reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


Leave a comment

it starts here: what were you thinking, LLBean?

i cried at 2am when the girl texted, “wtf is happening, mom?” i couldn’t answer her.

i was as stunned as she was that our country was choosing to support someone with vile opinions of others, with judgment and condescending attitude and open hatred. a man who, for one, openly objectifies women, scorning those who don’t fit into his opinion of ‘worthy’ of his attention, laughingly taunting and excusing himself with “locker room talk” excuses. not to mention ridiculing disabilities, holding contempt for people with different religious beliefs, ignoring responsible ecological decisions for this planet to survive, and deriding the LGBT community thereby undermining the right of choosing who to love, who to commit to, and, ultimately, who to marry.

what is happening? what is happening to the people we are choosing to look up to? what are we valuing in those people? what are we ignoring? and, in ignoring, what are we ultimately de-valuing about others? what is happening to all the progress we have made as a country, inclusive measures that have been finally put in place, opportunity for all people to live in free, respectful ways, supportive of each other, concerned about each other, our world, and our earth?

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-2-09-11-pm

one of the LLBean christmas catalogs came a few days ago. now, i usually love those catalogs – LLBean represents the northeast to me…the new england i love…a dedication to the outdoors. to being green. but this time? this time it reminded me of the catalog page i had just saved from the spring catalog.

i recently was going through the spring catalog because that is the one with all the bathing suit options. having not bought a bathing suit in at least maybe 10 years, the elastic on my favorite suit was doing that thing that elastic does when it gets old: stretches but doesn’t ever return to the ‘start’ position again…kind of crunchy…you can hear it as it stretches. and, in the hope of maybe heading to a beach or my sister’s pool one of these days, i had held onto the LLBean spring catalog. so I took out it out to shop for ideas.

i browsed through….

and this is what it said next to one of the $109.95 suits: “subtle shirring minimizes your hips and waist, while the draping helps camouflage figure flaws.”

what??? “figure flaws”???screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-2-02-44-pm

now i decided to take a closer look…and nowhere….nowhere…did i find mention in the men’s section of bathing suits that this suit would “help to cover your well-earned beer gut” or that this hat would “help cover your flawed hairline”….nothing of the sort. no references to a figure flaw or camouflaging cover-up.

what on earth were you thinking, LLBean? how did this make it through your editing? on what planet is it appropriate for your catalog to push judgment onto women, making being a woman in this country even harder than it already is?  why get behind goading us into thinking we must have the right body, the right look? and why are the “flaws” you so helpfully (read: disparagingly) refer to NOT the right body or the right look? why not celebrate differences in body, skin, shape….let’s bring that out further on the spectrum….life choices, truths….why not challenge the ridiculous and abundantly hurtful standard that actively –or passively- ridicules anything less than someone’s (whose??) idea of “perfect”? we must push back against this. in retail settings, in our homes, in our communities, in our country, in our leaders.

my sweet momma’s adage, that she lived by, reached across differences and embraced all. it reads, “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it for i shall not pass this way again.” (it is unknown who to credit this quote to.)

Goodness exemplified.

and now? more money, less waist (yes, this spelling), more stuff, less compassion, a bigger footprint on the earth, less mindfulness, more divisiveness, less unity, more self-absorption, less respect. are these the new adages? how can we be proud of these?

i guess I don’t need to be stunned by the presidential outcome, when our culture is out of balance. when companies like LLBean are making it entirely acceptable to hold women to a different standard than men. how many of those $109.95 bathing suits were sold?? how many women believed they were “flawed”? why did/do they believe that?  and what would the new president-elect say about these “flaws”? de-valuing indeed.

out of balance.

when superficiality is more important than any other characteristic. when the book cover doesn’t really reveal the book. it’s not a far reach to generalize this to all differences.  where does it go from there? where does it go from here? what are we ignoring?  when our children and our children’s children have a person to (supposedly) look up to who is prejudiced and harsh, disrespectful and just plain mean.

i ask you this: if your son or husband or brother or father said these things or acted in this manner, what would you say or do? would you stand by in silence? where does the line of speaking up start?

it starts here. how dare you, LLBean. you should be ashamed. the girl is right. wtf is happening?

speak-out-or-up

 

 


Leave a comment

old-fashioned goodness.

back road cropped copy

as much as possible. then and now.

