so far. worried about the kids. missing them. a parent sinking in dementia. another hand injury. fired. quarantine. i can’t remember all of it.

and still, we know we are not alone in that.

what i would do…if i was the rain.

*****

his last time – the gentle soul of eric lowen:

lowen & navarro sing if i was the rain:

purchase LOWEN & NAVARRO music – your heart will thank you.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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tacet root vegetables. [k.s. friday]

ritenuto: an abrupt slowing down of tempo

tacet: silence of instrument

fermata: pause of unspecified time

and, suddenly, a prolonged tacet. no notes. no instrumentation. no expression markings. no crescendos or decrescendos. just silence. the baton is laid down. there is no beat pick-up. there is no rest. it is silence. issued. written in the music. a ritenuto – screeching to slow, a subito tacet. suddenly still.

the reassurances are generous, heartfelt. they are reflexes, like putting out your hand when you fall. they are meant to help in the silence, in the sudden slowdown, the sudden stop, the fermata holding the tacet. they make my heart quiver, these well wishes. but they don’t change the composer’s notes in the music: the ritenuto. the tacet. the fermata. those are printed in the music; those are decreed. they are unquestionable, immovable, indisputable, final.

i was voted off the island, in “survivor” talk. it was not an island, but, nevertheless, i am not a survivor. not there, anyway. i am forever tacet-ed there. the fermata above my tacet-ed head reminds me.

it, too, reminds me to be still. to step lightly. to be gentle with myself. i run the scores in my head – scores of scores in that place. i emoted each expression marking, each twist of the music, each gradual shaping, each change of tempo, of timbre, of voice.

and now.

i opened this book randomly, hoping to arrive on a page that might offer me wisdom. i read: “upheavals in life are often times when the soul has become too smothered; it needs to push through the layers of surface under which it is buried….it reminds us that we are children of the eternal and our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity.” (john o’donohue)

it doesn’t feel like a platitude. i’ve read it over and over and over again now since the morning i was fired. i wonder, each day, when the baton will be lifted, when the pick-up beat will come. i remember the all-engulfing power of change works both ways – to decimate and to breathe new life. i – try – to trust the dusty trail i am reluctantly set upon.

upheaval. sudden arrival at prolonged silence. not much more upheaval for an artist than silence. yet, as i sit in this silence, deemed as fitting by the composer, i feel the root-vegetable-of-my-soul gathering energy. with no idea and no preconception, i await as it will push through the earth one day, steeped in nutrients, rooted in rich soil.

my sweet momma said, “live life, my sweet potato.” oh wise woman, you must have known.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

live life, my sweet potato products


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and we give thanks. [d.r. thursday]

“the north texas food bank distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on saturday.” (cnn.com) thousands of cars were lined up at the mobile food pantry. “54 million people in america face food insecurity during the pandemic.” (aamc.org) and we give thanks.

on november 23, at the noon hour, over 12,175,921 million americans had contracted covid-19. the omnipresent global pandemic has killed 255,958 americans since january 21, 2020. (covid.cdc.gov) with a gaping hole in leadership it continues to rage. and we give thanks.

“of the roughly 20 million americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.” (apnews.com) layoffs will likely accelerate in the next weeks and months. and we give thanks.

“gaslighting is deeply rooted in societal structure and social inequalities. women are more likely to experience gaslighting both in professional environments and in their personal lives due to these inequalities.” the term “racial gaslighting” is used “to describe a way of maintaining a pro-white/ anti-black balance in society by labeling those that challenge acts of racism as psychologically abnormal.” “racial gaslighting maintains a pro-white/anti-black balance in society.” “so many of the examples of racial gaslighting we’ve experienced and looked at are embedded in the structure, history and culture of the united states.” (bbc.com) the ugly truths. social injustice. where does a country go from here? and we give thanks.

“the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people around the world.” (who.int) “capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.” (adaa.org) the struggle is real. and we give thanks.

there is so much. so much overwhelm. we look to the stars. we reel, we grieve, we ponder. we wonder how we can withstand any more.

and we are resilient. more than we can ever really know.

we surround our brutalized hearts with the love of family and friends, with memories of times past and wishes for times to come. we keep on keeping on, just as our intrepid ancestors did. we recognize the utter fragility of the moment, the immense journey we are on and the tiny bit of space we actually have on that journey. we stand tall, in the waning sun of late autumn. together. we are grateful. and we give thanks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA – PONDER LIFE mug and other products

CHICKEN MARSALA © 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the fermata. [k.s. friday]

on hold.

the fermata lingers over my days, issuing a pause of length undetermined. the baton is held in the air. there is no downbeat, no pattern of time. just prolonged waiting.

in dr. seuss fashion we wait in the waiting place.

answers are just beyond our grasp, skimming the rim of the atmosphere, invisible to us, ephemeral and flimsy, ever-changing, like trying to capture the flicker of flame from the top of a candle lit in the darkness.

so i just keep waiting. we just keep waiting. our world just keeps waiting.

we sit quietly. we rail at the wind. we speak up. we skirt to the sidelines. we ask questions. we wonder. we are met with silence. we are dissolved. we seek fairness, equity. there is none of that. we step away from the noise. it follows us, snapping at our ankles. we do good work. we seek truth. we are managed, a place of hypocrisy. our country flails. we flail.

and we wait. knowing that, indeed, better will come. knowing that, in some measures, new will come. knowing that, after the fermata, light will come. grieving all we have lost in the process, in the journey, in the waiting place.

we are holding.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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art is like that. [d.r. thursday]

i don’t understand this painting. nor do i feel connected to it. art is like that. sometimes it resonates, sometimes it does not. and in just the way that it does not vibrate within you, it still stirs something else.

for me, this has stirred up images of one of my beloved nieces. her wedding, now years ago, was a blur of blue sky, warm sand, rich brown gowns, the setting sun and her, in stunning white. her home combined these tones; it echoes the sentiment of that landscape and never will i see blue and brown together without thinking of her. art is like that.

we each carry a palette of color at our hips. we carry tunes of music in our hearts. snippets of image, of music that evoke memories of other times.

right now, in the middle of this raging pandemic perhaps this is most important. we have nary a chance to have new treasured times with our loved ones. we face quiet thanksgivings, quiet holiday seasons. we wonder what it will be like, we wonder how we will get through it.

walking through the neighborhood yesterday, we took note of how many people had already decorated for the holidays. lights and giant hard plastic snowmen, candy canes adorning sidewalks, stars lighting up gardens. there were yards that looked like a cacophony of giggling sound, competing with other yards for attention. while this seems early for all that, it made us smile.

for, in all that wiring and plasticware, was a trove of memories. each homeowner must have yearned for the resonance of that magic. each homeowner must have had stories of years-past echo through their heart and mind. each homeowner created art – their own art – chronicling their life and experience through time, re-telling a story, expressing what they feel and creating a rich offering for others.

grateful for their gift as we wandered home through the darkened streets, i thought about holidays past, traditions on hold, gatherings at bay, much longing. it stirred a deep store of memories, made me hope yet even more for the pandemic healing of the world.

and it made me wonder if this is the year to consider having a “regular” christmas tree, bright with lights. if this is the year to respectfully light a menorah, tend a kinara, break open a star pinata…

i wonder if this is the year to celebrate the story of life with the whole world, full of color and sound, vibrating loudly and ever so quietly. art is like that.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit DAVID’s online gallery

visit the completed painting


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unpredictable beauty. [two artists tuesday]

“sometimes beauty is that unpredictable; a threshold we had never noticed opens, mystery comes alive around us and we realize how the earth is full of concealed beauty.” (john o’donohue)

a simple errand. we needed to pick up some furniture to transport in big red for a friend. destination: ikea.

there is something magical about ikea. we hadn’t been there in ages and were relieved to find few people there and everyone masked properly. vowing to hopefully come back soon and browse a bit, we pulled the boxes off the shelves on our pick list. pushing our cart to the front checkout lines, david, more than once, had to re-focus me away from the enormous displays of product. iphone in hand, we wove our way through the covid-floor-circles-disney-style line, waiting our turn at the cash register.

every where i looked, we were surrounded by interesting color, repeated pattern, textures that begged to be touched. david, more than once, softly called my name from the other side of the pushcart, gently spurring me out of the threshold-of-alive-mystery-of-concealed-beauty, snapping pictures with inordinate joy. “k-dot,” he would quietly prod.

the spatulas called my name too, repeating patterns of red-mama-dear-lips making me smile. spatulas are usually not mysterious creatures, but their color, design, stacking lures you out of ordinariness, opening that threshold, the place for glitter to be seen.

it wasn’t just the spatulas, though. i was victim to the lint rollers, the stainless steel utensil holders, the cork trivets. hidden beauty everywhere. i could feel my sweet momma and poppo cheering me on; they were likewise entranced by ikea.

if safety allows, we will return. there are a few small things on my own pick list i’d like to consider purchasing. but mostly, i just want to wander the aisles with my camera, noticing the unpredictable beauty.

yes, not a bad way to spend any day. noticing the unpredictable beauty.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY