reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“don’t grow up. it’s a trap.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dontgrowup

grown-up (adj):  1. not childish or immature 2. of, for, or characteristic of adults.ie:  insisted on wearing grown-up clothes.  grown-up (noun):  adult.

(according to miriam-webster)

there are perils.  adulthood is full of them.  frequently searching, searching, looking for sense, seeking our meaning, evaluating ourselves, measuring, bettering, struggling, comparing, falling short.  so many opportunities for falling short.

i suppose that life is somewhat like an experiment.  but by the time you get to writing the lab report, it is unclear what the hypothesis was; there have been so many tangents the original purpose is muddied by much emotional research.  the sheer volume of subjective data falls under too many objective categories to make it all absolute, to make it all clear.  adulthood: not childish – is a certain definition in the dictionary.  adulthood: not childlike – is certainly a sad story.

“you are enough,” i’ve seen, written as quick success-signage, a succinct unembellished positive.

yet, the path is never really certain.  it is fraught with all the dr.seuss-monsters imaginable.  but in the midst of all that, in the vortex of all the searching and figuring out and listening and learning and choosing and getting lost and finding and hiding and being seen, standing still and watching a butterfly open and close its wings, tracking a caterpillar’s journey across a dirt path, tracing clouds in the sky, sharing a seesaw, chalking a driveway all take on exponential meaning.  this moment.  this hug.  this breath.

lilah splashes in her blow-up pool, nestled in lush grass in the shade of graceful birch trees, in the warmth of a steamy summer day, surrounded by adoring parents, grandparents, friends.  she is in her delight.  a wise and untrapped seven-months old.

we each slow down and watch her hug the moment she is in.  her day is full of these snippets of time, each a minute of her tiny life-so-far.  unconcerned about the experiment of growing-up ahead, sweet lilah reflects back a universe of “you are enough” to us.  if you look in her eyes, you will see what love is, what hope is, what living is.

someone said, “life is hard and then you die.”  maybe that person was just too grown-up.

i guess growin’ isn’t hard to do, just stand against the wall.
once i was just two feet high;
today i’m six feet tall.
but knowin’ who to listen to, is somethin’ else again.
words just whistle around my head,
like seasons in the wind.
all across the water the clouds are sailin’.
they won’t let me look at the sky.
all I want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
in searchin’ for the way to go, i’ve followed all the rules:
the way they say to choose between the wise men and the fools.
i listened to the words they say;
i read what i should read.
i do whatever’s right to do,
try to be what i should be.
someone let me in i think the sky is falling;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
but wisdom isn’t underground, nor on a mountainside.
where am i to take myself?  there’s no place here to hide. where can i hide?
all across the universe the stars are fadin’;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself.
come and let me look in your eyes.
come and let me look in your eyes
come and let me look in your eyes.

 

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

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a long while. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you

a long while.

since last i saw you. and you. and you. it is dizzying. the yous and the longwhiles.

it makes me want an RV, updated map apps and a little bit of time.

i’m finding myself talking to people these days – people who have gone on to different planes of existence like my sweet momma or my poppo.  i ask them advice.  i tell them tales of the day.  i bemoan the challenges of our world with them; i wonder with them.

twenty-eight years ago today my big brother crossed over.  the transition of here to there is something of great ponderance for human beings.  we don’t know.  we profess to knowing, but we hardly know.  we only know what it feels like to be left behind, missing and yearning.  i will forever-and-ever yearn to be within embracing distance of my parents, my brother, and loved ones who have no tangible form but whose silken threads-of-being are eternally wrapped around me, always reminding me.

it’s like that for people still here on this very planet, people who we have not seen, people who we pine about when last we saw them.

truth be told, i spent the last couple of days in tears.  not slow-motion-tears that quietly weep down my face.  but the kind of tears where your ribs and your back hurt the next day; the kind of tears that swell your eyelids and make mascara application undoable.  the kind of tears that remind you how much you love someone and how much you miss them.  for me, this time, this was about my children.  it’s impossible to really explain what this missing feels like.  i can say it is wrapped up in the act of breathing, in every aspect of living a day, in the darkening of light.

the pandemic has brought exponential pain to people in our world.  suffering its disease, we worry about those who have been diagnosed, we grieve those who have succumbed to its ugliness, we wrangle with the illogical, implausible, grossly inadequate response of our land.  we are floored at those who are picking fights over this monster that is on a path of destruction which has unfathomable fallout.  we cannot understand the division and the planting of flags-of-the-ridiculous when peoples’ very health and lives are at stake; what truly matters more than that? it’s insanity: how can so many people be so lost? we try to sustain good attitudes and do the right thing.  we try to protect each other.  we try to avoid being a reason that this pandemic is spreading.  and we miss everyone we love in the process.

we wonder:  when?  when will “last” be now?  when will we see you?

and we hope, with great desperation, that it is not a long while.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LAST I SAW YOU ©️ 1997, 1999 & 2000 kerri sherwood


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the wisp. [d.r. thursday]

KDOT Underpainting

david’s underpainting of One Chord Ahead

no instructions.  no gps.  no map.  no paint-by-number numbers.  no light-up-the-keys guidance.  nothing.

from here to there.  blank to image.  silence to sound.  from nothing to color, timbre, tone.

we begin with maybe a wisp of an idea, maybe something dancing in our mind’s eye, something teasing us, encouraging us, perhaps goading us, “start it.”  artists choose whether or not to follow the spur.

i know there are times i don’t listen.  i ignore the sweet pining of the piano, a soft, nagging voice from the studio.  sometimes it is just impossible.  impossible to answer.  instead, scoffing at the mere suggestion, i walk the other way.  i find something that seems more constructive, that has a tangible reward, that doesn’t necessarily feed my heart but where i can actually see what effect finishing “it” has.  it’s a product of a culture that does not financially reward artistry.  despite an immediate synchronized turn to the arts for comfort in times of struggle and need, when you google “how hard is it to make a living as an artist?” this is what you find:

“Making a living as an artist is hard to do. Making art is hard to do. There are lots of limitations. But limitation is an important tool in the creative process so you can use the fact that it’s hard to your advantage.”

riiiight.

i have a very few experiences painting.  the times i chose to paint were absolute – a call and a response.  i had no second guesses, no real concern for the finished product, no worry about how these pieces of art – outside of my own medium – would support me.

i suspect my piano was insanely jealous…there i was, in the basement, wildly throwing paint, when all it asked me to do was stand by its side and “start”.  there i was, in the basement, feeling, when all it asked me to do was breathe all i felt through it once again.  there i was, in the basement making art, while it sat silently imploring me to make art.

i can hear it calling.  i know i’ll someday listen.  but first.  first i must see the wisp of meaning.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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where do we go from here? [d.r. thursday]

IMG_4630

“where do we go?  where do we go?  where do we go from here?”

an empty canvas.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, davidrobinson?

sheet music clean

an empty staff.  a roadtrip with no predetermined destination.  where do you go from here, kerrisherwood?

artists’ journeys, rife with intersections, foist decision-making upon us in our quest to create.  simply starting is sometimes an uphill challenge.  the questions are never easily answered.  the value of what we are doing is never really clear.  or is it – the value assigned to what we are doing is never really clear?

journey synonyms according to google: travel, leg, trek, ride, jaunt, expedition, drive, outing, mush, passage, junket, long haul, circuit, schlep/shlep, digression, transit, pilgrimage, excursion, sashay, traveling, tour, pleasure trip, odyssey, trip. 

i think schlep about covers it.

where do we go from here?

we have a daily decision, a choice to “begin anywhere” (john cage) and speak to the world around us and what we see through artists’ eyes.  we write, we paint, we compose.  we either create or we step away from the canvas, the staff paper, the qwerty keyboard.  we know that nothing we do will change the world.  we know that everything we do, like you, will change the world.

where do we go from here?

last night anderson cooper’s chyron read, “meanwhile, back in the real world.”  the real world.  a world fraught with chaos, trembling with the fever of a pandemic and the disease of racism.  we, as people, turn to the sages of old for words of wisdom.  we turn to art for honest displays of emotion.  we turn to music for expressions of pain and hope, grief, despair, love, action, change, fear, questions.

questions like – where do we go from here?

Every day just gets a little shorter, don’t you think?
Take a look around you and you’ll see just what I mean
People got to come together, not just out of fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

Try to find a better place but soon it’s all the same
What once you thought was a paradise is not just what it seemed
The more I look around, I find, the more I have to fear

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

I know it’s hard for you to
Change your way of life
I know it’s hard for you to do
The world is full of people
Dying to be free
So if you don’t, my friend
There’s no life for you
No world for me

Let’s all get together soon, before it is too late
Forget about the past and let your feelings fade away
If you do I’m sure you’ll see, the end is not yet near

Where do we go
Where do we go
Where do we go from here?

(peter cetera, chicago – where do we go from here?) 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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co-exist. [d.r. thursday]

marc chagall quote

at a time when i couldn’t afford paint and knew nothing about painting, i painted.  i was drawn to big canvasses and the household cans of black and white paint in the basement workroom.  there were housepaint brushes on the workbench, many with twisted brushhairs and dried wall paint from previous projects on the handles.  they felt good in my hand.  i didn’t know what i was doing, but i was compelled to do it.

and so, my paintings are black and white.  layers of white on black and black on white and white on black on white and black on white on black.  i brushed on paint; i stood back and spattered paint.  i kept going until i felt “stop”.  when i ran out of canvas i taped off a rectangle, ventured out with the leftover from a can of khaki interior paint, and painted on the wall, later framing the box with a clearance frame, broken but not obviously so.

in that time of a compelling need to paint, to preserve emotion-in-black-and-white-on-a-canvas, i wonder what my paintings would have looked like had i access to all the colors in between?  where would i have gone with mountain meadow green or razzle dazzle rose or canary or cornflower or atomic tangerine or fuzzy wuzzy brown?

anyone who has merely stood outside and looked up at the sky knows that the colors of life are as transient as breath.  they morph and change in the moments that go by.  capturing color is like capturing the wind.  one cannot see color without light reflections, refractions, wavelengths, shadow, absorption.  they work together so we might see the twilight sky, rainbows and unicorn horns.

is black black without white?  is white white without black?  is cerulean blue without scarlet?  is any spectrum complete without all others in the band of light, without all the wavelengths?  any spectrum at all?

do we actually realize that none can exist without the other?

“all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” (marc chagall)

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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batting averages and painting. [d.r. thursday]

the story of a miss

ty cobb’s career batting average over 24 seasons was .366.  this is the number of hits divided by the number of at-bats.  i know that is an extraordinary batting average and yet my math-brain looks at that and thinks, “wow.  that’s shy of 37%!  only 37%!”  what if only 37% of my recordings were complete?  or 37% of dinners cooked all the way?  or 37% of the work for our employers done?  or 37% chance of wearing appropriate clothing outside our home?  disregarding the possibility of grading on a curve, my school-brain thinks, “37% does not look like an A!”  so when david went on about how his painting has been a miss, i thought, “well heck! you need to lower the bar a bit!”

artists are harsh.  we are generally not self-congratulatory, although there is definitely a percentage that defies that.  we have a vision of where a project is going and we will jump at the chance for perfecting it every time.  there is a point when you know; the time has come to stop, start over, wipe clean the slate.  (pfffft – can you hear lifting up the cellophane on those cool vintage magic slates made of cardboard and equipped with a plastic stylus?)  david walks away from the easel, huffing.  i walk away from the piano, sighing.  the muse has left the room before us.  at least that is what we invariably think, when it’s our own work.

and yet, it’s so often the case that i will stare at his work, downstairs on the easel and think, “wait!  stop!  don’t do ANYthing!  it’s perfect!”  but it’s his project and his creation and he fought with the vision he had in his head.  they disagreed; they went to battle and the easel reigned supreme time and again as he walked away, disgruntled.

for me, the third iteration of this painting (see above) is the moment.  he could have stopped right there and i would have loved it.  it had a dreamy,  surreal quality to it.  it was graceful and lovely.  i’d say at the very least a .375.  ty would be proud.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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lost. [d.r. thursday]

Peri Winkle Square copy

lost.

in these times.  the emotional upheaval is exhausting.  worry is the crux of insomnia.  we measure every step, every decision.  we look to each other for reassurance, for a fast-receding touch of normalcy.  we feel…lost.

in these times.   we remember other times we felt this way.  other times of confusion and fear, of social responsibility and adherence to new rules, new realities.  too many calamities to name, it seems.  too many times…lost.

this little book Peri Winkle Rabbit Was Lost was the product of such a time, as david created it – a one-of-a-kind – in response for a call for a children’s book that addressed the tragic hurricane katrina, a book given to children that offered empathy for the plight in which they were standing, their lost.

we, as artists, do what we can to offer comfort, to bring a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

we, as people, look to the arts for a little solace, a moment of breathing, a slice of hope in darkness, a tiny map in lost-ness.

in these times.  standing in the darkness with each of you.  maybe together we will not feel as lost.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 4.09.09 PM

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PERI WINKLE RABBIT WAS LOST ©️ 2005 david robinson

 

 

 

 


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you be you. [two artists tuesday]

you be you bus

we were watching out the window.  a balmy 35 degree chicago late afternoon and we were waiting  for The Boy to get home from work.  the bus went by touting an ad for one of the universities.  “you be you,” it read.

i personally cannot think of two people more dedicated to being themselves than my children so this post is in honor of their fierce ‘being you-ness’.  it is celebrating their ever-continuing search for who that is and their ability to both stand in and walk through the fire of growth.  it is lifting up their spirits of adventure and knowledge of what’s important.  it is acknowledging that they often walk outside what would be comfortable or secure for others, confident that they are finding their way in the space beyond the edges.  it is reveling in their zeal.  i am infinitely proud of them.  my beloved children.

you be you. indeed.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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laugh. [k.s. friday]

creativity is not always a serious thing.  songwriting isn’t always serious.  today we offer you the attempt we made on washington island to record our brilliant and profound song SITTING HERE IN THE SUN.  we understand, with 7 takes, if you can’t bear to watch it all.  and we understand if you are underwhelmed by the song (not to mention the angle of video recording) – when you finally get there.  but right now – at the very beginning of a new year and a new decade – we are thinking maybe the laughter is the most important song of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jaunt over to DAVID’S blogsite to see if he added anything esoteric to my meanderings

for real recordings, go to iTUNES: kerri sherwood here

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

 


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healthcare.gov [flawed wednesday]

healthcare.gov

this could get ugly.  it could also get too honest.  and maybe too personal.  and too detailed.

this is the week.  i’ve been dreading it for months.  it is the final week to select health insurance for 2020.  sometime this week i will wait online for probably hours to take my turn, to take my turn to sign up for a plan on healthcare.gov. i have been awake all night on and off for weeks.

we are artists.  both of us.  neither of our jobs and none of the other work that we do provide health insurance or benefits.  we live in the state of wisconsin and have four options of healthcare companies on healthcare.gov.  an insurance agent pointed out that we could opt for short term health insurance (up to 360 days) instead of a regular policy, but those do not cover any pre-existing conditions, do not provide for physicals and most preventative care and are basically catastrophic plans.  hmmm.  as a grown-up who has been working my entire grown-up life, i would really like to have grown-up insurance.

so.  four companies.  bronze, silver and gold plans in each.  none of these companies provide nationwide coverage and a couple do not even allow for emergency room coverage out of network. two of those companies do not cover our doctors, professionals with whom we have established relationship through years; last year (2018) our coverage did not allow us to go to our own doctors, so we didn’t.  we paid for coverage and never visited the doctor’s office at all.

so let’s get more mealy here.  there are plenty of arguments about healthcare out there and plenty of naysayers and supporters -each- of the affordable care act.  are you even familiar with it?  if you would prefer not to know, i would stop reading here.  but if you really want to know more, please read on… but keep in mind, i love math and research.

