reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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“pretend that i care.” [d.r. thursday]

AtTheDoor13 jpeg copy

“E-N-O-B,” we spell aloud when we are thinking about giving dogga a new b-o-n-e but don’t want him to know it, because he has learned what a “B-O-N-E” is.  the vocabulary of these sweet pets is astounding, considering, well, everything.

i remember spelling words around my children when they were little.  they were fast to learn, so this trick didn’t last too long.  we were careful to not ‘cuss’ around them or say things that were foul.  we knew they were little sponges; we didn’t want them mimicking that kind of disrespect.  the time beth reported to me that The Boy, a toddler, said a swear word, i was mortified.  it was both funny in a he’s-a-toddler-and-has-no-idea kind of way and stunning that he had picked up a word somewhere we had been so careful not to use.

so when i drive down the street and see bumper stickers that say “f**k you” or “trigger happy” or flags flying in someone’s yard stating “no more bulls**t”, it confounds me.  “small children can READ,” i think, while picturing My Girl or My Boy sounding these out from their booster seats.

i wonder what these people are thinking.  did they think at all?  did they hesitate for even an instant when they hoisted up the flag or peeled the backing off the vinyl?  did they think about their children, other people’s children, their parents, their grandparents?  did it occur to them that, although we are all entitled to our opinion, we also have a responsibility to decency in community?  what carseat ride taught them this lack of couth, lack of regard of respectfulness.

and then i wonder, if i stopped and spoke to the person in the driveway with the crudely-stickered-vehicle or along the sidewalk of the flag-flying-house, if i maybe asked “why?”, would that person apathetically stare at me and sneer, “pretend that i care!”

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

Nap With DogDog & BabyCat copy

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AT THE DOOR cartoon ©️ 2017 david robinson, NAP painting ©️ 2020 david robinson

 


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my lullaby. for them. [k.s. friday]

i will hold you forever and ever

and as yesterday passed into today and i drifted off to sleep i knew, despite that she is on a different plane of existence, my sweet momma was holding me close to her.  it was bracing to think of the five year mark that has just passed now since she has been gone and the every-day-missing-her that goes along with that.  no different with my dad.  in a month it will be eight years and i can hear his “hi brat” in my heart.  i have no doubt that he is right there, holding on tightly.  both of them.  forever and ever.

it is a fact.  this parenthood thing is mind-bogglingly paramount.  ever forward from the day they are born.  it is all-consuming.  in every good and every daunting way.  every most-jubilant and every brutally-difficult way.  every securely-confident and every tumultuously-distressing way.  every way.

in this pandemic time of chaos we pine for a sense of normal which escapes us.  anxiety barges in and replaces our regular routines; peace escapes us.  we long to see each other.  we feel tired; we feel restless.  we sleep more; we cannot sleep.  we are astounded by the surrealness of this; we are crushed by how real this is.  and we worry.  it is hard to be away from those whom we love and knowing that right now we cannot go to them compounds it.  my heart needs to hug My Girl and My Boy and see that all is well.  we feel anxious.  our wishes go unfulfilled.

and yet as today passes into tomorrow and they drift off to sleep i know, despite how busy they may be or where they are in the world, that i am holding them close.  that no doubt can exist –  i am right there, holding on tightly.

and i hope, like you with your beloved children, that they can feel it.  forever and ever.

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

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I WILL HOLD YOU FOREVER AND EVER ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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there is a place, a canopy. [d.r. thursday]

canopy

CANOPY 48″x48″

there is a place on a washington island road where the rest of the world disappears.  you are walking alongside forest and can see the sky as you look up, tall trees framing blue, the sound of sandhill cranes and red-eyed vireos accompanying your steps.  and then you enter this place.  the trees gently arc over the road and you are covered by a canopy; we have sheltered in this spot during more than one sudden rainfall.  even in the bright day, the green above you – which turns to brilliant umber, rich red, flaming orange during summer’s release on the forest – allows for little light.  and at dusk, while the sun sinks into the water hundreds of feet away, walking in the middle of the road, it is dark-dark, the canopy a lure for night creatures, safe in the shadows.

there is a place in a tree in the yard of my growing-up house outside the window of my old room where the branches invited sitting.  for hours i would sit there, write, ponder.  in the summer the maple seemed to grant me privacy from the world, its branches full of leaves and canopying my little spot.  a shelter.

there was a place in the wooden structure in our backyard that had a yellow awning that made a fort.  when My Girl and My Boy were little they would play up there for hours, The Boy lining up matchbox cars, The Girl often reading a book.  a special space, this little fort, it was hard when it was time to dismantle it and pass it on to friends with little ones.

these places of shelter – places of canopy – provide such a sense of protection, a sense of being held from harm – from the elements, away from others, in our own private place.  much like our homes, they can give us pause, a deep breath, safety.

in this time of distancing and stay-safe-stay-at-home, i look around our house and give thanks for its canopy of shelter, for the way it holds us from harm, for the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it keeps us safe.

view CANOPY on david’s virtual gallery

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CANOPY ©️ 2009 david robinson

 

 

 


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“you’re my favorite pain in the ass.” merely-a-thought monday

you're my favorite

we bought it on our honeymoon.  we knew, even by then, that we would need this sign’s lighthearted truth to remind us – some days – of what we even liked about each other.  in these days of isolation it’s front and center.

these are profoundly difficult times.  without the balance of getting out or having a little space, we are all finding ourselves in close isolation with the others in our home.  we two, here, are often together 24/7.  we work together in a variety of capacities, so we have gotten a little more accustomed to the dynamics than, say, some of you who have been thrown into the deep end with no feathering of getting-used-to-the-water time.  but…that doesn’t mean it’s always pretty.  so we are all here, separately together, figuring it out.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

the stress level is palpable.  you can feel the world out-there functioning at a completely different frequency than it had been.  it is like that high pitch in your ears, making you teeter on yelling, “make it stop”.  we all try to go with the flow, try to make the best of it.  we are fortunate to be here together, at home, in a safe place.  we seek ways to stay relevant and do meaningful work.  we follow stay-at-home orders.  we reach out to visit, virtually, with our family and friends.  we video-conference with colleagues.  we wear leggings and sweatpants on a daily basis.  my boy, in a city with ever-exponentially-growing-covid-19-numbers, said that’s a given – sweats, sweats, sweats and the perfunctory button-down shirt.  we know what’s visible and what’s not.  we desperately hope for the best.  we get in each other’s way.  we help each other.  we brainstorm new ways to cope, new ways to work, some with steep learning curves.  we sigh.  we take naps, tired and wrung out.  all are true.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

and we try to stay in touch.  we desperately miss our children, our family, our friends, the people in our day-to-day life route.

even in times of ‘normal’, if my daughter, whose home is in a covid-19 hotspot and whose work, like too many, has been decimated, texts me with no punctuation and clipped answers, i know i have either a) stepped past the edge of the chatting time limit b) asked too many questions c) said something completely too mom-ish or d) encountered her at a time she needs space for herself.  no matter which option, it’s smart (and in my best interest) to back up.  she, just like my son, knows she is loved beyond words and i know that, in order for me to stay loved, or, er, tolerated, i need to utter less painintheass words.  but i am their mom and it is an intrinsic part of my job.

we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

if david, the other artist in my two-artist-household equation, mentions an idea to me, i dig under the idea pile of leaves to find the base of it – to order the details of what the idea means, to parse it out.  i can’t start at the top and assume thebigidea will work.  i have to see how the ingredients of the idea will work, the steps to get there.  if the tiniest piece of the idea doesn’t seem plausible, i argue, how could thebigidea be possible.  i don’t mean to be a bigidea killer; i just need to see the practical details.  i’m sure he invokes the youareapainintheass eyeroll when i am not looking, but that’s ok.  he can’t see me rolling my eyes either.

and so, we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

in the biggest way we have seen in decades we have a challenge.  to stay healthy.  to keep others healthy.  what we do affects you and vice-versa.  we all have to be responsible.  we all have to work together.  we are not all favorites of each other.  some of us are the biggest pains in the ass to others of us.  we are learning, bending, flexing.  we are finding out that we are more resilient than we thought, we are capable of negotiating the bumps in the relationship-road.  we are gumby in the real world.

and we are all here.  separate and together.  despite our wildly differing stories, we have a common story.  we are here.

and we wonder about the future.  we worry.  we stew.  we get excited.  we get scared.  we get weary.

i, for one, am grateful for my absolute favorite painintheass even though he is totally a painintheass.  for what would i do without him?

