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the path back is the path forward


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but there’s this. hope. [k.s. friday]

hope

ella jones said that it’s a time to “have courageous conversations.”  she is the first black mayor of ferguson, missouri and, as i listened to her speak, i wrote down these words.

have courageous conversations.

senator lisa murkowski, a republican from alaska, said, “perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”  i read her words, thought “it’s about damn time!” and took a screenshot.

the courage of our own convictions to speak up.

former president barack obama addressed a virtual town hall.  “every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable,” he reassured a trembling nation.  i looked for these words so that i could remember them.

the expression of our deepest ideals.  uncomfortable.

as we all sit together, walk together, protest together, cry together, we are talking together.  in the last ten days of enlightenment, our conversations are asking necessary questions.  we are desperately seeking to reach way down inside and to be honest about what we are feeling.  we are intentionally trying to learn, to discern, to understand.  we are debating.  we are arguing.  we are admitting we are wrong.  we are listening.  we are uncomfortable and we are courageous.

yet donald trump tweeted a letter, in a clear display of vehement agreement with the writer who penned it, his attorney, that refers to the peaceful protestors as “terrorists”.

but there’s this:  “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

and there’s hope.  absolute hope.  we can’t un-know what we know, un-see what we have seen, un-hear what we have heard, un-change what has changed, un-understand what we are beginning to, yearning to, understand, or un-hope for hope.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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HOPE ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“voter freud” [flawed wednesday]

voter freud

my sweet momma taught me to use a dictionary when i was very young.  “look it up,” she would tell me.  the dictionary held an esteemed place in our house.  if i didn’t know what ‘it’ meant or how ‘it’ was spelled, i knew where to go.  i developed a love for dictionaries, thesauruses, all manners of the tools of research.

now, it seems dictionaries have lost their status and spellcheck has become a way of life for those too lazy to ‘look it up’.  spellcheck has a few obvious limitations; context, usage and intent presenting the biggest challenges.  if only spellcheck and auto-correct could reach out of the device screen and (gently) slap the person committing the spellingcrime, life’s communications could be better understood.  punctuation joins the game of laziness and, i must say, punctuation makes a difference.  consider “i’m sorry i love you” or “i’m sorry.  i love you.”  there is a marked difference.

so when people, who never graced me, the nerdy-look-it-up-type, with even one word in high school but who have ‘friended’ me on facebook, post multiple nonsensical, poorly articulated and division-inciting arguments using the term “voter Freud”, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.  i want to post back “look it up!” but i refrain.  borrowing leonard pitts’ words, there seems to be a “matchless capacity for mental mediocrity” in the united states these days.

i suspect if this not-really-a-friend-just-a-friend-on-facebook was standing across from me (mind you, at least six feet across) she would be screaming at me in a loud raucous voice.  i wonder if she would call it – this thing she has taken from fox news and run full speed with, never looking to see if she had a spotter or even a bottle of water in her full-out sprint to falsificationland – “voter Freud” in person.  or would she actually say “voter fraud” in her zeal to make me a believer of her layered cake of conspiracies.

this is not just about lazy writing.  this seems an indicator of a bigger problem.  it’s the metaphoric tip of the iceberg.  i’m not just kvetching about spelling and punctuation, much as i wish that were the whole problem.  it’s an imploring plea to ask questions.  in today’s deep-fake world, a reminder to not make quick assumptions.  to not jump onto a band wagon stoked with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to quell those speaking out, enable dictatorial nationalism, silence what needs to be said.

in this pandemic-laden-chaos-wreaked-leaderless-divisive country of ours i would encourage research.  i would encourage fact-checking.  i would encourage dictionaries.  i would encourage more listening and less reactionism.  i would hope that each of us would understand that every word we utter, every word we write matters, every attitude, every nuance.  we are not in a world of one; we each affect and effect the next.  over and over.

and i don’t know.  last time i checked, john glenn high school in elwood, new york – more than four decades ago – had pretty high standards in english class, in sciences, in history, in math, not the least learning of which was how to use deductive reasoning.  i, for one, was paying attention.  because it mattered.  “voter Freud?”  indeed.  it still matters.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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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.

read DAVID’s post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

read DAVID’s post this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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with to without. [k.s. friday]

in a split second

it was but a mere second – nigh unto 4:30 in the morning – when my sweet poppo was on this planet and then wasn’t.

i said a wee-hours-goodnight to him, propped in a hospital bed at home in their house.  he whispered back to me.  i tried desperately to memorize his face, the love in his eyes.

and before the birds woke up in the morning, that morning eight years ago yesterday, i went from with to without.

three years later, we left my sweet momma sitting on the edge of her assisted-living-bed, grasping onto the blue-notebook-that-documented-their-moments-in-europe, her expression dancing with excitement, waving to us.  i tried desperately to memorize her face, the love in her eyes.

it wasn’t but a couple weeks later, on the road back again to florida, around the time the sun is highest in the sky, i went from with to without.

suddenly, i was orphaned.  suddenly i was without the two people who gave me life.  suddenly i was without the two people who could answer any question i had about my growing up.  suddenly – in a split second – nothing was the same.

100,000 families.  in the past few months, due to the global pandemic decimating our country, 100,000 families have desperately tried to memorize a loved one’s face.  they have held tightly to the memory of love shining in their beloved’s eyes.  they have moved from one split second into the next.  with to without.

and last night, on the solemn occasion of this number passing from 99,999 to over 100,000 – that one second – one person- one life – one with to without – i expected, foolishly, that something would change.  that there would be gut-wrenching acknowledgement.  that there would be communal nation-wide mourning led by the person in the highest seat in the land.  that there would be kind, generous, thoughtful words spoken, grief-filled heart-soaked empathy for all that the withs-to-withouts have gone through.

and nothing.

we need remember.  all of it.  these are our split seconds.

”…in a split second, our lives can turn around…”

they have.  they continue to.

this is real.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IN A SPLIT SECOND from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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triad-ic coping. [d.r. thursday]

IMG_4607

the aarp article addressed ‘dyadic coping’, in brief, the way a couple together handles the stress reaction of the other spouse.  the edition is dedicated to the pandemic so this bit of writing is not a surprise.

in my rant yesterday about every-little-thing david very calmly started to talk about a plan – ways that i can lower my level of anxiety, ways that i can process without taking it into my body.  ugh.  i just wanted to rant.  for a little bit of time.  his let’s-solve-for-this guy approach was lovely dyadic-ly, but made me want to roll my eyes.  letting off steam, regardless of the lack of any linear thought, is helpful.  five minutes later i felt better.  nothing was solved, stress still existed, but i could breathe better and move on to the next thing until the next time.

these are somewhat sleepless nights.  even if i drift off after our mountain-climbing adventure of late night fare, i awaken.  and, like you, i suspect, i start to think.  everything from wondering when i will see my children to finances to work to why the kitchen sink is draining slowly filters through my brain.  although i would definitely label david more daytime singularly focused, my obsession is in the middle of the night with angst.  serenity is elusive.

perhaps this painting is so very appealing to me because of the quietude.  the surrender to rest, beloved pets conceding to the gravity pull of being together, of repose.  an eyes-closed moment.  triad-ic coping.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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mouths shut. mouths aloud. [flawed wednesday]

keep yo mouth shut

“and if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all,” my sweet momma would admonish.

yes, sometimes ‘you just gotta button it up’.  there are those moments you know it.  there are also those moments you knew it but the cat did not have your tongue and the reactionary in you reared its ugly head and you spat out something you instantly regretted.

wisdom has been passed down in quiet steadfast sages.  their lessons have been lost on many; their diplomacy skipped in dna strands, oft replaced by quick tempers and faster tongues.

as jen would say, “you can’t un-say/un-see/un-know it.”  good to remember.

one day, back in college, i had the good fortune of eating lunch with paul simon.  the chitchat was about many things under the sun, but i wish i had asked him a bit more about this song.  he said that in the inability of people to communicate, no one was listening to him and no one was listening to anyone else.  as we passed by captain mike’s and the irish pub and the beach and downtown a couple days ago, i thought he clearly wrote this song about now, the middle of this global pandemic.  who is listening?  who is speaking?  who should be speaking?  who should be listening?  why is the silence – truly in the middle of so much noise – so deafening?

