reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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there is a peace in that.

Scan1

for weeks now i have been going through old photos. now, this is an enormous task – 35 years of life, 35 years of memories, 35 years of pictures…uhh…let’s make that 35 years of disorganized pictures…and i haven’t even gone back all the way (“obviously”, you all think, as you do the math between 35 and 57!) the rest of the journey back i’ll make another time. it will take me another long while.

some of you may have every picture you ever took in albums, cleverly captioned. some of you may have every picture you ever took in boxes, neatly labeled. i would like to say these photographs fell into one of these categories, but, uh, no, as my momma would say, “that ain’t so!” (she never used the word ‘ain’t’ unless it was in this context; she prided herself on vocabulary and grammar, and i (and my children – the girl and the boy) have been cursed (?) with this as well.)

so, my task involved bins and bins and boxes and envelopes and more envelopes of pictures, pictures, pictures. organizing photos into categories and sorting out thousands of duplicates that are helter-skelter likens to playing the match game…where did i see this one before? i spent the first week using a system to sort that quickly became ridiculously impossible. there were piles everywhere, spilling into other piles. this is a tedious task, at best, but i needed a better system. so the categories became more specific and boxes were labeled and placed all around the dining room, which became inaccessible to anything else for the weeks (literally, weeks!) this took place. labels like ‘baby-baby’, ‘random cuteness’, ‘winter’, ‘summer’, ‘christmas’, ‘easter’, ‘the pumpkin farm and fall’, ‘thanksgiving’, ‘pets’, ‘house stuff’, ‘trips’, ‘outdoor fun’, ‘family visiting’, ‘friends’, ‘school’, ‘music, sports, ballet’, ‘losing teeth’….the list goes on. it was daunting. bins of mixed-up photos surrounded me.Scan2

and i just finished.

now to find the place to bring them all to so that dvd’s and thumbnail print books may be made. i’ll download onto flash drives all the photos on the computer post-physical-picture-developing. and this task – at least 35/57 of the task – will be done.

last night at ukulele band i told everyone on the patio if they ever thought of doing this that they should either decide not to or to procrastinate it…forever. but on second thought, i am thinking that there has been some real living for me -even in the midst of wanting to scream from the tedium- in these last weeks. i have had the joy of re-watching my children born and grow, the joy of seeing my family – even those who have moved into a different plane of existence, the joy of seeing relationships at their best and through challenge, the joy of seeing what time really is.

there is a peace in that.

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ungrounded.

me&poppofour years ago today my daddy died. while in some ways this feels like yesterday, there are so many ways that this feels like eons ago. my sweet momma pined for him for the next three years. their marriage had been a lifetime of almost 69 years together. it’s hard for me to imagine that amount of time; i’m not even that age yet.

and now there are times i pine for both of them, her gentle but insistently positive and kind spirit, her chatty stories, her “hi, my sweet potato” or “good morning, sunshine”, his quiet pondering, quick norwegian temper, the tears in his eyes when it was time for leave from a visit, his “goodnight, brat” or “i love you, kook.” i wish they weren’t gone.

i find that today is not the hard day. it’s the days preceding today. it was like that for my momma too. it was the days preceding the anniversary of her dying that i was off-balance, out-of-sorts, crabby, ungrounded. anticipatory grief strikes hard, even after ‘real’ grief. anticipation of all the remembering. anticipation of The Day. anticipation of how it will feel…this time. anticipatory grief. ‘real’ grief. what’s the difference anyway…

he said, ‘we need to love more on these days.’ instead, we tangle some. this kind of ungroundedness is hard to explain. it’s raw. painful. one day in a note from lori, she wrote that she just wanted me to know that there is a different kind of grief that happens when both of your parents are gone and, having that experience, she would be happy to talk about it. i should probably take her up on that. sharing experiences with someone who can totally empathize –not sympathize- is a good thing.

we were walking yesterday, arm in arm, dogdog at our side. someone came out of her house, water bottle in hand, sneakers on, ready to take a walk. she said, “i have been trying to get my husband to take a walk with me. i tell him that we should walk together sometime before we croak. i don’t know how much more pressure i can put on him. i tell him all the time about the husband and wife who walk. i tell him they look so peaceful. i love seeing you two walk….”

i felt anything but peaceful yesterday. but there must be something. something that makes ‘loving more’ obvious. even if we can’t see it at the moment. even if we can’t feel it at the moment. even if i am ungrounded.

take a walk. hold hands. love more. every day.

hands

 


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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.

www.kerrisherwood.com

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


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held in grace.

it was snowing when we woke up this morning. huge white flakes. gorgeous. it’s april 2 so that isn’t so unusual in wisconsin, but we all have spring knocking at our hearts – waiting for it to happen. we walked in it…heavy snow boots, down jackets, earmuffs, gloves…it was cold…we were exhilarated. much of the snow was melting as we walked, the intermittent weak sun warm enough to melt it, just as the grey clouds made more snow swirl around us. we talked about waiting.

living with an artist and being an artist can be a challenge. we both feel the time of fallow needed to generate creativity. we get frustrated in that fallow. we rest in that fallow. we are held in the grace of it. and hold vigil for the spring.early tulip

his newest paintings are part of a new series. i stand in front of his easel and marvel.  the series is called “held in grace”. we hold each other in grace. (well, most of the time.) others hold us in grace. our universe holds us in grace. God holds us in grace. the freedom to be (in our case, human) grows in grace and green sprouts push through the fallow, becoming exquisite expressions – be they tulips or amazing paintings or pieces of music that make us cry or a dance we share in the kitchen.

we are waiting. and in each wait-full moment i am grateful. for the white flakes, the green sprouts, the fallow that makes me yearning-crazy and the ordinary extraordinary moments that i know exist because i can feel them. because i am lucky enough to be alive. because i am lucky enough to be held in grace.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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take the back road and make your own roses

back road cropped copythe sun is shining brilliantly outside and somehow i find myself wandering through the corners of my memories that take me back to long island – my earlier days. i see myself driving my little blue vw bug all over and, even though i wonder now if i would remember where all those little back roads might end up, i am taking all the little back roads. i’m kind of a back road person. ok. not kind of. i AM a back road person.

growing up with my sweet momma and daddy i was the youngest, separated from my brother and sister by enough years that put them all grown up and out of the house when i was a teenager. and so i would be in the car alone, or with my bestest friend susan, on sunday drives with momma and daddy. momma was good at picking destinations. nothing fancy. an apple farm. or a park on the water, way out the island. upstate somewhere. just enough to make you feel like you got away. and never on the highway, if she could help it. always the back roads. for momma, that was the point. my dad was an ace at seeing groundhogs sitting on the side of the road or spotting special birds. my mom was an ace at navigating for him – my poppo didn’t pay much attention to the signs and such; momma did that for him.

i’m sure i learned about back roads from them. and i’m sure i learned about the point of back roads from them. each and every moment a treasure of what might be around the next bend. the curiosity of a back road. the mystery (without a gps) of not knowing if the back road you were on might become a dead end. the laughter accompanying a three-point turn at the end of that back road. the not-knowing. we never set the bar high on these jaunts. we just traveled together and sang songs. or chatted. or were quiet. or we looked out the window. and because the bar wasn’t set too high, we had extraordinary times – moments i still remember to this very day. feelings i still remember to this very day. and the lure and joy of a back road that i still hold close to me.

so often we set the bar high. too high. i’m all for visioning a wonderful life. but not at the expense of losing the moment we have right now. not at the expense of only having this very moment because we are planning the next. or because we think the next depends on this one. not at the expense of missing the back road.

valentine’s day was this past weekend. people have really high expectations of this made-up holiday. we decided ahead of time that we were to buy nothing. anything we did had to be made. by our own two hands. the back road.

and so i made a little book for him, created out of brown paper and jute. accompanied by a teeny painting. i couldn’t wait to give it to him. i ended up giving it to him the same day i completed it. back roads are like that.

he wrote me a poem and rolled it into a scroll, tied with raffia. and he gave me a piece of brown paper, with lines on it and many folds that had been folded.

later on valentine’s day, i found some origami paper in the house (easier to fold, he says – from his experience of trying to make a rose from brown paper) and we sat in front of the instructions on the computer. together. with music on in the background, we sang. we chatted. we were quiet. we looked out the window.  snow falling.

and, literally giggling at our clumsy hands, we made purple origami roses together.   we placed them, along with candles, as our centerpiece for the dinner we made together.

it was extraordinary.

purpleorigamiroses

kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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o christmas tree, o christmas tree

three years ago the boy and his best friend and i went to the christmas tree farm. there was a lot of snow and we ran through it, dodging each other’s snowballs. plodding around, we found the ‘perfect’ tree and an extra little one to go upstairs as well. the boy and pierre sawed them down, we loaded the big tree on top of the car, drove home and had hot chocolate before digging out the tree stand from the basement. this ‘perfect’ tree held white lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

IMG_2828two years ago d.dot and i were standing with the boy in the snow out in the field and the boy said, with disdain, “not THAT one!” he was talking about a christmas tree we had moseyed over to, a christmas tree that was speaking to the ‘youtwoarenotnormal’ in us. the boy wanted a ‘normal’ tree – one that had a ‘normal’ shape – one that looked ‘normal’ – the kind of tree that everyone associates with all the hallmark movies and norman rockwell christmas plates. and so, since we had driven in his car and he vowed to make us walk home from the christmas tree farm in freezing temperatures, we obliged his wish for a ‘normal’ tree. and it was beautiful. it had ridiculously sharp needles (we later named it ‘satan’) but it held white christmas lights proudly and it felt like a celebration.

last year the boy wasn’t there when we went to the christmas tree farm. so that meant that two artists were let loose in the fields. dangerous. we stomped through the snow and mud, laughing and looking at every single tree there. it wasn’t all that cold out, and the light was streaming throIMG_3997ugh the fir branches. it was glorious. we found our tree in the back of the farm. we nicknamed it ‘christmas-tree-on-a-stick’. (if you ever go to the minnesota state fair, as the boy and the girl and i did a few years back, you will find literally everyyyything on a stick.) this tree had a long trunk with no branches – about 3-4 feet up- and then the tree part started. everyone who saw it, loved it. it was a ‘perfect’ tree…a ‘perfect’ tree on a stick and it held white christmas lights proudly and felt like a celebration.

this year we drove past the christmas tree farm to see if it was still there. the land is for sale – 34 acres of oasis in town – but it is still there for all who want to have an adventure and find their ‘perfect’ tree. we didn’t stop right then; we planned on coming back another time. we laughed, pondering what this year’s tree would look like. it was likely we would pick out something even more ummm….artsy….than last year. we knew the boy would be thrilled. ha.

one morning, a few days after that, we took a walk. as we approached our home there was a big branch in the street that had somehow been knocked off the big tree in our front yard, a tree that has been there forever. this tree has been in so many pictures through the years. it has towered over the girl and the boy as they grew. it has been the base of snow forts, the shade for the summer, the harbinger of budding spring coming, the last tree to lose leaves in the fall. when i rocked the girl and boy as babies in the nursery, it was this tree i could see out the window, this tree that i see in my mind’s eye, this tree marking the changing of the seasons, the growing of children, the movement of time. i looked over at the branch in the street and then ran to get it. looking at d.dot i said,”what about this? this could be the perfect christmas tree for us this year.” we laughed and brought it inside so that it could dry out a bit. a couple of days ago, we placed it in the christmas tree stand, wrapped burlap around the bottom, aphoto-3nd stood back to look.   this branch, this piece of history, this year’s christmas tree – is holding white christmas lights -and a little metal star- proudly and is a celebration.

sometimes it is the simplest things.

 

 

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood

 


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twenty years later

my sister sent me this.  i don't know who to credit, but it's brilliant.

my sister sent me this. i don’t know who to credit, but it’s brilliant.

a year ago yesterday i wrote about an anniversary….it was 19 years since i released my first album. well, that makes this year’s yesterday 20 years since the release concert for that first album! i looked at someone last night and said, “two decades!” which makes it sound like forever ago. in some ways, it is.

fifteen albums and several singles after that first release i sit here at my piano and get lost in thought. thoughts of what next? thoughts of direction – looking back and looking forward. thoughts of relevance. (yes, i have used that before in writing. but it’s so…relevant.)

at 56 i am a different composer, a different performer, a different dreamer than at 36. it doesn’t seem as important to fill any concert venue in order to have impact, in order to resonate with someone in his/her life. i wonder where the next two decades will take me. sheesh, where will the next one decade take me?

i face different challenges now than i did at 36. i’m not writing in interrupted bursts at the piano, in-between toddlers’ requests or needs. i have more uninterrupted time to sit and compose, to write lyrics. hmm…i find that i’m actually better when being interrupted.

my songs are different too. lyrics at 36 were designed for airplay – 3.5 minutes or less. more than that was the kiss of radio-death. lyrics at 56 aren’t designed. in fact, i’m wondering who will listen. how many other pianoplayingsingersongwritercomposers are out there?

i was listening to pop radio while driving the other day and was floored at all the lyrics i would never have written. the lyrics “i’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble” would never occur to me. so i’m guessing (newsflash!) i’m not cut out for this pop radio thing any more. that’s a no-duh, you’re thinking. and yet, i know that people are still listening. i get feedback (jay’s word:) from people who generously take the time to sit down and jot a note to me about how something i have written touches them. this is huge. this is what makes writers keep writing, composers keep composing…the idea that something they have to say resonates with someone else. although the muse forces us all to continue regardless.

so….where am i going? i’m thinking about recording a new vocal album that is ukulele-based. not because i am a good ukulele player, but because i am not a good ukulele player. it will force me to really think about the lyrics, the melody, the stuff of emotion. i won’t be able to rely on those familiar and beloved 88 keys. it would make me change; it would make me grow. both are good.

i’d like to find a way for all the music that i’ve already recorded to be accessed more…in a fiscally rewarding way. the 319,954 downloads in the first quarter (see post from September 22) didn’t actually help me make a living. and that same thing happens each quarter that goes by. i’d like to think that everything that has been invested in all those albums – all those pieces of music – all that heart – might be able to help me pay my bills. $0.00079 royalty per download isn’t really the way to get there. and all the radio promoters and marketers i’ve paid in the past didn’t need the income from my music to pay their electric bill. they needed the income i paid them. big difference. but genuine iTunes downloads or licensing for movie scores or some wildly lucky viral hit would help.

in the meanwhile, i have to decide to decide. that it doesn’t matter, ahead of time, to know who will listen or what will happen. that if music is to be written, it just must be written. i have no real control over the rest.

twenty years later i think i get it.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood