reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“it’s hard to keep things simple.” [merely-a-thought monday]

keep things simple

less is more.  enough is enough.  say no.  simplify.

we are all bombarded.  two days before christmas and we wonder if we did enough, bought enough, wrapped enough, entertained enough, baked enough, decorated enough.  we are surrounded by images – piles of presents under ornate christmas trees, horse-drawn sleighs on currier and ives backroads, families gathered at tables merrily chatting, churches full with congregations happily singing and the bells in the belfry ringing.  the kind of images that nag you into thinking, “more.  i must do more.”

the other evening, gathered around bowls of homemade hot thai soup, 20 said, “it’s hard to keep things simple.”  the three of us share some profound times of conversation, of life’s changes and choices, of simple togetherness.  he talked about soup and wine and chocolate and conversation, of appreciating each other’s company.

the catalogs arriving in the mail and the ads in the paper and the online streaming advertising all pander to the indulgence of our insecurity.  of not enough.  how do we respond and say no?

it’s hard to avoid.  it feels like we have to say yes to everything.  or we don’t quite measure up.  we search for meaning.  in things.  we are searching outside of ourselves.  holding ourselves to some sort of external standard of holiday-completeness.

how do we seek more centeredness?  more connectedness?  more moments held in the stillness of awe?

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

whitetree website box

 

 

 


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joy. [k.s. friday]

joy songbox

the video from My Girl made me out and out cry.  it was just a little hello, sent from around a firepit in the high mountains after a long day of working.  and it was perfect timing.  to see her face and hear her voice was pure joy.

we walked and walked and walked.  miles from millenium park’s christmas tree and skating rinks, past beautiful ornate displays of lights and simple twinkling white branches.  in a rare opportunity linking my arm through My Boy’s as we strolled, i was filled with joy.  the loudspeaker music and dancing lights of the lincoln park zoo just echoed my delight.

as adults, the holidays carry a different set of qualities than they did as when we were children.  much pressure, oftentimes grief, maybe a slippery slope feeling of never-doing-enough, some disappointment, a measure of jealousy or envy perhaps as others-with-family-all-in-town gather together in big festive celebrations.  for those of us who work on christmas eve and christmas day, there is a yet another added layer.

we walked through the woods yesterday looking for the right branch laying on the ground.  we don’t yet have a christmas tree up.  we have other little trees – i have collected small trees through the years – but no true christmas tree.  each year in these last years, we have chosen that “tree” carefully, always something we found, something re-purposed into a christmas tree, something that had meaning.  there was the christmas-tree-on-a-stick – a christmas-tree-misfit – we cut down on the tree farm, a piece of the tree that fell into our backyard narrowly avoiding the house, a branch that had snapped off of our beloved tree out front, a star suspended over a straight trunk wrapped in lights to tease The Boy.

this year i thought about just going to a lot and purchasing a tree, thinking maybe, in the midst of the ending of a really tough year for many,  that might put me into the holiday spirit.  but i just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  we figured that the answer would become obvious, as it has done in the past years.  and it did. watching My Boy, clearly proud of the decorations of the neighborhoods north-of-downtown, agree with us about how simple, beautiful and truly elegant the white branches were, made up my mind.

last night we put the first coat of white spray paint on the two sets of branches we brought home.  we’ll finish coating them with paint later today and wrap them in white lights.  we’ll gently place silver ornaments as we play christmas music in the background.  i will miss My Girl and My Boy like crazy.  i will yearn for my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephew and all their families, david’s parents and extended family.  it isn’t the christmas of christmas-past.

but there still is magic.  those moments of joy – when everything else ceases to exist and joy eclipses it all.

download JOY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

milleniumparktree website box

JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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a morsel among many. [d.r. thursday]

PeaceOnEarth

i distinctly remember designing this.  for over a year i spent tons of time designing products:  pillows, tote bags, cellphone covers, prints, beach towels, cutting boards, mugs, travel cups, coasters, cards, shower curtains, side tables, leggings.  i would study david’s paintings and extract morsels and execute the process – with great joy – of the choosing of the product lines i wished to represent and the designing of those.  it was our intention to sell these pieces.  i would have absolutely loved to fill a brick and mortar store with these pillows and mugs and journals and tote bags, but the sheer outlay for merchandise and stock and the overhead for a physical store made that impossible.  but online – at an online storefront called society6.com, which would manufacture the pieces as they were ordered – it was possible.  it was a good premise.   so we opened five storefronts online (listed below in case you want to stop by with a cup of coffee) to represent each day of our studio melange postings.

only it didn’t really work.

hundreds, literally hundreds, of designs and thousands of products later, we decided it was time to stop putting the hours of effort into these designs.  we had some sales and it is truly a delight to see someone carrying a tote bag i designed or a laptop cover or to hear from someone who is enjoying their purchase.  the sales trickle in still, $4 here, $2.10 there.  the mark-up, as you would expect, lists mightily to the side of the host company, but we dreamed of great volume – so many pillows that earning a few dollars for each-one-of-many would be a big help to our working budget.

only it didn’t really work.

every now and then i visit these sites and am astounded at how actually cool the products are.  the designs aren’t so bad either, if i do say so myself.  (tee-hee)  there are some really beautiful pieces out there, like this PEACE. EARTH. PEACE ON EARTH. morsel.  simple and profound.  timely.  if you click here, you can see it as a pillow.  if you scroll way down on that linked page, you can see all the other products that we designed and made available with this image.  it was within the painting INSTRUMENT OF PEACE that i found this morsel.

even though it didn’t really work, i suppose it worked.  because i can’t begin to tell you how much i learned.  maybe that’s the point.  maybe that’s always the point.

InstrumentofPeace copy

for more morsels of david’s paintings, click here:

www.society6.com/davidrobinson

for various designs of mine, click here:

www.society6.com/kerrisherwood

for products with photographs or graphic designs or inspiring messages, click here:

www.society6.com/twoartists

for products with our beloved cartoon chicken marsala, click here:

www.society6.com/chickenmarsala

for products that make you laugh, images of our flawed cartoon, click here:

www.society6.com/flawedcartoon

and for david’s online gallery of paintings, click here:

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 4.09.09 PM

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

their palettes website box

INSTRUMENT OF PEACE/PEACE.ON.EARTH © 2015 david robinson


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birds on a wire. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

birds on a wire

hundreds of them.  birds galore.  all sitting on the wires.  one by one they flutter and change places.  but they all manage to sit on the wires together.  they adjust.  they move over.  they change wires.  they allow space.  they allow other birds in.  and they sit.  (although technically, i suppose they are standing.)  they don’t seem to be exclusive.  they don’t seem to be judgemental.  they don’t seem to be laden with agenda.  they seem to be working it out – this being-in-community-together thing. refreshing.

and then it occurs to me.  they are all the same kind of bird.

what would happen if a different sort of bird showed up and wanted to sit on the wire, to be in their community?  would they react like people?

 

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

northern lights theatre website box

 


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their slippers. [two artists tuesday]

slippersbw

linda and jim were doing the swedish death cleanse.  linda was determined to de-clutter their home of anything that could potentially burden their children one day.  once on a mission there is no stopping her, so they were diligent about going through every corner, nook and cranny of their home, eliminating anything that was not needed, anything that hadn’t been used in ages or was just simply extraneous.

now, we all talked about that around the table.  with the sun setting on lake michigan and wine in our glasses, our little neighborhood group discussed how hard it is to let go of things,  especially things that have some meaning or are mementos of some sort.  add to that the fact that many of us were raised by parents who had experienced the great depression and you have people who are pre-destined to keep stuff, repurpose it, re-use it, save it for sometime you might need it, save it for when it comes back into fashion so you don’t have to buy it again, etc etc etc.  (that’s definitely my experience and my excuse.)

many times i have entered the basement storage room and gazed at the bins.  in years past, we have eliminated most of the boxes and traded them for these bins, throwing out some things, giving away some things, donating items that are useful, so we have made some progress.  now there are bins with christmas ornaments, bins with artwork and stories and projects created by The Girl or The Boy, bins of things my sweet momma felt too guilty to give away, bins of sewing paraphernalia, bins of art supplies, bins of old music (for everyone gives the musician they know all the old sheet music they come across in their own basement and then that musician, who feels like it’s a mortal sin to throw music out, is compelled to keep it all in file cabinets or, yes, bins.)

from time to time i get a wild hair and go through a bin or random remaining box or pile in the basement workroom.  sometimes i am pretty successful at eliminating clutter.  trust me – i have been in peoples’ homes who have been hoarders and just seeing that makes me want to get rid of everything and live in a tiny house (well, one that would fit my piano.)

this winter perhaps we will tackle this once again.  one more layer of cleaning out.  it is possible.  it’s just tough for me to be ruthless.  i am too thready to be ruthless.  touching memories or seeing them around me is reassuring and fills my heart.

one day in more recent days i went upstairs to look for something in the closet in the hallway.  on the top shelf sat these slippers.  stored here, they are my sweet momma’s and my poppo’s.  they kept them here for when they would visit.

i know that they won’t visit our home again.  noticing the slippers stopped me in my pursuit of whatever-it-was-i-was-looking-for.  all the moments of having my parents present in my home swirled around me, the finality once again a reality.  i struggled with what to do.  i took them out of the closet and brought them downstairs to show d.

laying them carefully on the floor, i took this picture so that i could look at it and remember.  and then, i placed them in a bag so that someone else – a woman with smaller feet than mine and a man with bigger feet than d’s –  could have slippers.  slippers with a bank of memories.  slippers worn hugging my children as they grew.  slippers worn around the christmas tree.  slippers worn in the cold winter sitting by the fire or in the summer drinking morning coffee on the deck.  slippers that lived here, just waiting for their owners, my beloved parents, to put them on.  slippers with big heart.  slippers with profoundly good juju.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

kdkc feet website box


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blue prayer. [d.r. thursday]

BluePrayer

because i have this thing about everest, high-mountain-climbing tales and the arctic, we have a propensity to seek out movies we can view that tell these stories.  we stumbled upon an explorer series that followed the adventures of an arctic explorer at the north pole.  the photography was stunning.  so much white.  and then the blues.  a turquoise aqua that you just can’t accurately describe.  the explorer described the north pole as elusive, as theoretical, since it continually moves and the longitude/latitude is never constant, always fluid.  he is there at the exact north pole and he is not. both.

this painting BLUE PRAYER feels like there.  sitting at the very top of our mother earth, the deep night sky behind her, she prays.  for our planet, all people, tenets of goodness, generosity, peace.  she is quietly still and bowed in fervently verbose prayer.   she is praying for the elusive, the theoretical.  she knows it is all out there and she knows it is not. both.

to view/purchase BLUE PRAYER (mixed media 18″ x 14″)

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

their palettes website box

BLUE PRAYER ©️ 2019 david robinson

 


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paint-by-number. [two artists tuesday]

paint by number .JPG

some things just stop me in my tracks.  strolling through school days antiques mall i turned the corner and screeched to a halt.  familiarity swirled around me as i stared at this painting – a paint-by-number.  my breathing slowed.  the scene, the hues…all made me feel like i was embraced.  by my sweet momma.  i texted a picture to my sister, to check in, to see what she said.  she texted back that it, indeed, felt familiar and we tried to remember what happened to this painting of my mom’s.  every time i look at this photo on my phone i feel ‘home’.  even right now.

this wasn’t the first time this happened.  back a couple years ago ON mother’s day we were tooling around an antiques store in woodstock, illinois.  we had taken a ‘sunday drive’ (i am turning into my parents!) and looked for antiques stores to visit.  as i turned the corner from one booth to the next it was there, staring at me.  the paint-by-number-jesus that my mom had painted.  i photographed it and called everyone that day.  this painting was hung somewhere in our growing-up house that we can’t all agree on.  but we know it was there.  i turned the painting over looking for my mom’s signature on the back, but didn’t find it.  i studied the frame, one that was identical to a frame that my sweet poppo had made on a paint-by-number-nude (yes, it’s ok to laugh aloud here) my mom had painted and hung in their bathroom (which i know i have written about before).  i pondered how it might have gotten to woodstock, if indeed this painting and truly-identical-wooden-frame might have been my mom’s paint-by-number-jesus.  it wasn’t likely.  our growing-up-house was on long island and then my parents moved to florida so illinois was a bit off the mark (unless she had given the painting to my brother a million years ago and he “generously” donated it, which would make me laugh aloud.)  we left and went home and a few days later drove all the way back, just to study it a little more, to touch it again.  i thought holding it in my hands might tell me if i should buy it and bring it home and, well, i had no idea what to do with it then.  i mean, what does one do with a paint-by-number-jesus?  i didn’t buy it.  i left paint-by-number-jesus in woodstock and i gratefully welcomed my mom’s embrace from afar.

so the other day, in the midst of the stresses of life, we took a stroll in one of our favorite antiques stores, chatting and reminiscing and laughing about all the stuff we used to have growing up and all the stuff that we still have in our cabinets that are now considered antiques.

we tried not to talk about the things that were nagging us, the things we are worried about, the things that seem insurmountable.

and my beloved sweet momma showed up.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

momma, d & k website box