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snowcake and lemonade. [d.r. thursday]

david, wearing his birthday tiara, waiting to have birthday cake

he said that he stood at the back door and thought, “i’m going to like this time of life best.” out the door, surfing through piles and piles of snow, dogdog ran the yard, bowing to the snow and snacking on it, his chin and face covered. a snowglobe day, david stood and watched our dog in his glee while the coffee brewed. moments later, he brought a steaming mug of strong black coffee to me, lounging in my flannel pjs in bed, sleepy eyes and a warm cat by my side. we clinked mugs and sipped while we talked of birthdays and time.

our day was simple. we ate, we wrote, we ate again. dogdog and babycat were by our sides, not eager to be anywhere else on this frigid day. negative temperatures in the minus-twenties weren’t at all encouraging for hikes outside, or even walks, and i made a mental note to start asking around about a treadmill. we unwrapped a winter-scene jigsaw that had been in the hall closet for years, called people, answered texts, opened a surprise gift that arrived on our frozen doorstep and puzzled at the dining room table. a late dinner and a couple of glasses of red and dogdog was begging to go sleepynightnight. he led the way to the end of the day, a valentine’s-day-birthday, a day of marveling at how dear people are, how fast time goes, how vested we are in adjectives like ‘peaceful’ and ‘promising’ and ‘content’ to describe our next. ‘euphoric’ and ‘carefree’ would be lovely too; so many adjectives, so little time.

on the deck right out the sunroom window, the wrought iron table and chairs were laden with the accumulation of days of snow. i could not help but see the round snowpile on the table as a giant birthday cake; i could not help but see the snow-shape in the chair as a little alien snowman, waiting patiently for a piece of cake. it was just too tempting and david was out front shoveling. with a couple silver christmas balls, a tiara found upstairs in my girl’s room, a tall white taper and some vintage pink-plastic-cake-numbers-that-hold-tiny-birthday-candles, i made myself laugh. sinking well over my knees in snow as i inadvertently stepped off the side of the deck into a drift, i collapsed into the snow, cracking up, just too excited for david to come around the corner of the house, shovel in hand. lemonade, i thought. this is lemonade.

and that, i believe, is what he meant by, “i’m going to like this time best.” a time when you know that lemonade – and the making of it with or without lemons – is most rewarding.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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one does not have to look like a snowman. [flawed wednesday]

“so, what do you really do?”

were that question to be paid by frequency, i wouldn’t have to answer it ever again. i’d be a rich chick with a h-o-b-b-y of music. or a h-o-b-b-y of writing. but alas, it is not frequency-paid and so i have to just lightheartedly laugh and, with a touch of demure-yet-playful, explain that this artist thing IS what i do. here i am, a pile of snow with stick-arms, a soul of magical-frosty can-do attitude and someone wants to know what i really do? i may not look like a snowman, but i am a snowman.

“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma would admonish anyone who would listen. one day, at 93, she texted out, “don’t underestimate me. i know more than i say, think more than i speak, notice more than you realize.” and she meant it. her spirit – to the end – was strong and she was a five foot powerhouse. whether she looked like a snowman or not, she was a snowman.

we live in a culture that is beleaguered with judgement based on appearances. it’s in no one’s best interest. but it is pervasive and the injustice that stems from quick assumptions is rampant. we have pre-formed opinions for most everything; we have images in our mind’s eye before we do any research, ask any questions, have any conversation. we assume. we presume. we surmise. all before we actually take a second look at the snowman.

it is ‘interesting’ (please note this is tongue-in-cheek) to be looking for new positions. at just-shy-of-62 and just-shy-of-60, it is more age-typical to be celebrating an upcoming or recent retirement than to be passing out resumes. the wrinkles around our eyes, the few grey hairs sprinkled on our heads belie who we are inside. experience and education and boots-on-the-ground knowledge come with a price – and that price is age. in real life, that doesn’t have to be a detriment for an employer. it is a quieter wisdom, a less-intense slower-striding competition with others, a recognition of the collective embrace of gleaning from each other. but the looking-a-tad-bit-older-thing, in person or on paper, rears its head and, too often, the what-we-could-bring is tossed off the table.

here we are, two sedulous snowmen, measured simply by whether we have three round balls stacked on each other, a carrot nose, two button eyes and a scarf wrapped around an undefined neck. we may not look like judge-a-book-only-by-its-cover-snowmen, but snowmen we are.

perseverance picks it all up off the floor and tries again.

goodness. i reckon my sweet momma would have loved the t-shirt i recently saw, “underestimate me. that’ll be fun.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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the middle of an elongated hexagon. [two artists tuesday]

the cheesecloth sky filtered out most of the sun over the trail through the woods. others had been there before us; the snowmobile track interrupted by the plodding hoofprints of a horse, picking its way through inches of snow. we were next, our boots crunching and breaking through crust the bit of sun had settled on the top of the snow. we saw no one else. we passed by no one else. the quiet was welcome; the quiet was necessary.

in the distant clouds we could see the brush of setting sun. and the lyrics, “…right now it seems to be more than enough to just be here today, and i don’t know what the future is holdin’ in store. i don’t know where i’m goin’, i’m not sure where i’ve been. there’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me. my life is worth the livin’, i don’t need to see the end…” (sweet surrender, john denver)

we were awake in the middle of the night. this is more usual than unusual these days.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the start. of sweet babies lilah and jaxon and their beginnings – their exponential learning day by day, their attaching to people, to things, to understanding. the billowing ever-widening incandescent rainbow bubble of possibility that surrounds them as they grow, as they become.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the end. of the narrowing down of experiences, the detaching, the ever-decreasing possibilities of dearest columbus, in the journey that minds take on roads of dementia.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the middle. of the time in the center. of our lives. “more than enough…just to be here today…more than enough…”

the trail is familiar; the trail is different every day we take it. we trace deertracks with mittened hands and build snowmen and snowhearts with the powdery snow in the shade of the trail.

we don’t know where we’re going. we can’t see the end. we are smack dab in the middle. and, on this bitter cold day in muted woods under a cottage cheese sky in silence, that needs to be enough.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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first. [merely-a-thought monday]

it’s rare to wander into a place without footprints. a combed beach, an untouched snowfield, beckon you to step, to be first, to be the only one.

after a snowfall a few years back we went hiking out in the county. the only being there before us was a deer, its tracks evident in the snow. and then ours. the three of us in quietude together, before anyone else. it made everything feel pure and connected; it was a jewel of a day.

we went hiking on one of our favorite trails closer by. snowpants swishing and our feet breaking through the snowcrust, we were the only ones. the snow was untouched, a blank canvas, inviting both our steps and the humble retreat we considered to preserve it. it’s magical to look backwards on the trail and see only the tracks you have laid there.

yes, “there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on.” (c.r. brunt)

in the opening notes of a new composition, many composers, artists, writers feel that they are going where no one else has trod before. we are given to the thought that in our uniqueness we will have something to say, sing, play, paint, draw that no one – ever – before has said, sung, played, painted or drawn. it is not likely that this is true.

in the way that everything cycles around us, so do the notes, the colors, the words, waiting in clouds of possibility all around us to be positioned together, partnered, brought into one. we, as artists, choose from these barely visible pots. we fuss, we nuance, we finesse, we fingerprint, we make it our own.

and yet, much later, decades even, in looking back over the trail – the song, the poem, the story, the painting – we recognize glimmers from those who have walked before. threads of connection, purity of the artist-collective-story, souls woven in the telling of the human-tale. original-first and cyclically-repeating.

because, indeed, as the snow melts on the trail, it reveals evidence of others who have been there, others who have left their words, their notes, their colors. others who have left their footprints, their tracks, back to another day when someone else was first.

*****

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


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space-space. [merely-a-thought monday]

john glenn high school.  typing class.  rules.  rules.  rules.

one of them:  two spaces between sentences.

earlier this week, pryce re-posted, “out of an abundance of caution, the ap style book and the chicago manual of style are reinstituting the two-space rule between sentences to support social distancing.”  it literally made me laugh aloud.  my friend mona commented, “hard habit to break.  no going back.”  exactly.  it’s ingrained.  the red pen was generously applied to typing papers without two spaces; it was a rule sans excuses.

but the word “reinstituting” caused me some consternation.

i loved typing.  i even typed my high school science lab reports and poetry i transcribed out of composition notebooks that kept me company at the beach, in the tree outside my bedroom window, in the wee hours of the night.

my undergrad and grad school years happened by the mid-80s.   all of my undergrad papers were typed on a typewriter.  my grad school papers were on an early apple 2E, with sprocket-holed printer paper. type type type.  lots of typing.

and i have never-ever only used one space after a sentence or a question or an exclamation or a colon.

i cannot believe what “reinstituting” implies.  somewhere on the punctuation train, i stalled.  i realize formal changes may be due to typesetting and the difference between typewriters and computers and some debate over the ease of reading sentences, but how are we supposed to find out these things??  i asked d how many spaces he uses after sentences, to which he replied, “one.”  what?!  i wrote to joan-who-knows-these-things to settle this mushrooming problem.  though she said using two was out of habit, she sided with me.

and so i just went upstairs to dig out-of-the-depths my old APA book – the third edition of the publication manual of the american psychological association, copyrighted in 1983, which was both the bible and the biggest pain in the ass for writing papers in graduate school.  here it what it says on page 140:

APA spacing copy

i feel vindicated.  heartened.  validated.  my two-spaces, although archaic, are supported by a rulebook.  at least they w-e-r-e supported by a rulebook back-in-the-day.  the newest APA book is copyrighted 2020 and is the 7th edition.  here’s what that says about spacing:

new apa

ugh.  (eye roll)

i don’t know if i will try to incorporate this “new”rule.  like kevin, who said he was taught two spaces and is sticking with it, i just might not be able to do it.

at this point, i hardly think anyone will whip out their red pen.

but i can hope that people – in reading my two-spaces-after-a-period-that-says-over-40-writing – will assume JUST a-wee-bit over 40.

ok, ok, that’s doubtful.

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

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from jumpstart to coda. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

so much random learning

my favorite snapchat filter makes my face round and my eyes huge, adds giant john-denver-glasses and changes my voice.   and i love it!  using a filter makes short-selfie-movie-making less about how you look and more about how you could look:  with big eyes or ears or as a unicorn or years younger or years older or with different hair or as the opposite gender.  my niece wendy and i use it as a constant communication device; we are free to be as weird as we want to be or as funny or as playful.

when this filter disappeared temporarily – the one with big eyes and glasses and a voice octaves above my normal voice – i panicked.  making a video for wendy as just me was not nearly as enticing and i sadly thought i’d have to resort to simply texting again.  i wondered if i should write a letter to snapchat, but fear those at snapchat don’t read letters.  how antiquated.  alas, even without a letter of reproach from me, it reappeared and all is well again in snapchatland.

technology is throwing us all for a loop…well, those of us who were not born with it in our very veins.  we are videoconferencing for work, google-chatting for play, creating audio and video files to fill in gaps where people can’t be, using photoshop to create slides for iMovies or iPhoto videos, layering audio files on music software, creating youtube channels and pic collages, learning how to change wav files into mp3s into m4v’s, messaging people via text, email, facebook, instagram, pushing our little cellphones to their outer limits (or is it us we are pushing to outer limits?)

we are immersed and treading water.

so much learning.  oy, such a steep curve.  all in the name of staying in touch in these virtual times.  you can’t touch people but these laptops and ipads and cellphones are reeling from overuse.  (or is it my born-in-1959-middle-aged-brain?)

but for those of us with analog veins, coffee is still coffee.  and i am ever grateful for that.  it’s a necessary tool in this virtual world.  every day these days needs a bit of a jumpstart.

and as frank k. says, “that apothic.  it’s such a drinkable wine!”  yes, frank.  another necessary tool – the coda of the day these days.

jumpstart to coda.  and in-between, we tread, virtual wave after virtual wave.

 

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

 

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wrinkles. [two artists tuesday]

barney spring 2020

in the last year of my sweet momma’s life, at not quite 94, she would say astonished things like, “i looked in the mirror and i look like an old woman!”  we would laugh together when we mentioned her age and that she had earned every last wrinkle, every age spot, every grey hair.  never have i seen a more beautiful old woman.  in a life that spanned from 1921 to 2015 her hazel eyes saw vast changes, world hurdles, family loss and strife, wild technological advances.  and love.

barney was born around the same time as my momma.  i wonder about the life he had before he arrived in the basement boiler room.  was he a honkytonk piano, a barroom upright, a sunday school accompaniment, the instrument in someone’s drawing room?  he was headed to the scrap guy when we met him and we intervened.  i suppose as he has lingered in our backyard these last five years he would wonder about the reflection in the mirror, his outer shell, those wrinkles, that peeling laminate, the keys that no longer play.  does he realize that chipmunks perch on his brow and snack on acorns?  does he realize that birds land, patiently in wait for their respective and restrained turns at the birdfeeder?  does he realize that his soul remains rich, his exterior beautiful in its aging?

i laid awake for hours in the middle of the night last night.  i looked in the virtual mirror in my mind and saw wooden stages and boom mics, big pianos and blue jeans.  i realized, suddenly, that i am older.  despite everything that would suggest to me, try to convince me of, the contrary, i have gotten older.

scrolling through social media during this time of distancing it is stunning to see all the ways people are incorporating posting with streaming, youtube, visiting with google hangout, facetime, videoconferencing with zoom, webex, as they try to be there without being there.  it’s exhausting.

my 1970s-lingering-self puts on readers and starts to read the directions.  the chipmunks are perched on my brow and i resource apps to stay in the loop and do my part to help keep people connected in a time where connection could easily fall away.

i take a deep breath and remember the day that my sweet momma’s iphone facebook status read (from her assisted living facility in tampa) that she was checked in at a miami dolphins game in miami.  i quickly and quietly fixed it for her.

and then i giggle and think, ‘heck.  if she can do it, i can do it.’

it is the symbiosis of peeling back the layers, honoring the wrinkles, relying on each other’s strengths in the mirror and working together, the virtual birdfeeder our community.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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tiny mica miracles. [two artists tuesday]

life series quote copy

it doesn’t matter.  anything could be happening.  any fire.  any storm.  and then, like glitter, the tiny miracles show up.  the mica.  and for a moment or two we are standing still, our focus re-directed.

this quote – “life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles…” (mike greenberg) – appeared in my facebook feed, re-posting from a decade ago.  a gentle tap, a hey-remember-this.

the post below (#TheMicaList) is from not-quite-a-year ago, published on my 60th birthday.  as i rapidly approach 61, i find that re-reading it reminds me.  to everything there is a season.  and a time to see mica.

we are all visitors copy

dear Life,

my sweet momma would often call me just as the time i was born would pass on my birthday. at the end of her life she didn’t do this anymore but i always remembered anyway. mid-morning i would know that this was the moment i arrived at this place, this was the beginning of my passing through, the time of my visiting.

today, this very morning, it was 60 years ago that i joined the rest of this good earth on its journey around the sun. spinning, spinning. every day.

it wasn’t long till i realized – as an adult – that we spin our wheels constantly to get to some unknown place we can’t necessarily define or find. we search and spin faster, out of mission, out of passion, out of frustration, loss, a feeling of no value or a sense of lostness. we spin. we seek. we try to accomplish. we try to make our mark. we try to finish. we try to start. we leave scarred rubber skids of emotions on the road behind us; we burn out with abrupt, unexpected turns, we break, wearing out. spinning. spinning. from one thing to another, our schedules full of busy things to do. often, days a repetition of the previous day. every day full. full of spinning. but we are still seeking. life is sometimes what we expected. life is sometimes not what we expected. and that makes us spin faster, our core dizzying with exhaustion.

the simplest gifts – the air, clear cool water to drink, the mountaintop exhilaration of parenthood, hand-holding love, the ephemeral seconds of self-actualizing accomplishment, the sun on our faces…we have images stored in our mind’s eye like photographs in an old-fashioned slide show, at any time ready for us to ponder. but often-times we fail to linger in these exquisite simplicities. the next thing calls.

this morning, as i stare at 60 – which, as i have mentioned, is kind of a significant number for me – i realize that everything i write about or compose about or talk about or hold close in my heart is about these simplest things, the pared-down stuff, the old boots on the trail – not fancy but steadfast, not brand new but muddied up with real. in our day-to-day-ness i/we don’t always see IT. the one thing. there is something -truly- that stands out each day in those sedimentary layers of our lives. it is the thing that makes the rest of the day pale in comparison. in all its simple glory, the one true moment that makes us realize that we are living, breathing, ever-full in our spinning world. the thing that connects us to the world. the shiny thing. the mica. that tiny irregular piece of glittering mica in the layers and veneers of life. the thing to hold onto with all our might.

that tiny glitter of mica. mica nestles itself within a bigger rock, a somewhat plain rock – igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary ordinariness. not pinnacle, it is found within the bigger context. sometimes harder to find, harder to notice, but there. and it makes the day our day, different than any other. it is the reason we have learned or grown that day. it is the reason we have laughed that day. it is the reason we have picked ourselves up off the floor that day. it is the reason we have breathed that day.

and now, at 60, i resolve to see, to collect those pieces of glitter. not in an old wooden box or a beat-up vintage suitcase, but, simply, since they are moments in time, in a tiny notebook or on my calendar. join me in #TheMicaList if you wish. as we wander and wonder through it is our job, in our very best interest, to notice the finest shimmering dust, the mica in the rock, the glitter in our world.

with all the reminders around us to remember-remember-remember that every day counts, we get lost in our own spinning stories, narratives of many strata. i know that in the midnight of the days i look back on the hours of light and darkness in which i moved about and remember one moment – one moment – be it a fleetingly brief, elusive, often evanescent moment of purity, the tiniest snippet of conversation, belly-laugh humor, raw learning, naked truth, intense love – those are the days i know – i remember – i am alive.

my visit to this physical place is not limitless. but each glitter of mica is a star in a limitless sky of glitter, a milky way of the times that make me uniquely me and you uniquely you, a stockpile of priceless relics. my time stretches back and stretches ahead, a floating silken thread of shiny. it’s all a mysterious journey.

and i am grateful.

kerri

kerri canyonlands NP w:kirsten.PNG

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treading water. watershed. [k.s. friday]

watershed the songbox

i don’t feel as much in-a-boat as i feel that i am relentlessly treading water.  but there was no handy treading-water bitmoji and i remember the exact moment that this bitmoji showed up on my snapchat mapping…in the middle of a lot of treading.

treading, treading.  guessing at why what-is-happening is happening – in wide concentric circles around us, tightly close to us.

i can only guess, as i type this with these two now-familiar broken wrists, that this is a watershed time.

watershed pronunciation

definition 2

and today, both valentine’s day and d’s birthday, i want to express gratitude for this man who is standing in the water with me – waves crashing over us, undertow threatening to pull us down, riptide ever present – and holding my fiberglass-cast-encased hand.  the person who is equally as perplexed at this time, who takes turns with me being alternatively flabbergasted, philosophical and soberingly pragmatic.

he continues to zip my jacket, buckle my seatbelt, paste my toothbrush, carry my music, pepper-mill my breakfast and dinner, put the ernie straw in my coffee.  he has learned the fine points of where-on-the-head to place hair conditioner, how best to tie plastic bags on my arms, what stool will work best at the piano, which wine glass i can pick up at the end of a day.  he has watched me learn how to hold mascara with two hands and pull up girl jeans by the belt loops.  he has been treading water with me as we look to the horizon.

maybe this watershed is the thing that elicits change.  at the end of 2019 i could feel it coming.  and i can now, with all authority and certainty, say that the change is not that i will, smack dab in the middle of middle-age, become a professional snowboarder.  nope.  but there may truly be things out there i just didn’t see or consider.  perhaps the things that are vexing us, stunning us, deeply disappointing us, are just the things that will propel us.  ah, if that just didn’t feel so pollyanna-ish.

this life is bigger than anyone can ever live it.  that includes us.  treading water in the watershed might be a time that forces dynamic change.  like everyone, i wish i had some prescient inkling of what’s-out-there, what-will-happen.

my perceived lack of control is maybe a misperception.  maybe that which has taken away control is conversely granting control, granting the creativity that comes with grabbing onto flotsam and jetsam in a sea that seems to be swirling.  maybe the grasping-at-straws is grasping-at-ernie, a touchstone that seems flimsy and unimportant, but which actually is grounding, rooting, and gives voice to more solid footing, less wave-action, more direction-choosing.

the watershed is here.  moment by moment we stare at it.  we roll our eyes, we yell at the angst-y details, we shake our heads in confusion, we stop and stand still and, yet hyperventilating from treading, we wonder.  we try to breathe, to center, to be in the eye of the storm.

holding hand-cast, we look forward and we guess that this ain’t the last watershed on the horizon.

 

download WATERSHED from AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

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whole rest. [k.s. friday]

rest

two broken wrists.  there’s not much that can stop me, but two broken wrists has done it.

it is profound what you do in daily living with at least one hand.  really everything.  this is my fourth day on this hand-less journey and i know there’s a long road ahead.  i am not a good patient and the inability to perform the simplest of tasks has been world-stopping.  i had to teach david how to ‘properly’ wipe my mouth, put on girl jeans, comb out wet hair.  he has to hold my coffee cup (and yes, a wine glass or two) with the infamous sesame street ernie straw, feed me every bite, help me sit up from laying down, open doorknobs, pick up my cellphone so i can voice activate it, wipe my tears as i cry in frustration.  the list goes on and is only limited to your imagination.

i wanted to have a tiny window into my beautiful daughter’s world.  My Girl tells me lots of coaching and instructing stories from her high mountain snowboarding career, but i have never stepped on a snowboard.  i wanted to physically experience the board under my feet, even a tiny grasp of how she feels.  so we have planned for a long time to take a lesson and surprise her with our tale.

this week was wisconsin ski and snowboard week and for a mere $29 you could purchase lift tickets, rental equipment and a group lesson.  it seemed perfect.

and for an hour and twenty minutes it was.  a really difficult sport, we stood on boards and managed to learn the slightest of skills.  until that little girl on skis was in front of me downhill just a bit.  not really well-versed at turning and, clearly, less versed on stopping, i worked to avoid her.  the stop and the fall were simultaneous.  tailbone down i clearly put out my hands to help my fall, the first do-not-do-this rule.  instinct took over; reflexes prevailed.  that was step one in this two-broken-wrists tale, this whole rest.

four days ago i took for granted every little thing my hands (and arms) did for me.  i could play the piano at any given moment, grab a pencil and jot a lyric, readjust the bench, open the blinds and let the sun into the studio.  today the studio is dark, the piano quiet, the pencils waiting.

instead, moment by moment i am aware of every move i make, every single thing i need assistance with.  i work each day to gain one more tiny ability.  we have slowed down to a crawl and are abiding in each minute, one by one.  i appreciate david’s help beyond mere gratitude or words; his commitment to my every-single-movement is humbling.  our friends and family have reached out with offers of meals, company, words of encouragement and vast amounts of humor.  we are right here in this very moment.  presence defined.

i wonder about my piano.  i know that my right hand in a hard fiberglass cast is on hiatus.  i think that maybe my left hand, which is in a hard splint, might have a beensy chance at a few notes, regardless of the ensuing pain.  when i was 19 i broke three fingers on my left hand slammed in a steel church door.  they were splinted but i was fending for myself making a living for college as a musician and so i relentlessly started playing with those fingers anyway.  this too-early-in-the-healing-process-playing prevented full healing, so i am cautious now.  the piano is a part of my soul and so i honor the process of getting-back.

in the meanwhile, in the way that only the universe understands, after these last months, i seem to have needed a reminder of being loved and cared for, a reminder of attending to ‘now’ with no dreaded worry of ‘next’, a reminder of what’s truly important.

last night i held a fork.  it was pretty amazing.

oh, and – the little girl skied on, unaware.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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