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

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a time to close your eyes. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

sleeping dogga copy

there is little as comfortingly sweet as watching your dog sleep.  dogdog is whirling motion so when he sleeps in your presence it is a magical time of trust and deep respite.  the vision of him asleep on the bed or in the middle of the living room rug is a picture of all-is-right-in-the-world; he has no other cares except he is with his people and he can rest.

some of the times i remember most about when My Girl and My Boy were young are the times they fell asleep with me holding them, in my arms, on my lap.  the moment you feel their little-child-body relax and fall into you.  exquisite.

it’s that moment you sigh and lay your head back to nap with someone you love.  the moment you close your eyes on the beach towel in the sun, warm sand beneath you.  the moment you drift off in the grass watching the clouds.  oh yes, the moment your face plants against the window at the rest area during your long journey and a couple hours pass by.  the moment, hiking in high mountains, you lean against a tree and your eyes close to the sound of the wind in the aspens.

rest.  a time of no real conscious worry.  a time of innate trusting that all-will-be-well.  a time of repose, of tranquility, of solace.

i have found, sometimes, if i want to go to sleep and cannot, that if i watch dogga or babycat sleep it will slow my overthinking-breathing.  it will settle my heart and mind a bit.  it will remind me that my own whirling motion – physical, intellectual, emotional – needs time to rest, to curl up on the living room rug and close my eyes.

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

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“as surely as the moon affects the tides.” [d.r. thursday]

DawsonDetail copy

new mother – a morsel

“when we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live.  from that time on there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tides, and affect us in some ways more deeply than anyone else can.  our children are extensions of ourselves.” (mr. fred rogers)

i simply cannot think of a more succinct way to say this but for the words of mr. rogers.

forever changed, i am sensitive to every little thing my even-as-grown-ups-children are experiencing, celebrating, enduring, adventuring, loving, suffering, yearning for, achieving.  i feel their joy as my joy, their sadness as my sadness.

parenthood, a profound honor, in all its diamond-facets is no small feat.  the vexing complexities, the moments of sheer joy, the heart-wrenching worry, the holding-on-letting-go-ness, the unconditional love.  all of it.

like the moon, their tide surely affects my tide.  and i would have it no other way.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 4.09.09 PM

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NEW MOTHER ©️ 2017 david robinson

 

 


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the ernie straw. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ernie straw

the ernie straw.  this straw has lived in the kitchen drawer for decades.  it served the sesame-street-zeal of My Girl and My Boy when they were little-little and has made various appearances back in the sunlit-world from time to time since then.

this summer when The Girl was here house-sitting i came home and into the kitchen to find her using it to sip her pre-workout drink.  she laughingly told me, “it’s a good straw!”  i can’t tell you how happy i was that ernie was still in the drawer when she went searching for the perfect sipping-utensil.

in the last week, ernie has become my constant companion.  positioned carefully in my coffee hydroflask or perched in my water glass or teetering out of a wine glass, ernie and i have done beverage-life together.

they say necessity is the mother of invention and, particularly, this past week with two broken wrists, i would have to agree.  stuck closer to the right side of my brain as a creative thinker (although admittedly there is quite a bit of ny-style-left-side there as well) i have had to sort out how to do things, let’s say, in-a-different-way.

i can proudly say that i can put on my socks, eat my own meal with a fork or a spoon, cut a steak (with the steak knife lodged into my RH cast), put on a little eyeliner and mascara with my LH steadying my right hand (not easy, but some things are just necessary), and type.  last night i squeezed (!) the toothpaste out of the tube and surprised d with his toothbrush pre-pasted.  in bigger news, i have played my piano four days in a row.  i have 9 fingers to use right now; my right thumb is immobilized.  but there are a lot of notes you can play with nine fingers, especially at the right angle and taking your time.

ernie and i are trying to keep a good attitude.  his curlycue-ness is pretty cute and his smile engaging.  he keeps me from feeling too sad, too limited.  he reminds me that the constraints i feel right now are exercising my creative juju (he’s a ridiculous optimist).  and he, most importantly, ties me to all the years backward, where he, yes, an inanimate object, has been a part of my life and the life of my children.

i couldn’t be more grateful to have found this life-gossamer-thread in our kitchen drawer last monday, the day i was injured.  once again, something profound and something simple –  and both remind me of what’s important.

i sent My Girl a photo of ernie in my coffee vessel.  she quickly replied, “it’s a good straw!”   yes.

thank you, our ernie straw.

