reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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apples and numbers. [k.s. friday]

it’s approaching. you can feel it in the morning air. fall. its scent lingers in the fields of wildflowers, succumbing to cooler nights, a lower sun on the horizon. the bees are desperately, frantically, trying to hang on for dear life. the mosquitoes, thankfully, are writing their wills and the cicadas are singing as if the judges of ‘american idol’ or ‘the voice’ were gathered beneath the trees, an audience of appreciators.

it’s different though.

this fall is all about numbers. covid-19 pandemic numbers. lethal-force racial fatality numbers. protest numbers. healthcare numbers. unemployment numbers. eviction numbers. payroll tax numbers. rally numbers. poll numbers. we are surrounded by a plethora of numbers with an increasingly urgent need to be aware of all of them.

there will be no relaxing inside starbucks sipping pumpkin spice lattes. there will be no apple festivals or street fairs celebrating fall. there will be no hayrides, bale-bouncing with friends on a rickety wagon. there will be no chili cook-offs or slow dance parties on the patio. this was the stuff of pre-pandemic. the stuff of the olden days. the stuff of 2019. the stuff of 1996. the stuff of 1973.

there will be thoughtfully attended protests. there will be emotional vigils. there will be testing sites. there will be virtual funerals. there will be video-conferenced schools and meetings and religious gatherings. there will be jobs sought, financial devastation for too many, unreachable healthcare. there will be speeches to listen to, about which to have hope. there will be speeches to fact-check, about which to have righteous anger.

the numbers have risen to the surface and rightfully demand our attention.

but there’s this – written one year ago: 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.

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.

and so now that the time for jeans and sweaters and boots is in the offing, i need remember. there are still quiet fires in the firepit to have. there are pies we can make and cocoa we can brew up. there are big stock pots of soup to steep. there are trails with crunchy leaves. there are pumpkins to carve, sunflowers to vase, and backroads to drive.

there are things that must be done. the numbers insist. it’s a profound time filled with information and a call to speak up, to question, to research, to, yes, wear a mask and yes-yes, to vote.

but my wistful-near-autumn heart also needs apples.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

MILLNECK FALL from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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just know. [two artists tuesday]

loves me loves me not

we passed the daisy on the trail and i went back to take a picture.  it was instant recognition of  “loves me, loves me not” as i saw it.  the questions we threw willy-nilly to the universe, the don’t-step-on-a-crack, knock-wood, bread-and-butter reflexes of our 60s-70s childhoods.

were it all still to be so easy.

i remember sitting in the grass making clover chains.  i remember the transistor radio playing on the bazooka bubble gum beach towel.  i remember playing in the woods out back with the neighbors.  i remember kickball in the street and badminton and croquet in the yard.  i remember hula-hoops and skateboards on my driveway.  i remember the “boing” the pogo stick made.  i remember koolaid and ice pops that seemed to never run out.  i remember bike hikes with sue and carvel ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles.  i remember frisbee at the beach and making apple pies.  i remember listening to cassettes and practicing piano.  i remember the trunk of the maple tree against my back, the branches holding me as i wrote.  i remember the sound the pressure-filled-from-the-sun-light-purple-hosta-flowers along our sidewalk made when popped.  i remember it was time to go home when it got dark and i remember catching fireflies in jars with holes punched in the lids.  i remember sunday drives and picking apples and kentucky fried chicken on picnic tables further out on the island.  i remember cabins in state parks and wide-eyed flirting with older lake lifeguards upstate.  i remember duck ponds and friendly’s.  i remember my puppy riding in my bike basket and ponytails.  i remember loves-me-loves-me-not.

it seemed an innocent time.  a time of marvel.  a time of safety.  never did i wonder if my parents loved me.  i just knew.

babycat just rolled onto his back, all four paws outstretched, his big black and white belly just begging for a pet.  he doesn’t ask questions.  his world is relatively small – since his kittenhood adoption, the littlehouse was the only other house he has known other than our house.  yesterday we brought him and dogdog into the basement as the tornado siren went off.  dogga was nervous but babycat adapted, finding a place to lay on the carpet.  his only demand is for food, several times a day with clockwork precision.  otherwise, he is unconditional.  his presence in my life has brought me eleven years of a gift i really needed when he arrived.

babycat is laying right next to me now as i type.  tucked close in, his snoring is punctuated only by his purring – it’s a two measure repeat in 4/4, each breath a half note.  it is the 11th anniversary of his “gotcha day” and he’s marking the day with a celebration of naps. no worry of “loves me, loves me not” crosses his mind.  he just knows.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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things i learned at the little red schoolhouse. [merely-a-thought monday]

a bar owner

the little red schoolhouse on cuba hill road was the place i went to kindergarten.  built in 1903 it was a place of important early learnings – the stuff you learn at five and six – things this back-in-the-day first teacher, who you fall desperately in love with, would impart to you through kind, objective, steady lessons.  it wasn’t that my sweet momma or poppo weren’t teaching me kindergarten-level-rules, but learning them in a place where i was surrounded by other children and could practice them immediately in-real-life i would guess had more impact.  lasting lessons are often those that come through experience, through feeling and doing rather than simply hearing.

share your toys.  take your turn.  say please and thank you.  wash your hands.  do your own work.  hold the door for others.  keep your hands to yourself.  be kind.  help others.  listen when others speak.   be respectful of your elders.  follow the rules.

i don’t specifically remember days in kindergarten but i know that i have always been a rule-follower in school and would not imperil another’s playground time by not paying attention, by disobeying, by being impervious to an adult’s directions for work that needed to be done or instructions for safe practices.  i would not have ignored the be-absolutely-quiet rule during fire or duck-and-cover drills.  i would not have continued talking or wreaking havoc were my teacher – or any other teacher, for that matter – to have asked for silence.

the rules seemed simple at five.  we were each individually and as a group asked to follow them.  those easy rules were designed to preclude chaos and our freedom to learn and have fun was never sacrificed in the process of following them.  the consequences of disregarding them seemed dire – staying in during playtime.  one child’s misbehavior often led to the whole class missing playground.  to be THAT child was not a sought-after title.  instead, we would work together – in our five-year-old beehive fashion – to clean up the classroom and desks and chairs so that we were all ready – together – to go play.

it’s the way i feel about masks.  it hasn’t been recommended to us by medical and science professionals to wear masks as a lark.  this recommendation comes with passionate imploring.  it is a simple rule.  if this, then that.  conditional.   if we wear masks, we will dramatically lower the transmission of this global pandemic raging through our country.  it is a proven fact and other countries have shown their adherence to mask-wearing has flattened the curve of the disease.  pretty simple, yes.  a mask.

instead, there are those people who flagrantly ignore this simple if-this-then-that.  we see them everywhere.  it’s breathtaking.  and their display of arrogant individualism at a time of an intense need to care-for-community means one thing:  we will not get to go out to play.

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

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the old file cabinets. [k.s. friday]

it's a long story

two old file cabinets.

the old file cabinets are in the closet in the studio.  at some point i organized all – well, most of – my music, lugged a couple metal cabinets up from the basement and spent a few days filing.  there’s overfill in a few cardboard bank boxes on the floor.  maybe someday i’ll get to those.

yesterday i was looking for a piece of music i thought i had.  i went to the drawer it should be in and starting rifling through the books and sheet music.  every title i looked at brought back memories:  “moon river” made me think of my uncle allen, who took voice lessons and sang that song beautifully.  “all i need” made me think of days at moton school center, comparing ‘general hospital’ notes with lois over lunches of peanuts and diet cokes.  “the rose” made me think of earlier years of promise and love.

i forgot about what i was searching for and dragged out a pile of music, sheets spilling out onto the floor as i struggled to pull them from their tightly filled drawer.  books – collections of artists or full transcribed albums – called my name, begging to see the light of day.  i whispered to them i would be back for them.   it has probably been decades since they were opened.

standing at the piano, not another thought in my head, i started shuffling through sheet music and playing.  it was no longer 2020, transported instantly back to the 70s, the 60s, the 80s.

had i opened a different drawer i would have found all my old piano books, my old organ music – tools of a student learning her eventual trade.  in those drawers are the books my children used for their music lessons, for band and orchestra.  in those drawers are the books i used as i attempted junior high oboe and college trumpet lessons.  in those drawers are the pieces that kept me on the bench for hours as a child and then as a teenager, practicing, playing, dreaming.

other drawers yield a plethora of more advanced piano and organ music, years of accumulated resources.  there are drawers of choir music, both sacred and secular, from years and years of directing and conducting work.  and still others house the scores of music i have written, staff paper and pencil, finished in calligraphy pen.

it made me want to just clear a day off.  liberate my mind from every worry, every task, every watching-the-time responsibility.  brush off the dust of the dark drawers from the lead sheets and scores and play.

i’d love to gather a whole group of friends around the piano and sing through john denver and billy joel songs, through england dan and john ford coley’s “we’ll never have to say goodbye again” and paul mccartney’s “maybe i’m amazed” and david soul’s “don’t give up on us” and the carpenters’ “bless the beasts and the children” and led zeppelin’s “stairway to heaven”,  through carole king and james taylor and pablo cruise.  through the ‘great songs of the sixties’ book and the ‘sensational 70 for the 70s’ book and fake books from all time.   just take a day – a whole day – and sing.  and remember together.

in light of the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, this would have to be virtual, i suppose.  so that might not be such a good idea.  but maybe d and i could just take that day.  think of nothing else but music and where it has brought us, where it brings us.  our long stories.

a few things can instantly place you back in a moment.  songs, scents, pictures.  a whiff of my sweet momma’s favorite perfume has me immediately missing her.  john denver singing anything off any number of albums of his that i owned places me in my room hanging out on my beanbag chairs with my slick 3-in-1 turntable/8-track/cassette stereo or driving my little bug around the island.  wings’ “silly love songs” or elton’s “don’t go breaking my heart” and i can feel the hot sand under my beach towel at crab meadow.

two old file cabinets.  filled to the brim.

so many treasures.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IT’S A LONG STORY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… [flawed wednesday]

whole truth man

i was 18 and on long island the first time i was called for jury duty.  back then, reporting was for two weeks so i drove out to riverhead each day for ten days.  it was serious stuff and i, in my innocence, listened carefully to every detail during jury selection and, later, during the case to which i was assigned.  i was intimidated by the presence of the judge, law enforcement, court bailiffs, attorneys, these people who had dedicated their lives to justice, to maintain rule of law and abide by due process of such, while providing for equal protection, seeking social order.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  i researched my responsibility.  i was respectful of every instruction i was given, and believed that the process was based on constitutional rights and values and that truth would prevail. “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

less than ten years later i was the victim-witness counselor at the state attorney’s office in one of the judicial circuits in florida.  i worked with local law enforcement, the FBI, attorneys, social workers, court bailiffs, judges, all dedicated to the due process of those who had been accused of crimes and those who were victims of crimes.  my position was working with victims of violent crimes or surviving family members of those victims. heinous acts committed upon others, i was intimidated by the presence of cold, calculating types sitting across the deposition table from me, wishing, at times, that i could put a paper bag over my head to avoid identification at a later date.  it was bracing and disheartening, a dark look into what people are really capable of, twisted, distorted minds culminating, often, in the death of an innocent person.  my first case was one of the saddest, though i shudder thinking of many of them, wondering if they are truly rank-able.  the young woman worked at a quick stop gas station/convenience store, her shift the wee hours of the night.  the two men who kidnapped her had planned for a long time to dig an underworld and keep her and other women there.  their efforts were stymied as they began to dig and discovered that sand kept filling the hole, so they assaulted her and murdered her.  one of my very first days: welcome to the state attorney’s office.  each case that was presented was treated with respect and complete attention to detail; the truth was the ultimate goal, for justice, for the memory of the victim, for the victim’s family, for proper sentencing and/or rehabilitation.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

thirty years later i watch as the wisconsin court system, that which is supposed to be non-partisan, apolitical, a fair arbiter of the law, has deemed the governor’s safer-at-home order during a global pandemic unconstitutional and has thus thwarted the ability of the governor to protect the populace.  “courts:  they exist so the equality of individuals and the government is reality rather than empty rhetoric.” (NACM)  hmmm.  yet, instead, leaning heavily on the right side of the political seesaw of a supposed-apolitical supreme court, the justices declared the state ‘open’ and triumphantly, though virtually, just as during their vote, raised their glasses of celebration in every wisconsin bar about five minutes after their declaration.  the truth?  wisconsin’s coronavirus numbers had not ceased climbing; there was not enough testing nor contact tracing as per the federal government’s previously-stated guidelines, which, at the time, were stated as the truth.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…”

meanwhile, the administration’s truth-seesaw has become the stuff of amusement parks and circuses – long roller coasters of thwacking metal cars on tracks, criss-crossing and reversing direction, houses of mirrors, convoluted stories and warped sideshows.  “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth…” would present some challenges in this case – were truth to be told.

the truth flies by the hand of the self-served.  the truth is misrepresented in more artistic mediums than the best fine arts university could offer.  falsehoods are reported on, written about, gushed over.  and people i care about and love believe them.  danger lurks in the darkness of this truth-void; the deposition table will later provide bags to cover all the heads.  made-up stories as adults with impact on a country are not merely child’s play.  this seesaw of truth is about life; it’s about living.  it’s to uphold this: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (the preamble of the u.s. constitution)

we passed a house flying an american flag.  under the american flag was another flag.  it said:  “trump 2020.  stop the bullsh*t.”

wow.  now that’s calling the kettle black!

stop the bullsh*t???  i should SAY so.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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relics. [two artists tuesday]

stop sign quarter

we stopped there every time we rode our bikes past on the way to the beach or the harbor.  north shore outdoor recreation center & school of skindiving was a shop downtown east northport, a couple blocks from the railroad tracks and across the street from the old auto parts store.  our high school biology teacher jim owned it and we’d stop in and visit, looking around at gear and flirting with the just-slightly-older-than-us-guys who worked there.

when i was 17 i started working there after school and on weekends.  i’d do office work, the newsletter, and sell scuba, archery and other outdoor-related sporting equipment.  the fill tank, a pool of water in which oxygen tanks are immersed in order to fill them for use while diving, was just outside the office and i can’t tell you how many times i ended up sitting in it.  until i got smart and carried extra clothes to work with me in the car,  i had to drive home to change, sopping wet and glorying in it.   i was the only girl there and these boys were brutal teasers.

the basement of the shop was formidable, dungeon-like; at the top of the stairs were a sliding chain lock and the light switch.  the gestetner machine (a copy machine that invariably spewed purple stuff all over you during use) was in that basement which meant i spent some good time down there wrangling this obstinate office contraption.  from way down in the depths of this concrete cavern, i could hear the chain sliding and the click of the light switch, leaving me in the dark to feel my way back up the steps and stand at the door, pounding to be released from yet another prank.  yes, brutal stuff.

crunch was in charge which left jimmy and ollie and i under his thumb.  much more a rule-follower, crunch was a task-master and was the one who turned down the blasting stereo of ‘heart’ singing ‘barracuda’ in the workroom.  he wagged his fingers at us to sweep or organize regulators, but he was right-in-there, shortchanging me with the growing-boy deli orders they sent me on, leaving notes on my little vw about town-noon-whistle-blowing-timeliness, not setting me free from the front sidewalk window when i, during christmas-eve-day last-minute-shopping-hours, dressed as an elf and, coerced to fix something in our christmas display, was locked in, forcing me to grin and bear it and stand with plastic-santa, waving at people walking by and the crowd that gathered at the auto parts store.  but we all did good work together, the dives were organized, people had the right gear and the shop was a place customers loved to come and linger in.

