reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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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improving. a little every day. [two artists tuesday]

wine

but the real question is – do WE improve with age?

yes, lush red wine, dark chocolate, bold roast black coffee – all have risen on my list of chosens.  i remember the days of sugar and cream in coffee.  i remember the creamy milk chocolate days.  and i remember the 1980s and 1990s days of ‘white zin’, the go-to wine of that age and time, a staple of the culture.  but those days are past and we have moved on to rich red blends or old vine zins, 85% dark chocolate with no milkfats, and the boldest of the bold coffees with no sweetener or added dairy/non-dairy product.  all improved (in my opinion) with my age.

me…on the other hand…i’m not so sure.

i read a brief article which proposed that your thoughts are less important than your feelings.  it reminded the reader that, in light of everyone’s hard-to-speak-of mortality,  there is no time more important, nothing more important than feeling the present moment.

how often do we get caught up in the swirling mind games of reviewing all the past?  thoughts.  how often do we find ourselves double-clutching on the future because of something that has happened ‘before’?  thoughts.  how often do we hesitate as we ponder-ponder-ponder until it’s too late?  thoughts.  how often are those thoughts – skewed – which have accumulated all through these supposed improving-with-age years – ruling our moments, nonetheless ruining our moments, the ones right-now?  stick to the topic/don’t go backwards in time and drudge up old stuff/stay in the “i-feel” not the “you-did”…any counseling master’s program notes referencing ‘conversation’ (read:  heated conversation) with a significant other.  feelings.  do we actually improve with age?  do we learn?

i’m guessing the wine cork has it right.  the moments you are sipping wine are quieter moments sitting by the fire.  or moments of laughter with friends.  or moments with a good meal.  the older we get, it seems the more value we place on those things.  we drink-in the heart of these most important times, with or without wine.  feeling.

we gain perspective.  maybe like that glass of wine in the evening.  a little every day.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the simple line. [d.r. thursday]

the sketch

yesterday, while i sketched moments on various keyboards, both pipe organ and piano, d sketched on paper.  and he somehow captured how i was feeling.  the lifting of eyes to the universe, the imploring of the heart.  his scribblings on paper, my scribblings on keys.  two artists, expressing.

the telling of the story – through music, through painting or drawing – does not demand complexity.  sometimes it aches for simplicity.  a pure line of melody, unadorned.  a few fast pen-lines, unfinessed.  the telling of the tale, honestly, pitch by pitch.  not the skirting of the story, the fancified version sung by an vocal acrobat.  instead, the straight-up carole-king-richard-diebenkorn-versions, sung note for note, painted line by brushed line, color by color.  intense in their clean simplicity.

the more complicated things get, the more i list toward simple.  less is more.  my piano left hand has always been a virtual non-stop accompanist to my right hand, arpeggiating  ad nauseum.  in recent years, i’ve asked it to calm down, to allow room for the delivery of the right hand, to allow breath, to allow lift.  together, they have given space for the real scribblings, the true expression.

if you have ever been to a taize service, you will have experienced the wisdom and power of repeated simplicity, a line of music that will take you to your knees.  nothing advanced or embellished.

if you have ever held a child’s drawing in your hand, you will have experienced the wisdom and power of innocence, art that will take you to your knees.  nothing advanced or embellished.

it’s the simple line. both ways.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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the first fire. [two artists tuesday]

first fire

there is something about firsts.  a novelty.  and it was no different the first night – a week or so ago – when we lit the wood burning stove in our littlehouse.  the first fire of fall.  excited, we watched as the fire got hotter and the bigger pieces of wood started to catch.  as it all started to be aflame, the chill, that a grey misty fog, an angry lake and a stormy day had created, left the littlehouse.  we sank into the new warmth of the living room, our feet up and grins of satisfied appreciation on our faces, staring into the dancing fire, grateful for its presence.  at home we have a fireplace inside, and a chiminea on our patio, but no wood burning stove.  it’s a novelty for us.

how many times will it be before getting wood for the stove and starting the fire will not be as gleeful?  how many times before we don’t just sit with our feet up and stare into those flames?  how many times before we take it for granted, this divine little maker of fire and warmth? how many times before the novelty wears off?

i once read a card i found quoting marcel proust, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes.”

because the novelty does wear off.  in all arenas, i suppose.  not just in how you see others, but also in how others see you.  suddenly it is forgotten what IT was like before you (whether IT is a home, a relationship, a community, a work environment).  instead, the novelty has faded and so has the ‘before’.  suddenly, you – in any of those places – are just a bean counter, a placeholder, and the novelty of you, for we are all novel, is no longer a matter of interest or value.  instead, all becomes black and white, the relationship of you to those places – a home, a relationship, a community or a work environment.  i wonder what we are all missing with our under-appreciative eyes.  i wonder what they are all missing with their under-appreciative eyes.  the novelty is gone.  and you have thus become dispensable, all for the lack of new eyes.  wow.  ouch.

we need take stock of what is around us and how it all works together.  before it is gone.  we need remember that -in every arena- we should appreciate each other – as if it was the first fire of the season.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the second time we lit the stove, we weren’t quite as gleeful when the flame caught.  and the stove heated up the room a little too much, making


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ladders. [two artists tuesday]

ladders.PNG

gay pointed to the ladders in the backstage of tpac and said, “see those ladders?  the front silver one on the right is where you are.”

this is true.  we are clumsily perched on that front silver ladder.  there are people scattered about on the other ladders, many of whom are on the top of the tallest orange ladder up against the wall.  our view, on the shortest ladder, affords us the opportunity to look out, to look up and still to be able to easily see the ground.  the view from the highest ladder, extended well up the wall, is a view of vast height, a view without a cluster of other ladders, a view more singular.

it has been our experience as artists that we must explain our livelihood, we must fight for acknowledgement of experience, we must advocate for our own fiscal equality.  our work is not easily measurable, our effort not easily defined.  we bring to every experience all we have learned about what touches the hearts of others, what resonates, what we can do to lift a message, how we can craft a concept, how we can build a program and forge a community, how we can help others see what is inside each of them.  from our rung, we can still see the ground so we know that there are others less fortunate than us and we remember pretty clearly the route up this ladder, each rung a step, each rung a gratitude.

it has also been our experience that, in a world defined by financial success, there are many on those tall extension ladders, firmly grasping the tippy-top, who have lost the story of getting there.  it is my belief that, too often, there are those who, each rung they clamber up, have forgotten what it is like to be on the rung below.  the climb to success foregoes memory, it exempts empathy, it elicits a sense of superiority; it is not kind.  the naysayers poke at those who are on rungs below, prodding them but, alas, with no reality for where those below-climbers are.  assumptions are unfairly made about ability, intelligence, budgetary decisions, effort.

in this world of bills and responsibilities, work and play, absolute joys and deep sorrows, brilliant hopeful sunrises and exhausted sunsets, i wonder about the tippy-top.  i wonder if it is possible to be clinging to that tippy-top and still remember.

as much as that tippy-top sounds like a world without worry, i don’t mind being on the silver ladder in the front.  and every step we step, i want to remember the silver ladder in the front.

i know that each day there might be someone who just may need me to understand, without feigning it, where they are.  to be able to really grasp how they feel, despite not being in their very shoes.  i don’t want to be the person who looks back at them, fear filling their eyes with tears as they tell me they don’t have enough to make it, and condescendingly ask them if they want me to point them to a budget counselor.  instead i want to understand their frustration in poverty, be complicit in their growth – real growth, empathetic in their fear.  i want to hold their hand on the rung they are on and remember what it felt like on that rung.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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contrast principle. [two artists tuesday]

contrast principle

we are living the contrast principle.  the elementary-school-workbook-page-which-one-doesn’t-fit principle.  that can actually serve you well or it can be the bane of your existence.  i’ll allow you to decide which one you think it is for us.

we are not from here.  we do not have roots that go back a generation, two or three generations, seven generations.  we weren’t born here, nor have we been coming here for decades on vacation.  this is a new place for us.  we chose to come here.  and we came here out of great and positive intention.

when i first saw the ad for the position we ultimately accepted, we got excited and were instantly full of ideas and possibility.  with our backgrounds, our education, our professional experiences, it seemed a perfect fit.  with our artistry, our passion, our zeal, our energy, our ability to facilitate positive change, it seemed a perfect fit.  but that assumes a “fit” and it assumes trust and it assumes the best of the contrast principle.

we work to create relationship, to mend the crevasse between arts organizations and between groups of people, to structure and build community and let the arts rise.  we brainstorm and read and study – new initiatives, data of the past, stories of success and stories of failure.  we strive to re-commit each day, choosing to step past the rifts, past the dysfunction, past the you-don’t-belong-here-ness of it all.

because we did choose it.  we chose to be the daisy in the field of black-eyed-susans.  we chose to be the new in the old.  we chose the contrast principle.  it would just be nice for it to be a tad bit easier.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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 the daisy in the black-eyed-susans © 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson