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when push comes to shove, don’t. [merely-a-thought monday]

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my sweet momma always said that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  although she stood her ground, she rarely pushed back.  well, maybe at my dad…i certainly heard her push back in that relationship.  she was a woman before her time, struggling to be seen and heard…in relationship, in work, in the world.  nevertheless, she lead with kindness and generosity.

recently i surprisingly found myself in a situation where i felt the kind of civility that is needed to accomplish anything was lacking.  instead it was aggressive, pointed, antagonistic.  “when push comes to shove” implies escalation and this, indeed, was the case.  instead of actual conversation, it was a push-shove back-and-forth.  instead of communication, it was a shining example of what-not-to-do.

we drove past a passiton billboard on the way up north that read these words:  when push comes to shove, don’t.  civility is in you.  what does a boorish push or a retorted shove accomplish other than an establishment of immaturity, a driving desire and play for power and an uncooperative non-collaboration?

civility is not that hard.  it should be what we lead with.  respecting others and their place in their world.  we each get the same air to breathe and we each breathe in and out the same way.  instead of escalating to shove or pushing yet harder, how might we fill our lungs with responses of peacefulness, thoughtfulness, fairness, appreciation, intelligent consideration, magnanimity, grace, even reconciliation.  why must push come to shove?  it needn’t.

just don’t.

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

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my palette. [k.s. friday]

her palette - the piano

yesterday david wrote these words about his palette.  as i read his words, i realized he was conveying many of my own sentiments.  with his permission, i have only slightly modified his words this morning to express my own artist palette – my piano.  the re-posting of this, and even using the same verbiage, reminds me of the intertwining of all soulful expression.  bear with me as i experiment, my words in red, an exploration of two artistic planes running parallel.

true confessions: i never rarely clean my palette the music stand on top of my piano. i like the messy build up of color. color is found in many forms but mostly notebooks and pa-pads, scraps of paper, snippets of tracks recorded on an iriver or an iphone. i like the chunky texture pile. it serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings compositions past and future. and then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that i will achieve. it is accidental. it is free.  it is idea, melodic gesture, poetry waiting for notes, phrase waiting for the rest of the lyrics.  ready.  waiting.  free.

this might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. i love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. it is the true liminal space.   long before the space spanning the route taken from introduction to coda.  i begin with pure color. i begin with the rest, silence inbetween the notes, the place for breath so you can hear the vibrations of sound.  i smash the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue i intend. note upon note i build a melody, smashing note upon note i build a small unaccompanied orchestra of harmony, the hue i intend.  on a palette, color becomes intention. sound becomes intention.  and then, once transformed, with a brush or knife i lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, i place it onto a canvas. i play, i listen, i play again.  i lift it from the keys of my palette and place it onto the canvas of paper, attempting to capture the fleeting moment it has created and etch it into a piece of music that can be repeated, played again.  it transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. it transforms yet again relative to the air in the room, the echo of an intention, the listening ear it touches.  an image emerges. more color is called for. it emerges, this composition of music, and more color is called for.

and, somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette. the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. and somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette.  the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful.  this!  can there be a more pure statement of artistry? and, in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. unfettered. accidentally interesting. free.  and in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind.  unfettered.  accidentally interesting.  free.  the rest between the notes.  the breath of music on the air. 

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake  i paint.  i write.  i compose.  i don’t know what is enough until i know what is more than enough.  truth. 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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his palette. [d.r. thursday]

palette copy

we really never know what it takes to do someone else’s job.  we don’t know all the tools used, the research done, how training and experience play into it, how someone perceives their own work.  we can only guess and, often, fall desperately and even arrogantly off the mark.

walking into d’s studio my eye is drawn to the easel standing in the far corner.  closer to me, though, is an old cart with an old wooden box holding paints and brushes.  there is another cart and on that is this palette – layers upon layers of color and texture, clay pots of water standing next to this widely-understood symbol of “artist”, often associated with the beginning of the process of painting.

now, i’ve painted a few paintings in my life.  i bought very large prepared canvases and dug around in the basement for leftover acrylic house paint to use on my creations.  without a palette, i brushed and re-brushed and threw paint until i knew each painting was done.  and then i hung them on the walls.  in one case, i painted right on the wall and put a clearance frame around the section of wall that i painted – a nod to a painting without the cost of canvas.

all of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how d paints.  for i do not know all the tools, i do not know the process of mixing color or the technique of stretching canvas he uses, i do not know the tricks of the trade he has accumulated over decades of honing his expertise.  nor do i know the knowledge base he brings about other artists, other painters and paintings, the use of light and dark space, the way the viewer’s eye sees, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions he has learned through many, many years of study and practice.  i can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes or doesn’t take for him to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create.  i can respond to his work but i cannot define it, nor would it be meritorious for me to even try to do so.  out of respect for his work, something that is one of the very things that defines him, i know that i really have no idea.  what i can do is appreciate his talent and every last thing that he has done to bring him to this place where he paints beautiful paintings and it seems to take no effort whatsoever.

with regard to anyone and the work that they do, i would hope we could each remember – with humble respect – that we really have no idea.  we can just be grateful that we are each a spoke in the wheel on this good earth.  our palettes, the places from which we begin, are different.  and we can’t do it alone.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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wide-mouthed-b-cat [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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i’m not a particularly good teller-of-jokes.  even the punchlines of knock-knock jokes sometimes evade me and i find myself wracking my brain for the end, while anyone who listens can’t help the yawns.  but one of my all-time favorite jokes to tell is the one about the wide-mouthed-frog.  my niece heather was the first to tell me this joke; she was a pretty adorable toddler acting out the part of the wide-mouthed frog and i couldn’t help but laugh.  now here was one i could remember! there are many versions of this joke now and you can make it last as long as you want; for me, the longer you have people watching you act like a wide-mouthed frog, the better.

the curious wide-mouthed frog hopped happily around, stopping to ask various animals what they are and what they eat.  he stopped by a robin and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the robin replied, “i’m a robin and i eat worms.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the wide-mouthed frog and hopped happily on.  he stopped by a giraffe and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the giraffe replied, “i’m a giraffe and i eat the leaves off the highest trees and bushes around.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the little-bit-more-informed wide-mouthed frog and he hopped happily on.  the wide-mouthed frog visited with many different animals on his way, learning new animal names and diets.  then he came to the side of a river where a snake was lounging in the sun.  “hi,” he said to the snake. “i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the snake sneered at the wide-mouthed frog and, coiled into a tight circle, said, “i’m a snake and i eat wide-mouthed frogs!”

this picture of wide-mouthed-babycat makes me think of that joke.  he clearly has no cares in the world and would have no worries, lest his food bowl disappear and the sunlight be gone from the sky.  sleeping and eating, pestering the dog, yawning, snoring and vocally demanding attention are his tasks and he is brilliant at each of them.  we simply couldn’t resist posting this picture of the cat-we-adore, a part of our world.

and the tightly-purse-lipped-wide-mouthed frog said, “oh.”

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

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our prayer flags. [two artists tuesday]

prayer flags copy

we pass under them every time we leave the house and every time we return.  our prayer flags fly between the house and the garage…a welcome sight either way.  although better given to you as a gift, we purchased our flags in a little shop in ridgway, colorado and i consider it a gift that we were able to spend time in that tiny mountain town in the san juan mountains.  these flags represent that place to us, that time, and so much more.

each color is symbolic of an element…white is air and wind, blue is sky and space, green symbolizes water, red is fire and yellow is earth.  flying these in a specific order produces a balance of health and harmony.  flying these promotes peace, compassion, strength and wisdom; the wind blows the prayers into the universe.  i cannot think of  more visual evidence of constant prayer.  it matters not to me what religious practice is associated with them.  the prayers are so much bigger than that.  everything is bigger than that.

every time we watch any depiction of an everest story, there are multitudes of these buddhist prayer flags.  they grace base camp and the summit and each camp between,  the prayers issued by those people seeking to reach the highest place on earth.

we can’t claim trying to reach the highest physical place on earth.  but we can claim seeking peace, compassion, strength and wisdom, a balance of health and harmony.  for me, for us, those things are the highest place on earth.

read DAVID’S post this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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voila! [merely-a-thought monday]

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20 rolled his eyes at himself when he told us the story.  he was at the grocery store and was looking at dish soap.  he likes dawn dish soap; it gets the best ratings, he said.  as he is peering at the shelf of containers, he can see that way in the back is a container with just a bit more…the volume of the ones in the front seem lower than this particular one in the back.  so he reaches all the way in, moving aside other dawn bottles now rejected by him and pulls out the one where he can see the soap level just-a-little-bit-higher.  he notes that the plastic bottle is not squished or dented (for obviously that would cause a rise in level) and he triumphantly puts the chosen bottle in his cart.  voila!  “there must be something wrong with me,” he said.

as a person who grew up with soap socks and leftovers i couldn’t disagree more.  of COURSE you look for the highest level of soap in the bottle.  that’s a no-duh.  penny-pinching and making things last as long as possible were unspoken mantras for me; they still are.

my sweet momma kept a soap sock.  for those of you who have no clue what that is:  as a bar of soap gets smaller and smaller it becomes increasingly difficult to use.  never to waste anything, my momma would gather all of her tiny vestiges of soap bars and put them in a clean white sock (generally a sport sock…something a little thicker with a tooth like a washcloth.)  she would tie off the end and voila! there you have it – a washcloth with built-in soap!  a soap sock!

i have inherited this trait from my momma.  i will turn bottles upside down and squeeze the life out of them in order to finish all the product.  days after d has declared a shampoo bottle empty i am still encouraging shampoo out of its depths.  our refrigerator rarely has much extra in it – we buy for what we need and we use it up, even if it ends up as some weird concocted leftover.  growing up i didn’t need the “starving children in ….” speech.  i had dna.

so when 20 told us that he takes three pre-packaged 3 lb bags of potatoes over to the scale and weighs them i listened.  apparently, 3 lbs of potatoes can look like 2 3/4 or 3 1/2 or 4 1/4 lbs.  who knew?  you can bet i’ll be trying that.  more potatoes for the money!   voila!

“there must be something wrong with me,” 20 said.  nah.

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

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missing. [k.s. friday]

MISSING song box copy

it comes in waves.  in less than two weeks i will be 60.  i’m not a consumed-with-my-age-person, but this particular birthday is proving me different.  without any prompts, i find myself sorting through my life, the six decades that lead me to right now.   memories flow in and ebb out like the tide on a surfboard of emotions.  trying not to resist, i ride the wave as it brings me growing up times on long island…my nuclear family all together, all alive, gathered in our dining room on abby drive or up in the catskills in a rustic state park cabin….bike hikes and carvel….simple times of arguing for john denver over bob dylan….time walking or sitting or playing frisbee on crab meadow beach…late sunday morning mc-arnson sandwiches or waffles and ice cream around my sweet momma and poppo’s table in florida…the time of building the first home i ever bought, a big choice for us as a young couple…the sheep farm in new hampshire….moving to wisconsin away from family and the challenges that raised…celebrating the amazing birth of our daughter and son and watching them grow into the people they are….recording my first album and what that meant….letting go of the day-to-day mothering as my children became adults and still being an every-single-day mother….balancing the impact of good decisions and bad decisions….times of intense grief….choosing love….starting over….wondering what is coming next….

the inner monologue chronicles through all of these years…i sit in quiet watching the slideshow in my mind’s eye and ponder.  what was most important, what is most important, what will be most important.  what it all means.  and it’s clear most of the time.  the people who have surrounded me, who have loved me, who i have loved.  the people i am missing – and will always miss – as well as the people who are right here.  the times i am missing – as well as the times -moments- i could miss right now were i to be too engrossed in something else.

on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART, the track that i selected to follow MISSING is called CONNECTED.  because it all stays a part of the vast ocean that is each of our lives.  the missing and the now and the wondering, all part of the whole.  all waves to ride.

theocean

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood