reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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if i was the rain. [two artists tuesday]

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

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

the rain. if i was the rain.

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

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

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

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

(charles john quarto, eric lowen, dan navarro)

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

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

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

we know we are not alone in that.

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

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

what i would do…if i was the rain.

*****

his last time – the gentle soul of eric lowen:

lowen & navarro sing if i was the rain:

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

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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

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

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

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

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

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

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

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

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

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

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

i pull up my bootstraps.

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unpredictable beauty. [two artists tuesday]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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round and round. [two artists tuesday]

and the seasons they go round and round
and the painted ponies go up and down
we’re captive on the carousel of time
we can’t return we can only look
behind from where we came
and go round and round and round
in the circle game
” (joni mitchell)

from the edge of the trail it seemed we stood in three seasons. with warm sun on our faces and verdant grasses poking through the golds of autumn aspen leaves, the snow sought refuge in the shade. three seasons. concurrent.

as we stood there, in the middle of the mountain trail, it all swirled together – then, now, next. a kaleidoscope of color, of emotions, of moments. the tiniest of tiny in a vast universe, all else suddenly became distant.

we lingered in the whirl of shifting seasons, viscerally aware of our breathing and the gravity that was holding us still. it was an eddy of every-thing: old wrinkled leaves of regret, fading transient dreams, life-giving air carrying us into the next minute, a metamorphosis of time. the ponies on the carousel kept moving round and round and we paused, our feet in the dirt, sensing the circle encapsulating us, giving us pause.

we stayed there a long time, the scent of decaying leaves in the woods, the sound of a rushing mountain stream, the breeze rustling past us, our faces warmed. for these moments, in the middle of the middle, all the worries, all the fears, all the unease, dropped off from our shoulders. the concurrence whispered to us, “and the seasons they go round and round.”

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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be nice, say hi! (duh.) [two artists tuesday]

“duh” went through my mind when we hiked past this sign on a high mountain trail in aspen. every time we hike – absolutely anywhere – we are nice and we say hi. that seems pretty basic. “what’s with the sign reminder?” i wondered.

most trails in high elevation are shared. hikers trek, mountain bikers bike and equestrians ride – all on the same trails. kindness, mostly, prevails. friendliness, mostly, is at the ready. in this covid-19 time, with some exception, masks are pulled up as people pass each other face-to-face; safety is, mostly, first.

but there is always that element. any where. those who do not share well. those who do not trail together. those who are not nice. those who do not say hi. those who don’t even wave. those who need reminding. those who need signs.

today is – finally, at long last, after an interminable political season – election day.

given the run-up to this day of threats of national security, of people in trucks chasing down buses from the other side, of the president threatening to sic the supreme court upon the election, of mistruths of voter fraud, of concerns about gun-toting and armed observers at the polls, of covid-19 superspreader rallies held by the leader of the free world in a country raging with pandemic, of any number of examples of malfeasance by leadership et al, it would seem that signs might actually be necessary. basic signs. signs to remind people how to be. signs posted in most kindergarten classrooms across the land, from sea to shining sea.

signs that say, “be nice, say hi!”

signs, well, freaking everywhere.

because people are exercising their right to vote. people are having a say in this country that we all share, so that people can trek and bike and ride, metaphorically speaking, all somehow together on the same highways, the same backroads, the same trails, in the same states, in the same communities, the same cities, the same schools and businesses and religious institutions, the same neighborhoods, the same workplaces, the same clubs, the same friend-groups, the same families, across this vast country. people are voting so that their voices are considered, so that they are included, so that they can share in this democracy.

on the never-ending, incessant, ceaseless, uninterrupted, tedious, wearisome campaign trail, maybe the signs would help.

“be nice, say hi!”

pretty basic.

duh.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY – you will love his last paragraph!!


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she led us up this mountain. [two artists tuesday]

she led us up this mountain. my beautiful daughter, surefooted and strong, an exceptional guide, stopped in high altitude to allow me to catch my breath, to sip water. i wondered where the lake was…each step i took. but, following her, i stopped wondering if i would make it there. the confidence she exuded was both palpable and contagious. and so it was both thrilling and challenging to be high on independence pass, starting at the trailhead just a bit down the road from the summit.

she led us up this mountain and everything else fell away. far below us was the gravel lot, the highway. far below us was the truck that would soon take us away from these mountains, this heart-place. far below us were thoughts of leaving, thoughts of anything back home, thoughts of the pandemic and the election and real life and the worries embedded in all of that.

she led us up this mountain and we gained more than elevation as we trekked, our footfalls on the trail lost in the sound of the wind. we gazed around us, first below the treeline, then above, with fir and pine our hosts, the quaking golden aspen far below, unseen. the creek punctuated our thoughts and – admittedly, my puffing breath – tufts from mountain goats decorated thick branchy and leafless bushes.

she led us up this mountain and the less air i had left, the more it filled me. i wanted to hold onto every last second. i wanted to stand high on this mountain, next to this stunning pristine lake with my beloved daughter, and just weep. my heart needed this hike. my soul needed this hike. my body needed this hike. every other hike we had taken over our joyous days in these colorado mountains had led us to this hike. i was exhausted and cold and invigorated, hot-flashing and weak-kneed. and so, so grateful.

because mostly? because she led us up this mountain.

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i, a tiny person. [two artists tuesday]

vast.

tiny.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, stood on independence pass, surrounded by the collegiate peaks and together with my husband and daughter and, at the trail high-lake destination, my panting breath, swept out of my lungs, slowed to tears.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, sat on a log that crossed a cold mountain stream, under the shadow of a bigger mountain above us and in the grace of the sun streaming through the trees and my breath slowed, cleansing my heart.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, gazed at verdant evergreens and golden willowy tall aspens, my mind aware of the expanse of time they had lived in such places, my breath a mere few seconds in comparison, for they have lived – and will live – well beyond any years i am granted on this earth.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, hiked miles in elevation, my breath both aiding me and slowing me down, forcing me to stop, to look around, to be encircled by the air of the rockies, the snow of early freshness, the closer exquisitely warm sun, the scent of both a pine forest and autumn leaves moldering on the ground.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, my feet grounded on the edge of the royal gorge canyon wall, my heart teetering on thoughts of the insignificance of my being and the very significance of my being, my breath – in and out.

i, a tiny person in this vast universe, in this time in the high mountains, felt both held and freed. love for my beloveds, belief in the moment-right-now, an overwhelming sense of a bigger picture clear, in which my role is like that of a leaf falling to the forest floor, contributing a tiny bit to the ecosystem that will endure, prevailing past my own time, making a tiny difference.

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the maroon bells. [two artists tuesday]

a double haiku:

even in the midst

of coronavirus fear

this earth speaks to me.

dirt beneath our feet

embraced by walls of red rock.

it’s beating my heart.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the shadow knows. [two artists tuesday]

“who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? only the shadow knows.”

back in middle school we had to choose a radio show and emulate it by creating a new episode, complete with commercials. we chose “the shadow” and had a commercial that was for a toothpaste-like substance that could clean your floors, strip paint and brush your teeth simultaneously. it was a product clearly not endorsed by any brand-under-the-sun, but, as seventh-graders with gigantic imaginations, we had fun conceptualizing.

and so, we wrote a script for a new “the shadow” radio show (based on many episodes we listened to) and recorded it on cassette tape along with our brilliant ad campaign.

“the shadow knows,” we murmured to each other, at random times for days and days and, with middle-school-predictability, ad nauseam, followed by a wicked laugh.

david and i often photograph our shadows, as puppets in the sun. on beaches, on hiking trails, in rivers, on mountains, in the backyard, we stop, in the line of sunshine, and take a shot, sometimes deliberately posing for the picture.

in this time, with shadows lurking in every light and dark corner, we chose to make the sign of peace.

for there is presently too much evil lurking in the hearts of men these days and we cannot rely on ‘the shadow’ getting us out of this. the wicked laugh that accompanied these words of introduction chilled us back in the day. now we can hear that wicked laugh echoing in our mind’s eye. and the words of this radio show’s early days – “as you sow evil, so shall you reap evil!” – are, today, vexing and worrisome.

who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? the shadow – and their consciences – know.

so now what? this is not a middle school script. where do we go from here?

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epic. [two artists tuesday]

this is epic. epic is hiding. his sweet luminous green face peeks out from beneath a rock, the rest of his body hidden. he is earnest. he is cautious. he is aware. he studies his world – our pond. he jumps quickly away from anything he perceives as danger. bugs are his priority.

we are like epic.

in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of political chaos, in the middle of social unrest, in the middle of economic crisis, in the middle of a nation-centric-to-hell-with-the-rest-of-the-world leadership, we peek out, hoping, as we wake the next day and the next day and the next, for less impossible news, for more hope, for sanity to emerge out of the rubble.

and then we open up the news app.

we slowly sip coffee from under our rock and peer out at a country we struggle to recognize. we are astounded by the dysfunction; we are deeply saddened by the plummeting values. we cringe at a society rapidly going backwards, downhill with ever-increasing speed and no brakes, obliterating all the progress made for decades as it barrels through, clip-engaged, single-mindedly paying no mind to real goodness.

smack-dab in the middle of our little rock on this world we can feel the danger lurking. we are earnest. we are cautious. we are aware. we study our world. our jumping-away mechanisms are at the ready. bugs are not our priority.

we are like epic. we are not like epic.

we can speak up. each of us has a voice; each of us can address the issues of this time. each of us has a vote.

and in that way, bugs, indeed insidious diseased bacillus in the system of this country, actually are our priority.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY