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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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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and now. the song. who knew? [k.s. friday]

and now songbox .jpg

the sun set on another day on island.  and the moon rose.  who knew?

four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, who knew?  who knew what would come, what adventures would appear, what challenges would rear up, what tiny moments would tear up in our eyes, what heartaches would befall us?  who knew?  who knew what chaos would reign our world, what gentle calm would envelop us, what times with family would look like, what times without loved ones would feel like?  who knew?

four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, we were decades younger, starting out all over again, baby-stepping into an unknown, beguiling, mysterious future.  who knew?  who knew the times of decisions, of direction-choosing, of sacrifice, of abundance?  who knew the dances we would dance, the cries we would cry, the pages of life filled with, well…life?  who knew?

there we stood, last night, on the back porch, white happy lights glowing on the railing, watching the moon rise over our little bay, high in the sky, gigantic, tiny hog island in the distance.  we wondered aloud, in wonder, about the wonderment of it all.  who knew?

and now…….looking forward…..outward….onward….with great love….

download AND NOW on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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AND NOW ©️ 2015 kerri sherwood


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what’s important. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

butttobutt

in the last few days, both of us have heard the deeply sad news that someone in our lives – each a unique voice of great wisdom – has passed.  it’s bracing.  we are here and then we are not.

in all the difficult moments we have had these past months, both on-island and off-island, these past few days once again remind us of what is actually important.

it’s not the work challenges or politics. it’s not the worry over details and relationship snags. it’s not competition or one-upping someone else, nor is it about power-struggles and issues of control.  it’s not about being undervalued or serving those who do not appreciate you, nor is it about the tippy-top of the ladder where lower rungs are no longer visible to you.  it’s not what you don’t have or what you wish you had.

instead, it’s what you do have.

it’s the simplest of moments.  when you look over and dogdog and babycat are butt-to-butt snuggling. or you are sitting next to your beloved, writing or reading together.  or your grown children call to chat a bit, out of the blue.  you spend time together.  you do good work and stand in it.  or you take a walk, in fresh air, under a sunlit sky or in a night full of stars.  you savor a hot cup of coffee or raise a glass of wine in a toast with friends. you embrace or hold hands with someone you love.  the simplest.

with gratitude to a man, alan walker, who encouraged me to love both the piano and open-faced peanut butter sandwiches.  and my thanks to a man i never met, quinn, who, in innumerable conversations in his study, brought many moments of wisdom and perspective to david.  you both remain reminders of what is really important.

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

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HH. perfect. [d.r. thursday]

HH sketches

david’s sketches on hilton head

i researched.  for months.  looked at tons of sites and reviews.  i ordered brochures from the chamber of commerce (which, incidentally and almost predictably, arrived after we returned from the trip.)  i poured over other people’s adventures and stories, made lists of things to do and places to go.  it was a really important time for me and i wanted it to be perfect:  my-children-under-the-same-roof-at-the-same-time.  the perfect mom-gift.

always up for a roadtrip adventure, we drove to hilton head in our littlebabyscion.  first thing upon arrival, we opened the shades in the living room.  the dunes and the ocean exploded into view, the sunset beckoned us.  without unloading, we took two juice glasses of wine and a blanket down to the water’s edge and watched the sky relinquish day.  night arrived and it was perfect.

My Girl flew in the next morning and My Boy the very next day.  the sun was bright, the sky was blue, the sand hot, the ocean was a constant lure.  walks and conversation, games and homemade sangria, bold coffee and generous glasses of wine, watching crabs on the sandbar and googling jellyfish, chips and guac and kirsten-margaritas, eating out on the deck under the umbrella and time in the pool, watching kirsten or craig prepare a meal or two, relaxing on lounge chairs and a one-time bowling adventure.  this was the stuff.  it was hot; over 100 degrees with the heat index; a bit too hot for kayaking or standupboarding under a sunburning sun.  but time seemed to morph and days passed us by in the way time on the beach does.

later i wondered why i didn’t take out my lists, my research, my reviews, the brochures i got from the grocery store.  why i didn’t insist on an adventure-a-day, an activity.  but jen encouraged me to let that go.  she said she does that every time she is lucky enough to have her children all-under-the-same-roof-at-the-same-time as well. a mother’s brain (and heart) on overdrive.

it isn’t the activities or the adventures.  it’s simply the time.  when you are there and you are real and you share bits and snatches of life, joyful or trying.  when you catch your breath gazing at your children, beautiful human beings experiencing the wide spectrum that life offers.  and you love them beyond words, grateful that they have given you this time.  together.  under-the-same-roof-at-the-same-time.  HH.  hilton head.  perfect.

drc website header copy 2

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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this heart outside of mine. [k.s. friday]

ffod song box copy

“…it overwhelms me what i feel…this heart outside of mine….is walking in another person, in another life…” (lyrics)

there is something mysterious and knock-you-to-your-knees-powerful about feeling like you have a heart walking in another person.  i know – now – how my sweet momma felt.  each time she asked me to let her know i arrived safely while driving cross-country, each time i shared good news, each time she checked in on me after any sort of gritty life-drama, each time she sent cards with messages of encouragement or congratulations, each time i saw her try not to weep upon my leaving.  i get it.  she could feel her heart – out there – moving around in the world, just outside her sight view.

motherhood is not for wimps.  it is, by far, the most gratifyingly-toughest-most-important job i will ever know.  i have had to grow two extra hearts and then let them go, wandering and exploring this good earth, finding themselves and their happiness.  i can feel it, these hearts – out there.  but, with the exception of the time i can actually put my arms around My Girl or My Boy,  it’s all just outside my sight view.  overwhelming.  yes.

and, although i have told it before, here is the story – again:

we walked The Girl to kindergarten.  it was spring and sunny and warm.  dandelions were everywhere.  on the way home, The Boy dropped my hand to toddler-zigzag around a yard where dandelions > grass by far (kind of like ours.)  he bent down and picked yellow flower upon yellow flower.  until he came running back to me.  he held up his sweaty-dirty-little-boy fist, full of bright yellow and green dandelions and said, “woses for momma.”

better than roses.  what more could a momma want?

that is the moment this song was born.

happy mother’s day.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

k & c

my hearts

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FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS from THE BEST SO FAR ©️ 1999 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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adrift. [k.s. friday]

adrift songbox

“from a visual place…adrift on long island sound late-night.  from an emotional place…living in the gray.” (liner notes – blueprint for my soul, 1996)

the gray.  it sounds dismal.  but gray is not devoid of color.  if you mix the three primary colors together – red, yellow and blue – and then add white, you will hone the gray of your choosing.  if you have ever stood in front of color samples at home depot or menards you know that gray, itself, spans a full spectrum.  so many choices.  all gray.  the only thing really pertinent about gray is that it isn’t just black and white.  it swirls together every color of experience, every emotion, every laugh and every tear.  it is not defined by distinct edges, but blurs one moment into the next.

the word ‘adrift’ sounds inactive.  but, in this vast world, aren’t we pretty much adrift?  we believe we are proactive; we act on things we believe in.  and yet.  we bounce off turbulent waves threatening to destroy us; we ride others into the beach.  we sit in calm waters and we try to navigate the waters that toss us wildly.  we make decisions in moments of incomplete information; we have successes, we have regrets.  we are adrift in the gray.

in moments of sunshine on trails in the woods i feel less adrift and more centered, more clear.  it’s the rest of the moments when i try my best to ‘go with the flow’.  we are surrounded by unknowns, caught in many an eddy.  we are uncertain, but we are all capable.  we are held in glimmering gossamer silks of grace by a universe that is benevolent.  adrift.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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ADRIFT from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood

 

 


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fiercely tender. [d.r. thursday]

MotherDaughter morsel copy

MOTHERDAUGHTER morsel

there are moments you remember as a mother.  more than you can possibly count.  but there are some that stand out.  you can feel it forever.  any reminder of it makes you draw in your breath and pause.  THIS morsel, THIS painting does that for me.  THIS is how i feel.

the moment you are safety in a storm, respite in chaos, time-out in exhaustion.  the moment of sheer relief, absolute validation, exquisite shared joy or devastating shared aching grief.  the moment of connected silence, words with no air.  an embrace that is forever.

all.  fiercely tender.

MotherDaughter (full) copy

to view MOTHERDAUGHTER please click on the painting above or on this link

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

arches shadows k&d website box

MOTHERDAUGHTER ©️ 2019 david robinson


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#TheMicaList [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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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