reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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greenery and pine cones. [k.s. friday]

i started noticing while hiking on one of our favorite local trails. greenery and pine cones sharing space. a visual backdrop for hallmark holiday movie escapism, the repetition of these simple symbols of the holiday season over and again on trail brought my camera to hand time after time. capturing these photos has been decorating my mind with fancies of christmases-past and brightly wrapped packages and trees of all shapes and happy lights galore and times spent with my children, my family, my friends. the trail’s gift has inadvertently set me on the path toward light, my spirit breathing with each snap of the iphone.

a week before thanksgiving my son sent me a photograph of the christmas tree in their apartment. with garland strung and lights and soft holiday-themed pillows, it was straight out of a magazine. “a classic look,” he told me. yes. beautiful and classic, welcoming winter. my daughter’s photographs are snowy and crisp, crystalline and inspiring. winter is coming on in the high mountains. it dresses them with idyllic wonder.

we haven’t started listening to holiday music. it’s too raw at this point. but we will. i will climb out of this cavern, aided by every gift of nature as it heads into this magical season, and i’ll soon turn it – music – on. in the meanwhile, slowly, we have strung some new white twinkling happy lights, we have brought up a couple trees from the corner of the basement storage room. maybe we’ll bring up the big bins and we can step-by-step-forward turn our home into a celebration of what-is and not a daily reminder of what-was. walking toward light. each silver ornament a coaxing, each strand of lights an urging, each tuft of greenery an encouragement. all seasonal prompts, that out of the dark there is light. indeed, in the dark there is light. “nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” (john muir)

john muir also wrote this: “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” maybe that’s somehow why i am noticing. the greenery. the pine cones. laying on the trail, juxtaposed yet clearly related. dark and light, juxtaposed, yet clearly related. a new world, a doorway.

no wonder i keep seeing these sweet moments in nature. no wonder i keep searching. no wonder i have my camera out on the trail.

*****

if you are ready for holiday music, i have three christmas albums to help you celebrate and welcome the return of light – click on this link

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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if i was the rain. [two artists tuesday]

eric lowen and dan navarro (lowen & navarro) are two of the most in-sync singer-songwriters i have ever known. with lyrics to break your heart and voices and guitars that complement each other perfectly, you would think there would be no outer limits for them, no bounds. but.

if you need a good cry, an absolute raw moment, you should watch the video of eric’s last time on stage. at 60, devastated by ALS and with his children gathered around him and his guitar, he speaks the words of this amazing song of healing from his wheelchair. if i was the rain. it dives in and both destroys and rejuvenates my heart every single time.

the rain. if i was the rain.

if i was the rain
i’d have no reason to explain
i’d fall between the fireflies
i’d never dampen any light

i’d strike a chord within each heart
wherever they were torn apart
and if that helped them heal themselves
maybe we’d find out where forgiveness starts

if i was the rain
i’d choose forever to remain
i’d add a sparkle to the night
and marvel at the morning bright

if i was the rain
i’d bless each blossom to unfold
and i’d turn each one of them to gold
if i was the rain
if i was the rain
if i was the rain…..

(charles john quarto, eric lowen, dan navarro)

we sat for a few days straight at the table in our sunroom. watching out the window at dreary weather, non-stop rain, we pondered all that was happening. the rain-soaked screens unintentionally made abstract art while we tried to make sense. even with happy lights on and the company of our little pine tree from the woods of the high mountains, it was hard to balance it all.

“and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped, i stopped.” (no balloons, kerri sherwood)

i can’t really say i stopped abruptly. i wish it were that easy, a faucet to turn off, a switch to throw, a circuit breaker to reset. there has just been so much.

we know we are not alone in that.

in the middle of the night last night – wide awake around 2am – we sat in bed and talked. this year. broken wrists. a raging global pandemic. fights over face masks. covid-loss of jobs. exorbitant healthcare costs. a city on fire, social justice riots and deadly shootings blocks away. city-wide curfews. a country divided. political chaos. communities, families, friends on different sides of aisles that seem more like moats filled with crocodiles. isolation. family so far. worried about the kids. missing them. a parent sinking in dementia. another hand injury. fired. quarantine. i can’t remember all of it.

and still, we know we are not alone in that.

what i would do…if i was the rain.

*****

his last time – the gentle soul of eric lowen:

lowen & navarro sing if i was the rain:

purchase LOWEN & NAVARRO music – your heart will thank you.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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tacet root vegetables. [k.s. friday]

ritenuto: an abrupt slowing down of tempo

tacet: silence of instrument

fermata: pause of unspecified time

and, suddenly, a prolonged tacet. no notes. no instrumentation. no expression markings. no crescendos or decrescendos. just silence. the baton is laid down. there is no beat pick-up. there is no rest. it is silence. issued. written in the music. a ritenuto – screeching to slow, a subito tacet. suddenly still.

the reassurances are generous, heartfelt. they are reflexes, like putting out your hand when you fall. they are meant to help in the silence, in the sudden slowdown, the sudden stop, the fermata holding the tacet. they make my heart quiver, these well wishes. but they don’t change the composer’s notes in the music: the ritenuto. the tacet. the fermata. those are printed in the music; those are decreed. they are unquestionable, immovable, indisputable, final.

i was voted off the island, in “survivor” talk. it was not an island, but, nevertheless, i am not a survivor. not there, anyway. i am forever tacet-ed there. the fermata above my tacet-ed head reminds me.

it, too, reminds me to be still. to step lightly. to be gentle with myself. i run the scores in my head – scores of scores in that place. i emoted each expression marking, each twist of the music, each gradual shaping, each change of tempo, of timbre, of voice.

and now.

i opened this book randomly, hoping to arrive on a page that might offer me wisdom. i read: “upheavals in life are often times when the soul has become too smothered; it needs to push through the layers of surface under which it is buried….it reminds us that we are children of the eternal and our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity.” (john o’donohue)

it doesn’t feel like a platitude. i’ve read it over and over and over again now since the morning i was fired. i wonder, each day, when the baton will be lifted, when the pick-up beat will come. i remember the all-engulfing power of change works both ways – to decimate and to breathe new life. i – try – to trust the dusty trail i am reluctantly set upon.

upheaval. sudden arrival at prolonged silence. not much more upheaval for an artist than silence. yet, as i sit in this silence, deemed as fitting by the composer, i feel the root-vegetable-of-my-soul gathering energy. with no idea and no preconception, i await as it will push through the earth one day, steeped in nutrients, rooted in rich soil.

my sweet momma said, “live life, my sweet potato.” oh wise woman, you must have known.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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and we give thanks. [d.r. thursday]

“the north texas food bank distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food for about 25,000 people on saturday.” (cnn.com) thousands of cars were lined up at the mobile food pantry. “54 million people in america face food insecurity during the pandemic.” (aamc.org) and we give thanks.

on november 23, at the noon hour, over 12,175,921 million americans had contracted covid-19. the omnipresent global pandemic has killed 255,958 americans since january 21, 2020. (covid.cdc.gov) with a gaping hole in leadership it continues to rage. and we give thanks.

“of the roughly 20 million americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.” (apnews.com) layoffs will likely accelerate in the next weeks and months. and we give thanks.

“gaslighting is deeply rooted in societal structure and social inequalities. women are more likely to experience gaslighting both in professional environments and in their personal lives due to these inequalities.” the term “racial gaslighting” is used “to describe a way of maintaining a pro-white/ anti-black balance in society by labeling those that challenge acts of racism as psychologically abnormal.” “racial gaslighting maintains a pro-white/anti-black balance in society.” “so many of the examples of racial gaslighting we’ve experienced and looked at are embedded in the structure, history and culture of the united states.” (bbc.com) the ugly truths. social injustice. where does a country go from here? and we give thanks.

“the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of millions of people around the world.” (who.int) “capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isolation.” (adaa.org) the struggle is real. and we give thanks.

there is so much. so much overwhelm. we look to the stars. we reel, we grieve, we ponder. we wonder how we can withstand any more.

and we are resilient. more than we can ever really know.

we surround our brutalized hearts with the love of family and friends, with memories of times past and wishes for times to come. we keep on keeping on, just as our intrepid ancestors did. we recognize the utter fragility of the moment, the immense journey we are on and the tiny bit of space we actually have on that journey. we stand tall, in the waning sun of late autumn. together. we are grateful. and we give thanks.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

CHICKEN MARSALA – PONDER LIFE mug and other products

CHICKEN MARSALA © 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

GRATEFUL from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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artists and bootstraps. [two artists tuesday]

the bootstraps are getting a good workout.

the flutter in my heart, my racing pulse, uneven breathing.

i tug at the bootstraps.

i don’t have a choice.

i am an artist. bootstraps come with the job. they are inherent. they are undeniable. they are a burden. they are a release. they are imperative.

we cannot hide from the here and now. we cannot hide from the truth, be it light and airy, be it ugly and heavy. we speak to now; we help provide access to truth, to raw emotion, to the basic fundamental sameness – and yet individuality – of humans. to where the rubber meets the road.

we pull up the bootstraps and take a deep breath.

we dive in.

“just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the infamous tagline from the box office movie hit “jaws”. we are shocked by the cold water, the lurking sharks, a symbiotic ocean with underlying danger. we muster on.

the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance gently ease us all into a place of rest, of reassurance. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance prod us all out of a place of mediocrity, past complacency, past laissez-faire. the art, the music, the prose, the poetry, the dance urge us into thought, into action, revitalize our fire. this is the job of an artist.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the curtains part. i walk to the apron, bow my gratitude, take the bench. hands on the keys, boom mic inches from me, i begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. pace. glance in the mirror. look at my notes and the score in my hands. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. the musicians take their places. i walk to the front, sweep across the singers and accompanying instrumentalists with eye contact, appreciation and love, stand in front of the piano. hands on the keys, all at the ready, we begin to speak.

i take a breath. try to slow my pulse. feel the slight flutter in my heart. take another deep breath. i re-tie my boots. i pace. i glance in the mirror. look at my notes. say a quiet prayer. breathe. shift from one foot to the other. breathe. my pulse runs faster. i stand in my boots. i walk to the front, bow my gratitude, nod to the empty bench. hands trembling, no microphone, i am escorted out the exit.

i pull up my bootstraps.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the fermata. [k.s. friday]

on hold.

the fermata lingers over my days, issuing a pause of length undetermined. the baton is held in the air. there is no downbeat, no pattern of time. just prolonged waiting.

in dr. seuss fashion we wait in the waiting place.

answers are just beyond our grasp, skimming the rim of the atmosphere, invisible to us, ephemeral and flimsy, ever-changing, like trying to capture the flicker of flame from the top of a candle lit in the darkness.

so i just keep waiting. we just keep waiting. our world just keeps waiting.

we sit quietly. we rail at the wind. we speak up. we skirt to the sidelines. we ask questions. we wonder. we are met with silence. we are dissolved. we seek fairness, equity. there is none of that. we step away from the noise. it follows us, snapping at our ankles. we do good work. we seek truth. we are managed, a place of hypocrisy. our country flails. we flail.

and we wait. knowing that, indeed, better will come. knowing that, in some measures, new will come. knowing that, after the fermata, light will come. grieving all we have lost in the process, in the journey, in the waiting place.

we are holding.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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the asinine. [flawed wednesday]

if you look at the leaves on our front lawn in this photograph, you will see splotches of green. this is the path that some incredibly audacious person took walking from the sidewalk to our front brick wall in order to steal our two biden/harris election signs. yes. STEAL.

that morning – the saturday that joe biden was declared the new president-elect and kamala harris was declared the new vice-president-elect – someone had the gall to walk into our yard and take the sign out of the middle of the yard. then that person continued walking – right up to our old brick wall – and took our other sign.

now, i have never had election signs in my yard before. ever. but this year was different and, in addition to a couple other social justice signs, i was proud to have “biden/harris” gracing our home. i was looking forward to rolling one of them up for our special box, a remembrance of this turbulent time.

opening the miniblinds and letting the sun in the front windows i immediately saw that the signs were gone.

what was this person thinking?

did he/she think that they could prevent the inevitable? did he/she think that taking our signs would mean that the election results would shift? did he/she think that stealing from someone else’s property would be ok, acceptable, appropriate? that stealing candidate signs is not petty and immature? is that what this current president has taught them? that their angry opinion and their inflated sense of ego and importance would give them permission to steal? that their bullying would actually change anything? that their malfeasance would warp voting results that have everything to do with actually saving the soul of this nation, of democracy? that stealing signs would stop any new-day-for-america change of this nation toward equality and hope, a trajectory so needed for so long? that they don’t think crybaby tantrums and an obvious desire for retribution undermine the (supposed) value set they proclaim? did it occur to this person that we might have a security camera on the front yard? did it occur to them it is a misdemeanor? did they think that their whiny, pouting, coddled leader himself, all the way from his time-out corner in the white house, would pay their legal fines?

it is apparent that we were not the only target of this infantile and illegal behavior. many other biden/harris signs were gone from yards we had smiled at while passing and the bigger wooden signs that had been erected were pushed over. yes, now there is a display of puerile behavior. to have followed this/these person(s) around our neighborhood, triumphantly snatching signage out of the ground, would be to witness the asinine.

maybe the next time they steal something from someone they’ll smile and wave. candid cameras can be ruthless these days.

oh. and by the way, stealing our signs did not change the results. your guy lost.

peace out.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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collective exhaustion. [d.r. thursday]

utterly exhausted.

we literally get to 4:30 in the afternoon, when the light of standard time is waning and the day is catching up, and we are both utterly exhausted.

we sat on the boulder overlooking the river and bowed our heads down, brows furrowed, squeezing our eyes closed as we listed the reasons why we might be tired. we decided it is collective exhaustion. we simply do not know anyone who is not beyond tired right now.

the last week offered many chances to be outside: warm sun, soft breezes, a rare november last-licks-of-second-summer. every walk helped. every minute in the adirondack chairs helped. every task checked off the never-ending chore list helped. but there was still this weariness, pervasive, inevitable.

in the middle of a raging pandemic, with the stress of keeping oneself and others healthy, with the worry of financial strain, with the chaos of the election, with the political climate and matters of social justice, with work challenges, with isolation away from loved ones and friends, with grief over our individual physical issues – where is the restoration, the rejuvenation?

and so, we tuck in. we lay our head in the crook of our arms and we sigh. we know we are not alone. everywhere, necks are bent low in sheer collapse.

collectively, we all slow down our rapidly-beating hearts and our nervous pulses. collectively, we consciously take a deeper breath. collectively, we will rise back up, unfolding our bodies from fatigue. collectively, we will carry on.

but for right now we are utterly exhausted.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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true colors. [flawed wednesday]

you can’t go back.

you can’t unhear it or unknow it or unsee it. in any circumstance. at any time. that, alone, gives me pause.

these times, amped up, when people have been foaming at the mouth and spewing vitriol, have been enlightening and have turned the spotlight on these wise words – words cautioning how we speak, how we act, what we do, what we condemn or uplift, what we profess.

decades ago i directed a youth choir in florida. they were performing in concert and their last piece was the song “true colors“. i purchased large swaths of different colored cellophane, body-sized sheets, which they held up in front of them as they sang, “and i see your true colors shining through. i see your true colors and that’s why i love you. so don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors, true colors are beautiful…like a rainbow.” as they finished they let the cellophane in front of them gently drop to the floor, draping around their feet. exposed, in their own true colors, they stood.

we are exposed. the true colors are showing. and this nation is none too pretty. 71 million people in our country vehemently supported the current reigning president for the position of leader-of-the-free-world as 75 million voted for change. and now, the 71 million, led by their tantrum-throwing leader, are not letting the good man who won win.

i have been stunned time and again throughout the last few years as i watched people close and far, by proximity, by relation, by partisan lines, stand with a person who is as close to the definition of evil that i can point to in recent times. i have asked questions, i have researched, i have pointedly disagreed, i have been horrified.

where has the collective moral compass gone? or did i miss the memo that stated self-serving agenda was the sole soul choice on the menu?

it is astonishing to watch people line up behind a pathological liar narcissist. astounded time and again, i’ve been overwhelmed reading or hearing the words of the complicit comrades in his sociopathic administration. astounded time and again, i’ve been struck by the echoes of these same sentiments in people who i would have thought knew better. angry words rat-a-tat through the country like automatic weapons leashed upon non-followers. falsehoods and pretense, derogatory and snide, spread like rapid fire. a true lack of moral compass, lack of principle has led the corrupt way and 71 million people have jumped on the furious bandwagon, jumping up and down with unmasked glee, screaming the anger they have dislodged from the depths of their souls. it is staggering. and unforgettable. and utterly terrifying.

every thing counts. every word uttered. every action taken. every everything. those things do not just disappear, vanishing into a fog of wishing-it-different. instead, they linger in the universe and something shifts in what you know about others.

those words – the ones they pummeled you with – are hard to unhear. those actions – the ones with which they affected lives – are impossible to unsee. those ideals – the ones that align with the malignant soul who sits as the current president – are unbearable and simply cannot be unknown.

some true colors are just not beautiful like a rainbow.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY