reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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just. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

just bob just leslie copy

we were in madison and we really could have gone anywhere to linger, have a glass of wine and a meal.  my sister had sent me a birthday gift, with instructions that we celebrate with it, so we were on a quest to find the right place.   it was a crowded friday early evening and just getting around the streets was nuts.  we looked at each other blankly, unable to find a place to park and walk the downtown area to scour for THE place to celebrate.  and then i turned the car east.

we drove onto the main street of the little town of fort atkinson and turned onto water street.  there sits cafe carpe, a small been-there-since-1985 cafe, bar and music venue, run by two  “fairly sentient centenarians” (as it states on their website).  we walked in and were two in a total of five.  it was early though so we had our choice of seating.  we love to sit at the bar, especially if we are in a place where we can gaze out and see most of what is going on, people-watching and enjoying the camaraderie of a place.  we found two spots at the bar, on a small stage-like pedestal, and got comfortable.  two glasses of wine were delivered; lingering started. and all was perfect.

cafe carpe started to fill up.  the door, with the bell on it alerting you to its opening, a sound you associate with shows like mayberry rfd, opened time and again and customers came in, greeted as they did so, clearly locals on their friday pilgrimage.  it was a step into the past, and just exactly what we needed.  we settled in for the next few hours in a place that felt like a second skin.

somewhere along the way, i noticed i was sitting in front of a spot on the bar with a brass plate that read “just bob” and next to my spot – to my left – was a plate that read “just leslie”.  we asked our sweet bartender about this and she told us that the couple that is there every.single.friday.night.for.years. had purchased and installed these plates, marking their territory.  we worried that we needed to move and asked her to give us the high sign when they arrived; we would not tread on their designated spots.  she laughed and agreed to let us know.

leslie and bob didn’t show up while we were there, so we sat in their spots, keeping them warm for them.  i’m sure i can imagine them walking in though.  the door opens, the bell jangles against it and they stride in slowly.  everyone turns and calls out hello to them and they take their seats at the bar, ordering maybe a standard wisconsin old-fashioned sweet.  just leslie.  just bob.  how good is that?

our celebration?  it was just.perfect.

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

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notice. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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going to our local grocery store is kind of a social outing for us.  we always walk in the same door and are immediately greeted.  it’s like walking into ‘cheers’ the bar on the tv show of the same name.  no one yells out, “norm!” but it feels the same.  leticia and skye and anthony and thank-goodness-she-is-recuperating-and-is-back-hugging-everyone-cheryl…all are sweet and hardworking people who make us feel welcome, noticed.  it keeps us going there; it makes a difference.  it’s this grocery store’s mission – to serve – no one is forgotten.

feeling recognized – whether you are or not – is essential.  someone else’s act of including you can change everything.  for you.  for them.  someone else’s act of noticing you can change everything. for you.  for them.  it humanizes experiences that can be mundane and even cold.  those moments on an elevator in the absolute quiet, everyone staring at the door.  the security line at the airport.  finding your way through a train station.  in the doctor’s office waiting room.  seated in an event auditorium, minutes before its start.  fast-walking through city streets.  in the oil change wait area.  and yes, in the grocery store.  notice.

i try to remember this.  it’s my natural inclination to fill the gap of awkward silence with something, anything.  i have had many strange stares on the subways of nyc, actually having had the audacity to talk or laugh with someone i don’t know.  but those brief words or quick laughter changed something in me right then; the moments on the subway became real, the people became real, everything slowed down and it was about right then.  noticed.

we heard a comedian once say, (words to the effect) “it’s not about making people laugh.  it’s about bringing laughter TO people.”  festival’s got it right.  they are on target with their mission – to serve.  the are enriching the lives of others.  in the simplest way, by noticing people, their customers, they bring a sense of community.  noticing.

and no one – or thing – is forgotten.  not even lettuce.  well, maybe green leaf.

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

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white rot fungi. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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“healer of the forest” nurselogs are numerous in the woods we hike in.  the white rot fungi grow easily in the outer bark of the tree, breaking down the structure of the wood and allowing small pockets of rich soil to form, remediating and inviting moss, mushrooms and small plants to feast on the nutrients and grow, stretching roots around the fallen tree to plant themselves deeper into the ground.  small animals find welcome in these healers and they live companionably together, each benefiting the other.  the concentric circles ripple outward.  symbiosis.  harmony.

i’m trying not to read the news as often these days.  i find it deafeningly dissonant. apparently, we, as a human race, are not naturally healers.  instead, we are creators of havoc, bullying, agenda-pushing individuals who give little care to remediating or living companionably together.  the concentric circles that ripple outward are filled with toxins; people get lost in power and control games, indeed benefiting no species whatsoever.  strident discord.

we could learn something from white rot fungi.

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

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#TheMicaList [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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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

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wide-mouthed-b-cat [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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i’m not a particularly good teller-of-jokes.  even the punchlines of knock-knock jokes sometimes evade me and i find myself wracking my brain for the end, while anyone who listens can’t help the yawns.  but one of my all-time favorite jokes to tell is the one about the wide-mouthed-frog.  my niece heather was the first to tell me this joke; she was a pretty adorable toddler acting out the part of the wide-mouthed frog and i couldn’t help but laugh.  now here was one i could remember! there are many versions of this joke now and you can make it last as long as you want; for me, the longer you have people watching you act like a wide-mouthed frog, the better.

the curious wide-mouthed frog hopped happily around, stopping to ask various animals what they are and what they eat.  he stopped by a robin and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the robin replied, “i’m a robin and i eat worms.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the wide-mouthed frog and hopped happily on.  he stopped by a giraffe and said, “hi!  i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the giraffe replied, “i’m a giraffe and i eat the leaves off the highest trees and bushes around.”  “OHHHHHHHHHHHH!” exclaimed the little-bit-more-informed wide-mouthed frog and he hopped happily on.  the wide-mouthed frog visited with many different animals on his way, learning new animal names and diets.  then he came to the side of a river where a snake was lounging in the sun.  “hi,” he said to the snake. “i’m a wide-mouthed frog and i eat bugs!  what are you and what do you eat?”  the snake sneered at the wide-mouthed frog and, coiled into a tight circle, said, “i’m a snake and i eat wide-mouthed frogs!”

this picture of wide-mouthed-babycat makes me think of that joke.  he clearly has no cares in the world and would have no worries, lest his food bowl disappear and the sunlight be gone from the sky.  sleeping and eating, pestering the dog, yawning, snoring and vocally demanding attention are his tasks and he is brilliant at each of them.  we simply couldn’t resist posting this picture of the cat-we-adore, a part of our world.

and the tightly-purse-lipped-wide-mouthed frog said, “oh.”

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

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turn your vision out. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

THIS husby's dollar bill ceiling copy

the high ceiling at husby’s invited some creative decorating.  twenty years ago, at some point in time after their renovation, the staff and clientele starting throwing money at the ceiling tiles.  there are specific instructions for this, which include tacks and quarters and precise folding, but the end result is a ceiling full of paper currency – a virtual piggy bank of resources that are donated to local causes in sister bay, wisconsin.  seeing the bills on the ceiling and the posted list of good causes just makes you want to throw money.  encouraging others to throw money, continuing the twenty-year-old tradition is generosity.  it turns their vision out.

as the season of lent starts, many people will, for reasons they may not even be able to articulate, “give up” something, a sort of faux-fasting.  back in the day when i was a young teenager, and maybe even now, it was something of a contest…who could give up the most interesting thing, the hardest thing, the easiest thing, who could boast louder.  that all seems antithetical to the point.  way back, giving up lima beans would not count; giving up candy counted.  i haven’t often participated in this.  i’ve just tried, successfully and unsuccessfully, to moderate at all times.

yesterday or maybe the day before i saw a post about giving for this period of time.  in an effort to raise consciousness about austerity, the suggestion was made to each day give a THING away, something you do not use but someone else would value having, or something you know, even though you sometimes use it, would be vital for someone else.  that way, at the end of this period of 40 days there would be 40 THINGS that you have put aside to give away, a contribution to others who need the things you are easily (or actually not so easily) able to donate.  giving clothing or shoes or backpacks or kitchen gear or blankets, things that pare down your own concentric circles of stuff and grace another’s life with something he or she needs.  turning your vision out.

today i will take out two laundry baskets for us – as a start for this new practice.  this makes more sense to me than giving up candy.  as a personal practice in everyday life and honoring this life i was given, i should always be giving up anything in excess that isn’t good for me, lifestyle choices as opposed to a diet choice or a lent choice.  as a new ritual practice for these six weeks however, gathering things for others will illustrate how someone else might be benefited by my lent.  it’s not just about me.  it is turning my vision out.

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

our snowman feb 14 2019 'valentino' website box copy


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so much tupperware. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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the most important tupperware – the pieces that i will likely save forever and ever – are the sippy cups with lids and the brightly colored small everything-in-a-bowl-bowls that The Girl and The Boy used when they were little.  years into college, The Girl came home, went directly to the cabinet, took out a sippy cup, went to a drawer below, pulled out a lid, poured some juice into the cup, attached the lid and announced, laughing, “i don’t want to adult anymore.”  if it were that easy to avoid, i suspect all of us would be using sippy cups fairly often.  but oh…those sippy cups and those bowls.  a trove of little-kid-memories, a rainbow of cups and bowls waiting for maybe the next generation.

my sister sold tupperware.  well, at least that’s what i remember.  she also sold mary kay products, so i wonder if i am getting confused.  nevertheless, she has more tupperware than anyone i know, so i suspect i am right about her long-ago-sales-effort.  as a result, i have tupperware that spans the years…clearish-white picnic-size salt and pepper shakers, an iceberg lettuce keeper, orange canisters in the closet, tools that zip the peel off oranges, section and core an apple, cut around the pith of a grapefruit, make gravy-making easier, things with lids that store other things.   my hands can still feel working the push-button on the top of the decanter my sweet momma always used for iced tea.

this room – at the school days antique mall – appealed to both of us.  all the tupperware was organized by color.  it made it interesting and easy to be around.  it felt less haphazard and more intentional.  it made us want to look at it.  there is another booth that we both cannot even think about entering; it is a chaos of piled articles, none of which stand out from the mess.  the organization was something that, i’m quite sure, took some time, but it paid off.  the investment in effort to make it appealing, the deliberate intention to be ordered made this booth more worthy of time spent.  i appreciated that.  it wasn’t lost on me that this organizing philosophy of tupperware could apply to most anything.  taking one’s time, baby step by baby step, clean and organized and with a well-intentioned end goal in mind leads to an outcome far better than what any chaos could yield.  hmmm. where else could that apply…..

i’m thinking that anyone who has ever wanted vintage tupperware or needs to replace a piece of their own collection will find it in this place.  and, because of the neat, clean orderliness, they will purchase it, trusting the integrity of the piece in the sale.  it’s much harder to think about purchasing a piece from the piled mess in a far corner of another room in the building.  were i to want something specific to actually be able to use, i would not look for it there.

regardless, i have enough tupperware.  all i really need is those sippy cups and those plastic bowls.

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

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