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.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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

 

 

 


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irato.caesura.fermata.lento. [k.s. friday]

in transition

irato.caesura.fermata.lento

the chaos of irato.  a passage of angry, passionate.  a symphony of irate engaging us, challenging us, buckling us under in its fervor.

“take a break,” earth-the-breathless-conductor would admonish.  “hold and rest,” earth-the-counselor would encourage.  “slow down.  be deliberate,” earth-the-sage would advise.  caesura.  fermata.  lento.

acknowledging the rage.  listening.  resting in the questions.  conscious mindful steps.  measured decisive action.  slowly leading the way with goodness.

i suspect mother earth, in its mother-earth-wisdom, would hear the symphony as transition.  the space between before and after.  a time of growth and change and every possible note, every possible emotion.

we listen, as earthlings, imperfect-in-every-way, and we get lost.  to live in irato is uncomfortable.  a cliffhanger.

but mother earth smiles.  after all, she knows all about suspense and the big bang and butterflies.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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IN TRANSITION ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

 


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give a flying flip. [k.s. friday]

every breath

i am imploring you to help keep my beloved daughter safe.

please.

enlightenment comes through unexpected channels sometimes.  this morning i read a post by a brilliant woman who was my piano student 40 years ago. she forwarded a writing by a young woman who is a server in a restaurant who detailed her experiences in just one of her shifts.

it’s bracing.

my friend-who-was-my-former-piano-student prefaced it with this:  “I know it will feel so good to feel normal again and go out to dinner. But please, read this WHOLE DAMN THING before you do. You BETTER tip your server like they are risking their life to bring you a drink, because they f*ing are.”

the server wears a mask and gloves, carries sanitizer with her to work, stands back 6 feet from her guests at the tables in the restaurant.  the guests?  they remove their masks, which were required to enter, as soon as they sit down and never put them back on, even while ordering, even while their server is present.  it is cavalier at its best.  her safety is compromised over and over, at every breath, and she is painfully aware, as you read in her candid outpouring.

is the safety of this server any less important than your own?  is she dispensable?  is your dining-out experience so important you cannot sacrifice a bit of comfort?  where has this message of it-doesn’t-matter-if-we-protect-each-other come from?  hmmm.  let me think.  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it a fashion faux pas to wear a mask?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country has made it seem unnecessary to protect each other?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country thinks everyone’s breath doesn’t matter?  might it be that the “leadership” of this country doesn’t really give a flying flip about the populace of this country?  if i sound pissed, it’s because i am.  enough already.

where do you stand?

i, for one, was breathless when i read the detailed narrative of this young woman’s shift.  with angry and worried tears in my eyes, i read it aloud to david.  i would love to read it aloud to you.

an expert at piecing-it-together during off-peak, My Girl, among other things, bartends and serves.  she busts her butt working hard in high mountain towns, waiting on tourists and locals alike.  she is a hard worker at everything she does and i have sat on her barstools watching her move in blurrying pace getting it done.  the last thing i want to have to worry about in the middle of this pandemic as it actually continues, despite the “leadership” and a percentage of the country’s population ignoring its steady presence, is whether or not the people who are sitting on those barstools or at the tables in her restaurant are (with sarcastic voice) oh-so-tediously pulling up a mask when they are breathing at my daughter.  i want to assume that they are.  i want to assume that the meager income she is hour-after-hour-after-hour trying to earn will not be dangerous for her.  i want to assume that the people who have chosen to go out, have a few drinks, eat a nice meal prepared by a chef, will generously, even at least appropriately, tip her.  i want to assume good although i fear selfish, unconcerned indifference.

the server ends her writing with a plea: “For the love of god..if you go out to eat please please please pull up your mask for the few minutes that your server is at your table. Why are you not already doing this?? And oh my god..tip your server like that burrito you are eating may cost them their life…”

have you gone out to dinner?  have you gone out for drinks?  did you ecstatically plan your outfit and put on your favorite shoes?  did you make reservations at your favorite restaurant?  did you pile into your favorite downtown bar?  did you wear a mask?  did you even bring a mask? or did you leave your mask at home because it’s not mandated by the local, state or federal government?  does respect have to be mandated?  does protecting each other have to be mandated?  can we choose respect and protection regardless?  there is still a global pandemic.  can we connect the dots?  can we think???

WILL you be going out to dinner?  out for drinks?  will you wear a mask?  will you carefully protect every breath of your server – someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, best friend, caregiver?  will you recognize their safety?  will you tip them for risking their life to bring you your margarita?  will you protect the others inside the restaurant or bar?  will you give a flying flip?

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EVERY BREATH from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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we long. [k.s. friday]

longing

and in the mist of the new grey day, uncolored by the pattern of another’s fabric in our close grasp, we rise.

we sip from coffee mugs, just the two of us, conversation spilling, yet stale in two-dimensionality.

we plan the day, but stop short of planning, for the days now have measured repeat signs.

sudden unexpected changes in rhythm punctuate the andante pace in isolation,

projects to learn and complete, new rules to follow.

we long for lingering conversations with dear ones, in person, touching distance.

for wine glasses clinking together,

for groceries we do not wash,

for sidewalks we willingly share,

for overdue embraces.

we long for that which was, that which we see we took for granted.  we mourn.  we grieve.

anger hangs as low clouds; aerosols so fine as to break down walls of solidarity.

laughter is key; we find it hiding around corners, peeking out, entering the fray and retreating. we chase it, grasping its laughter-tail and pulling it back into our life-day like warm taffy.

we watch news of this place, this state, this country, this world and find joy in small stories of goodness, in videos of lions napping on roads.

we long to feel less like we are in a science fiction movie and more like we are in a flattening curve.

we wish we hadn’t watched the movie contagion.

we end the day on top of mount everest, breathing air so thin that every breath is deliberate. we linger on the top-of-the-world, just as other-worldly as our own hometown right now.

we long.

we sleep, forgetting for a few hours, waking and, for moments, not remembering.

we step outside, coffee in hand

and the sun warms our faces and we wish to share the patio with voices and slow-dancers.

 

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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LONGING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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virtual birthday. real love. [k.s. friday]

and goodnight

i went to sleep last night with a full heart.

i have spent the last two weeks gathering selfies from My Girl’s friends and family with birthday signs and wishes.  today is her 30th birthday and, with the pandemic restrictions, i can’t be there, out in those high mountains, to be the “return-to” information written on her bar-hopping balloons like i was on her 21st birthday or make her a special ariel or pocahontas or ballet slipper or happy face cake like i did every year she grew up.  like many of you, i feel sad and challenged by the inability to celebrate or be with each other.

so i decided to throw her a surprise party.  from all walks of life family and friends showed up and sent me selfies with signs they created or videos or photos they brilliantly photoshopped with greetings.  i facebook messaged and texted and talked with people i had never met, all generous and kind and wanting to help; every one of them a valued person in The Girl’s life and now in mine.  love at its best, i cried over and over receiving these and, after spending the entire day yesterday formatting all of it into a video, watched it again and again, tears streaming down my face.  it is an amazing thing to see how loved your child is.

so, today, i woke up refreshed.  my heart was full and i couldn’t wait to share this video and a gift video i made as well with kirsten.   i wish i was hiking with her this morning or having gnocchi and wine with her tonight.  but…

yes, it’s a virtual birthday – all of it.

but it is virtually impossible to not feel some peace in all this love.  and i know that tonight, when i lay my head on my pillow, i will rest easy.

 

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

AND GOODNIGHT ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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“suffer gloriously.” [merely-a-thought monday]

suffer gloriously

when you watch extreme mountain climbing videos every night you are bound to find morsels of wisdom and inspiration.  chris, one of the denali climbers, tossed us this one:   “i think it’s important to learn how to suffer gloriously.”  he added he “tries to put a positive spin on all his suffering.”  chosen suffering, that is, for who would doubt that there would be suffering on a climb up the highest peak on the continent.  alternatively, his suffering yields reward, a summit, or, at the least, an attempted summit, traversing in elevations few have scaled.

in the early 1980s i taught music in the poorest school of a small county in florida.  z was one of my students – he was in first grade.  i know he suffered.  his home was not far from the school campus with buildings attached by covered walkways, my music shed tucked into a swampy corner, complete with 3″ banana spiders.

z was a student who needed a lot of extra attention.  he craved it.  given his grave family situation, i know his heart had to be heavy, but his smile was light-itself and he loved hugs and music class.  in that school, tucked into the middle of an impoverished neighborhood, where people spent days sitting on rotting porches waiting for the next day, there was much agonizing.  and, clearly, a hell of a lot of surrendered acceptance.  it was deeply inspiring to see children being glorious, even in the midst of hurting.

i heard somewhere along the passing years that z was in prison.  i shudder to think of all who might say it was inevitable.  he was truly stuck in a system that allowed very few to escape.  the ‘subs’, as the area was called, was a breeding ground for glorious suffering, proud faces lined with sweat and worry, ponderous minds sorting for ways to survive.

we went back there about five years ago, drove to what-is-now a fenced-in complex and no longer a neighborhood school so i could stare for a few minutes at the old shed in the swamp.  we drove around the neighborhood and stopped and got out to talk to a couple people rocking on a porch.  we talked about the old school and, with shining faces, they spoke with pride about attending it.  glorious faces.

when we pulled away, they went back to the chairs on the porch, under the collapsing portico away from the steamy sun and tucked into trees covered with spanish moss and yards of dry dusty dirt.  still suffering.

we drove away, a few moments of silence as i took it all in.  in my mind i hugged the little boy z used to be and wished for something better for him.  for a summit.

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

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meander-er. [k.s. friday]

meander

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost)

a product of sunday-drive-parents, i am a meanderer.  i’ll choose a backroad.  i’ll choose the woods.  i’ll avoid the six-lane interstate.  i’ll avoid the leader-led-coach-bus-travel tour group. i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in an obvious life metaphor, choosing to be an artist of any medium -for the long haul- is choosing to be a meanderer.  it’s choosing to live life looking for and celebrating layer cakes – a layer cake of work.  it’s a continual wracking-of-the-brain for the next idea, the next project, next pitch, the next initiative, the next validation of your artistry.  it’s continual exploration and continual growth, surprises and intrinsic rewards of the heart.  and it’s continual worry: how will what you earn equal or be greater than that which you owe.

my parents encouraged my every musical moment.  neither of them was a musician, but their steadfast support reinforced the decisions i made that were more out-of-the-box.  their prideful applause inspired and fed me, lighting a fire even when the embers were falling to ash.  times i would rise and fall and rise again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

in somewhat recent days, when i was bemoaning the exponential cost of healthcare, someone asked me if i needed to see a financial counselor, someone who could ‘teach me’ how to budget.  i was stunned at the lack of sensitivity and actual empathy.  “no, thank you.” i responded, while trying to maintain the sound of calm in my voice, “i am actually quite good at budgeting and truly love math.  this is not rocket science.  it is simply a case of not having enough income, even from several jobs, coming in.”  a meanderer.  those sunday drives.

i’ve read plenty of ‘being the youngest child’ articles.  it seems that my profession, lean toward autonomy, artistry, careful rebellion are all because of my place in the sibling line-up.  so, once again, i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

the urge to be off-the-beaten-path, literally and figuratively, to quietly sit in the middle of the woods or i-wish-more-often the top of a mountain, to stand on a wooden stage with a piano, a boom mic, a few songs and a story to tell:  things that are part of my very soul.  the core.  i blame my sweet momma and poppo.

and i thank them from the bottom of my heart.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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MEANDER from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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weeping man. [d.r. thursday]

Weeping Man copy

we watched global citizen’s concert ‘together at home’ on saturday night.  this virtual concert featured a wide spectrum of celebrities and musicians and raised about $128 million for the world health organization as well as local and regional frontline healthcare workers in support of covid-19 relief.  despite wildly varying opinions about this effort, i would have been proud to play in the midst of this.  it was about humanity.  some of it was pretty raw.  people were in their homes, many the likes of which i will never enter.  they were with their instruments, they were playing or singing songs they felt would resonate with those watching.  a few were, as expected, clearly voice-tracked.  a few were, as expected, a bit ego-tainted.  split-screen performances and technology raised the bar for musicians everywhere.  but it was a moment in time – eight hours in total between online and on-air – when you could see that all of us grieve and yearn the same way.  no matter the size of your mansion or tiny house, no matter the grammys on your shelf or the lack thereof, this global pandemic is just that – global- and is not discerning of your privilege.  it does not care.  it can take anyone.  and so we weep.

if there is a painting that depicts the face-holding grief and prayerful yearning for hope, it is this painting WEEPING MAN.

i wonder if he weeps for those who have fallen ill, those who have died.  i wonder if he weeps for those who refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of this pandemic.  i wonder if he weeps for those on the front lines, helping.  i wonder if he weeps for those who have hidden in extravagant bunkers underground in far away countries.  i wonder if he weeps for our isolation.  i wonder if he weeps watching people intolerant of the isolation that will protect others, people who are selfishly and arrogantly protesting stay-at-home orders.  i wonder if he weeps for the unrelenting non-discrimination of this contagion or if he weeps for the divisiveness of responsibility-taking, the it-doesn’t-affect-me attitude.  i wonder if he weeps for the continuance of humanity.  or if he weeps for the loss of humankind.  or, if he weeps for the lack of humaneness.  i wonder if he weeps because, in the middle of this trying and profound now,  Next will come.  i wonder if this painting is tomorrow’s tomorrow and he weeps with relief and hope.

THIS all exists.  for each of us.   it isn’t always good.  it isn’t always not-good.

there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of overwhelm, the moments of absolute weariness that, despite all evidence to the contrary in your tired mind and body, actually do lead to Next.  times you feel alone, times of sorting, times of grief, times of fragile vulnerability, times of regret.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

and there are those moments.  the moments you weep openly, the moments you cover your face to cry, the moments of stunning awe, the moments of sheer exhaustion at your goal-line, moments that actually do lead to Next.  times you feel enamored of life itself, times of incredulity, times of unquestionable good fortune, times of serendipity, times of simple all-consuming sweet love.  the times you put your face in your hands and weep…

we recognize it.  we can feel it.  and we know that in another moment he -or she, for there is no pronoun-hogging here- will slowly raise his head out of his hands and Next will have arrived.  (reverse threading, and so he weeps, january 17, 2019)

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

to view or negotiate purchasing this painting, please visit the virtual gallery here

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WEEPING MAN ©️ 2015 david robinson

 

 


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two broken wrists. two and a half months. i kept playing. [two artists tuesday]

tendonitis

out of necessity it was only a few days after i broke both of my wrists that i played.  it seemed that i had nine fingers that were attending this event, and i, relieved to have these nine, worked with what i had.

in the last couple months, my left hand progressed faster than my right.  i had two breaks in my right wrist and, yes, i am older now than i used to be, so the doctor warned me that i needed to be patient.  make that NEED to be patient; healing will take six to eight months, she said.  but all five LH fingers participated in this early-on merrymaking and only my immobilized thumb was excluded on my RH.  and both wrists. they were excluded too.

they changed the cast on my RH from over-the-elbow to one a tad bit shorter; this was happy for me as it gave me more mobility. i kept playing, despite the wad of cast that ended in the palm of my hand.  i am a mom.  i am used to working around things.

later, they changed it yet again to an exos cast, which is removable but much less designed specifically for your hand; it was actually quite uncomfortable and made my hand hurt in places it hadn’t hurt with the ‘regular’ cast on.  i kept playing.

at the point when the coronavirus ceased all my regular doctor appointments, and after only one occupational therapy appointment, i kept playing.

finally, with the phoned-in blessing of my OT, i ordered a splint for my RH – the same one i wear on my LH, releasing my thumb from its cast-prison.  i kept playing.

and then i noticed that my pinky wasn’t responding properly.  nor was my ring finger.  nerve pain was shooting from my fingers up my arm.  and nodules in the palm of my RH were burning, stinging.  no professional pianist i know wants his or her hands to hurt.  i could draw hundreds of analogies here with other body parts and ways-of-living, but i will refrain from doing so and just say that this was disheartening and incredibly worrisome for me.  and i kept playing.

i emailed the doctor and then sent pictures i labeled in photoshop so that my worry would be clear, since i was unable to be there in person; social distancing had put aurora on the don’t-call-us-if-this-isn’t-essential status.  when she called me she said i really needed to come in.  she said that they would take some x-rays and the hand specialist would look at my right hand, in particular.  frankly, i was beyond nervous to walk into a medical center.  they have their hands full (absolutely no pun intended) and i was reticent to be privy to whatever germs were hanging around or to take any focus from the more essential.  but, because i am playing and because playing is what i do, i went.

although there is a slight chance that there is something else going on here, it looks like the palm tendons of my RH fingers are inflamed.  this is likely because i have been playing with casts on.  what’s the expression? damned if i do, damned if i don’t.

when i asked the specialist for a range of time this might last, his answer was ‘probably up to a few months’.  he didn’t ask me a lot of questions to discern what was happening and i tried like heck to fill him in on every-single-last-thing about my hands, but, in as-quick-as-a-flash fashion, he was gone before i knew it.  a-few-more-exercises-and-some-regularly-scheduled-advil advice later, i left the hospital, took off my mask and climbed, sighing, into big red in the parking lot.

and now, out of necessity, i will keep playing.

and worrying.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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always. with us. [k.s. friday]

always with us prayerflags

my emotional well was full when i woke up today.  thinking of us, our children, our families, our dear friends, our community, this world.  i desperately want to gather our beloveds in, hold them close, protect them.

i have no words for all of this; i have too many words for all of this.  i fear that none of them are helpful, none of them are wise.  it’s just me.  and, like you, carrying the weight of the world one step at a time, one quiet minute at a time, staring out the window and wondering.

always with us

we are alone

 

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood