reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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

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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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empty the dishwasher slowly. [merely-a-thought monday]

empty the dishwasher slowly box

we have a dishwasher.  this is a picture of it.  it does not work.  but it takes up space in our old kitchen that would otherwise be blank.  instead, we wash dishes.  by hand.  the old fashioned way.  it’s a good time to gaze out the window and think or have a little conversation as we wash, dry and put away.  in no rush.  i distinctly remember watching my sweet momma and poppo do this when i was growing up.  they would stand and chat (or be quiet) and work together until one day when my dad brought home a portable dishwasher that attached via a hose to the sink.  they would roll the dishwasher out of the laundry room.  it would sit, attached to the faucet, in the middle of the kitchen and you had to maneuver around it to get to the cabinets or across the kitchen.  ahhh.  dishwashers have come so far.  and yes, some haven’t.  like ours.

for the last week we have had the gift of being in an absolutely beautiful place on the ocean.  there are too many superlatives to list about the magic of being there, too many stories to tell.  so many memories to take with us, so many learnings.

and – we had the use of a dishwasher… a real live one that actually works; it washes dishes all by itself and then dries them.  amazing!

one morning, after waiting for the coffee to brew, david brought me coffee in bed and said he had realized something.  during the spell of time he was waiting, after opening up the house to the rising sun, he emptied the dishwasher.  he took each item out and carefully put it away in its place.  slowly.  when he came upstairs he told me that this simple task had actually been quite profound.  and, because it’s what we do, we talked about this observation.

as we take on many new tasks with much to orient to and learn, we have agreed to do just this, to move with this simple mantra:  to empty the dishwasher slowly.  to put each thing gently in its place.  to be mindful and intentional and not overwhelmed.  each glass will get put away, each plate will stack, each utensil will nest.  there is no rush.   there is right now.

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

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coffee. without fail. [two artists tuesday]

starbucks copy

coffee is how we start the day.  hot bold black coffee.  columbus says it’s way too strong, but this is from a man who makes coffee that his son says tastes like ‘sockwater’.  our coffee must be an acquired taste.

when we travel we seek out starbucks (and, to be honest, small independent coffee cafes as well) to stop and have a double espresso.  now that we are a teeny weeny bit older, it’s not as smart to have huge cups of coffee while driving long distances.  there’s a teeny weeny bit of an issue with not enough rest areas now.  so we try to be smart.

every single time we stop for a double espresso we take a picture and then we send it to 20.  we have pictures of double espressos in illinois and indiana, in colorado and wisconsin, in florida and georgia, in north and south carolina, in kentucky and tennessee, in connecticut and massachusetts, in new hampshire and rhode island, in new york and pennsylvania, in washington and idaho, in iowa and kansas, in montana and north dakota and minnesota, in missouri and california, in amsterdam and brussels, in paris.

coffee has always been one of our touchstones.  from the very beginning d and i spoke about and revered coffee, together.  i learned early on from my sweet momma and my poppo how to coffee-sit and it is with them in my heart, coffee in hand, we continue the tradition.

as each day ends and d sets up the coffeemaker for the next morning, dogdog listens for all the familiar sounds he knows that signal the end of the day.  he waits on the bed for his bellybelly and then time for sleep.  and he knows, too, that when he wakes we will sit with our hot black bold coffee the next morning.  without fail.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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you can sit on the tooth. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

you can sit on the tooth copy

i did not inherit good teeth.  were i to be a horse i would not be running in the derby or any other horse race (which, right now, sounds like a good thing.)  anyway, i blame my sweet momma and my poppo; i’m not actually sure who gets the lion’s share of the blame, so i will just blame them both (and all the ancestors before them who did not have great teeth – we might as well make this a class-action-blame-suit.)

when i was a child growing up, my parents were quite a bit older than most of my friends’ parents.  this is because my sister is sooooo much older than me.  i was born soooo much later and, so, had parents who had some, maybe, backwards ideas.

drumroll, please.  my sweet momma – adorable as she was – and my sweet poppo – equally adorable – never ever EVER had novocaine when they got fillings.  for some unknown reason, they just toughed it out.  now, i am quite sure you are cringing at the very thought.  those drills.  that hook thing that tries to pull your tongue out of your mouth.  the sounds alone are unnerving.  anyway, they seemed to reach deep inside, thinking they were getting extra points or something, and they endured the pain throughout drilling/filling procedures.

this brings me to me.  because that is what they believed in, i was subjected to the same torture and did not have novocaine until i was well into adulthood and realized it was a thing.  having had two children without the benefit of anesthesia, i can honestly say now that i would rather have more children than go through any more dental work without novocaine or some such numbing agent.

so, this is a long preamble to my story.

i broke a tooth during lent.  you would think things like that wouldn’t happen during lent, but, alas, it did.  my dentist, who is a saint, was out of town and i waited for his return. because of my ptsd from childhood dentistry, i cannot go alone to an appointment like this so david went with me.  he always does.  we try to be there for each other in each of our doctor/dental appointments; it’s part of the i-support-you-in-everything deal.

my favorite moment when we walk in (my REAL favorite moment is when we walk OUT) is when the dental assistant says to david, “you can sit on the tooth.”  it is pretty funny to see a grown man figure out how to sit on a tooth.  it’s even funnier to watch him not feel awkward.  he handles his tooth-sitting with great aplomb, alternately cracking jokes with dan, the dentist, and holding my foot, since he can’t reach my hand from the tooth.

for this dentist who has all the patience in the world for my terror and for david’s presence there on the tooth, i am eternally grateful.   i would totally sit on the tooth for him.

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

ps.  don’t believe anything david says in his post.  i suspect it’s all not true.

not our best morning minturn website box


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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

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how ’bout them apples? [merely-a-thought monday]

them apples 1

everyone does it.  in the middle of conversation.  in the middle of silence.  in the middle of a piece of music.  in the middle of a dance.  you vamp…buying time.

my poppo would vamp through a silence when he couldn’t think of anything else to say by quipping things like, “how ’bout them apples?” or “how do you like them apples?” or “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”  he didn’t really expect an answer in particular.  (well, except for the rhubarb question, in which case the standard ‘correct’ answer, accompanied by rolling of eyes and laughter, was always “not if it’s in cans.”)  my dad was a better ponderer than conversationalist.  my sweet momma handled most of the conversations of their over-70-years-together time.  but you could always count on my adorable poppo for this tad bit of random.

my very-excellent-“it’s-fine”-producer ken can pick out my “how ’bout them apples?” notes in a millisecond.  he recognizes them instantly and will say, “thinking note” as i vamp through a thought process heading in some direction or other with a melodic conversation in a piece of music.

some people say, “ummmm.”  others say, “liiiiike….” or “welllll….”  or “okaaaay….”  we each have our own colloquialism, our own phrase that buys time.  it’s all good.  ummm, well, ok, like, as long as we’re having conversation.

but really, how ’bout them apples?

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

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plan ahead. [merely-a-thought monday]

chip hailstone box copy 3

my poppo would probably have liked chip hailstone.  an as-long-as-i-can-remember subscriber of national geographic, i imagine he would have liked the show ‘life below zero’.  he was good at solving problems, figuring things out, making stuff out of nothing.  his words of wisdom were simple.  “plan ahead,” he would say.   he was a card-holding-club-member-regular-reader of the handyman magazine; he easily could have been a contributing writer.  he would have loved chip hailstone’s comment, “you can make a long piece of wood short, but you can’t make a short piece of wood long.”  ahyup.  it’s in the details.  plan ahead.

we were coffee-sitting around the kitchen table.  it was a late florida morning, years ago now, and coffee break time was an every-day thing.  my dad suddenly got up from his chair and left the room, using his “stick” to get to the bedroom and back.  he returned moments later and started to speak.  “i have something for you, brat,” he started.  “with these years on your own you have learned so much out of necessity.  it’s time for you to have this.  you have earned it.”  he handed me his handyman club membership card and said, “this is yours now.  i’m proud of you.”

it was big news to get this card from my poppo and i didn’t underestimate its import. it would not have made me more gratified to receive a grammy award.  his -my- membership card is in plain view in my studio, reminding me of my dad and his words to me.

we watch ‘life below zero’ episodes and there are simple wisdoms dancing throughout the show.  things i can hear my dad say in his brooklyn accent.  things you think, “well, duh, of course.”  the same things you realize after-the-fact that you should have thought about before-the-fact.  yup, poppo.  plan ahead.

poppo & handyman club

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

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