reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the organ bench. [k.s. friday]

organ pipes

no one else.  there was literally no one else i knew who took organ lessons.  eight years old and i was the only one.  everyone else i knew took piano lessons.  they went to the new local music store –munro music on larkfield road in east northport – and had lessons in itty studios downstairs and came back upstairs to pick out sheet music from a big wall featuring the latest hits and books of collected artists, written out for various levels of piano-playing ability.  me?  i went to mr. i-never-knew-if-he-even-had-a-first-name sexton’s house (now, think about the torture my peers had with that name) and took organ lessons in the addition adjacent to the garage.  there was no wall of sheet music, were no cool guitars hanging up begging to be purchased, no amplifiers or drums.  just that one organ.  no windy or ode to billie joe or i’m a believer easy piano for me.  it was beautiful dreamer and long, long ago.  and hymns.  lots of hymns.  but i had been asking for lessons since i was five and the little chord organ that was my grandmother’s was moved aside and a ‘real’ organ with two manuals (keyboards) and real pedals and cha-cha button settings was added to the corner of the dining room that was next to the kitchen and the living room.

when i was ten i tearfully played the pipe organ for my brother’s wedding, the processional as my sweet sister-in-law walked down the aisle to my big brother.  yesterday i was talking to john whelan, a master celtic accordionist the exact same age as me, and we talked about the first real gig we did.  his was at 12 and he actually got paid.  mine was this wedding and, for obvious reasons, payment was out of the question.  i got to wear a really pretty peach-colored party dress and white shoulder stole and wept my way through the difficult piece.

after some time, i somehow convinced my parents that they needed both an organ and a piano and they signed me up for piano lessons.  joan ostrander, the very chic music teacher, was my first piano teacher and i adored her.  she pushed me and i adored that too.  i spent long hours practicing on the piano bench with my dog missi sleeping underneath, my dad whistling in the background.

in years to come i studied with the teacher-of-all-teachers alan walker and was convinced that the piano and i were kindred.  i taught more piano lessons on long island (and later florida and even wisconsin) than i can remember, back then driving from one house to another, delighting in each student’s joy playing the piano and progress no matter the pace, hoping to emulate the teaching style of this amazingly kind man.  after lessons we talked life and ham radio and ate open-faced crunchy peanut butter sandwiches.  music is not just about music, you know.

during my undergrad, i studied piano in college with one of the professors but kept bringing in pieces of original music and kept veering off course from assigned large scale pieces, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

as no real surprise, i majored in music composition, the first (?) step toward living as an artist, the first step in a road that leads to here and now.  so much in-between.  the gigging composer music timeline is filled with albums, concerts, performances, cd sales, radio and tv, qvc appearances, barnes & noble and borders, listening wall placement, phone calls, yamaha, traveling, shipping and more shipping, recording labels, carrying boxes, standing in the rain on flatbed trucks playing and singing, driving, driving, driving, press releases, graphic design, writing, recording, supportive family and friends and coworkers and a person named hope hughes.

but that organ.  it has kept on re-appearing.  somehow it is one of the threads that has woven its way through my life.  there aren’t that many of us out here:  people who play the organ, who can finesse a chosen timbre through the pipes and who can actually play lines of bass notes on the pedals.  those lessons from the very beginning somehow set the stage for me to work for three decades already as a minister of music.  conducting choirs and handbells and ukulele bands and worship bands, choosing music for services and performing groups, leading and shaping worship and, yep, playing the organ…it has been a constant.  there are days that i will pull out all the stops and play as loud as the organ pipes will allow.  its bellowing echoes through the sanctuary and i giggle as i think of my ten year old self, sitting on an organ bench in williston park on long island and crying.

what would i have thought if i had known that fifty years later i would still be sitting on an organ bench?

canyon love

to visit iTUNES click on the image above or on this link

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

organ pipe people website box

 


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the cameras. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

cameras

1977.  graduation.  yashica fx-2.  my most-prized possession and my constant companion was the 35mm single lens reflex camera my momma and dad gave me when i graduated from high school.  it went everywhere with me and i made every reason to be out and about with it, capturing sunrises, sunsets, beaches, state parks, roadtrips, lighthouses, birds and other wildlife, my nieces and nephew.  i loved this camera and still have it, although i haven’t used it in years.  i learned about f-stops and aperture openings, film speed and depth of field – all with this camera.

somewhere along the way, automatic cameras began to reign supreme and i joined the ranks with a minolta that made taking pictures of My Girl and My Boy easier, faster, somewhat brainless.  as they were little and moments passed in lightning speed, this camera made moment-seizing more possible, although one still had to wait till the film was developed to see if you were successful.  sometimes it was the blurry photo, the funny face, the i-wasn’t-trying-to-get-that-picture photograph that are the prizes.  they are the ones we couldn’t erase, delete, photoshop, filter.  they were what they were.

i remember roll after roll, walking in to rode’s camera shop and taking advantage of their double-print deal, always sending photographs to grandparents, family and friends who were afar.  having sorted through every one of the prints in recent years, i can honestly say that i have literally thousands of photographs of my children when they were growing up.  perhaps this is the reason they roll their eyes at me now when i want to take pictures of them?

