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jen-napkins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

 

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these napkins make me think of jen.  it’s the reason we bought them.  at every single gathering with jen and brad, jen, who is an amazing creator of festivity, sets out fun napkins.  patterns and colors and images and phrases.  not the 300-1-ply-approx 6″ square-white-napkins-in-plastic-wrap kind of napkins, but napkins you choose that have some panache.  confident napkins.  napkins with personality.  napkins that celebrate.

i grew up with the other kind of napkins.  my sweet momma bought the 1-ply-approx-6″ kind of napkins all my growing-up years.  sometime in their retirement, beaky switched to vanity fair napkins, which are a bit more substantial and, in their substantiality, a bit fancier.  any sweetly patterned napkins were reserved for special occasions, parties, holidays.  because DNA is a powerful thing, our beaky passed all this down to me, and so, i haven’t yet reached the vanity-fair-napkin-stage.

we actually are cloth-napkin people.  because tight-budgeting runs through my veins, we seek out two cloth napkins as souvenirs when we travel, instead of chachkies.  we can tell you where all our cloth napkins are from and love to pick out which ones to use from the drawer in the dining room.

but there is something to these fun napkins that jen uses.  in the basement where we keep party supplies are several packets of fun, patterned, imaged napkins.  i’ve been saving them.  for company, for special occasions, for a celebration.

the other day i took out a handful and put them on the kitchen table.  the last couple of evenings, as we sit with a glass of wine, i have laid one at our spots.  this little napkin instantly makes me happier.  a simple napkin.  our moments of sharing a glass of wine at the kitchen table have become moments of celebration.

so, in this time of waiting and uncertainty, i have decided, even though it will require much pushing-back-against-that-nagging-stingy-voice-in-my-head, that we will use all those napkins.  i’ll go downstairs and get all the fun jen-napkins we have, no matter the season to which they are dedicated.  we’ll set them out and use them, making each time we are at the table together a celebration.

and i know my sweet momma, our beaky, will be smiling down at us.  “wowee!” she’ll say.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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assumptions. [d.r. thursday]

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the sun lights our room early in the morning.  we don’t have room-darkening shades so   if artificial measures haven’t been used (read: obnoxious alarm clocks) we wake with the light.

thoughts stream in with the light in this just-past-the-dark-hour.  our quiet as we sip coffee, like jiffy-pop starting to pop on a hot stovetop, is punctuated by bits of conversation.  the dreams we are climbing out of, the babycat’s snoring through the night, dogdog’s sweet need for early pets, what the weather looks like out our window peering into the backyard, projects we are working on, what is on the docket for the day.  ideas, reminiscences patter through.  we stretch into the day yawning in front of us, putting on, and trying to keep on, caps of making-good-assumptions.  today is a good day to have a good day, as the saying goes.

good assumptions.  apparently, they are a high ticket item.  for we all are, in the world, surrounded by those who do not make good assumptions.  my sweet momma would tell me, “don’t jump to conclusions.”  “ask questions,” she would admonish. a difficult lesson worth oft-repeating.

we would sit on the couch at the end of the day, sipping tea and eating chips ahoy cookies.  we’d talk about the day, bitter jabs by classmates or exclusionary moments i had endured.  “try to find something good,” she’d remind me, while at the same time not underplaying the hurtful behaviors.  “make good assumptions.”  this is the same woman who, on the emergency room table in the wee hours of the night, in great pain and fearing a broken hip, looked up at a cranky and tired nurse and remarked, “you have a beautiful smile.”  it changed the moment; i suspect it changed the rest of the nurse’s day; perhaps it changed all those who she interacted with thereafter and so forth.  those undeniable concentric circles.

in early days with david, clearly in the beaky-beaky school of thought, one of the most-oft-repeated things i remember him saying is “ask questions.”  don’t assume you know.  don’t assume anything.  ask.  listen.

quite some time ago, mike stated, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  watch, ask questions and listen, he advised.  don’t make assumptions.  the best way to learn, the best way to collaborate, the best way to approach challenge, the best way to move in the world.

momma would smile and look at me, facing down adversity or standing tall on a personal summit, and say, “wowee!”

i can practically hear her now, her eyes dancing, saying, “see?  if you ARE going to assume anything, assume awe.”

thank you, chicken marsala, for the reminder.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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zag. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in the woods

we bought snowpants.  on sale for only $7 they are a wise investment for two people who hike year-round out in the woods or wherever we are.  it’s a big deal for us to buy anything new so, this time, instead of looking at them every day and saving them for good (ala beaky)  we celebrated our good deal by putting them on, going out in the snowy woods and hiking.

we were pretty much silent.  you could hear snow falling from the trees and the crunching of our boots on the trail.  but we didn’t talk much.  with so many things to talk to about and the woods being our best meeting room it was unusual.  but sometimes, it is silence that is most needed.

