reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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two broken wrists. [k.s. friday]

two wrists

day 4

it broke more than both my wrists, that snowboarding fall last monday.

it broke my ability to do many things for myself.  it fractured my independence.

it exploded my previous gratitude of those around me, loving and caring for me.  it expanded a dependence on others, particularly david.

it broke through my vulnerability threshold.  it made me acknowledge my modesty and encouraged me to try to stand tall in my new temporary disability.

it broke what i knew about others around me.  it both surprised me in all the best ways and surprised me in all the worst.

it broke my assumption that all things – all my relationships – all my work – would stay the same.  it shattered any sense of security.

it further broke my trust in our country’s healthcare coverage.  it pointedly drove home that point.

it broke through any calm-in-the-storm-around-us i had found.  it exacerbated a profound sense of worry.

it broke my muse.  it scared me, really scared me, and it made me wonder if i would play again, write again, perform again.

day 5.  my quiet piano welcomed me into the studio.  i stood in front of it.  determined.  and i played.  nine fingers, not ten.  not the hand-span of all other days, but never mind.

day 12.  eleven days after breaking them i still wake up, after night’s elusive sleep, surprised to see my wrists, well, more accurately, my cast and hard splint.

i think, “here we go,” and i set out to see what’s beyond two broken wrists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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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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guide star. [d.r. thursday]

hotel art

last night we watched cnn’s broadcast movie about linda ronstadt “the sound of my voice”.  a star in every facet.  as we watched , we revisited times of our lives – times when the music we listened to was simpler, less engineered, less auto-tuned, less machinated, less acrobatic.  it was music of melody and harmony, stylistically less thickened by tracks of extraneous stuff.  it was indeed purer.  linda ronstadt, now in her 80s and dealing with the effects of parkinson’s, particularly on her voice, was a powerhouse raised in music, surrounded by music and who, with generosity, graced us all with her music for decades.  her voice goes on.

we are attracted to simpler.  simpler melodies minus the gymnastic riffs and with simpler production, simpler paintings with great depth or color or message.  we are analog; there’s no doubt about it.  and as we watched a john denver christmas in aspen the other day i found myself yearning for that simplicity, john denver’s voice – both his writing voice and singing voice – effortlessly clear.

the common thread of less is more.  it had impact on us, on our art forms.

when d was messing around in the studio recently he painted these very simple elements that often appear in his paintings:  a star, a flower, petals. it’s not natural for him to paint without a figure.  i imagine he was experimenting, paring down.  i would liken that to me recording a song on the ukulele.  it’s not natural for me to record without a piano.  but experimenting is good and paring down is an exercise.  especially in times of mostly-quiet easels and mostly-empty lyric sheets.

linda ronstadt’s story is one of unparalleled success and a great number of layers of experiment, a constant delve into another style of music, always paring it down to dedication to her absolute love of singing.

in the midst of all the layers, all the experimentation, all the paring down, all the silent canvases and hushed keys, we find our guide stars.  and we go on.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson, kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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this part of the journey. exclamation mark. [k.s. friday]

tpotj song box.jpg

today my sweet momma would be 98.

she was born in 1921 and saw everything change around her. she stood in a world that saw the great depression, world war II, telephones and cars, movies, televisions and news shows reporting on more wars than she could wrap her head around. her husband was missing in action and then a POW shot down over bulgaria, all while she was expecting a baby. she gave birth to their first child while my poppo was still a POW and stood in faith that he would return as that little girl died.

momma built a life with my dad, all the while navigating veteran-ptsd that hadn’t yet been labeled. but she figured it out. she held her ground, both supportive and snapping to action or to “words” as she would call arguments between them.

my sweet momma wore stockings and pumps “to business” and had housecoats with snaps, long flowing mumus and finally, at long last, blue jeans and keds for relaxing. momma drove a mean stick shift and, because they were a one-car family for the longest time, walked to the king kullen and dairy barn for groceries and milk. she turned her very green thumb over to my dad after he retired, likely to keep him out of her hair for a bit of time.

she volunteered as the girl scout president and in aarp alongside my dad. she loved wood and glass; she loved to paint with oils. she loved lists and calendars and math and writing and doing the laundry any time she was stressed. she wrote old-fashioned letters with pen and paper. she adored her word processor and then the computer and finally, her beloved iphone. anything to stay in touch. she texted, she called, she facebooked, she mistakenly took pictures of the ceiling and sent them on errant trips out to the ethers. momma loved to coffee sit and have english muffins or crumb cake or danish or chocolate chip cookies or pie. and she made extra homemade french fries every time she knew I was visiting so we could sit, drink iced tea, eat cold french fries and talk.

she didn’t let fear overtake her. she was strong in every way. she credited being from new york, but i credit just her – she just went with the flow and sort of ignored anything that got in the way, including any physical challenge that presented itself. two days after a double mastectomy at 93 she sat on the side of the hospital bed and, in good humor, sassed everyone around.

she loved that everyone called her beaky. and i mean everyone.

her journey was long, her experiences rich. she was an exclamation mark in life. she celebrated people and love and moments and I miss her.  so much.

but it is part of my journey to miss her.

each of us bring to our journey our own punctuation. sometimes i think i am an ellipsis, but i realize that applies to all of us. we go on…

if i got to choose what singular punctuation i would want to be, i would want to be an exclamation mark, just like my sweet momma. for this part of my journey. for every part of the journey.

download THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

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THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1998, 2000 kerri sherwood


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my palette. [k.s. friday]

her palette - the piano

yesterday david wrote these words about his palette.  as i read his words, i realized he was conveying many of my own sentiments.  with his permission, i have only slightly modified his words this morning to express my own artist palette – my piano.  the re-posting of this, and even using the same verbiage, reminds me of the intertwining of all soulful expression.  bear with me as i experiment, my words in red, an exploration of two artistic planes running parallel.

true confessions: i never rarely clean my palette the music stand on top of my piano. i like the messy build up of color. color is found in many forms but mostly notebooks and pa-pads, scraps of paper, snippets of tracks recorded on an iriver or an iphone. i like the chunky texture pile. it serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings compositions past and future. and then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that i will achieve. it is accidental. it is free.  it is idea, melodic gesture, poetry waiting for notes, phrase waiting for the rest of the lyrics.  ready.  waiting.  free.

this might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. i love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. it is the true liminal space.   long before the space spanning the route taken from introduction to coda.  i begin with pure color. i begin with the rest, silence inbetween the notes, the place for breath so you can hear the vibrations of sound.  i smash the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue i intend. note upon note i build a melody, smashing note upon note i build a small unaccompanied orchestra of harmony, the hue i intend.  on a palette, color becomes intention. sound becomes intention.  and then, once transformed, with a brush or knife i lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, i place it onto a canvas. i play, i listen, i play again.  i lift it from the keys of my palette and place it onto the canvas of paper, attempting to capture the fleeting moment it has created and etch it into a piece of music that can be repeated, played again.  it transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. it transforms yet again relative to the air in the room, the echo of an intention, the listening ear it touches.  an image emerges. more color is called for. it emerges, this composition of music, and more color is called for.

and, somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette. the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. and somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette.  the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful.  this!  can there be a more pure statement of artistry? and, in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. unfettered. accidentally interesting. free.  and in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind.  unfettered.  accidentally interesting.  free.  the rest between the notes.  the breath of music on the air. 

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake  i paint.  i write.  i compose.  i don’t know what is enough until i know what is more than enough.  truth. 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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(it is) as it is. [k.s. friday]

AS IT IS songbox copy.jpg

ken calls this my MUSH album.  he is an amazing producer and i feel fortunate to call him my dear friend as well.  he produced 14 of my albums and, although one of my albums and a few vocal singles were done in nashville, now i can’t really imagine any other recording projects without him.

MUSH stands for made-up-shi* and is aptly named.  this album came at a really inspired time for me.  artists have their highs and lows, inspiration-wise, and this was one of the highs.  i’ve mentioned the story before, but i’ll short-story it here again:  i had a list of titles – titles i wanted to use eventually for compositions; i carried a notebook and scraps of paper everywhere i went.  i had this list with me as i recorded two other full-length albums in nyc at yamaha artist services.  in-between recording the two other albums, i would choose a title and play it.  simply play it.  my heart is laid out in the tracks of this cd; every title was meaningful to me, every piece tells what it means.

AS IT IS is the title track so it’s interesting that i gave over the melody line to a flute, the only piece on all of my albums that has a flutist playing.  it’s also rare for me to step away from the piano and, in the production-post-initial-recording phase, play a keyboard.  but life is like that. you have to give over sometimes.  the texture changes.  the melody isn’t yours to own; sometimes you are support staff.  make peace with it.  it is as it is.

AS IT IS:  life.  we are right here…where we are supposed to be in this part of the journey…the best time is now.  simply because life is as it is. (liner notes)

purchase and download the album AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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AS IT IS from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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unfolding. [k. s. friday]

unfolding song box copy

“…and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…” (desiderata by max ehrmann)

when i listen to tracks i have recorded i can either picture the time i spent writing at the piano or the time i spent in studio recording.  this piece drums up the same image; in a time of pronounced inspiration and the transferring of much emotion into music, this was simultaneously written and recorded at yamaha artist services in nyc back about 15 years ago.

even then, i could see the willows-bending-in-the-wind characteristic of life – it will unfold as it should, despite our best efforts to stymie it or change it or enhance it.  and so i loved when ken, my truly amazing producer, added a bended electric guitar line, arching and buckling, flexing around the melody line, a musical painting.   even now, and i suspect as will always be, i try to be that willow, bending as the wind takes me, allowing the universe to unfold.

“unfolding: trying to trust that life is unfolding the way it should be” (liner notes)

download AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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UNFOLDING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood