reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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zag. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in the woods

we bought snowpants.  on sale for only $7 they are a wise investment for two people who hike year-round out in the woods or wherever we are.  it’s a big deal for us to buy anything new so, this time, instead of looking at them every day and saving them for good (ala beaky)  we celebrated our good deal by putting them on, going out in the snowy woods and hiking.

we were pretty much silent.  you could hear snow falling from the trees and the crunching of our boots on the trail.  but we didn’t talk much.  with so many things to talk to about and the woods being our best meeting room it was unusual.  but sometimes, it is silence that is most needed.

our path, like this stream, has zigged and zagged.  it has brought us past jagged rocky times and through sweet gentle lapping pools.  it has been lit by warm sun and darkened by the deep worry of late night.

but one thing is always consistent in the inconsistency of life.  no matter how we arrive in the woods, no matter the angst we bring.  arm in arm, because it is our habit, we walk through the woods.  arm in arm on the trail we silently hike toward quieting our hearts and minds.  under trees older than our troubles, arm in arm walking reaches past even anger-inspired words, things spoken in frustration.  arm in arm we remember all that is good, all that is certain.  the day’s hurdles and fears and unease fade as the sun sets.  and we zag.

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

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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

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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our daisy. [d.r. thursday]

daisy framed copy jpeg

if there is an icon image for us, this would be it. the full image of david’s daisy painting includes language:  you said, “i’ll be the one.” yes. you are. 

i was the one holding the daisy.  way back when now, in baggage claim, thinking he would have no idea who i was, i texted him i would be the one holding the daisy.   we hadn’t ever met yet, but our backandforthandbackandforth email letters had been going on for about six months and it was time to see the face of the other half of the backandforth.

i was nervous in the airport waiting.  i got there early, which, in and of itself, is a feat because i am not a way-too-early-to-the-airport person.  i visited the mirror in the ladies room a number of times, checking my outfit, my hair, making sure i had no food in my teeth (linda can tell you bill t. had made me paranoid about this).  the evening before, i agonized over what to wear.  a nice outfit?  a dress?  leggings and a tunic?  i ended up with my favorite old jeans, my boots and a big oversized black chenille sweater.  i needed to feel like me.

the girl in the airport restroom was waiting for her fiance to return from the service; their wedding was merely two months away.  she asked me who i was there to meet and i told her the (short) version of the story.  she laughed and said, “ah.  it’s obvious.  you two will find out you are soulmates, ” which made me laugh.  clearly that was silly.

i only knew his face from a tiny photo on a website.  i had seen photographs of his coffee cup in various settings and his paintings (which i loved), but not his face.  the identifying daisy in baggage claim – in my belief – was necessary.

that daisy was quivering when this guy with jeans, boots and a black shirt and outer jacket was walking toward me and i realized the girl in the bathroom might be right.  a kind face and easy stride, he walked up to me and, laughing, we hugged.  we skipped out of the airport, the daisy cheering us on.

the rest is history, as they say.  there have been uphills and downhills; the roller coaster for two artists living together would challenge any six flags amusement ride.  life beginning together as two grown-up adults is navigable but requires much negotiation.  two people with different pasts – one of us with children, one of us without – is full of lessons and storytelling and learning curves.  the smack-dab in the middle of middle age brings its own neuroticisms; the late 50s is not necessarily a time that you feel at the very apex of feeling good in your body.  we pay attention to health and diet and know our time together is not the decades and decades of our parents’ times together.  we try to maximize moments.  and we sometimes struggle with the feeling of starting over.  not the resilient twenties or thirties of our first marriages, yet starting again with much of the same arduous uphill climb.

so in the roadtrip of this life together were i to assign an icon it would be this daisy.  because this daisy in the painting on our wall reminds us:  i’ll be the one. yes. you are.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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daisy ©️ 2012 david robinson


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“don’t try to get it over with.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dont try to get it over with

a dime.  if i had a dime for every time i heard, “is this you?” as i answered the phone i would possibly be a rich girl.  i am a rich girl, nevertheless, simply because of the utterance of those words.  a dime for every lifeline.

in the craziest time of life, when i was reeling, hearing the voice of my dear friend scordskiii on the phone was a lifesaver.  it was a crazy time of life for him as well, profoundly devastating.  but we weren’t alone in our individual fires.  they raged about us and we each held the other safe, just away from the flames.  were i to have gotten that era over with as-fast-as-possible i would have missed it, this symbiotic exchange of breathing-together, of MAKING-it-through not getting-through-it.  conversations of laughter, singing, telling stories, pondering, arguing points, more laughter.  hours upon hours while he drove in some other part of the country and i sat up all night keeping him company or i drove way-far-away from where he was and he talked me through what i most needed to process at the time.  or we just sat still, in our own corner of the world, talking.  really really talking.  hours of review, of planning, of sorting, of truth, of fear, of ranting.  and laughter.  i have no idea what i would have done without him.  and, despite the pain and the fallout and the ash that (still) remains after the smoldering fire was finally doused, i am grateful to the universe for making me walk through it.  for making me be present.  for not keeping me from the lessons, for giving me reasons to not try to get it over with.  it was an extraordinary time.  the lifeline he extended to me is a thread that will never be broken.  despite his ensuing here-gone-here-gone-ness, his presence will always be a part of what has woven into what looks like me, what is me.

the fire.  who are the people who will stand in the fire with you, will stand still with you, will unconditionally love you, will be your guardian, your buoy, your champion, your lifeline?  how many dimes would you have by now?

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

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believe. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

believe ornament

“i believe the children are our future.  teach them well and let them lead the way…”

“i believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows…”

“i believe in music.  i believe in love.”

“believe in the magic that can set you free….”

“i believe when i fall in love with you…”

“believe it or not i’m walking on air…”

“i believe i can fly…”

“i believe in love, i do…”

“believe me, oh, believe me…”

“believe it or not i’ve been waiting for you to come through…”

“i want to believe in my fellow man.  yes, i want to believe…”

“oh, everyone believes…”

“you know i believe and how…”

“i believe in you and me…”

“oh i believe in you…”

“i’m a believer…”

“don’t stop believing…”

all lyrics.  just a mere short-list.  lots of believing.  there must be something to it.  a natural tendency, a listing in that direction.  always hope.  always belief.  we fall and we get up.  we fail and we try again.  we hurt and we heal.  we keep on keeping on.

because humanity is full of belief.  in basic tenets of goodness, regardless of how you profess divinity.  belief.  the silken gossamer threads of breath.  the accumulation of knowledge and emotion, question and certainty, analysis and intuition, feeling, communicating, learning.  the struggle to stay centered.  and believe.

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

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winding trail. [two artists tuesday]

winding trail

the road from here to there is oft not straight.  the way the crow flies is irrelevant.  “the only way there is through,” joan told me quite some time ago.  we were talking about grief.  i had lost my sweet momma and it felt brutal; at any age the loss of a parent is profound.  i was talking to joan about it – about getting to the other side of the grief.  and she told me that the only way there was through it.  a winding trail it was, with switchbacks and no guardrails.

that has happened for me with each encounter with grief.  there is nothing easy about it, nothing straight.  the grief of loss, the grief of instability, the grief of anxiety, the grief of fear, the grief of insecurity, the grief of aging, the grief of failure, the grief of change, in all its rampant forms.

and yet, out hiking, winding trails are my preference.  a hike that takes me past hidden-treasure-vistas, a hike where i cannot see the end from the beginning, a hike that surprises at each turn.  these winding trails are gifts in the woods, in the mountains, in between red rock formations high in elevation.  there is much to see, much to learn about.  they are journeys of not-knowing.  they are journeys of wonder, of revelation.

we are not crows; no flightpath in our lives will be straight, no endpoint clear in our sight, no one thing all the way from here to there, no vector traveled without veering a bit off-course.  even reverse-threading our lives will not reveal a straight path; instead it will reveal a vast horizon of ping-ponging and circuitous route-making.  we will most definitely wind around, through decisions and opportunities, missed marks and challenges at the goal line, defining and re-defining.  living.

which winds me back to joan’s wise words of years ago, which i can still hear her saying.  the only way from here to there is through.  winding trail and all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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heart. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

heartlights

“and now.  you’re here. in a world of hypocrisy.  and your love can heal us all.”  (you’re here ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood – see this friday’s post)

day’s end is close.  today was christmas.  between last night’s eve and today we sang songs.  we played carols.  we lit luminaria in the backyard under an oddly warm midnight sky.  we hiked in twilight woods.  we gazed in the dark at trees we decorated and lit with strands of lights and glinting silver ornaments.  we cooked meals and sipped wine.  we watched as The Boy and The Girl opened gifts.  we unwrapped presents and cards sent to us, set aside, waiting for today.

and in all of that?  the common denominator?

love.

surely the spirit of the holiday season can help to mend all rifts, help to inspire goodness, help to heal us.  in this world of hypocrisy, we can be united.  it matters not which holiday we celebrate.  what matters is heart and the rich universal tenets that march hand in hand with love.

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

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