we are 60 and 58 and healthy.  these four companies on healthcare.gov presented bronze, silver and gold plans that will cost between $1600 and $2800 per month out of pocket, which is a total of $19,200-$33,600 per year.  the $1600 options have deductibles between $14,000-16,000.  in many cases, this is what you must satisfy before the company even begins to pay a portion.   that would mean you have paid in the neighborhood of $33,200 a year for you and your spouse to be treated on a bronze plan, without figuring in the actual cost of the treatment.

let’s explore an example for example’s sake.

let’s say you make a combined salary of $70,000.  let’s assume a meager (and understated) tax bracket of only 20%.  $70,000-14,000 = $56,000.  now let’s assume you own a house or pay rent and your mortgage plus escrowed real estate taxes are about $1200 combined (also underestimated in most cases). $56,000-14,400 = $41,600.  add to that your utilities bills; let’s just estimate that at a lowish $250 per month, which is $3000 year.  $41,600-3000 = $38,600.  now subtract out for cellphones, home phones, cable, wifi again lowballing at $250 per month, $3000 per year.  $38,600-3000 = $35,600.  at this point you have not included any of your outstanding student loans or parent plus loans, nor have you subtracted out for home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, any kind of retirement savings or a car payment.  nor have you even considered food, clothing or gas for driving to and from work, even if you don’t drive anywhere else.  any outstanding rotating credit card debt or medical related costs that you are paying on installment are not subtracted.  but you are sitting at $35,600 usuable income.

so.  if you take the bronze plan you must assume that you have approximately $16,000 in the bank for the deductible and you must subtract $19,200 (27% of your gross income) from your $35,600 leaving you with $16,400 to cover all the aforementioned items we hadn’t subtracted and maybe perhaps saving a little to cover the percentages of medical expenses you need to cover post-deductible.  OR you can take a silver plan, which is in the neighborhood of $2200 per month or $26,400 year (38% of your gross income) leaving you with $9200 to cover loans, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, dental insurance, car payment, food, clothing, gas, etc.  you clearly can’t even consider a gold plan at $2800 per month (the most grown-up plan) because that would cost $33,600 a year, leaving you with a mere $2000 to spend on the rest of life (as listed above).  again, that’s assuming a meager 20% income tax rate and not considering state or local income taxes as well.

i’m sure you are beginning to see my point.

and then there are the subsidies.  yes.  if you earn below 4 times the poverty rate in your state, you are eligible for subsidies for this healthcare insurance.  naturally, the more you earn, the less subsidy you are able to receive.  that makes sense.  it feathers out as the numbers go up.  and then?  there is a dollar level – one dollar this way or that – that a granted subsidy would drop from hundreds, even more than a thousand or fifteen hundred to – ZERO – .  for instance, if you are granted a subsidy because of your level of income and sometime in the year (as you have worked hard to earn more to live a little better) you go over the healthcare cliff by ONE DOLLAR, ONE dollar, you will owe back the entirety of the insurance plan.  in the above case, that would be anywhere between the difference of what you paid in and the plan total of $19,200 or up to $33,600.

we are the poster children of this so-called sweet spot in the healthcare crisis of our country.  a bit older, working hard, multiple jobs, no job-provided healthcare.  not making enough to scoff at spending say $29,000-$33,000 (silver or gold plans) or even $19,200 (bronze) for one year of health insurance, nonetheless be able to actually budget that, but making a bit more than the cliff.  no ropes.  no guardrails.  just a cliff.

the professional insurance agent on the phone said she had “a lot of people your age in that circumstance.”  she suggested considering short term health insurance, the kind i mentioned above that precludes pre-existing conditions etc etc. etc.  that doesn’t sound like grown-up health care to me.  and the deeply disappointed, frustrated cynic in me asks this question – when will breathing be considered a pre-existing condition?

something needs to be done.  is the health of the people of this country important or not?  it’s a basic question.  with an obvious answer.   where do we place value?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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