reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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wishbones in the woods. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

we received a letter from the energy company that tree pruning may be required on our property. there is one tree that is closer to power lines than any others. this tree is out front and has been there the entire three decades plus that i have been here.

this old tree invited my children to climb it, was the source of limbs we used for christmas trees, shaded the front yard and gardens through the years. i watched this tree change through the seasons out the window as i rocked my children in the nursery; i’ve taken pictures of it with snow stacked up against its trunk. i’ve pondered what to do in the area around its roots, which rise above the surface of the ground; i’ve given up planting around it and allowed it to just co-exist with the dirt and scant grass. this tree has lost limbs in recent years and has some interior rotting causing some breakage to bear no leaves. but this is the source of long-time wisdom which has welcomed me home each time i’ve pulled into the driveway. each time i silently thank this tree and breathe a little bit easier to be at this place so familiar to me. i am wondering now if this is the tree. it pains me to think of this old tree pruned beyond recognition or, worse yet, taken down entirely. if indeed this is the case, i would hope to have pieces of this tree to save – slices as chargers for under dinner plates or even just simply a limb to wrap with happy lights and place in a spot of honor inside. yes. i am wondering if this is the tree.

the tree in the woods off the trail we follow was one that collected snow, its face to the wind. we hadn’t noticed it before; it blended into the rest of the woods and fallen trees. but, with snow on its bows it was clearly a wishbone, and, obviously, making a wish, i hiked into the underbrush to get a closer photo.

i wonder how often we pass by trees – and perhaps every living thing and perhaps people – without noticing them for what they are or who they are. how often do we turn a blind eye to that which is familiar or that which blends without any outstanding characteristic? it is possible that we participate in life more peripherally than we ought, more aloofly than the stuff of life deserves. the merit of each bow, each limb, each living thing, each person, is lost in our pursuit of next.

in the still threadiness of our hearts, perhaps slowing down and looking more closely might yield stronger connection to that which we understand, that which is familiar, that which we know well. more importantly, perhaps it might yield stronger connection to that which we don’t understand, that which is not familiar and that which we don’t know well. an opportunity to discard apathy and discuriousness and embrace old trees by the driveway and wishbones in the woods.

*****

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


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the reins. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

my nine-year-old hands held the reins loosely. i was riding lucky, a big bay horse at the stable. it was the day we would take our horses out on the trail. i had hoped to ride mardigras, a stunning black horse with a white star tucked under its forelock. but lucky it was.

we rode out of the paddock and turned uphill toward the woods. nose-tail-nose-tail-nose-tail we rode silently, leather saddles squeaking under our tiny bodies. into the woods, our instructor let us separate out a bit, a little less interstate-traffic-jam-like, and we could each breathe a bit, enjoying the freedom of no fencing with our horses. lucky tossed his head and i bent down from my english riding posture to hug on his neck, running my hands under his mane. it was a beautiful day and i could think of nothing better to hold in my hands than the reins of a horse.

eventually we turned back toward the barn.

and in that moment, lucky pulled hard. the reins i had draped around my hands, thumbs properly placed, were wrenched from me. and lucky ran.

no one had told me ahead of time that lucky really loved the return trip to the barn. no one had mentioned that lucky, when turned downhill, would likely take his head, would likely run. no one had suggested that i pay closer attention to the reins when we were back-to-the-barn-bound.

i had never galloped before, but i was treated to lucky’s fastest gait going downhill. holding on with my knees as hard as i could i wished there was a western pommel i could grasp. i was at the mercy of this horse and he was having no mercy.

the barn came into view and lucky screeched to a stop. in the fluid move of a great white lipizzan, lucky reared up onto his hind legs and threw me to the ground. a defining moment indeed, hitting the ground. lucky, dragging his reins behind him, swaggered to the feed trough next to the barn and began to eat.

my instructor was soon at my side. she stood me up, checked me over, gave me a hug and walked me to another horse, giving me a quick peptalk on the way. she held out her hands linked together, gently but firmly asked me to place my foot into her shoe-up and immediately got me on another horse. overcome it.

and that brings me to today, a day i wish i could sit astride a horse and ride off into the woods.

nevertheless, i remember the words of sue aikens, “this will define me or i will overcome it,” and i, horse or no horse, take the reins in the middle of no-mercy and firmly hold them in my hands.

*****

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


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flourless chocolate cake. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there are days when it’s necessary. last saturday was one of them. we drove out to the bakery in lake geneva specifically for one thing: flourless chocolate cake. we bought two pieces and drove home with them nestled in their little box, excited about the prospect of having such a treat two days in a row. (we share desserts, so this purchase was not merely one day’s worth.) in the middle of everything, a little flourless chocolate cake will go a long way.

there are a few things that fall under this category these days: a few vices, a few salves. strong hot coffee in the morning in mugs that remind us of favorite places, long hikes, glasses of wine, happy lights, texts or pictures or calls from my children, big pots of pasta sauce, being snugged by the dog and the cat. every so often, flourless chocolate cake makes the cut. because it is not inexpensive, these days it is a rarity. but last saturday we decided we could skip a meal if it was necessary in order to share some decadence.

soon it will be the solstice. the sun will seemingly stand still and the light of day will start to shift. we will, slowly but surely, start to welcome more light.

as this world, this country, our communities start to embrace the administering of a new vaccine to aid in the deterrent of the pandemic, we begin to see the beacon of light. it is farther off on the horizon, but it is rising.

as this country, our communities start to embrace the changing of this nation’s leadership, we begin to see the possibility of sanity returning to the chaos. we begin to see the promise of light. it is farther off on the horizon, but it is rising.

as our communities agree to distance and be safe, to work together in common goal, we begin to hope for a return of responsibility, of accountability, of respect, of kindness. we study the horizon, watching for light. it is farther off on the horizon, but we’re sure it must be rising.

as we stand and straighten up our 2020 bodies, aching but holding steadfast on our journeys, we begin to look for the paths of the future, paths of symbiosis, paths of goodness. we peer in the dark, catching glimpses of light, like fireflies in a summer backyard. it is farther off on the horizon, but the light is rising.

and we know this because flourless chocolate cake makes it so.

*****

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


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normal. in waiting. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

when we went to hippy tom’s farm and wandered around, browsing, i was overwhelmed by feeling like we were inside a sickness – a hoarding personality – and i felt trapped and breathless. it was too much for me. we drew in deep lungs full of air when we left, shedding the layers of dusty disorder. we were fortunate; we never had to return there. we wished him, the sale of his inordinately massive barns-full and sheds-full and yards-full of stuff well, and left, returning to some degree of normalcy, some degree of air on the county highway back home.

these past four years have felt that way. we have been trapped inside the narcissistic and delusional sickness of the president of the united states. we have hovered in the dark recesses of his self-indulgence and in the rhetoric of his hate-speech, his divisiveness, his zeal to promote violence. we have lingered in his vitriol.

we are a nation, in its spacious skies, its amber waves, its purple mountain majesty, that needs air.

the words of joe and jill biden on thanksgiving made me weep. words of unity, words of solidarity, words of hope, words of recognition of the need to heal. these words, spoken by people who feel like real people rather than physical manifestations of psychological sickness, are words that inspire. the president-elect and the first-lady, in waiting.

we look to this light. new times. new leadership. new air.

and we are grateful. for normal. simply that. normal.

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


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around the table. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

continued vacation haiku (a triple):

i can scarcely say

what it means to gather there:

the magic moments.

my mind struggles to

keep it forefront, remembered.

i lose it in time,

yet never misprize.

it’s the stuff of real heart. life

lived in moments. love.

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


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density and un-candles. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

dense

we hike past these cattails.  and, because i have a vivid imagination, gazing into their thick darkness, i wonder what would happen if i suddenly had to run and forge my way through these dense reeds in order to be safe.  david claims that my imagination is usually on overdrive; i retort, “doesn’t everyone think about this stuff?”  he replies, “no, they don’t.”  i shrug.  for me, these cattails make me think; they make me ponder.  they inspire me to make a plan.  i am convinced:  it would be better to run and find a less dense area of vegetation and then i might be able to find my way through to the other side, to safety.  i keep watch for these less dense spots as we hike.  just in case.

the magic of the 1970s un-candles was based on density.  density parses out liquids which are different.  because oil is less dense than water, oil floats on top of water.  and so, you would fill the glass container with water and add a bit of oil on top.  a simple candle wick in a plastic wick shield would be placed atop this and it would float.  voila!  the un-candle.  a flickering light atop the water.

in the case of other uses of the word “dense”, i would revert back to maybe seventh grade.  “you’re dense!” one student would verbally accost another.  dense, back then, informally meant ignorant, vacuous, vapid, thickheaded, half-witted, moronic, gullible, daft.  most of these synonyms didn’t rapidly come to the forefront of the seventh-grade mind, so “dense” worked.  and it seemed kinder than “stupid”.  slightly.

as we approach every level of profound challenge in our world today, i am hoping for an un-candle approach.  i am hoping that the less-dense rise to the surface, that the less-dense light the way, that the less-dense path opens for us.

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

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and not to be silent. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there comes a time when silence

silence is not always golden.

in a country deeply divided by narrative, the decision between silence and speech presents a challenge.  subjected to judgement and the possibility of being harangued, speaking words, speaking truth, is a choice-point.

this is a time of massive misinformation, a time of gullibility, a time of digging in heels, a time of excuse-making, a time of circling bandwagons.  to pass by one who opines misinformation is to be complicit.  to be silent around falsehoods is to be complicit.  to not speak to inequity, to not address moral or ethical failures, to not stand up against prejudice and bigotry is to be complicit.  to fail to engage against injustice, to not protect the truth, to rabidly push narratives of lies, is perfidy.  to stand silently by is perilous.  yes.  there does come a time when silence is betrayal.

it would seem that two people or two groups of people, no matter how disparate, should be able to have a conversation.  it would seem that they should be able to maturely debate, using factual information, issues that are at hand.  it would seem that they should be able to respect each other, use discretion, and, without the betrayal of silence or anger, come to a place where ideas shared might move them closer together in understanding and mutual goals.  it would seem that there is a bigger picture.

it would seem that unity might be the utmost goal, the endzone, the heavily-weighted bottom half of the pyramid of needs.  it would seem in a country that its people would want to be unified in its most basic desires, its most basic values, its most basic tenets.  it would seem that for a society to survive it must gather its people and its resources together to achieve any sort of illumination or actualization.

but relationship and conversation and unity cannot be achieved in silence.  for silence-personified invites assumptions.  silence-personified instills distrust.  silence-personified creates chasms out of dividing lines.  silence-personified shatters relationships.  silence-personified builds walls of resentment, houses impervious to healing or conversation, learning or compromise.  silence-personified is dangerous and paralyzing.

for those who speak the truth despite the pain of vulnerability, despite the vast line in the sand, regardless of any tribal politics and with much courage, we glean there is a way to survival, there is a way out of the polarization.

but time is of the essence.  it is none too soon to start.  to speak.  and not to be silent.

“when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  you have to say something.  you have to do something.”  (john lewis)

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

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words. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

kawaii raccoons

“look it up,” my sweet momma would say.  i blame her.  for my word-curiosity.  for my policing of spelling, punctuation, grammar.  for my love of dictionaries and my commitment to learning.  at 93 she was still asking questions, being curious, looking it up.

black and white composition books, of both thick and thin variety, populated my growing up, my teenage years, my college years, and ever since.  though i do have a thready fondness of using My Girl’s and My Boy’s old unfinished spiral notebooks these days, we have piles of waiting-to-be-used composition books and they beckon when i open the supply cabinet in the sunlit office upstairs.  places to jot poetry, thoughts, reflections, stories, lyrics, these composition books always make me think of my mom.  they are places to process, to remember, to dream, to sort.  they are the beginnings of stories, lyrics to ponder, the coda to the song.  to someone else they are simply words on the page.  to me, it is my breath that gives them life.  we each have stories to tell, songs to write.

in the last few days i have had the frustration of feeling silenced.  as i wrote in yesterday’s post, someone marked all five of my blogposts of last week on facebook as “spam” and that somehow triggered facebook to pull every last one of my blogposts – and any mention of my blogsite – down.  every word – the simple ones, the ones that require looking-it-up – pulled down.  with 650 posts, even averaging 500 words, that is 325,000 words.  MY 325,000 words.  gone.

in these times of chaos and unrest and pandemic, there are plenty of words out there.  foul words, words of peaceful mantras, words of untruth, twisted words of conspiracy theories, imploring words, scientific words, words of wisdom from giants of wisdom, accessible words, words we have to look up, words we can hardly believe we’ve heard from various people-in-the-spotlight, words at which we roll our eyes, words we find reassuring.

in a daily email he receives, david shares a new word with me.  “kawaii,” he reports, “means cute.”

the baby raccoons, most definitely kawaii, peeked out from behind the tree trunk.  upon seeing us on the trail, they had scrambled from the little pond up the tree.  they stared at us; we stared at them.  they didn’t move, quizzically grasping onto bark and watching quietly.  we didn’t move either.  we just stood quietly on the trail and watched.  the story they would tell about our encounter wouldn’t have many words.  all was silent.  all was motionless.  they were safe; we were safe.  for a few minutes, we shared the serene woods together, a little eye contact in hushed regard of each other.  maybe, in their re-telling, in their speckled composition book, they would just tell the coda – “and then they left.”

every now and again i take out an old composition book.  it’s astounding.  i was so…..wordy.