i can’t help but think of what i might have captured on film had digital cameras or cellphones with the exquisite-cameras-of-today been around back then.  video without having a gigantic vcr camcorder on your shoulder or even a smaller, still cumbersome 8mm camera, instant photos that you can preview and take over, every photo or image or video ‘fixable’, ‘changeable’, ‘alterable’.

i have to say i am a little envious of the ability of parents today who are able to document their children, their travels, their, well, every move, not to even begin to mention selfies, and instantly facebook-post it, email it, text it, snapchat it, instagram it, tweet it, snapfish or shutterfly-book-it, sharing it with the world.  it’s so simple.  their documentation will be so much more complete, the phone-camera a constant companion with no real added burden of weight or case or extra lenses or film or a flash.  the rise and ease of amazing technology.

it was with a sense of uh-oh-we-really-are-getting-olderrrrr that we happened upon the display of cameras and movie cameras in the antique shoppe.  i wanted to pick each one up, look through the viewfinder, compose a photo or two.  i was instantly transported back to crabmeadow beach with susan, climbing the fence to snag a few sunrise pictures.  i was in the boat with crunch, cruising long island sound lighthouse to lighthouse.  i was on the floor with my babies, catching their moments.

there was something magical about waiting for that old film to develop.  something that made it sometimes easier to put the camera, the device, away.  something that made it paramount to memorize -for your very own mind’s eye- the most precious of events, the most intimate details, the agonizingly briefest purity of a perfect moment in time.

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

savannah selfie WEBSITE BOX


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millneck fall. [k.s. friday]

millneck fall songbox

every fall, my sweet momma and my poppo would load us up in the dodge with the old wicker picnic basket and a small cooler.  we would drive out east on long island or head north into upstate new york.  the baby of the family with siblings already out of the house, i always had a friend along.  susan went everywhere with us.  we would take mad libs and gum, snacks and cans of soda and we would talk and giggle our way to the apple farm.

it wasn’t like we couldn’t find apples near us; the jaunt away to apple-picking was the point.  the walk in the orchard, the drive through leaves of indescribably stunning color.  we’d stop at roadside picnic tables and take back country roads.  we’d go to fall festivals and arboretums where mums and the latest-hanging-on sunflowers populated the walkways.  millneck manor was one of those places.  so was planting fields.  treasured memories of time spent together.

a while later, as a young adult, i continued the tradition.  when the weather insisted on sweaters and jeans, i would make my pilgrimage to millneck manor and to planting fields, maybe driving out east or upstate.

and now, a long while later, i think of those places, those times.  the memories are sweet, macintosh-apple-sweet.  but the yearning is real.  every autumn makes me just as wistful.  i think of my children jumping in leaves and pumpkins carved with silly faces.  my parents and the old dodge.  pies with homemade crust, hot soup and cocoa, the smell of cinnamon and caramel candles.  fires in the fireplace or outside around the firepit.  jeans, sweaters, boots.  and apples.

download MILLNECK FALL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

shadow bristol woods website.jpg

MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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dawn at crab meadow. [k.s. friday]

dawn at crab meadow songbox

it started in complete darkness.  i was on stage at the theatre on uw-parkside’s campus.  keith, an outstanding and brilliant theatre manager, had programmed lighting that simulated the sunrise, the passionate and increasingly vibrant awakening of the day. it was my release concert of this album – BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL.

i sent this photograph to crunch right after i took it in hilton head.  we both have photographs from decades ago that are almost identical to it…a fishing boat as it passes underneath the warming glow of the sun.  back in the day, the 70s, crunch and i went everywhere taking pictures.  we spent lots of time in his boat, lots of time on beaches.  it was a blissful time with our 35mm non-automatic cameras in hand.  never sure of how a photograph would look, well before the digital age, we took lots of extra film with us, anxious to see the results later.  although i can see the benefits of digital work now, the ease, the preview capacity, the chance to take-another-picture-because-this-one-didn’t-come-out-good, i also remember the mystery, the anticipatory waiting for the film to be developed and the fact that although not all photographs were perfect, it was sometimes the misses that were the jewels.

we watched the sun rise in hilton head every day.  the sky would brighten with hope, even on a cloudy morning.  the tide would answer, the shore birds would wake.  i held close knowing my grown children were sleeping under the same roof, right there.  and a new day started.

i spent many an early morning on crab meadow beach, sometimes having climbed the fence to get onto the sand, my treasured yashica in hand.  the dawn there gave me pause, invited reflection and centering, beckoned me with hope and dreams to come.

keith raised the sunrise-lights until the ‘sun’ was high in the sky, escalating as the music did.  and DAWN AT CRAB MEADOW was released.

download BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

heart in sand website box

DAWN AT CRAB MEADOW from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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take flight. [k.s. friday]

take flight songbox

i have a seagull collection.  much like my horse collection, my seagull collection is much bigger in my memory than in the actual bin-in-the-basement.  when i opened what i thought was a big stable of horse figurines, i was shocked to find that my i-packed-it-in-1972-according-to-the-newspapers-in-the-box brain had overestimated the numbers…by a lot.  my seagull collection, on the other hand, was packed a bit later – more like 1980 – and i had a (little bit) better memory about how many jonathan livingston seagulls i had collected through the years.

growing up on long island i loved seagulls.  never too far from the beach, they were everywhere, but i spent great periods of time beach-sitting winter/spring/summer/fall watching them swoop and holler, screeching at their scavenged finds.  richard bach created a whole seagull community metaphor and i fell right in.

i can still smell the wet sand, see the seaweed washed ashore on pebbles i collected even back then, feel the sun, even the winter sun, on my face.  it all made me breathe differently.  it all made me think and grow and dream.

john denver’s song the eagle and the hawk spoke to me back then.  his simple lyrics prompted me to let those dreams TAKE FLIGHT.

“And all of those who see me, and all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly.
Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops,
Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars.
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future,
And all that we can be and not what we are”

purchase THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY CD or download on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

rhode island website box

TAKE FLIGHT from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 


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there is a place [d.r. thursday]

alki cropped copy

a morsel of ALKI BEACH

there are those places – where you sit and your breathing slows down.  the blue of sky calms you, the warm sand molds to your shape and the water beyond where you sit lulls you and quells the inner mixmaster of your thoughts.

for me, many many years ago now,  that place was crab meadow beach.  i felt some kind of kinship with the seagulls and the lure that shoreline had on them.  off-season still found me sitting on the pebbles along the waterline, in the sand gathered in small wind-dunes, on the cement dolphin or walking, walking, walking, ankle-deep in a surf that changed daily.  a place where i could sort out growing up, it soothed me, challenged me, spoke to me.

it’s not always a beach.  or the top of a mountain.  or a quiet lakeside cove.  or an inviting stump on a thick woodsy trail.  most of the time we don’t all have access to these things on a daily basis.

but there is a place.  where you can find the silence you need.  for david, this is often in front of his easel, a fresh canvas waiting or an unfinished painting beckoning.  this painting – ALKI BEACH – reminds me of that place.  the places nearby, the places within.  the rocking chair in the room upstairs, the adirondack chair in the backyard, the piano bench.  the place you draw the seagulls close, whisper your thoughts to them and send them on their way back into the world.

David Robinson ALKI copy 2

click here or on painting above to view ALKI BEACH on davidrobinsoncreative.com

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

rhode island website box

ALKI BEACH ©️ c.2009 david robinson


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it’s all how you look at it. [two artists tuesday]

THIS from the ferry copy

the ice-breaking bow of our ferry made its way across “death’s door”, the strait that connects lake michigan and green bay.  the windchill below zero, you could hear the hardy vessel crunching its way through the ice.  it was other-worldy.  no one else on the ferry appeared to be as enchanted with it as we were; clearly, they were big-I islanders, unmoved by this half-hour jaunt across frigid waters to washington island.  unfamiliar vs familiar equals enthralling vs mundane.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

when i moved to wisconsin 30 years ago (kicking and screaming at the time) i stood in the pasta aisle of the grocery store – a local piggly wiggly.  there was no mueller’s pasta.  none.  the brand i had grown up with on long island, the brand i found in florida publix grocery stores…it was not here in wisconsin.  i felt instantly lost, instantly homesick.  i sensed people moving around my frozen-in-the-spot-trying-not-to-cry body; they were choosing boxes of spaghetti and penne with no problem.  for me, it was a telling moment.  it was an indicator of change, despite its seeming insignificance.  standing in that aisle i can tell you it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.  (*for an update on this incident, please see below.)

the ferry docked on the tiny island, a mere 35 square miles.  we disembarked and met our friends.  they drove us around, on snow-covered roads, through canopies of trees, past glimpses of water between the pines, their limbs bowing to the snow.  at one point they said we could go to the house if we were bored.  “no,” we answered.  how could we be bored, we wondered.  the quiet, the stillness, the solitude was compelling.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

it was quieter on the ferry ride back with fewer people.  we were just as enthralled.  the ice pieces broken by the bow skittered along the ice plate on top of the water.  lines cracked through the sheet, paths drawn by nature’s etch-a-sketch.  some large slabs of ice raised skyward.  we looked at each other and quietly let out a breath.  we couldn’t imagine how this trip across open water could ever become run-of-the-mill.  but around us were people who acted like it was piggly wiggly brand pasta and they were in the aisle racing to get to the next aisle.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

lake ice copy

*(the rest of the story) i called my sweet momma when i returned home from ‘the pig’ as they say.  she answered and i instantly recounted my no-mueller’s-pasta story, i’m quite sure teary in the telling, yearning for the home we had left.   four days later the UPS truck pulled up at the end of the driveway and the driver lugged a very large box to the front door.  in it i found every shape and size of pasta available…all made by mueller’s.  moms are wise beyond words sometimes.  by the time i finished using the boxes-in-the-box, the unfamiliar had begun to be familiar.  the crisis (yes, fundamentally not a physical crisis, but definitely an emotional one) was over.

zigzag through ice website box