reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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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.

download IT’S A LONG STORY on iTUNES

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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drifting in deep waters. [k.s. friday]

adrift

in the wee hours of the dark night, long island sound is quiet.  crunch and i would sit in his boat, inky skies punctuated by a million stars and the lights of the shore, our fishing together comfortable, a thermos of coffee to share, some conversation.  treasured memories now, i was adrift with one of my best friends and completely at ease.

we were probably 12 or 13 when the sunfish sailboat we were in became becalmed.  sue and i sat out in the middle of the big pennsylvania lake and, with no wind from any direction, started laughing.  we were in no danger; we had already capsized a couple times and had survived that.  but we were a distance from the shore and i don’t remember there being any paddles in that little sailboat.  at some point my uncle must have realized our predicament and came out in his speedboat with a towrope. the sunburn decades-faded, i was adrift in that lake with one of my best friends and completely at ease.

as we sit in the middle of this pandemic, this time of change and this time of no-change, we feel motionless, even stranded.  we are learning patience, we are learning to slow down; we are learning.  we are changing our expectations and our measurements of success.  we are marooned in a vast water, drifting, unsure, way out in the deep.  but all around us are others who are generously sitting with us, sharing, nurturing us, also drifting.  our sails are buoyed with winds of kindness, our anchors a steadfast dedication to the well-being of all.  we are grateful for the goodness of brilliant minds, the commitment and sacrifice of front-liners, the respect and honoring of that which keeps us all safer and healthier.

and one day, as we look back at this time, for surely it will someday be a memory, we will see that we were adrift with our best friends and, though trusting and in the care of each other, it truly was a time of unease, the shoreline was not visible and the fathomless water in which we were stranded was way bigger than us.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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ADRIFT ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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the old green chest. [two artists tuesday]

toolchest

the old planters peanuts can sits on top of our dresser.  it is a decor mismatch, so it is not there for its color or what it offers as an artistic statement.  it is there because it was my sweet poppo’s.  he kept it in the third drawer down of his dresser.  in it he would place cash, his money clip, odds and ends from his pockets.  “look in the peanut can,” he’d say, if you needed a couple dollars.  it was one of the treasures i kept from their house, the peanut can that had made its way from long island to various houses in florida.  it brings my dad close and every time i look at it sitting atop our dresser, i feel like we had a little conversation, my daddy and i.

you already know we have a penchant for boxes.  not the cardboard kind,  but most definitely the wooden kind and the metal kind.  old wooden boxes, seemingly value-less, of greater value to me than anyone, things my dad used in the garage, things in which my sweet momma kept her paper clips. each a bitty visit from them.  we have old apple crates, old brewery lidded boxes, boxes with slide lids, boxes with hinged covers and hooks to secure them, tiny boxes and big boxes.  and old vintage suitcases.  all special boxes – places to keep the most precious and the most visually-mundane-but-emotion-permeated items.  a place for rocks or stones we couldn’t place-label anymore, a place for my mom’s wooden clothespins, a place for ticket stubs or notes or feathers or cards, a place for colored pencils, ink pens and nibs, rubber bands, a place for our nespresso pods.  it’s not likely we need any more boxes, wooden or metal.

but there it was.  the somewhat battered green metal carpenter’s chest.  its personality taunted us from the floor of the antique shoppe we were trolling with jen and brad.  i went back twice to look at it, to touch it.  we noted that jen and i touch things when we see them; brad and david stand back and admire them.  different processes.  venus.  mars.  “don’t you have to touchhhh it,” we ask?  but i digress.  anyway, we, david and i, are not big helpers-of-the-retail-world, rarely shopping for new ‘stuff’.  but this chest?  it was different.  it was old.  and it was green.

we walked away without purchasing it.

but i still think about it.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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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

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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

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old friends. [k.s. friday]

old friends songbox2

my sweet momma used to quip, “make new friends, but keep the old.  one is silver and the other’s gold.”  i believe it came from her girl scout leadership days.  a song, those are wise lyrics.

OLD FRIENDS appears in two versions on my first album RELEASED FROM THE HEART.  as track 3, OLD FRIENDS is a longer composition, a wide passionate spectrum of emotion.  as track 13, OLD FRIENDS REVISITED is shorter, quieter, more reflective, even wistful.

about my very oldest friends i feel both ways.  i am passionate about remembering (always remembering) my long island friendships, susan and marc and crunch and joe-z, especially.  times spent growing, talking, arguing, debating, adventuring, laughing, camping, driving, beaching, traveling, listening to music, frisbee-ing, making apple pies, biking, boating, scuba-diving, fishing, living life.  i look back in my mind’s eye wistfully and am filled with love for them.

about my old friends and my new friends i feel both ways.  i am passionate about how they stand in it with me.  they each know who they are reading this.  they will recognize themselves when i thank them for times spent together.  for the times they supported me when i needed it, for the times they supported me when i didn’t need it.  for the times they have listened and talked when i needed it, for the times they have listened and talked when i didn’t need it.  for adventures, laughter, good food, coffee and wine.  for playing music, scouring around for fun stuff to do, antiquing, dancing, pontoon-boating, playing games, potlucking, sharing opinions and challenging assumptions, giving and receiving words of wisdom, and the telling of our stories.  so much life; i know it would be impossible to do without them and i am filled with love for them.

we are fortunate, we human beings.  we are aware of our friends, the ever-giving gift of  friendship. remembering.  always remembering.

and we know the value of silver and gold.

purchase the CD or download on iTunes or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

wineandbeertogether website box

OLD FRIENDS from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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the blue notebook. [merely-a-thought monday]

why?

a text from 20

my sweet momma was an optimist.   growing up, she’d wake me up in the morning with a cheery, “good morning, merry sunshine” and she would happily start her day.  she would jot everything on her desk calendar (the kind with the base, two metal rings and sheets for each day that were replenishable yearly.)  for her, everything counted.  she would write down all of it, in her personal shorthand.  to read her calendars now is to see all parts of life – the magical parts and the painful aspects.  but momma? she just had a way of listing to the magical side.

we drove down to florida nine to ten times in the last couple years of her life.  we’d visit and laugh and listen to stories and catch her up on our life.  she was in assisted living then so we would listen carefully if she mentioned something she clearly wanted from the home she and my dad had shared.  her finnish wood carvings, a certain sweater, a jacket, a movie in the entertainment center…all things back home.  we all worked to be sure she was surrounded by things that meant a lot to her.

one day momma started to recollect another of the rich stories she and my dad had experienced on their trip to europe decades earlier.  she spoke of the brand new vw bug they ordered ahead and picked up in germany.  she spoke of roadtripping for six weeks around the countryside.  and she spoke of a red notebook in which she wrote down all her impressions, all their doings, all the adventures during their trip.  she wrote of tender moments and of the simplest of pleasures.  she wrote of what made that trip magical and painful challenges they had.  she didn’t write of the grandiose or the impactful tourist spots.  she wrote of what made that trip theirs and theirs alone, a deeply personal account.  and as she spoke of it, you could feel the presence of my dad by her side.  these were cherished stories and precious time she spent with her beloved husband.  clearly, she pined for this notebook – written memories of that magic.

we went back home that evening to my parent’s house with a mission – find the red notebook.  we started in the office, scouring the desk and the closet, going through bins and boxes, our eyes searching for a red spiral.  defeated in the office, we moved on.  every nook.  every cranny.  we opened every bin and box in the house, rifling through, trying to find it.

we moved on to the garage.  tall filing cabinets stood against the wall (for basements are somewhat inconceivable in florida).  i started pulling out drawers.  david headed for the stacks of plastic bins, piled in another part of the garage.

we kept at it.  determined, but losing some hope.

david opened the last plastic bin, the one on the very bottom of the piles.  he shuffled through the papers in the top; his eyes fell on a brochure.  a travel brochure.  from europe.  his pulse racing, he continued to dig through the bin.

and then he saw it.  a BLUE spiral notebook.  on the front was penned the word EUROPE.

the last time i saw my momma – ever – was the very next morning.  when we left her, she was clutching the blue notebook to her chest, tears in her eyes.

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

 

thebluenotebookproject

a sweet momma inspired project

momma, d & k website box copy


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missing. [k.s. friday]

MISSING song box copy

it comes in waves.  in less than two weeks i will be 60.  i’m not a consumed-with-my-age-person, but this particular birthday is proving me different.  without any prompts, i find myself sorting through my life, the six decades that lead me to right now.   memories flow in and ebb out like the tide on a surfboard of emotions.  trying not to resist, i ride the wave as it brings me growing up times on long island…my nuclear family all together, all alive, gathered in our dining room on abby drive or up in the catskills in a rustic state park cabin….bike hikes and carvel….simple times of arguing for john denver over bob dylan….time walking or sitting or playing frisbee on crab meadow beach…late sunday morning mc-arnson sandwiches or waffles and ice cream around my sweet momma and poppo’s table in florida…the time of building the first home i ever bought, a big choice for us as a young couple…the sheep farm in new hampshire….moving to wisconsin away from family and the challenges that raised…celebrating the amazing birth of our daughter and son and watching them grow into the people they are….recording my first album and what that meant….letting go of the day-to-day mothering as my children became adults and still being an every-single-day mother….balancing the impact of good decisions and bad decisions….times of intense grief….choosing love….starting over….wondering what is coming next….

the inner monologue chronicles through all of these years…i sit in quiet watching the slideshow in my mind’s eye and ponder.  what was most important, what is most important, what will be most important.  what it all means.  and it’s clear most of the time.  the people who have surrounded me, who have loved me, who i have loved.  the people i am missing – and will always miss – as well as the people who are right here.  the times i am missing – as well as the times -moments- i could miss right now were i to be too engrossed in something else.

on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART, the track that i selected to follow MISSING is called CONNECTED.  because it all stays a part of the vast ocean that is each of our lives.  the missing and the now and the wondering, all part of the whole.  all waves to ride.

theocean

purchase the CD or download on iTunes or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

shadowscapecodwebsitebox

MISSING from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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last i saw you. [k.s. friday]

last i saw you songbox

the last i saw him was not the last of this world being this world.  but it was the last moment my world was the same.  i wrote about this yesterday.  it’s all fragile.  like a soaring violin note bowed over a line of piano, it’s ephemeral.  it will vanish in the next moment.  we keep hearing the line in our heads; we keep hearing the cello passionately talking to us; we keep those we have never seen again close.

i wrote this piece to speak to the last time i saw my big brother.  i listen to it now and it is also about the last time i saw my sweet momma, my poppo, my uncle allen, my grandparents, my adored high-school-english-teacher andrea, my not-really-a-triplet-from-elementary-school-on-dear-friend kenny…  it’s about the last time i saw people i’ve loved forever.  it’s about holding on to shared moments with my living-far-away-children.  it’s about the last time – when i don’t know when the next time is.

LAST I SAW YOU is the gossamer strands of connection between us.  it’s how we hold that and honor that.  for me, just know it is a statement of enduring love.

download THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

moon website box

LAST I SAW YOU from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood


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the storage unit. [two artists tuesday]

storage unit copy

on my nightstand next to the bed are two frames.  both written in little-kid-writing, they are notes i saved from long ago.  one is from My Girl and it reads, “goodnight mom” surrounded by hearts.  the other is from My Boy and it has two words on it, “craig” (with a backwards g) and “mom” and has hearts filling up the rest of the notepaper.  each night i see these as i wish them both, from far away, goodnight, sweet dreams, restful sleep.

i come by this threadiness honestly.

we were in florida visiting; two of the days we were there, despite bright sunlight and temperatures in the 80s, we spent in a storage unit.  what was left of my parents’ belongings was packed in boxes, stacked in a unit, waiting for us to put our eyes on all of it and decide what to do with each of these things.  my mom’s impulse was to keep things, especially paper.  photographs and slides aside, there were files and files – some of which we will wade through later.  there were boxes of mugs and baskets and trinkets, a kaleidoscope of the pieces of life, carefully packed by my sister and brother-in-law during a time of sadness, a time that was not ripe with paring down or organizing, a time that is difficult for anyone who has packed up a house. larger items were already distributed – furniture given away or passed down to the next generation.  but these boxes….

i was quite sure that, even if i hadn’t seen anything in any of the boxes, i had all i needed….my treasures of my sweet momma and my poppo are tucked in close to my heart and i have physical memories of them around me in our home.  they are not the high-priced treasures you might think people would save or claim.  instead, they are small, meaningful, invaluable and thready things that speak to me.  old calendars of my mom’s, my dad’s small rickety wooden boxes from his workbench, glasses from which my dad sipped his scotch, a flannel shirt my mom wore that matched my dad’s, a board with hooks that is wood-burned with the word “keys” and hung in our growing-up house for as long as i can remember…

spending time in the storage unit, surrounded by memories and the fading scent of my mom’s perfume and their house, i was heartened to see that i actually could go through and pare down.  it gives me hope about our own basement.  the real things of our past – sweet treasured memories – are not things.  everyone gets meaning from and sees value in different stuff.  two days in the storage unit reminded me again of that.

this time i didn’t cry.  i laughed with my momma, who, no doubt, was rolling her eyes in heaven over the fact that she had saved sooo many pieces of paper…paid bills, old house contracts, warranties from appliances long gone, car receipts from several cars ago.  a collection of life gone by, i know she smiled when every now and then we stumbled onto something i loved to touch….i kept the little scrap of paper that fluttered to the floor that my mom had written my full birth name on…i kept a couple calendars with my poppo’s handwriting…i kept a tiny folder of maps my mom collected in her curiosity about the changing world…i kept my dad’s brown suede cap, the one i bought him a million years ago…i kept a manila folder of letters i had written to them over the years – that my momma saved…these pieces of evidence of who they were, heirlooms of what was most important to them.

i vowed, once again, to go through, give away, sell the things in our own home that are not necessary.  but those bins in the basement labeled “kirsten” and “craig”?  those will stay.  i will delight in going through the artwork and stories and notes and school projects from their childhood and growing up.  and some day, maybe they too will see how infinitely important each of the baby steps and adult steps they have taken are to me.  and maybe some of the thready treasures i have left behind will give them pause and, maybe, they will save a scrap or two, a calendar, a notebook of unpublished songs, photographs, something that reminds them of what was most important to me – the thready things that are memories of love, of family, of them.

it wasn’t sunny or 82 degrees inside the storage unit.  but it was warm in a whole other way.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

mommaandpoppo deer ridge website box