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

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during this time that FB, impossible to contact, figures out i am not ill-intended nor do i post SPAM, i would ask you a favor:  if you have found any post of mine to be thought-provoking or encouraging or reassuring in some way and have enjoyed reading, please “follow” this blog.  you can “follow” it on this post or later go to our website www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange to find the link to this blogsite.  wordpress will send you an email each day with my 5 day-a-week blog. you can certainly choose to read or not read each day and, at any time, you can choose to “unfollow” the blog.  just as it is your decision whether or not to read my post on facebook each day, i would like to think you still have the option.  subscribing gives you that.  hopefully, FB will allow and restore my written work soon.

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quiet. new chalk. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

life is grace sleep

quiet.  we walk in quiet most of the time.  even our longer hikes are quiet.  it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos.  we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail.  we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush.  the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.

having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days.  on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each.  make no mistake, these are serious treks.  the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine.  the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada.  the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way,  is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass.  clearly, the training needed would be intense.  but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet.  the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.

there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward.  it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again.  these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.

and so, the noise of the day will cease.  and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.

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

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putter-putz-tinker. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

happy

20 calls it “putzing”.  “what did you do today,” we ask.  he says, “nothing.  i just putzed.” putzing has a way of taking up the day.

my sweet poppo was a world-class putterer.  he was happy doing something and happy doing nothing.  he’d spend hours at his workbench in the garage in florida, cool damp towel wrapped around his neck.  he could fix or make just about anything.  hours just puttering.  the whole day could go by.

my big brother could tinker in competition with the best of the tinkerers.  he would tinker on building projects, home improvements, engines, motors, and all good assorted tinker-able sources.  his adoring little sister, i was happiest when i got to sit and watch him tinker.

we road-trip-traveled down south, two friends and i.  it was -wow- many years ago now.  fans of the paint-a-picture-of-sweet-idle-and-wild-adventure-living j. peterman catalog, we went to the j.peterman (of seinfeld fame) retail store in kentucky.  walking in, time slowed down.  quiet piano music played overhead and the cool air conditioning of the store was a welcome change from the humid heat outside.

there was an associate acting as hostess who approached us drawling, “good afternooooon. welcome to j. peterman.  would you lahhk an ahhsti?”  “an asti,” we thought, “would be remarkable!”  who wouldn’t like cool bubbly asti spumante on a hot steamy day? we graciously accepted and browsed around the space waiting for our wine glasses to appear, admiring the there-was-a-gentle-breeze-off-the-starboard-side-catching-the-silken-folds-of-her-aqua-dress-as-she-stood-watching-the-sail-raise sundress for $279.  time slowed down.

the hostess-associate returned, three tumblers filled with – iced tea- and topped with a lemon wedge.  ahhh.  ICED TEA.  not ASTI.  our lounge-y afternoon puttering about the shop with asti in our hands vision disappeared in the breeze off the starboard side (or was that the ceiling fan overhead?)  we left, post-beverage, and drove to the j. peterman headquarters where i managed to talk our way in to meet with THE j. peterman in a messy office filled with thoughts and dreams of his company.  we entered and he apologized for the mess, telling us he was “puttering” and hadn’t had a chance to pick up.  putterers shouldn’t apologize.

i’ve come by trifling with my day honestly.  a list-maker, my brain tends to be consumed with lists-of-things-to-do, neatly under different headings, highlighted in order of import.  they wake me up at night; they are consuming some days.

but there are some days that lists are not relevant.  life days.  putzing-puttering-tinkering days.  days when frittering time away is the right thing to do, really the only thing to do.  you loiter in your happy-doing-something-happy-doing-nothing.  and you sit and have an iced tea.

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

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quote from AUGIE THE DOG’s 20th BIRTHDAY