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unleash the power of your crayon. [chicken marsala monday]

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on my piano in my studio is a teeny sign with a big message.  it reads, “if you asked me what i came into this world to do, i will tell you i came to live out loud.” (emile zola)   it’s a reminder – a reason for being.  true for each of us, it’s unleashing the metaphoric crayon of our creativity, our thoughts, our knowledge, our gifts, our voices.

there is an extraordinary amount of power in those crayons..the place in the middle that we open…the heart from where our concentric circles start rippling out…where the crayon meets the page, the song is composed, the painter paints, the activist writes.  “loud” (for the sheer sake of being loud) and “out loud” (simply having a voice) are two vastly different things.  and, if you are paying even the least bit of attention at all to world events, we are privy to both in our lives these days.

after living all this life so far, i hope now that the crayons i pick will help to ripple out things that are good, things that consider others, things that are not hurtful, things that are fair, things that are kind.  the power of a crayon unleashed that is “out loud” not “loud.”

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unleash the power of your crayon ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

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what’s for dinner? [flawed cartoon wednesday]

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recently, while perusing facebook (which i actually don’t do all that often) i came across a post by My Boy.  he had made homemade ravioli for dinner.  wait!  what??  homemade ravioli???  now, this requires making pasta from scratch as well as stuffing it with a delicious tuscan sausage mix.  just sayin!  this is the same person who, long ago now, used to be able to live on honey buns and swedish fish.  he has amazed me time and again with his creative cooking and the photographs he has sent of yummy meals.  one day he grilled shrimp out on his deck for dan and me and d.  just as thoughtful as the birthday he made me mac and cheese after a long evening i had spent volunteering, but, i have to admit, much tastier.

the first time My Girl made us dinner we had gnocchi and an excellent sausage sauce.  i hadn’t had gnocchi in years – since i had it with the hot chics in montana – and her recipe immediately made it onto our ‘what-should-we-have-for-dinner’ list of possibilities.

these are the same two human beings who would ask, ” what’s for dinner?”  now i find myself asking them.  funny how cooking creativity blossoms in each next generation.

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what?  archaeologist for dinner again???  ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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make time for clouds. [chicken marsala monday]

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the crystal clear water was cool around my feet, cold actually.  the current pulled at my flipflops, necessary –  for the rocks below were slippery and i didn’t have the cool sandals My Girl had on.  the hot-hot high altitude sun blazed into my hair; it made me think i should have worn that new packable hat i got last year.

i scanned the horizon, a 360 of mountains and trees and sagebrush and blue-blue sky.  and this river.  going on and on.  as far as i could see, it meandered through the landscape i was reluctant to leave.

and i stood in the water.  never-minding the feeling of almost-numbness of my feet.  because in this moment, i could feel.  the very hot of a brilliant sun, the very cold of snow-capped mountain runoff.  this time of cloudless sky and the murmur of the river.  this time of being with my daughter.  this time of dreaming and imagining and creating scenarios in my mind that would allow me to stay in this very spot.  this time of (in this case, metaphoric) cloud-gazing.

every good cloud-gaze creates a story.  every good cloud-gaze builds a memory.  every good cloud-gaze gives you pause to breathe.  it’s the same with your feet in the river, your blanket on the beach, your chair in front of the bonfire, your boots on the trail.  make time, i say.

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make time for clouds ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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find your poetry tree. [chicken marsala monday]

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if my sweet momma couldn’t find me in the house, she knew to go outside, round the house to the maple tree just beyond my growing-up-window and look up.  there i would be, sitting in a crook, notebook and pencil in hand.  it was a place of inspiration for me, a perch for penning thoughts, reflections, poems, stories, lyrics.

i think we all have one…a poetry tree.  it may be the kitchen table, an adirondack chair on a porch, a blanket on the beach, a desk tucked away in a quiet spot of the house.  or a time that gives us more room to think;  for me, it can be walking, blowing my hair dry or those moments that brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) ideas strike in the shower.  we have a spot that helps us think, sort, dream, create, rest.  a spot that fills us with creative juju.  mine was a tree, just like chicken’s.

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find your poetry tree ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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give full rein to your imagination [chicken marsala monday]

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wendy (aka saul aka ben) and i have this thing about unicorns.  well, unicorns and bubbles and rainbows.  i can’t look at any of those without thinking about her.  individually we look especially for unicorn “stuff” for each other; those tend to be small gifts we send from time to time.  i have a unicorn calendar that offers pretty straight-ahead advice each day, without mincing words.  i have unicorn socks.  i have a stuffed unicorn on my piano in my studio.  my new favorite unicorn thing is a white plastic stretch unicorn pen she sent me for my birthday…hard to explain…a unicorn with a rainbow mane that looks a lot like a dachshund and is a pen.  yep, too much information.   you are probably thinking i am too ‘old’ for unicorns, but i beg to differ.  one is never too old for unicorns. they are happy and free and magical.  plus, as a person who has been horse-crazy since girlhood,  anything that even vaguely resembles a horse gets my vote.

d often tells me that i have a wild imagination.  that works against me as well as for me.  i will imagine all sorts of things – both good and bad.  sometimes this is an opportunity; i often find myself imagining things, ideas or plotting while i am blowing my hair dry (this seems to be a time of increased-imagination-activity for me.)  or i will be off and running in my imagination on long drives or walking in the woods.  sometimes this imagining thing can make you nervous, making up stuff before it even happens.  but the word imagine conjures up many things for me.  john lennon’s song ‘imagine’ or mercy me’s song ‘i can only imagine’.  both have beautiful lyrics; both imagine places and experiences of great beauty and and grace and goodness.

one day when d was drawing our chicken marsala i asked him to include a unicorn.  “for wendy,” i said.   we decided on the words “give full rein to your imagination” to go along with this drawing of chicken and his unicorn.  but when i was designing the cartoon nugget, i added the word “reign”….it felt right.  after all, what could be the worst thing if we all let our imaginations be sovereign?  if we imagined a world of peace and harmony and rainbows and bubbles.  and yes, maybe even people on unicorns wearing creativity-tiaras.  full reign.

yes, you say, wild imagination.

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give full rein/reign to your imagination ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood


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ks friday

jacketasitisjpeg copy 2i could hear the saxophonist on the corner out the window; it’s not uncommon in nyc.  at yamaha artist services to record the two solo piano hymn albums, i was caught up in the christmas carol he was playing, only a little concerned that it would bleed onto the recording.  the amazing “it’s fine!” ken can handle anything.

my task was to get onto tape (so to speak) the material for both of the hymn albums:  ALWAYS WITH US Volume 1 and ALWAYS WITH US Volume 2AWU v1 jacket copyit was easy for me to compile a list of the hymns to play; so many years of church music gives me an advantage that way.   but on every album, even if it is music i haven’t written but am giving my own voice to (like the hymn albums or christmas albums or lullaby album) i always include one or two pieces that i have composed – a signature of sorts.  for always with us volume one it was the title track.  ALWAYS WITH US is a statement of my belief that we are never alone, we are always AWU v2 jacket copysurrounded by infinite grace and love – God is always with us.  like all the tracks on the hymn albums, this piece is solo piano.

part of that time in the city, i also recorded the album AS IT IS.  i had a list of titles and in-between recording hymns, i would take out the list and simply play the word.  but i’ve talked about that before.  this album was a personal creative challenge and took on a life of its own.

back in chicago, in post-production work, ken wrote orchestration arrangements (he is brilliant) and brought in musicians to record on tracks for the AS IT IS album, starting with the solo piano recordings. these new tracks went beyond the solo piano versions – in texture, in diversity, ultimately, in emotion.

yesterday i wrote about process in david’s painting.  the same -yet different- process exists in recording music.  the coming-together of layers, with what is in a layer below sometimes hidden, a breath you can’t hear, but can feel.  i am awed by what the whole becomes from the whole.

always with us exists in two forms.  both are relevant to the album they are within.  both speak a language.  but both tell the same story – for those who listen – that we are never alone.  God – or whatever you call this presence- is always with us.  and if you listen, maybe with your mind’s eye, you might even hear the strains of a saxophonist on the corner in the city at night.

ALWAYS WITH US – on the album AS IT IS

ALWAYS WITH US – on the album ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 1

to DOWNLOAD ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS track 14 from iTUNES

to DOWNLOAD ALWAYS WITH US from ALWAYS WITH US Vol. 1 track 2 from iTUNES

to purchase the physical CD ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 1 (AS IT IS is out of stock)

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY) – ON OUR SITE

to see some fun PRODUCTS that go along with this piece ALWAYS WITH US:

leggings, wall art, mugs, beach towels, cellphone covers, cards

always with us SQ PILLOW copy

throw pillows, blankets

 

always with us RECT PILLOW copy

throw pillows, rugs

 

always with us LEGGINGS copy

leggings

 

always with us TOTE BAG copy

tote bags

 

always with us iPHONE CASE copy

cellphone cases, laptop sleeves

 

always with us FRAMED ART copy

wall art – in some of these pieces i could not resist using david’s art

 

always with us COFFEE MUG copy

mugs, travel mugs

 

ALWAYS WITH US from ALWAYS WITH US Volume 1 and AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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chicken marsala monday #3

fallingdown WITH EYES jpeg THIS COPY copyevery summer i break one of my two little baby toes.  every single summer.  last summer alone i logged tons of miles on my $2 old navy flipflops as a result.  i even talked about it on this blog.  what did i learn?  in particular, what did i learn THIS time as opposed to all the other times?  i learned to either 1. slow down a little  2.  watch where i’m going a tad bit more  3.  never go barefoot.  the thing is, i’m pretty sure it will happen again.  i’m still learning.

i haven’t fallen off my bike in quite some time (and hope not to cause these days it will hurt much more than it used to) but i can relate in countless ways to our chicken marsala monday in the melange this week.  i can distinctly remember taking off the training wheels and teaching the children to ride their two-wheelers, running down the sidewalk next to them.  for that matter, i can totally -and (yougetthis) viscerally- remember teaching them how to drive.

we’ve been watching the olympics.  athletes of inordinate ability who had to start somewhere – and, for sure, who fell in the process.  not afraid of failing, but keeping on keeping on.  being an ace anything is far off.  do any of us ever really get there?

as an adult (ugh, i guess 58 qualifies me if for no other reason than sheer number) there are a lot of things i still want to learn.  a few years ago i wanted to throw pots.  i spent more than i bargained on for clay and lessons and studio time and more clay and ended up with the most wonderful tea light holder. (ok, i also threw a cereal-size-bowl and a few other assorted incredibly-shrinking-bowls as i struggled to center them and not have the clay collapse on the wheel.)  let’s just say i was not gifted at this.  but it did (and still does) make me laugh.  and i know that i will someday try it again and i will add to my assortment of teenytinyclayobjects in which i can store paperclips.

when we see my amazing son and his boyfriend, we seem to be developing this tradition of bowling together.  now, even though i live in wisconsin – and it is practically a law to be a good bowler here – i am pretty bad at bowling.  every now and then i do something (like pick up a spare or get a strike) and am shocked, but most of the time i am aghast at how the ball creates splits in the pins and i find myself leaning while watching it careen (generous term) down the alley.  the thing i must say, though, is that each time i do a little better.  and the reallybadscores will, if i dedicate any time at all to practice, perhaps improve.  mostly, i laugh.  and i wish i could bring that to ANY thing i am learning – be it a new sport, an artform, a study of some philosophy or political issue, or – a big one – relationship.  we fall.  we get up, brush ourselves off, ask for grace and try again.

even though there are so many venues of crashing, the recording studio is a prime place to watch yourself fall down.  you’ve written music, lyrics.  you’ve practiced and practiced – there’s muscle memory in each measure.  you’re ready, water and coffee by your side.  (for me, not so much water once in the studio as it ….toomuchinformationalert…makes throat noises i can’t avoid.)  and then you start.  there’s so much riding on the line.  and some days?  some days you can’t get through a track.  something is amiss; something is wrong.  the first track of my first album was recorded in a studio in evanston.  ken, my producer, was a stranger to me and i drove down with a posse of friends.  i felt a little nervous, but mostly felt confident i was prepared.  hours later, i had recorded the solo piano track for galena (the album released from the heart) and ken gave me a cassette tape (how funny is that?!) to listen to.  i put it in the cassette deck of my old chrysler blue minivan and turned it on.  and was appalled.  rigid playing met my ears.  it sounded nothing like me or my playing, or my piece of music, for that matter.  all that confidence translated to a coldness, an unemotional-ness instead of a good track.  i called ken (who i barely knew then, but now the same brilliant producer who has produced 14 of my 15 albums) and he suggested that, “maybe you should just write the music and have someone else play it on the recording FOR you.”  what???!!!  uhhh, i didn’t even know what to answer that would sound in the least bit polite.

and so i painfully listened to the recording again and sat back down at home on my bench.  and i realized i needed to be ready -at any moment- to fall.  THAT is what would make the piece sound like me and sound like, well, music.  the rawness, the every-moment-ness, the vulnerability to mistakes and moving beyond them.  that is what would make it shine as a learning.  preparation is wise, flexibility is a must, a sense of humor is required, confidence is irrelevant, perseverance is utmost.

and falling down is a gift.

FALLING DOWN IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF LEARNING MERCHANDISE

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CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY

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falling down is an essential part of learning ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood