reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“it matters not.” [merely-a-thought monday]

we all fruit

i never let it stop me.  it didn’t matter to me the title someone held or the notoriety they had.  i always reminded myself that this person i needed to call or meet with or contact was human.  “this person breathes in and out, just like i do,” i would think.  i felt this person – whoever it was – must have some human quality in common with me, regardless of a possible overly-amplified ego or the protected life bubble they might live within.  “it matters not,” my momma, a lover of language, would say.  in the end, nothing really separated me from this person, him or her, human-wise.

and so, my slightly-dialed-back-new-york chutzpah would dial the phone and expect nothing less than speaking with the person i was calling, no matter what rung on the ladder that person clung to, no matter how high the ladder, no matter the pecking order or the person’s perception of self.

because:  people.  we are all people.

now there’s a starting point.

but you wouldn’t know that looking at this country these days.

my sweet momma would be 99 today as i write this.  99.  even in her time on this planet – which devastatingly ended five years ago now – she had seen a lot of change.  “it matters not,” she would say.  we are where we are.  she read, she researched, she asked questions.  and she always arrived at the same place:  people are people and should be – in the crux of all things – equally treated as such.  period.

empty words ticked momma off and she warned me of people who would talk the talk but not walk it.  her sixth sense of intuition was often caution enough in friendships and relationships where people would get all virtuous and principled and, yet, be the same people who could clearly not see the irony in their supposed loftiness, the empty in their words, the do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do-ness, the falsity in their stance.

my momma, our beaky, subscribed to kindness.  it would be to her horror to see the hateful rhetoric nowadays.  she would have no patience for it.  she would point to the horrors that hatred had produced in years past.  she would state in simple terms:  “it matters not,” she’d say, “be kind to each other.  in all things, be kind.”

if momma were here today, she’d wear a mask.  not because she would be in a high-risk category, but because it is the kind thing to do.  a lover of math and science, she would point to the words of scientists, researchers, epidemiologists, medical professionals and she would insist on listening to them.  “it matters not what you think,” she’d point out.  “what matters is what they know.”

if momma were here today, she might protest.  she’d point to inequity and ask what we could do about it.  she’d not draw lines of color or race or gender or sexual orientation or economic status.  “it matters not.  people are people,” she’d insist.  she’d wonder at a country, with so many smart people, continuing to head down such a dark road.  she’d question, she’d challenge, she’d debate, she’d be stalwart and she would hold steadfast to being kind.  period.

it may be oversimplification, but gus had it right in my big fat greek wedding.  “apple and orange…we all different, but, in the end, we all fruit.”  he and my momma would have been grand friends.

because in the end, we are all human.  we breathe in, we breathe out.  we can reject hate; we can choose to love.  nothin’ wrong with a little oversimplification.

BE KIND MASKS – in honor of the wisdom of my sweet momma ❤️

FACE MASKS

BE KIND small print face mask

BE KIND large print face mask

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

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with abandon. [k.s. friday]

sing with frame

i warm up first.  the sound system is on and i wail through the building like a country artist on a flatbed.  the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room; it encourages me to sing more, sing louder, sing with abandon.

i’m recording nine pieces of music a week right now.  five of these are vocal songs.  i stand in the venue in front of the piano, boom mic in place and turn on the voice memo on our island-iphone-which-is-newer-than-our-other-iphones.  i play and sing from the beginning to the end, without stopping.  there is no tracking; there are no editing features, no going-back-and-fixing-this-or-that, no auto-tune, no equalizing, no other instrumentation, no balancing wavelengths, no mastering, no amazing engineer, no producer.  any ambient sound becomes a part of the recording. we listen afterwards and decide if i need to re-record, which simply means starting over from the beginning.  it’s more recording than i have done in-studio in a long time.  and it’s vastly different, this straight-up tape-it-with-the-phone recording.  in the last bit of time i have recorded over 90 pieces of music. that’s a serious amount of recording.  in album terms, it’s at least seven CDs worth.

it makes me want to stand -again- on a wooden stage in front of a piano and a boom and sing my heart out.  it makes me want to maybe get some of my own stuff – the stuff lingering in notebooks and folders of scrap paper – on tape.  it makes me think about rv’s and touring and the little voice in my brain reminds me that i’m 61.  “ONLY 61,” i retort.  it makes me wonder.

it’s a common story.  ask carole king or phil vassar.  they wrote songs.  lots of them.  and other people sang them.  until one day…and then they forever owned that boom mic over their pianos.

decades ago, i thought i’d just write songs.  i’d play all my instrumental pieces in concert – like george winston and david lanz – and i’d grant permission to ‘real’ singers to sing the songs i had written.  but then one day…and now you would have to wrestle that boom mic from me.  different stories, same principle.

we are singer-songwriters.  we are people who sing.

all warmed up, it’s easier to get from the beginning to the end without too much pitchy-ness.  it’s easier, warmed-up, to know what to expect from my still-healing-broken-wrists.  it’s easier to know what to expect from my voice.

and so i keep singing.  i wail through the building.  and the sound takes on air with the natural reverb of the room.  i sing more, i sing louder, i sing with abandon.

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please. [d.r. thursday]

sketch with frame

while i was doing some work david was in the truck sketching and writing haiku.  yes, he’s that kind of guy.

“wear a damn mask,” a friend wrote on his facebook page.  another friend re-posted these words of a stranger, “those who have stayed inside, wore masks in public and socially distanced during this entire pandemic are the same people who are used to doing the whole group project by themselves.”  another friend wrote, “if you aren’t wearing a mask in public, tell me why so i can unfriend you.”

it’s a hot topic.  there are two sides of the fence.  you are a believer or you are an atheist.  and nary shall the two meet.

people are bitching and moaning about mask-wearing and social-distancing and it does not cease to amaze us to see people gathered together in, well, gatherings, without masks on. every day the numbers climb.  every day people ignore it.  i feel i am a broken record.

let’s face it – in this united states of america, a country steeped in intelligence and research, the richest and most advanced country in the world, the president not only has gathered his populace in rallies without masks and social distancing, but he is going to celebrate the 4th of july early in south dakota beneath the granite countenances of presidents who have gone before him, who actually DID behave as presidents, who actually WERE brave, who actually THOUGHT about doing the right thing and then DID it, even if it was hard.  he is encouraging people to attend, with their health and very lives at risk, just to see his smug un-masked face while he watches fireworks that haven’t graced this fragile fire-risk-environment for a decade.  now there’s a bit of intelligence for you.

maybe it doesn’t matter that the entire european union has decided that americans are not welcome to their countries.  maybe it doesn’t matter that canada has decided to close doors to americans.  maybe it doesn’t matter that states in the northeast have mandated quarantines for visitors from other states.  maybe it doesn’t matter that there is no federal umbrella of concern sheltering all-fifty-states-and-five-territories-in-this-together from undue and exponential harm.

i’d like to ignore this, perhaps not speak or write about it again.  maybe i could retreat into ostrich behavior, stick my head in the ground and just move on.  maybe i could just act like everything is normal.  maybe i could talk myself into it.  maybe if i subscribe to fox news and OAN and media sources that tout conspiracy theories and far-right extremism and fawn over this president’s lack of regard for humankind, maybe then i could not wear a mask around you, i could refrain from socially distancing near you.

maybe.

but i think not.

because, well…

science is science.  medical advice is medical advice.  and facts are facts.

wear a damn mask.  and back up.

please.

read DAVID’s less-harsh thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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putter-putz-tinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

happy

20 calls it “putzing”.  “what did you do today,” we ask.  he says, “nothing.  i just putzed.” putzing has a way of taking up the day.

my sweet poppo was a world-class putterer.  he was happy doing something and happy doing nothing.  he’d spend hours at his workbench in the garage in florida, cool damp towel wrapped around his neck.  he could fix or make just about anything.  hours just puttering.  the whole day could go by.

my big brother could tinker in competition with the best of the tinkerers.  he would tinker on building projects, home improvements, engines, motors, and all good assorted tinker-able sources.  his adoring little sister, i was happiest when i got to sit and watch him tinker.

we road-trip-traveled down south, two friends and i.  it was -wow- many years ago now.  fans of the paint-a-picture-of-sweet-idle-and-wild-adventure-living j. peterman catalog, we went to the j.peterman (of seinfeld fame) retail store in kentucky.  walking in, time slowed down.  quiet piano music played overhead and the cool air conditioning of the store was a welcome change from the humid heat outside.

there was an associate acting as hostess who approached us drawling, “good afternooooon. welcome to j. peterman.  would you lahhk an ahhsti?”  “an asti,” we thought, “would be remarkable!”  who wouldn’t like cool bubbly asti spumante on a hot steamy day? we graciously accepted and browsed around the space waiting for our wine glasses to appear, admiring the there-was-a-gentle-breeze-off-the-starboard-side-catching-the-silken-folds-of-her-aqua-dress-as-she-stood-watching-the-sail-raise sundress for $279.  time slowed down.

the hostess-associate returned, three tumblers filled with – iced tea- and topped with a lemon wedge.  ahhh.  ICED TEA.  not ASTI.  our lounge-y afternoon puttering about the shop with asti in our hands vision disappeared in the breeze off the starboard side (or was that the ceiling fan overhead?)  we left, post-beverage, and drove to the j. peterman headquarters where i managed to talk our way in to meet with THE j. peterman in a messy office filled with thoughts and dreams of his company.  we entered and he apologized for the mess, telling us he was “puttering” and hadn’t had a chance to pick up.  putterers shouldn’t apologize.

i’ve come by trifling with my day honestly.  a list-maker, my brain tends to be consumed with lists-of-things-to-do, neatly under different headings, highlighted in order of import.  they wake me up at night; they are consuming some days.

but there are some days that lists are not relevant.  life days.  putzing-puttering-tinkering days.  days when frittering time away is the right thing to do, really the only thing to do.  you loiter in your happy-doing-something-happy-doing-nothing.  and you sit and have an iced tea.

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

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quote from AUGIE THE DOG’s 20th BIRTHDAY

 

 

 


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despite it all. [two artists tuesday]

lettuce

some things just happen despite it all.  for us, it’s lettuce.

despite the global pandemic, despite the absolute necessity of social change from deep roots of racism, despite political chaos, despite the economic impact we have felt, despite the isolation, despite the loneliness of missing, despite the challenge of seeing others maskless and cavalier, despite the sheer lack of responsible federal leadership in this country, despite our country’s inability to respond appropriately to a health crisis, despite questionable ally stances, despite ignoring the human-caused-destruction of mother earth, despite a pitiful inequity of economics, healthcare, opportunity in america, despite the mixed messages, despite the glib words of those ignoring the upward trend of a deadly virus, despite untruths, despite actions-that-speak-louder-than-words, despite mean-spirited messages and agendas, despite people and leaders screaming across aisles over constitutional rights, despite children killed by gun violence, despite extremism, despite empty words of piety, despite rage-filled brutality, despite an incapacity to live peacefully in community, despite unanswered questions and confusion, despite a lack of reassurance, despite the worry, despite the fear, despite the challenges, despite not-knowing, despite the grief, despite the yearning for normal, some things happen.

our lettuce grew.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“a little normal would be nice.” [merely-a-thought monday]

normal with frame

normal is up for grabs.

in the middle of my meltdown yesterday, i’m sure i uttered, “i just want normal.”

but normal is subjective now.

there is a deep schism between the normal of the of-course-i’ll-wear-a-mask-maskers and the it’s-against-my-constitutional-rights-to-make-me-wear-a-mask-non-maskers.  a deep schism between the sides of the aisle.  a deep schism over this global pandemic, the economy, healthcare, equality, blatant racism.  a deep schism over confederate monuments.  a deep schism over basic respect.  a deep schism over truth.

a chasm of difference.  it makes me wonder what, if anything, can bridge it, what can create a common story, what can make us a populace that cares about each other?

