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shh. [two artists tuesday]

SHH

wow. thirteen minutes.

in a matter of thirteen minutes yesterday all 650 of my blogposts were wiped off of facebook.   it seems someone, in the matter of thirteen minutes, marked five of my blogs as SPAM and this must have triggered the facebook “community standards” filter which POOF eliminated everything.  over two and a half years of writing.  at merely an hour to an hour and a half each, that is well over a month of writing, 24 hours a day.  vanished off of the facebook platform.  because someone had a beef.  i would call that cowardice.

cowardice (noun):  a lack of bravery.

all because, i am guessing, someone disagreed with me for some reason and could not bring themselves to have an adult discussion about it. instead, this person chose a different approach, a way to end up censoring my words.  cowardice.

i am not paid to write.  i do not receive any money for writing.  my catalogue of blogposts was written from my heart, from an honest and well-intended place.  i am more than happy to entertain any dialogue about any topic, as long as it remains respectful and kind.  i am more than happy to have a conversation.  i do not take kindly to being censored.  i do not take kindly to being a target.  i do not take kindly to being on the receiving end of someone’s spinelessness, their secret malintent and inability to give voice, whatever their reason.  rendering me voiceless on facebook is mean-spirited and appalling.  and seemingly deliberate.  it does beg a couple obvious questions.

truth be told, facebook is making me tired.  scrolling through a myriad of temper tantrums and boasting-posts to find wee bits of news about beloved family and friends is disconcerting.  trying to use my own 200% copyrighted music on facebook and having facebook block it claiming copyright violations is beyond frustrating.  watching facebook allow misinformation and foul language to prevail on the platform is disappointing.  scouring facebook for ways to communicate with an actual person or to find avenues for correcting their errors is pointless.  it’s tiresome.  but those wee bits keep me going back – seeking a few more pictures to drink in of people i-love-but-cannot-see-right-now or reading viewpoints that give me food for thought, lead me to ask questions, make me learn.

during this time that FB, impossible to contact, figures out i am not ill-intended nor do i post SPAM, i would ask you a favor:  if you have found any post of mine to be thought-provoking or encouraging or reassuring in some way and have enjoyed reading, please “follow” this blog.  you can “follow” it on this post or later go to our website www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange to find the link to this blogsite.  wordpress will send you an email each day with my 5 day-a-week blog. you can certainly choose to read or not read each day and, at any time, you can choose to “unfollow” the blog.  just as it is your decision whether or not to read my post on facebook each day, i would like to think you still have the option.  subscribing gives you that.  hopefully, FB will allow and restore my written work soon.

in the meanwhile, just as no one should be hushed in the expression of thoughts about living life, i am dedicated to continue sharing my own in a variety of ways.

shh????  i don’t think so.

and your thoughts?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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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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from jumpstart to coda. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

so much random learning

my favorite snapchat filter makes my face round and my eyes huge, adds giant john-denver-glasses and changes my voice.   and i love it!  using a filter makes short-selfie-movie-making less about how you look and more about how you could look:  with big eyes or ears or as a unicorn or years younger or years older or with different hair or as the opposite gender.  my niece wendy and i use it as a constant communication device; we are free to be as weird as we want to be or as funny or as playful.

when this filter disappeared temporarily – the one with big eyes and glasses and a voice octaves above my normal voice – i panicked.  making a video for wendy as just me was not nearly as enticing and i sadly thought i’d have to resort to simply texting again.  i wondered if i should write a letter to snapchat, but fear those at snapchat don’t read letters.  how antiquated.  alas, even without a letter of reproach from me, it reappeared and all is well again in snapchatland.

technology is throwing us all for a loop…well, those of us who were not born with it in our very veins.  we are videoconferencing for work, google-chatting for play, creating audio and video files to fill in gaps where people can’t be, using photoshop to create slides for iMovies or iPhoto videos, layering audio files on music software, creating youtube channels and pic collages, learning how to change wav files into mp3s into m4v’s, messaging people via text, email, facebook, instagram, pushing our little cellphones to their outer limits (or is it us we are pushing to outer limits?)

we are immersed and treading water.

so much learning.  oy, such a steep curve.  all in the name of staying in touch in these virtual times.  you can’t touch people but these laptops and ipads and cellphones are reeling from overuse.  (or is it my born-in-1959-middle-aged-brain?)

but for those of us with analog veins, coffee is still coffee.  and i am ever grateful for that.  it’s a necessary tool in this virtual world.  every day these days needs a bit of a jumpstart.

and as frank k. says, “that apothic.  it’s such a drinkable wine!”  yes, frank.  another necessary tool – the coda of the day these days.

jumpstart to coda.  and in-between, we tread, virtual wave after virtual wave.

 

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

 

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this morning. [k.s. friday]

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i unfriended someone today.  i was so shocked at his response to the vital importance of continuing to social distance in this global pandemic i found it reprehensible.  his crass “everyone will die eventually” was deeply disturbing.  he actually used the term ‘survival of the fittest’.  i, in browsing for how my family and friends are doing, found no peace in his words, only a shortfall of empathy.  i shudder to think of anyone who read or who will read these callous words who has been ill, has had a loved one ill, who has lost a life in their circle of life, who has been deemed unemployed, who has missed paying their rent and who stands in line for food, who is frightened.  anyone with a heart.

i’ve unfriended a few people along the way these last few years.  this hasn’t been because i merely disagree with them.  i am open to disagreeing with you if you are open to discussion.  but these have been folks who have been closed.  closed to facts, to truth, to research, to conversation.  closed.  to me, it feels as if their hearts are closed.

for what is the importance of the next morning if what you care most about in the world is copious amounts of money or holdings?  my sweet poppo used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”  what is the importance of the next morning if you will throw others under the bus to elevate yourself?  my sweet momma used to say, “be kind.  be kind.  be kind.”  what is the importance of the next morning if everything is measured by black and white, an excel sheet of differences, all listed and highlighted.  my big brother used to play his guitar and sing, “there’s a new world coming…”  what is the importance of the next morning if you only measure yourself against others, their net worth, their houses, their jobs, their wardrobe, their vehicles, their exotic trips, their success?  in high school i recited these words from desiderata, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

instead, what about that morning someday?  the one that presents you with the challenge of a lifetime, the one you have worked on honing your whole life.  the challenge to accept who you are.  the challenge to stand up straight in your integrity, to freely and generously love, to do your work, to look out into the world with open eyes.  the challenge to not compare yourself, to believe in the betterment of humanity, to be kind, and to know that you can’t take any of it with you.  the challenge to surround yourself with goodness and live now.  this morning.  tomorrow morning.  the next morning.  heart open.

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the cameras. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

cameras

1977.  graduation.  yashica fx-2.  my most-prized possession and my constant companion was the 35mm single lens reflex camera my momma and dad gave me when i graduated from high school.  it went everywhere with me and i made every reason to be out and about with it, capturing sunrises, sunsets, beaches, state parks, roadtrips, lighthouses, birds and other wildlife, my nieces and nephew.  i loved this camera and still have it, although i haven’t used it in years.  i learned about f-stops and aperture openings, film speed and depth of field – all with this camera.

somewhere along the way, automatic cameras began to reign supreme and i joined the ranks with a minolta that made taking pictures of My Girl and My Boy easier, faster, somewhat brainless.  as they were little and moments passed in lightning speed, this camera made moment-seizing more possible, although one still had to wait till the film was developed to see if you were successful.  sometimes it was the blurry photo, the funny face, the i-wasn’t-trying-to-get-that-picture photograph that are the prizes.  they are the ones we couldn’t erase, delete, photoshop, filter.  they were what they were.

i remember roll after roll, walking in to rode’s camera shop and taking advantage of their double-print deal, always sending photographs to grandparents, family and friends who were afar.  having sorted through every one of the prints in recent years, i can honestly say that i have literally thousands of photographs of my children when they were growing up.  perhaps this is the reason they roll their eyes at me now when i want to take pictures of them?

i can’t help but think of what i might have captured on film had digital cameras or cellphones with the exquisite-cameras-of-today been around back then.  video without having a gigantic vcr camcorder on your shoulder or even a smaller, still cumbersome 8mm camera, instant photos that you can preview and take over, every photo or image or video ‘fixable’, ‘changeable’, ‘alterable’.

i have to say i am a little envious of the ability of parents today who are able to document their children, their travels, their, well, every move, not to even begin to mention selfies, and instantly facebook-post it, email it, text it, snapchat it, instagram it, tweet it, snapfish or shutterfly-book-it, sharing it with the world.  it’s so simple.  their documentation will be so much more complete, the phone-camera a constant companion with no real added burden of weight or case or extra lenses or film or a flash.  the rise and ease of amazing technology.

it was with a sense of uh-oh-we-really-are-getting-olderrrrr that we happened upon the display of cameras and movie cameras in the antique shoppe.  i wanted to pick each one up, look through the viewfinder, compose a photo or two.  i was instantly transported back to crabmeadow beach with susan, climbing the fence to snag a few sunrise pictures.  i was in the boat with crunch, cruising long island sound lighthouse to lighthouse.  i was on the floor with my babies, catching their moments.

there was something magical about waiting for that old film to develop.  something that made it sometimes easier to put the camera, the device, away.  something that made it paramount to memorize -for your very own mind’s eye- the most precious of events, the most intimate details, the agonizingly briefest purity of a perfect moment in time.

