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when push comes to shove, don’t. [merely-a-thought monday]

civility 2 copy

my sweet momma always said that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  although she stood her ground, she rarely pushed back.  well, maybe at my dad…i certainly heard her push back in that relationship.  she was a woman before her time, struggling to be seen and heard…in relationship, in work, in the world.  nevertheless, she lead with kindness and generosity.

recently i surprisingly found myself in a situation where i felt the kind of civility that is needed to accomplish anything was lacking.  instead it was aggressive, pointed, antagonistic.  “when push comes to shove” implies escalation and this, indeed, was the case.  instead of actual conversation, it was a push-shove back-and-forth.  instead of communication, it was a shining example of what-not-to-do.

we drove past a passiton billboard on the way up north that read these words:  when push comes to shove, don’t.  civility is in you.  what does a boorish push or a retorted shove accomplish other than an establishment of immaturity, a driving desire and play for power and an uncooperative non-collaboration?

civility is not that hard.  it should be what we lead with.  respecting others and their place in their world.  we each get the same air to breathe and we each breathe in and out the same way.  instead of escalating to shove or pushing yet harder, how might we fill our lungs with responses of peacefulness, thoughtfulness, fairness, appreciation, intelligent consideration, magnanimity, grace, even reconciliation.  why must push come to shove?  it needn’t.

just don’t.

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

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wide-mouthed-b-cat [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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i’m not a particularly good teller-of-jokes.  even the punchlines of knock-knock jokes sometimes evade me and i find myself wracking my brain for the end, while anyone who listens can’t help the yawns.  but one of my all-time favorite jokes to tell is the one about the wide-mouthed-frog.  my niece heather was the first to tell me this joke; she was a pretty adorable toddler acting out the part of the wide-mouthed frog and i couldn’t help but laugh.  now here was one i could remember! there are many versions of this joke now and you can make it last as long as you want; for me, the longer you have people watching you act like a wide-mouthed frog, the better.

the curious wide-mouthed frog hopped happily around, stopping to ask various animals what they are and what they eat.  he stopped by a robin and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the robin replied, “i’m a robin and i eat worms.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the wide-mouthed frog and hopped happily on.  he stopped by a giraffe and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the giraffe replied, “i’m a giraffe and i eat the leaves off the highest trees and bushes around.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the little-bit-more-informed wide-mouthed frog and he hopped happily on.  the wide-mouthed frog visited with many different animals on his way, learning new animal names and diets.  then he came to the side of a river where a snake was lounging in the sun.  “hi,” he said to the snake. “i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the snake sneered at the wide-mouthed frog and, coiled into a tight circle, said, “i’m a snake and i eat wide-mouthed frogs!”

this picture of wide-mouthed-babycat makes me think of that joke.  he clearly has no cares in the world and would have no worries, lest his food bowl disappear and the sunlight be gone from the sky.  sleeping and eating, pestering the dog, yawning, snoring and vocally demanding attention are his tasks and he is brilliant at each of them.  we simply couldn’t resist posting this picture of the cat-we-adore, a part of our world.

and the tightly-purse-lipped-wide-mouthed frog said, “oh.”

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

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our prayer flags. [two artists tuesday]

prayer flags copy

we pass under them every time we leave the house and every time we return.  our prayer flags fly between the house and the garage…a welcome sight either way.  although better given to you as a gift, we purchased our flags in a little shop in ridgway, colorado and i consider it a gift that we were able to spend time in that tiny mountain town in the san juan mountains.  these flags represent that place to us, that time, and so much more.

each color is symbolic of an element…white is air and wind, blue is sky and space, green symbolizes water, red is fire and yellow is earth.  flying these in a specific order produces a balance of health and harmony.  flying these promotes peace, compassion, strength and wisdom; the wind blows the prayers into the universe.  i cannot think of  more visual evidence of constant prayer.  it matters not to me what religious practice is associated with them.  the prayers are so much bigger than that.  everything is bigger than that.

every time we watch any depiction of an everest story, there are multitudes of these buddhist prayer flags.  they grace base camp and the summit and each camp between,  the prayers issued by those people seeking to reach the highest place on earth.

we can’t claim trying to reach the highest physical place on earth.  but we can claim seeking peace, compassion, strength and wisdom, a balance of health and harmony.  for me, for us, those things are the highest place on earth.

read DAVID’S post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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voila! [merely-a-thought monday]

something wrong with me box copy

20 rolled his eyes at himself when he told us the story.  he was at the grocery store and was looking at dish soap.  he likes dawn dish soap; it gets the best ratings, he said.  as he is peering at the shelf of containers, he can see that way in the back is a container with just a bit more…the volume of the ones in the front seem lower than this particular one in the back.  so he reaches all the way in, moving aside other dawn bottles now rejected by him and pulls out the one where he can see the soap level just-a-little-bit-higher.  he notes that the plastic bottle is not squished or dented (for obviously that would cause a rise in level) and he triumphantly puts the chosen bottle in his cart.  voila!  “there must be something wrong with me,” he said.

as a person who grew up with soap socks and leftovers i couldn’t disagree more.  of COURSE you look for the highest level of soap in the bottle.  that’s a no-duh.  penny-pinching and making things last as long as possible were unspoken mantras for me; they still are.

my sweet momma kept a soap sock.  for those of you who have no clue what that is:  as a bar of soap gets smaller and smaller it becomes increasingly difficult to use.  never to waste anything, my momma would gather all of her tiny vestiges of soap bars and put them in a clean white sock (generally a sport sock…something a little thicker with a tooth like a washcloth.)  she would tie off the end and voila! there you have it – a washcloth with built-in soap!  a soap sock!

i have inherited this trait from my momma.  i will turn bottles upside down and squeeze the life out of them in order to finish all the product.  days after d has declared a shampoo bottle empty i am still encouraging shampoo out of its depths.  our refrigerator rarely has much extra in it – we buy for what we need and we use it up, even if it ends up as some weird concocted leftover.  growing up i didn’t need the “starving children in ….” speech.  i had dna.

so when 20 told us that he takes three pre-packaged 3 lb bags of potatoes over to the scale and weighs them i listened.  apparently, 3 lbs of potatoes can look like 2 3/4 or 3 1/2 or 4 1/4 lbs.  who knew?  you can bet i’ll be trying that.  more potatoes for the money!   voila!

“there must be something wrong with me,” 20 said.  nah.

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

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missing. [k.s. friday]

MISSING song box copy

it comes in waves.  in less than two weeks i will be 60.  i’m not a consumed-with-my-age-person, but this particular birthday is proving me different.  without any prompts, i find myself sorting through my life, the six decades that lead me to right now.   memories flow in and ebb out like the tide on a surfboard of emotions.  trying not to resist, i ride the wave as it brings me growing up times on long island…my nuclear family all together, all alive, gathered in our dining room on abby drive or up in the catskills in a rustic state park cabin….bike hikes and carvel….simple times of arguing for john denver over bob dylan….time walking or sitting or playing frisbee on crab meadow beach…late sunday morning mc-arnson sandwiches or waffles and ice cream around my sweet momma and poppo’s table in florida…the time of building the first home i ever bought, a big choice for us as a young couple…the sheep farm in new hampshire….moving to wisconsin away from family and the challenges that raised…celebrating the amazing birth of our daughter and son and watching them grow into the people they are….recording my first album and what that meant….letting go of the day-to-day mothering as my children became adults and still being an every-single-day mother….balancing the impact of good decisions and bad decisions….times of intense grief….choosing love….starting over….wondering what is coming next….

the inner monologue chronicles through all of these years…i sit in quiet watching the slideshow in my mind’s eye and ponder.  what was most important, what is most important, what will be most important.  what it all means.  and it’s clear most of the time.  the people who have surrounded me, who have loved me, who i have loved.  the people i am missing – and will always miss – as well as the people who are right here.  the times i am missing – as well as the times -moments- i could miss right now were i to be too engrossed in something else.

on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART, the track that i selected to follow MISSING is called CONNECTED.  because it all stays a part of the vast ocean that is each of our lives.  the missing and the now and the wondering, all part of the whole.  all waves to ride.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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turn your vision out. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

THIS husby's dollar bill ceiling copy

the high ceiling at husby’s invited some creative decorating.  twenty years ago, at some point in time after their renovation, the staff and clientele starting throwing money at the ceiling tiles.  there are specific instructions for this, which include tacks and quarters and precise folding, but the end result is a ceiling full of paper currency – a virtual piggy bank of resources that are donated to local causes in sister bay, wisconsin.  seeing the bills on the ceiling and the posted list of good causes just makes you want to throw money.  encouraging others to throw money, continuing the twenty-year-old tradition is generosity.  it turns their vision out.

as the season of lent starts, many people will, for reasons they may not even be able to articulate, “give up” something, a sort of faux-fasting.  back in the day when i was a young teenager, and maybe even now, it was something of a contest…who could give up the most interesting thing, the hardest thing, the easiest thing, who could boast louder.  that all seems antithetical to the point.  way back, giving up lima beans would not count; giving up candy counted.  i haven’t often participated in this.  i’ve just tried, successfully and unsuccessfully, to moderate at all times.

yesterday or maybe the day before i saw a post about giving for this period of time.  in an effort to raise consciousness about austerity, the suggestion was made to each day give a THING away, something you do not use but someone else would value having, or something you know, even though you sometimes use it, would be vital for someone else.  that way, at the end of this period of 40 days there would be 40 THINGS that you have put aside to give away, a contribution to others who need the things you are easily (or actually not so easily) able to donate.  giving clothing or shoes or backpacks or kitchen gear or blankets, things that pare down your own concentric circles of stuff and grace another’s life with something he or she needs.  turning your vision out.

today i will take out two laundry baskets for us – as a start for this new practice.  this makes more sense to me than giving up candy.  as a personal practice in everyday life and honoring this life i was given, i should always be giving up anything in excess that isn’t good for me, lifestyle choices as opposed to a diet choice or a lent choice.  as a new ritual practice for these six weeks however, gathering things for others will illustrate how someone else might be benefited by my lent.  it’s not just about me.  it is turning my vision out.

ceiling money donations copy

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

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it’s all how you look at it. [two artists tuesday]

THIS from the ferry copy

the ice-breaking bow of our ferry made its way across “death’s door”, the strait that connects lake michigan and green bay.  the windchill below zero, you could hear the hardy vessel crunching its way through the ice.  it was other-worldy.  no one else on the ferry appeared to be as enchanted with it as we were; clearly, they were big-I islanders, unmoved by this half-hour jaunt across frigid waters to washington island.  unfamiliar vs familiar equals enthralling vs mundane.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

when i moved to wisconsin 30 years ago (kicking and screaming at the time) i stood in the pasta aisle of the grocery store – a local piggly wiggly.  there was no mueller’s pasta.  none.  the brand i had grown up with on long island, the brand i found in florida publix grocery stores…it was not here in wisconsin.  i felt instantly lost, instantly homesick.  i sensed people moving around my frozen-in-the-spot-trying-not-to-cry body; they were choosing boxes of spaghetti and penne with no problem.  for me, it was a telling moment.  it was an indicator of change, despite its seeming insignificance.  standing in that aisle i can tell you it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.  (*for an update on this incident, please see below.)

the ferry docked on the tiny island, a mere 35 square miles.  we disembarked and met our friends.  they drove us around, on snow-covered roads, through canopies of trees, past glimpses of water between the pines, their limbs bowing to the snow.  at one point they said we could go to the house if we were bored.  “no,” we answered.  how could we be bored, we wondered.  the quiet, the stillness, the solitude was compelling.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

it was quieter on the ferry ride back with fewer people.  we were just as enthralled.  the ice pieces broken by the bow skittered along the ice plate on top of the water.  lines cracked through the sheet, paths drawn by nature’s etch-a-sketch.  some large slabs of ice raised skyward.  we looked at each other and quietly let out a breath.  we couldn’t imagine how this trip across open water could ever become run-of-the-mill.  but around us were people who acted like it was piggly wiggly brand pasta and they were in the aisle racing to get to the next aisle.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

lake ice copy

*(the rest of the story) i called my sweet momma when i returned home from ‘the pig’ as they say.  she answered and i instantly recounted my no-mueller’s-pasta story, i’m quite sure teary in the telling, yearning for the home we had left.   four days later the UPS truck pulled up at the end of the driveway and the driver lugged a very large box to the front door.  in it i found every shape and size of pasta available…all made by mueller’s.  moms are wise beyond words sometimes.  by the time i finished using the boxes-in-the-box, the unfamiliar had begun to be familiar.  the crisis (yes, fundamentally not a physical crisis, but definitely an emotional one) was over.

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