reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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starry tufts. [k.s. friday]

part of the wind dandelion fluff

magical.  the starry tufts of white floating on the breeze.  seeds from wild flowers, they are on a course not of their own volition.  white filaments of dandelions, designed to fly and leave a wake behind their path, fluff past, on their way to parts unknown.  part of the wind.  dandelions’ wispy seeds can be aloft over a half mile before parachuting their way to the ground.  no gps, no triptik, no maps or intended destination.

much like how it feels right now.  a part of the wind.

in this time of global pandemic, of racial protest, of economic strife, of political chaos, it feels as though the wind has taken me.  battered to and fro, it feels as it there is no determined destination, no way to avoid the headwinds, no escaping the jet stream.  the wind just picks me up and takes me, each day, to a different place.  never physically far from the place of origin, it makes me feel just enough of a lack of control that i am ill at ease, never quite settled, never quite sure, always a bit tentative, always wary.

and instead of letting the breeze blow and riding it like a standup board in a serene lake, i resist.  i find the need to know – where am i going? – too pressing, too unnerving.  i paddle against the current, seeking ways to see, to move in a direction that makes sense.  but it’s ineffective.  i tire and give it up to the myriad of air currents swirling around me.

it is what it is.  we are, indeed, a part of the wind.  just starry tufts.

 

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this land was made for you and me. [d.r. thursday]

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i played “this land is your land, this land is my land” on the ukulele the other day.  were woody guthrie to be alive, he may have added another verse to this song, this one depicting the russian roulette game that people in this country are playing with the coronavirus.

it’s astounding.

these are NOT normal times, no matter how much you might want to ignore that little fact. and since these are NOT normal times, you should be mindfully considering at-great-length anything you want to do that IS normal.

“from california to the new york island. from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me.”  when was the last time that it occurred to you that what you do affects others?  was it today?  was it last week? was it ever? what amount of sacrifice are you willing to take in order to protect others and yourself and put this country on a healing trend so that things MIGHT be able to be normal again SOME day?

are you out at the bars?  are you at a restaurant, maskless, ordering from your masked server without a care in the world except whether you would rather the sparkling water or the tap?  are you having dinner parties, group gatherings, barbecues in your backyard?  are you on vacation?  are you talking out of one side of your mouth and acting out of the other?  are you duplicitous; do you want people to believe you are being careful and mindful, but on the other hand, it is your life after all……    are you putting anyone in harm’s way?  are you renting cabins in small remote towns that have hospital/medical systems that would be stricken by a surge in numbers, something that you might bring there, even inadvertently?  are you at the beach?  the club?  the public pool?  are you making plans to go to disney as soon as it opens?  are you wearing a mask when you are outside your home? are you social distancing?  do you really care?  or are you like so many people – irked by any degree of self-sacrifice, believing you are an entity unto yourself?  are you buying into conspiracy theories and falsehoods?  do you think this global pandemic is overblown?  do you feel inconvenienced?  do you think we should just throw caution to the wind and take-our-chances?  are you upholding ignorance?  are you mimicking the repulsive behavior of a president who doesn’t care about anything but his re-election and will spout off lies to your face, your actual face?

“when the sun came shining and i was strolling, and the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling, as the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting:  this land was made for you and me.”

for you and me.  there’s a responsibility there.

today my daughter told me that someone called her an asshole when she asked them to as-per-the-law-where-she-is put on a mask to enter the shop.  and SHE’S the asshole???  this person could not put a small piece of cloth over their nose and mouth to protect others and my daughter is the asshole???

because of this person and their apathetic incomprehension and their unconscionable extraordinarily selfish behavior – repeated ad nauseam across the land that’s made for you and me – i cannot see my beloved daughter.  “it’s a pandemic,” she wrote.  “all the respectful tourists stayed at home.”  she is at risk.  the numbers are rising where she is and the people who should stay in their states-with-exponential-growth and wait-to-travel are populating her area in droves.  without a care in the world.  without giving a flying flip.  and with no shame.  and so it’s not safe there.  how dare they.

“this land was made for you and me.”  act like you belong in a community, like you belong in a country, like what happens to people across the land affects you too, like you care even an ounce for others.  it’s actually pretty simple:  don’t be an asshole.

i’m tired.  as in – exhausted.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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explicitly divisive. [flawed wednesday]

explicitly divisive

“it ought to be…commemorated with….illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” (john adams on the celebration of the declaration of independence)

they had fireworks at the walt whitman mall on route 110 in huntington.  sometimes we’d go.  we’d park in the parking lot and watch fireworks overhead, my dad quietly admiring them, my mom zealously gleeful.  those times we left the charcoal grill, hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and chips behind, i loved anytime we went – a child who was innocently proud of my country.

they had fireworks over the lake.  we’d go every year.  we’d walk over to the rocks and, climbing up and over the top, we’d sit on a flat-top boulder, mosquito-repellent in the air, and watch.  in later years, people would set off firecrackers right near us and that was frightening as a parent with small children.  but i loved anytime we went – an adult in the middle of early parenthood who was mostly proud of my country.

for years now they had moved the fireworks that had been set off on one of the beaches to a spot down by the harbor, set off by the public museum.  we used to walk down with our blanket or chairs-in-a-bag, oohing and ahhing over a fancy display that belied the size of our city, but something stopped us the last few years.  it was palpable, the dismay.  red took on different meanings, especially in hatwear.  the pride of being-an-american was tarnished with the behavior of a new president who gloried in obnoxious, toxic-talk, whose example was nothing shy of injurious, who touted his own self-serving agendas.  we didn’t go to the fireworks.

last year they had fireworks at the ballfield on island.  we were days-new there and attended a barbecue late afternoon and in twilight hours, but we knew that dogdog and babycat, both getting used to the littlehouse, would be fearful of the loud booms in this place we didn’t yet know, so we didn’t attend.  we heard they were beautiful, but we didn’t miss going.

this year they didn’t have fireworks.  the city cancelled them because there is a global pandemic.  but people gathered nonetheless and the sounds that mimicked the soundtrack of a warzone went on for hours into the wee night. two yards over, the neighbor had m80s and a giant illuminating-the-skies display.  next door, the neighbors set off fireworks lower to the ground, while clapping their hands to the loud and raucous displays in the sky around us.

we had seen footage of the fireworks over mount rushmore the day before.  we had seen footage of the hate-speech given on a day of supposed-celebration for our country, but instead filled with chasm-digging language, filled with loathing and disdain, filled with the narcissistic viewpoint of a self-indulgent small unkind man whose anger granted him a job where the hatred others feel toward humankind is given a voice, is given power, is, sickeningly, given control.  yes.  footage of the fireworks and the pomp and circumstance in south dakota.  a new definition of the word “patriotism”.  embarrassing on a global scale.

we sat on the deck just a bit, but the thick fog of smoke made it impossible to breathe.  the many-families-of-children in the yard out back were screaming loudly and it made me think of earlier years, more innocent years, years when social distancing wasn’t a thing (although it’s hardly a thing now), years when we weren’t advised by intelligent medical staff to wear masks in public (again, hardly a thing).  it made me think of times i could point to the president of the united states and speak of him (no pronoun neutrality for there is not yet a “her”) to my young children, without disgust, without the rising nausea that results from listening to hate-talk, without explaining why he’s lied thousands and thousands of times to this country, without the intentional explicitly divisive vitriol coming from some sad place in his soul.  we went back inside the house and reassured dogdog and babycat.  we just could not attend, physically or emotionally.  what is there to be proud of?

i wonder whenever and wherever there will be organized fireworks nearby again.  the fireworks that encourage love of country.  the fireworks that make you have goose bumps of excitement and a sense of pride.  fireworks that remind us of the uniting of all people.  fireworks that speak to liberty and justice for all.  fireworks that are a recognition of “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

the explicitly divisive rhetoric spewed from the top down is suffocating us and is no salve for the wounds, new or old, that have been imparted on this country’s populace.

we will need to mend ourselves.

and maybe then – fireworks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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these old boots. [two artists tuesday]

old boots

these old boots.  save for the laces, which were definitely in-beaky’s-book-worth-saving, these boots are now moving on.  looking at them, side by side on the deck, i could hear my big brother playing the guitar and singing, “these boots were made for walking, and that’s just what i’ll do…”

we’ve run out of everest movies to watch.  we have seen all the hollywood movies, all the national geographic movies, all the north face and eddie bauer movies and the rolex movies.  we have watched youtubes and imax-without-the-max-part.  we have sat through short home videos and a two hour and three minute go-pro video with no narration and hardly any talking.  we’ve watched k2 and annapurna and aconcagua and denali.  we have run out.

we have now moved on to the appalachian and pacific crest trails.  these boots – neither pair – were not made for that walking.  we can both vouch for it.

these boots were different.  they were more life-boots.  mine took me through well over a decade of travel, well over a decade of wholesale and retail shows, well over a decade of schlepping, lugging, driving very long distances, more schlepping and lugging.  well over a decade of practice on wooden stages while lighting and sound engineers ran cues.  well over a decade of flatbed trailers.  well over a decade of dreaming and sweating, well over a decade of highs and lows.

i’ve been attached to them.  the soles have separated from the leather uppers and wearing them would be like wearing closed flip flops, but heavy-heavy and flopping around, looking to catch on something and throw me headfirst into the ground.

i’ve been attached to them.  in some way they became part of my uniform, the same way that the black zip-up sweatshirt that no longer has cuffs or a working zipper was.  i’m attached to that too.  somehow, it felt like those kept me safe, kept me going, and brought me back home.  i suspect it wasn’t the boots or the sweatshirt hoodie.

so i’m saving the laces.  they can be used in a different pair of boots.

and i’m wondering:  maybe we should fill these old boots up with dirt and plant some basil.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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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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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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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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