reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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those ferns. [two artists tuesday]

ferns

the ferns make me think of sally; the day we pushed the wheelbarrow up and down third avenue back and forth to her house – over and over – loaded with hosta, ferns, daylilies.  the sweet-smelling peonies make me think of linda, digging in the dirt of our gardens, planting, weeding, helping to shape the space.  the grass makes me think of russ and marykay, again, a day of wheelbarrowing, again third avenue, but due north instead of south, over and over.  we dug the pond with big help from ted and monica and a bevy of friends at our ‘big dig’ party.  we sustain the pond with words of wisdom from jay and charlie.  we build bonfires in a firepit from jen and brad and we watch lettuce grow in wooden planters from 20.  we just added hosta from daena’s mother-in-law-to-be; dan and gay delivered them.  it has taken a small village to plant our garden.

it is not without luck that these have grown well.  dogdog has done his best to try and decimate the yard and My Girl worked long hot hours last summer pulling weeds any rainforest would be proud of; our stay on island and not in our backyard encouraged strong holding-on-not-letting-go weeds of great substance, but the girl prevailed over them.

we didn’t hire a garden center to ‘do’ our yard.  it’s not too planned; it’s definitely not too fancy.  it is a place of sanctuary, though.  a place, created with so many people we love.  a place where – in the middle of this pandemic, in the middle of the heart-wrenching chaos in this country, in the middle of economic worry for so many, in the middle of fear of more divisiveness and even less thoughtful leadership – we can sit in broken adirondack chairs on the patio or on the edge of the deck, arms wrapped around our knees, listening to the fountain, the birds, the wind in the trees.

the sun warms.  and we wait to hear the croaking of the pond-frog who magically appeared just a few days ago.

read DAVID’s post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“we believe in tomorrow.” [merely-a-thought monday]

plant lettuce

as a person who is at severe risk, our dear 20 is isolating alone.  it is unusual for us not to see him a couple or three times a week.  our visits are now just audio by telephone or perhaps a facetime here or there.  he has much to look forward to and, in preparing for all that, he is taking all precautions, sacrificing now for later.  he texted us this message the other day.  it was after a call the night before – a call during which we all shared the middle-of-the-night-wakefulness that is scary-as-all-get-out.

it was a text of wisdom.  a text that conveyed a message that there is always a measure of blind belief necessary.  a text i read more than once.

i know that my beloved big sister and i don’t agree on everything.  but this morning she texted me that she had gone to the post office in the wee hours last night to send a small package to us.  inside are four masks, to protect us, to protect others, to walk into tomorrow prepared.  and i am grateful.  we will wear these masks because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we stay home because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we social distance; we cross to the other side of the road on a getting-fresh-air-walk because we believe in tomorrow and because we want to protect all we can in getting there.

we wash our hands.  we wash our groceries.  we disinfect.  we let mail, packages, newspapers sit untouched for days.  we wipe everything down.  we are conscious.  we try to protect.

lettuce will grow if you plant it.  if you prepare the soil.  if you water it, if you protect it from deluge or too much arid sun.

so, like 20 suggested, we’ll bring out the wood boxes, prepare the soil and plant lettuce.  and we’ll protect it.  because we believe in tomorrow.

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

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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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our posse. [merely-a-thought monday]

i didn't even notice .jpg

we are five hours and a ferry ride from our basement.  but we have an amazing posse of friends back there on the mainland.  my girl has taken up residency keeping an eye on our house and our posse is keeping an eye out for her.  we know that, no matter what, someone is but a phone call and minutes away from any kind of help she – or our house, basement included – might need.  and in that, we rest easy.  such generosity.

the humidity and heat has been high in southeastern wisconsin this summer and our basement?  in a line from my big fat greek wedding, it suffers.  one dehumidifier is not enough.  worried, we texted our up-north-gang up north to ask advice:  “in a non-centrally-air-conditioned house, how many dehumidifiers would you put in the basement?”  immediately we got back answers from jay and gay, opinions from charlie and dan, and within days dan brought over a dehumidifier, installed it and checked on the one already there.  thinking about the cluttered basement, we texted to him that while paying attention to the basement to please ignore the basement.  he texted back, “i didn’t even notice the basement.”  generosity.

we ran home for a night a couple weeks ago.  we ran errands, we installed the a/c units in the windows, we grocery shopped, we weeded and vacuumed, we prepped the house for our girl’s arrival.  we picked up mail and packages from john, shared drinks and not-enough-stories with jen and brad, ate a late dinner with 20, had quick before-she-went-to-work coffee with michele.  in their busy schedules, our beloved posse dropped everything and made time to see us, time to spend together.  generosity.

we couldn’t be here without our posse there.  fact of the matter is, we couldn’t be THERE without our posse there.

because it takes a village to take care of a basement.  and each other.

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

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a beautiful day in the neighborhood. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the moon and first ave copy

when fred rogers aka mr. rogers used to sing, “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day in this neighborhood.  …  would you be mine?  …  won’t you be my neighbor?” i remember singing along.  it seemed he was from a different time.  a time when neighborhoods were truly communities.

we are lucky to live in a neighborhood that includes neighbors who are friends.  dear friends.  we gather on back patios and back decks, inside around dining room tables, huddled next to firepits and in each other’s kitchens.  we talk, we laugh, we try to solve the world’s problems.  our neighbors aren’t all the same ages, so we are at different times in our lives, which adds wisdom and perspective and good learnings to these times we spend together.  i have no idea what we would do without these wonderful people.

last weekend after linda and jim’s impromptu gathering, we walked down their driveway.  lighting our way was this moon, shining across the water, over the rocks, directly to us.

yes.  it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

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

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pay attention to nature… [flawed cartoon wednesday]

BirdsSouth BIGcopy copy

ohmygosh.  this was my swan song every time we left the house when The Girl and The Boy were little.  this is our swan song before we leave the house now.  every time.  some things don’t change.  i know this has nothing to do with this flawed cartoon and the instincts of birds flying south (or the technology they pay attention to), but middle age and its challenges -and joys- dictate what i pay attention to.   and the common theme songs are hot flashes and restroom locations.  sheesh!

we have a group of friends that all go together to a winter festival up north a bit.  we literally PLAN where we are stopping for the “rest” stop and snacks.  and it’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away!  we don’t have devices to alert us.  they are not necessary.  besides, charlie refuses to have any of that confounded stuff.

yup. sometimes nature and people and even geese don’t really need technology.

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