we took the back roads home from indiana. we are #backroadpeople as many chances as we can get. with a slice of miles of highway on each end, we bookended farm fields and small towns, tall brown corn stalks, tractors, farmhouses and barns that looked like old schoolhouses. we were in our glory and happy to avoid the plethora of orange barrels and one-lane distractions on the interstate.

we stopped at a bp station in watseka, illinois to get gas. i pulled up and was surprised by the young man (uh-oh, i am definitely getting older) who came to the window to ask if he might help us. now if i were in new jersey, i wouldn’t have been surprised…they pump the gas for you there – it’s a law. but wisconsin and illinois and indiana? no such law. we asked to “fill it up, regular” – words i hadn’t uttered in decades and he politely took our credit card and started to pump the gas. moments later, we were further stunned when he came around the front of the car to clean the windshield. yes! clean the windshield. what??

when he was done, i told this really polite young man that it had been decades – literally decades – since someone had cleaned the windshield while my gas was pumping. i asked if all the stations in town did that. he replied that it was just this one. his boss had owned the station for years and years and that was how he did it “in the old days” so he “wanted it to stay that way.” amazing! the gas was no more expensive than any other station in that little town, so he was absorbing the extra cost. it made all the difference to us. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect.

kwithpumpkin

then.

a couple of days ago the girl texted that she had carved pumpkins.  the time spent on designing and carving out a face on a jolly orange pumpkin is pure joy…not to mention the pumpkin seeds, if you bake them. a little old-fashioned goodness.

craigers-apple-pie

now.

two days ago the boy sent me a text that said, “making apple pie.”  i was amazed! he later sent a picture to prove it. it was scrumptious looking. a little old-fashioned goodness.

the boy and the girl brought me to an enormous bank of memories i got lost in…all the fall things…apple-picking, pumpkin farms, hayrides, bonfires, marshmallows, crunching leaves under your feet, walking in the woods, pie-making, big sweaters and boots, the return of slipper-nights, the smell of burning leaves, hot cocoa…

there’s this fall thing i experience every year…a melancholy…

kerri-applepie1977

then.

…i find myself spending time recalling long island falls: time in the car driving upstate to apple farms with my mom and dad, time picnicking in a park out east surrounded by the colored leaves my mom adored, time after school on the couch drinking tea and eating chips ahoy cookies after school with my sweet momma, apple-pie-making and cookie-making with friends, pumpkin-carving, leaf-raking, costume-rummaging, candy-gorging, by-the-fire-sitting, the waning sun, the days the sky and the sound were the same color…

kcin-leaves

then.

and time when the boy and the girl were little: the trips to jerry smith’s pumpkin farm, apple pies, baseball and soccer games under blankets, sewing to the last second to get costumes done and later, scrounging to the last second to get costumes put together), the squishing of feet into old boots, the new snowsuit jacket quests, the hunts for matching mittens and gloves in all the places they may have gone…it’s all the old-fashioned goodness stuff….

the old-fashioned goodness stuff….not the stuff of the past, but i think the stuff that the past has taught us…the stuff that warms us, comforts us, renews us, makes us whole…

kirstenwalkinginleaves

then.

i’d write more, but i’m feeling the need to go make an apple pie, carve a pumpkin and light the fire. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect. gotta go.

img_0049

now.


1 Comment

don’t get losted.

img_2688he said it to me every time i left the house or hung up the phone…”don’t get losted, brat.” i smile every time i think of this and i talk to him. i know he can hear me. i’m not sure if he is saying anything back, but i’m sure he’s there. my poppo taught me so much…i find myself quoting him often, using the knowledge that he somehow conveyed to me, even when i didn’t know that i was absorbing it (ie:  listening.)   he was a real rube goldberg kind of fixer….he could fix anything. i find myself trying to follow his lead. every time i fix something or devise some sort of daddy-o kind of method i say, “my daddy would be proud!” he’d be 96 today. he would be an awesome 96. and i wish that he and david could hang out together, because david would have loved him. no doubt.

momma-daddy-and-metoday is also my mom and dad’s anniversary. (momma married daddy on his birthday “so he wouldn’t forget”.) they would have been married 73 years today. “wow-ee,” she would have said. i celebrate their love, their joy with each other, their tenacity, their patience, their steadfastness, their being-my-parents.

last week was our anniversary. the first. kind of odd when you consider our ages. it’s been a fast year. it’s been forever since that day. what is it about Time?