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

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“they really need to upgrade their font.” (merely-a-thought monday]

font

it runs in the family.  we are font-picky.   truth, we are font-obsessive.

when My Girl was younger and we would make a trip to the library, she would scan along the shelves.  with scorn she would scoff at titles – not because of the title, but because of the font used on the spine.  “it can’t be any good if they didn’t pay any attention to the font they used,” she’d dismissively roll her eyes.

i am known to go on and on about fonts.  d can tell you.  i am consistently surprised at how little regard is given to the chosen font in the delivery of a message – a title – a branding.  i am often heard saying, “what were they thinking?”  and when d can’t relate i text or show 20; i know he will join me in my rant.

we were recently walking in downtown chicago through the neighborhoods heading north with My Boy.  we passed by a barnes & noble.  glancing over, he derisively declared, “they really need to upgrade their font.”  i started laughing when i saw d’s face; i know he was thinking i’m surrounded by them, these font-fussy folks.  i couldn’t be prouder.

you have to admit though.  you have, at least a time or two, noticed a font and either thought, “wow! i love the way that looks!” or “yuck.  that doesn’t fit at all.”  you have been on a website where the front page boasts six or seven different fonts, all different colors, no continuity, no crispness.  yuck.  it’s a mishmash for your eyes and makes you quickly lose interest, likely the opposite of what the site was trying to encourage.

take the title in the image above.  a gift, it is literally the title of a book on one of my shelves.  offering no opinion on the book itself, i just want to say that based on the font for the title merry thoughts i never would have purchased it.  i mean, look at it!  does that look merry to you??  it looks more like a halloween font than any kind of merry font. is it sarcastic font?  is it tongue-in-cheek font?  hardly.  that font would have stopped me.  boom!  no purchase.   what were they thinking?

serifs. sans serif.  the kerning, the capitalization or lack thereof.  the use of punctuation. the color of the font.  overuse of italics.  bold style vs regular.  the amount of clean space.  etc. etc. etc.  all of it.  it all counts.

i love design.  inspired from years and years of watching and listening and learning and probably asking too many questions, sitting over the shoulders of 20 and justine as they worked on album covers and posters and such, i now love working on designing recognition around font or a certain ‘look’, fresh ideas for brands or organizations that seem dated or tired or just boring.  there is no shortage.  look around.  so many graphics.  so little attention to detail.  what are they thinking?

we are never bored driving across town, across the state, across the country.  there i am, in our giant-sign-laden-land, gesturing and ranting, pointing out the billboards with design-police diatribes.  “they really need to upgrade their font!” i announce.

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

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joy. [k.s. friday]

joy songbox

the video from My Girl made me out and out cry.  it was just a little hello, sent from around a firepit in the high mountains after a long day of working.  and it was perfect timing.  to see her face and hear her voice was pure joy.

we walked and walked and walked.  miles from millenium park’s christmas tree and skating rinks, past beautiful ornate displays of lights and simple twinkling white branches.  in a rare opportunity linking my arm through My Boy’s as we strolled, i was filled with joy.  the loudspeaker music and dancing lights of the lincoln park zoo just echoed my delight.

as adults, the holidays carry a different set of qualities than they did as when we were children.  much pressure, oftentimes grief, maybe a slippery slope feeling of never-doing-enough, some disappointment, a measure of jealousy or envy perhaps as others-with-family-all-in-town gather together in big festive celebrations.  for those of us who work on christmas eve and christmas day, there is a yet another added layer.

we walked through the woods yesterday looking for the right branch laying on the ground.  we don’t yet have a christmas tree up.  we have other little trees – i have collected small trees through the years – but no true christmas tree.  each year in these last years, we have chosen that “tree” carefully, always something we found, something re-purposed into a christmas tree, something that had meaning.  there was the christmas-tree-on-a-stick – a christmas-tree-misfit – we cut down on the tree farm, a piece of the tree that fell into our backyard narrowly avoiding the house, a branch that had snapped off of our beloved tree out front, a star suspended over a straight trunk wrapped in lights to tease The Boy.

this year i thought about just going to a lot and purchasing a tree, thinking maybe, in the midst of the ending of a really tough year for many,  that might put me into the holiday spirit.  but i just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  we figured that the answer would become obvious, as it has done in the past years.  and it did. watching My Boy, clearly proud of the decorations of the neighborhoods north-of-downtown, agree with us about how simple, beautiful and truly elegant the white branches were, made up my mind.

last night we put the first coat of white spray paint on the two sets of branches we brought home.  we’ll finish coating them with paint later today and wrap them in white lights.  we’ll gently place silver ornaments as we play christmas music in the background.  i will miss My Girl and My Boy like crazy.  i will yearn for my parents, my brother and sister-in-law and sister and brother-in-law and nieces and nephew and all their families, david’s parents and extended family.  it isn’t the christmas of christmas-past.

but there still is magic.  those moments of joy – when everything else ceases to exist and joy eclipses it all.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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JOY ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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thanksgiving. in the light. [d.r. thursday]

Angels_at_the_well_jpg copy

“this is not goodbye.  it’s just farewell to the you i recognize.  i’ve got a long, long time to learn how to feel you in a new way.” (lowen & navarro:  crossing over from pendulum)

thanksgiving dawns.  2019.

thanksgiving dawns.  rewind.  1960s.  1970s.  i remember waking with great anticipation to watch the macy’s thanksgiving day parade on our black and white tv.  my sweet momma, having risen early-early to put the turkey on at some ridiculous hour and my poppo, trying to appear helpful, both dedicated parade watchers, sipping coffee and snacking on entenmanns crumb cake.  made sweeter for us new yorkers by seeing it in person on the streets of nyc, my mom would recollect parades-gone-by with horse drawn floats and she would cheer aloud for the tv version, even in the den.  dad would be quiet, but he would be grinning, waiting for bullwinkle or popeye or underdog.  these were moments i didn’t memorize.  i was too young to know that i should.  i was steady in the world, surrounded by family who i loved and who loved me and not necessarily given to thinking in the terms “many years later”.

thanksgiving dawns.  rewind.  1990s.  My Girl and My Boy were little, in pjs, fully engaged in the turkey dance their dad performed with the turkey on the counter, happily catching bits and snatches of a colorful parade i was still enthralled with, waiting to lick the dessert beaters, while i was making a feast of turkey and casseroles and setting a table with candles and cloth.  we let the wishbone dry on the shelf for days and sometimes longer, forgetting about it, but eventually, they would snap it, wishes in their hands.  i’m sure they didn’t memorize those moments.  they were steady in the world, surrounded by family they loved and who loved them and definitely not given to thinking in the terms “many years later”.

thanksgiving dawns.  2019.  it is quiet.  My Girl in the high mountains, My Boy in the southern hemisphere.  we will prepare for a simple meal.  we will hike.  we will be grateful for all the thanksgivings of the past, for all the thanksgivings of the future.  for the thanks-giving of every day.  i know that, indeed, despite all our failings, our challenges, our sorrows and disappointments as well as our absolute joys and successes, we are steady in the world, surrounded by family who we love and who love us.  they are all here.  i memorize moments all the time these days.  for later.  and many years later.

i have said farewell to too many.  but i have learned to recognize them in the kindnesses of strangers, in the serendipities and synchronicities of wondrous things that happen.  i recognize them in the gentle breezes that sweep across my face.  i am learning how to feel them in a new way.  and i know they – my angels – are there.

“crossing over.  the light that runs forever…”

stand in the light.  happy thanksgiving.

 

view DAVID’S painting ANGELS AT THE WELL on his gallery site

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ANGELS AT THE WELL ©️ 2004 david robinson