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
i wonder about a world where no one is listening, no one is paying attention.  i wonder
what kind of world are we passing on to those behind us?  keeping quiet, speaking out, exercising verbal self-control, standing up, articulating for what is right in the face of adversity….
me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
it’s not that we don’t care
we just know that the fight ain’t fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
and we know that sometimes it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.  to wait.  sometimes it is the right thing to do.  sometimes it is the only way through to the other side.
now you say it best when you say nothing at all.
silence speaks louder than words.  silence is, indeed, often golden.  insight, compassion, discernment, respect, knowledge, empathy, listening – all golden qualities of those who choose their words wisely, those who know when to keep their mouth shut.
archie bunker, of ‘all in the family‘ fame, knew he had a big mouth.  it got him good ratings, but carrol o’connor, the actor who played archie, said this about the main character:
“Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him.  He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort.  He isn’t a totally evil man.  He’s shrewd.  But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it.  That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.”
 

wow.  why does THAT sound so familiar?

oh, did i say that aloud?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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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)

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“tired.” [merely-a-thought monday]

tired

bone-weary.

we just read/watched the new york times interactive article from may 24 called ‘an incalculable loss’.  tiny people on the screen of our laptop, nearly 100,000 lives were represented – deaths from march 8.  the visual is mind-boggling, staggering really.

100,000

bone-weary.

we paused at every descriptor on the screen for people who had died.  a man who loved to wear suspenders.  a woman who always smiled.  a composer.  a mother of six boys.  every one of them with lives and circles – concentric circles reaching out and out and out.

one hundred thousand

bone-weary.

of the excuses, the justifications.  the inadequacy.  the gross miscalculations.  the ignorance.  the comparisons to the flu, car accidents, natural attrition.  the opening-up push-for-the-purposes-of-an-election despite the fact that whole-cities-numbers of people (PEOPLE) are dying in short order.

a city of 100,000

bone-weary.  of the division, the based-on-nothing arguments, the dangerous political game-playing, the i-don’t-wanna-wear-a-mask-so-i-won’t whining, the inability of those “in charge” to focus, the heinous lack of regard for truth, the gross name-calling, disrespect and distraction from the president’s mouth, the dogged inaction of that same office to quell the spread, to actually even the playing ground for all and address the real issues, the zealousness of those who have his nationalistic vision in their rose-colored glasses of divisiveness, of inequity, of apathy.

goodmornings and goodnights

bone-weary.

these are lives.  people who never expected in march to not be here on memorial day to recognize and honor the fallen, those who actually have protected us.  oh, you say from-the-‘other-side’, that’s everyone – no one has any guarantees on life, you argue.  ahh.  but we can expect that we live in a place that has our best interests at heart.  that we live in a country that will do all that it can, with all of its armor of knowledge and research and its vast fortunes, to protect us all – every one of us – from something like this – a mere global pandemic.

i write to both My Girl and My Boy every night to say good night.  i have since the day they left for college.  that’s about 4,380 times for my daughter and 3,285 times for my son. i’m quite certain that they have rolled their eyes multiple times along the way.  but the idea that these 100,000 people no longer have the option of loving their child – or anyone they care about – with a nightly goodnight wish stuns and breaks my heart.  this could have been different.

100,000

bone-weary.

we passed the park down by the beach yesterday.  we passed by the marina.  we passed the irish pub.  we passed by the bar with wide open doors, people spilling out onto sidewalk seating.  we counted four masks.  in all those people, all those crowds, all that bustling humanity – up-close-and-personal-no-social-distancing – only four masks.  this is one of the very towns – kenosha, wisconsin – used as an example of a whole city wiped out to illustrate the number 100,000.  it makes me tired.

bone-weary.

“you keep thinking people are going to wake up, but they never do,” said a friend yesterday.

bone-weary.

tired and disheartened.  alive, wide-awake and pissed.

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

read NY Times article AN INCALCULABLE LOSS

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