reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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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everyone else. [two artists tuesday]

rustic bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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romper-bomper-stomper-boo. wait. [two artists tuesday]

bcat in the window romper room

i don’t know about you, but when i was little i waited with bated breath for my name to be called at the end of the romper room show.  it never was.

i don’t know about you, but when i was in school i waited to be called on to teams during gym class, the teacher having chosen team ‘captains’ and those captains choosing their favorite friends, a really terrible way to divide up a class without hard feelings.

i don’t know about you, but as an earlier adult i waited to see a single song take off, an album go gold, the writing-writing-writing of a song recognized.  somewhere along the way i realized the sheer folly of that and i knew it was important to be satisfied with something-of-mine that resonated with someone-out-there; it need not be monumental to be monumental.

i don’t know about you, but right now i’ve been waiting to go places.  i haven’t yet gotten my hair cut or gone clothes shopping or been out to a restaurant.  i haven’t gone to the bank or a pub or even a starbucks.  i haven’t ordered out or picked up or sat curbside waiting for, well, anything.

i don’t know about you, but i am still impatiently waiting to see my children.  a city away seems, hopefully, doable in the near future but a trip to the high mountains requires a bit more detail, a bit more planning, a need for precautions and safety-taking.

i don’t know about you, but it all feels like we are on hold.  like we have dialed in and are listening to the interminable muzak-music but, with too much invested, can’t hang up.

we feel like we are looking at life from the inside out.  we are waiting.

we feel like we are looking at life from the inside out.  and we are watching.

we are watching others move freely about in the world and we wonder – are we the weirdos here?  we are watching the disparity between what people say and what people do – those who want to be perceived as covid-safety-savvy but are out tooling around.  we are watching the restlessness and the dismissiveness of a pandemic-weary-world.  we are also watching anxiety and confusion increase, sleep eluding us, plans in disarray – sub-themes of future covid-19 movies.

and yet, we hesitate.  to resume normal.

because these times are not normal.

so we take a bit more time to peer through the magic mirror, look out from in, and romper-bomper-stomper-boo wait.  just a little bit longer.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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pando & the nickel. [two artists tuesday]

pando

i followed the croaking.  it led me to our pond and across the vast expanse of water i could see him – perched on a rock – a beautiful frog.  i started taking pictures right away thinking he would quickly evade me and jump into the water, but i kept taking pictures and i kept getting closer.  i talked to him the whole time i was approaching and he seemed to listen.  by the time i got to the rocks where he was, he was just sitting calmly.  i reached down and petted his head.  he stayed put.  we talked a bit, that frog and me.  i named him ‘pando’ for he arrived during the pandemic.  he was earnest; i was elated.  frogs-in-our-pond in the past have been good omens, gentle reminders to rest in trust.

pando hung around for three days, eating bugs and sunbathing on rocks.  but he chose to move on.  his leaving is as curious as his arrival.  we hope he returns but we have our doubts; it’s a big world out there for a frog.

the day he was gone i found a nickel on the stepping stones to the pond.  since we are the only ones in our backyard and rarely carry any change – or real money for that matter – it was a wonder to see this nickel sitting on the flat rock, waiting to be discovered.  it’s not a regular nickel.  it seems to be made of copper and is not exactly the same size as a nickel.  naturally, thinking it would, of course, have the same value as a gold doubloon, i googled it and spent some time learning about planchets and copper and the metal composition percentages of coins, things i didn’t know.

i giggled while googling as i thought of my dad, who would have done the same diligent research, always curious.  and then i realized that the nickel appeared the day that marked his leaving this earth eight years ago.  i talked to him a bit, questioning him:  if he was going to leave a coin out for me to find, or convince a frog to leave a coin, why wouldn’t it be one of those gold doubloons i always tease about finding in the walls of our old house or maybe a 1913 liberty head nickel, which i have learned is worth in the neighborhood of several million dollars.  but no –  instead it’s just a curious nickel; i could hear him chuckling.

pando.  the nickel.  both curiosities.  both a little bit of wondrous.  maybe that’s the whole point.  to notice the little bits of wondrous.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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those ferns. [two artists tuesday]

ferns

the ferns make me think of sally; the day we pushed the wheelbarrow up and down third avenue back and forth to her house – over and over – loaded with hosta, ferns, daylilies.  the sweet-smelling peonies make me think of linda, digging in the dirt of our gardens, planting, weeding, helping to shape the space.  the grass makes me think of russ and marykay, again, a day of wheelbarrowing, again third avenue, but due north instead of south, over and over.  we dug the pond with big help from ted and monica and a bevy of friends at our ‘big dig’ party.  we sustain the pond with words of wisdom from jay and charlie.  we build bonfires in a firepit from jen and brad and we watch lettuce grow in wooden planters from 20.  we just added hosta from daena’s mother-in-law-to-be; dan and gay delivered them.  it has taken a small village to plant our garden.

it is not without luck that these have grown well.  dogdog has done his best to try and decimate the yard and My Girl worked long hot hours last summer pulling weeds any rainforest would be proud of; our stay on island and not in our backyard encouraged strong holding-on-not-letting-go weeds of great substance, but the girl prevailed over them.

we didn’t hire a garden center to ‘do’ our yard.  it’s not too planned; it’s definitely not too fancy.  it is a place of sanctuary, though.  a place, created with so many people we love.  a place where – in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of the heart-wrenching chaos in this country, in the middle of economic worry for so many, in the middle of fear of more divisiveness and even less thoughtful leadership – we can sit in broken adirondack chairs on the patio or on the edge of the deck, arms wrapped around our knees, listening to the fountain, the birds, the wind in the trees.

the sun warms.  and we wait to hear the croaking of the pond-frog who magically appeared just a few days ago.

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live in clover. [two artists tuesday]

clover

“to live a life in clover:  to live a life of ease, comfort or prosperity”

the clover on the side of the trail was huge and bountiful green.  we look for the bunnies and wonder who is lucky enough to be nibbling these leaves.  we ask each other – which clover is sweeter:  small-leafed clover or large-leafed clover? we make up the answer and walk on, leaving the field of green, satisfied our clover-knowledge is adequate for the time-being.

we pass the lake, overflowing its banks onto the trail, muddy at our feet and steel-grey-blue out in its depths.  goslings follow obediently behind their parents, the beaver makes a rare appearance, cranes soar overhead, fish jump.  we stand and watch for a few minutes, quietly taking in the field of water, our breathing slowing.

we walk through woods, verdant green peeking out from every brown corner, the field of the grey bark of trees, oldest, youngest, all climbing to the light.  frogs echo from the swampy ponds off the path.  we relish the silence.

past the cut-down fields of corn, brown, the dirt lays barren but for old stalks laying amid the former rows.  we walk and talk about farmers and crops plowed under and whether there will be planting again in these fields, brown now and corn-green later.

and we know, as we walk, that, despite it all – circumstances of abundance, circumstances of lack – we are lucky.  we are walking.  we are breathing.

we will walk in verdant green and blue-water and grey-bark-trees and brown waiting-fields.  we will walk in rich fields, all golden with life.

truth be told, we are living in clover.

“but I swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold
we’ll walk in fields of gold” (sting)

 

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why? [two artists tuesday]

even nature is asking why

i have asked more than one person if they feel as i do – like they are living in an alternate reality.

from the moment i broke both my wrists to now, the smack-dab middle of the pandemic, it has felt that way – like we are in some kind of alternate reality.  a reality with different rules.  a different set of mores.  different judgment.  why?

when i used to be a minister of music, way-back-when in florida over 30 years ago, i worked with a wonderfully-southern georgia tech pastor, kirk.  we had a long tenure together and implicitly relied on each other.  at a distinct point in time, he decided to turn over all the wedding rehearsals to me.  i remember the moment of that decision, the moment he sighed, exasperated at the disrespectful lack of regard for simple guidelines.

the rehearsal ahead of time went well.  we lined up the wedding party and they walked up the aisle to their chosen music, went through the faked vows and such and then walked back down the aisle.  kirk, in his treasured drawl, slowly reiterated the guidelines to them about the next day – their wedding day.  the guidelines were common sense:  reminders about what to do or not do and how to be sure that this very-important-day would escape judgment by the perspective-of-time years later.

they did not heed his advice.

instead, the groom showed up inebriated, as did the videographer.

the groom stumbled multiple times over his vows, and, literally being held up by the bride, finally punted out, “forever and ever, till we die” in lieu of the more delicate loving words of the standard vow.  the videographer vaulted over the stationary communion rail in the front of the sanctuary and sprinted to the back of the church in an effort to beat the wedding party there and film their exit.  it was a circus.  i wonder how they view all that now, decades later, with judgment-as-it-passes-through-the years.  did it stand the test of time?  i wonder if they ask, ‘why?’

we are living this now.

we have a choice.

to decide to prevail by the pandemic safety guidelines and be able to look back with clear consciences, knowing we did all we could to heed advice, or to throw caution to the wind and see what happens.

looking around, watching as people react and push back against this very-important-time, i suspect judgment will not be on our side; it will not stand the test of time.

and years from now, we will ask – why?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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relics. [two artists tuesday]

stop sign quarter

we stopped there every time we rode our bikes past on the way to the beach or the harbor.  north shore outdoor recreation center & school of skindiving was a shop downtown east northport, a couple blocks from the railroad tracks and across the street from the old auto parts store.  our high school biology teacher jim owned it and we’d stop in and visit, looking around at gear and flirting with the just-slightly-older-than-us-guys who worked there.

when i was 17 i started working there after school and on weekends.  i’d do office work, the newsletter, and sell scuba, archery and other outdoor-related sporting equipment.  the fill tank, a pool of water in which oxygen tanks are immersed in order to fill them for use while diving, was just outside the office and i can’t tell you how many times i ended up sitting in it.  until i got smart and carried extra clothes to work with me in the car,  i had to drive home to change, sopping wet and glorying in it.   i was the only girl there and these boys were brutal teasers.

the basement of the shop was formidable, dungeon-like; at the top of the stairs were a sliding chain lock and the light switch.  the gestetner machine (a copy machine that invariably spewed purple stuff all over you during use) was in that basement which meant i spent some good time down there wrangling this obstinate office contraption.  from way down in the depths of this concrete cavern, i could hear the chain sliding and the click of the light switch, leaving me in the dark to feel my way back up the steps and stand at the door, pounding to be released from yet another prank.  yes, brutal stuff.

crunch was in charge which left jimmy and ollie and i under his thumb.  much more a rule-follower, crunch was a task-master and was the one who turned down the blasting stereo of ‘heart’ singing ‘barracuda’ in the workroom.  he wagged his fingers at us to sweep or organize regulators, but he was right-in-there, shortchanging me with the growing-boy deli orders they sent me on, leaving notes on my little vw about town-noon-whistle-blowing-timeliness, not setting me free from the front sidewalk window when i, during christmas-eve-day last-minute-shopping-hours, dressed as an elf and, coerced to fix something in our christmas display, was locked in, forcing me to grin and bear it and stand with plastic-santa, waving at people walking by and the crowd that gathered at the auto parts store.  but we all did good work together, the dives were organized, people had the right gear and the shop was a place customers loved to come and linger in.

an older italian couple lived above the shop and luigi was not as loud as his wife.  without the benefit of air conditioning, the windows and lack of thick insulation in the walls made it easy for us to hear her rapid-fire italian admonishments of her husband, always punctuated by a shrill “luigi!”  in our first-hand innocence of marriage-challenges we’d voice, “poor luigi.”  i don’t think i ever knew his wife’s name.  i wonder about their lives.  where did they go?  their rows weren’t nearly as loud as ‘barracuda’ or the sounds of boisterous laughter coming from the back storage/workroom of the shop.  they were simply a part of the story, a part of the history of that place, a sound-artifact i can still hear.

during one of his college classes, crunch, who ended up one of my very best friends, for a psych class project, decided to glue a a few coins onto the sidewalk out front and hide in the tent displayed in the front window, capturing passersby reactions to money-for-free.  they always went for the quarter and it was predictable how earnestly they would try to pry this off this sidewalk, invariably stopping to rub at their fingertips, digging in backpacks or purses for pens or keys to pry with.  nevertheless, the superglue held and the coins remained on the sidewalk for a long time to come.  i don’t know when they finally disappeared.

for those of us who actually think coins count as money, it’s natural to stop and pick up coins when you see them, the whole find-a-penny-pick-it-up-thing.  the little jar at home fills up and is, surprisingly, a good sum of money when it’s up to the tippy-top.  so when we passed the two pennies in the UPS parking lot, david bent down to pick them up.  one heads-up, one tails-up.  i immediately yelled, “no!  don’t touch them!”  it was the very beginning of the pandemic and touching ANYthing without sanitizer nearby was a formidable act.  it was too late; david had picked them up.  so he brought them over to the sidewalk by the UPS store and laid them on the window ledge.  i wonder if they are still there.

the quarter was on the trail when we were hiking last week.  it made me stop; it’s a quarter, after all!  i looked at david, pondered, then shrugged, and, against every reflex, left it there and hiked on.  the not-picking-up-free-money-guilt set in but not enough to break the don’t-touch-it-pandemic-rule.  i wonder if it is still there.

in this time of so-much-change and the use of so-much-technology, i find myself thinking of those times, over four decades ago now, when things seemed simpler.  coins counted, ink-laden-copy-machines slowed us down.  i think about the relics that were left behind.

and i wonder, forty years from now, when i am 101, what will those relics from this time, this time of pandemic sweeping our world, look like?  what will they be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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pear on wine bottle. [two artists tuesday]

pear on wine bottle

because one can only lament so much about the current divisive atmosphere.  and then it need cease.  at least for a moment.  for a breath.

we look around for randomness – arbitrary, non-thinking imagery, things that will effect little to no rise in blood pressure, little to no anxiety, no hot flash.

today, this image is ‘pear on wine bottle’, a still life depicting the ingredients of a 5pm cocktail hour.  the time of day when maybe the pressures of the day are easing up a bit or the weariness of the day is catching up.  a time of a deep breath, a long walk, an old-fashioned or sliced pear and a glass of red wine.

we are fortunate to have these moments at the end of the day when we can take a step back, sit in broken adirondack chairs on our patio and watch dogdog run circles around his roundabout sign in the garden.

we wonder, like you, when we can gather together again.  we sigh, not knowing.

when the waning sun warms our faces out back this day, we will tip our glasses to each of you, sending you love, good health and a breath of peace.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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contrail pondering. [two artists tuesday]

contrail

on island we rarely heard airplanes overhead.  if we did, they were small cessnas and pipers, low-wing and high-wing single engine airplanes, buzzing over the shoreline heading for the small grass strip airport.  otherwise, it was quiet. very.

lately, here, we have noticed that it is quieter than normal.  we are in what is generally an approach for the milwaukee airport and we often see airplanes overhead heading north or airplanes coming across the lake in line for o’hare, south of us.  it seems more of a rarity now to hear a jet overhead.  it makes us pay attention.  it makes us look up.  it makes us ponder.

we wonder where it is coming from, where its final destination.  we wonder how many passengers are on board.  in these times of no-travel, the contrail seems a contradiction of this time, a plane leaving its mark on the day.

in my previous life i had some time at the controls of both small airplanes and helicopters.  the jargon was language i was accustomed to.  there are languages of career.  we all have them, words, expressions, theories specific to our chosen work; we learn our spouse’s language, even just enough to understand just enough.

i’m better at the controls than in the passenger seat of a small airplane; motion sickness rules less if you are ‘driving’.  i never got near the point of solo-ing on any flying machine.  there was much to learn in ground school and hours rented on an airplane or a helicopter were expensive for an already-stretched budget.  but, stick in hand, flying a helicopter over the woods of new hampshire while employed at an aviation college there, brilliant new england fall colors beneath us, i could see how the flying-bug could bite.

and now it is quiet.  a few moments ago, while writing this, a jet flew overhead.  i stopped typing to pay attention and looked out the window.  i wondered:  where is that plane going?  who is on that plane?  do they feel safe?  are they wearing masks?  did they turn their blower off?  are they sitting six feet apart?

and i pondered:  what state might that plane be flying here from?  what are the covid-19-numbers in that state?  are people staying safe-at-home?  are there protests in that state, people who are placing everyone in their ever-widening concentric circles at risk for contagion?  are there people who are laissez-faire-individualizing this global-everyone-is-affected-pandemic, rejecting commonsense social distancing and simple respectful preventative measures? are there people making homemade masks, like here, because there isn’t enough PPE to go around?  are they wondering why the federal government of fifty states and five territories is hostage-taking necessary supplies, pitting governors against each other, encouraging a competition for lifesaving devices, blaspheming good works, eliminating knowledgeable workers, warping what is important vs not important, encouraging bracing and dangerous practices?  are they shocked and dismayed at the ever-widening inequity, the gross partisanship?  are they stunned into disbelief at the absolute lack of sane and measured leadership?  are they embarrassed and profoundly saddened?

and i wondered:  when will we go on an airplane next?  where will we go? when will we feel safe?  will everyone wear a mask?  will everyone sit six feet apart?

and i thought, as we are apt to do after-the-fact:  i should have gotten my pilot’s license.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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