an older italian couple lived above the shop and luigi was not as loud as his wife.  without the benefit of air conditioning, the windows and lack of thick insulation in the walls made it easy for us to hear her rapid-fire italian admonishments of her husband, always punctuated by a shrill “luigi!”  in our first-hand innocence of marriage-challenges we’d voice, “poor luigi.”  i don’t think i ever knew his wife’s name.  i wonder about their lives.  where did they go?  their rows weren’t nearly as loud as ‘barracuda’ or the sounds of boisterous laughter coming from the back storage/workroom of the shop.  they were simply a part of the story, a part of the history of that place, a sound-artifact i can still hear.

during one of his college classes, crunch, who ended up one of my very best friends, for a psych class project, decided to glue a a few coins onto the sidewalk out front and hide in the tent displayed in the front window, capturing passersby reactions to money-for-free.  they always went for the quarter and it was predictable how earnestly they would try to pry this off this sidewalk, invariably stopping to rub at their fingertips, digging in backpacks or purses for pens or keys to pry with.  nevertheless, the superglue held and the coins remained on the sidewalk for a long time to come.  i don’t know when they finally disappeared.

for those of us who actually think coins count as money, it’s natural to stop and pick up coins when you see them, the whole find-a-penny-pick-it-up-thing.  the little jar at home fills up and is, surprisingly, a good sum of money when it’s up to the tippy-top.  so when we passed the two pennies in the UPS parking lot, david bent down to pick them up.  one heads-up, one tails-up.  i immediately yelled, “no!  don’t touch them!”  it was the very beginning of the pandemic and touching ANYthing without sanitizer nearby was a formidable act.  it was too late; david had picked them up.  so he brought them over to the sidewalk by the UPS store and laid them on the window ledge.  i wonder if they are still there.

the quarter was on the trail when we were hiking last week.  it made me stop; it’s a quarter, after all!  i looked at david, pondered, then shrugged, and, against every reflex, left it there and hiked on.  the not-picking-up-free-money-guilt set in but not enough to break the don’t-touch-it-pandemic-rule.  i wonder if it is still there.

in this time of so-much-change and the use of so-much-technology, i find myself thinking of those times, over four decades ago now, when things seemed simpler.  coins counted, ink-laden-copy-machines slowed us down.  i think about the relics that were left behind.

and i wonder, forty years from now, when i am 101, what will those relics from this time, this time of pandemic sweeping our world, look like?  what will they be?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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incessant. my sweet momma. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

good morning sunshine

she was incessant.  every morning she greeted me with the words, “good morning sunshine.”  rain, sleet, snow or ice – none would dampen her good-morning-spirit.  a new day, a new beginning, another chance.

my parents weren’t complicated people.  they grew up with great-depression-survival parents.  they were married and almost immediately separated by the second world war, by my dad’s missing-in-action status, by his time as a prisoner-of-war and, thus, they navigated the loss of their first daughter on two continents, my mom without knowledge of my dad’s whereabouts.  they processed-without-processing the end of the war and my dad’s escape and return home to struggle through post-war times.  they had two more children, another girl and a boy and began to raise a family on long island in a cape cod house with a chainlink fence and a dachshund.  after i was born they moved to the house i grew up in, the only house i remember without looking at old photographs.  we had a single driveway with a grass strip in the middle.  some neighbors had solid concrete or asphalt driveways, no grass strip, and even as a child, i suspected this meant something.  they were thrifty and conserving.

my parents weren’t hip.  through the rebellious 60s and mod 70s they raised me, older than most of my friends’ parents by at least a decade or more.  i listened to jim nabors and doris day and robert goulet in the house, herb alpert and the tijuana brass and frank sinatra on the stereo and the old wgsn on the radio on top of the refrigerator, while friends were hearing their moms sing to carole king and simon and garfunkel crooned in their kitchens, the mamas and the papas and herman’s hermits in the family rooms.  my dad would whistle for hours; hearing anyone whistling now feels like a hug from him.

my parents weren’t frivolous.  my dad would turn boxes inside out to repurpose them.  my mom would assign him tasks first in in his basement workshop and, later, his garage workshop, giving him something to focus on.  he was always rube-goldberg-ing everything; he could make or fix anything.  they didn’t splurge on stuff, well, until they discovered ikea.  after years and years and years of exclusive use, the aluminum colander they gave to me (and after a couple more decades and the loss of a foot, i finally retired) is likely 70 years old.

my parents weren’t problem-obsessive.  my mom would do laundry, especially later in life.  i think it centered her.  the simple task of cleaning a garment or bath towel and putting it away felt grounding; i have learned this from her and you will find me scouring the house for laundry items in times of stress.  they were reasonable and rational; nothing needed be too complex.

but they were loving and encouraging and accepting.  i could tease or cajole my dad into doing almost anything.  and, when my dad’s reaction to a circumstance was more impatient, my mom would listen, listen, listen.  she would admonish him, “Erling!” she’d hammer.

simple.  no fancy titles.  no wildly exotic trips.  no fancy foods.  only one fancy car to try-on-for-size.  no fancy clothes or shoes. simple furnishings, treasured mementos.

simple.  no emmys, oscars, grammys.   no nobel peace prize.  hardworking and uncomplaining.  a lot of volunteering.  a jewelry store failure in early days of big box stores.  early retirement and a move-down-I95 south.  self-admonishments to do-the-photo-albums and clean-out-the-file-cabinets.

simple.  a dedication to handyman magazine, national geographic, jigsaw puzzles, crytoquotes and crosswords.  tomato plants and hosta.  forsythia and four-o-clocks that ran along the whole side of the house.  succulents and bougainvillea.  harlequin romance novels and old doris day/rock hudson movies.  bird-watching and klondike bars.  feeding their family.  entertaining their friends.

simple.  times around the table coffee-sitting.  long conversations on the couch.  egg mc-arnsons or waffles and ice cream on sunday mornings.  time on the stoop and in the lanai, just talking.  time.  spending time.

she was incessant.  her joy at the day, her exuberance, her kindness, her piercing eyes, her absolute, uncompromised, unconditional love.

i woke today thinking about this day five years ago today, when i was not physically there to hold her hand as she passed from this life to another plane.  we were on the way, driving there, on an interstate when we found out.  in el paso, illinois.  we pulled off and found a park not far from the highway.  we walked and walked and walked, trying to process.  i have no doubt that she knew i was right there with her, always, and how much i love her.

life will never be the same without my sweet momma on this earth.  ever.  i can only hope that in some way, as a new day dawns and i think to myself, “good morning sunshine,” that i will be somewhat like her.  somewhat as incessant.

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

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past tommy’s house. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

99 cents:gallon cropped

20 years ago.  apparently the last time gas was 99 cents a gallon in wisconsin was 20 years ago.  i don’t remember that in particular; my children were young and things were busy.   how strange to now be able to purchase gas for 99 cents a gallon, filling up little-baby-scion for about $10, and not be able to go anywhere.

20 years before 20 years ago i remember gas being 79 cents a gallon or so.  on long island, i would go to the citgo station on the corner of larkfield and clay pitts road in my vw bug, filling up for well under $10.  they pumped your gas for you back then.  i had one of my first credit cards, a citgo card, in those days.  on one occasion, a couple days after i got gas, i received a phone call.  it was from the guy who had pumped my gas.  he had saved my information post-pumping and looked my last name up in the phone book.  he called to ask me to go on a date.  he was always nice to me every single time i got gas, so i thought it perfectly innocent to accept.  i don’t remember where we went, but i do remember thinking that i would absolutely not repeat the date – the somewhat unusual way he got my number (i’m thinking that would be against credit card protection acts these days) was befitting of his um, unusual-ness.  “she’s not home,” my mom would tell him time and again when he called.  after a plethora of calls over a series of days, i told him i  wasn’t interested.  i started going to mobil.

citgo, dairy barn, king kullen, genovese drugs, the card store – these were all around the corner, up the hill and turn right.  to get there you’d go right by tommy’s house on the hill.  and just today i found out that tommy, one of the absolute cutest-boys-in-high-school, has died.  a  man taken by coronavirus, i read the posts on facebook remembering him.  it seems, as we lose track of people in our orbit, that they freeze in time – i never knew tommy as an adult so he remains age 18 in my mind’s eye.  we lose track of them and we don’t know their successes or their challenges, things they struggled with or how their lives were shaped as they ‘grew up’.  we make assumptions and find out later that their lives were impacted in ways we never could have guessed, in ways we would have never wished for anyone.  it saddens me deeply to think of tommy, the cool-boy-in-school, struggling in his life, trying to get a firm hold on steady.  the things we don’t know, riding our bikes up that hill just to get a glimpse and maybe wave to him.

20 years go by. and another 20.

and we sit at the pump where it’s 99 cents a gallon.  there is a global pandemic.  we have a blank triptik.  as we drove away from the pump, we looked at each other and pondered without answering, ‘where would we go if we could go?’

but right now, there is no where to go.  were i to be on long island, i would go back to my growing-up house and sit on the curb for a bit.  then i’d go around the corner and up the hill.  and i’d wave as i’d pass tommy’s old house.

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

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there is a place, a canopy. [d.r. thursday]

canopy

CANOPY 48″x48″

there is a place on a washington island road where the rest of the world disappears.  you are walking alongside forest and can see the sky as you look up, tall trees framing blue, the sound of sandhill cranes and red-eyed vireos accompanying your steps.  and then you enter this place.  the trees gently arc over the road and you are covered by a canopy; we have sheltered in this spot during more than one sudden rainfall.  even in the bright day, the green above you – which turns to brilliant umber, rich red, flaming orange during summer’s release on the forest – allows for little light.  and at dusk, while the sun sinks into the water hundreds of feet away, walking in the middle of the road, it is dark-dark, the canopy a lure for night creatures, safe in the shadows.

there is a place in a tree in the yard of my growing-up house outside the window of my old room where the branches invited sitting.  for hours i would sit there, write, ponder.  in the summer the maple seemed to grant me privacy from the world, its branches full of leaves and canopying my little spot.  a shelter.

there was a place in the wooden structure in our backyard that had a yellow awning that made a fort.  when My Girl and My Boy were little they would play up there for hours, The Boy lining up matchbox cars, The Girl often reading a book.  a special space, this little fort, it was hard when it was time to dismantle it and pass it on to friends with little ones.

these places of shelter – places of canopy – provide such a sense of protection, a sense of being held from harm – from the elements, away from others, in our own private place.  much like our homes, they can give us pause, a deep breath, safety.

in this time of distancing and stay-safe-stay-at-home, i look around our house and give thanks for its canopy of shelter, for the way it holds us from harm, for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it keeps us safe.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” [merely-a-thought monday]

healing

it is at that place in my memory where i can juuuust-about-touch-it-but-not-quite – the first time i heard, ‘ don’t stare into the rearview mirror.  that’s not the direction you are going.’  i can’t quite remember when or where i first heard it, but it was one of those comments that i stored away as a wisdom to feed off, something that would give me strength in a moment of weak, something that would give me hope in a moment of despair.

my john glenn high school senior class song was seals and crofts’ we may never pass this way again’.  even if it’s the best.  even if it’s the worst.  never.  this moment won’t be repeated and, with the absence of time travel, we cannot re-live it.  ever.

we have all walked in different shoes on different paths.  we have passed through challenges of which we may never speak; we have had successes about which we have never bragged.  we have been hurt;  we have hurt.  and we have healed.

“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” (ram dass)

the thing about healing is what it teaches us.  we can never be un-hurt.  we can never undo what was done or what we did.  we can’t return to the baseline; it has vanished with the winds of change.  in a million tiny pieces of glitter, it’s in that proverbial rearview mirror.

but we can ride the river of our breathing into new normal.  we can carry with us learnings and soft words of apology.  we can pack our virtual baggage with tools of prevention and fairness and forethought.  we can pick up techniques of negotiation and navigating in the process of coming-out-of-pain.  we can avoid the temptation to retreat from moving forward, thinking that healing means it’s all back to what it ‘was’ before.

instead, we can step, in blind faith, into next, trusting that healing will bring us to a new place, a new start.  that healing will have somehow gifted us, given grace to all involved in ways we may never know or understand.  that healing will be like dawn, like rain, like birth.

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

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