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sticker, oh, sticker. [flawed wednesday]

marked license plate stickers

clearly there are a lot of people who own registered cars in wisconsin who do not read.

how do i know this, you ask?

drive behind anyone with a wisconsin plate and notice where they have put the year sticker.  people place these stickers all over the license plate.  when you start looking you will see a variety of methods – in the middle of the plate, stickered all around the edges, smack over the raised lettering. however, these stickers are delivered to you in the envelope pictured above.  this envelope leaves little doubt as to where to place the stickers – any and all of them.  they are not meant to fill in the white space on the plate, nor to cover the numbers and letters metal-stamped on the plate.

so do they not read?  that, in itself, i see as a bit of a problem.  somehow it seems necessary to be able to read and follow directions in order to be safely out on the road, driving around.

now, i would understand if the state of wisconsin department of motor vehicles just sent you a sticker in a plain envelope, without specific directions attached.  you might wonder, “golly gee, where does this sticker go?”  but to receive such clear and concise and labeled instructions, how is it that a vast number of drivers, supposedly responsible drivers, have scratched their heads and tore off the backing and stuck ’em anywhere they wanted?  what are they possibly thinking?  what is the point of this stuck-anywhere-sticker-thing?  is it a display of rebellion?  is it a display of apathy?  do they think it’s artistic?  i wonder.

because it just looks like they over-and-over-again don’t read the directions.  it’s not like you need cliff notes for the eleven words, “place year sticker here first time and at time of renewal.”  plus there’s the arrow.  pointing.  to the place the sticker goes.   what’s so hard about this?

it makes me wonder what else they don’t read or pay attention to.  in a world with a global pandemic, we surely need people to read, stay apprised, follow safety instructions and directions for flattening the curve.  we need people to be responsible and care about guidelines put into place, specifications to fairly regulate, to simply be in accord.

now, i can’t help but wonder:  are the people with stickers all over their license plates the same people – the customers at the corner store – who sneered at us because we were wearing masks during this pandemic?

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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everyone else. [two artists tuesday]

rustic bread

everyone else baked artisan breads in march or april.  we baked it in june.  well, specifically, david baked bread in june.  i merely had to watch the process, savor the wafting of baking-bread through the house, tear off a chunk and devour it.

he’d been talking about it for a while, that he wanted to bake bread.  this loaf is gluten free – he adapted it from a rustic bread recipe of bill’s.  bill baked bread in april and then moved on to homemade gnocchi.  a bit trend-resistant, we picked up the dangling carrot at the tail end of bread baking so posting this picture feels somewhat passe.

we aren’t so much everyone-else-is-doing-it-so-we-have-to-do-it people.  we are artists so that’s our first excuse.  our second excuse is that we are often not pop-culture-informed.  that was much easier for me when my children were right here, keeping me in the loop.  if cnn or aarp aren’t talking about it, if it’s not in our itunes or the stacks of cds and records we own, we are swimming upstream.  third, we tend to make do.  as a child of the infamous soap-sock beaky-beaky, who had a mantra of saving new things “for good” and turned bottles of shampoo upside down for weeks draining the last vestiges out, making do is an inbred way of life.

baking bread was no exception.  until june.  when we wholeheartedly jumped on the well-vetted train, rice-flour-research in hand.  voila.  heaven-in-a-loaf-of-bread, we wondered why we hadn’t done it sooner.

everyone else had an iphone.  i was one of the last dedicated razor-phone fans.  i could text with my eyes closed, even using the phone keypad without an a-z keyboard.  and then my children bought me an iphone.  a convert, i wondered why i didn’t get one sooner.

everyone else has granite countertops.  ok, or marble.  our kitchen is old but i’ve made over 11,300 breakfasts and 11,300 dinners in it and this sweet old kitchen has had over 33,000 days nurturing its families.  we chop and saute and mix and fry and bake and roast and pour – all successfully – in this old kitchen every day.  maybe someday we’ll have different counters.  and we’ll wonder why we didn’t change them sooner.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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“it flies by as it drags on.” [merely-a-thought monday]

it flies by as it drags on

we cleaned the garage this weekend.  our garage is old-old-old.  it has a little bow in the front and there is a bit of an issue with the walls no longer in alignment with the foundation.  the decades-old automatic garage door opener no longer opens it.  que sera, sera.

there was the usual assortment of garden tools and clay pots, chairs-in-bags and chairs-without-bags, the wrought iron table and umbrella we hadn’t put out yet, random bags of potting soil, milorganite, sand, a plethora of spiders and their webby homes.  there are old doors in the rafters, the tricycle My Girl and My Boy rode, a red wagon, the hammock.  there are jacks, a snowblower-that-doesn’t-work-but-we-should-have-repaired, a wheelbarrow that has seen many trips down third avenue.  our bikes hang on hooks; we wonder if i will be able to ride this summer – the whole two-broken-wrists-thing has put a damper on things.  there is a woodpile rack waiting for us to re-stock, have a few bonfires in the firepit or the chiminea.  and there is my old vw bug.  smack-dab in the middle of this tiny one-car garage is my well-loved 1971 super beetle.

it was father’s day yesterday when we moved it out of the garage, me behind the wheel, clutch in, gear in neutral, hand ready on the emergency brake as david pushed.  it hasn’t been started in years and i could hear my sweet poppo groan with me from another plane of existence as i looked it over.  dirty from a few years of garage-sitting, it sure-enough wouldn’t start and i ticked off a list of things that likely now need fixing.  these are things i can’t do anything about right now, so i did what i could do something about.

i got a bucket of warm carwash-soapy-water and a good sponge and my dad and i washed our bug together.

i could hear him telling me about when he and my mom picked it up brand-new in germany for their roadtrip around europe, about how it was shipped back home to a port in new york.  i reminded him about how he ‘sold’ it to me in the mid-70s and how i drove that little car everywhere – rain, sleet, snow or ice – and it always kept me safe.  i reminded him about how my little miniature-collie-mixbreed-dog missi used to ride in the well (i could hear him laughing when i retold how she one day actually pooped in the well.)  we talked about its color iterations – it was born baby blue (marina blue, they called it).   somewhere along the way we had earl scheib’s paint it navy and later on down the road it was painted white, its current color.  i drove it with my best friend sue back and forth to florida, a trip where she learned how to drive a stick shift.  it lived in new york and then florida and then wisconsin.  it’s been dragged behind tow trucks and up on flatbeds.  it bowed out of the drive moving up to wisconsin, so we pulled it behind us with a tow bar.  it’s had a couple engine overhauls and lots of tires.  i know how to adjust the timing and the carburetor myself.  i’ve played countless john denver and loggins and messina cassettes at full volume in this little car.   the heat was either stuck on or stuck off.  my poppo reminded me that it had 455 air conditioning – four windows open at 55mph.  i drove it to get both my degrees in florida.  i drove it through a drive-through to get a milkshake the day i went into labor with My Girl.  it’s been around the block.

i gently washed the dirt off of my little-white-vw-bug yesterday and realized how time had flown by.  i was struck by how – right now- in the middle of a pandemic and unrest – time seems to drag.  both are true.

yet i know that one day, as i ponder this time – in all its dragging chaos and emotional upheaval – i will look back and realize time, precious time, was actually flying by.

i sat down on the rusty metal bumper and missed my dad.

“on the road of experience…and trying to find my own way…sometimes i wish that i could fly away.  when i think that i’m moving…suddenly things stand still.  i’m afraid ’cause i think they always will…” (john denver)

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

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give a flying flip. [k.s. friday]

every breath

i am imploring you to help keep my beloved daughter safe.

please.

enlightenment comes through unexpected channels sometimes.  this morning i read a post by a brilliant woman who was my piano student 40 years ago. she forwarded a writing by a young woman who is a server in a restaurant who detailed her experiences in just one of her shifts.

it’s bracing.

my friend-who-was-my-former-piano-student prefaced it with this:  “I know it will feel so good to feel normal again and go out to dinner. But please, read this WHOLE DAMN THING before you do. You BETTER tip your server like they are risking their life to bring you a drink, because they f*ing are.”

the server wears a mask and gloves, carries sanitizer with her to work, stands back 6 feet from her guests at the tables in the restaurant.  the guests?  they remove their masks, which were required to enter, as soon as they sit down and never put them back on, even while ordering, even while their server is present.  it is cavalier at its best.  her safety is compromised over and over, at every breath, and she is painfully aware, as you read in her candid outpouring.

is the safety of this server any less important than your own?  is she dispensable?  is your dining-out experience so important you cannot sacrifice a bit of comfort?  where has this message of it-doesn’t-matter-if-we-protect-each-other come from?  hmmm.  let me think.  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it a fashion faux pas to wear a mask?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it seem unnecessary to protect each other?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country thinks everyone’s breath doesn’t matter?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country doesn’t really give a flying flip about the populace of this country?  if i sound pissed, it’s because i am.  enough already.

where do you stand?

i, for one, was breathless when i read the detailed narrative of this young woman’s shift.  with angry and worried tears in my eyes, i read it aloud to david.  i would love to read it aloud to you.

an expert at piecing-it-together during off-peak, My Girl, among other things, bartends and serves.  she busts her butt working hard in high mountain towns, waiting on tourists and locals alike.  she is a hard worker at everything she does and i have sat on her barstools watching her move in blurrying pace getting it done.  the last thing i want to have to worry about in the middle of this pandemic as it actually continues, despite the “leadership” and a percentage of the country’s population ignoring its steady presence, is whether or not the people who are sitting on those barstools or at the tables in her restaurant are (with sarcastic voice) oh-so-tediously pulling up a mask when they are breathing at my daughter.  i want to assume that they are.  i want to assume that the meager income she is hour-after-hour-after-hour trying to earn will not be dangerous for her.  i want to assume that the people who have chosen to go out, have a few drinks, eat a nice meal prepared by a chef, will generously, even at least appropriately, tip her.  i want to assume good although i fear selfish, unconcerned indifference.

the server ends her writing with a plea: “For the love of god..if you go out to eat please please please pull up your mask for the few minutes that your server is at your table. Why are you not already doing this?? And oh my god..tip your server like that burrito you are eating may cost them their life…”

have you gone out to dinner?  have you gone out for drinks?  did you ecstatically plan your outfit and put on your favorite shoes?  did you make reservations at your favorite restaurant?  did you pile into your favorite downtown bar?  did you wear a mask?  did you even bring a mask? or did you leave your mask at home because it’s not mandated by the local, state or federal government?  does respect have to be mandated?  does protecting each other have to be mandated?  can we choose respect and protection regardless?  there is still a global pandemic.  can we connect the dots?  can we think???

WILL you be going out to dinner?  out for drinks?  will you wear a mask?  will you carefully protect every breath of your server – someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, best friend, caregiver?  will you recognize their safety?  will you tip them for risking their life to bring you your margarita?  will you protect the others inside the restaurant or bar?  will you give a flying flip?

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love > fear. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

love greater than fear

change is imminent.  we can feel its rumblings.  we try to tether to something solid, something reassuring.  as when fierce winds swirl around us in the woods, we scan the limbs of trees above us, waiting for the inevitable crashing-down-bow.  we are unsure.  we are afraid.

because change is here.  we sense it all around us; we know things will not stay the same.  they cannot.  for this time is a time of transformation.   the transition time will be full of the unknown.  the re-shaping will be disorienting.  we are agnostic.  we are nervous.

because change is like that.  it undermines our normal, throws our predictable into a frenzy, propels us past the lines we color in.  it’s a metamorphosis like a kaleidoscope, ever-different, ever-rearranging.  it pulls, it pushes.  we resist.  we dig in.  we argue with the wind till we are hoarse and weary.

because change makes us fearful.  we ask for guarantees that this evolution will be better, that we will feel settled in it, that it will improve things.  but life comes with no guarantees and there are few among us who have not heard the words of nelson mandela:  “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

and change delivers.  courage shows up and partners with strength and perseverance.  belief peers from around the corner.  and hands reach out to us.  we see we are, indeed, not alone.  we step.  and step again.

and we learn to know:  love > fear.

we look change in the face and say, “ok. let’s do this.”

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

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the photograph for this post is taken of a shirt i purchased in a tiny magical bookstore on washington island.  it is available – click here or on the photo above – if you would like to virtually visit fair isle books and order one in long or short sleeve for yourself or as a gift. 

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pando & the nickel. [two artists tuesday]

pando

i followed the croaking.  it led me to our pond and across the vast expanse of water i could see him – perched on a rock – a beautiful frog.  i started taking pictures right away thinking he would quickly evade me and jump into the water, but i kept taking pictures and i kept getting closer.  i talked to him the whole time i was approaching and he seemed to listen.  by the time i got to the rocks where he was, he was just sitting calmly.  i reached down and petted his head.  he stayed put.  we talked a bit, that frog and me.  i named him ‘pando’ for he arrived during the pandemic.  he was earnest; i was elated.  frogs-in-our-pond in the past have been good omens, gentle reminders to rest in trust.

pando hung around for three days, eating bugs and sunbathing on rocks.  but he chose to move on.  his leaving is as curious as his arrival.  we hope he returns but we have our doubts; it’s a big world out there for a frog.

the day he was gone i found a nickel on the stepping stones to the pond.  since we are the only ones in our backyard and rarely carry any change – or real money for that matter – it was a wonder to see this nickel sitting on the flat rock, waiting to be discovered.  it’s not a regular nickel.  it seems to be made of copper and is not exactly the same size as a nickel.  naturally, thinking it would, of course, have the same value as a gold doubloon, i googled it and spent some time learning about planchets and copper and the metal composition percentages of coins, things i didn’t know.

i giggled while googling as i thought of my dad, who would have done the same diligent research, always curious.  and then i realized that the nickel appeared the day that marked his leaving this earth eight years ago.  i talked to him a bit, questioning him:  if he was going to leave a coin out for me to find, or convince a frog to leave a coin, why wouldn’t it be one of those gold doubloons i always tease about finding in the walls of our old house or maybe a 1913 liberty head nickel, which i have learned is worth in the neighborhood of several million dollars.  but no –  instead it’s just a curious nickel; i could hear him chuckling.

pando.  the nickel.  both curiosities.  both a little bit of wondrous.  maybe that’s the whole point.  to notice the little bits of wondrous.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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the new bowl. “what now?” [merely-a-thought monday]

what now bcat

we put out a different water bowl in the kitchen for dogdog and babycat.  neither one of them will drink from the bowl.  we put their old water bowl in the next room, filled with water, so that they will be able to hydrate, but we were hoping that they would adjust to the new one.  neither one of them will drink from the bowl.  in the world they inhabit, one that must have low level anxiety frequencies they can feel from the-whole-outside-world, they do not like change.  it’s been days and neither one will drink from the bowl.

“what now?”

in the past months and in what now feels like a broken world, we can face forward.  we can set intentions and take one baby step at a time, all in unequivocal love of all humankind.  we can be light for each other and we can hold fear tenderly.   we can look newness of change eye to eye as we learn, challenge the status quo, embrace compassion and principle and stride confidently into a new time.

we can sit by the new bowl, encourage our dog and cat to drink from it, recognize their fear of the unknown, of change, and just love them.

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

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but there’s this. hope. [k.s. friday]

hope

ella jones said that it’s a time to “have courageous conversations.”  she is the first black mayor of ferguson, missouri and, as i listened to her speak, i wrote down these words.

have courageous conversations.

senator lisa murkowski, a republican from alaska, said, “perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up.”  i read her words, thought “it’s about damn time!” and took a screenshot.

the courage of our own convictions to speak up.

former president barack obama addressed a virtual town hall.  “every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable,” he reassured a trembling nation.  i looked for these words so that i could remember them.

the expression of our deepest ideals.  uncomfortable.

as we all sit together, walk together, protest together, cry together, we are talking together.  in the last ten days of enlightenment, our conversations are asking necessary questions.  we are desperately seeking to reach way down inside and to be honest about what we are feeling.  we are intentionally trying to learn, to discern, to understand.  we are debating.  we are arguing.  we are admitting we are wrong.  we are listening.  we are uncomfortable and we are courageous.

yet donald trump tweeted a letter, in a clear display of vehement agreement with the writer who penned it, his attorney, that refers to the peaceful protestors as “terrorists”.

but there’s this:  “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

and there’s hope.  absolute hope.  we can’t un-know what we know, un-see what we have seen, un-hear what we have heard, un-change what has changed, un-understand what we are beginning to, yearning to, understand, or un-hope for hope.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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on fire. [d.r. thursday]

House On Fire

HOUSE ON FIRE

it is.  on fire.

this house – this country – is on fire.

there are some fires that water will simply not douse, that regular fire-mitigating won’t choke out.  this is one of those.

it rages with hotter heat and more tenacity.  it is impervious to deterrents.  its flames reach into the souls of those with souls and its ash, always ready to ignite, is never extinguished, never snuffed out, smoldering for more years than we can wrap our heads around.

its destruction has burned more deeply into lives than the magma-chasm of volcanos.

there aren’t enough words to quell the wrenching heartache of inequity – the fire has eaten through them all.

there is silence – staggering, heartbroken, earth-shattering silence – and we must hear it.

there aren’t enough excuses to explain it away – people have turned their backs on this smoldering fire, consensual participants in fanning the blaze, the oppression, the hatred.

there are reasons – a history of inequity that predates us and continues like an undercurrent, always there.

there aren’t enough condolences to offer those burned and scarred – empty thoughts and prayers are issued by people standing in bigot-hydrant vicinity, safely far enough away, not in the fray, not affected or effecting.

there are empty words of solicitousness, of sympathy – the pat on the head and the turn back to your-own-life.

there aren’t solutions ready at the fingertips – the listening, talking, desperately sincere efforts to understand, to have empathy, to stop and put on others’ shoes, the soles of which have been melted by the hot lava of this fire.  these are within our grasp; we must step out of complicit complacency.  we must acknowledge the chasm between lip service and true comprehension.  black lives matter.

there is an imperative – to take action, to make change.

in the middle of peaceful protestors being forcibly removed from the area near the white house with tear gas and rubber bullets, the president of this country haughtily walked across the street and stood before a church holding a bible.  it was an empty moment, devoid of positive or constructive meaning, spraying more firestarter onto a fire-lit-for-centuries.  an arsonist.  shameful.

“what else can happen?” we wonder?

each day we are stunned.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“voter freud” [flawed wednesday]

voter freud

my sweet momma taught me to use a dictionary when i was very young.  “look it up,” she would tell me.  the dictionary held an esteemed place in our house.  if i didn’t know what ‘it’ meant or how ‘it’ was spelled, i knew where to go.  i developed a love for dictionaries, thesauruses, all manners of the tools of research.

now, it seems dictionaries have lost their status and spellcheck has become a way of life for those too lazy to ‘look it up’.  spellcheck has a few obvious limitations; context, usage and intent presenting the biggest challenges.  if only spellcheck and auto-correct could reach out of the device screen and (gently) slap the person committing the spellingcrime, life’s communications could be better understood.  punctuation joins the game of laziness and, i must say, punctuation makes a difference.  consider “i’m sorry i love you” or “i’m sorry.  i love you.”  there is a marked difference.

so when people, who never graced me, the nerdy-look-it-up-type, with even one word in high school but who have ‘friended’ me on facebook, post multiple nonsensical, poorly articulated and division-inciting arguments using the term “voter Freud”, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.  i want to post back “look it up!” but i refrain.  borrowing leonard pitts’ words, there seems to be a “matchless capacity for mental mediocrity” in the united states these days.

i suspect if this not-really-a-friend-just-a-friend-on-facebook was standing across from me (mind you, at least six feet across) she would be screaming at me in a loud raucous voice.  i wonder if she would call it – this thing she has taken from fox news and run full speed with, never looking to see if she had a spotter or even a bottle of water in her full-out sprint to falsificationland – “voter Freud” in person.  or would she actually say “voter fraud” in her zeal to make me a believer of her layered cake of conspiracies.

this is not just about lazy writing.  this seems an indicator of a bigger problem.  it’s the metaphoric tip of the iceberg.  i’m not just kvetching about spelling and punctuation, much as i wish that were the whole problem.  it’s an imploring plea to ask questions.  in today’s deep-fake world, a reminder to not make quick assumptions.  to not jump onto a band wagon stoked with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to quell those speaking out, enable dictatorial nationalism, silence what needs to be said.

in this pandemic-laden-chaos-wreaked-leaderless-divisive country of ours i would encourage research.  i would encourage fact-checking.  i would encourage dictionaries.  i would encourage more listening and less reactionism.  i would hope that each of us would understand that every word we utter, every word we write matters, every attitude, every nuance.  we are not in a world of one; we each affect and effect the next.  over and over.

and i don’t know.  last time i checked, john glenn high school in elwood, new york – more than four decades ago – had pretty high standards in english class, in sciences, in history, in math, not the least learning of which was how to use deductive reasoning.  i, for one, was paying attention.  because it mattered.  “voter Freud?”  indeed.  it still matters.

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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