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

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frosting and connection.

network connections

cupcakes.

and frosting.

i would talk to my piano students about practicing.  i drew a comparison of the time they spent, the way they allocated their time to cupcakes and frosting.   i would start by saying let’s talk about practicing, whereupon most of my sweet students would roll their eyes, a common reaction to the word ‘practice’.  i would suddenly switch topics to cupcakes and they would happily skip down that path, thinking they were avoiding the ‘practice’ chat.  we would talk about our favorite cupcakes and the very best frosting that could possibly earn the top spot on those treats.  and once we discerned that very-important-information, i would pose a question:

let’s say you have a small cup of frosting.   delicious, fluffy, sweet-as-can-be frosting.  it’s just a small cup – like the tiny sippy cups you drank from as a baby.  and you have a choice.  you can either frost one cupcake with that sippy-cup-full or you can frost all 24 of the cupcakes that are waiting on the counter from the oven.  which will you do?

my students, all brilliant cupcake-lovers and bright lights in the world, would sit and ponder for a second and then reply that they would frost the one cupcake.  otherwise, they would explain, the frosting would be so thin that you would barely know it is there, you would barely taste it, and it would be like there was no frosting at all.   and besides, if they got to eat the one cupcake, they wanted the one rich with frosting.  who can argue with that?

contrary to their belief that the ‘practice’ talk was over, i would clutch and shift gears back to the piano.  “if you have a little bit of time to practice and pieces of music that might be difficult to play, would it be better to hurry through every piece spending a few moments on each OR would it be better to spend that little bit of time on one or two?” i would ask (in student-age-appropriate language).   invariably they would frost one cupcake.

i believe the same applies to connection.  with the advent of the vast array of social media choices, we have applied an ultra-thin layer of frosting to our connections.  we have thinned out the time we truly spend on relationship – pure individual relationships.  we have, oddly, chosen to spend easily-addicted quantities of time and emotional energy on social media “relationships” with people we do not know rather than being in real touch with the people closest to us.  we expect those people to learn of things on outlets and from posts instead of simply telling them, picking up a phone and calling or texting them.

we are not connected to a network.  we are connected to a network.  both of these are true.

the question for me, one that i must look at as well,  is – how much time are we spending on that network, on individual people we love and care about?  is there any frosting at all?

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

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it’s a strangely narcissistic world. [merely-a-thought monday]

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when i was in perhaps fourth grade i went to sleepaway camp.  camp koinonia was upstate ny and my bestfriendintheworld susan went as well.  we slept in bunkbeds in cabins that had screens as windows, ate in the big cabin that was the cafeteria, took hikes, swam in the lake, did craft projects and played kickball.  on one of our hikes in the woods we passed a tepee.  i wanted a full picture of this tepee so i stepped behind a big pine tree and parted the branches so i could take an artsy picture.  one more step back and i would be able to capture the whole thing in the frame of my pocket instamatic camera.  one more step….

i fell backwards off the side of the 30′ cliff that was behind that pine tree.  i was intensely lucky though, for at the bottom of my fall was a very large pile of pine boughs.  they softened my plummet down.

it is lately that we have seen more and more accidents that happen when people are not photographing a thing but, instead, are photographing themselves.  selfies are the preferred modus operandi for instagram, snapchat, facebook, your own camera stream of memories.  but people are falling and, tragically, they are perishing in their fall.  just to get a photograph.  the ever-important picture-of-self-to-post is heart-wrenchingly disastrous. maybe there is another way?  maybe it’s not that important?  or perhaps, if it really is that important, you could have eye contact with another person and ask that person to please take a picture?

there was a story recently that made me shake my head in utter amazement.  residents of a town in russia were flocking to a toxic artificial lake which had turned turquoise because of chemicals from a coal-generated power station.  they are hiring photographers, staging photo shoots, getting IN this water that is – knowingly- ridiculously harmful to the skin, all because it and its turquoise hue will make a good picture.  it’s a dumping ground!  what are they thinking??  i stood there, after reading the story aloud to d, shook my head and said, “it’s a strangely narcissistic world, isn’t it?”

i worry.  and, beyond a selfie-craze, i hope that there is a sharp turn away from the dominant narcissism that seems widely accepted these days.  if the point of all this – the world – was about any single one of us, i suspect there would be only ONE of us.  instead, i believe that the point of all this – the world – is about ALL of us.  it’s not just one, at any cost.  it’s all.  i’m hoping the cost of that – ALL of us remembering that it IS – indeed – all of us – doesn’t destroy us.  it’s a toxic lake.  we need to see it for what it is.

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

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the wisdom of lester. [merely a thought monday]

i'm trending copy

we have found that little bits of wisdom are all around us.  we were on the train to chicago when we encountered a wise man named lester.  he seemed a gentle soul, a big man with soft eyes, he was sitting across the aisle from us.  he talked to us about his life, about life in general. he had had a long day already, commuting by numerous trains in a circuitous route to go to a job interview; he wanted to make some changes and the interview he had been to was part of that.

he told us of a relationship he was in – nothing that was all that serious – but there was this woman….  the thing that stuck with us was his comment that in the morning as he awoke with her, she was on her phone….scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.  the early sun bright in the room, this lovely man by her side, she was endlessly looking on various social media platforms for what was trending.  “put down your phone,” he pleaded to the side of her that had forgotten he was even there.  “i’m trending.”

we’ve talked about presence before.  we’ve talked about being in the moment and not missing it.  we’ve talked about gratitude and time together.  we’ve talked about how fleeting time really is.  we’ve talked about relationship and listening and appreciating the place you are, the minute you are in.  and yet, in six words, lester said it better – “put down your phone.  i’m trending.”  wisdom indeed.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY A THOUGHT MONDAY

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hear you whisper. [k.s. friday]

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missing comes in many shapes and sizes.  colors too.  i’m now at that age that i hear this song in the context of too many people i know who have lost loved ones.  whether their beloved has moved on to a different dimension or a different life, it leaves behind someone grieving.  “you’re so here though you’re not here.” 

i occasionally browse through facebook and i am struck by the number of acquaintances or friends or family members who are remembering a loved one, this group of people unknown maybe to each other but bonded invisibly by a mutual intense emotion.  my heart responds to their pain, their determination to keep going, their day-by-day stepping back into the world.  it’s indeed a “crazy maze” that they are navigating, that i have navigated as well, that we each navigate at some point in time.

although moving on to a different life presents other extraordinary challenges to live through, losing someone to dying often leaves so many unspoken words, so much un-lived living-together.  “i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, over many miles and many distant skies.  i hear you whisper, hear you cry, hear you call my name at night, and i believe it’s not goodbye.”  like many of you, i, too, have listened intently to the universe, to the night, waiting to hear, believing that just-on-the-other-side is a whisper, on the wind, wafting its way to me.

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flawed cartoon wednesday

49Steps BIGcopy copy 2interrupting is an art form on long island.  i know this. i grew up there.  and, apparently, i carried this forward.  it took d a while (read:  a few years and meeting crunch)  to realize i was paying attention, that i wasn’t ignoring what he was saying when i interrupted…i just knew where he was going with it and jumped ahead.  now, i do realize that sounds pretty rude.  it’s not my intention to ever be rude, so i have tried, in recent times, to w.a.i.t. before i speak…at least a little bit longer.  if you are nearby when jen and i talk, you will think we are interrupting each other, talking in a circular path and arriving back at the point; carol and i have, for decades, conversed in short snippets of interrupted tangents.  regardless of our intent, no one wants to be asked to “pay attention!”

yet, we have all these ways, nowadays (using this word makes me sound old), to not pay attention.   how many videos have you seen where people are walking in a mall (or somewhere) texting or reading on their cellphone and fall into a fountain (or some other obstacle.)  we sit with others and try to hold a conversation, but they are busy on their phone or some device checking facebook or texts or twitter or the news…so many ways to not pay attention, so many distractions.   we see the tragic effects of split focus while people are driving cars.

we are no longer just giving our attention to the moment.  we are interrupting conversation, our work, the activity we are involved in, each other’s safety.  we would be well-served to pay just-a-little-more attention.

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