with early morning steaming mugs of strong coffee, we walked to the rocks to watch the sunrise over the lake. there is nothing like a sunrise to make you feel alive in the morning. we had wanted to watch it the day of our wedding, but we were both exhausted from five days of great fun with family and friends who had gathered around us and we missed it in lieu of warm blankets and a few more minutes sleep.

sitting there, we decided that we wanted to catch the sunrise every anniversary from now on…to welcome in a new year of adventures, a new year striated with sun and clouds and blue sky and grey days, warm air and freezing toes…new years to come and past years to celebrate.photo-3

later that anniversary morning, we sat on the deck and read our wedding aloud to each other. the readings, the poems, our roadtrip email entries, our vows. we are both, as it turns out, pretty ritualistic so this was powerful stuff. if you ever want to really remember why you got married, i’d recommend doing this. there is nothing like threading together.

this morning we talked over coffee. we talked about the last few years and the stuff of them. the ups and downs that we rode together, the joys and sorrows we felt together, the easy stuff and the hard stuff. we celebrated dogdog and babycat laying on the bed together with us. we talked about our anniversary. about what is actually important to us in this world. and what’s not.  and today….about my momma and my daddy.

and about one sure thing…that we both know…

together…hanging on tight…just like momma and poppo…we won’t get losted.

img_1616

 


Leave a comment

there is a peace in that.

Scan1

for weeks now i have been going through old photos. now, this is an enormous task – 35 years of life, 35 years of memories, 35 years of pictures…uhh…let’s make that 35 years of disorganized pictures…and i haven’t even gone back all the way (“obviously”, you all think, as you do the math between 35 and 57!) the rest of the journey back i’ll make another time. it will take me another long while.

some of you may have every picture you ever took in albums, cleverly captioned. some of you may have every picture you ever took in boxes, neatly labeled. i would like to say these photographs fell into one of these categories, but, uh, no, as my momma would say, “that ain’t so!” (she never used the word ‘ain’t’ unless it was in this context; she prided herself on vocabulary and grammar, and i (and my children – the girl and the boy) have been cursed (?) with this as well.)

so, my task involved bins and bins and boxes and envelopes and more envelopes of pictures, pictures, pictures. organizing photos into categories and sorting out thousands of duplicates that are helter-skelter likens to playing the match game…where did i see this one before? i spent the first week using a system to sort that quickly became ridiculously impossible. there were piles everywhere, spilling into other piles. this is a tedious task, at best, but i needed a better system. so the categories became more specific and boxes were labeled and placed all around the dining room, which became inaccessible to anything else for the weeks (literally, weeks!) this took place. labels like ‘baby-baby’, ‘random cuteness’, ‘winter’, ‘summer’, ‘christmas’, ‘easter’, ‘the pumpkin farm and fall’, ‘thanksgiving’, ‘pets’, ‘house stuff’, ‘trips’, ‘outdoor fun’, ‘family visiting’, ‘friends’, ‘school’, ‘music, sports, ballet’, ‘losing teeth’….the list goes on. it was daunting. bins of mixed-up photos surrounded me.Scan2

and i just finished.

now to find the place to bring them all to so that dvd’s and thumbnail print books may be made. i’ll download onto flash drives all the photos on the computer post-physical-picture-developing. and this task – at least 35/57 of the task – will be done.

last night at ukulele band i told everyone on the patio if they ever thought of doing this that they should either decide not to or to procrastinate it…forever. but on second thought, i am thinking that there has been some real living for me -even in the midst of wanting to scream from the tedium- in these last weeks. i have had the joy of re-watching my children born and grow, the joy of seeing my family – even those who have moved into a different plane of existence, the joy of seeing relationships at their best and through challenge, the joy of seeing what time really is.

there is a peace in that.

Scan3

 


Leave a comment

liverwurst for lunch.

me and momma talkin

each load of laundry i put in today i am thinking of her. it’s been a holiday weekend with tons of things going on plus a busy week prior to that so the laundry has piled up. my sweet momma loved those piles and took great solace in the act of doing the laundry and having clean, fresh clothing and linens. so today, the day that would have been her 95th birthday, i also am taking great solace in doing the laundry and having clean, fresh clothing and linens.

we sat down together on the deck a little earlier and had a big bowl of fruit. what is it about already-cut-up-fruit that makes it taste so much better? i am vowing to make a huge bowl every week – spend some time cutting it up early in the week so that we can pick off it each day. watermelon makes me think of her, so each of these bites we take we chat about her. i wonder if there is lemon meringue pie or cheesecake in heaven; he wonders if she is having liverwurst for lunch. liverwurst is one of her favorites so i’m pretty sure it would be on the menu. not on my menu though.

liverwurst lunch

the last time i saw my sweet momma enjoying her liverwurst.  i always teased her about it.

that was one of those weird lunches i used to have in elementary school. i was the only one with an off-brand white bread or even -sheesh- rye bread, liverwurst and mayonnaise sandwich, all wrapped in wax paper. everyone else had cutesy sandwiches with fixings from the deli all wrapped in a glad bag. i had a sandwich bag of chips; they had pre-packaged lays or fritos. i had a whole apple, vying for the opportunity to get stuck in my teeth; they had oranges all sectioned in a baggie. i had a re-purposed bag of some sort (from a trip to the hallmark store or genovese drug store); they had the traditional brown paper lunch bag. but…now i’m thinking…what i wouldn’t give for a sweet-momma-packed-lunch these days.

we lit a candle earlier for her and we are leaving it lit all day. i want to feel her close by. i miss her. she would have loved the fireworks last night; her oohs and aahs would have momma effusive at shaynebeen cheery and boisterous. i learned about being effusive from her. she is the reason i know it counts to be effusive. each time i walk past the candle i cheer inside and i think of her.

we have a new grill. the last grill i had was put out to the curb a couple years ago. i’m astounded to think it has been that long. i put that grill together all by myself. i wrote to my friend frangelly that there were a zillion pieces, all in shrinkwrap, covering my dining room table. it took me three and a half hours to put it together and when i was done i stood back and thought, “wow…it looks like a grill!” the first time i lit it i took it into the middle of the street…i didn’t want to take the chance that some little piece i had misplaced or forgotten or something would make this new grill blow up in my backyard. (it didn’t blow up, by the way, and it lasted the next several years, so i am chalking that one up as a success – and – i am crossing putting grills together off my bucket list. from now on, we will buy them assembled.) i am the type to grill year-round, shoveling snow to the grill so that veggies and chicken and burgers and yes-i-live-in-wisconsin-brats can have that “grill” taste. what have i done for the last couple years without one? anyway, we have a sparkling new one now. we were going to use it yesterday but then i thought (in true thready fashion), “wait, maybe we can get some great steaks and grill them on momma’s birthday tomorrow. she loved a good steak on the grill and that will be a great way to christen it.”

now that it is the tomorrow of yesterday i am not feeling so much like going to the store to grocery shop. momma cutie-pie faceinstead, in my quieter day at home, surrounded by laundry baskets, my at-his-drafting-drawing-table-husband, dogdog and babycat, still in sweatshorts and a tank top, no shoes and no makeup, i’m thinking that maybe yesterday’s leftovers would be a better idea for dinner tonight. momma loved leftovers. they will make me think of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Leave a comment

who needs you?

downloadthe forecast said ‘heavy rain’ so we all gathered in the living room. now, remember, this is an old house – so there is no central air conditioning and this is a summer evening with rain expected. people who are really zealous about the dew point could explain why it felt so ridiculously hot and humid, but we didn’t worry about the details of it. we just all sweated together, our ukuleles in hand, the dogdog running from one person to another getting ample dogdog attention in his nervousness about the thunder. this community of people meets weekly. during the ‘school year’ we meet at the church; during the summer we meet on our patio (ok, for you detail-oriented folks, sometimes it is inside our house, weather-dependent.) playing the ukulele in this band unites us…we strum through songs, singing and laughing, rehearsing for performances. today daena has a huge blister on her thumb. (the hazards of ukulele!) but that isn’t all. we catch up on news with each other. there are conversations about chords, strum patterns, aging parents, children living away, recipes, probiotics, new medical procedures, new pets, houses, chip and jojo and hgtv, life below zero and alaska, vacations, romances, reminiscenses, grandchildren. this community is part of who we are. i look at them in wonder. they are all so important to us. the gift of community.

we sat outside to eat at the pizza place. under the shade of a big umbrella we talked about weddings and health, diets and children, camping and career questions. these two people have been a rock for us in the last years. before it was ‘the four of us’, they used to include me on their ‘date nights’, sitting me in the middle of the movie with them, pouring a glass of wine for me, including me in dinner, helping me surf through the challenges i was facing. their community is part of who we are. i look at them in wonder. they are so important to us. the gift of community.

20 comes to our house most every sunday. we make dinner, drink wine, talk our hearts out and maybe watch a movie or sit out back. we share stories of life, stories of worry, stories with tears, stories of great joy, hilarious stories. we share so many years of memories and times gone by, some very happy, some we speak of with much sadness in our voices. the years have flown by. and now we plan – so many adventures to come. he and 14 are ridiculous middle-schoolers together. they make me laugh. i look at him in wonder. he is so important to us. the gift of community.

the girl wrote about her group of snowboard coaches and instructors one day. she referred to them as ‘family’. she has a fantastic group of people upon whom she can rely who live right there near her. they support her, challenge her, inspire her. i am grateful for her gift of community.

the boy writes about his group of friends – a tight-knit, widespread group of people upon whom he can rely, some of whom live in the city near him, some of whom live in other cities he travels to. they are ‘family’ to each other. i am quite sure that they support him, challenge him, inspire him. i am grateful for his gift of community.

our community is all around us. our community is far away. we have family and friends we’d love to see more, be with more, who live away from us. we have ‘family’ right here. they support us, challenge us, inspire us. i am grateful for our gift of community. i am grateful for you.

you know you are all family – bloodlines or not – when you can sweat all over ukuleles together, create joy and recognize you need each other. a band isn’t a band without all of us.download-1

download-2


1 Comment

the right place.

allLoveCountswe were on a serene lake…no waves, barely a ripple. the oars sliced into the water next to the canoe with hardly a whisper, the loons in the distance calling. the gunshots in the distance rang out over the still lake and startled us; the loon answered. i counted the number of times in a row the gun went off…not sure why i was doing that, but hoping that it would make more sense if i knew how many times i heard a gunshot. i asked later if there was a firing range nearby and was surprised to hear that there wasn’t. i’m not aware of any particular hunting season right now, so i am guessing that someone was just out there…somewhere…firing a gun just to fire a gun. the juxtaposition of absolute serenity and gunfire was unnerving. it seemed that northern wisconsin wasn’t the right place for that.

we hike there often. we take the blue trail with dogdog; it’s about 4 and a half miles the way we go. we know it well now, but every time we go we delight in the changes each season makes, the changes the weather makes, the changes we can see, smell, touch, hear. we often hear gunshots reverberating out there. i guess there is a firing range somewhere nearby. so people gather to ‘practice’. not having grown up around guns, i wonder what they are practicing for as i hear a rapid fire of shots, something that doesn’t sound like the measured shots of a hunter.   a state park doesn’t seem the right place for that.

my beautiful son is gay. also, he was on the high school and college tennis teams. also, he likes v-neck fitted t-shirts over round neck. also, he used to love ramen noodles. also, he was a fantastic pitcher and an ace shortstop. also, he doesn’t drink the bottom inch from a 2 liter bottle of soda. also, he loves chocolate chip cookies with mint chips in them as well. also, he was the only one in his fraternity who could drive a stick shift. also, he likes to be at the airport well ahead of his flight. random factoids. none of these define him totally as a person. all of them (and a whole lot more) make him who he is.

i remember the day he called me to tell me he was gay and that he was in a relationship. i don’t know if he was nervous or anxious about it, but i suspect that many young men and women have anxiety about telling their loved ones of their orientation. now, i don’t remember having to call my momma years ago to tell her i was heterosexual. why would that be any different?

i cherished his trust – his knowing that nothing i felt about him would change. his choice of who to be in relationship with was just a part of him like his choice of cookie. it changed the picture in my head of the future, but it didn’t change my support of him or my excitement about his future or my love of him.

they – young men and women – were in a bar. in a vacation destination town – orlando, florida. i would anticipate that there was much laughter, much talk, much dancing. maybe there was an expression of physical attraction between people there – a public display of affection. i hope so. i cannot wrap my head around the kind of hatred/discomfort/bigotry that would push a person to take a gun and kill people. shots rang out. people (sons and daughters of moms just like me) died. the surrealness of an individual’s hunting season that had opened at this venue make my blood run cold. a gay bar isn’t the the right place for that.

i am the very proud mother of a gay son. and i, like all mothers, want to believe that he has the freedom to be who he is as long as he is not harming anyone else or himself – just like my rule for my daughter. there is no right place for this kind of maiming and killing. i want to protect them both – my girl and my boy. i try to trust the world around me, around them. i pray for them to always be safe.

and i ask – where is the right place for that??