our path, like this stream, has zigged and zagged.  it has brought us past jagged rocky times and through sweet gentle lapping pools.  it has been lit by warm sun and darkened by the deep worry of late night.

but one thing is always consistent in the inconsistency of life.  no matter how we arrive in the woods, no matter the angst we bring.  arm in arm, because it is our habit, we walk through the woods.  arm in arm on the trail we silently hike toward quieting our hearts and minds.  under trees older than our troubles, arm in arm walking reaches past even anger-inspired words, things spoken in frustration.  arm in arm we remember all that is good, all that is certain.  the day’s hurdles and fears and unease fade as the sun sets.  and we zag.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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paint-by-number. [two artists tuesday]

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some things just stop me in my tracks.  strolling through school days antiques mall i turned the corner and screeched to a halt.  familiarity swirled around me as i stared at this painting – a paint-by-number.  my breathing slowed.  the scene, the hues…all made me feel like i was embraced.  by my sweet momma.  i texted a picture to my sister, to check in, to see what she said.  she texted back that it, indeed, felt familiar and we tried to remember what happened to this painting of my mom’s.  every time i look at this photo on my phone i feel ‘home’.  even right now.

this wasn’t the first time this happened.  back a couple years ago ON mother’s day we were tooling around an antiques store in woodstock, illinois.  we had taken a ‘sunday drive’ (i am turning into my parents!) and looked for antiques stores to visit.  as i turned the corner from one booth to the next it was there, staring at me.  the paint-by-number-jesus that my mom had painted.  i photographed it and called everyone that day.  this painting was hung somewhere in our growing-up house that we can’t all agree on.  but we know it was there.  i turned the painting over looking for my mom’s signature on the back, but didn’t find it.  i studied the frame, one that was identical to a frame that my sweet poppo had made on a paint-by-number-nude (yes, it’s ok to laugh aloud here) my mom had painted and hung in their bathroom (which i know i have written about before).  i pondered how it might have gotten to woodstock, if indeed this painting and truly-identical-wooden-frame might have been my mom’s paint-by-number-jesus.  it wasn’t likely.  our growing-up-house was on long island and then my parents moved to florida so illinois was a bit off the mark (unless she had given the painting to my brother a million years ago and he “generously” donated it, which would make me laugh aloud.)  we left and went home and a few days later drove all the way back, just to study it a little more, to touch it again.  i thought holding it in my hands might tell me if i should buy it and bring it home and, well, i had no idea what to do with it then.  i mean, what does one do with a paint-by-number-jesus?  i didn’t buy it.  i left paint-by-number-jesus in woodstock and i gratefully welcomed my mom’s embrace from afar.

so the other day, in the midst of the stresses of life, we took a stroll in one of our favorite antiques stores, chatting and reminiscing and laughing about all the stuff we used to have growing up and all the stuff that we still have in our cabinets that are now considered antiques.

we tried not to talk about the things that were nagging us, the things we are worried about, the things that seem insurmountable.

and my beloved sweet momma showed up.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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this part of the journey. exclamation mark. [k.s. friday]

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today my sweet momma would be 98.

she was born in 1921 and saw everything change around her. she stood in a world that saw the great depression, world war II, telephones and cars, movies, televisions and news shows reporting on more wars than she could wrap her head around. her husband was missing in action and then a POW shot down over bulgaria, all while she was expecting a baby. she gave birth to their first child while my poppo was still a POW and stood in faith that he would return as that little girl died.

momma built a life with my dad, all the while navigating veteran-ptsd that hadn’t yet been labeled. but she figured it out. she held her ground, both supportive and snapping to action or to “words” as she would call arguments between them.

my sweet momma wore stockings and pumps “to business” and had housecoats with snaps, long flowing mumus and finally, at long last, blue jeans and keds for relaxing. momma drove a mean stick shift and, because they were a one-car family for the longest time, walked to the king kullen and dairy barn for groceries and milk. she turned her very green thumb over to my dad after he retired, likely to keep him out of her hair for a bit of time.

she volunteered as the girl scout president and in aarp alongside my dad. she loved wood and glass; she loved to paint with oils. she loved lists and calendars and math and writing and doing the laundry any time she was stressed. she wrote old-fashioned letters with pen and paper. she adored her word processor and then the computer and finally, her beloved iphone. anything to stay in touch. she texted, she called, she facebooked, she mistakenly took pictures of the ceiling and sent them on errant trips out to the ethers. momma loved to coffee sit and have english muffins or crumb cake or danish or chocolate chip cookies or pie. and she made extra homemade french fries every time she knew I was visiting so we could sit, drink iced tea, eat cold french fries and talk.

she didn’t let fear overtake her. she was strong in every way. she credited being from new york, but i credit just her – she just went with the flow and sort of ignored anything that got in the way, including any physical challenge that presented itself. two days after a double mastectomy at 93 she sat on the side of the hospital bed and, in good humor, sassed everyone around.

she loved that everyone called her beaky. and i mean everyone.

her journey was long, her experiences rich. she was an exclamation mark in life. she celebrated people and love and moments and I miss her.  so much.

but it is part of my journey to miss her.

each of us bring to our journey our own punctuation. sometimes i think i am an ellipsis, but i realize that applies to all of us. we go on…

if i got to choose what singular punctuation i would want to be, i would want to be an exclamation mark, just like my sweet momma. for this part of my journey. for every part of the journey.

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

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beaky’s text. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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at 93 these words were texted by my sweet momma on her iphone, about a week before she died three years ago.  she was amazing.  and damn strong.  “whoa!” i think, re-reading this text, “you go, momma!”

“…more than i say…more than i speak…more than you realize…” like every mom she walked the thin line between not saying enough and saying too much.  The Girl and The Boy are practiced at rolling their eyes at me and, i guess, i must have done the same to my momma.  so there’s that moment you dig in and, ignoring every quivering fibre in your body, you do not say anything.  you notice, you think, you know.  but you remain quiet.  for you also know that the lives you have gifted into this world are not yours to live; they are only yours to love, to hold closest to your heart, to support in every way you can, to lift up when they stumble or fall.

“don’t. underestimate me.”  so true, momma didn’t want to be under-estimated.  her spirit in the world accomplished bigger things than most professions can tout.  her kindness was rippling, her curiosity abounding, and her fortitude…that sisu.  you don’t want to be the retail/corporate/organization recipient of the “write-a-lettuh” vindication; momma was going to win.  she “wasn’t born in ny for nothin” as i say.  the day after the extra surgery she had just one day after her double-mastectomy a few months before this text, she sat on the edge of her hospital bed and called us “idiots” for not getting back on the road home.  she was going to be “just fine” and she was more worried about us on the road than herself.  that’s a mom for you.  that’s my sweet momma.

beaky dug in.  she was engaged and big in the world. and her sisu made her powerful.  she was wise even in silence.  she knew, even if i didn’t tell her.  like moms everywhere, she was tuned in, in ways that made her ever-present.  i always counted on that.  i still do.  she is on the edges of this earth, where the wind carries her to me.

i can only hope that one day my own children realize that – no matter what – i am right there.  i know more than i say.  i think more than i speak.  i notice more than they realize.  and never, ever, underestimate me.   because as their momma, i will go to the ends of the earth for them.  just like my mom.

read DAVID’S thoughts on BEAKY’S TEXT

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as you is. [two artists tuesday]

THIS AsYouIs copy

spoiler alert to the girl, the boy, family and friends:  do not be surprised if one of your christmas/holiday presents from us is a shirt or sweatshirt or hat that says “AS YOU IS”.

we encountered michael at the farmers’ market one beautiful saturday when the sun was warm and the yellow jackets plentiful.  i was drawn to the simple stand of breeze-fluttering t-shirts, the saying AS YOU IS on the banner and the byline “big boned or small featured. thick-haired or bald-headed. married or single. A or C student. white or black or in-between. male or female. or in-between.”  we stopped to talk. i’m so glad we did.

michael was disarmingly charming and honest and zealous and positive – a breath of fresh air in a world that seems to be full of negativity and judgment these days.  he spoke of the origins of his cottage business and his simple philosophy, arrived at through years of painful learning and experience and after a long career outside of this new mission.  we could relate to him.  he told us the point of AS YOU IS:  “As You Is” is a rally cry for anyone and everyone that has a good heart, regardless of race, color, faith, age, gender, nationality, physical or mental limitations, or appearance. 

the pull to stay and talk was strong, but that would have precluded michael from introducing others at the market to his new line, his new business.  and so, we grabbed business cards, asked him to design some sweatshirts as well and continued on our way.  but AS YOU IS has remained in our conversations together.  his AS YOU IS.  our (sweet momma/beaky-inspired) BE KIND.  twinsies.

i suspect we will seek michael out to talk some more.  because chatting with someone about acceptance and hope and goodness is, as michael says, one hella gift.

AS YOU IS

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click here or on the box above to visit ASYOUIS website

As You Is® was created to start conversations…to cause total strangers to smile…to make people think…to get others to feel so accepted they break out in impromptu dance…and to put a serious chink in the armor of racism.

Our hope is one day children can embrace being uniquely themselves, where they feel safe being different and where old people – like our founder Michael Fornwald – can age gracefully or ungracefully sans self-contempt.

Please join us by infecting others with hope one hella cool t-shirt or cap at a time.

BE KIND

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“Be kind to each other. Always.” (my sweet momma/beaky)

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BE KIND designs ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson