reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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white rot fungi. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

nurselog in woods copy.JPG

“healer of the forest” nurselogs are numerous in the woods we hike in.  the white rot fungi grow easily in the outer bark of the tree, breaking down the structure of the wood and allowing small pockets of rich soil to form, remediating and inviting moss, mushrooms and small plants to feast on the nutrients and grow, stretching roots around the fallen tree to plant themselves deeper into the ground.  small animals find welcome in these healers and they live companionably together, each benefiting the other.  the concentric circles ripple outward.  symbiosis.  harmony.

i’m trying not to read the news as often these days.  i find it deafeningly dissonant. apparently, we, as a human race, are not naturally healers.  instead, we are creators of havoc, bullying, agenda-pushing individuals who give little care to remediating or living companionably together.  the concentric circles that ripple outward are filled with toxins; people get lost in power and control games, indeed benefiting no species whatsoever.  strident discord.

we could learn something from white rot fungi.

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

boots in megaphone website box

 

 

 

despairingly

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plan ahead. [merely-a-thought monday]

chip hailstone box copy 3

my poppo would probably have liked chip hailstone.  an as-long-as-i-can-remember subscriber of national geographic, i imagine he would have liked the show ‘life below zero’.  he was good at solving problems, figuring things out, making stuff out of nothing.  his words of wisdom were simple.  “plan ahead,” he would say.   he was a card-holding-club-member-regular-reader of the handyman magazine; he easily could have been a contributing writer.  he would have loved chip hailstone’s comment, “you can make a long piece of wood short, but you can’t make a short piece of wood long.”  ahyup.  it’s in the details.  plan ahead.

we were coffee-sitting around the kitchen table.  it was a late florida morning, years ago now, and coffee break time was an every-day thing.  my dad suddenly got up from his chair and left the room, using his “stick” to get to the bedroom and back.  he returned moments later and started to speak.  “i have something for you, brat,” he started.  “with these years on your own you have learned so much out of necessity.  it’s time for you to have this.  you have earned it.”  he handed me his handyman club membership card and said, “this is yours now.  i’m proud of you.”

it was big news to get this card from my poppo and i didn’t underestimate its import. it would not have made me more gratified to receive a grammy award.  his -my- membership card is in plain view in my studio, reminding me of my dad and his words to me.

we watch ‘life below zero’ episodes and there are simple wisdoms dancing throughout the show.  things i can hear my dad say in his brooklyn accent.  things you think, “well, duh, of course.”  the same things you realize after-the-fact that you should have thought about before-the-fact.  yup, poppo.  plan ahead.

poppo & handyman club

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

bong trail, wisconsin website box

 

 

 

 


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187. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

187 box framed copy

i had no idea how much i would love designing.  through the first ten years or so of album covers, i watched.  i sat with my dear friend 20 as he designed so many of my CD jackets and tray cards.  i learned a lot.  not about how to use photoshop or illustrator or quark but i learned about balance and clean design and how to “see”.  so when we started designing for THE MELANGE, that part came more easily.  the photoshop part?  well, that had a bigger learning curve (as does website designing.)  manipulating images and navigating programs without real directions can be a challenge, but i was up for it.  lots of learning.

the thing that really surprised us was when we looked at each of our society6.com stores this week and literally counted our product lines.   there are 187!  187 lines created across the five stores.

187 product lines later, i look back in wonder.

mugs and laptop covers, tote bags, prints and cellphone cases, beach towels, shower curtains…not to mention leggings.  in the course of the last year, i have designed between 50 and 60 pairs of leggings.  leggings with morsels of david’s paintings, leggings with graphics we have designed or photographs we have taken, leggings with words of wisdom, leggings with punchlines, leggings with lyrics.  i was a leggings-designing-maniac.  i think about even just these leggings designed, available on an on-demand site, and think – we could have all those made and just sell them ourselves.  we could sell those designs elsewhere – to a company that already produces leggings.  we could open a shop with all these products – interesting, different, artistic, not mass-produced or mass-purchased.  we could…  there’s no telling what we could do.

i asked david if he knew how many blogposts there had been in this MELANGE year.  he had already done the math.  we each posted 260 posts, totalling 520.  that’s more than a few words, more than a few thoughts, more than a little heart.

immeasurable energy has been devoted to these designs, these blogs, to this MELANGE.  here – at the one-year-old mark – we are astounded by the amount of time and effort this has all taken.  and we look back in wonder.

what has been the reward?

there is no way to underestimate the power of i/we-can-do-this.  the sisu of sticking it out, meeting the challenge, staying in the game, learning.

THE MELANGE is celebrating one year.  but we are celebrating so much more than that.  we look forward in wonder.

if you'd like to see kerri sherwood.. copy 3

if you'd like to see david robinson.. copy 2

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copy 2

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy 2

if you'd like to see FLAWED CARTOON copy 2

read DAVID’S thoughts on this ANNIVERSARY MELANGE NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

anniversary haiku copy

laughing website box

THE MELANGE ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

images in THE MELANGE ©️ 2016-2019 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 


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old dogs. [merely-a-thought monday]

button to button copy 2

a couple years ago our CHICKEN MARSALA went with us everywhere.  i mean literally everywhere.  FLAT CHICKEN traveled across the country and we have pictures of him in the scion, in front of the ‘welcome to colorful colorado’ sign, with rest area volunteers, sitting with family at an outdoor bbq.

we had submitted CHICKEN to all the major cartoon syndicates with some interest on their part and so we were bringing him with us, to document his travels and keep our hopes up.  ultimately, CHICKEN MARSALA, the strip, was not syndicated and we ended up concentrating our efforts more on short bursts of wisdom and thought in one-panels of CHICKEN in life.

CHICKEN MARSALA and another one-panel cartoon named FLAWED CARTOON, graphic designs we were making or photographs we were taking, david’s paintings, my music – all were fodder for what became a melange, a mixture of it all, the crux of what we would write about each day.  and so THE MELANGE, offered monday through friday,  was born.

it has – this week – been a year since the first MELANGE was published.  and monday through friday since, we have had an image that we each have used as a jumping-off ground for our blogposts, the chute through which we have funneled our thoughts.

i was a crazy person designing products for each of these days…mugs with our sweet CHICKEN MARSALA on them, BE KIND tote bags, FLAWED CARTOON prints, painting morsel throw pillows, what-seems-like a zillion leggings with song lyrics. we posted links for our product lines and re-assessed things daily – placement of images in the blog, placement of hyperlinks, whether or not to include FB ‘like’ buttons….it is an endless list.

somewhere along the way we realized that it was possible that other people might not be as invested in our CHICKEN MARSALA as we were.  he wasn’t their imagined little boy; he was ours…

i have this great tear-off calendar i enjoyed every day last year.  it sat on my dresser and had a unicorn on every page.  it also had a saying of some sort…some words of wisdom, some tongue-in-cheek, some downright sassy.  although i love unicorns, for obvious reasons, i found that i could not tell you what the unicorn was doing each day; i barely looked at the unicorn.  for me, the important part was the saying.  when i realized that, i also realized that was possibly the same reason people were not investing in CHICKEN.  it was whatever the panel said, the words, that held the interest.  when someone would randomly come upon the image of CHICKEN MARSALA, no matter how adorable the drawing, they wouldn’t ‘see the unicorn’ so to speak, but instead would read the words, the starting gate for our posts.  ahhh.  we are ever-learning.

and so, we changed our MELANGE monday from CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY to MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY.  and i stopped, for now, designing more CHICKEN products for a society6.com store that was already full of products.  CHICKEN MARSALA will have his time in the light; it just isn’t right now.

the same thing happened for our FLAWED WEDNESDAY.  as funny as those single panel cartoons were, we found they weren’t necessarily connecting in-a-big-way to our audience, so it was time to re-evaluate our posts for wednesday.  FLAWED WEDNESDAY became NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY with interesting tidbits we encounter in life.

today (ok, technically calendar-tomorrow but alas let’s not be too detailed) we celebrate this monday in february a year ago.  a year of our MELANGE.  a year of selecting images we would feature.  a year in which we have we have blogged every monday-friday.  a year of designing websites, blogsites, products.  a year of questions and thoughts.  a year of assessing and re-assessing.  a roller-coaster of learnings.

who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

thank you for riding along with us.

love needs no words jpeg copy 2

chicken marsala love phonecase

chicken marsala create phone case

 

if you'd like to see more CHICKEN... copy

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

chicken and dogga roadtrip website box.jpg

CHICKEN MARSALA ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 


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knowledge. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

display of knowledge in frame copy

an unnecessary display of knowledge…we all have been around this one way or another.

i once received a christmas letter that was about 2-3 pages long, single-spaced.  it was from a long-ago friend from elementary school and i was pretty excited to see her name on the return envelope.  i looked forward to hearing what she was up to; we hadn’t been in touch much since “the olden days” and i was happily curious.

so i opened the envelope and settled in to read her news.  it took less than a few seconds to see that this was not about fun stuff that she, her family and extended family had done through the year; instead it was a report – although she included a flowery description of their home in a california beach town, there was a wordy review of books she had read, a detailed, verbose list of accomplishments at work.  there were no anecdotes about family or, for that matter, any talk about family.  i’m still unclear about whether or not she has children.  her language was untypical, conspicuously intellectual verbiage.  it felt pointedly like a display of knowledge.  ick.

we’ve all been subjected to this.  in writing, in person, on tv or podcasts, on facebook or twitter. it’s definitely eye-rolling territory.  my daughter – The Girl – has perfected eye-rolling and i have used her technique from time to time in an effort to deal with the after-effects of such displays of knowledge.

although i am aware of and respect that you have accumulated vast knowledge through the years, i believe i mostly want to know what you think, how something makes you feel, what your story is, how you participate in life with others.  that will tell me what you know and, with gratitude for you and the unique gifts you bring, i will learn from you.

as human beings, it seems like gaining knowledge is our job.  sharing knowledge is our gift.  displaying knowledge is a whole ‘nother thing.  and so unnecessary.

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

not our best morning minturn website box copy

 

 

 


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you can’t judge a book… [not-so-flawed wednesday]

HalloweenTree

this tree.  gnarly and twisted and wrinkly. it looks a little halloween-esque at dusk and could be downright scary in the dark of night.  it’s seen so much life, so many decades and its lifeblood travels throughout the healthy tree, bringing and sharing nutrients.  home to insects and small creatures, it provides shade for the vegetation beneath it.  it’s not just an old tree and it’s not the picture of what we think of when we think of a beautiful tree.  but it is.  beautiful.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.  my sweet momma always said that.

momma would look in the mirror and talk about the wrinkles on her face and how “old” she looked.  in her wheelchair she could appear to be meek, wrestling with difficulties and just an old woman.  but that was so not so.  she had seen much life.  she was home to my dad, me and my sister and brother, our families, extended members as it fanned out the branches of our family tree, her friends.  she provided warm words and kindnesses to all around her, strangers among them.  she was beautiful.  every last gorgeous wrinkle.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

we had a black lab years ago, one of a few in our family history, when The Girl and The Boy were little. his name was hughie and he had at least 47 allergies.  he was treated for many of these and we tried to address the auto-immune disease he had as well, but he lost most of the hair on his body.  he looked gnarly and rough and wrinkled.  as a lab with little hair, he looked scary to those who did not know him.  he struggled and, even in his discomfort, was gentle and sweet, a learning for The Girl and The Boy, who were his and, despite his outward appearance, knew what was inside.  he was not the picture of what we think of when we think of a beautiful dog.  but he was.  beautiful.  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

inside.  beautiful.  how hard is it to always remember that?  you just can’t judge a book by its cover.

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

halloween box

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andrea’s song

IMG_2711the sound of the cicadas outside brought me back to my childhood home on long island.  we had woods behind our yard and the summer days and nights were a symphony of crickets and cicadas. i would sometimes sit in my poetry tree (a maple outside my bedroom window with perfect limbs for climbing and sitting) late into the day, writing or reading and, although i probably never appreciated the crickets and cicadas as i do now, i would listen as the day would softly pass by. my sweet momma would know where to find me; if i wasn’t riding bikes with sue, at the dive center, fishing with crunch or at the beach, i was likely in that tree.

i wrote a lot of poems in that tree, a lot of reflections, a lot of stories and maybe even a little music…the kind without the music. as i think about the people who encouraged me in writing, one of the first people i think of is andrea. andrea was my high school english teacher. she, along with kevin, were the coolest in the english department. andrea, with kerchiefs in her hair and peace sign necklaces, long skirts and funky glasses, was the epitome of hip. we, painlessly, learned from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom, her laugh, her smile.

andrea was the teacher coordinating the art and literary magazine ‘gemini’ at our high school. i was involved with this annual publication each year, but was the editor-in-chief during my senior year of high school, a job i adored. not only did i get to immerse myself in a lot of poetry and art, but i got to lay out the publication and handle many of the details, all the while hanging out with andrea and having conversations about life and writing and balance.

in the (aaack! many) years since high school i have thought about her often and finally, over the last eight years or so, was able to get back into contact with her.   not only did i want to know how she was, where she was, what she was doing, but i wanted to share with her where i was and what i was doing. mostly, it mattered to me what her thoughts were. during that time we shared snippets of life. i found i could still learn from her teaching style, her quiet wisdom and her smile, even without physically seeing her. at one point she wrote to me, “nothing is idyllic. i think we have idyllic moments. we have to take time to savor what is around us.”   yet another invaluable reminder. how often must we learn these things, i wonder.

when we were planning our trip to boston for this summer, i found myself hoping that we would have the chance to see andrea…meet for coffee, have a glass of wine together. i worried when i didn’t hear back from her; she usually answered email. i was anxious to visit with her, thank her in person for the influence she had had on me, hear what she thought about a project i had sent her. it was about a week before we left, when i was online pondering whether to send her another note, that i saw the very sad news that she had died. i was stunned and (what would maybe seem) inordinately devastated. the connection backwards in time was broken; the opportunity to sit with andrea now vapor.

i thought about extending my sympathies on social media but for some reason that seemed too shallow. there is a loss i feel when i no longer hear the cicadas in the fall…something visceral that i feel inside. the loss of andrea was intensely visceral.

IMG_2708all throughout our home you will find peace signs; each of these signs make me think of this beloved lady in my life, this positive force who, without knowing, kept me writing, thinking, writing.

in my mind’s eye, i can feel sitting in my poetry tree. the cicadas’ song was all around me. as i write now, i cannot help but think about andrea and the things i learned from her, most of which had nothing to do with grammar and punctuation, but instead, with honoring the words within, the emotions, things palpable and things we can’t see or touch.  and so, savoring that learning, in fact, leaning into it, her song is all around me. it’s idyllic.

…peace out…