reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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memories you can touch. [two artists tuesday]

TV Trays This One copy

he stopped.  walking in the top floor room of a nearby antique mall we love to visit, david was struck suddenly by – of all things – tv trays.  “we had these!” he exclaimed. “growing up, we had these exact trays!” i immediately took pictures.  i knew i would send them to his sister later.  for a few moments, he was back in colorado, clipping the tv tray into place, surrounded by his sister, his brothers, his mom and dad.

when we have free time, we peruse antique stores.  sometimes we are lucky to amble with our dearest friends.  it takes time to walk through antiques – old stuff that connects us to a galore of stories.  we stop and tell tales, sharing, laughing, amazed at how long ago are the moments we are speaking of.  pole lamps that reach floor-to-ceiling, games, figurines, wooden crates, orange and turquoise vinyl furniture, dolls and toys, china, record albums, ancient suitcases with no wheels, teapots and patterns of corelle-ware, mixing bowls and corningware…everything is part of some moment we have passed through, maybe forgotten, but now surfacing with the touch of some item.

i am really thready, without physical reminders.  but with them i can literally touch yesterdays…full of emotion, sometimes pining for times-gone-by.  i relish the stories, the re-visiting.  i can almost, just almost remember our tv trays.  but not quite.  i can’t quite put my mind’s-eye-finger on them.   maybe we will stumble across them one of these days.  and i will stop short.

in the meanwhile, just wondering…what did your tv trays look like?

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which way? [two artists tuesday]

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which way product BAR

the moment i saw this trailmarker it made me laugh.  i was feeling exactlyyy this way, so this lightened my mood.  (yes, yes, i understand that the marker made sense, but if you flatten it out (as opposed to three-dimensional) it is admittedly funny and a little confusing.)

middle age (ohmygosh, yes, middle age) seems like a time of arrows every which way.  where we’ve been, where we are, where we are going…these questions are all different now…different from the striding times even a decade ago.  time is starting to mean something else; i recognize the scarcity of time-limitlessness.

i lost one of my very best friends from elementary school, junior high and high school last week.  kenny was brilliant and funny and courageous and a really good person.  together with his twin richard and i, we were often thought of as “triplets” in school, mostly because we were all platinum blond kids growing up.  i haven’t seen kenny for many years.  the last time i can remember was having coffee with him at the atlanta airport; he was an airline captain and based there so we met when i flew through with a tad bit of a layover.  he was thrilled to catch me up about his beautiful wife and son and he joked about how long it took him to find her.  even though i saw him rarely, there was something about knowing he was in the world that was comforting…a piece of my long-ago-past that i could still talk to or text with, maybe see from time to time, who knew me when i was little, when i was a preteen, when i was a teenager, when i loved calculus.  i tried to explain this to d…when certain people who connect me way back to my roots are no longer present on this earth, it is as if i can feel the earth tilt on its axis; it wobbles.  and nothing will ever be the same.  i can’t get to ken’s service, but i hope to carry with me – always – a piece of kenny and our growing-up history.  i hope to honor him somehow.

and the next time i wonder “which way” in angst, i hope to stand still, right where i am.  time is not unlimited.  i don’t want to waste it.

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in beauty i walk [two artists tuesday]

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today is The Girl’s birthday.  kirsten turns 28 today and i can hardly believe it.  where does the time go?  i am wishing i could spend time with her today (well, like every day)… make her dinner or a decadent gluten-free cake, have a glass of wine with her.  what i would really love to do is take a walk with her.  in her world.  like most moms, sharing space and time with my children is precious; taking a walk outside, breathing in air and talking together is something yearn-worthy.

the best part about visiting The Girl and The Boy is that then – and really only then – i can picture their lives…the place they live, their home, where they buy their groceries, the roads they travel, what they see when they look out their windows, the way the air feels, the angle of the sun, their favorite places to hang out or places that have been in stories they have told me or pictures they have sent.  it’s all vital for me.

The Girl lives in stunning surroundings.  her mountains are massive and grand and the terrain is white with snow or green green with leaves of aspens and needles of pines.  she walks in beauty.  she sees it.  she recognizes it.

today my wish for her is to find that every day of her life.  no matter where she is or what her surroundings.  she doesn’t just walk in beauty.  she is beauty.

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lemon meringue pie

a few days ago it was official lemon meringue pie day. now i don’t know who decides these things, but a day (especially right now in our world) dedicated to confection doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  and, seeing that in the paper made me think of my momma.

photomy sweet momma loved lemon meringue pie. no, that’s too mild….she adored lemon meringue pie. in the days prior to chocolate ganache cake (thank you, publix!) she would, sometimes, allow herself to have a piece of this bright yellow unicorn/rainbow/bubble sort of dessert. now, to be fair to other fruits, she also loved all other fruit pies. a piece of blueberry pie and a cuppacoffee made her smile; a piece of lemon meringue could elicit giggles. i mean, really, when is the last time you had that whipped confectionery sugar stuff stuck to your chin and the sides of your lips? you can’t help but giggle. such joy.

the book next to our bed is titled ‘the book of joy’ and it is next up on our read-it-aloud-together list. maybe we’ll start it sitting in adirondack chairs out back. maybe we’ll start it on a blanket on the beach. maybe we’ll start it sitting in the breezes that cross our bedroom, filled with soft light and treasured mementos, our favorite quilt, dogdog and babycat snoozing sounds. just the thought of reading this aloud together brings me joy. joy.

where do we learn joy from? is it something that we are taught? is it something that is inherent in each person on this good earth? is it reachable even by those who are in distraught times, in times of darkness?   is it a right? is it a responsibility?FullSizeRender(1)

my sweet momma was one of those people who was filled with joy. she woke me up every morning with the bright words “good morning, merry sunshine!” or “good morning, my sweet potato!” even in my grouchiest mornings i found it hard to resist smiling to that. i have no idea what she might have been dealing with at those times – her own life stuff with her parents, financial woes, words with my dad, a leak in the basement, personal disappointments or victories, worries about something in our family, what to cook for dinner, menopause or physical challenges, or a plethora of big or little things that were happening. regardless of whatever was in the docket in her mind, she made an effort (without making it look like she was making an effort) to bring joy.

momma’s level of excitement was contagious. she definitely leaned toward full spectrum on the positive side of the emotion band. her reaction to plans you talked about with her always met with enthusiasm…and often glee. the way she met life has set the bar high for me, making me cringe when there are others around me who don’t enthuse or act excited. i remember how she could make a bike hike even just to the dairy barn to buy milk sound like an adventure. joy.IMG_2785

today i am grateful to my sweet momma for teaching me how to lean into joy. this doesn’t mean i am always joy-filled. like everyone, i have my moments when i can be a raving …ummm… or i can feel sadness or grief with every fiber or i can be worried or disgruntled or fed up or overwhelmed by the details of life. but i truly think it was my momma who showed me, by her lifelong demonstration, how to pluck a joyous moment from a day and memorize it. IMG_2784how to write it down or pick up a rock (or a feather or a stick or a leaf) to remember it. how to notice joy and how to save joy. how to be thready about joy. how to lead with joy…in anything. how to own joy. how to be. joy.

there are too few days, i now know, over and over again, for each day not to be find-the-joy-in-today day.  it may be the smallest of things in a ridiculously complex, sometimes-driving-you-to-your-knees challenging world, but it’s there somewhere. i know it’s so. my momma taught me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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quirky quirks.

FullSizeRenderwhen i was 38 i got a package from my sweet momma. of course, it was from poppo too but he was pretty much a follower on this one. i excitedly opened the big box and there was a note inside. it read something like, “surprise! it’s about time…thought you could have one of these now.” curious, i continued to rapidly unwrap.   inside this simply wrapped gift (for my momma had to mail it to me across the country and everyone knows that those sticky bows get squished when you mail them) was —- wait for it —- a barbie doll with chandelier earrings in a huge party dress with pastel flowers glued onto it! now, that – blossom beauty barbie – sounds like an unusual gift at 38, but you have to know the back-story…

my momma would not let me have a barbie when i was growing up. ahead of her time, she felt that the barbie-body was somewhat unconscionably derisive for women and the feminist in her was railing against having her own little girl fall prey to that attitude. and so, she never let me get a barbie of my own. instead, she got me the doll penny brite, an adorable, flat-chested, bright-faced, modestly-dressed doll who just looked 1960s happy. a little later i got a skipper doll, who was barbie’s younger sister – clearly she hadn’t inherited the same physical genes barbie had. not being particularly well-endowed myself, in later years, i teased my mom that she had given me nothing to aspire to, but she just pursed her lips and tried not to laugh.

so this was a big deal – getting a barbie from my momma. it’s too perfect that it happened to be one of the tackiest barbies out there. but i received this from her when i had my own little girl and she probably guessed i was about to start buying her some barbies (so as not to be “the only one” in her group of little girlfriends without one, like me, still recovering from non-barbie-ptsd.) momma was quirky that way.

we were driving the other day and had to head into a shop that was on the other side of the street. i said aloud to d that i was going to “go up to the light” so that i didn’t have to cross traffic (in my defense, it would have taken forever to cross.) oh no! words coming out of my mouth directly from momma. she had this thing about crossing traffic. she would give me directions to get places all by making right turns, just to not cross traffic. it didn’t matter how much or how little traffic; she just preferred not to cross it. quirky, eh?

once, my sister told our momma that she had a friend who was struggling financially and had little children to feed. the little boy loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the subject came up that he liked the little containers of jelly you get in diners when you eat out for breakfast. after that, my sweet momma never ever passed up the chance to take those little containers of jelly and wrap them in her napkin to put in her pocketbook (aka purse) so that she could save them for this little boy. even at assisted living, she encouraged everyone at her table (and other tables) to “save your jellies” so she could collect them all. now, it would have been easy/easier to buy small jars of jelly and peanut butter to give to this young woman for her children, but momma was on a quest…jellies it was. quirky.

this morning we laid in bed a little longer with our coffee and talked about momma. two years ago, right about now, the very moment i am writing this, my sweet momma took her last breaths on this earth. i cannot believe it has been two years; i cannot believe it has been only two years. both are true. and i’m betting that you can read, without the words, that i miss her…beyond words.

i’m sure there were times between my growing up and now that i found myself saying something or doing something or having an expression on my face that was identical to my sweet momma’s. i’m sure at some of those times i rolled my eyes thinking “whattheheck?” and trying to push back the momma-isms. i’m betting the girl and the boy find themselves every now and again thinking, saying, doing something that makes them push back at being a little like me. sometimes, we try so hard to escape the genetics, until one day, we realize we are damn proud of some of these traits, some of the quirkiness, some of the same gestures or expressions or….

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clearly, i wasn’t ready for the barbie doll until i was 38. maybe i’m not even ready now. penny brite wasn’t so bad after all. i’m grateful my mom stood against the prevailing winds of pop culture, opting for something different. i’m grateful she wanted her family to not have to cross traffic, figuring out, with her very analytical mind, how to get people from point a to point b in a safer way. i’m grateful she collected the little jellies for someone who needed them. and i am grateful for the quirks.

 

 


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old-fashioned goodness.

back road cropped copy

as much as possible. then and now.

we took the back roads home from indiana. we are #backroadpeople as many chances as we can get. with a slice of miles of highway on each end, we bookended farm fields and small towns, tall brown corn stalks, tractors, farmhouses and barns that looked like old schoolhouses. we were in our glory and happy to avoid the plethora of orange barrels and one-lane distractions on the interstate.

we stopped at a bp station in watseka, illinois to get gas. i pulled up and was surprised by the young man (uh-oh, i am definitely getting older) who came to the window to ask if he might help us. now if i were in new jersey, i wouldn’t have been surprised…they pump the gas for you there – it’s a law. but wisconsin and illinois and indiana? no such law. we asked to “fill it up, regular” – words i hadn’t uttered in decades and he politely took our credit card and started to pump the gas. moments later, we were further stunned when he came around the front of the car to clean the windshield. yes! clean the windshield. what??

when he was done, i told this really polite young man that it had been decades – literally decades – since someone had cleaned the windshield while my gas was pumping. i asked if all the stations in town did that. he replied that it was just this one. his boss had owned the station for years and years and that was how he did it “in the old days” so he “wanted it to stay that way.” amazing! the gas was no more expensive than any other station in that little town, so he was absorbing the extra cost. it made all the difference to us. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect.

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then.

a couple of days ago the girl texted that she had carved pumpkins.  the time spent on designing and carving out a face on a jolly orange pumpkin is pure joy…not to mention the pumpkin seeds, if you bake them. a little old-fashioned goodness.

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now.

two days ago the boy sent me a text that said, “making apple pie.”  i was amazed! he later sent a picture to prove it. it was scrumptious looking. a little old-fashioned goodness.

the boy and the girl brought me to an enormous bank of memories i got lost in…all the fall things…apple-picking, pumpkin farms, hayrides, bonfires, marshmallows, crunching leaves under your feet, walking in the woods, pie-making, big sweaters and boots, the return of slipper-nights, the smell of burning leaves, hot cocoa…

there’s this fall thing i experience every year…a melancholy…

kerri-applepie1977

then.

…i find myself spending time recalling long island falls: time in the car driving upstate to apple farms with my mom and dad, time picnicking in a park out east surrounded by the colored leaves my mom adored, time after school on the couch drinking tea and eating chips ahoy cookies after school with my sweet momma, apple-pie-making and cookie-making with friends, pumpkin-carving, leaf-raking, costume-rummaging, candy-gorging, by-the-fire-sitting, the waning sun, the days the sky and the sound were the same color…

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then.

and time when the boy and the girl were little: the trips to jerry smith’s pumpkin farm, apple pies, baseball and soccer games under blankets, sewing to the last second to get costumes done and later, scrounging to the last second to get costumes put together), the squishing of feet into old boots, the new snowsuit jacket quests, the hunts for matching mittens and gloves in all the places they may have gone…it’s all the old-fashioned goodness stuff….

the old-fashioned goodness stuff….not the stuff of the past, but i think the stuff that the past has taught us…the stuff that warms us, comforts us, renews us, makes us whole…

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then.

i’d write more, but i’m feeling the need to go make an apple pie, carve a pumpkin and light the fire. a little old-fashioned goodness. perfect. gotta go.

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now.


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the way home.

IMG_1794i stood on crab meadow beach, looked across the sound, and dropped to my knees to touch the sand on that very familiar place. i can’t count how many times i sat on that very beach…the wind has taken drifted waves of sand and moved them around, the waves and rain and erosion have changed the shape of the inlet, but i recognize it. deep inside me, i can feel it – from long ago. and still.

crab meadow is not the most beautiful beach by beach standards. (i know  – i talked about it a lot in my june 20, 2015 blog called ‘the gorgeous disorderliness that is life.’) it is rocky and pebbly and not vast and you can see the stacks from there when you look left, but i will always consider it my most important beach. so much time spent there. winter, spring, summer, fall. it is one of the places i call home.

and just a few weeks ago i found my way there. to my crab meadow beach.

my husband understood my need to sit and ponder and meander through my thoughts and memories. he was both appropriately quiet and conversational. he engaged in my memories, my musings and my relationship with that tide, and held me as i felt wistful. so much growing happened for me on that beach, since that beach. in that place. home.

i was always the kind of kid who got homesick. being thready does that to a person. i still get homesick. homesick for places, people, times gone by. my roots mean so much to me: climbing the fence to the beach pre-dawn, my dog missi in the well of my vw bug, sitting with notebooks in my tree….i can still hear the clanking of masts in northport harbor…. i remember childhood playdates with dianne, bike hikes and drives and countless overnights with susan, bobdylanjohndenver arguments with marc, joe-z lecturing me on driving too slow on waterside avenue…i can still feel the damp wind on my face fishing with crunch in the middle of the night, in the middle of the sound….i can still see my sweet momma and poppo, in our house, my brother skateboarding with me and strumming his guitar, my sister playing leonard cohen and doing my hair…a zillion thoughts….home…

my daughter stands on the top of a huge mountain and feels home. my son, in the midst of his big busy city, feels home.   i look west and i look south – toward them – and know that part of what makes home for me is now climbing a mountain or riding the ‘L’ train.

and so i stood on that beach and thought about life since…decades after the days i had spent huge slices of time there.

i felt like i had come there to pick up something i left behind, to reclaim something. but now i wonder if actually i needed to be there to leave something there…to leave that which i no longer needed.   i have yet to figure out the sudden burst of tears that came with my feet in that sand.

i just know that crab meadow, once again, came through for me. it will always be home. no matter how many other places or people i call home, i will always be able to find my way home. there.

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itunes: kerri sherwood: this part of the journey: the way home