scrolling through facebook is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country doing normal stuff:  eating at restaurants, having drinks at bars, gathering with friends, going on trips, boating, fishing, at the beach or the pool, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

driving downtown is depressing.  there are people ‘out there’ in our pandemic-riddled country just-down-the-road doing normal stuff:  eating inside and outside at captain mike’s, gathering at eichelmann beach, hanging out at the lakefront, all without masks and without social distancing and without, seemingly, a care in the world.

trying to plan anything is depressing.  we need to go to see david’s parents.  i desperately need to see My Girl and My Boy.  there are so many details to keep each other safe.  there’s nothing normal.  it’s freaking confusing.  we plot the trip west, a roadtrip, thinking about 19 hours across the middle of the country, thinking about arriving at my at-risk-in-laws’ house, having not picked up any additional possibility of passing covid-19 to them.  where do we stop safely?  where do we get gas?  where do we use restrooms?  how can we be sure they will not be recipients of anything we bring along?  we care.

and yet, there is the rest of the country – the ones screaming at city hall meetings, the ones seeking judgement against requiring masks-for-safety, the ones who throw pointed word-daggers arguing against the danger of this pandemic, the ones arguing for other causes of death, the ones voting out all precautions for the state of wisconsin, the ones who stand in front of the entire country and arrogantly (and without a grain of truth) state, “we’ve flattened the curve!”  how is it that the leadership of this country gets away with this?  no wonder half of the country wears no mask, states and does whatever they damn well please. WHAT pandemic?

it’s depressing.  missing the moments that make up life – chances to easily be with family, friends.  chances to have a bite out without worrying about aerosols.  chances to sing with others, to sing for others.  chances to go to concerts and plays.  chances to gather around a kitchen table or the island at your best friends’.  chances to stop and hug your decades-long neighbor.  chances to hold your grown-up children and kiss them and make them roll their eyes.  happy hour with friends crowded onto a deck.  parties in the backyard.  normal stuff.

it was on a marquee outside a store, “a little normal would be nice.”

i couldn’t agree more.

i told tom i had a really hard day yesterday.  he said, “you have to grieve.”

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

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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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where do we go from here? [d.r. thursday]

IMG_4630

“where do we go?  where do we go?  where do we go from here?”

an empty canvas.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, davidrobinson?

sheet music clean

an empty staff.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, kerrisherwood?

artists’ journeys, rife with intersections, foist decision-making upon us in our quest to create.  simply starting is sometimes an uphill challenge.  the questions are never easily answered.  the value of what we are doing is never really clear.  or is it – the value assigned to what we are doing is never really clear?

journey synonyms according to google: travel, leg, trek, ride, jaunt, expedition, drive, outing, mush, passage, junket, long haul, circuit, schlep/shlep, digression, transit, pilgrimage, excursion, sashay, traveling, tour, pleasure trip, odyssey, trip. 

i think schlep about covers it.

where do we go from here?

we have a daily decision, a choice to “begin anywhere” (john cage) and speak to the world around us and what we see through artists’ eyes.  we write, we paint, we compose.  we either create or we step away from the canvas, the staff paper, the qwerty keyboard.  we know that nothing we do will change the world.  we know that everything we do, like you, will change the world.

where do we go from here?

last night anderson cooper’s chyron read, “meanwhile, back in the real world.”  the real world.  a world fraught with chaos, trembling with the fever of a pandemic and the disease of racism.  we, as people, turn to the sages of old for words of wisdom.  we turn to art for honest displays of emotion.  we turn to music for expressions of pain and hope, grief, despair, love, action, change, fear, questions.

questions like – where do we go from here?

Every day just gets a little shorter, don’t you think?
Take a look around you and you’ll see just what I mean
People got to come together, not just out of fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

Try to find a better place but soon it’s all the same
What once you thought was a paradise is not just what it seemed
The more I look around, I find, the more I have to fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

I know it’s hard for you to
Change your way of life
I know it’s hard for you to do
The world is full of people
Dying to be free
So if you don’t, my friend
There’s no life for you
No world for me

Let’s all get together soon, before it is too late
Forget about the past and let your feelings fade away
If you do I’m sure you’ll see, the end is not yet near

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

(peter cetera, chicago – where do we go from here?) 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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sticker, oh, sticker. [flawed wednesday]

marked license plate stickers

clearly there are a lot of people who own registered cars in wisconsin who do not read.

how do i know this, you ask?

drive behind anyone with a wisconsin plate and notice where they have put the year sticker.  people place these stickers all over the license plate.  when you start looking you will see a variety of methods – in the middle of the plate, stickered all around the edges, smack over the raised lettering. however, these stickers are delivered to you in the envelope pictured above.  this envelope leaves little doubt as to where to place the stickers – any and all of them.  they are not meant to fill in the white space on the plate, nor to cover the numbers and letters metal-stamped on the plate.

so do they not read?  that, in itself, i see as a bit of a problem.  somehow it seems necessary to be able to read and follow directions in order to be safely out on the road, driving around.

now, i would understand if the state of wisconsin department of motor vehicles just sent you a sticker in a plain envelope, without specific directions attached.  you might wonder, “golly gee, where does this sticker go?”  but to receive such clear and concise and labeled instructions, how is it that a vast number of drivers, supposedly responsible drivers, have scratched their heads and tore off the backing and stuck ’em anywhere they wanted?  what are they possibly thinking?  what is the point of this stuck-anywhere-sticker-thing?  is it a display of rebellion?  is it a display of apathy?  do they think it’s artistic?  i wonder.

because it just looks like they over-and-over-again don’t read the directions.  it’s not like you need cliff notes for the eleven words, “place year sticker here first time and at time of renewal.”  plus there’s the arrow.  pointing.  to the place the sticker goes.   what’s so hard about this?

it makes me wonder what else they don’t read or pay attention to.  in a world with a global pandemic, we surely need people to read, stay apprised, follow safety instructions and directions for flattening the curve.  we need people to be responsible and care about guidelines put into place, specifications to fairly regulate, to simply be in accord.

now, i can’t help but wonder:  are the people with stickers all over their license plates the same people – the customers at the corner store – who sneered at us because we were wearing masks during this pandemic?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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everyone else. [two artists tuesday]

rustic bread

everyone else baked artisan breads in march or april.  we baked it in june.  well, specifically, david baked bread in june.  i merely had to watch the process, savor the wafting of baking-bread through the house, tear off a chunk and devour it.

he’d been talking about it for a while, that he wanted to bake bread.  this loaf is gluten free – he adapted it from a rustic bread recipe of bill’s.  bill baked bread in april and then moved on to homemade gnocchi.  a bit trend-resistant, we picked up the dangling carrot at the tail end of bread baking so posting this picture feels somewhat passe.

we aren’t so much everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-we-have-to-do-it people.  we are artists so that’s our first excuse.  our second excuse is that we are often not pop-culture-informed.  that was much easier for me when my children were right here, keeping me in the loop.  if cnn or aarp aren’t talking about it, if it’s not in our itunes or the stacks of cds and records we own, we are swimming upstream.  third, we tend to make do.  as a child of the infamous soap-sock beaky-beaky, who had a mantra of saving new things “for good” and turned bottles of shampoo upside down for weeks draining the last vestiges out, making do is an inbred way of life.

baking bread was no exception.  until june.  when we wholeheartedly jumped on the well-vetted train, rice-flour-research in hand.  voila.  heaven-in-a-loaf-of-bread, we wondered why we hadn’t done it sooner.

everyone else had an iphone.  i was one of the last dedicated razor-phone fans.  i could text with my eyes closed, even using the phone keypad without an a-z keyboard.  and then my children bought me an iphone.  a convert, i wondered why i didn’t get one sooner.

everyone else has granite countertops.  ok, or marble.  our kitchen is old but i’ve made over 11,300 breakfasts and 11,300 dinners in it and this sweet old kitchen has had over 33,000 days nurturing its families.  we chop and saute and mix and fry and bake and roast and pour – all successfully – in this old kitchen every day.  maybe someday we’ll have different counters.  and we’ll wonder why we didn’t change them sooner.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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